Jeremiah 31:1-40 (38:1-40, LXX)

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“At that time” (the “latter days” referred to in verse 24 of chapter 30), YHWH would become “God to all the families [race (LXX) of Israel.” They would recognize only him as their God as persons fully devoted to him, and they would become his people or persons whom he acknowledged as being his very own. (31:1 [38:1, LXX])

The “people” designated as “survivors of the sword” may be the Israelites who were delivered from their Egyptian pursuers who again wanted to enslave them. In the song that Moses and his fellow Israelites sang after the destruction of Pharaoh and his military force in the Red Sea, they referred to the wielding of the sword. “The enemy said, ‘I will pursue; I will overtake. I will divide booty. My soul will have its fill of them. I will draw my sword …” (Exodus 15:9) The “survivors” did find “favor in the wilderness” when “Israel” was “walking” or wandering there on the way to “his rest” (or the land promised to them where they would be able to settle down as their secure place of rest). As to the “favor” extended to Israel, this could include all that YHWH did for his people during the some four decades of their wandering in the wilderness. He supplied them with manna for their daily food, provided potable water for them in areas where there appeared to be none, and made it possible for their clothing not to wear out. (Deuteronomy 8:2-4; Psalm 78:20, 24-28) According to the book of Hebrews (4:1-10), entrance into the land of Canaan under Joshua was not the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise about entering into his rest. If the reference relates to the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness, it may serve to illustrate the love that YHWH had for his people. Another way in which to view the text is to understand the “wilderness” to designate the land of exile, as it does in Hosea 2:14(16). This would mean that those who escaped the sword of warfare were granted YHWH’s favorable attention and would come to have rest upon returning to their own land. (31:2 [38:2, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

“From afar, YHWH appeared to me.” This phrase could mean that, from his distant location in the heavenly realm, YHWH revealed himself to Israel and made known his love for his people. “And I have loved you with an eternal love. Therefore, I have drawn you [with] kindness [in (my) compassion (LXX)].” YHWH continued to show kindness or compassionate concern and care for his people. (31:3 [38:3, LXX])

The afflicted condition of God’s people would not continue. YHWH’s promise was, “Again I will rebuild you, and you will be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel.” A time of great rejoicing would follow this restoration. “Again you will furnish yourself [literally, adorn yourself] with tambourines [or hand drums] and will go forth in the dance of those laughing” or in the dance of persons who truly enjoy themselves (“will go forth with a congregation of persons playing” or a group of persons dancing and singing [LXX]).(31:4 [38:4, LXX])

Devastated land in the former territory of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel would again be cultivated. Vineyards would be planted on the slopes of the hills of Samaria (literally, “on the mountains of Samaria”). Persons doing the planting would be able to enjoy the produce from their labor. The Septuagint concludes with an imperative, “Plant and praise” (possibly meaning “give thanks”). (31:5 [38:5, LXX],)

After the restoration, the people of the former territory of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah would cease to be divided and would be unified in their worship of YHWH. This change is represented by the coming of a “day” or a time when watchmen in the “mountain of Ephraim,” either an elevated site in the former ten-tribe kingdom or the mountainous region of the former tribal territory of Ephraim, would call out, “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to YHWH our God,” for the evident purpose of going to Jerusalem to worship him there at the temple. The Septuagint appears to refer to this calling as being of those “pleading” on the “mountains of Ephraim.” (31:6 [38:6, LXX])

A message from YHWH to Jeremiah revealed that the time of restoration would occasion great rejoicing. Those who would witness this development were given the directive to cry out joyfully for “Jacob,” or to the people of Israel, and to “cry shrilly over the head of the nations.” The expression “head of the nations,” applies to the people of Israel, who would cease to be the “tail” as an oppressed and afflicted people. They would be the “head” or would not be subservient to any foreign power. (Compare Deuteronomy 28:43, 44.) Therefore, observers were to “proclaim, praise, and say, Save, YHWH, your people, the remnant of Israel.” According to the Septuagint rendering, the ones encouraged to give praise were to say, “The Lord saved his people, the remnant of Israel.” A number of modern translations depart from the vowel pointing of the Masoretic Text and render the words as does the Septuagint. “The LORD has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.” (NAB) “The LORD has saved his people; he has preserved a remnant of Israel.” (REB) “Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!” (NJB) (31:7 [38:7, LXX])

The initial “look” focuses attention on what YHWH promised to do for his people Israel. He would bring them “from the land of the north.” The designation “land of the north” does not identify the geographical location of the land but is based on the direction from which the conquerors invaded the territory of Israel and then exiled the survivors to another region. To indicate that none of the Israelites would be prevented from returning to their land and that they would have YHWH’s loving care and aid, he is quoted as saying that he would “gather them from the farthest parts of the earth” and that among them would be the blind, lame, pregnant women, and women about to give birth. As a “great company,” they would return to their own land. (31:8 [38:8, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

