Svetasv logo


Home Contact




A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Jeremiah 30-31

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 25 February 2020




Jeremiah 30-31
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Jeremiah 30:5-31:25 as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

The passage primarily deals with the ingathering of Israelites into the new Israel at the start of Christ's Millennial Reign. It contains a prophecy that is quoted in Matthew 2:18 ("...Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted...") as referring to Herod's slaughter of children after the Jesus' birth. On a straight-through reading of Jer. 31, this verse appears to be about the pain of the Judahites exile to Babylon, but with a chiastic reconfiguration we show that it refers to Herod's "massacre of the innocents".


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We base our parse of Jeremiah 30:5-31:25 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The Birth of Christ c. 4BC. Herod kills boys 2 years and under after Christ's birth.
  2. The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). The Roman army wages a ruthless campaign of devastation against the Judahites.
  3. Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD). The people of Israel will gather into their new kingdom under Christ.

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of the Birth of Christ Period 1, the The First Jewish–Roman War Period 2 and Christ's millennial reign Period 3.


Categorizing Jeremiah 30:5-31:25

Ch 30 Vs 5-7a belong to Period 1. Terror at Herod's order to execute boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

Ch 30 Vs 7b-11 belong to Period 3. After a period of trouble, the Israelites ("Ephraim" or "Jacob") will return to the new Israel.

Ch 30 Vs 12-17 appears to belong to Period 2. God punished the Judahites using the Roman army. One of the main reasons we believe this is the First Jewish-Roman war is that we expect to see it in chiastic reconfigurations.

Ch 30 Vs 18 - 31 Vs 14 belong to Period 3. Israelites will gather in the prosperous new Israel under a king appointed by God.

Ch 31 Vs 15 belongs to Period 1. In Ramah, Rachel weeps for her children.

Ch 31 Vs 16-22 belong to Period 3. The Israelites will return to the new Israel after a period of suffering.

Ch 31 Vs 23-25 belong to Period 2. Judah is restored after the Roman attack. We believe this passage is not about the final Israelite return because it refers to Judah only.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Jeremiah 30 5 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Cries of fear are heard— terror, not peace. 6 Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, every face turned deathly pale? 7a How awful that day will be! No other will be like it.

7b It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.
8 “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. 9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. 11 I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’

12 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. 13 There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. 14 All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. 15 Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.
16 “‘But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil. 17 But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’

18 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. 19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. 20 Their children will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all who oppress them. 21 Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me— for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord. 22 “‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
23 See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a driving wind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand this.


Jeremiah 31 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 4 I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. 5 Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. 6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”
7 This is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ 8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. 9 They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ 11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord.

15 This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns. 22 How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The Lord will create a new thing on earth— the woman will return to the man.”

23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint



3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Jeremiah 30:5-31:25 form a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 30 Vs 5-7a Period 1. Men in terror at Herod's order to execute boys.
  B1   Ch 30 Vs 7b-11 Period 3. "Jacob" gathers in the new Israel.
    X   Ch 30 Vs 12-17 Period 2. The Judahites are punished by the Romans.
  B2   Ch 30 Vs 18 - 31 Vs 14 Period 1. Israelites gather in the prosperous new Israel.
A2   Ch 31 Vs 15 Period 3. In Ramah, Rachel weeps for her children.


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [B1,B2]  [A1,A2]        (1)

Note: We choose the reverse order for our units so that we get another functional chiasmus with the rest of the prophecy. The rules of functional chiasmi allow this.


We have the following sequence when we include the rest of the prophecy:
X - Period 2
[B1,B2] - Period 3
[A1,A2] - Period 1
Ch 31 Vs 16-22 - Period 3. "Ephraim" returns to the new Israel.
Ch 31 Vs 23-25 - Period 2. Judah is restored after the Roman attack.


We still have text for the periods in a non-contiguous form. We can treat this as a doubly applied functional chiasmus as below.


M1   X - Period 2
  N1   [B1,B2] - Period 3
   XX   [A1,A2]               - Period 1
  N2   Ch 31 Vs 16-22 - Period 3
M2   Ch 31 Vs 23-25 - Period 2

The sequence selected for rearrangement is:
XX  [M1,M2]  [N1,N2]        (2)


Translating this sequence (2) into the subunits of the first chiasmus, we get:

[A1,A2]  [X, Ch 31 Vs 23-25]   [[B1,B2], Ch 31 Vs 16-22]        (3)

Further translating (3) into verse numbers, we get:

[Ch 30 Vs 5-7a, Ch 31 Vs 15]  [Ch 30 Vs 12-17, Ch 31 Vs 23-25]   [[Ch 30 Vs 7b-11, Ch 30 Vs 18 - 31 Vs 14], Ch 31 Vs 16-22]        (4)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (4).



4. Jeremiah 30:5-31:25 Reconfigured

The Birth of Christ (c. 4BC).(Ch 30 Vs 5-7a, Ch 31 Vs 15)
Chapter 30 5 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Cries of fear are heard— terror, not peace. 6 Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, every face turned deathly pale? 7a How awful that day will be! No other will be like it.


