King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Jeremiah 31

The restoration of Israel. (1-9) Promises of guidance and happiness; Rachel lamenting. (10-17) Ephraim laments his errors. (18-20) The promised Saviour. (21-26) God’s care over the church. (27-34) Peace and prosperity in gospel time. (35-40)

Jeremiah 31 Audio:

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The restoration of Israel

1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.

2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.

3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.

5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.

6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.

7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.

8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.

9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

Promises of guidance and happiness; Rachel lamenting

10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.

12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.

14 And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.

16 Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.

17 And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.

Ephraim laments his errors

18 I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.

19 Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.

20 Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.

The promised Saviour

21 Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.

22 How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.

24 And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.

25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.

26 Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.

God’s care over the church

27 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

28 And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.

29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.

30 But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Peace and prosperity in gospel time

35 Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:

36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

37 Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

38 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.

39 And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.

40 And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Israel. The ten tribes returned as well as Juda, &c. C. — They were more ready to receive Christ than the other two tribes. Mat. xiii. &c. W.

Ver. 2. Desert. From which the former inhabitants had been driven, (4 K. xvii. 6. 24. C.) or, as those under Moses were favoured, (H.) so shall the captives. Grot. — Sept. “I found him warm,” (thermon, means also a lupin, which has misled the old Latin interpreters. S. Jer.) murdered “in the desert, with those slain by the sword. Go, and destroy not Israel.” H.

Ver. 3. Afar. He has seemed to despise me, (S. Jer.) or he has spoken to my ancestors. C. — Chal. He has “manifested himself long ago to our fathers. Prophet, tell them I have,” &c. Ps. xxxv. 11. and cviii. 11. C.

Ver. 5. Samaria. Its wine was famous. Judg. ix. 27. Jos. Bel. iii. 2. — Time, three years being elapsed. Lev. xix. 35. C. — Prot. “plant, and shall eat (marg. profane) them as common things.” They shall not be too greedy, (H.) but shall have leisure to enjoy the fruits of their labour. C.

Ver. 6. Watchmen. Some were stationed on eminences to observe the first appearances of the moon, (C.) which was a sort of festival. H.

Ver. 7. Head. Rejoice over Babylon. — Save. Heb. Hoshang, “I beg,” was usually added; and this acclamation is used by the Church.

Ver. 8. Together. All shall hasten, and there shall be no impediment. Is. xxxv. 5.

Ver. 9. Shall, or “came” into captivity. Bar. vi. 6. Ps. cxxv. 6. Is. lxvi. 20. — Way. They shall find every accommodation, and plenty of water. Is. xxxv. 7. and xlix. 10. — Born. Chal. “beloved.” I will treat the ten tribes as well as Juda. Christ inebriates his disciples with his graces. C. — Ephraim shall be treated with all the love and attention shewn to the first-born. W.

Ver. 12. Sion. There shall be no farther schism or idolatry among them. — No more, if they prove faithful. This was not the case.

Ver. 14. Fatness. Abundant crops secured them more plentiful tythes, as long as the people preserved their religion. H. — No nation had more priests, or better provided for. C.

Ver. 15. High. Lit. “high places.” Heb. Rama. H. — There was a city of this name near Bethlehem, where Rachel was buried. Benjamin was her son, and was conducted by this road to Babylon. Chal. Grot. T. — Ephraim and Manasses were also her grandchildren, and she may bewail their captivity by personification. S. Mat. (ii. 18.) shews that this prediction was more fully accomplished when the innocents were slain. The same passage may allude to different events. C. — All the people of God, both of the ten and of the two tribes, bewailed their captivity, and the mothers lamented for those slain near Bethlehem. W.

Ver. 16. Reward. A time fixed for thy tears being dried up. Is. xvi. 14. and xl. 10.

Ver. 18. I was. Chal. Theodoret, and S. Chrys. have “not.” But chastisement produced a salutary effect upon the ten tribes. Osee vi. 1. and xiv. 3. — Convert. Bring me back from captivity and from my evil ways. This must be attributed to grace. C. — We cannot repent without it. S. Jer. — Da quod jubes. S. Aug. Conf. x. 19. and 31. and 37. — God’s grace is the principal cause of justification. Man’s co-operation is the secondary cause. W.

Ver. 19. Thigh, through grief. Femur mœrenti plangere dextrâ. Metam. xi. — Cyrus struck his thigh, mounted his horse, and went to attend the funeral of Abradates. Xen. vii. — So did Achilles for Patroclus. Il. xvi. — Youth, being seduced by Jeroboam.

Ver. 20. I spoke. Heb. “my word is in him,” and he is docile to my instructions.

