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DRAFT: A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Jeremiah 30-31

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 26 March 2024 *




Jeremiah 30-31
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Jeremiah 30-31 as a cryptochiasmus in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text ( see definition of cryptochiasmus in [1] ). If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Section 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

This prophecy in Jeremiah primarily predicts the restoration of the Israelites in the New Israel at the start of Christ's Millennial Reign. It contains the prediction that is quoted in Matthew 2:16-18 ("...Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted...") as referring to Herod's "Massacre of the Innocents".



Discussion

1. Presuppositions

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

  1. Herod's Massacre After The Birth of Christ (circa 2BC). Herod kills boys 2 years and under after Christ's birth.
  2. The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD). The Roman army wages a ruthless campaign of devastation against the Judahites.
  3. The Start of Christ's Millennial Reign on Earth (circa 2027AD). 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 First Jewish–Roman War Period 2 and Christ's Millennial Reign Period 3.


Categorizing Jeremiah 30:5-31:40

Ch 30 Vs 5 belong to Period 1. We believe the "cry of anxiety" of this passage is Rachel's (see 31:15 below). It is a cry of fear at Herod's order to execute boys in and around Bethlehem.

Ch 30 Vs 6-11 belong to Period 3. After a period of great pain and death for the Israelites - the time of Jacob's trouble - a remnant will survive and form the New Israel of the Millennial Age. Verse 30:6 could have been categorized as Period 1 as well, but we place it in this Period so we get a balanced regular chiasmus within this Period.

Ch 30 Vs 12-15 appears to belong to Period 2. God punishes wicked Judahites using the Roman army. This passage could apply to almost any time of severe punishment from God, but we believe it refers to the First Jewish-Roman war because we expect to see it in cryptochiasmi.

Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14 belong to Period 3. The Israelites will gather in the prosperous New Israel under a king appointed by God.

Ch 31 Vs 15 belongs to Period 1. An uproar at Herod's massacre is heard in Ramah. Rachel's soul in the underworld weeps for her children. This categorization is based on Matthew 2:16-18 - we let the quote in Matthew 2:18 determine the boundaries of this section.

Ch 31 Vs 16-22 belong to Period 3. Jacob's soul is to stop weeping, for the Israelites will turn back to their God and return to the New Israel.

Ch 31 Vs 23-26 belong to Period 2. The Christian Judahites return to Judah after the Roman army leaves. ( We believe this passage is not regarding Period 3, because only "Judah" is mentioned - "Israel" and "Ephraim" are not.)

Ch 31 Vs 27-37 belong to Period 3. The Israelites come under the New Covenant.

Ch 31 Vs 38-40 belong to Period 2. The Church replaces "Jerusalem" as God's capital "city" (until the New Jerusalem is built in Period 3).


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. We have retranslated parts of the text.


Jeremiah 30 5 “This is what the Lord says:
A cry of anxiety is heard—a cry of terror, not of peace. [a]

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? 7 How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. 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 preserve [b] 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 friends [c] 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, ‘though [d] 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 built on its own mound [e], 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 The children of Jacob [f] will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all their oppressors [g]. 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.


Retranslation notes for Jeremiah 30
[a] vs 5 "A cry of anxiety is heard—a cry of terror, not of peace" instead of "Cries of fear are heard— terror, not peace".
[b] vs 11 "preserve" instead of "save".
[c] vs 14 "friends" instead of "allies".
[d] vs 17 "though" instead of "because".
[e] vs 18 "built on its own mound" instead of "rebuilt on her ruins".
[f] vs 20 "The children of Jacob" instead of "Their children". Based on the NET bible.
[g] vs 20 "their oppressors" instead of "who oppress them".


