Jeremiah – Chapter 31

The Bible – Old Testament


Chapter 31


At that time, says the LORD, I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people.


1 Thus says the LORD: The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert. As Israel comes forward to be given his rest,


the LORD appears to him from afar: With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.


Again I will restore you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin Israel; Carrying your festive tambourines, you shall go forth dancing with the merrymakers.


Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; those who plant them shall enjoy the fruits.


Yes, a day will come when the watchmen will call out on Mount Ephraim: «Rise up, let us go to Zion, to the LORD, our God.»


For thus says the LORD: Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.


Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, The mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng.


They departed in tears, but I will console them and guide them; I will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For I am a father to Israel, Ephraim is my first-born.


Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, proclaim it on distant coasts, and say: He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together, he guards them as a shepherd his flock.


The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.


Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’S blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again shall they languish.


Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.


I will lavish choice portions upon the priests, and my people shall be filled with my blessings, says the LORD.


2 Thus says the LORD: In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.


Thus says the LORD: Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward, says the LORD, they shall return from the enemy’s land.


There is hope for your future, says the LORD; your sons shall return to their own borders.


I hear, I hear Ephraim pleading: You chastised me, and I am chastened; I was an untamed calf. If you allow me, I will return, for you are the LORD, my God.


I turn in repentance; I have come to myself, I strike my breast; I blush with shame, I bear the disgrace of my youth.


Is Ephraim not my favored son, the child in whom I delight? Often as I threaten him, I still remember him with favor; My heart stirs for him, I must show him mercy, says the LORD.


Set up road markers, put up guideposts; Turn your attention to the highway, the road by which you went. Turn back, O virgin Israel, turn back to these your cities.


3 How long will you continue to stray, rebellious daughter? The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: the woman must encompass the man with devotion.


Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: When I change their lot in the land of Judah and her cities, they shall again repeat this greeting: «May the LORD bless you, holy mountain, abode of justice!»


Judah and all her cities, the farmers and those who lead the flock, shall dwell there together.


For I will refresh the weary soul; every soul that languishes I will replenish.


4 Upon this I awoke and opened my eyes; but my sleep was sweet to me.


The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will seed the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.


As I once watched over them to uproot and pull down, to destroy, to ruin, and to harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the LORD.


5 In those days they shall no longer say, «The fathers ate unripe grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge,»


but through his own fault only shall anyone die: the teeth of him who eats the unripe grapes shall be set on edge.


6 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.


It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.


But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.


No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.


Thus says the LORD, He who gives the sun to light the day, moon and stars to light the night; Who stirs up the sea till its waves roar, whose name is LORD of hosts:


If ever these natural laws give way in spite of me, says the LORD, Then shall the race of Israel cease as a nation before me forever.


Thus says the LORD: If the heavens on high can be measured, or the foundations below the earth be sounded, Then will I cast off the whole race of Israel because of all they have done, says the LORD.


7 The days are coming, says the LORD, when the city shall be rebuilt as the LORD’S, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.


The measuring line shall be stretched from there straight to the hill Gareb and then turn to Goah.


8 The whole valley of corpses and ashes, all the slopes toward the Kidron Valley, as far as the corner of the Horse Gate at the east, shall be holy to the LORD. Never again shall the city be rooted up or thrown down.

1 [2] The people that escaped the sword: the exiles who were not killed but deported; they have found favor in the desert, across which they were driven into captivity. The prophet alludes to the first desert wandering of Israel (Exodus 16-18), in which the people found the Lord. His rest: the land of promise. The perfect fulfillment of this promised rest is found only in the New Testament (Hebrews 3-4).
2 [15] Ramah: a village about five miles north of Jerusalem, where Rachel was buried (⇒ 1 Sam 10:2). Rachel: said to mourn for her children since she was the ancestress of Ephraim, the chief of the northern tribes. ⇒ Matthew 2:18 applies this verse to the slaughter of the innocents by Herod.
3 [22] The woman must encompass the man: the words «with devotion,» not in the Hebrew, are added for the sense. No fully satisfactory explanation has been given this text. Among the more probable are these: (a) Formerly the man (the Lord) encompassed the woman (Israel) with mercy and devotion; now in the spiritual religion of Israel which will follow on the restoration, this order will be reversed. (b) So secure will Israel be after the restoration that women will no longer need the natural protection of their husbands, but even weak women can protect men. (c) St. Jerome in his commentary on this verse understood it of Mary’s virginal conception of Christ. «The LORD has created a new thing on earth; without seed of man, without carnal union and conception, «a woman will encompass a man’ within her womb-One who, though He will later appear to advance in wisdom and age through the stages of infancy and childhood, yet, while confined for the usual number of months in his mother’s womb, will already be perfect man.»
4 [26] I awoke . . . sweet to me: probably said by the prophet himself.
5 [29] «The fathers . . . on edge»: a proverb used in Israel, expressing the idea that children suffer for the sins of their parents (cf ⇒ Ezekiel 18:2). The Israel of the restoration will be characterized instead by personal responsibility and retribution for one’s acts (v 30; cf ⇒ Jeremiah 31:31-34).
6 [31-34] The new covenant to be made with Israel is a common theme of the prophets, beginning with Hosea. According to Jeremiah, the qualities of the new covenant that make it different from the old are: (a) It will not be broken, but will last forever; (b) Its law will be written in the heart, not merely on tablets of stone; (c) The knowledge of God will be so generally shown forth in the life of the people that it will no longer be necessary to put it into words of instruction. In the fullest sense, this prophecy was fulfilled only through the work of Jesus Christ; cf ⇒ Luke 22:20; ⇒ 1 Cor 11:25.
7 [38] From the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate: from the northeast to the northwest.
8 [40] Valley of corpses and ashes: the Valley of Ben-hinnom, which joins the Kidron at the southeast of ancient Jerusalem. The Horse Gate: in the eastern city wall, at the southeast corner of the temple area.