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Friday, April 19th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 31

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

As in that chapter the restoration of Judah, so in this the restoration of Israel's ten tribes, is foretold.

At the same time - "in the latter days" (Jeremiah 30:24).

Will I be the God of - manifesting my special grace to (Genesis 17:7; Matthew 22:32; Revelation 21:3).

All ... Israel - not the exiles of the southern kingdom of Judah only, but also the northern kingdom of the ten tribes; and not merely Israel in general, but "all the families of Israel." Never yet fulfilled (Romans 11:26).

Verse 2

Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

The people ... found grace in the wilderness. Upon the "grace" manifested to Israel "in the wilderness" God grounds His argument for renewing His favours to them now in their exile, because His covenant is "everlasting" (Jeremiah 31:3), and changes not. The same argument occurs Hosea 13:5; Hosea 9:10; Hosea 14:4-5; Hosea 14:8. Babylon is fitly compared to the "wilderness," as in both alike Israel was as a stranger far from his appointed "rest" or home, and Babylon is in Isaiah 40:3 called a "desert" (cf. Jeremiah 50:12).

I went to cause him to rest - namely, in the pillar of cloud and fire, the symbol of God's presence, which went before Israel to search out a resting-place (Numbers 10:33; Isaiah 63:14) for the people-both a temporary one at each halt in the wilderness, and a permanent one in Canaan (Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 3:20; Joshua 21:44; Psalms 95:11; Hebrews 3:11).

Verse 3

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me ... Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. Israel gratefully acknowledges in reply God's past grace; but at the same time tacitly implies, by the expression "of old," that God does not appear to her now. 'God appeared to me of old, but now I am forsaken!' God replies, Nay, I love thee with the same love now as of old (Malachi 3:6). My love was not a momentary impulse, but from "everlasting" in my counsels, and to "everlasting" in its continuance; hence, originated the covenant whereby I gratuitously adopted thee (Malachi 1:2; Romans 11:28-29). Margin translates, 'from afar,' which does not answer so well as "of old" to "in the wilderness" (Jeremiah 31:2), which refers to the olden times of Israel's history.

With loving-kindness ... drawn - (Hosea 11:4). Rather, 'I have drawn out continually my loving-kindness toward thee.' So Psalms 36:10. "Continue (margin, draw out at length) thy loving-kindness." By virtue of my everlasting love I will still extend my loving-kindness to thee. So Isaiah 44:21, "O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me."

Verse 4

Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built. The combination of the active and passive to express the same fact implies the infallible certainty of its accomplishment "Build" - i:e., established in prosperity (Jeremiah 33:7).

Thou shalt again be adorned with ... tabrets - (1 Samuel 18:6). Or, 'adorn thyself with thy timbrels;' used by damsels on occasions of public rejoicings, and especially in compliment to heroes returning from a victory (Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34). Israel had cast away all instruments of joy in her exile (Psalms 137:4).

Go forth in the dances - expression of holy joy, not carnal mirth.

Verse 5

Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria - the metropolis of the ten tribes, here equivalent to Israel. The mountainous nature of their country suited the growth of the vine.

The planters shall ... eat them as common - literally, shall profane - i:e., shall put to common use. For the first three years after planting, the vine was "not to be eaten of;" on the fourth year the fruit was to be "holy, to praise the Lord withal;" on the fifth year the fruit was to be eaten of as common, no longer restricted to holy use (Leviticus 19:23-25: cf. Deuteronomy 20:6; Deuteronomy 28:30, margin.) Thus the idea here is, 'The same persons who plant shall reap the fruits;' it shall no longer be that one shall plant and another reap the fruit.

Verse 6

For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.

The watchmen ... shall cry. The watchmen, stationed on eminences (types of the preachers of the Gospel) shall summon the 10 tribes to go up to the annual feasts at Jerusalem ("Zion"), as they used to do before the revolt and the setting up of the idol calves at Dan and Beersheba (Ezekiel 37:21-22).

Mount Ephraim - not one single mountain, but the whole mountainous region of the ten tribes.

Let us go up ... unto the Lord our God - from whom we formerly revolted, but who is now our God. A guarantee of that good time to come is given in the partial success of the Gospel in its first preaching in Samaria (Jeremiah 31:5; John 4:1; Acts 8:5-25).

