Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
PROPHECY IN THE
As in that chapter the restoration of Judah, so in this the restoration
of Israel's ten tribes is foretold.
1. At the same time--"In the latter days"
the God of--manifesting My grace to
all . . . Israel--not the exiles of the south kingdom of Judah
only, but also the north kingdom of the ten tribes; and not merely
Israel in general, but "all the families of Israel." Never yet
2. Upon the grace manifested to Israel "in the wilderness" God
grounds His argument for renewing His favors to them now in
their exile; because His covenant is "everlasting"
and changes not. The same argument occurs in
Ho 13:5, 9, 10; 14:4, 5, 8.
Babylon is fitly compared to the "wilderness," as in both alike Israel
was as a stranger far from his appointed "rest" or home, and Babylon is
called a "desert"
I went to cause him to rest--namely, in the pillar of cloud and
fire, the symbol of God's presence, which went before Israel to
search a resting-place
for the people, both a temporary one at each halt in the wilderness,
and a permanent one in Canaan
3. Israel gratefully acknowledges in reply God's past
grace; but at the same time tacitly implies by the expression "of old,"
that God does not appear to her now. "God appeared to me of
old, but now I am forsaken!" God replies, Nay, I love thee with the
same love now as of old. My love was not a momentary impulse, but
from "everlasting" in My counsels, and to "everlasting"
in its continuance; hence originated the covenant whereby I
gratuitously adopted thee
Ro 11:28, 29).
Margin translates, "from afar," which does not answer so well as
"of old," to "in the wilderness"
which refers to the olden times of Israel's history.
with loving kindness . . . drawn--
Rather, "I have drawn out continually My loving kindness toward
"Continue (Margin, 'Draw out at length') Thy loving kindness."
By virtue of My everlasting love I will still extend My
loving kindness to thee. So
"O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me."
4. I will build . . . thou shalt be built--The combination of the
active and passive to express the same fact implies the
infallible certainty of its accomplishment. "Build," that is, establish
adorned with . . . tabrets--
Or, "adorn thyself with thy timbrels"; used by damsels on
occasions of public rejoicings
Israel had cast away all instruments of joy in her exile
dances--holy joy, not carnal mirth.
5. Samaria--the metropolis of the ten tribes; here equivalent to
Israel. The mountainous nature of their country suited
the growth of the vine.
eat . . . as common--literally, "shall profane," that
is, shall put to common use. For the first three years after planting,
the vine was "not to be eaten of"; on the fourth year the fruit was to
be "holy to praise the Lord withal"; on the fifth year the fruit was to
be eaten as common, no longer restricted to holy use
De 20:6; 28:30,
Margin). Thus the idea here is, "The same persons who plant
shall reap the fruits"; it shall no longer be that one shall plant and
another reap the fruit.
6. The watchmen stationed on eminences (types of the preachers of
the gospel), shall summon the ten tribes to go up to the annual feasts at
Jerusalem ("Zion"), as they used to do before the revolt and the setting
up of the idol calves at Dan and Beer-sheba
(Eze 37:21, 22).
Mount Ephraim--not one single mountain, but the whole mountainous
region of the ten tribes.
our God--from whom we formerly revolted, but who is now our God.
An earnest of that good time to come is given in the partial success of
the gospel in its first preaching in Samaria
7. The people are urged with praises and prayers to supplicate for
their universal restoration. Jehovah is represented in the context
(Jer 31:1, 8),
as promising immediately to restore Israel. They therefore praise God
for the restoration, being as certain of it as if it were actually
accomplished; and at the same time pray for it, as prayer was a
means to the desired end. Prayer does not move God to grant our wishes,
but when God has determined to grant our wishes, He puts it into our
hearts to pray for the thing desired. Compare
as to the connection of Israel's restoration with the prayers of His
for Jacob--on account of Jacob; on account of his approaching
deliverance by Jehovah.
among--"for," that is, on account of, would more exactly suit the
parallelism to "for Jacob."
chief of the nations--Israel: as the parallelism to "Jacob" proves
God estimates the greatness of nations not by man's standard of
material resources, but by His electing favor.
8. north--Assyria, Media, &c.
Jer 3:18; 23:8).
gather from . . . coasts of . . . earth--
(Eze 20:34, 41; 34:13).
blind . . . lame, &c.--Not even the most infirm and unfit persons
for a journey shall be left behind, so universal shall be the
a great company--or, they shall return "in a great company"
9. weeping--for their past sins which caused their exile
(Ps 126:5, 6).
Although they come with weeping, they shall return with joy
(Jer 50:4, 5).
