Jeremiah 31

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Jeremiah 31
Aleppo-fascimile-Jeremiah cropped.jpg
Partially torn page from Jeremiah (31:34 - 32:14) of the Aleppo Codex from a fascimile edition.
BookBook of Jeremiah
Hebrew Bible partNevi'im
Order in the Hebrew part6
CategoryLatter Prophets
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part24

Jeremiah 31 is the thirty-first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is numbered as Jeremiah 38 in the Septuagint. The book contains prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets (Nevi'im). This chapter is notable for the passage about the "New Covenant" (31:31-34) of God with His restored people[1][2] and the quoting of 31:15 in the “Massacre of the Innocents" narrative (Gospel of Matthew 2:16-18).[3] The Jerusalem Bible refers to chapters 30 and 31 as "the Book of Consolation",[4] and Lutheran theologian Ernst Hengstenberg calls these two chapters "the triumphal hymn of Israel’s salvation".[5]


The original text of Jeremiah 31 was written in the Hebrew language. This chapter is divided into 40 verses in Christian Bible, but only 39 verses in Hebrew Bible, because verse 31:1 in Christian Bible is verse 30:25 in Hebrew Bible.[6] This article follows the common numbering in Christian English Bible versions, with notes to the numbering in Hebrew Bible versions.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text tradition, which includes the Codex Cairensis (895), the Petersburg Codex of the Prophets (916), Aleppo Codex (10th century; since 1947 only verses 34-38 are extant), Codex Leningradensis (1008).[7] Some fragments containing parts of this chapter were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, i.e., 4QJerc (4Q72; 1st century BC),[8] with extant verses 1-14, 19-26 (similar to Masoretic Text).[9][10][11]

Ancient manuscripts in Greek containing this chapter are mainly of the Septuagint version, including Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[12]

Verse numbering[edit]

The order of chapters and verses of the Book of Jeremiah in the English Bibles, Masoretic Text (Hebrew), and Vulgate (Latin), in some places differs from that in the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek Bible used in the Eastern Orthodox Church and others) according to Rahlfs or Brenton. The following table is taken with minor adjustments from Brenton's Septuagint, page 971.[13]

The order of Computer Assisted Tools for Septuagint/Scriptural Study (CATSS) based on Alfred Rahlfs' Septuaginta (1935) differs in some details from Joseph Ziegler's critical edition (1957) in Göttingen LXX. Swete's Introduction mostly agrees with Rahlfs edition (=CATSS).[13]

Hebrew Vulgate, English Rahlfs' LXX (CATSS) Brenton's LXX
30:25-31:39 31:1-40 38:1-34,36,37,35,38-40 38:1-40
48:1-45 31:1-45
48:45-47 none


The parashah sections listed here are based on the Aleppo Codex, and those in the missing parts of the codex (since 1947) are from Kimhi's notes,[14] marked with an asterisk (*).[15] Jeremiah 31 is a part of the Eleventh prophecy (Jeremiah 30-31) in the Consolations (Jeremiah 30-33) section. As mentioned in the "Text" section, verses 30:25-31:39 in the Hebrew Bible below are numbered as 31:1-40 in the Christian Bible.[6] {P}: open parashah; {S}: closed parashah.

[{S*} 30:23-25] {S*} 31:1-5 {P*} 31:6-8 {P*} 31:9-13 {P*} 31:14 {S*} 31:15-19[16] {S*} 31:20-21 {P*} 31:22-25 {S*} 31:26-29 {S*} 31:30-33 {S*} 31:34-35 {S} 31:36 {S} 31:37-39 {P}

A remnant returns (31:1–26)[edit]