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 survived the sword found favor in the wilderness when I went to give Israel rest. 3 (When the Lord appeared to us in the past.) I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have guided you with unfailing kindness [a]. 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 rescue [b] 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 cry is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping [c] 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 protect [d] the man.”
23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I restore their fortunes [e], the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you habitation of righteousness [f], 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.
26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep was [g] pleasant to me.
27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 29 “In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
35 This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name: 36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.”
37 This is what the Lord says:
“Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the Lord.
38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

Retranslation notes for Jeremiah 31
[a] vs 2,3 '“The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness when I went to give Israel rest. 3 (When the Lord appeared to us in the past.) I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have guided you with unfailing kindness' instead of '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'.
[b] vs 11 "rescue" instead of "redeem".
[c] vs 15 "A cry is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping" instead of "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping".
[d] vs 22 "protect" instead of "return to".
[e] vs 23 "restore their fortunes" instead of "bring them back from captivity".
[f] vs 23 "you habitation of righteousness" instead of "you prosperous city".
[g] vs 26 "was" instead of "had been".



3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Jeremiah 30:5-31:40 forms a cryptochiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 30 Vs 5 Period 1. A voice of fear is heard at Herod's order to execute boys
  B1   Ch 30 Vs 6-11 Period 3. The time of Jacob’s trouble
    X   Ch 30 Vs 12-15 Period 2. The Judahites are punished by the Romans
  B2   Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14 Period 3. Israelites gather in the prosperous new Israel
A2   Ch 31 Vs 15 Period 1. Rachel weeps for her children


We now reconstruct the passages in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a cryptochiasmus [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 cryptochiasmus with the rest of the prophecy. The rules of cryptochiasmi allow this.


We have the following sequence when we include the next 2 subunits of the prophecy:
X - Period 2
[B1,B2] - Period 3
[A1,A2] - Period 1
Ch 31 Vs 16-22 - Period 3. "Ephraim" returns to its God
Ch 31 Vs 23-26 - Period 2. Christian Judahites return to Judea after the war

We still have text for the Periods in a non-contiguous form. We can treat this as a doubly applied cryptochiasmus 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 23-26 - 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 23-26]   [[B1,B2], Ch 31 Vs 16-22]        (3)

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

[Ch 30 Vs 5, Ch 31 Vs 15]  [Ch 30 Vs 12-15, Ch 31 Vs 23-26]   [[Ch 30 Vs 6-11, Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14], Ch 31 Vs 16-22]        (4)

Below, we have another 2 subunits of the prophecy that remain to be integrated into the reconfiguration:

Ch 31 Vs 27-37 - Period 3. The Israelites come under a new covenant
Ch 31 Vs 38-40 - Period 2. The Church replaces Jerusalem

These subunits are in the sequence Period 3, Period 2. The units in (2) above can be rearranged, placing the pivot at the end, to form a chiasmus with these two subunits so that the Periods are in the sequence [2,3,1,3,2], and this chiasmus can be reconfigured.

But we eschew the lengthy and complex formalism of a chiastic reconfiguration and, instead, use the expedient of appending the subunits to the Period to which they belong in (4), so that we get (5) below.


[Ch 30 Vs 5, Ch 31 Vs 15]  [Ch 30 Vs 12-15, Ch 31 Vs 23-26, Ch 31 Vs 38-40]   [Ch 30 Vs 6-11, Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14, Ch 31 Vs 16-22, Ch 31 Vs 27-37]       (5)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (5).



4. Jeremiah 30:5-31:40 Reconfigured

Herod's Massacre After The Birth of Christ (circa 2BC) (Ch 30 Vs 5, Ch 31 Vs 15)

Ch 30 5 “This is what the Lord says: A cry of anxiety is heard—a cry of terror, not of peace.
Ch 31 15a This is what the Lord says: “A cry is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
15b Rachel is weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (Ch 30 Vs 12-15, Ch 31 Vs 23-26, Ch 31 Vs 38-40)

Ch 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 friends 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.
Ch 31 23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I restore their fortunes, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you habitation of righteousness, 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. 26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep was pleasant to me.
Ch 31 38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

The Start of Christ's Millennial Reign on earth (circa 2027AD) (Ch 30 Vs 6-11, Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14, Ch 31 Vs 16-22, Ch 31 Vs 27-37)

Chiasmus 1: The Israelites are restored to their own nation after they are purged

Ch 30 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? 7 How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. 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 preserve 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.’

Chiasmus 2: The New Israel will be a blessed nation under God during the Millennial Reign

Ch 30 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, ‘though 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 built on its own mound, 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 The children of Jacob will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all their oppressors".
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. Ch 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.”


