Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travails with child together: a great company shall return thither.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And with them the blind and the lame . . .—The vision of restoration continues, and the prophet sees in the spirit the great company of those that return. Even those who are commonly left behind in such an expedition, as incumbrances hindering its march, the blind, the lame, the women with child or in the very pangs of childbirth, will be seen in that company. None shall remain behind. They are to come from the land of the North, the wide range of the term covering the exiles both of Judah in Babylon and of Israel in the cities of the Medes. For “the coasts of the earth” see Note on Jeremiah 25:32.
Shall return thither—i.e., to the land of Israel, as the goal of the company of travellers.Jeremiah 31:8-9. Behold, I will bring them from the north country — Here God himself undertakes to conduct home the remnant of his people from the countries through which they had been scattered; and the promise relates to the ten tribes, as well as to those of Judah and Benjamin; for Assyria and Media, whither they were removed, lay north of Judea as well as Babylon. And the following words speak of a general restoration of this people from their several dispersions; and with them the blind and the lame, &c. —
God will compassionate their infirmities, and will conduct them with all imaginable care and tenderness, and furnish the feeble and indigent of them with suitable accommodations. The prophet alludes to the care and compassion which God manifested in conducting his people, of all ages and conditions, through the wilderness, compared to the care with which a parent or nurse carries a tender child, Deuteronomy 1:31. See also Isaiah 40:11; Isaiah 49:10. They shall come with weeping — The LXX. translate the words, Εν κλαυθμω εξηλθον, και εν παρακλησει αναξω αυτους, they went forth with weeping, but with comfort will I bring them back; which sense agrees exactly with the words of Psalm 136:5-6, which was composed upon occasion of the return from captivity, He that sows in tears shall reap in joy: he that goeth forth weeping, shall come again with rejoicing. Our translation, however, is much more agreeable to the original words, and is also confirmed by Jeremiah 3:21, where we read, A voice was heard, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel; the prophet speaking upon the same subject, and in the same words here used. See also chap. Jeremiah 50:4, where it is said, The children of Israel and Judah shall come together, going and weeping, and seek the Lord their God. All which words imply, that the Jews and Israelites, at the time of their general restoration, shall have their joy tempered with tears of repentance for their former miscarriages; which is more fully expressed Zechariah 12:10, where God promises to pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters — So that they shall not be afflicted with thirst, or the want of any accommodation in their journey. The words allude to God’s miraculously supplying the Israelites with water in the wilderness. See notes on Isaiah 35:6-7; Isaiah 41:17-18; Isaiah 49:10. In a straight way wherein they shall not stumble — This phrase is an allusion to God’s leading the Israelites through the Red sea, and afterward in the wilderness. See Isaiah 63:13; Isaiah 42:16. For I am a father to Israel — The remembrance of former connections is here mentioned as the motive of God’s returning favour to Israel. And Ephraim is my firstborn — Ephraim is often, as here, equivalent to Israel, especially when Israel denotes the ten tribes as distinct from Judah. He is termed the firstborn among the tribes of Israel; because the birthright which Reuben had forfeited was conferred upon the two sons of Joseph, of whom Ephraim had the precedence. “The reader will observe, that all this was but imperfectly verified in the return of the Jews from Babylon, but was fully made good in those who were made partakers of the gospel of Christ, in the miracles, in the preaching of the apostles, in the free grace and pardoning mercy of the Redeemer.”Jeremiah 6:22 note.
gather from … coasts of … earth—(Eze 20:34, 41; 34:13).
blind … lame, &c.—Not even the most infirm and unfit persons for a journey shall be left behind, so universal shall be the restoration.
a great company—or, they shall return "in a great company" [Maurer].By the north country, is unquestionably meant Babylon, and the land of the Chaldeans, and those places which were northward of Jerusalem; and by the
coasts of the earth, all other parts into which any of the Jews had been driven. The meaning of this is, that nothing should hinder such from returning as had a mind to return; blind men that could not see their way, and lame persons, who had no strength to walk in it, though they saw it, and women with child, in regard of their heaviness, and women travailing, in regard of their pain, are persons more unfit to travel long journeys than any others; but saith God, I will make such provision, that some under those circumstances shall come. That these phrases must be interpreted only into this general sense appears, because such persons in a literal sense could not come. And though some worthy interpreters understand it in a spiritual sense, of ignorant and impotent persons, and such as are laden with the burden of their sins, and of coming to Christ, it seems not to be the primary sense of the text.
and gather them from the coasts of the earth; or "sides" of it; from all the parts of the world where they are:
and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together; signifying that no difficulties whatsoever should hinder them in their return to their own land; provision should be made for persons under these circumstances, so unfit to travel. All this may be understood, in a figurative sense, of those who are spiritually "blind"; who are made to see their lost estate, and need of Christ; and are brought to him, and to his church, in a way they had not known, and in paths they knew not before: and of the lame and impotent, unable to do any good thing in a spiritual sense, and will not come to Christ, unless drawn; these are made to leap as a hart, and to flee to Christ for refuge, and run the ways of his commandments: and of such who are laden and burdened, as "women with child"; and who are encouraged and enabled as such to come to Christ, and cast their burdens on him, and find rest for their souls: and of such who are in pain and distress, as one "that travaileth with child": in the pangs of the new birth, under a sense of wrath, and as ready to perish; who also are enabled to come and venture their souls on Christ, receive his Gospel, and submit to his ordinances, where they find peace and comfort:
a great company shall return thither; three thousand were converted under one sermon, in the first times of the Gospel; and, in the latter day, the nation of the Jews shall be born again at once; the number of the children of Israel shall then be as the sand of the sea, and great shall be the day of Jezreel, Isaiah 66:8.Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. The Lord’s reply to the joyous acclamation. Cp. Isaiah 42:16; Isaiah 40:11.