This part displays some 'pictures of the restored people', opened with 'a variation of the covenant-formula (verse 1; cf. Jeremiah 30:22) and 'a poetic statement about renewal that lies beyond judgment (verse 2), followed by God's expression of the special love he has set for his people (verse 3).[17] Israel is portrayed as a Virgin (verse 4), in contrast to the previous imagery as "prostitute" (Jeremiah 2:20), leading into images that are 'homely and joyful' (verses 5–6) of the people returning from exile (verses 7−9), followed by an oracle to the nations regarding the blessings of the remnant community as a whole (male and female, young and old, priests and lay people; verses 10–14).[17] Thompson sees verse 1 as a continuation from Jeremiah 20:23–24.[18] The feminine imagery continues with Rachel weeping for her children (verse 15), symbolizing Israel's grief over its losses, which is immediately answered by the future restoration (verses 16–17) as the nation's turning back to God is met by God's turning towards them (verses 18–19) and God's compassion (verse 20).[17] The closing appeal reminds the people of God's continuous call for his people to faithfulness (verses 21–22),[17] and the security from God for the worshipping community (verses 23–25).[19] Verse 26 indicates that the whole vision was given to Jeremiah in a dream.[19]

Verse 1[edit]

"At the same time," says the Lord, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people."[20]

Streane notes that this verse is "virtually a repetition of Jeremiah 30:22" and therefore argues that it should be treated as part of chapter 30.[21] Thompson regards this verse as performing a "double function": to conclude the materials in Jeremiah 30:1-24 and to be a header for the following materials in chapter 31.[22]

Verse 9[edit]

They shall come with weeping,
And with supplications I will lead them.
I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters,
In a straight way in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a Father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.[23]

Streane suggests that the weeping described here (from the Hebrew version) reflects tears of contrition marking the return from exile, but notes that the Septuagint's text has a different tone:

“They went forth with weeping, but with consolation will I bring them back”.[21]

Verse 15[edit]

Thus says the Lord:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more."[24]

Rachel”, Jacob’s wife and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin, is described lamenting her descendants (both northern and southern tribes) carried away to exile for their sins[25] and would be extinct (“no more”; cf. Genesis 42:36), also figuratively grieved when later the children were “brutally murdered” in the area of Bethlehem where she died (Genesis 35:16-20; 48:7).[26] Rachel's weeping could be heard in "Ramah", "where the Judean exiles were gathered before the deportation to Babylon" (Jeremiah 40:1).[27] R. H. Gundry sees the connection between this verse and Matthew 2:18 in the context of hope that "in both cases God promises to turn lamentation into rejoicing".[28]

Verse 22[edit]

"How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man."[29]

"A woman shall encompass a man": This phrase is said to be the basis of the part of a Jewish wedding, where the bride traditionally walks around the groom three or seven times when she arrives at the Chuppah.[30]

Preamble to the New Covenant (31:27–30)[edit]

This preamble answers a proverb during the time of exile, which complained that the current generation was suffering for the sins of the previous generation (cf. Ezekiel 18:2), with the statement that God would deal with each generation, and each individual, 'separately and justly'.[19]

The New Covenant (31:31–34)[edit]

The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah (31:31-34) in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament in Christian Bible), and quoted in the chapter 8 of the Epistle to the Hebrews (8:8–13) in the New Testament of Christian Bible.[31]

The Jewish view of the wording "new covenant" is no more than a renewed national commitment to abide by God's laws. In this view, the word new does not refer to a new commitment that replaces a previous one, but rather to an additional and greater level of commitment.[32]

Christians believe that the promised "New Covenant" was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist,[33][34] which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment. Based on the Bible teaching that, "For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth,"[35] Protestants tend to believe that the New Covenant only came into force with the death of Christ.[36][37] The commentary to the Roman Catholic New American Bible also affirms that Christ is the "testator whose death puts his will into effect."[38] Christians thus believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the Blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant.[39]

Verse 31[edit]

"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—[40]
  • "New covenant": is translated from Hebrew: ברית חדשה‎, brit chadashah; the exact phrase is only found here in the entire Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, but Huey notes that "the ideas associated with it are frequently expressed."[41] Kaiser counts "sixteen or seventeen major passages on the new covenant."[42] Thompson holds that this statement can be traced back to the prophet Jeremiah, despite arguments pointing the origin to latter editors, because, in his observation, Jeremiah "was in the verge of stating the doctrine on a number of occasions."[43]

Verse 32[edit]

not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord.[44]
  • "The covenant that I made with their fathers": refers to the Mosaic Covenant between God and the people of Israel right after they were liberated from the bondage in Egypt (Exodus 19-24).[45]
  • "Husband to them": describing Yahweh as a husband (ba'al) to the people of Israel,[46] carrying the image of contractual "husband-wife relationship between Yahweh and Israel."[47] The phrase "though I was a husband to them" is in Masoretic, Targum and Vulgate versions, whereas the Septuagint and Syriac versions have "and I turned away from them."[48]

Verse 33[edit]

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.[49]

Verse 34[edit]

No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."[51]
  • "For they shall all know me": "The universal knowledge of God" will be a result of the "new covenant".[52]

The results of the New Covenant (31:35–40)[edit]

The subsequent two passages affirm that 'the New Covenant will be everlasting' (verses 35–37) and, as a result of it, 'the city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt' (verses 38–40).[19]

Verse 38[edit]

"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."[53]

This verse gives an exilic hope, that Jerusalem will be 'rebuilt beyond its former borders to accommodate the population explosion among its inhabitants', and that the city 'will never again be uprooted or overthrown'.[56]

See also[edit]

Notes and References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey 1993, p. 268.
  2. ^ Thompson 1980, p. 113.
  3. ^ Huey 1993, p. 275.
  4. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), Heading at Jeremiah 30
  5. ^ Quoted in Streane, A. W., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Jeremiah 31, accessed 10 March 2019
  6. ^ a b Jeremiah 31 and the New Covenant. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  7. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 35-37.
  8. ^ "The Evolution of a Theory of the Local Texts" in Cross, F.M.; Talmon, S. (eds) (1975) Qumran and the History of Biblical Text (Cambridge, MA - London). p.308 n. 8
  9. ^ Tov, Emanuel (1989). "The Jeremiah Scrolls from Qumran". Revue de Qumrân. Editions Gabalda. 14 (2 (54)): 189–206. ISSN 0035-1725. JSTOR 24608791.
  10. ^ Ulrich, Eugene, ed. (2010). The Biblical Qumran Scrolls: Transcriptions and Textual Variants. Brill. pp. 575–578. ISBN 9789004181830. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  11. ^ Fitzmyer, Joseph A. (2008). A Guide to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Related Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 38. ISBN 9780802862419. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  13. ^ a b CCEL - Brenton Jeremiah Appendix
  14. ^ A scan of Rabbi Shalom Shachna Yellin's bible, which contains notations by his son-in-law, Yehoshua Kimchi, that describe details of the Aleppo Codex.
  15. ^ Ofer 1992, p. 320.
  16. ^ The Leningrad codex has a closed section break {S} at 31:17 (שמוע), but Kimhi did not note any parashah. The possibility that Kimhi erred by neglecting to note a parashah at 31:17 is lessened by the fact that Codex Cairensis also lacks a parashah at this point, as well as the fact that Finfer records lack of a parashah break here in most manuscripts (Ofer, Yellin, 1992, p. 332 n. 1). For this reason Breuer's editions based on the Aleppo Codex and Kimhi's notes (Horev and The Jerusalem Crown) do not show a parashah at 31:17, nor does a break appear in the Koren edition based on Finfer's list. However, Finfer does note that "a few manuscripts" have {S} here (p. 133).
  17. ^ a b c d McConville 1994, p. 695.
  18. ^ Thompson 1980, p. 128.
  19. ^ a b c d McConville 1994, p. 696.
  20. ^ Jeremiah 31:1 NKJV; cf. 30:25 Hebrew Bible
  21. ^ a b Streane, A. W., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on Jeremiah 31, accessed 10 March 2019
  22. ^ Thompson 1980, p. 564.
  23. ^ Jeremiah 31:9 NKJV; cf. 31:8 Hebrew Bible
  24. ^ Jeremiah 31:15 ESV; cf. Jeremiah 31:14 Hebrew Bible
  25. ^ Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. "Rachel: Bible." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 20 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 6, 2014)
  26. ^ Huey 1993, pp. 274-5.
  27. ^ Huey 1993, p. 274.
