The historical background of this vision is clear (597 b.c.). The vision is described in a typical question-answer style (see 1:11-16; Am 7:1-9; 8:1-3).
Jeremiah's description of those who were deported to Babylon in 597 b.c. as good does not necessarily mean that they were of superior moral quality. Most likely good and bad are terms used here comparatively to describe the spiritual response of those who are under Yahweh's judgment. This vision introduces a new theological perspective about the Promised Land. Yahweh's future relationship with those who are under his judgment is not determined by the land of their existence. Life in the land does not mean acceptance by Yahweh. Likewise, exile does not mean rejection by Yahweh. Those who return to me [Yahweh] with all their heart (šûḇ,v. 7) are given hope for the continued relationship with God. They will receive the gift of an obedient heart, which in turn will enable them to enter into a covenantal relationship (yāḏa',“know”) with Yahweh. Those who are righteous in their own thinking, because they still live in the land, are given no hope for their future (vv. 8-10).
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