Chiasmus 3: The Israelites are gathered into the blessed New Israel

Ch 31 2 This is what the Lord says: “The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness when I went to give Israel rest. 3 (When the Lord appeared to us in the past.) I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have guided 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 rescue 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.

Chiasmus 4: The Northern Tribes return to their God

Ch 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 protect the man.”

Chiasmus 5: All the Israelites come under the New Covenant

Ch 31 27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. 29 “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ 30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
35 This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name: 36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” 37 This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the Lord.



5. A Commentary on the Reconfigured Text

5.0 Introductory Passage (Ch 30:1-4)

Chapter 30 1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.

In order to indicate that this prophecy (Jer. 30,31) is a solemn promise from God to His chosen people, Jeremiah is directed to write it down in a scroll; and also the prophecy itself is frequently interspersed with phrases like "This is what the Lord says" and "declares the Lord". This passage in 30:1-4, that introduces the prophecy, lies outside the cryptochiasmus.



Chapter 30 3 The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord.”

4 These are the words the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah:

This passage predicts that the Judahites ("Israel and Judah" of vs 3) will return to their land after their exile in Babylon in Period 1. But the cryptochiasmus below predicts much more, including the return of the Christian Judahites after the Roman war in Period 2, and the gathering of all the Israelites ("Israel and Judah" of vs 4) into the New Israel in Period 3.



5.1 Herod's Massacre After The Birth of Christ (circa 2BC) (Ch 30 Vs 5, Ch 31 Vs 15)

This Period is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 30:5 Rachel weeps for her children
    X 31:15a There is great mourning in Ramah
A2 31:15b Rachel weeps for her children


Subunit A1: Rachel weeps for her children (30:5)

Chapter 30 5 “This is what the Lord says:
A cry of anxiety is heard—a cry of terror, not of peace.

Rachel's spirit in the underworld cries in anxiety and terror at the decree from Herod to kill all boys up to 2 years old in and around Bethlehem (Matt. 2:16). Rachel was the mother of the tribe of Benjamin, and Benjamin's land was adjacent to that of Judah, with parts of it close to Bethlehem. ( See additional details in the corresponding subunit A2 below.)



Pivot X: There is great mourning in Ramah (31:15a)

Chapter 31 15a This is what the Lord says:
“A cry is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.

The people of Ramah are in great sorrow, because the young boys of the town have been killed according to Herod's decree (Matt. 2:16-18). We believe that the Ramah of this passage was a Benjaminite town close to Bethlehem (Herod's decree was for both Bethlehem and the surrounding region as well); Ramah was probably the first town affected by the decree because it was on the way from the capital Jerusalem to Bethlehem.



Subunit A2: Rachel weeps for her children (31:15b)

This subunit continues from 30:5 in the corresponding subunit A1 above.


Chapter 31 15b Rachel is weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Rachel's spirit weeps for the dead children of Ramah, her descendants. Rachel, the mother of Benjamin, so desired children that she considered herself dead without them (Gen. 30:1, see also Gen. 35:16-20), and so is an apt representative of the grieving mothers of the region. This passage (31:15) is quoted in Matt. 2:17,18 as a prediction of this "Massacre of the Innoocents" by Herod that occurred a little more than 2 years after Christ's birth. Herod committed this massacre in an effort to kill Jesus, for he feared that Christ "the king" would later oust him (Matt 2:3-8).



5.2 The First Jewish–Roman War (66AD–73AD) (Ch 30 Vs 12-15, Ch 31 Vs 23-26, Ch 31 Vs 38-40)

This Period is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 30:12-15 The Destruction of Jerusalem
    X 31:23-26 Christian Judahites return to their land after the war
A2 31:38-40 The Church is the New Jerusalem

Subunit A1: The Destruction of Jerusalem (30:12-15)

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. 14a All your friends have forgotten you; they care nothing for you.

God used the Romans to destroy Jerusalem during the First Jewish-Roman war; the city will not be rebuilt as God's earthly capital at this location ("wound is incurable", "injury beyond healing", "no remedy", "no healing") (see Zech. 11:14 in [3]). Along with God, other friends of Judah in the spiritual realm have abandoned the city ("no one to plead your case", "friends have forgotten you, they care nothing for you"), particularly its guardian angel Michael, who will stand by and let the Romans devastate Judea (see Dan 12:1). ( See our parse of the "70 Weeks of Daniel"[2] for more details on this Period.)



Chapter 30 14b 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.

For its great and many sins, God, through the Romans, has punished Jerusalem with great brutality during the war ("as an enemy would", "as would the cruel") (see Isaiah 13:16); the Judahites cry out to God for deliverance in vain ("Why do you cry out over your wound?"). The Judahites have committed several grievous sins, such as worshipping other gods, but their primary sin was that of rejecting Christ and of persecuting him and his followers (see Matt. 23:37-38). Only the Christian Judahites escaped this massacre, as they heeded Christ's exhortation to flee to the mountains on seeing the Romans (Matt 24:15-18).



Pivot X: Christian Judahites return to their land after the war (31:23-26)

Chapter 31 23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I restore their fortunes, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you habitation of righteousness, 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 Christian Judahites return from their refuge in the Transjordanian mountains after the First Jewish-Roman war, and rebuild Judea to a certain extent (Jerusalem and its temple are not rebuilt). The Judahites are restored, both spiritually (they are at the centre of early Christianity - "you habitation of righteousness, you sacred mountain") and materially ("People will live together in Judah...refresh the weary and satisfy the faint") (see also Joel 26:1-3). But the bond between the Israelites and the land of Israel is broken at this time (see Zech 11:14), so these Christian Judahites gradually disperse to other lands.



Chapter 31 26 At this I awoke and looked around. My sleep was pleasant to me.

At this time of the Judahites' restoration, Jeremiah's soul wakes up in the realm of the dead to inquire about the land of the living ("looked around") (in the way that Rachel's soul woke up to weep for the children of Bethlehem in Period 1). When he sees that his people, the Judahites, have formed the first Christian community, and that they will be blessed from this time onwards, his time in the land of the dead ("sleep") becomes pleasant.



Subunit A2: The Church is the New Jerusalem (31:38-40)

With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, the city was no longer God's Holy City (see Zech. 11:14 in [3]), and God will never again rebuild His city at this location - the New Jerusalem of the Millennial Reign will be located elsewhere. So the details in this passage regarding sites in the old Jerusalem are to be treated as figurative. We take the position that the "Jerusalem" of this passage (31:38-40) represents the Church, that is, the Christian community (the Church has been similarly compared to "the city" in other passages - see Isaiah 26:1,2 in [4] ).


Chapter 31 38 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt for me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39 The measuring line will stretch from there straight to the hill of Gareb and then turn to Goah. 40 The whole valley where dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.”

The "City of Jerusalem" of this passage represents Christian Judahites, and the profane region of the Hinnom valley and Kidron's terraces outside Jerusalem represents the growing Church in the pagan world outside Judea. This "Jerusalem", the Church, will never be demolished, in spite of Satan's best efforts, for its people will remain faithful to their God. Since measurement is an act of taking ownership, the "measuring line" of vs 39 indicates that God will control and nurture this "Jerusalem" (cf. Rev. 11:1-2).

The passage in 31:38-39 specifies the boundary of the city of Jerusalem. The Tower of Hananel (cf. Neh. 3:1, Zech. 14:10) and the Corner Gate (cf. 2 Kings 14:13, 2 Chron. 26:9, Zech. 14:10) are at the north-east and north-west corners of Jerusalem respectively. The locations of the Hill of Gareb and Goah are unknown, but we propose that they are at the south-west and south-east corners of the city respectively (that is, the measuring line of vs 39 stretches south from the Corner Gate to the Hill of Gareb and then turns east to Goah). These four corners of vs 38&39, mark a perimeter around all of Jerusalem; so they represent Jerusalem, which in turn represents the Judahite Church.

