31 At that time, says the Lord, all the families of Israel shall recognize me as the Lord; they shall act like my people. 2 I will care for them as I did those who escaped from Egypt, to whom I showed my mercies in the wilderness, when Israel sought for rest. 3 For long ago the Lord had said to Israel: I have loved you, O my people, with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to me. 4 I will rebuild your nation, O virgin of Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with the timbrels. 5 Again you will plant your vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.
6 The day shall come when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim will call out and say, “Arise, and let us go up to Zion to the Lord our God.” 7 For the Lord says: Sing with joy for all that I will do for Israel, the greatest of the nations! Shout out with praise and joy: “The Lord has saved his people, the remnant of Israel.” 8 For I will bring them from the north and from earth’s farthest ends, not forgetting their blind and lame, young mothers with their little ones, those ready to give birth. It will be a great company who comes. 9 Tears of joy shall stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They shall walk beside the quiet streams and not stumble. For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
10 Listen to this message from the Lord, you nations of the world, and publish it abroad: The Lord who scattered his people will gather them back together again and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock. 11 He will save Israel from those who are too strong for them! 12 They shall come home and sing songs of joy upon the hills of Zion and shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord—the good crops, the wheat, the wine, and the oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life shall be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows shall be gone. 13 The young girls will dance for joy, and menfolk—old and young—will take their part in all the fun; for I will turn their mourning into joy, and I will comfort them and make them rejoice, for their captivity with all its sorrows will be behind them. 14 I will feast the priests with the abundance of offerings brought to them at the Temple; I will satisfy my people with my bounty, says the Lord.
15 The Lord spoke to me again, saying: In Ramah there is bitter weeping—Rachel[a] is weeping for her children and cannot be comforted, for they are gone. 16 But the Lord says: Don’t cry any longer, for I have heard your prayers[b] and you will see them again; they will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. 17 There is hope for your future, says the Lord, and your children will come again to their own land.
18 I have heard Ephraim’s groans: “You have punished me greatly; but I needed it all, as a calf must be trained for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord, my God. 19 I turned away from God, but I was sorry afterwards. I kicked myself for my stupidity. I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in younger days.”
20 And the Lord replies: Ephraim is still my son, my darling child. I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.
21 As you travel into exile, set up road signs pointing back to Israel. Mark your pathway well. For you shall return again, O virgin Israel, to your cities here. 22 How long will you vacillate, O wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new and different to happen—Israel will search for God.[c]
23 The Lord, the God of Israel, says: When I bring them back again, they shall say in Judah and her cities, “The Lord bless you, O center of righteousness, O holy hill!” 24 And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike shall live together in peace and happiness. 25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to all the sorrowing.
26 (Then Jeremiah wakened. “Such sleep is very sweet!” he said.)
27 The Lord says: The time will come when I will greatly increase the population and multiply the number of cattle here in Israel. 28 In the past I painstakingly destroyed the nation, but now I will carefully build it up. 29 The people shall no longer quote this proverb—“Children pay for their fathers’ sins.”[d] 30 For everyone shall die for his own sins—the person eating sour grapes is the one whose teeth are set on edge.
31 The day will come, says the Lord, when I will make a new contract with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the one I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a contract they broke, forcing me to reject them,[e] says the Lord. 33 But this is the new contract I will make with them: I will inscribe my laws upon their hearts,[f] so that they shall want to honor me;* then they shall truly be my people and I will be their God. 34 At that time it will no longer be necessary to admonish one another to know the Lord. For everyone, both great and small, shall really know me then, says the Lord, and I will forgive and forget their sins.
35 The Lord who gives us sunlight in the daytime and the moon and stars to light the night, and who stirs the sea to make the roaring waves—his name is Lord Almighty—says this: 36 I am as likely to reject my people Israel as I am to do away with these laws of nature! 37 Not until the heavens can be measured and the foundations of the earth explored, will I consider casting them away forever for their sins!
38-39 For the time is coming, says the Lord, when all Jerusalem shall be rebuilt for the Lord, from the tower of Hananel at the northeast corner,[g] to the Corner Gate at the northwest;* and from the hill of Gareb at the southwest,* across to Goah on the southeast.* 40 And the entire city, including the graveyard and ash dump in the valley, and all the fields out to the brook of Kidron, and from there to the Horse Gate on the east side of the city, all shall be holy to the Lord; it shall never again be captured or destroyed.
- Jeremiah 31:15 Rachel, symbolic mother of the Northern tribes, who were taken away by the Assyrians as slaves.
- Jeremiah 31:16 for I have heard your prayers, literally, “for your work shall be rewarded.”
- Jeremiah 31:22 Israel will search for God, literally, “a woman shall court a suitor” or “a woman shall encompass a man.”
- Jeremiah 31:29 Children pay for their fathers’ sins, literally, “The fathers eat the sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”
- Jeremiah 31:32 a contract they broke, forcing me to reject them. Some versions read, “a covenant they broke, even though I cared for them as a husband does his wife.” See Hebrews 8:9b.
- Jeremiah 31:33 upon their hearts, i.e., rather than upon tablets of stone, as were the Ten Commandments. so that they shall want to honor me. In Jeremiah 17:1 their sin was inscribed on their hearts, so that they wanted above all to disobey. This change seems to describe an experience very much like, if not the same as, the new birth.
- Jeremiah 31:38 northeast corner . . . northwest . . . southwest . . . southeast, implied.