Verse 7

For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

Sing ... praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people. The people are urged with praises and prayers to supplicate for their universal restoration. Yahweh is represented in the context (Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 31:8) as promising immediately to restore Israel. They therefore praise God for the restoration, being as certain of it as if it were actually accomplished; and at the same time pray for it, as prayer was a means to the desired end. Prayer does not move God to grant our wishes, but when God has determined to grant our wishes He puts it into our hearts to pray for the thing desired. Compare Psalms 102:13-17, as to the connection of Israel's restoration with the prayers of His people (Isaiah 62:1-6). With gladness for Jacob - on account of Jacob; on account of his approaching deliverance by Yahweh.

Among - for, i:e., on account of, would more exactly suit the parallelism to "for Jacob."

Chief of the nations - Israel, as the parallelism to "Jacob," proves (cf. Exodus 19:5; Psalms 135:4; Amos 6:1) God estimates the greatness of nations not by man's standard of material resources, but by His electing favour.

Verse 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.

From the north - Assyria, Media, etc. (note, Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 23:8).

I will gather them from the coasts of the earth - (Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 34:13).

With them the blind and the lame ... - not even the most infirm and unfit persons for a journey shall be left behind, so universal shall be the restoration.

A great company shall return - or, they shall return 'in a great company' (Maurer).

Verse 9

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

They shall come with weeping - for their past sins, which caused their exile (Psalms 124:5-6). Although they come with weeping, they shall return with joy (Jeremiah 50:4-5).

With supplications - (cf. Jeremiah 31:18-19; Jeremiah 3:21-25; Zechariah 12:10) [uwbªtachªnuwniym], margin translates 'favours,' as in Joshua 11:20; Ezra 9:8; thus God's favours or compassions are put in opposition to the people's weeping; their tears shall be turned into joy. But the English version suits the parallelism best.

I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way - (Isaiah 35:6-8; Isaiah 43:19; Isaiah 49:10-11). God will give them waters to satisfy their thirst, as in the wilderness-journey from Egypt. So spiritually (Matthew 5:6; John 7:37-38). Ephraim - the ten tribes no longer severed from Judah, but forming one people with it.

My first-born - (Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Romans 9:4, "To whom (the Israelites) pertaineth the adoption"). So the elect Church is spiritually begotten of God by adoption (2 Corinthians 6:18; James 1:18).

Verse 10

Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

Hear ... O ye nations ... He that scattered Israel will gather him. The tidings of God's interposition in behalf of Israel will arrest the attention of even the uttermost Gentile nations.

He that scattered will gather - He who scattered knows where to find Israel; He who smote can also heal.

And keep him - He not only will gather, but also will keep safely to the end (John 13:1; John 17:11).

Shepherd - (Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:12-14, "As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will deliver them out of all ... ").

Verse 11

For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

The Lord hath ... ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger - no strength of the foe can prevent the Lord from delivering Jacob (Isaiah 49:24-25).

Verse 12

Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

Height of Zion - (Ezekiel 17:23). They ... shall flow - there shall be a conflux of worshippers to the temple on Zion (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1).

To the goodness of the Lord - (see Jeremiah 31:14). Beneficence - i:e., then shall all congregate together to the Lord, as the source of all good things, to pray to Him and praise Him for these blessings of which He is the Fountain-head (Hosea 3:5, "The children of Israel ... shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days").

Their soul shall be as a watered garden - (Isaiah 58:11). Not merely for a time, but continually full of holy comfort.

They shall not sorrow anymore - referring to the Church triumphant as well as literal Israel (Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:19; Revelation 21:4).

Verse 13

Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

Young ... old - (Zechariah 8:4-5).

Verse 14

And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

My goodness - (Jeremiah 31:12).

Verse 15

Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

Ramah - in Benjamin, east of the great northern road, two hours' journey from Jerusalem. Rachel, who all her life had pined for children (Genesis 30:1), and who died with "sorrow" in giving birth to Benjamin, so that she called his name Benoni, "son of my sorrow," (Genesis 35:18-19, margin; 1 Samuel 10:2), and was buried at Ramah, near Bethlehem, is represented as raising her head from the tomb, and as breaking forth into "weeping" at seeing the whole land depopulated of her sons, the Ephraimites. Ramah was the place where Nebuzaradan collected all the Jews in chains, previous to their removal to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:1). God therefore consoles her with the promise of their restoration. Matthew 2:17-18, quotes this as fulfilled in the massacre of the innocents under Herod. 'A lesser and a greater event, of different times, may answer to the single sense of one passage of Scripture, until the prophecy is exhausted' (Bengel).

