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1-22. Jeremiah speaks of the restoration first of Israel (Ephraim, Jeremiah 31:2-22), then of Judah (Jeremiah 31:23.). Those who survive the sufferings of the captivity are promised a safe journey home. The words, ’found grace in the wilderness’ (Jeremiah 31:2) are probably an allusion to the journey from Egypt under Moses, which was thus a prophecy to the captive Israelites of the return from Assyria.
3. In this v. the people are the speakers.
4. Tabrets] tambourines.
5. Shall eat them as common things] RV ’shall enjoy the fruit thereof.’
6. Watchmen] posted on heights to announce seasons of prayer and, according to Jewish tradition, the appearance of the new moon as determining the dates of festivals. In the present case they are posted on the hills of Ephraim that members of the northern kingdom may go up to keep the feasts in Jerusalem, thus betokening the reunion of the Twelve Tribes in worship.
8. The blind, etc.] None, even the feeblest, shall be left behind. Thither] RV ’hither’ to Palestine.
9. With weeping] tears at once of contrition and joy. Ephraim is my firstborn] see 1 Chronicles 5:1. God will not forget the house of Joseph, the head of northern Israel.
10. The isles] see on Jeremiah 25:22.
12. To the goodness of the Lord] to receive from Him the blessings of a fruitful land. For wheat, etc.] RV ’to the corn, and to the wine.’ Sorrow] rather, ’droop,’ ’fade,’ keeping up the image of a garden.
13. Both young men] RV ’and the young men’ (shall rejoice with the old).
14. The sacrifices shall be so numerous that the priests and their families shall have abundance for their share: see Leviticus 7:31.
15. The mourning which took place at Ramah, whether on account of some unrecorded butchery there on the part of the Chaldean conquerors, or in reference to their general cruelty to the exiles there assembled for deportation to Babylon (see Jeremiah 40:1), is referred to by St. Matthew (Matthew 2:17.) as a forecast of the wailing at the slaughter of the Innocents by Herod. Rahel] the appropriateness of calling upon Rachel to weep in Ramah consists in this, that she, the one of Jacob’s wives who had so ardently longed for children and the mother of Joseph and so of Ephraim and of Manasseh (whose lot was with Judah), should lament the overthrow of her offspring in a conspicuous border town of the two kingdoms, with both of which she was thus immediately connected.
16. Thy work shall be rewarded] Rachel by the death of her descendants had, as it were, been deprived of the reward for which she had laboured in bearing ajid bringing up children. Now by their restoration she shall at last receive her recompense.
17. In thine end] RV ’for thy latter end.’
18. Ephraim] i.e. the northern kingdom, which for over 100 years had been devastated by the Assyrians, and its people exiled.
19. Instructed] by punishment. I smote, etc.] in contrition. The reproach of my youth] the shame incurred through the sins of his youth.
20. God is represented as addressing Himself even as a father might do, when dwelling upon the ingratitude and rebellion of a son, whom, nevertheless, he cannot but continue to love.
Pleasant] i.e. beloved. Bowels] the supposed seat of the emotions.
21. High heaps] RV ’guide-posts’ for the returning exiles.
22. Compass] i.e. as protector. In the peaceful future the women will be a sufficient guard against danger from without, while the men perform their daily tasks.
23-26. The Lord now turns from Israel (Ephraim) to Judah and promises her like blessings.
23. As yet] RV ’yet again.’ Habitation of justice] the same expression is used of the Lord in Jeremiah 50:7. Mountain of holiness] Jerusalem, or in particular the Temple mount.
26. The words of the prophet at the conclusion of his pleasant vision.
27. I will sow, etc.] a figure to express prosperity and rapid increase.
28. See on Jeremiah 1:10.
29-34. The new covenant between Jehovah and His people.
29, 30. The proverb here quoted, which was common among the Jews, induced them to throw upon their predecessors the responsibility for their own misdeeds. Accordingly the prophet restates in an amended form the truth which it embodies. It was true that their fathers had sinned, but the children had repeated their sins and they were suffering the consequences of their own acts. The prophet emphasises individual responsibility for sin.
31-34. The new covenant is to be of a spiritual, personal character, rather than external and national. It shall supersede that of the exodus, and shall differ from the older Law both in permanence and in the spring of action. Under it the sense of forgiveness (Jeremiah 31:34) ensures a willing service based on love, not on fear. ’God comes to man as giving and not as requiring’: so Bp. Westcott on Hebrews 8:8-12, which reproduces this passage, applying it to the Christian dispensation.
34. The sense is not that there shall be no longer any need of instruction in religion, but that for both Jews and Gentiles there shall be directness of access to God. It was left for later times to reveal clearly Christ as the means of this approach.
35. Which divideth the sea when] RV ’which stirreth up the sea, that.’
36. Israel’s national existence is as assured as the unchangeableness of the laws imposed by God on the universe, or as its limitless character.
38-40. See on Jeremiah 7:31. Jerusalem in her future extension is to enclose spaces hitherto considered unclean. Tower of Hananeel] at the NE. corner. The gate of the corner] at the NW. (see on 2 Kings 14:13). Gareb.. Goath] not mentioned elsewhere. Gareb means ’leper’s hill.’
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 31". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent