Jeremiah 31:31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Lent B17


31 AThe days are surely coming, saysB the Lord,C

Notes on verse 31a

A {untranslated} = hinneh. From hen (lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise). This is to draw attention, show suddenness or surprise, or to emphasize the importance of the coming statement. See! Lo! Behold!
B “says” = neum. From na’am (to speak a prophecy; properly, to whisper, which implies saying an oracle). This is an utterance or speaking an oracle.
C “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

when I will makeD a newE covenantF with the houseG of IsraelH and the house of Judah.I 

Notes on verse 31b

D “make” = karat. This is to cut down, cut off, or make a covenant (idiom for making a covenant is “to cut a covenant”). It can also mean to destroy, fail, or consume.
E “new” = chadash. From chadash (to renew or restore, to repair or rebuild). This is something fresh or new.
F “covenant” = berit. Perhaps from barah (to eat, choose, make clear); perhaps from bar (grain, wheat); from bara (to select, purify, cleanse, test, brighten, polish). This is a compact, covenant, alliance, treaty, or league.
G “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
H “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
I “Judah” = Yehudah. Probably from yadah (to throw one’s hands into the air in a gesture of praise); from yad (hand). This is Judah, meaning “praised.”

32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestorsJ whenK I tookL them by the handM

Notes on verse 32a

J “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
K “when” = yom. Literally “in the day.”
L “took” = chazaq. This is to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden.
M “hand” = yad. Related to “Judah” in v31. See note I above. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.

to bring them out of the landN of EgyptO—a covenant that they broke,P though I was their husband,Q says the Lord. 

Notes on verse 32b

N “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
O “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.
P “broke” = parar. This is to break, defeat, frustrate, caste off, clean, cease.
Q “was…husband” = baal. 15x in OT. This is to marry, master, become a husband, have power over.

33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will putR my lawS withinT them, and I will write it on their hearts;U and I will be their God,V and they shall be my people.W 

Notes on verse 33

R “put” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
S “law” = torah. From yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach). This is law, instruction, teaching, or statute. It can also refer to the first five books of the Bible – the Torah.
T “within” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
U “hearts” = leb. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
V “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v31. See note H above.
W “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

34 No longer shall they teachX one another,Y or say to each other,Z “KnowAA the Lord,”

Notes on verse 34a

X “teach” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.
Y “one another” = ish + et + rea. Literally “a man his neighbor.” Ish is perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind. Rea is from raah (to associate with). This is the same as neighbor in Leviticus 19:18 “love your neighbor as yourself.” This is friend, companion, fellow, neighbor. It is someone with whom you associate, whether more or less close.
Z “each other” = ish + et + ach. Literally “a man his brother.” Ish is same as “one” in v34. See note Y above. Ach is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.
AA “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.

for they shall all know me, from the leastBB of them to the greatest,CC says the Lord; for I will forgiveDD their iniquity,EE and rememberFF their sinGG no more.

Notes on verse 34b

BB “least” = qatan. From quwt (grieved, cut off, to detest). This is least, small, young, little one. It is literally smaller whether in amount or size. Figuratively it is smaller in the sense of younger or less important.
CC “greatest” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
DD “forgive” = salach. This is to pardon or spare.
EE “iniquity” = avon. Perhaps related to avah (to bend, twist, be amiss). This is sin, mischief, guilt, fault, punishment for iniquity, or moral evil.
FF “remember” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
GG “sin” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.

Image credit: “I Love to Read” by Carlos Porto, 2007.

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