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Jeremiah 31:36-40


31:36 The Lord affirms, 1  “The descendants of Israel will not

cease forever to be a nation in my sight.

That could only happen if the fixed ordering of the heavenly lights

were to cease to operate before me.” 2 

31:37 The Lord says, “I will not reject all the descendants of Israel

because of all that they have done. 3 

That could only happen if the heavens above could be measured

or the foundations of the earth below could all be explored,” 4 

says the Lord. 5 

Jerusalem Will Be Enlarged

31:38 “Indeed a time is coming,” 6  says the Lord, 7  “when the city of Jerusalem 8  will be rebuilt as my special city. 9  It will be built from the Tower of Hananel westward to the Corner Gate. 10  31:39 The boundary line will extend beyond that, straight west from there to the Hill of Gareb and then turn southward to Goah. 11  31:40 The whole valley where dead bodies and sacrificial ashes are thrown 12  and all the terraced fields 13  out to the Kidron Valley 14  on the east as far north 15  as the Horse Gate 16  will be included within this city that is sacred to the Lord. 17  The city will never again be torn down or destroyed.”

1 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

2 tn Heb “‘If these fixed orderings were to fail to be present before me,’ oracle of the Lord, ‘then the seed of Israel could cease from being a nation before me forever (or more literally, “all the days”).’” The sentence has been broken up to conform more to modern style. The connection has been maintained by reversing the order of condition and consequence and still retaining the condition in the second clause. For the meaning of “cease to operate” for the verb מוּשׁ (mush) compare the usage in Isa 54:10; Ps 55:11 (55:12 HT); Prov 17:13 where what is usually applied to persons or things is applied to abstract things like this (see HALOT 506 s.v. II מוּשׁ Qal for general usage).

3 sn This answers Jeremiah’s question in 14:19.

4 tn Heb “If the heavens above could be measured or the foundations of the earth below be explored, then also I could reject all the seed of Israel for all they have done.”

5 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

6 tc The words “is coming” (בָּאִים, baim) are not in the written text (Kethib) but are supplied in the margin (Qere), in several Hebrew mss and in the versions. It is part of the idiom that also occurs in vv. 27, 31.

sn On this idiom compare vv. 27, 31.

7 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

8 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

9 tn Heb “the city will be built to [or for] the Lord.” The words “of Jerusalem” are not in the text but are implicit from the context. They have been supplied in the translation for clarity. However, the word occurs in a first person speech so the translation has accommodated the switch in person as it has in a number of other places (compare also NIV, TEV, ICV).

10 tn The word “westward” is not in the text but is supplied in the translation to give some orientation.

sn The Tower of Hananel is referred to in Neh 3:1; 12:39; Zech 14:10. According to the directions given in Neh 3 it was in the northern wall, perhaps in the northeast corner, north of the temple mount. The Corner Gate is mentioned again in 2 Kgs 14:13; 2 Chr 25:23; 26:9; Zech 14:10. It is generally agreed that it was located in the northwest corner of the city.

11 tn The words “west” and “southward” are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to give some orientation.

sn The location of the Hill of Gareb and the place called Goah are not precisely known. However, it has been plausibly suggested from the other localities mentioned that the reference is to the hill west of the Hinnom valley mentioned in Josh 15:8. The location of Goah is generally placed south of that near the southwest corner of the Hinnom Valley which is referred to in the next verse.

12 sn It is generally agreed that this refers to the Hinnom Valley which was on the southwestern and southern side of the city. It was here where the people of Jerusalem had burned their children as sacrifices and where the Lord had said that there would be so many dead bodies when he punished them that they would be unable to bury all of them (cf. Jer 7:31-32). Reference here may be to those dead bodies and to the ashes of the cremated victims. This defiled place would be included within the holy city.

13 tc The translation here follows the Qere and a number of Hebrew mss in reading שְׁדֵמוֹת (shÿdemot) for the otherwise unknown word שְׁרֵמוֹת (shÿremot) exhibiting the common confusion of ר (resh) and ד (dalet). The fields of Kidron are mentioned also in 2 Kgs 23:4 as the place where Josiah burned the cult objects of Baal.

14 sn The Kidron Valley is the valley that joins the Hinnom Valley in the southeastern corner of the city and runs northward on the east side of the city.

15 tn The words “on the east” and “north” are not in the text but are supplied in the translation to give orientation.

16 sn The Horse Gate is mentioned in Neh 3:28 and is generally considered to have been located midway along the eastern wall just south of the temple area.

17 tn The words “will be included within this city that is” are not in the text. The text merely says that “The whole valley…will be sacred to the Lord.” These words have been supplied in the translation because they are really implicit in the description of the whole area as being included within the new city plan, not just the Hinnom and terraced fields as far as the Kidron Valley.

sn The area that is here delimited is larger than any of the known boundaries of Jerusalem during the OT period. Again, this refers to the increase in population of the restored community (cf. 31:27).

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