Besides the temporary reference to the exiles in Babylon, the Holy Spirit fo reshadowed ultimately Messiah's exile in Egypt, and the desolation caused in the neighbourhood of Rachel's tomb by Herod's massacre of the children, whose mothers had "sons of sorrow" (Benoni), just as Rachel had. The return of Messiah (the representative of Israel) from Egypt, and the future restoration of Israel, both the literal Israel and the spiritual (including the innocents), at the Lord's second advent, are antitypical to the restoration of Israel from Babylon, which is the ground of consolation held out here by Jeremiah. The clause, "They were not" - i:e., were dead (Genesis 42:13), does not apply so strictly to the exiles in Babylon as it does to the history of Messiah and His people-past, present, and future. So the words, "There is hope in thine end," are to be fulfilled ultimately, when Rachel shall meet her murdered children at the resurrection, at the same time that literal Israel is to be restored. "They were not," in Hebrew, is singular; each was not; each mother at the Bethlehem massacre had but one child to lament, as the limitation of age in Herod's order, "two years and under," implies. This use of the singular distributively (the mothers weeping severally, each for her own child) is a coincidence between the prophecy of the Bethlehem massacre and the event, the more remarkable as not being obvious: the singular, too, is appropriate as to Messiah in His Egyptian exile, who was to be a leading object of Rachel's lamentation.

Verse 16

Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

Thy work - thy parental weeping for thy children (Rosenmuller).

Shall be rewarded - thine affliction in the loss of thy children, murdered for Christ's sake, shall not be fruitless to thee, as was the case in thy giving birth to the "child of thy sorrow," Benjamin. Primarily, also, thy grief shall not be perpetual; the exiles shall return, and the land be inhabited again (Calvin).

They shall come again - (Hosea 1:11).

Verse 17

And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

There is hope in thine end - all thy calamities shall have a prosperous issue.

Verse 18

I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.

Ephraim - representing the ten tribes.

Bemoaning himself - the spirit of penitent supplication shall at last be poured on Israel as the necessary forerunner of their restoration (Zechariah 12:10-14).

Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised. In the first clause the chastisement itself is meant; in the second, the beneficial effect of it in teaching the penitent true wisdom.

As a bullock unaccustomed to ... yoke. A similar image occurs Deuteronomy 32:15. Compare "stiff-necked," Acts 7:51; Exodus 32:9; an image from refractory oxen. Before my chastisement I needed the severe correction I received as much as an untamed bullock needs the goad. Compare Acts 9:5, where the same figure is used of Saul while unconverted. Israel has had a longer chastisement than Judah, not having been restored even at the Jews' return from Babylon. Hereafter, at her restoration, she shall confess the sore discipline was all needed to 'accustom' her to God's and His Christ's "easy yoke" (Matthew 11:29-30).

Turn thou me (to Thyself) - by thy converting Spirit (Lamentations 5:21). But why does Ephraim pray for conversion, seeing that he is already converted? Because we are converted by progressive steps, and need the same power of God to carry forward as to originate our conversion (John 6:44; John 6:65: cf. with Isaiah 27:3; 1 Peter 1:5; Philippians 1:6).

Verse 19

Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.

After that I was turned, I repented - repentance in the full sense follows, not precedes, our being turned to God by God (Zechariah 12:10). The Jews' "looking to Him whom they pierced" shall result in their "mourning for Him." Repentance is the tear that flows from the eye of faith turned to Jesus. Himself gives it; we give it not to ourselves, but must come to Him for it (Acts 5:31).

After that I was instructed - made to learn by chastisement. God's Spirit often works through the corrections of His providence.

I smote upon my thigh - (Ezekiel 21:12). A token of indignant remorse, shame, and grief, because of his past I smote upon my thigh - (Ezekiel 21:12). A token of indignant remorse, shame, and grief, because of his past sin.

Because I did bear the reproach of my youth - `because the calamities which I bore were the just punishment of my scandalous wantonness against God in my youth,' alluding to the idols set up at Dan and Bethel immediately after that the ten tribes revolted from Judah. His sense of shame shows that he no longer delights in his sin.

Verse 20

Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.