Chapter 31 15 This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”



The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD) (Ch 30 Vs 12-17, Ch 31 Vs 23-25)
Chapter 30 12 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. 13 There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. 14 All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. 15 Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.
16 “‘But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil. 17 But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’


Chapter 31 23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD) (Ch 30 Vs 7b-11, Ch 30 Vs 18 - 31 Vs 14, Ch 31 Vs 16-22)
Chapter 30 7b It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.
8 “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. 9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. 11 I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’


Chapter 30 18 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. 19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. 20 Their children will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all who oppress them. 21 Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me— for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord. 22 “‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
23 See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a driving wind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand this.


Chapter 31 1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 4 I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. 5 Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. 6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”
7 This is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ 8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. 9 They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ 11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord.


Chapter 31 16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns. 22 How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The Lord will create a new thing on earth— the woman will return to the man.”



5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

5.1 The Birth of Christ (c. 4BC).(Ch 30 Vs 5-7a, Ch 31 Vs 15)

Chapter 30 5 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Cries of fear are heard— terror, not peace. 6 Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor, every face turned deathly pale? 7a How awful that day will be! No other will be like it.

The men of Bethlehem are in terror, and every face pale, at the decree from Herod to kill all boys 2 years and under. This subunit focuses on the suffering of the men while in the next, Rachel represents the sorrow of the women, the mothers.


Chapter 31 15 This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

It appears that Jeremiah - as poet - imagined Rachel's spirit inhabiting Ramah, weeping for Bethlehem's dead children. Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, whose tribe had almost entirely become a part of Judah by the time of Christ's birth. She so desired children that she considered herself dead without them, and so is an apt representative of the grieving mothers of Bethlehem (Matt. 2:18). Ramah was a Benjamanite city close to Bethlehem, and the word "ramah" means a "high place". All that said, the reference to Rachel and Ramah in this hauntingly beautiful passage, we primarily ascribe to poetic licence - this verse is not to be taken literally.



5.2 The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD) (Ch 30 Vs 12-17, Ch 31 Vs 23-25)

Chapter 30 12 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘Your wound is incurable, your injury beyond healing. 13 There is no one to plead your cause, no remedy for your sore, no healing for you. 14 All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. I have struck you as an enemy would and punished you as would the cruel, because your guilt is so great and your sins so many. 15 Why do you cry out over your wound, your pain that has no cure? Because of your great guilt and many sins I have done these things to you.
16 “‘But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil. 17 But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’

God used the Romans to punish the Judahites during the First Jewish-Roman war for their many sins. But he promises to restore the remnant and punish their tormentors.



Chapter 31 23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks. 25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

The Judahites remaining were mainly those who believed in Christ and managed to escape the Roman carnage by fleeing to the mountains as we have seen in our parse of the "70 Weeks of Daniel"[2]. They were restored to their former prosperity. (The phrase translated as "When I bring them back from captivity" is more appropriately translated "When I restore their fortunes" in this context.)



5.3 Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD) (Ch 30 Vs 7b-11, Ch 30 Vs 18 - 31 Vs 14, Ch 31 Vs 16-22)

Chapter 30 7b It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.
8 “‘In that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. 9 Instead, they will serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
10 “‘So do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. 11 I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’

After a time of trouble as punishment for their sins, Israel will be restored and prosper under a new king assigned by God. God is kinder to Israel than he is to its enemies.



Chapter 30 18 “This is what the Lord says:
“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents and have compassion on his dwellings; the city will be rebuilt on her ruins, and the palace will stand in its proper place. 19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained. 20 Their children will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all who oppress them. 21 Their leader will be one of their own; their ruler will arise from among them. I will bring him near and he will come close to me— for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the Lord. 22 “‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
23 See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a driving wind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand this.

The prosperous new Israel will have a leader selected by God and the people of Israel will be faithful to their God. God will punish the wicked. The text translated as "the city will be rebuilt on her ruins" can also be translated "the city will be built on its own mound" - the new Jerusalem may not be rebuilt at its old location.



Chapter 31 1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.”
2 This is what the Lord says:
“The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.”
3 The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 4 I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful. 5 Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit. 6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”
7 This is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ 8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. 9 They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.
10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands: ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’ 11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. 12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord— the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. 13 Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord.

Israel will restored to a joyful prosperous land. Because this prophecy is in the form of a poem or song, there is some repetition of the same subject in different ways. The repetition also serves to emphasize the significance of the subject.



Chapter 31 16 This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,” declares the Lord. “They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your descendants,” declares the Lord. “Your children will return to their own land.
18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’ 20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,” declares the Lord.
21 “Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns. 22 How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The Lord will create a new thing on earth— the woman will return to the man.”

We believe that the sense of the last line - "the woman will return to the man." - is that Israel's heart will be so changed that it will leave behind its unfaithful ways and woo its God (Israel here is the woman in the same sense that the Church is the bride of Christ.).

This reconfigured last Period continues naturally to the next verses of the chapter which are on the same topic - the Millennial Reign of Christ.




Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages.

Most of the subunit boundaries in this passage are demarcated by the phrase "This is what the Lord says". However, the passage is difficult to parse because two of the Periods have no text that clearly identifies them. The first Period of this reconfiguration is about the tragedy surrounding Christ's birth and the last Period is about the start of his glorious millennial reign.



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus