Jeremiah 31

Chapter 31

Restoration of Israel

1 At that time, says the Lord:
I will be the God of all the families of Israel,
and they will be my people.
2 Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword
found favor in the wilderness.
When the people of Israel sought for rest,
3 the Lord appeared to them from afar, saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore, I have continued to be merciful to you.
4 I will build you up again,
and you will be rebuilt,
O virgin Israel.
You will once again carry your tambourines
and go forth to dance with the merry throng.
5 You will once again plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria,
and those who plant them will enjoy their fruit.
6 Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will cry out on the hills of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord, our God.’ ”

The Glorious Return

7 For thus says the Lord:
Raise shouts of joy for Jacob;
sing your praises for the chief of the nations.
Proclaim your praises as you say,
“The Lord has delivered his people,
the remnant of Israel.”
8 Behold, I will bring them back
from the land of the north,
and I will gather them together
from the ends of the earth.
Among them will be the blind and the lame,
expectant mothers and women in labor;
they will return as a vast throng.
9 They will return, weeping uncontrollably,
but I will console them as I lead them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water
along a level path where they will not stumble.
For I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
10 Pay heed, you nations, to the word of the Lord;
proclaim it even on the distant coastlands and say:
He who scattered Israel will now gather them together
and watch over his flock like a shepherd.
11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and redeemed him from the hands of a foe
far too strong for him.
12 The people will come forth
and shout for joy on the heights of Zion
as they behold the bounty of the Lord:
the grain, the new wine, and the oil,
the young of the flocks and herds.
They themselves will be like a well-watered garden,
and never again will sorrow afflict them.
13 Then the young girls will dance in their happiness,
and the old and the young men will rejoice.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will comfort them
and replace their sorrow with joy.
14 I will strengthen my priests with choice food,
and my people will be overwhelmed with my lavish gifts,
says the Lord.

No More Mourning

15 Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah
marked by lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is mourning for her children,
and she refuses to be consoled
because they are no more.[a]
16 Thus says the Lord to her:
Cease your cries of lamentation
and wipe the tears from your eyes.
For your labors will be rewarded, says the Lord,
and your children will return from the land of mercy.
17 Thus there is hope for your future, says the Lord;
your children will return to their homeland.
18 I have indeed heard Ephraim pleading,
“You chastised me, and I accepted your discipline,
I was like an untamed calf.
Bring me back! Allow me to return,
for you are the Lord, my God.
19 After I turned away, I repented;
once I began to understand, I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated,
and I reproach myself for the sins of my youth.”
20 Thus says the Lord:
Is not Ephraim still my dear son,
the child in whom I delight?
No matter how often I speak against him,
I still remember him lovingly.
Therefore, my heart yearns for him,
and I have great compassion for him.

Blessing and Restoration

21 Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts.
Concentrate your thoughts on the road,
the route along which you traveled.
Return, O virgin Israel;
come back to these towns of yours.
22 How long will you wander aimlessly,
O rebellious daughter?
For the Lord has created something new on the earth:
a woman must strengthen a man.[b]

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: In the land of Judah and in its towns, they will once again use these words when I restore their fortunes,

“May the Lord bless you,
O holy mountain,
abode of righteousness.”

24 And in the land of Judah and all its towns, the farmers and those who care for the flocks will dwell together. 25 For I will provide the weary with all they need, and I will restore the strength of all those who have grown faint with hunger.

26 At this moment I awakened and looked around, and I realized that my sleep had been pleasant.[c]

27 The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of men and the seed of animals. 28 And as I once watched over them to uproot and pull down, to demolish, destroy, and inflict disaster, so now I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 29 In those days they will no longer say,

“The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

30 For each one will die for his own sins. The teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes will be set on edge.

31 The New Covenant. The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.[d] 32 However, it will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant that they broke even though I was their master.

33 However, this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will establish my law in their minds and inscribe it in their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will there be any need for them to teach one another, or to say to one another, “Know the Lord,” because they will all know me, says the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sin.

Assurance of God’s Promise

35 Thus says the Lord:
who provides us with the sun to light our day
and the moon and the stars to shine at night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar,
and whose name is the Lord of hosts:
36 If this established order were ever to cease
in my presence, says the Lord,
then the race of Israel would cease forever
to be a nation before me.
37 Thus says the Lord:
Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below can be fathomed
will I reject the entire race of Israel
because of all they have done, says the Lord.

38 Jerusalem Rebuilt. The days are coming, says the Lord, when this city will be rebuilt for the Lord, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 [e]The measuring line will then be stretched from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The entire valley, with its corpses and ashes, and all the fields sloping toward the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be sacred to the Lord. Never again will that city be uprooted or destroyed.

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 31:15 In Ramah, which lay between Benjamin and Ephraim, that is, in the land of the descendants of Rachel, Jacob’s wife (Gen 35:24; 41:51), a caravan of deportees to Babylon will be formed (Jer 40:1), a moving image of the common mother who mourns for the children snatched from her. Matthew the evangelist would later use it in reference to the children slain at Bethlehem (Mt 2:17-18).
  2. Jeremiah 31:22 The verse is obscure. The same Hebrew verb is used in Deut 32:10 and Ps 32:10 of God’s solicitous care for humanity. The usual interpretation of the present verse is that Israel, formerly so faithless, will show the greatest love and attachment to her husband.
  3. Jeremiah 31:26 “During this vision, I seemed to be dreaming.”
  4. Jeremiah 31:31 Like a sudden gush of water comes this beautiful insight of Jeremiah, one of the high points of Old Testament thought; it is a verse that should be committed to memory and constantly meditated on. The former law with its exterior demands will become God’s gift and an interior impulse, because God will awaken in souls a love for him and the strength to be faithful. Jesus will bring the gift of it in the Gospel when he announces “the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you” (Lk 22:20; see Heb 8:7-13).
  5. Jeremiah 31:39 Gareb and Goah are places unknown to us. The boundaries of the new city will include even places formerly unholy: the valley of dead bodies and ashes, that is, the Valley of Gehenna and of the Kidron, which were formerly places of idolatrous practices (see Jer 2:23; 7:31). For the Tower of Hananel and the Horse Gate, see Neh 3:1, 28.

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