Is Ephraim my dear son? ... The question implies that a negative answer was to be expected. Who would have thought that one so undutiful to His heavenly Father as Ephraim had been should still be regarded by God as a "pleasant child." Certainly he was not so in respect to his sin. But by virtue of God's "everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3), on Ephraim's being "turned" to God, he was immediately welcomed as God's "dear son." This 20th verse sets forth God's readiness to welcome the penitent (Jeremiah 31:18-19), anticipating his return with prevenient grace and love. (Compare Luke 15:20, "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion," etc.)

Since I spake against him - threatened him idolatry.

I do earnestly remember him still - with favour and concern, as in Genesis 8:1; Genesis 30:22.

My bowels are troubled for him - (Deuteronomy 32:36; Isaiah 63:15; Hosea 11:8) namely, with the yearnings of compassionate love. "The "bowels" include the region of the heart, the seat of the affections.

Verse 21

Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.

Set thee up way-marks - pillars to mark the road for the returning exile. Caravans set up pillars, or pointed heaps of stones, to mark the way through the desert against their return. So Israel is told by God to mark the way by which they went in leaving their country for exile; for by the same way they shall return.

Set thine heart toward the highway - (Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 35:10).

Verse 22

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

How long wilt thou go about - namely, after human helps (Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:23; Jeremiah 2:36). Why not return immediately to me? Maurer and Michaelis translate, as in Song of Solomon 5:6, 'How long wilt thou withdraw thyself?' Let thy past backslidings suffice thee, now that a new era approaches. Lee translates, 'How long wilt thou act undecidedly?' The English version, "How long wilt thou go about?" accords with the Hebrew [chamaq] (Gesenius, Winer); but may be explained as Lee and Henderson do. What God finds fault with in them is, that they looked here and there, leaning on contingencies, instead of at once trusting the Word of God, which promised their restoration. To assure them of this, God promises to create a new thing in their LAND, A woman shall compass a man. Calvin explains this: Israel, who is feeble as a woman, shall be superior to the warlike Chaldeans; the captives shall reduce their captors to captivity. Hengstenberg make the "woman" the Jewish Church, and the "man" Yahweh, her husband, whose love she will again seek (Hosea 2:6-7). Maurer, A woman shall compass about so as to protect (Deuteronomy 32:10, margin; Psalms 32:10) a Man 1:-1 :e., You need fear no foes in returning, because all things shall be so peaceful that a woman would be able to take man's part, and act as his protector. But the Christian fathers almost unanimously (Augustine, etc.) interpreted it of the Virgin Mary compassing Christ in her womb. The objection is alleged that caabab (H5437) is not elsewhere used to mean gestation in the womb. But it does mean to surround; and also to be the cause, occasion, or starting-point of a thing (cf. 1 Kings 12:15, "The cause was from the Lord"). This was "the new thing in the earth," a woman, without a man, should bear in her womb a man; not that she created the child, but that she was the divinely-appointed vehicle and starting-point of the child's birth. This view is favoured,

(1) By the connection; it gives a reason why the exiles should desire a return to their country-namely, because Christ was conceived there.

(2) The word "created" implies a divine power put forth in the creation of a body in the Virgin's womb by the Holy Spirit for the second Adam, such as was exerted in creating the first Adam (Luke 1:35; Hebrews 10:5, "A body hast thou prepared me").

(3) The phrase "a new thing," something unprecedented; a man whose like had never existed before, at once God and man; a mother out of the ordinary course of nature, at once mother and virgin. An extraordinary mode of generation; one conceived by the Holy Spirit without man.

(4) The specification 'in the land' (not "earth," as the English version), namely, of Judah, where probably Christ was conceived, in Hebron (cf. Luke 1:39; Luke 1:41-42; Luke 1:44, with Joshua 21:11); or else in Nazareth, 'in the territory' of Israel, to whom Jeremiah 31:5-6; Jeremiah 31:15; Jeremiah 31:18; Jeremiah 31:21 refer; His birth was at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6). As the place of His nativity, and that of His being reared (Matthew 2:23), and that of His preaching (the temple, Haggai 2:7; Malachi 2:1), are specified, so it is likely the Holy Spirit designated the place of His being conceived.

(5) The Hebrew for "woman" [ nªqeebaah (H5347)] implies an individual, as the Virgin Mary, rather than a collection of persons.