Jer 31:18, 19;
Margin translates "favors," as in
thus God's favors or compassions are put in opposition to
the people's weeping; their tears shall be turned into joy. But
English Version suits the parellelism best.
I will cause . . . to walk by . . . waters . . . straight way--
(Isa 35:6-8; 43:19; 49:10, 11).
God will give them waters to satisfy their thirst as in the wilderness
journey from Egypt. So spiritually
Ephraim--the ten tribes no longer severed from Judah, but forming
one people with it.
So the elect Church
10. The tidings of God's interposition in behalf of Israel will arrest
the attention of even the uttermost Gentile nations.
He that scattered will gather--He who scattered knows where to find
Israel; He who smote can also heal.
keep--not only will gather, but keep safely to the end
(Joh 13:1; 17:11).
11. ransomed . . . from . . . hand of . . . stronger--No strength of
the foe can prevent the Lord from delivering Jacob
(Isa 49:24, 25).
12. height of Zion--
flow--There shall be a conflux of worshippers to the temple on
to the goodness of . . . Lord--(See
Beneficence, that is, to the Lord as the source of all
to pray to Him and praise Him for these blessings of which He is the
Not merely for a time, but continually full of holy comfort.
not sorrow any more--referring to the Church triumphant, as well as
to literal Israel
(Isa 35:10; 65:19;
13. young . . . old--
(Zec 8:4, 5).
14. my goodness--
15. Ramah--In Benjamin, east of the great northern road, two hours'
journey from Jerusalem. Rachel, who all her life had pined for children
and who died with "sorrow" in giving birth to Benjamin
(Ge 35:18, 19,
and was buried at Ramah, near Beth-lehem, is represented as raising her
head from the tomb, and as breaking forth into "weeping" at seeing the
whole land depopulated of her sons, the Ephraimites. Ramah was the
place where Nebuzara-dan collected all the Jews in chains, previous to
their removal to Babylon
God therefore consoles her with the promise of their restoration.
Mt 2:17, 18
quotes this as fulfilled in the massacre of the innocents under Herod.
"A lesser and a greater event, of different times, may answer to the
single sense of one passage of Scripture, until the prophecy is
exhausted" [BENGEL]. Besides the temporary
reference to the exiles in Babylon, the Holy Spirit foreshadowed
ultimately Messiah's exile in Egypt, and the desolation caused in the
neighborhood of Rachel's tomb by Herod's massacre of the children,
whose mothers had "sons of sorrow" (Ben-oni), just as Rachel
had. The return of Messiah (the representative of Israel) from Egypt,
and the future restoration of Israel, both the literal and the
spiritual (including the innocents), at the Lord's second advent, are
antitypical of the restoration of Israel from Babylon, which is the
ground of consolation held out here by Jeremiah. The clause, "They were
not," that is, were dead
does not apply so strictly to the exiles in Babylon as it does to the
history of Messiah and His people--past, present, and future. So the
words, "There is hope in thine end," are to be fulfilled ultimately,
when Rachel shall meet her murdered children at the resurrection, at the
same time that literal Israel is to be restored. "They were not," in
Hebrew, is singular; each was not: each mother at the Beth-lehem
massacre had but one child to lament, as the limitation of age in
Herod's order, "two years and under," implies; this use of the
singular distributively (the mothers weeping severally,
each for her own child), is a coincidence between the prophecy of
the Beth-lehem massacre and the event, the more remarkable as not being
obvious: the singular, too, is appropriate as to Messiah in His
Egyptian exile, who was to be a leading object of Rachel's lamentation.
16. thy work--thy parental weeping for thy children
Thine affliction in the loss of thy children, murdered for Christ's
sake, shall not be fruitless to thee, as was the case in thy giving
birth to the "child of thy sorrow," Benjamin. Primarily, also, thy grief
shall not be perpetual: the exiles shall return, and the land be
inhabited again [CALVIN].
17. hope in . . . end--All thy calamities shall have a prosperous
18. Ephraim--representing the ten tribes.
bemoaning himself--The spirit of penitent supplication shall at last
be poured on Israel as the necessary forerunner of their restoration
Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised--In the first clause the
chastisement itself is meant; in the second the beneficial effect of
it in teaching the penitent true wisdom.
bullock unaccustomed to . . . yoke--A similar image occurs in
an image from refractory oxen. Before my chastisement I needed
the severe correction I received, as much as an untamed bullock needs
the goad. Compare
where the same figure is used of Saul while unconverted. Israel has
had a longer chastisement than Judah, not having been restored even at
the Jews' return from Babylon. Hereafter, at its restoration, it shall
confess the sore discipline was all needed to "accustom" it to God's
(Mt 11:29, 30).