The passage in 31:40 specifies the profane region around Jerusalem. The Hinnom valley (Gehenna), into which unclaimed dead bodies, ashes (ashes as in Lev. 6:10) and rubbish were thrown, lies along the outside of the western and southern borders of Jerusalem. The Kidron valley that lies along the east of the city is separated from the city by terraces or fields; the Horse gate is located in the north-eastern part of the city. This "U shaped" region outside the west and south (Hinnom valley) and east (terraces along Kidron) of the city was considered profane and was a known site of pagan worship (Jer. 7:31, 32:35). This region represents the gentile converts to Christianity, who will now be holy to the Lord (vs 31:40).



5.3 The Start of Christ's Millennial Reign on Earth (circa 2027AD) (Ch 30 Vs 6-11, Ch 30 Vs 16 - Ch 31 Vs 14, Ch 31 Vs 16-22, Ch 31 Vs 27-37)

This Period is structured as a series of 5 chiasmi.

Chiasmus 1: The Israelites are restored to their own nation after they are purged

The passage below in 30:6-11 is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 30:6-7 The Israelites are purged in the time of "Jacob's trouble"
    X 30:8-10 The Israelites are restored to their own nation
A2 30:11 The Israelites are purged in the time of "Jacob's trouble"

Subunit A1: The Israelites are purged in the time of "Jacob's trouble" (30:6-7)

Chapter 30 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? 7 How awful that day will be! No other will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

During the time of "Jacob's trouble", the Israelites ("Jacob") will be purged, so that the remnant are worthy and faithful residents of the New Israel (see also Isaiah 10:22, and the Rider on the Pale Horse of Rev 6:8). The Israelites of the time are in great anguish ("hands on stomach") and fear ("faces pale") at the extensive loss of life around them.



Pivot X: The Israelites are restored to their own nation (30:8-10)

Chapter 30 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.

The Israelites will no longer be controlled by outsiders (those of the empire of "Babylon" that secretly controls the world - Rev 17) who enforce the will of Satan and his fallen angels. Instead, they will once again serve God, and they will be ruled by Christ and his Messiah; the Messiah will be a descendant of David and reign on David's throne in the New Jerusalem (see Jer. 23:5-6, Isa. 11:1-5, Isa. 9:6,7).



Chapter 30 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.

God will gather the Israelites from all the places around the world to which they were scattered (see also, for example, Isaiah 27:12,13). They will unite in the New Israel where they will enjoy peace and security, for they are once again under God's protection (see also, for example, Isaiah 27:2-5).



Subunit A2: The Israelites are purged in the time of "Jacob's trouble" (30:11)

Chapter 30 11 I am with you and will preserve 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.’

Though God will destroy many unrighteous Israelites during the time of Jacob's trouble, he will not destroy the nation completely (see also Isaiah 17:4-6); Israel will only be punished in due measure, and the New Israel will be primarily composed of the descendants of the people that occupied ancient Israel. On the other hand, the nations to which the Israelites had been exiled in the past - Ancient Egypt, Assyria and Babylon - have been completely destroyed (see, for example, Jer. 51:37).



Chiasmus 2: The New Israel will be a blessed nation under God during the Millennial Reign

The passage below in 30:16-24, 31:1 is arranged in the form of a two-unit chiasmus:

A1 30:16-17 Israel's enemies are defeated, Israel is restored
  B1 30:18 God will control the New Israel during the Millennial Reign
    X 30:19-20 The Israelites will flourish during the Millennial Reign
  B2 30:21-22 God will control the New Israel during the Millennial Reign
A2 30:23-24, 31:1 Israel's enemies are defeated, Israel is restored

Subunit A1: Israel's enemies are defeated, Israel is restored (30:16-17)

Chapter 30 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, ‘though you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’

The wicked Satan worshippers that plundered the Israelites, particularly those who took away its people during the reign of the Beast (the Beast of Rev. 13), will themselves be plundered (see, for example, Joel 3:3-8), and Israel ("Zion") will be made whole ("restore you to health..."). Israel had been mocked by the wicked as irrelevant ("called an outcast..."), because it was controlled by God and not by Satan during the reign of the Beast (see also Isaiah 52:5).



Subunit B1: God will control the New Israel during the Millennial Reign (30:18)

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 built on its own mound, and the palace will stand in its proper place.