  28. ^ Gundry, Robert H. (1975) The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew Gospel. Brill, Leiden. p. 210
  29. ^ Jeremiah 31:22 NKJV; cf Jeremiah 31:21 Hebrew Bible
  30. ^ Made in Heaven, A Jewish Wedding Guide by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim Publishing Company, New York / Jerusalem, 1983, Chapter 19
  31. ^ Hebrews 8:8–13 KJV
  32. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: New Testament: "The idea of the new covenant is based chiefly upon Jer. xxxi. 31–34 (comp. Heb. viii. 6–13, x. 16). That the prophet's words do not imply an abrogation of the Law is evidenced by his emphatic declaration of the immutability of the covenant with Israel (Jer 31:35–36; comp. 33:25); he obviously looked for a renewal of the Law through a regeneration of the hearts of the people."
  33. ^ Luke 22:20
  34. ^ "Why Are The Two Divisions Of The Bible Called The Old And New Testament ?". Archived from the original on 2018-08-03. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  35. ^ "Hebrews 9:16-17 KJV". Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  36. ^ "Hebrews 9:16". Bible Hub. Online Parallel Bible Project. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  37. ^ "Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary Hebrews 9:16". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  38. ^ "New Testament Letters Hebrews Chapter 9". The Holy See. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  39. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Epistle to the Hebrews: "... the Epistle opens with the solemn announcement of the superiority of the New Testament Revelation by the Son over Old Testament Revelation by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1-4). It then proves and explains from the Scriptures the superiority of this New Covenant over the Old by the comparison of the Son with the angels as mediators of the Old Covenant (1:5-2:18), with Moses and Josue as the founders of the Old Covenant (3:1-4:16), and, finally, by opposing the high-priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchisedech to the Levitical priesthood after the order of Aaron (5:1-10:18)."
  40. ^ Jeremiah 31:31 NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 31:30 Hebrew Bible
  41. ^ Huey 1993, p. 281.
  42. ^ W. C. Kaiser Jr. (1972) "The Old Promise and the New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34," JETS 15:14. Cited in Huey 1993, p. 281. For examples, Isaiah 41:18-20; 42:6-13; Jeremiah 50:4-5; Ezekiel 16:60-63; Joel 2:18-32, etc.
  43. ^ Thompson 1980, p. 580.
  44. ^ Jeremiah 31:32 NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 31:31 Hebrew Bible
  45. ^ Huey 1993, p. 282.
  46. ^ Coppens, J (1963). "La nouvelle alliance en Jer. 31:31-34," CBQ 25:14-ff.
  47. ^ Thompson 1980, p. 66.
  48. ^ Note [a] on Jeremiah 31:32 in the New King James Version
  49. ^ Jeremiah 31:33 KJV; cf. Jeremiah 31:32 Hebrew Bible
  50. ^ Huey 1993, p. 284.
  51. ^ Jeremiah 31:34 NKJV; cf. Jeremiah 31:33 Hebrew Bible
  52. ^ Huey 1993, p. 285.
  53. ^ Jeremiah 31:38 KJV; cf. Jeremiah 31:37 Hebrew Bible
  54. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "JERUSALEM". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.. Quotes: Jehoash of Israel destroyed 400 cubits of the wall from the Ephraim Gate to the corner gate (II Kings xiv. 13). It seems probable that the wall was repaired under Uzziah; at least, according to II Chron. xxvi. 9,... The coming of Sennacherib (701) caused the rebuilding of some portion of the wall ... Hezekiah is mentioned as having done this repairing.... Where the towers Hananeel and Ha-Meah or Meah stood can not be ascertained. They are mentioned in Jer. xxxi. 38; Zech. xiv. 10; Neh. iii. 1, xii. 39. The former seems to have marked the northeast corner of the city;... The "old gate" or "gate of the old pool"—referring perhaps to the Patriarch's Pool northwest of the city—is called also "Sha'ar ha-Rishon" (Zech. xiv. 10) and "Sha'ar ha-Pinnah" (II Kings xiv. 13; Jer. xxxi. 38; "ha-Poneh," IIChron. xxv. 23; "ha-Pinnim," Zech. xiv. 10).
  55. ^ Schroeder, Joy A., ed. (2017). The Book of Jeremiah. The Bible in medieval tradition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 253. ISBN 9780802873293.
  56. ^ O'Connor 2007, p. 515.


External links[edit]