(6) The restoration of Israel is grounded on God's covenant in Christ, to whom, therefore, allusion is naturally made as the foundation of Israel's hope (cf. Isaiah 7:14). The Virgin Mary's conception of Messiah, in the womb answers to the "virgin of Israel" (therefore so called Jeremiah 31:21) - i:e., Israel and her sons, at their final restoration, receiving Jesus as Messiah (Zechariah 12:10).

(7) The reference to the conception of the child Messiah accords with the mention of the massacre of "children" referred to Jeremiah 31:15 (cf. Matthew 2:17); His birth would repair the evil caused by their death. The Hebrew [ gaaber (H1397)] for "man" is properly 'mighty man,' a term applied to God, Deuteronomy 10:17; and to Christ, Zechariah 13:7 (cf. Psalms 45:3; Isaiah 9:6). (Calovius.)

Verse 23

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.

As yet they shall use this speech in ... Judah ... The Lord bless thee, O habitation of justice. Jerusalem again shall be the metropolis of the whole nation, the seat of "justice" (Psalms 122:5-8; Isaiah 1:26), and of sacred worship ("holiness"), on mount Moriah (Zechariah 8:3, "Jerusalem shall be called, A city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, The holy mountain").

Verse 24

And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.

In Judah itself, and in all the cities ... farmers, and they ... with flocks - two classes, citizens and countrymen, the latter divided into agriculturists and shepherds, all alike in security, though the latter were to be outside the protection of city walls. "Judah" here stands for the country, as distinguished from its cities.

Verse 25

For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

I have satiated the weary ... sorrowful soul - the weary, sorrowful, and indigent state of Israel will prove no obstacle in the way of my helping them.

Verse 26

Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

Upon this I awaked - the words of Jeremiah, Upon this (or, By reason of this) announcement of a happy restoration, I awaked from the prophetic dream vouchsafed to me (Jeremiah 23:25), with the sweet impression thereof remaining on my mind.

My sleep was sweet unto me - "sleep" here means dream, as in Psalms 90:5

Verse 27

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

I will sow ... Israel ... with the seed of man, and ... beast. He shows how a land so depopulated shall again be populated. God will cause both men and beasts in it to increase to a multitude (Ezekiel 36:9-11; Hosea 2:23).

Verse 28

And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.

Like as I have watched over them ... to destroy ... so will I watch over them to build - (Jeremiah 44:27). The same God who, as it were (in human language), was on the watch for all means to destroy, shall be as much on the watch for the means of their restoration.

Verse 29

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.

In those days - after their punishment has been completed, and mercy again visits them.

The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge - the proverb among the exiles' children born in Babylon, to express that they suffered the evil consequences of their fathers' sins, rather than of their own (Lamentations 5:7; Exodus 18:2-3).

Verse 30

But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Every one, shall die for his own iniquity - (Galatians 6:5; Galatians 6:7, "Every man shall bear his own burden ... Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap").

Verse 31

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

The days come ... that I will make a new covenant with ... Israel ... Judah. The new covenant is made with literal Israel and Judah, not with the spiritual Israel, i:e., believers, except secondarily, and as grafted on the stock of Israel (Romans 11:16-27). For the whole subject of Jeremiah 30:1-24; Jeremiah 31:1-40 is the restoration of the Hebrews (Jeremiah 30:4; Jeremiah 30:7; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 31:7; Jeremiah 31:10-11; Jeremiah 31:23-24; Jeremiah 31:27; Jeremiah 31:36). With the "remnant according to the election of grace" in Israel the new covenant has already taken effect. But with regard to the whole nation, its realization is reserved for the last days, to which Paul refers this prophecy in an abridged form (Romans 11:27).

Verse 32

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers - i:e., The Old Testament covenant as contrasted with our Gospel covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12; Hebrews 10:16-17, where this prophecy is quoted to prove the abrogation of the law by the Gospel), of which the distinguishing features are its securing, by an adequate atonement, the forgiveness of sins (Jeremiah 31:34, end), and by the inworking of effectual grace insuring permanent obedience (Jeremiah 31:33). An earnest of this is given partially in the present eclectic or elect Church, gathered out of Jews and Gentiles. But the promise here to Israel in the last days is national and universal, and effected by an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Ezekiel 11:17-20), independent of any merit on their part (Ezekiel 36:25-32; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:23-28; Zechariah 12:10; 2 Corinthians 3:16).