God will restore the Israelites to their own nation ("restore the fortunes of Jacob's tents"). The nation will have a new Jerusalem ("city") as its capital and a new royal palace for its king. This will be a nation under God, its leadership will be independent of outside powers ("on its own mound", "stand in its proper place") (see also Daniel 2:44, Isaiah 2:2-4...).



Pivot X: The Israelites will flourish during the Millennial Reign (30:19-20)

Chapter 30 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 The children of Jacob will be as in days of old, and their community will be established before me; I will punish all their oppressors".

The people of Israel will thank and praise God for restoring them and for their blessings (see also Isaiah 35:10,...). Their numbers will grow throughout the Millennial Reign, their population will not be reduced as punishment from God as it was in the past (as warned in Deut. 28:62-63). The Israelites will be honoured around the world as God's people, as they were in the times of David and Solomon ("as in days of old"). On the other hand, the wicked people that had oppressed them are punished.



Subunit B2: God will control the New Israel during the Millennial Reign (30:21-22)

Chapter 30 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.’”

The king of the New Israel, the coming Messiah, will be from among the Israelites (not a foreigner), specifically from the tribe of Judah (Isa. 11:1, 9:6). He will remain devoted to God and Christ and will do their will, so that God will be the ultimate ruler of the New Israel (we believe the coming Messiah is the Holy Spirit, where the word "Holy" means "devoted to God") (cf. Jer. 50:44).



Subunit A2: Israel's enemies are defeated, Israel is restored (30:23-24, 31:1)

Chapter 30 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 wicked Satan worshippers that have come against Israel will face God's fierce anger at this time (see also Rev 16, Ezekiel 39:17-20...). The people of Israel and the rest of the world will see God's awesome wrath for themselves ("you will understand this") (see also Ezekiel 39:21-22). ( The same language can also be found in Jer. 23:19,20, where it is also used to predict God's wrath against the wicked.)



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.”

The Northern Tribes turn back to their God and join the Southern Tribes, who have always remained faithful to God, to form one united nation ("all the families") under God (see also Zechariah 10:6,...).



Chiasmus 3: The Israelites are gathered into the blessed New Israel

The passage below in 31:2-14 is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 31:2-6 Israel is restored
    X 31:7-10 The Israelites are gathered in from around the world
A2 31:11-14 Israel is restored

Subunit A1: Israel is restored (31:2-6)

Chapter 31 2 This is what the Lord says: “The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness when I went to give Israel rest. 3 (When the Lord appeared to us in the past.) I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have guided you with unfailing kindness.

When God had decided to give the Israelites rest from their slavery in Egypt, He helped them escape Pharaoh's sword (Exodus 14) and He aided them in the wilderness (see, for example, Exodus 16). At that time God watched over the Israelites - He loved them and guided them through His prophets.



Chapter 31 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.

As God has done in the past, He will save the Israelites from the Beast army and bless the Israelites in their new home, the New Israel. The Israelites will once more have joy ("timbrels and dances"), prosperity ("plant vineyards") and peace ("enjoy their fruit") (see also Joel 2:19, Zech. 9:17...). The phrase "Virgin Israel" can be taken to mean "Beautiful Israel", and "Samaria" represents all of Israel.



Chapter 31 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.’”

The "watchmen" are the prophets and priests of Israel (cf. Isaiah 62:6) who will guide the Israelites in their worship of God (see also Isaiah 30:20-21). ("Ephraim" represents all of Israel.)



Pivot X: The Israelites are gathered in from around the world (31:7-10)

Chapter 31 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.’

The righteous of the earth are to celebrate the regathering of the remnant of the Israelites ("Jacob") into the New Israel, the leading nation of the world. The world will be blessed when God and Christ runs the world from this nation. The "remnant of Israel" are those left over after the purge at the time of "Jacob's trouble" (30:6,7).



Chapter 31 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.

