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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 31

 

 

Introduction

Jeremiah 27-29. Certain linguistic peculiarities (e.g. the incorrect spelling, Nebuchadnezzar) suggest that these three chapters may have circulated as a separate pamphlet, e.g. in Babylon. They deal with the rebuke of false hopes concerning a speedy return from exile.

Jeremiah 30-31. The Future of Israel and Judah.—These two chapters of prophecy, dealing with the future restoration of Israel and Judah, appear to be a later editorial insertion in the narrative scheme of Jeremiah 26-45, placed here perhaps because Jeremiah 32 and Jeremiah 33 contain narratives and prophecies dealing with the same subject (cf. also Jeremiah 29:10 ff.). In Jeremiah 30 and Jeremiah 31, there are numerous points of contact with Deutero-Isaiah, a fact which, with other features, has suggested to many scholars an exilic or post-exilic date for much that these chapters contain. The contrast with the general "pessimism" of earlier chapters is very noticeable. On the other hand, the internal evidence for Jeremiah 31:2-6, Jeremiah 31:15-22, Jeremiah 31:31-34 entitles us to regard these sections as Jeremianic.

Jeremiah 40-44. The next five chapters continue the biography of Jeremiah, including connected events, after the capture of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 46-51. The Foreign Prophecies.—These form the third principal division of the Book of Jeremiah. As already seen (Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:15), Jeremiah's prophetic horizon naturally included the surrounding nations; how far the prophecies that follow are his can be decided only by detailed criticism in each case. They refer, though in somewhat different order, to the several nations enumerated in Jeremiah 25:19-26 (which may be regarded as an introduction to them), except that an oracle on Damascus here replaces the reference to Tyre, Sidon, and the Mediterranean. (The LXX, which places this group of prophecies after Jeremiah 25:13, follows a third order.) It is generally admitted that the long prophecy on Babylon (Jeremiah 50 f.) is not by Jeremiah (see prefatory note). As to Jeremiah 46-49, there is considerable difference of opinion, ranging from Duhm's rejection of the whole, through Giesebrecht's acceptance of Jeremiah 47 (except towards end), with the nucleus of Jeremiah 46:2-12, Jeremiah 49:7-11, up to Cornill's acceptance of most of Jeremiah 46-49 (so also Peake). It is in any case natural to suppose that there are genuine prophecies by Jeremiah which underlie these chapters, though they have been worked over, or incorporated with other non-Jeremianic prophecies (e.g. Jeremiah 48) by later writers. For details, the larger commentaries must be consulted.

Jeremiah 26-45. These chapters, usually ascribed in the main to Baruch, chiefly narrate selected incidents in the life of Jeremiah, often with connected prophecies; they form a second main section of the book, in contrast with 1-25, which consist chiefly of prophecies, with little narrative.


Verses 1-6

Jeremiah 31:1-6. This prophecy of the restoration of the northern kingdom may belong, like ch. 3, to Jeremiah's early period. The northern Israelites shall be gathered from exile ("the wilderness"). Yahweh will appear from Zion (Jeremiah 31:3, mg.1; cf. Jeremiah 51:50), declaring His enduring love (Hosea 11:4), and will restore general happiness; in the security of tenure the vineyards (which require time for their development) will be replanted, and their keepers ("watchmen", Jeremiah 31:6) will call man to Zion (thus marking the union of the two kingdoms).

Jeremiah 31:2. The. tenses are "prophetic perfects". Render Jeremiah 31:2 b, with Driver, "I will go that I may cause Israel to rest".

Jeremiah 31:4. tabrets: tambourines; rendered "timbrels" in Exodus 15:20, Judges 11:34.


Verses 7-14

Jeremiah 31:7-14 (suggestive of Deutero-Isaiah). Let there be joy that Yahweh hath saved His people, for He will gather all to Palestine ("hither", Jeremiah 31:8), and they will come penitently to the Divine provision made for their need (Jeremiah 31:9 mg.; cf. Isaiah 49:10), made as for Yahweh's firstborn (1 Chronicles 5:1 f.). Let the nations make it known that Yahweh is the rescuing shepherd (Isaiah 40:11) of Israel, which is now gathered to the good things ("goodness", Jeremiah 31:12; cf. Genesis 45:20) of Zion; these are sufficient for all, so that they shall no more faint through hunger ("sorrow", Jeremiah 31:12, should be "pine"; cf. Jeremiah 31:25, "sorrowful"). The people will rejoice, and the priests will receive abundant offerings, because of the general prosperity.

Jeremiah 31:7. save thy people: read with LXX, Targ.: (Yahweh) "hath saved his people"; also read mg.

Jeremiah 31:10. isles: i.e. the Mediterranean with its coasts.

Jeremiah 31:14. satiate the soul: satisfy the appetite, Isaiah 55:2.