the blind and the lame, etc.] None shall be omitted. Even those who would naturally have most difficulty in travelling shall return.
hither] to Palestine, where the prophet is now writing.Verse 8. - The weakest among the Israelites will share the blessings with the strongest, even the blind and the lame (comp. Isaiah 33:23, "The lame take the prey"). Elsewhere we are told that, in the Messianic age, "the eyes of the blind shall see," and "the lame man shall leap as an hart" (Isaiah 35:5, 6). Shall return thither; rather, hither; i.e. to Palestine, where Jeremiah writes this prophecy. The word for company is hahal, the proper word in the Pentateuch for the Israelitish national "congregation." Jeremiah 31:1. "At that time, saith Jahveh, will I be a God to all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:2. Thus saith Jahveh: A people escaped from the sword found grace in the wilderness. Let me go to give him rest, even Israel. Jeremiah 31:3. From afar hath Jahve appeared unto me, and with everlasting love have I loved thee; therefore have I continued my favour towards thee. Jeremiah 31:4. Once more will I build thee up, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; once more shalt thou adorn [thyself] with thy tabrets, and go forth in the dance of those that make merry. Jeremiah 31:5. Once more shalt thou plant vineyards on the ills of Samaria; planters will plant them, and apply them to common use. Jeremiah 31:6. For there is a day [when] watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim: Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion, to Jahveh our God!"
The expression "At that time" refers to Jeremiah 30:24, "in the end of the days," which means the Messianic future. The announcement of deliverance itself is continued by resumption of the promise made in Jeremiah 30:22; the transposition of the two portions of the promise is to be remarked. Here, "I will be a God to them" stands first, because the restoration and perfection of Israel have their only foundation in the love of God and in the faithfulness with which He keeps His covenant, and it is only through this gracious act that Israel again becomes the people of God. "All the families of Israel" are the families of the whole twelve tribes - of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, separated since the death of Solomon. After this announcement of deliverance for the whole of Israel, the address turns first to Israel of the ten tribes, and continues to treat longest of them, "because, judging from appearances, they seem irrecoverably lost - for ever rejected by the Lord" (Hengstenberg). Jeremiah 31:2 is variously explained. Ewald, following Raschi and others, refers the words 'מצא חן וגו to the leading of Israel out of Egypt: once on a time, in the Arabian desert, the people that had just barely escaped the sword of the Egyptians nevertheless found grace, when Jahveh, as it were, went to make a quiet dwelling-place for them. The love which He displayed towards them at that time He has since continued, and thus He will now once more bring back His people out of the midst of strangers. This view of the passage is supported by the use of the perfects in Jeremiah 31:2 and Jeremiah 31:3, in contrast with the imperfect, "again will I build thee," Jeremiah 31:4, and the employment of the expression "in the desert;" cf. Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 13:4-5. But "the people of those who have escaped the sword" is an expression that cannot be reconciled with it. Rashi, indeed, understands this as referring to the sword of the Egyptians and Amalekites; but the thought that Israel, led out of Egypt through the Arabian desert, was a people that had survived or escaped the sword, is one met with nowhere else in the Old Testament, and is quite inapplicable to the condition of the people of Israel when they were led out of Egypt. Although Pharaoh wished to exterminate the people of Israel through hard servile labour, and through such measures as the order to kill all male children when they were born, yet he did not make an exhibition of his wrath against Israel by the sword, neither did he show his anger thus at the Red Sea, where he sought to bring Israel back to Egypt by force. There God shielded His people from the attack of Pharaoh, as He did in the battle against the Amalekites, so that Israel was led through the desert as a whole people, not as a remnant. The designation, "a people escaped from the sword," unconditionally requires us to refer the words to the deliverance of the Israelites from exile; these were only a remnant of what they had formerly been, since the greater portion of them perished, partly at the downfall of the kingdom, and partly in exile, by the sword of the enemy. Hence the perfects in Jeremiah 31:2 and Jeremiah 31:3 are prophetic, and used of the divine counsel, which precedes its execution in time. By using the expression "in the desert," Jeremiah makes an allusion to Israel's being led through the Arabian desert. The restoration of Israel to Canaan, from their exile among the nations, is viewed under the figure of their exodus from Egypt into the land promised to their fathers, as in Hosea 2:16.; and the exodus from the place of banishment is, at the same time, represented as having already occurred, so that Israel is again on the march to his native land, and is being safely conducted through the desert by his God. There is as little ground for thinking that there is reference here made to the desert lying between Assyria or Babylon and Palestine, as there is for Hitzig's referring שׂרידי חרב to the sword of the Medes and Persians. - The inf. abs. הלוך is used instead of the first person of the imperative (cf. 1 Kings 22:30), to express a summons addressed by God to Himself: "I will go." See Gesenius, 131, 4, b, γ. ] The suffix in הרגּיעו points out the object (Israel) by anticipation: "to bring him to rest." רגע in the Hiphil usually means to be at rest, to rest (Deuteronomy 28:65); here, to give rest, bring to rest.
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