In the day that I took them by the hand - (Deuteronomy 1:31; Hosea 11:3, "I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms").

Although I was an husband - (cf. Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 2:7-8). But the Septuagint [eemeleesa autoon], Syriac, and Paul (Hebrews 8:9), translate [ba`altiy], 'I regarded them not;' and Gesenius, etc., justify this rendering of the Hebrew from the Arabic. The double and diverse meaning arises from the literal sense of the Hebrew word [ baa`al (H1166)], to be lord, i:e., husband to a woman; or else to lord it over one, to domineer, to act as a stern judge and master. The Hebrews regarded not God, so God regarded them not.

Verse 33

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

I will be their God - (Jeremiah 32:38).

Verse 34

And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

They shall teach no more ... every man his brother ... for they shall all know me from the least ... unto the greatest of them. True specially of Israel (Isaiah 54:13); secondarily true of believers (John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 John 2:20).

I will forgive their iniquity, and ... remember their sin no more - (Jeremiah 33:8; Jeremiah 50:20; Micah 7:18-19) applying peculiarly to Israel (Romans 11:26-27); secondarily, all believers (Acts 10:43).

Verse 35

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:

Thus saith the Lord ... which divideth the sea when the waves ... roar; The Lord of hosts is his name - quoted from Isaiah 51:15, the genuineness of which passage is thus established on Jeremiah's authority.

Verse 36

If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

If those ordinances depart ... then ... Israel also shall cease from being a nation. Israel's national polity has been broken up by the Romans. But their preservation as a distinct people amidst violent persecutions, though scattered among all nations for 18 centuries, unamalgamated, whereas all other peoples under such circumstances have become incorporated with the nations in which they have been dispersed, is a perpetual standing miracle (cf. Jeremiah 33:20-21; Psalms 148:6; Isaiah 54:9-10).

Verse 37

Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

If heaven above can be measured ... I will also cast off all the seed of Israel - (Jeremiah 33:22).

For all that they have done - namely, for all their sins. God will regard His own covenant-promise, rather than their merits.

Verse 38

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.

The city shall be built ... from the tower of Hananeel - the city shall extend beyond its former bounds (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39; Zechariah 14:10).

The gate of the corner - (2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9).

Verse 39

And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.

The measuring line - (Ezekiel 40:8; Zechariah 2:1).

Gareb - from a Hebrew root [gaarab], to scrape; Syriac, leprosy: the locality outside the city where lepers were removed to.

Goath - from a root [ gaawa` (H1478)] to lose one's breath with toil, to toil, referring to the toilsome ascent there: outside of the city of David, toward the southwest, as Gareb was northwest (Junius).

Verse 40

And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

The whole valley of the dead bodies - Tophet, where the bodies of criminals were cast (Isaiah 30:33), south of the city.

The fields unto the brook of Kidron - so 2 Kings 23:4. Fields in the suburbs, reaching as far as Kidron, east of the city.

The horse gate - through it the king's horses were led forth for watering to the brook Kidron (2 Kings 11:16; Nehemiah 3:28).

Forever. The city shall not, only be spacious, but both "holy to the Lord" - i:e., freed from all pollutions-and everlasting (Joel 3:17; Joel 3:20); the earthly model of the final and heavenly city (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10; Revelation 21:27).


(1) God's promises of restoration and renewal of His favour to Israel hereafter are grounded upon His "everlasting love." It was from this source flowed His past favour to them in Egypt, and "in the wilderness, when God went to cause them to rest" (Jeremiah 31:2). Hence, also was derived the "loving-kindness" wherewith He "drew them" to Himself (Jeremiah 31:3).

(2) The ground of hope to the spiritual Israel is the same: the past favours and grace which the believer has received from God are a pledge to him that the same Lord "who hath begun a good work in him, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). The love of God in Christ to believers, and His choice of them in Christ, were "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4). In due time He, by His Spirit, has "drawn" them to Himself (John 6:44); He will not then "forsake the works of His own hands," but "will perfect that which concerneth" them (Psalms 138:8). For "His gifts and calling are" unchangeable (Romans 11:29).