All the Israelites will return en masse from around the world - no one will be left behind (not even the "blind and lame") (see also Jeremiah 3:18, Isaiah 43:6,...). Expectant mothers are specifically mentioned to indicate that this journey to their new home will be quite sudden (cf. Matt. 24:19). Satan's Beast empire (of Rev 13) is called the "land of the north", because the nations that make up the Beast Empire are from the northern parts of the world (see also, "the Northern Horde" of Joel 2:20); but since the Beast Empire controls the whole world in the time before the start of the Millennial Reign, we believe "land of the north" is a synonym for the whole world in this passage.



Chapter 31 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.

As they gather, the Israelites weep with joy and pray, because of their spiritual awakening. God removes all impediments to their return and eases their journey ("level path", "beside streams of water") (see also Isaiah 11:16, Isaiah 62:10). The Israelites are His chosen people ("Ephraim is my firstborn son", where "Ephraim" represents all of Israel in this passage) (see also Deut. 7:6).



Chapter 31 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.’

So God, who had scattered the Israelites for their sins (Leviticus 26:33), regathers them from around the world (the "coastlands" of the Mediterranean represent the nations of the world), and He guides and protects them on their journey ("like a shepherd").



Subunit A2: Israel is restored (31:11-14)

Chapter 31 11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob and rescue them from the hand of those stronger than they.

God delivers the New Israel ("Jacob") from the attack of the mighty Beast army ("those stronger than they") - this is the "Gog and Magog" attack of Ezekiel 39 (see also Rev 19:19-21).



Chapter 31 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.

The Israelites will assemble at prominent places ("heights") in the New Israel ("Zion") and celebrate their blessings (they are "like a well-watered garden"). Their time of mourning is ended and an age of comfort and joy begins. It is unlikely that agriculture and animal husbandry will be the primary occupations in the advanced society that is the New Israel, so "grain, wine, olive oil" and "flocks, herds" represent the general economy.



Chapter 31 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,” declares the Lord.

The Israelites will also be spiritually blessed, and they will lead the rest of the world in the worship of God (see also Zech. 14:21). ( We believe this verse is regarding spiritual and not material abundance, because priests are mentioned.)



Chiasmus 4: The Northern Tribes return to their God

The passage below in 31:16-22 is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 31:16-17 The Israelites gather in the New Israel
    X 31:18-20 The Northern Tribes return to their God
A2 31:21-22 The Israelites gather in the New Israel

Subunit A1: The Israelites gather in the New Israel (31:16-17)

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.

We propose that this subunit (31:16-17) is addressed to the soul of the patriarch Jacob/Israel in the underworld's realm of the dead (his soul is mentioned in a similar context in Isaiah 29:22,23). He has been weeping and praying for his descendants, particularly the wayward Northern Tribes for a long time. Jacob's prayers ("works") are now answered, as the people of the Israel return to their own land - they are freed from the tyranny of Satan's Beast empire that controlled the world outside Israel ("the land of the enemy").



Pivot X: The Northern Tribes return to their God (31:18-20)

Chapter 31 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.’

The Northern Tribes ("Ephraim" represents all of the Northern Tribes) have been spiritually blinded and separated from their God, and they have been sufficiently punished for their sins of long ago (they have been "disciplined like an unruly calf " and "bore the disgrace of their youth"). But now that their spiritual eyes are once again opened, they are penitent ("beat their breast...") and wish to return to their God (see Eze. 37:23).



Chapter 31 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.

Though God has published the sins of the Northern Tribes ("Ephraim") to the world ("I often speak against him") through the Old Testament (see, for example, Isaiah 28:1-4), He still loves them like a dear son.



Subunit A2: The Israelites gather in in the New Israel (31:21-22)

Chapter 31 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. 22a How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel?

The Israelites will be guided ("set up road signs...") to their home in the New Israel (see also Isaiah 62:10). The Israelites' millennia of wandering for the unfaithfulness of the Northern Tribes has come to an end, and now they must gather in the New Israel (the answer to the rhetorical question in 22a is: "not much longer").



Chapter 31 22b The Lord will create a new thing on earth— the woman will protect the man.”

Typically it is the people of the land that protect the land from invaders, but in the case of the New Israel, it will be the land that protects its people. For during the Millennial Reign, God will protect His land and defeat all who attack the New Israel - the Israelites will not have to defend themselves (see Ezekiel 38,39, Rev 20:7-10). This is as unusual a spectacle as a woman protecting a man.



