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Jeremiah 31:1-6

Context

31:1 At that time I will be the God of all the clans of Israel 1 

and they will be my people.

I, the Lord, affirm it!” 2 

Israel Will Be Restored and Join Judah in Worship

31:2 The Lord says,

“The people of Israel who survived

death at the hands of the enemy 3 

will find favor in the wilderness

as they journey to find rest for themselves.

31:3 In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them.

He will say to them, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love.

That is why I have continued to be faithful to you. 4 

31:4 I will rebuild you, my dear children Israel, 5 

so that you will once again be built up.

Once again you will take up the tambourine

and join in the happy throng of dancers. 6 

31:5 Once again you will plant vineyards

on the hills of Samaria. 7 

Those who plant them

will once again enjoy their fruit. 8 

31:6 Yes, a time is coming

when watchmen 9  will call out on the mountains of Ephraim,

“Come! Let us go to Zion

to worship the Lord our God!”’” 10 

1 sn This verse repeats v. 22 but with specific reference to all the clans of Israel, i.e., to all Israel and Judah. It functions here as a transition to the next section which will deal with the restoration of Israel (31:3-20) and Judah (31:21-25) and their reunification in the land (31:27-29) under a new covenant relation with God (31:31-37). See also the study note on 30:3 for further reference to this reunification in Jeremiah and the other prophets.

2 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”

3 tn Heb “who survived the sword.”

sn This refers to the remnant of northern Israel who had not been killed when Assyria conquered Israel in 722 b.c. or who had not died in exile. References to Samaria in v. 5 and to Ephraim in vv. 6, 9 make clear that northern Israel is in view here.

4 tn Or “The people of Israel who survived the onslaughts of Egypt and Amalek found favor in the wilderness as they journeyed to find rest. At that time long ago the Lord manifested himself to them. He said, ‘I have…That is why I have drawn you to myself through my unfailing kindness.’” For the basis for each of these translations see the translator’s note. There is debate whether the reference here is to God’s preservation of Israel during their wandering in the Sinai desert or his promise to protect and preserve them on their return through the Arabian desert on the way back from Assyria and Babylon (see e.g., Isa 42:14-16; 43:16-21; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8). The only finite verbs in vv. 2-3a before the introduction of the quote are perfects which can denote either a past act or a future act viewed as certain of fulfillment (the prophetic perfect; see GKC 312-13 §106.n and see examples in Jer 11:16; 13:17; 25:14; 28:4). The phrase at the beginning of v. 3 can either refer to temporal (cf. BDB 935 s.v. רָחוֹק 2.b and Isa 22:11) or spatial distance (cf. BDB 935 s.v. רָחוֹק 2.a[2] and Isa 5:29; 59:14). The verb in the final clause in v. 3 can refer to either the continuance of God’s love as in Ps 36:10 (cf. BDB 604 s.v. מָשַׁךְ Qal.5) or drawing someone to him in electing, caring love as in Hos 11:4 (cf. BDB 604 s.v. מָשַׁךְ Qal.1). The translation has opted for the prophetic reference to future deliverance because of the preceding context, the use of מֵרָחוֹק (merakhoq) to refer to the far off land of exile in Jer 30:10; 46:27; 51:50, and the reference to survivors from the sword being called on to remember the Lord in that far off land in 51:50.

5 tn Heb “Virgin Israel.”

sn For the significance of this metaphor see the note on Jer 14:17. Here the emphasis appears on his special love and care for his people and the hint (further developed in vv. 21-22) that, though guilty of sin, he considers them like an innocent young virgin.

6 sn Contrast Jer 7:34 and 25:10.

7 map For location see Map2 B1; Map4 D3; Map5 E2; Map6 A4; Map7 C1.

8 sn The terms used here refer to the enjoyment of a period of peace and stability and the reversal of the curse (contrast, e.g., Deut 28:30). The Hebrew word translated “enjoy its fruit” is a technical one that refers to the owner of a vineyard getting to enjoy its fruit in the fifth year after it was planted, the crops of the first three years lying fallow, and that of the fourth being given to the Lord (cf. Lev 19:23-25).

9 sn Watchmen were stationed at vantage points to pass on warning of coming attack (Jer 6:17; Ezek 33:2, 6) or to spread the news of victory (Isa 52:8). Here reference is made to the watchmen who signaled the special times of the year such as the new moon and festival times when Israel was to go to Jerusalem to worship. Reference is not made to these in the Hebrew Bible but there is a good deal of instruction regarding them in the later Babylonian Talmud.

10 sn Not only will Israel and Judah be reunited under one ruler (cf. 23:5-6), but they will share a unified place and practice of worship once again in contrast to Israel using the illicit places of worship, illicit priesthood, and illicit feasts instituted by Jeroboam (1 Kgs 12:26-31) and continued until the downfall of Samaria in 722 b.c.



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