turn thou me--by Thy converting Spirit
But why does Ephraim pray for conversion, seeing that he is already
converted? Because we are converted by progressive steps, and need the
same power of God to carry forward, as to originate, our conversion
(Joh 6:44, 65;
19. after that I was turned, I repented--Repentance in the full
sense follows, not precedes, our being turned to God by
The Jews' "looking to Him whom they pierced" shall result in
their "mourning for Him." Repentance is the tear that flows from
the eye of faith turned to Jesus. He Himself gives it: we give it not
of ourselves, but must come to Him for it
instructed--made to learn by chastisement. God's Spirit often works
through the corrections of His providence.
smote upon . . . thigh--
A token of indignant remorse, shame, and grief, because of his past
bear . . . reproach of . . . youth--"because
the calamities which I bore were the just punishment of my
scandalous wantonness against God in my youth"; alluding
to the idols set up at Dan and Beth-el immediately after the ten tribes
revolted from Judah. His sense of shame shows that he no longer
delights in his sin.
20. Is Ephraim my dear son? &c.--The question implies that a
negative answer was to be expected. Who would have thought that one so
undutiful to His heavenly Father as Ephraim had been should still be
regarded by God as a "pleasant child?" Certainly he was not so
in respect to his sin. But by virtue of God's "everlasting love"
on Ephraim's being "turned" to God, he was immediately welcomed as
God's "dear son." This verse sets forth God's readiness to welcome the
(Jer 31:18, 19),
anticipating his return with prevenient grace and love. Compare
"When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had
spake against--threatened him for his idolatry.
remember--with favor and concern, as in
Ge 8:1; 30:22.
bowels . . . troubled for him--
--namely, with the yearnings of compassionate love. The "bowels"
include the region of the heart, the seat of the affections.
21. waymarks--pillars to mark the road for the returning exiles.
Caravans set up pillars, or pointed heaps of stones, to mark the
way through the desert against their return. So Israel is told by God to
mark the way by which they went in leaving their country for exile; for
by the same way they shall return.
(Isa 35:8, 10).
22. go about--namely, after human helps
(Jer 2:18, 23, 36).
Why not return immediately to me? MAURER
translates, as in
"How long wilt thou withdraw thyself?" Let thy past backslidings
suffice thee now that a new era approaches. What God finds fault
with in them is, that they looked hither and thither, leaning on
contingencies, instead of at once trusting the word of God, which
promised their restoration. To assure them of this, God promises to
create a new thing in their land, A woman shall compass a man.
CALVIN explains this: Israel, who is feeble as a
woman, shall be superior to the warlike Chaldeans; the captives shall
reduce their captors to captivity. HENGSTENBERG
makes the "woman" the Jewish Church, and the "man" Jehovah, her
husband, whose love she will again seek
(Ho 2:6, 7).
MAURER, A woman shall protect
a man, that is, You need fear no foes in returning, for all things
shall be so peaceful that a woman would be able to take man's
part, and act as his protector. But the Christian fathers
(Augustine, &c.) almost unanimously interpreted it of the Virgin
Mary compassing Christ in her womb. This view is favored:--(1) By
the connection; it gives a reason why the exiles should desire a return
to their country, namely, because Christ was conceived there. (2) The
word "created" implies a divine power put forth in the creation of a
body in the Virgin's womb by the Holy Ghost for the second Adam, such
as was exerted in creating the first Adam
(3) The phrase, "a new thing," something unprecedented; a man
whose like had never existed before, at once God and man; a mother out
of the ordinary course of nature, at once mother and virgin. An
extraordinary mode of generation; one conceived by the Holy Ghost
without man. (4) The specification "in the land" (not "earth," as
English Version), namely, of Judah, where probably Christ
was conceived, in Hebron (compare
Lu 1:39, 42, 44,
with Jos 21:11)
or else in Nazareth, "in the territory" of Israel, to
Jer 31:5, 6, 15, 18, 21
refer; His birth was at Beth-lehem
Mt 2:5, 6).
As the place of His nativity, and of His being reared
and of His preaching
are specified, so it is likely the Holy Spirit designated the place of
His being conceived. (5) The Hebrew for "woman" implies an
individual, as the Virgin Mary, rather than a collection of
persons. (6) The restoration of Israel is grounded on God's
covenant in Christ, to whom, therefore, allusion is naturally
made as the foundation of Israel's hope (compare
The Virgin Mary's conception of Messiah in the womb answers to
the "Virgin of Israel" (therefore so called,
that is, Israel and her sons at their final restoration, receiving
Jesus as Messiah
(7) The reference to the conception of the child Messiah accords
with the mention of the massacre of "children" referred to in
(8) The Hebrew for "man" is properly "mighty man," a term
applied to God
and to Christ
23. Jerusalem again shall be the metropolis of the whole nation, the
seat of "justice"
and of sacred worship ("holiness,"
on "Mount" Moriah.