The Israelites who would be returning would be coming “with weeping,” or as repentant persons who would be sorrowful about their previous unfaithfulness to YHWH. “With supplications,” or with their entreaties for favor, YHWH would lead the people back. According to the Septuagint rendering, the people went out “with weeping” or into exile with great sadness, but God would bring them back to their land “with consolation.” YHWH would make it possible for them to come to streambeds filled with water, to walk on a straight or level path in which they would not stumble. The Septuagint says that God would make the people lodge at “channels of waters in a straight way, and by no means [would] they wander in it.” His relationship to the people of the former territory of the kingdom of Israel would cease to be one of disfavor on account of their unfaithfulness to him. He would recognize them as his beloved people. YHWH is quoted as saying, “I am Father to Israel, and Ephraim [the dominant tribe of the ten tribes and, therefore, representing all of them] is my firstborn,” the object of favor and affection. (31:9 [38:9, LXX])

The imperative directed to “nations” was for them to “hear the word of YHWH.” This word or message related to the restoration of Israel. The people of the nations were called upon to make this message known to the “islands” or “coastlands,” which could have included the people residing on the islands and in the coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea. YHWH’s word revealed that, although he had scattered Israel, permitting his people to be exiled, he would gather them together and care for them and protect them like a shepherd does his flock. (31:10 [38:10, LXX])

In this context, “Jacob,” the forefather of the Israelites, represents the people of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. YHWH promised to “ransom” Jacob or to liberate the people of Israel who had been taken as captives into exile. The Assyrians were the ones who had conquered the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, but the defeat of Assyria by the Babylonians did not result in freedom for the exiles. They remained under the control of the conquering power. YHWH, however, would “redeem” or effect the release of his people from a “hand” or power that was stronger than that which the people of Israel possessed. (31:11 [38:11, LXX)

The liberated people of Israel would come to the “height of Zion,” the location of YHWH’s temple, and there give way to joyous shouting. They would be “radiant,” shine with joy, or be delighted “over the goodness of YHWH” or over the blessings he bestowed on them in the form of abundant harvests and an outstanding increase in the number of their sheep, goats, and cattle. According to the Septuagint rendering, the people “will come to the good things of the Lord, to a land of grain and wine and fruit and cattle and sheep.” The Hebrew text refers to their being radiant “over the grain and over the wine and over the [olive] oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd.” Their “soul,” they themselves, their fulfilled desire, or their life, would be like a “watered garden” or a garden that flourished because of being abundantly supplied with water. No more would the people again languish or become faint in a state of despair and sorrow. The Septuagint says, “Their soul will be like a fruit-bearing tree, and no longer will they hunger.” (31:12 [38:12, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

After the liberation from exile, maidens or virgins would “rejoice in dance,” and young and old men together would likewise be joyful. According to the Septuagint, “virgins will rejoice in an assembly of young men, and the old men will rejoice.” YHWH promised to turn the “mourning” of the exiled people “into joy” to “comfort them,” and to transform sorrow into gladness. The Septuagint says that he would “turn their mourning into joyfulness and make them be happy.” (31:13 [38:13, LXX])

YHWH is quoted as saying that he would “saturate the soul of the priests with fatness [magnify and intoxicate the soul of the priests, sons of Levi (LXX)], and that his people would be “satisfied with his goodness [good things (LXX)].” In this context, “soul of the priests” may refer to their “desire” or “appetite.” It is also possible that the expression “soul of the priests” means “they themselves.” Being saturated “with fatness” suggests that they would be abundantly supplied with food and would prosper. The people as a whole would be the recipients of YHWH’s “goodness” or would enjoy his blessing to the full. They would not lack anything they needed. (31:14 [38:14, LXX])

YHWH is identified as making known a development at Ramah, a city in the tribal territory of Benjamin. At that location, a “voice” of lamentation and bitter weeping (literally, “weeping of bitterness” [plural]) is heard. It is the voice of “Rachel weeping for her sons. She refuses to be comforted for her sons, because they are not.” “Rachel,” the mother of Benjamin and Joseph, may here represent the people of Israel as a whole. It may have been at Ramah that the Babylonians assembled captives to be slaughtered or exiled (among them being many descendants of Benjamin), giving rise to lamentation and bitter weeping. Decades earlier, the Assyrians killed and exiled many descendants of Joseph in their campaign of conquest. The calamity that befell the people was so great as to make “Rachel” inconsolable. Centuries later, to rid his realm of one whom he was informed would become the future king of the Jews, Herod the Great ordered the slaughter of infant boys two years and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. According to Matthew 2:17, 18, this was a fulfillment of the words of Jeremiah, for the mothers who lost their sons in this brutal manner would have wept bitterly. (31:15 [38:15, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

