Jeremiah 31:8-13

Jeremiah 31:8-13
Monday of Holy Week – A Women’s Lectionary


See,A I am going to bringB them from the landC of the north,D

Notes on verse 8a

A“see” = hen. This is a remark of surprise or excitement: lo! Behold! It can also mean if or though.
B “bring” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
C “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
D “north” = tsaphon. From tsaphan (to hide, hoard, reserve; to cover over or figuratively to deny; also to lurk). This is properly hidden, dark, or gloomy. It can also be used to refer to the north.

    and gatherE them from the farthest partsF of the earth,G
among them the blindH and the lame,I

Notes on verse 8b

E “gather” = qabats. This is to collect, assemble, heap, grasp, or gather.
F “farthest parts” = yerekah. From yarek (thigh, side, body, shank; can be figurative for genitalia). This is flank, side, recesses, border, quarter, extreme parts.
G “earth” = erets. Same as “land” in v8. See note C above.
H “blind” = ivver. From avar (to blind, put out). This is blindness or someone who is blind. It can be used literally or figuratively.
I “lame” = pisseach. 13x in OT. From pasach (to limp, hesitate). This is lameness or someone who is lame.

    those with childJ and those in labor,K together;L

Notes on verse 8c

J “with child” = harah. 16x in OT. From harah (to conceive or be pregnant – literal or figurative). This is conceive or pregnant.
K “in labor” = yalad. This is to bear or bring forth. It can mean to act as midwife or to show one’s lineage. This is often used for birth or begetting.
L “together” = yachad. From yachad (to join, be united). This is a unit, both, altogether, unitedness, alike.

    a greatM company,N they shall returnO here.P

Notes on verse 8d

M “great” = 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.
N “company” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.
O “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
P “here” = hennah. Perhaps related to “see” in v8. Perhaps from hen (see note A above). This is here in a location or here in a time, i.e. now.

With weepingQ they shall come,R
    and with consolationsS I will leadT them back,

Notes on verse 9a

Q “weeping” = beki. From bakah (to weep, complain, lament). This is ongoing weeping, overflowing. By analogy, this can also mean dripping.
R “come” = bo. Same as “bring” in v8. See note B above.
S “consolations” = tachanun. 18x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is entreaty, prayer, or supplication. It is looking for favor earnestly.
T “lead” = yabal. 18x in OT. This is to lead, bring, carry, conduct. Properly, it means to flow. It can mean to bring or lead with fanfare.

I will let them walkU by brooksV of water,W

Notes on verse 9b

U “walk” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
V “brooks” = nachal. From nachal (to take as heritage, inherit, or distribute). This is a river or stream. It could be a wadi or arroyo – sometimes a narrow valley with no water at all, but in strong rains or when winter snow melts, it swells or floods with water.
W “water” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

    in a straightX pathY in which they shall not stumble;Z

Notes on verse 9c

X “straight” = yashar. From yashar (to be straight, right, even, smooth, or agreeable; figuratively, to make something pleasant or prosperous). This is straight, right, level. Also, it is pleasing, whether pleasing God or pleasing other people. So, it is upright or righteous.
Y “path” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
Z “stumble” = kashal. This is to stumble, fail, be weak or decayed, be overthrown, to totter. It can refer to weak legs or ankles so it is falter, faint, or fall.

for I have becomeAA a fatherBB to Israel,CC
    and EphraimDD is my firstborn.EE

Notes on verse 9d

AA “become” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
BB “father” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
CC “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning 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.
DD “Ephraim” = Ephrayim. From the same as epher (ashes or dust – properly something strewn) OR from parah (to grow, increase, be fruitful in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons, his descendants, and their land.
EE “firstborn” = bekor. From bakar (to bear fruit, be firstborn, firstling, that which opens the womb, give the birthright to). This is firstborn or chief.

10 HearFF the wordGG of the Lord,HH O nations,II

Notes on verse 10a

FF “hear” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
GG “word” = dabar. From dabar (to speak, declare, discuss). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
HH “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “become” in v9. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note AA above). 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.
II “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

    and declareJJ it in the coastlandsKK far away;
say, “He who scatteredLL Israel will gather him,
    and will keepMM him as a shepherdNN a flock.”OO

Notes on verse 10b

JJ “declare” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
KK “coastlands” = i. Perhaps from avah (to desire, crave, wish for, lust after). This is coastland, island, or region. It is a desirable place to live – dry land, coast.
LL “scattered” = zarah. This is to scatter or toss around. It can imply to disperse, cast away, or to scrutinize.
MM “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
NN “shepherd” = ra’ah. This is to tend a flock, pasture, or graze. It can mean to rule or to associate with someone. Figuratively, it can be ruler or teacher.
OO “flock” = eder. From adar (fail, missing) OR from adar (to dig, help, keep rank; properly, to muster troops as for battle; to miss or lack since you can see who is missing following muster; to arrange like a vineyard and so to hoe). This is arrangement – of animals, a flock or herd.

