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31
Israel Will Return to God
1The Lord said:
Israel, I promise
that someday all your tribes
will again be my people,
and I will be your God.
2In the desert I was kind
to those who escaped death.
I gave them peace,
and when the time is right,
I'll do the same for you.#31.2 In the desert … same for you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
The Lord Will Rebuild Israel
3Some time ago, the Lord appeared to me#31.3 Some time … me: Or “The Lord appeared to me from far away.” and told me to say:
Israel, I will always love you;
that's why I've been so patient
and kind.
4You are precious to me,
and so I will rebuild
your nation.
Once again you will dance for joy
and play your tambourines.
5You will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria
and enjoy the grapes.
6Someday those who guard
the hill country of Ephraim
will shout, “Let's go to Zion
and worship the Lord our God.”
Israel Will Return to Its Own Land
7The Lord says:
Celebrate and sing for Israel,
the greatest of nations.
Offer praises and shout,
“Come and rescue
your people, Lord!
Save what's left of Israel.”
8I, the Lord, will bring
my people back from Babylonia#31.8 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “that country in the north,” referring to Babylonia.
and everywhere else on earth.
The blind and the lame
will be there.
Expectant mothers
and women about to give birth
will come and be part
of that great crowd.
9They will weep and pray
as I bring them home.
I will lead them
to streams of water.
They will walk on a level#31.9 level: Or “straight.” road
and not stumble.
I am a father to Israel,#31.9 Israel: The Hebrew text also has “Ephraim,” the leading tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel, which sometimes stands for the whole northern kingdom.
my favorite children.
10Listen to me, you nations
nearby or across the sea.
I scattered the people of Israel,
but I will gather them again.
I will protect them like a shepherd
guarding a flock;
11I will rescue them from enemies
who could overpower them.
12My people will come
to Mount Zion
and celebrate;
their faces will glow
because of my blessings.
I'll give them grain, grapes,
and olive oil,
as well as sheep and cattle.
Israel will be prosperous
and grow like a garden
with plenty of water.
13Young women and young men,
together with the elderly,
will celebrate and dance,
because I will comfort them
and turn their sorrow
into happiness.
14I will bless my people
with more food
than they need,
and the priests will enjoy
the choice cuts of meat.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
The Lord Offers Hope
15 # Gn 35.16-19; Mt 2.18. In Ramah#31.15 In Ramah: Or “In the hills.” a voice is heard,
crying and weeping loudly.
Rachel mourns for her children#31.15 Rachel … children: Rachel was one of the wives of Jacob, the ancestor of the nation of Israel. She was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh were the ancestors of the leading tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel.
and refuses to be comforted,
because they are dead.
* 16But I, the Lord, say
to dry your tears.
Someday your children
will come home
from the enemy's land.
Then all you have done for them
will be greatly rewarded.
17So don't lose hope.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
18The people of Israel#31.18 Israel: Hebrew “Ephraim” (see the note at 31.9). moan
and say to me,
“We were like wild bulls,
but you, Lord, broke us,
and we learned to obey.
You are our God—
please let us come home.
19When we were young,
we strayed and sinned,
but then we realized
what we had done.
We are ashamed and disgraced
and want to return to you.”
20People of Israel,
you are my own dear children.
Don't I love you best of all?
Though I often make threats,
I want you to be near me,
so I will have mercy on you.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
21With rock piles and signposts,
mark the road well,
my dear people.
The road by which you left
by will now lead you home.
22Will you ever decide
to be faithful?
I will make sure that someday
things will be different,
as different as a woman
protecting a man.#31.22 I will make sure … a woman protecting a man: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
The Lord Will Bring Judah Home
23The Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, said:
I promise to set the people of Judah free and to lead them back to their hometowns. And when I do, they will once again say,
“We pray that the Lord
will bless his home,
the sacred hill in Jerusalem
where his temple stands.”
24The people will live in Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah. Some will be farmers, and others will be shepherds. 25Those who feel tired and worn out will find new life and energy, 26and when they sleep, they will wake up refreshed.#31.26 and when they sleep … refreshed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
27Someday, Israel and Judah will be my field where my people and their livestock will grow. 28In the past, I took care to uproot them, to tear them down, and to destroy them. But when that day comes, I will take care to plant them and help them grow. 29#Ez 18.2. No longer will anyone go around saying,
“Sour grapes eaten by parents
leave a sour taste in the mouths
of their children.”
30When that day comes, only those who eat sour grapes will get the sour taste, and only those who sin will be put to death.
The New Agreement with Israel and Judah
31 # Mt 26.28; Mk 14.24; Lk 22.20; 1 Co 11.25; 2 Co 3.6. #He 8.8-12. The Lord said:
The time will surely come when I will make a new agreement with the people of Israel and Judah. 32It will be different from the agreement I made with their ancestors when I led them out of Egypt. Although I was their God, they broke that agreement.
33 # He 10.16. Here is the new agreement that I, the Lord, will make with the people of Israel:
“I will write my laws
on their hearts and minds.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 # He 10.17. “No longer will they have to teach one another to obey me. I, the Lord, promise that all of them will obey me, ordinary people and rulers alike. I will forgive their sins and forget the evil things they have done.”
35I am the Lord All-Powerful.
I command the sun
to give light each day,
the moon and stars
to shine at night,
and ocean waves to roar.
36I will never forget
to give those commands,
and I will never let Israel
stop being a nation.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
37Can you measure the heavens?
Can you explore
the depths of the earth?
That's how hard it would be
for me to reject Israel forever,
even though they have sinned.
I, the Lord, have spoken.
