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Jeremiah 31:21

Context

31:21 I will say, 1  ‘My dear children of Israel, 2  keep in mind

the road you took when you were carried off. 3 

Mark off in your minds the landmarks.

Make a mental note of telltale signs marking the way back.

Return, my dear children of Israel.

Return to these cities of yours.

1 tn The words “I will say” are not in the text. They are supplied in the translation to mark the transition from the address about Israel in a response to Rachel’s weeping (vv. 15-20) to a direct address to Israel which is essentially the answer to Israel’s prayer of penitence (cf. G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 121.)

sn The Lord here invites Israel to stop dilly-dallying and prepare themselves to return because he is prepared to do something new and miraculous.

2 tn Heb “Virgin Israel.” For the significance see the study note on 31:3.

3 tn Heb “Set your mind to the highway, the way which you went.” The phrase “the way you went” has been translated “the road you took when you were carried off” to help the reader see the reference to the exile implicit in the context. The verb “which you went” is another example of the old second feminine singular which the Masoretes typically revocalize (Kethib הָלָכְתִּי [halakhti]; Qere הָלָכְתְּ [halakht]). The vocative has been supplied in the translation at the beginning to help make the transition from third person reference to Ephraim/Israel in the preceding to second person in the following and to identify the referent of the imperatives. Likewise, this line has been moved to the front to show that the reference to setting up sign posts and landmarks is not literal but figurative, referring to making a mental note of the way they took when carried off so that they can easily find their way back. Lines three and four in the Hebrew text read, “Set up sign posts for yourself; set up guideposts/landmarks for yourself.” The word translated “telltale signs marking the way” occurs only here. Though its etymology and precise meaning are unknown, all the lexicons agree in translating it as “sign post” or something similar based on the parallelism.



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