11 For the Lord has ransomedPP Jacob,QQ
    and has redeemedRR him from handsSS too strongTT for him.

Notes on verse 11

PP “ransomed” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
QQ “Jacob” = Yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, hind part, hoof, rear guard of an army, one who lies in wait, usurper). This is Isaac’s son and his descendants. The name means heel-catcher or supplanter.
RR “redeemed” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.
SS “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
TT “too strong” = chazaq. From chazaq (to strengthen, seize, be courageous, repair, bind, heal, conquer, harden). This is strong, hard, powerful, loud, bold, violent, impudent. It is usually strong in a negative sense.

12 They shall come and singUU aloud on the heightVV of Zion,WW

Notes on verse 12a

UU “sing” = ranan. This is a cry of joy or a joyful song. Properly, it is emitting a shrill sound, especially one of joy.
VV “height” = marom. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This can be height, high place, or lofty. It can be either exalted or haughty/proud. It can refer to dignity or to heaven.
WW “Zion” = Tsiyyon. Related to tsyiyyun (signpost, monument); from tsavah (to charge someone, to command, order); from the same as tsiyyah (dryness drought); from a root meaning parched as desert, dry land. Zion can refer to a mountain in Jerusalem as well as another name for Jerusalem itself or the people.

    and they shall be radiantXX over the goodnessYY of the Lord,
over the grain,ZZ the wine,AAA and the oil,BBB

Notes on verse 12b

XX “radiant” = nahar. 6x in OT. This is to flow, sparkle, be cheerful, assemble.
YY “goodness” = tub. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is goodness, gladness, something that is good. It can also be beauty, welfare, or joy.
ZZ “grain” = dagan. Perhaps from dagah (to multiply, move quickly, breed greatly, grow). This is grain or other cereal.
AAA “wine” = tirosh. From yarash (inheriting or dispossessing; refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them; by implication, to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish).  This is new wine or sweet wine – wine that is freshly squeezed. Sometimes used for fermented wine.
BBB “oil” = yitshar. From tsahar (to press oil or glisten). This is fresh oil, anointed. It is oil as that which is burned to make light; used figuratively to talk about anointing.

    and over the youngCCC of the flockDDD and the herd;EEE

Notes on verse 12c

CCC “young” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
DDD “flock” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
EEE “herd” = baqar. From baqar (to plow, break forth; figuratively, to inquire, inspect, consider). This is cattle – an animal used for plowing.

their lifeFFF shall become like a wateredGGG garden,HHH
    and they shall never languishIII again.JJJ

Notes on verse 12d

FFF “life” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
GGG “watered” = raveh. 3x in OT. From ravah (to drink your fill, satisfy, soak, water abundantly, make drunk, bathe). This is watered or drunken.
HHH “garden” = gan. From ganan (to put a hedge around – generally, protect or defend; to cover or surround). This is a garden in that it is fenced in. It can also be an enclosure.
III “languish” = daeb. 3x in OT. This is to languish, grow faint, pine, waste away.
JJJ “again” = asaph. This is to add or continue.

13 Then shall the young womenKKK rejoiceLLL in the dance,MMM
    and the young menNNN and the oldOOO shall be merry.PPP

Notes on verse 13a

KKK “young women” = betulah. This is virgin, maiden, or bride. Can also be used figuratively for a place.
LLL “rejoice” = samach. This is to rejoice or be glad. Properly, it is to brighten up in a literal or figurative sense.
MMM “dance” = machol. 6x in OT. From chul (whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain; used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear; can also be falling in pain or waiting). This is a round dance.
NNN “young men” = bachur. From bachar (to choose, appoint, try, excellent). This is choice, chosen, selected. It is a youth or young man.
OOO “old” = zaqen. From the same as zaqan (beard or chin – the beard represents old age). This is old, aged, or elder.
PPP {untranslated} = yachad. Same as “together” in v8. See note L above.

I will turnQQQ their mourningRRR into joy,SSS
    I will comfortTTT them, and give them gladnessUUU for sorrow.VVV

Notes on verse 13b

QQQ “turn” = haphak. This is to turn, overturn, change, return, turn over, pervert.
RRR “mourning” = ebel. From abal (to mourn, bewail). This is mourning or lamentation.
SSS “joy” = sason. From sus (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to be bright or cheerful). This is rejoicing, cheerfulness, and welcome.
TTT “comfort” = nacham. Properly, this is a strong breath or a sigh. This can be to be sorry, to pity, console. Comfort, or repent. But, one can also comfort oneself with less righteous thoughts, so this can also mean to avenge oneself.
UUU “give…gladness” = samach. Same as “rejoice” in v13. See note LLL above.
VVV “sorrow” = yagon. 14x in OT. From yagah (to suffer, grieve, afflict). This is grief or sorrow.

Image credit: “Shepherds, Sheep, and Sheepfolds” by David Padfield, 2015.

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