24. Judah . . . cities . . . husbandmen
. . . they with flocks--Two classes, citizens and
countrymen, the latter divided into agriculturists and shepherds, all
alike in security, though the latter were to be outside the protection
of city walls. "Judah" here stands for the country, as
distinguished from its cities.
25. The "weary, sorrowful," and indigent state of Israel will prove
no obstacle in the way of My helping them.
26. The words of Jeremiah: Upon this
(or, By reason of this) announcement of a happy restoration, "I awaked" from the prophetic
dream vouchsafed to me
with the "sweet" impression thereof remaining on my mind. "Sleep" here
means dream, as in
27. He shows how a land so depopulated shall again be peopled. God
will cause both men and beasts in it to increase to a multitude
The same God who, as it were (in human language), was on the
watch for all means to destroy, shall be as much on the watch for
the means of their restoration.
29. In those days--after their punishment has been completed,
and mercy again visits them.
fathers . . . eaten . . . sour grape . . . children's teeth . . . on
edge--the proverb among the exiles' children born in Babylon, to
express that they suffered the evil consequences of their fathers' sins
rather than of their own
Eze 18:2, 3).
(Ga 6:5, 7).
31. the days . . . new covenant with . . .
Israel . . . Judah--The new covenant is made with literal
Israel and Judah, not with the spiritual Israel,
that is, believers, except secondarily, and as grafted on the stock of
For the whole subject of the thirtieth and thirty-first chapters
is the restoration of the Hebrews
(Jer 30:4, 7, 10, 18;
31:7, 10, 11, 23, 24, 27, 36).
With the "remnant according to the election of grace" in Israel, the
new covenant has already taken effect. But with regard to the whole
nation, its realization is reserved for the last days, to which
Paul refers this prophecy in an abridged form
32. Not . . . the covenant that I made with . . . fathers--the Old
Testament covenant, as contrasted with our gospel covenant
(Heb 8:8-12; 10:16, 17,
where this prophecy is quoted to prove the abrogation of the law by the
gospel), of which the distinguishing features are its securing by an
adequate atonement the forgiveness of sins, and by the inworking of
effectual grace ensuring permanent obedience. An earnest of this is
given partially in the present eclectic or elect Church gathered out of
Jews and Gentiles. But the promise here to Israel in the last days is
national and universal, and effected by an extraordinary outpouring of
(Jer 31:33, 34;
independent of any merit on their part
(Eze 36:25-32; 37:1-28; 39:29;
took . . . by . . . hand--
although I was an husband--(compare
Ho 2:7, 8).
But the Septuagint, Syriac, and St. Paul
translate, "I regarded them not"; and GESENIUS, &c., justify this rendering of the
Hebrew from the Arabic. The Hebrews regarded not
God, so God regarded them not.
33. will be their God--
34. True, specially of Israel
secondarily, true of believers
forgive . . . iniquity . . . remember . . . no more--
(Jer 33:8; 50:20;
applying peculiarly to Israel
Secondarily, all believers
35. divideth . . . sea when . . . waves . . . roar . . . Lord of
hosts . . . name--quoted from
the genuineness of which passage is thus established on Jeremiah's
36. a nation--Israel's national polity has been broken up by the
Romans. But their preservation as a distinct people amidst violent
persecutions, though scattered among all nations for eighteen centuries,
unamalgamated, whereas all other peoples under such circumstances
have become incorporated with the nations in which they have been
dispersed, is a perpetual standing miracle (compare
Isa 54:9, 10).
for all that they have done--namely, all the sins. God will regard
His own covenant promise, rather than their merits.
38. tower of Hananeel--The city shall extend beyond its former bounds
(Ne 3:1; 12:39;
gate of . . . corner--
Gareb--from a Hebrew root, "to scrape"; Syriac, "leprosy";
the locality outside of the city, to which lepers were removed.
Goath--from a root, "to toil," referring to the toilsome ascent
there: outside of the city of David, towards the southwest, as Gareb was
40. valley of . . . dead--Tophet, where the bodies of
malefactors were cast
south of the city.
fields . . . Kidron--so
Fields in the suburbs reaching as far as Kidron, east of the city.
horse gate--Through it the king's horses were led forth for watering
to the brook Kidron
for ever--The city shall not only be spacious, but both "holy to the
Lord," that is, freed from all pollutions, and everlasting
(Joe 3:17, 20;
Re 21:2, 10, 27).