(3) God's way of conve rting sinners to Himself answers to the mode here described of His future restoration of Israel. Since the watchmen upon Mount Ephraim are represented as crying, "Arise ye, let us go up to Zion, unto the Lord our God" (Jeremiah 31:6), so the ministers who faithfully watch for souls are made the instruments of awakening the unconverted, and turning them from the broad way to the narrow way which leads to heaven and to God. Though awakened sinners at first "come with weeping," yet it is "in a straight way" that they are led, a way in which "they shall not stumble" (Jeremiah 31:9), and wherein, when filled with joy of the Holy Spirit, they shall "sing with gladness" (Jeremiah 31:7). Their chastisements are sanctified to them: as "He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock." So the God who smites His believing people at times for their offences, will also heal them, and "keep them by His power through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). In vain Satan opposes, "for the Lord hath ransomed them from the hand of him that was stronger than they" (Jeremiah 31:11). And though now the people of God mourn at times in their present wilderness journey, "the Lord will" ere long "turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow" (Jeremiah 31:13). Then shall "the soul's" large aspirations and capabilities of happiness be fully and everlastingly "satisfied" and replenished" with the goodness of the Lord." himself (Jeremiah 31:14; Jeremiah 31:25): their weariness of spirit shall cease, and the redeemed "shall not sorrow anymore at all" (Jeremiah 31:12).

(4) The believing mother, who has lost by death her darling children, ought not, like Rachel weeping for her children in the prophet's poetical picture, to weep as one who has no hope, and who therefore "refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are not" (Jeremiah 31:15). Faith tells us they still are, and that they shall at the resurrection "come again from the land of the enemy" (Jeremiah 31:16): so that we "sorrow not" for the departed ones "as others who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Blessed be God, "there is hope in the believer's end" (Jeremiah 31:17), a hope that maketh not ashamed: His end is peace.

(5) The first step in Israel's future restoration will be, the spirit of penitent supplication shall be poured upon her. The teachings of God's Spirit shall accompany the chastenings of His providence. So she shall "bemoan" her past perversity and refractoriness, and acknowledge the wisdom and love that characterized God's chastisements of her. Feeling her own inability to turn to the Lord, she will pray, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned." Repentance is not our work, but the work of God's grace in whomsoever He will. No man is ever converted to God until God has first turned him to Himself: and it is not until "after that" the sinner has been so "turned" by God that he truly repents, with heartfelt indignation at himself, and with remorse and grief because of his past sin (Jeremiah 31:19).

(6) Then, indeed, God, who has been long waiting to be gracious, hails with joy His penitent son: "Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child?" Ephraim's repentance is followed by an expression on God's part of the pleasure which He has in him as His dear son, though Ephraim's past rebellion might seem to disqualify him from being an object of God's pleasure. Not that Ephraim's repentance moved God to have mercy on him; but God's "mercy," flowing from His "everlasting love," which never lost sight of him, in the first instance "turned" Ephraim to his heavenly Father, and then welcomed the returning prodigal with open arms, and with bowels of compassion which long yearned over him (Jeremiah 31:20). Ephraim is encouraged to return by the promise of a NEW, unheard-of, unprecedented thing, Messiah's birth of a pure virgin (Jeremiah 31:22). The gift of the Saviour is the strongest incentive to repentance of our past backslidings from God, and wanderings here and there (Jeremiah 31:22) after earthly objects of trust.

(7) The new covenant in Christ, made by God with both literal and spiritual Israel, provides for all the needs of men's souls-pardoning grace for the removal of their past guilt, and sanctifying grace, whereby the Spirit of Christ writes the law in their hearts, that so their may sin no more (Jeremiah 31:32-34). In the Old Dispensation the law was written only on tables of stone; it was but an external rule, affording no power for its fulfillment: but now, under the Gospel, God himself is the teacher of believers, and inscribes the law of love, which is the fulfillment of the law of the decalogue, inwardly on the will and conscience. As yet, the realization of this is limited to the elect few, and even in their case sanctification is but partial here. But the full accomplishment of the prophecy is still future, and belongs to literal Israel first, and then through her instrumentality it shall extend to all the earth. The Lord's promise, His covenant, and His oath, are all pledged for the future blessing of Israel as a nation (Jeremiah 31:36), and that universally; then, and not until then, "shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). The ordinances of the sun and the moon can sooner depart than the promises of God's unsearchable love to His people be broken (Jeremiah 31:36-37).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-31.html. 1871-8.
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