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Jeremiah 30:18-22

The Lord Will Restore Israel and Judah

30:18 The Lord says,

“I will restore the ruined houses of the descendants of Jacob.

I will show compassion on their ruined homes. 1 

Every city will be rebuilt on its former ruins. 2 

Every fortified dwelling will occupy its traditional site. 3 

30:19 Out of those places you will hear songs of thanksgiving 4 

and the sounds of laughter and merriment.

I will increase their number and they will not dwindle away. 5 

I will bring them honor and they will no longer be despised.

30:20 The descendants of Jacob will enjoy their former privileges.

Their community will be reestablished in my favor 6 

and I will punish all who try to oppress them.

30:21 One of their own people will be their leader.

Their ruler will come from their own number. 7 

I will invite him to approach me, and he will do so. 8 

For no one would dare approach me on his own. 9 

I, the Lord, affirm it! 10 

30:22 Then you will again be my people

and I will be your God. 11 

1 tn Heb “I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and will have compassion on his habitations.” For the meaning of the idiom “restore the fortunes of” see the translator’s note on 29:14. The “tents of Jacob” refers to their homes or houses (see BDB 14 s.v. אֹהֶל 2 and compare usage in Judg 19:9; Mal 2:12). The word “ruined” has been supplied in the translation to show more clearly the idea of restoration of their houses on their former sites in conformity to the concepts in the latter half of the verse.

2 sn Heb “on its tel.” A tel is a site where successive layers of occupation are built upon one another after the destruction or decay of the former city. The original site was not abandoned because it had been chosen for strategic purposes, such as proximity to water or ease of defense. Many modern archaeological sites have the designation “Tel” as a component of their name because of this practice.

3 tn Heb “according to its custom [or plan].” Cf. BDB 1049 s.v. מִשְׁפָּט 6.d and compare usage in 1 Sam 27:11.

4 tn Heb “Out of them will come thanksgiving and a sound of those who are playful.”

5 sn Compare Jer 29:6.

6 tn Heb “his children will be as in former times and his congregation/community will be established before me.” “His children” refers to “Jacob” who has been referred to in v. 18 in the phrase “I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob.” “His children” are thus the restored exiles. Some commentaries see the reference here to the restoration of numbers in accordance with the previous verse. However, the last line of this verse and the reference to the ruler in the following verse suggests rather restoration of the religious and political institutions to their former state. For the use of the word translated “community” (עֵדָה, ’edah) to refer to a political congregation as well as its normal use to refer to a religious one see 1 Kgs 12:20. For the idea of “in my favor” (i.e., under the eye and regard of) for the Hebrew phrase used here (לְפָנַי, lÿfanay) see BDB 817 s.v. פָּנֶה II.4.a(b).

7 sn The statement their ruler will come from their own number accords with the regulation in Deut 17:15. They would not be ruled by a foreign leader but by one of their own people. In v. 9 he is specifically said to come from the Davidic line. See the study note there.

8 sn Ordinarily this prerogative was confined to the priests and the Levites and even then under strict regulations (cf., e.g., Num 8:19; 16:10; Lev 16:10; 21:17; 22:3). Uzziah king of Judah violated this and suffered leprosy for having done so (2 Chr 26:16-20). It is clear, however, that both David and Solomon on occasion exercised priestly functions in the presence of the ark or the altar which it was normally lawful for only the priests to approach (cf., e.g., 2 Sam 6:13-14; 1 Kgs 8:22, 54-55). Here reference is probably not to the normal prerogatives of offering sacrifice or burning incense but access to God’s special presence at special times for the purpose of consultation.

9 tn Heb “For who is he who would pledge his heart to draw near to me.” The question is a rhetorical one expecting the answer “no one” and is a way of expressing an emphatic negative (see BDB 566 s.v. מִי f[c]). The concept of “pledging” something refers to putting up security in guarantee of payment. Here the word is used figuratively of “putting up one’s heart [i.e., his very being (cf. BDB 524 s.v. לֵב 7 and Ps 22:26)]” for the privilege of access to God. The rhetorical question denies that any one would do that if he were not bidden by God to do so.

10 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

11 sn This was their highest privilege (cf. Exod 6:7, Lev 26:12; Jer 24:7) but also their greatest responsibility (cf. Jer 7:3; 11:4). It is a formula referring to a covenant relationship in which God pledges to protect, provide, and be present with his people and they in turn promise to be loyal and obedient to him (see Deut 26:17-18; 29:10-13).

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