Jeremiah 31:7-9

Jeremiah 31:7-14
Ordinary B48


7 For thus says the Lord:A
Sing aloudB with gladnessC for Jacob,D
    and raise shoutsE for the chief of the nations;F
proclaim,G give praise,H and say,
    “Save,I O Lord, your people,
    the remnantJ of Israel.”K

Notes on verse 7

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “sing aloud” = ranan. This is to cry aloud, rejoice, or sing. It is a shout that is generally a joyful one.
C “gladness” = simchah. From samach (to rejoice, be glad; properly, to brighten up; also used figuratively). This is joy, rejoicing, pleasure, or glee.
D “Jacob” = yaaqob. From the same as aqeb (heel, footprint, horse hoof, one who lies in wait). This is Jacob, son of Isaac, and his descendants. It means heel, supplanter, or usurper.
E “raise shouts” = tsahal. 9x in OT. This is to cause to shine, shout, cry, rejoice, neigh, bellow, lift up. This word is to gleam and figuratively means being cheerful. It is a clear vocalization from either a human or an animal.
F “nations” = goy. From the same as gevah (the back, body, or person); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. It can also be someone’s name. Often used in the Old Testament to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. By way of Yiddish, “goy” refers to any non-Jewish person.
G “proclaim” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
H “give praise” = halal. This is to be clear – it originally referred to a sound, then a color. It was to shine and then make a show or boast then to rave. In a causative sense it came to mean celebrate, give glory, sing praise, or be worth of praise. Because of the celebratory nature of the word, it could also mean to give in marriage. This is where Hallelujah comes from.
I “save” = yasha. To deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue, be safe. Properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. Used causatively, it means to free.
J “remnant” = sheerith. From shaar (to remain or be left over; properly, this refers to something that swells or expands and so it creates extra or redundancy). This is rest, residue, remnant, survivor, final portion, or posterity.
K “Israel” = yisrael. From sarah (to persist, persevere, contend, strive, wrestle) + el (God or a god). This means “God strives” or “one who wrestles with God.” It is another name for Jacob and for his offspring.

8 See,L I am going to bring them from the land of the north,M
    and gather them from the farthest partsN of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
    those with child and those in labor, together;
    a great company, they shall returnO here.P

Notes on verse 8

L see” = hen. This is lo! Behold! If, though; an expression of surprise.
M “north” = tsaphon. From tsaphan (to hide, hoard, reserve; to hide something by covering it, which implies storing it up. Figuratively, to deny. Can also mean lurk). This is properly hidden or dark. Used to mean north or northward.
N “farthest parts” = yerekah. From yarek (thigh, side, loin; used as a euphemism for genitalia – may come from a word that means soft). This is properly the flank, but used to refer to the recesses, border, or coast. Can also mean side.
O “return” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
P “here” = hennah. Related to “see” in v8. Perhaps from hen (see note L above). This is here, now, since.

9 With weepingQ they shall come,
    and with consolationsR I will leadS them back,
I will let them walk by brooksT of water,
    in a straightU pathV in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
    and EphraimW is my firstborn.

Notes on verse 9

Q “weeping” = beki. From bakah (to weep, make lamentation, complain). This is weeping or overflowing. As an analogy, it is used to describe dripping.
R “consolations” = tachanun. 18x in OT. From chanan (beseech, show favor, be gracious; properly, to bend in kindness to someone with less status). This is asking for a favor, praying earnestly.
S “lead” = yabal. 18x in OT. This is to bring, carry, conduct, or lead. Properly, the word means to flow. Used causatively, as here, it means to bring – particularly with fanfare.
T “brooks” = nachal. From nachal (to take as heritage, inherit, or distribute). This is a river or stream. It could be a wadi or arroyo – sometimes a narrow valley with no water at all, but in strong rains or when winter snow melts, it swells or floods with water.
U straight” = yashar. From yashar (to be smooth or straight, agreeable or pleasing). This is straight or right and therefore direct. As pleasing to God, it is upright i.e. righteous, showing equity.
V “path” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
W “Ephraim” = ephrayim. From ephraath (fruitfulness, several place names); from parah (to bear fruit, be fruitful, grow, increase; to bear fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons and also used to describe his descendants and land. The name may mean “bearing double fruit.”

Image Credit: “Return to Zion,” by Avraham Ofek, mural on the post office in Jerusalem, 20th century.

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