Ver. 21. Tower, to bewail thy past follies; or signals to know the way, or tombs for thy beloved.

Ver. 22. Daughter. Bury thy dead, and delay thy return no longer. The Israelites did not soon make use of the leave granted by Cyrus. C. — Man. Heb. “a hero.” T. — The fathers generally explain this of the incarnation. C. — Christ had the perfect use of reason in the virgin’s womb. H. — He was the brightness of his Father’s glory. Heb. i. 3. Even some ancient Jews apply this to the Messias. Galatin. vii. 14. But the moderns understand that women would offer themselves in marriage; the times would be so happy. This was not so unusual in countries where polygamy prevailed. Ruth iii. 9. Is. iv. 1. Cant. viii. 1. C. — Hence this is hardly the meaning; for God promises something new. H. — “The Lord hat created a new thing in a woman.” Aquila. — Symmachus agrees nearly with the Sept. “because the Lord has created thee by salvation a new plantation. Men shall go about in thy salvation.” This “might be explained, if it were not sacrilegious to argue respecting God’s word by human sense,” says S. Jerom; though this censure of “the Vulgate” (Sept.) seems rather harsh. He complains here of his copy. Theodoret explains it of the apostles going through the world to spread the gospel. H. — Behold whence thy happiness must come, (M.) O thou who hast so long proved faithless, going astray after many lovers. H. — Christ, in his mother’s womb, was in stature small, but a perfect man (W.) in the use of reason, &c. H.

Ver. 23. Bless thee. Thus the captives speak in rapture at their return.

Ver. 24. Together. Jerusalem shall be large enough to contain all, at the great festivals.

Ver. 26. To me. Thus Jeremias concludes his prediction with joy. C.

Ver. 27. Men. They shall increase exceedingly by my blessing. H. — Beasts were the source of their riches. Hence pecunia is derived from pecus. W.

Ver. 29. Edge. Such observations had been too often made. Ezec. xviii. 12. H. — Henceforward you shall not suffer for the faults of Achab, Manasses, &c. Each one shall bear his own burden. The captivity has been like a deluge, cleaning all away. C.

Ver. 31. Covenant. That made with the captives was not such. Their covenant is grown old, and at an end, as S. Paul shews. Heb. viii. 8. They were not indeed divided, as they had been. Ezec. xxxvii. 16.

Ver. 32. Dominion. As a husband, (Heb. C.) or “Lord.” H. — “I despised them.” Sept. Heb. viii.

Ver. 33. Heart. They were more docile after their return: yet still their service was very imperfect and forced. How many false traditions were received, at the coming of Christ! This of course, regards his disciples.

Ver. 34. Lord. Christ himself came to instruct mankind. The true God was better known than ever, even by the illiterate. Yet God requires us to have recourse to men, in order to know his truths, as S. Paul was sent to Hananias, and the eunuch to Philip. H. — The apostles were enlightened by the Holy Ghost, (Jo. vi. 45. S. Aug. de Spir. C.) who still guides the flock by his pastors. The private spirit is too fanatical and delusive. H. — The most ignorant shall easily become acquainted with the truths of salvation. External preaching is requisite, though of little use unless grace touch the mind and the heart. T. — All will hear successively, (H.) or embrace the gospel at the same time, for several years before the last day. Houbig. pref. in Prop. 356. Is. xi. 9. and xlv. 23. Soph. iii. 9. &c. H.

Ver. 36. Ever. Like the Chanaanites and Ephraim during the captivity. Is. vii. 8. God restored the latter. Yet they are again dispersed from above 17 centuries, so that this perpetuity, which shall equal the world’s duration, belongs to the Church. C. — Israel remains, not in the incredulous Jews, but in those who with the apostles embraced and propagated the faith of Christ. S. Jer. W.

Ver. 37. Out, experimentally, and not by philosophical hypotheses, which were little known in the days of Jeremias. C. — Sept. “if it be made lower.” H. — This is impossible; so it is that I should abandon Israel. Theodor. — All was not faithless. C. — The Israel of God embraced the gospel. H.

Ver. 38. Come, is only in the margin of the Hebrew, but is found properly in some MSS. Kennicott. — Corner. On the south, opposite to the former. 2 Esd. iii. 1.

Ver. 40. Valley of Hinnom, or Topheth, (C. vii. 32. and xix. 6.) where Cedron flowed. Zac. xiv. 4. C. — The city was much enlarged on this side, under the Machabees. Jos. Bel. vi. 6. — Ever. Yet the temple was utterly destroyed by the Romans, so that we must explain this of the Catholic Church, founded on a rock, and proof against the gates of hell, and all the malice of heretics and persecutors. Mat. xvi. 18. C.