Verses 15-22

Jeremiah 31:15-22. Jeremiah hears Rachel (the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, Genesis 30:24; Genesis 35:16 ff.) weeping at (her grave near) Ramah, for her children, the northern exiles. He bids her refrain, in the certainty of their restoration. Their penitence is described (Jeremiah 31:18 f.). Yahweh expresses wonder (Jeremiah 31:20) at His own enduring love for this very precious son, this child of delight; He is moved to deep emotion, and, in spite of all, cannot abandon him. Let Israel indicate and note the way of return (Jeremiah 31:21), and persist in it (Jeremiah 31:22), for Yahweh will now bring the virgin Israel to cling around Him, offer herself to Him in true marital affection (Hosea 2:16, Isaiah 54:5 f.), as never before.

Jeremiah 31:15. Ramah: 5 m. N. of Jerusalem; cf. 1 Samuel 10:2. Matthew 21:7 f. follows the different tradition as to the site of the grave (vicinity of Bethlehem) given in Genesis 35:19*, Genesis 48:7.

Jeremiah 31:16. Shall be: emphatic.

Jeremiah 31:17. is: emphatic.

Jeremiah 31:18. turn thou me: better, "bring me back".

Jeremiah 31:19. turned: i.e. from thee; for the gesture of grief, see Ezekiel 21:12; the reproach is that springing from earlier sins.

Jeremiah 31:20. dear . . . pleasant: not strong enough for the Heb. The bowels, in Heb. psychology, are the seat of deep emotion (Jeremiah 4:19).

Jeremiah 31:21. set thine heart: denoting attention, not desire or affection.

Jeremiah 31:22 is difficult and dubious; some commentators emend, after Ewald and Duhm, into "A woman shall be turned into a man," i.e. "the weak shall be made strong"; the interpretation already given follows Driver.


Verses 23-26

Jeremiah 31:23-26. At the restoration of Judah there shall be joyous acclamation of the city and the Temple (Zechariah 8:3); agricultural and pastoral life shall be resumed in peace; the thirsty and the hungry (cf. Jeremiah 31:14) shall be satisfied. Jeremiah 31:26 appears to be a gloss, which hints that these bright dreams are very different from the waking reality.


Verses 27-30

Jeremiah 31:27-30. Yahweh will replenish the scanty populations of both kingdoms, and will establish them (for the terms, cf. Jeremiah 1:10). In the future, individual responsibility for sin will replace the old doctrine of "corporate" personality, by which children suffered for the sins of their fathers (e.g. Achan's, Joshua 7:24), and Israel seemed to be suffering for the sins of past generations (Lamentations 5:7; cf. Deuteronomy 24:16, and the notes on Ezekiel 18:2 ff.).


Verses 31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-34. The prophecy of the "New Covenant," contained in these verses, may have been written in 586, when the destruction of Jerusalem had suggested that the "Old Covenant" was cancelled. The Jeremianic authorship of this most important passage has been firmly established by Cornill's arguments against the criticisms of Duhm and others. Yahweh is about to establish the national religion on a new basis. When He led the Israelites out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1-4), He made with them a covenant (that of Sinai, involving the Decalogue, written on tables of stone, Exodus 31:15, Deuteronomy 4:13), which they broke, though He was bound to them in marriage love. His new covenant He will write upon their hearts (instead of upon stone), and He will maintain (permanently) the bond between God and people (Jeremiah 31:33). The common knowledge of God (Jeremiah 22:16, Isaiah 54:13) resulting from this inward change will make the teaching of one by another to be unnecessary (i.e. the prophetic consciousness of a Jeremiah, with its direct relation to God, will become general); the barrier of (past) sin will be removed by an act of Divine forgiveness, to make this new covenant possible (Jeremiah 31:34).—The primary truths of this great passage are to be grasped only in the light of the personal history and inner experiences of its writer. They are in general (a) the moral inwardness of true religion, (b) its dependence on supernatural agencies, (c) its realisation of a direct personal fellowship with God. (See further, Introduction, § 3.)

Jeremiah 31:32. although I was an husband unto them: cf. Jeremiah 3:14; but LXX, Syr. suggest that we should read "and I abhorred them"; cf. Jeremiah 14:19.

Jeremiah 31:33. Cf. Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 24:7, and the dependent Isaiah 51:7; contrast Jeremiah 17:1. For the supernatural influences upon which this new and more individualised relation to God is conceived to rest, see Isaiah 59:21, Ezekiel 36:26 f.


Verses 35-40

Jeremiah 31:35-40. Israel's national existence shall be as permanent as Yahweh's rule of nature (Jeremiah 31:35 f.); it is as impossible for Israel to be rejected as it is for man to comprehend the created world (Jeremiah 31:37). In the future, Jerusalem shall be rebuilt from the NE. to the NW. corner (Zechariah 14:10), and (apparently) southwards, and shall include even the Valley of Hinnom (desecrated by human sacrifices to Molech, Jeremiah 7:31) as far as the SE. corner ("the horse gate", Nehemiah 3:28).

Jeremiah 31:39. Gareb . . . Goah: not found elsewhere, and not known.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 31:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-31.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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