Jerusalem Will Be Rebuilt
38The Lord said:
Someday, Jerusalem will truly belong to me. It will be rebuilt with a boundary line running from Hananel Tower to Corner Gate. 39From there, the boundary will go in a straight line to Gareb Hill, then turn toward Goah. 40Even that disgusting Hinnom Valley#31.40 that disgusting Hinnom Valley: The Hebrew text has “the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the fatty ashes,” which probably refers to Hinnom Valley, just southwest of Jerusalem, where human sacrifices had been offered to foreign gods. will be sacred to me, and so will the eastern slopes that go down from Horse Gate into Kidron Valley. Jerusalem will never again be destroyed.
31
1 "In 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 had remained after the sword, found grace in the desert. Israel will go to his rest."
3 The Lord appeared to me from a distance: "And I have loved you in perpetual charity. Therefore, showing pity, I have drawn you.
4 And I will build you up again. And you shall be built up, O virgin of Israel. Still shall you be adorned with your timbrels, and still shall you go forth to the singing of those who play.
5 Still shall you plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria. The planters will plant, and they will not gather the vintage until the time arrives.
6 For there will be a day on which the guardians on mount Ephraim will cry out: 'Arise! And let us ascend on Zion to the Lord our God!' "
7 For thus says the Lord: "Exult in the joy of Jacob, and neigh before the head of the Gentiles. Shout, and sing, and say: 'O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel!'
8 Behold, I will lead them from the land of the north, and I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, she who is with child, together with she who is giving birth: a great assembly returning to this place.
9 They will approach with weeping. And I will lead them back with mercy. And I will lead them through the torrents of water, by an upright way, and they will not stumble in it. For I have become Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn."
10 Listen to the word of the Lord, O Gentiles, and announce it amid the islands that are far away, and say: "Whoever has scattered Israel will gather him, and he will guard him as a shepherd guards his flock."
11 For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and he has freed him from the hand of one more powerful.
12 And they will arrive and give praise on Mount Zion. And they will flow together, to the good things of the Lord, over grain, and wine, and oil, and the offspring of cattle and herds. And their soul will be like an irrigated garden, and they will no longer be hungry.
13 Then the virgin will rejoice with singing, the young and the old together, and I will turn their mourning into gladness, and I will console them and gladden them after their sorrow.
14 And I will inebriate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people will be filled with my good things, says the Lord."
15 Thus says the Lord: "A voice has been heard on high: of lamentation, mourning, and weeping; of Rachel crying for her sons and refusing to be consoled over them, because they are not."
16 Thus says the Lord: "Let your voice cease from crying and your eyes from tears. For there is a reward for your work, says the Lord. And they will return from the land of the enemy.
17 And there is hope for your very end, says the Lord. And the sons will return to their own borders.
18 Listening, I heard Ephraim going into captivity: 'You have chastised me, and I was instructed, like a young untamed bull. Convert me, and I shall be converted. For you are the Lord my God.
19 For after you converted me, I did penance. And after you revealed to me, I struck my thigh. I am confounded and ashamed. For I have endured the disgrace of my youth.'
20 Certainly, Ephraim is an honorable son to me; surely, he is a tender child. For I will still remember him, as in the time when I first spoke about him. Because my heart is stirred up over him, surely I will take pity on him, says the Lord.
21 Establish a watchtower for yourself. Place yourself in bitterness. Direct your heart into the upright way, in which you used to walk. Return, return, O virgin of Israel, to these your cities!
22 How long will you be absorbed in delights, O wandering daughter? For the Lord has created something new upon the earth: a woman will encompass a man."
23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Still they will speak this word in the land of Judah, and in its cities, when I will convert their captivity: 'May the Lord bless you, the beauty of justice, the holy mountain.'
24 And they will live in it: Judah together with all its cities, the farmer and those who drive the flocks.
25 For I have inebriated the weary soul, and I have satisfied every hungry soul.
26 Over this, I was awakened, as if from a deep sleep. And I saw, and my sleep became sweet to me.
27 Behold, the days are approaching, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the offspring of men and with the offspring of cattle.
28 And just as I have watched over them, so that I may root up, and tear down, and scatter, and destroy, and afflict, so will I watch over them, so that I may build and plant them, says the Lord.
29 In those days, they will no longer say: 'The fathers ate a bitter grape, and the teeth of the sons have been affected.'
30 Instead, each one will die for his own iniquity. Each man who will have eaten a bitter grape, his own teeth will be affected.
31 Behold, the days are approaching, says the Lord, when I will form a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32 not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand, so as to lead them away from the land of Egypt, the covenant which they nullified, though I was the ruler over them, says the Lord.
33 But this will be the covenant that I will form with the house of Israel, after those days, says the Lord: I will give my law to their inner most being, and I will write it upon their heart. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they will no longer teach, a man his neighbor, and a man his brother, saying: 'Know the Lord.' For all will know me, from the littlest of them even to the greatest, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will no longer remember their sin.
35 Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun as the light of the day, who puts the moon and the stars in order as the light of the night, who stirs up the sea and makes its waves roar: the Lord of hosts is his name.
36 If these laws fail in my sight, says the Lord, then the offspring of Israel will also fail, so that they will not be a people in my sight for all time."
37 Thus says the Lord: "If the heavens above are able to be measured, and if the foundations of the earth beneath can be examined, I also will cast aside all the offspring of Israel, because of all that they have done, says the Lord.
38 Behold, the days are approaching, says the Lord, when a city will be built for the Lord from the tower of Hananel, even to the Gate of the Corner;
39 and the measuring line will go on even further in his sight, over the hill of Gareb, and it will encircle Goah
40 and the entire Valley of dead bodies and ashes, and the entire region of death, even to the torrent of Kedron, and to the corner of the Horse Gate to the east. All this will be the holy place of the Lord. It will not be rooted up, and it will not be torn down, anymore, forever."