Chiasmus 5: All the Israelites come under the New Covenant

The passage below in 31:27-37 is arranged in the form of a single-unit chiasmus:

A1 31:27-30 The New Israel is preserved during the Millennial Reign
    X 31:31-34 All the Israelites come under the Christian covenant
A2 31:35-37 The New Israel is preserved during the Millennial Reign

Subunit A1: The New Israel is preserved during the Millennial Reign (31:27-30)

Chapter 31 27 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. 28 Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord.

The 12 tribes, the Northern Tribes ("Israel") and the Southern Tribes ("Judah"), will be restored to their former blessed condition as God's chosen nation - they will be numerous and prosperous ("plant...with the offspring of people and of animals"). Just as God had supervised their destruction and exile, He will oversee will their growth in all aspects during the Millennial Reign (see also Hosea 2:23).



Chapter 31 29 “In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ 30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

The Israelites will no longer suffer for the sins of their forefathers. They had been punished until this time, because under the Old Covenant, curses due to sin were passed on through generations ("The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge" - see also Ezekiel 18:2) (see Exodus 20:5). The Israelites come under the New Covenant at this time (see pivot X below), and according to the New Covenant from Christ, each person will be punished for his own sins; however, Israel, being a righteous nation, will not suffer again.



Pivot X: All the Israelites come under the Christian covenant (31:31-34)

Chapter 31 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.

All the Israelites, both the Northern Tribes ("Israel") and the Southern Tribes ("Judah"), will come under the Christian covenant, and they will honour this covenant. This covenant will not share the fate of the Old Mosaic Covenant that was made between God and the Israelites during their Exodus from Egypt (see Exodus 19:5-8); the Israelites broke that covenant through their waywardness and rebellion, though God had been their keeper ("husband to them") (see also 2 Kings 17:7-8).

Paul quotes from this passage (31:31-34) in Hebrews 8:8-12 & Hebrews 10:15-17, when he examines the need for a New Covenant and Christ's roles as priest and atoning sacrifice (Hebrews 8-10).



Chapter 31 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

It is only at the start of the Millennial Reign ("after that time") that the Northern Tribes ("Israel") are spiritually awakened so that they turn to Christianity and turn back to their God - the Judahites had all become Christian at the time of Christ. The Mosaic Old Covenant was lengthy and had to be taught to the common people by the priests, while Christ's New Covenant will be written in the hearts of all the Israelites, so that they are all priests (Israel will be a nation of priests - Isa. 61:6, Rev. 5:10). As opposed to what happened under the Old Covenant, the Israelites will never again be unfaithful to their God. And now that they all come under the New Covenant, their sins as a people are forgiven through Christ's death ("remember their sins no more").



Subunit A2: The New Israel is preserved during the Millennial Reign (31:35-37)

Chapter 31 35 This is what the Lord says,
he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name: 36 “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.”

With this grand declaration, God, the creator of all things, promises that Israel will continue to be His great and blessed nation until the end of the world ("Only if these decrees vanish from my sight") (see also Isaiah 54:10).



Chapter 31 37 This is what the Lord says:
“Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the Lord.

The Israelite people will be preserved forever as God's nation (this passage repeats the idea of the previous passage for emphasis). Although unworthy Israelites will be punished and killed during the time of Jacob's trouble (30:6-7), all of them will not be destroyed for their past sins (for the heavens above cannot be measured and the depths of the earth cannot be searched).



Conclusion

With this chiastic reconstruction of the text, we have shown that this passage in Jeremiah contains prophecies on three distinct Periods. In all three periods, a soul in the realm of the dead is mentioned: Rachel in Period 1, the prophet Jeremiah himself in Period 2, and the patriarch Jacob in Period 3. We have shown with this reconfiguration that Matthew 2:17,18 correctly identifies Jeremiah 31:15 ("...Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted...") as referring to the massacre of boys after Jesus' birth.



References

[1] A Definition of Cryptochiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Zechariah 9-11
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Isaiah 24-27





* First version published on 25 February 2020.