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.
you who were once like an unfaithful daughter? 5
something as unique as a woman protecting a man!’” 8
“I will restore the people of Judah to their land and to their towns.
‘May the Lord bless you, you holy mountain,
the place where righteousness dwells.’ 12
31:24 The land of Judah will be inhabited by people who live in its towns
as well as by farmers and shepherds with their flocks. 13
31:25 I will fully satisfy the needs of those who are weary
and fully refresh the souls of those who are faint. 14
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.)
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.
4 tn The translation “dilly-dally” is suggested by J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 276. The verb occurs only here in this stem (the Hitpael) and only one other time in any other stem (the Qal in Song 5:6). The dictionaries define it as “to turn this way and that” (cf., e.g., BDB 330 s.v. חָמַק Hithp.). In the context it refers to turning this way and that looking for the way back.
5 sn Israel’s backsliding is forgotten and forgiven. They had once been characterized as an apostate people (3:14, 22; the word “apostate” and “unfaithful” are the same in Hebrew) and figuratively depicted as an adulterous wife (3:20). Now they are viewed as having responded to his invitation (compare 31:18-19 with 3:22-25). Hence they are no longer depicted as an unfaithful daughter but as an unsullied virgin (see the literal translation of “my dear children” in vv. 4, 21 and the study note on v. 4.)
6 tn Heb “For the
7 sn Heb “create.” This word is always used with God as the subject and refers to the production of something new or unique, like the creation of the world and the first man and woman (Gen 1:1; 2:3; 1:27; 5:1) or the creation of a new heavens and a new earth in a new age (Isa 65:17), or the bringing about of new and unique circumstances (Num 16:30). Here reference is made contextually to the new exodus, that marvelous deliverance which will be so great that the old will pale in comparison (see the first note on v. 9).
8 tn The meaning of this last line is uncertain. The translation has taken it as proverbial for something new and unique. For a fairly complete discussion of most of the options see C. Feinberg, “Jeremiah,” EBC 6:571. For the nuance of “protecting” for the verb here see BDB 686 s.v. סָבַב Po‘ 1 and compare the usage in Deut 32:10.
10 tn Heb “They [i.e., people (the indefinite plural, GKC 460 §144.g)] will again say in the land of Judah and in its cities when I restore their fortunes.” For the meaning of the idiom “to restore the fortunes” see the translator’s note on 29:14.
11 tn The words “of Jerusalem” are not in the text but it is implicit in the titles that follow. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity to aid in identifying the referent.
12 sn The blessing pronounced on the city of Zion/Jerusalem by the restored exiles looks at the restoration of its once exalted state as the city known for its sanctity and its just dealing (see Isa 1:21 and Ps 122). This was a reversal of the state of Jerusalem in the time of Isaiah and Jeremiah where wickedness not righteousness characterized the inhabitants of the city (cf. Isa 1:21; Jer 4:14; 5:1; 13:27). The blessing here presupposes the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the temple which gave the city its sanctity.
13 tn The translation “those who move about with their flocks” is based on an emendation of the Hebrew text which reads a third plural Qal perfect (נָסְעוּ, nos’u) to a masculine plural Qal participle in the construct (נֹסְעֵי, nosÿ’e) as suggested in the BHS fn. For the use of the construct participle before a noun with a preposition see GKC 421 §130.a. It is generally agreed that three classes of people are referred to here, townspeople, farmers, and shepherds. But the syntax of the Hebrew sentence is a little awkward: “And they [i.e., “people” (the indefinite plural, GKC 460 §144.g)] will live in it, Judah and all its cities [an apposition of nearer definition (GKC 425-26 §131.n)], [along with] farmers and those who move about with their flocks.” The first line refers awkwardly to the townspeople and the other two classes are added asyndetically (i.e., without the conjunction “and”).
14 tn The verbs here again emphasize that the actions are as good as done (i.e., they are prophetic perfects; cf. GKC 312-13 §106.n).
sn For the concept here compare Jer 31:12 where the promise was applied to northern Israel. This represents the reversal of the conditions that would characterize the exiles according to the covenant curse of Deut 28:65-67.