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Jer 31:1-40. CONTINUATION OF THE PROPHECY IN THE THIRTIETH CHAPTER.
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"
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"
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.
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
5. Samaria--the metropolis of the ten tribes; here equivalent to
Israel. The mountainous nature of their country suited
the growth of the vine.
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).
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
8. north--Assyria, Media, &c.
Jer 3:18; 23:8).
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).
10. The tidings of God's interposition in behalf of Israel will arrest
the attention of even the uttermost Gentile nations.
12. height of Zion--
13. young . . . old-- (Zec 8:4, 5).
14. my goodness-- (Jer 31:12).
15. Ramah--In Benjamin, east of the great northern road, two hours' journey from Jerusalem. Rachel, who all her life had pined for children (Ge 30:1), and who died with "sorrow" in giving birth to Benjamin (Ge 35:18, 19, Margin; 1Sa 10:2), 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 (Jer 40:1). 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 (Ge 42:13), 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 issue.
18. Ephraim--representing the ten tribes.