The loss to “Rachel” of her “sons,” the people of Israel who were taken captive and exiled, was not to be permanent. Her descendants would once again be able to return to their own land. The comforting message YHWH directed to “Rachel” through Jeremiah was, “Hold back your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work.” The “reward” was the bearing of children, the “work” being the labor that was involved. The exiled people would “come back from the land of the enemy,” providing the basis for the imperative to restrain the sound of weeping and the shedding of tears. (31:16 [38:16, LXX]) “And there is hope for your future [a reversal from a state of affliction to a bright future], says YHWH, and your sons [children or people] will return to their border” (the region within the border of their own land). (31:17 [38:17, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

Ephraim was the dominant tribe of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and here probably represents the people of all ten tribes. YHWH is the one who heard Ephraim lamenting (literally, fluttering or moving back and forth, possibly referring to the shaking of the head in expression of grief). Ephraim is then quoted as saying regarding YHWH, “You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined, like an untrained calf [I was not taught like a calf (LXX)]. Bring me back that I may come back [or be restored], for you are YHWH my God.” The people had been rebellious, like an untrained calf that resists bearing a yoke. Therefore, they were disciplined, corrected, or punished. This discipline came in the form of conquest and exile. Ephraim’s acknowledgment of YHWH as his God or the God of the people of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel suggests that the plea to be brought back or to be restored refers to being restored to his favor, which would have included the opportunity for the people to be able to return to their own land as liberated exiles. (31:18 [38:18, LXX])

After having “turned away” or rebelled, Ephraim (or the people whom he represented) regretted having pursued a wayward course. The Septuagint rendering indicates that the captivity led Ephraim to repent. Upon coming to “know,” apparently coming to recognize his serious transgressions, “Ephraim,” in expression of regret and sorrow, is represented as slapping his thigh. He (or the people) were ashamed and humiliated because of bearing the “reproach” or disgrace of “youth,” or the disgrace resulting from a record of sin that began in the early days of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. The Septuagint quotes Ephraim as saying, “And after I came to know, I groaned because of the day of shame, and I showed you that I received reproach from my youth.” The period of shame or humiliation was a time of groaning for the people, and from early days they had been the object of reproach on account of their transgressions. (31:19 [38:19, LXX])

Ephraim (or the people of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) continued to be the object of YHWH’s love. Regarding Ephraim, he is quoted as saying, “[Is] Ephraim my dear son, a child of delights [a darling child]?” Although YHWH had often spoken against him for his unfaithfulness to him, YHWH did remember Ephraim. According to the Septuagint, he remembered Ephraim because his “words” were in him. His inward parts or tender feelings “roared” or were deeply aroused for Ephraim. The Septuagint says, “I hastened for him,” probably meaning that God had a yearning for him as if hurrying to meet him. YHWH promised, “I will have mercy on him.” This assured that the repentant people would become the object of YHWH’s compassionate concern and care. (31:20 [38:20, LXX])

“Virgin Israel” was instructed to “set up road markers” and “signposts” and to “set her heart on” [or give careful attention to] the highway” on which she would be going into exile. The “road markers” and “signposts” would serve to guide her on the way back to her own land. This is expressed in the next directive, “Return, virgin Israel, return to these your cities.” The people of the kingdom of Judah had not as yet experienced the complete devastation of Jerusalem and other fortified cities, and could be referred to as a “virgin” that had not been violated. (31:21 [38:21, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

The rhetorical question was apparently directed to the people of the kingdom of Judah. “How long will you waver [or turn hither and thither, straying from the right course], backturning [unfaithful or wayward (disgraced [LXX])] daughter?” YHWH is then identified as the one who “created a new thing on earth [or in the land].” This “new thing” was, “A woman will encompass [or press around] a mighty man.” There is considerable uncertainty about how these words are to be understood. Possibly the reference is to a reversal of what would normally be expected. A number of translations convey this significance in their renderings. “I have created something new and different, as different as a woman protecting a man.” (TEV) “I will make sure that someday things will be different, as different as a woman protecting a man.” (CEV) “For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth: a woman will play a man’s part.” (REB) Another view is to consider the woman to be Israel and the mighty one her God. “For the LORD will cause something new to happen — Israel will embrace her God.” (NLT) “For Yahweh is creating something new on earth: the Woman sets out to find her Husband again.” (NJB) Still other renderings include: “The LORD has created a new thing upon the earth: the woman must encompass the man with devotion.” (NAB) “For the LORD has created something new on earth: A woman courts a man.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) The Septuagint does not lend support to any of these meanings. “For the Lord has created salvation [or safety] for a new planting; in salvation [or safety], men [or people] will move about.” (31:22 [38:22, LXX])

According to verse 26, a message from YHWH appears to have come to Jeremiah in a dream. He then made known this message from “YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel” (the “Lord” [LXX]). “They [the people] will once again use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities when I restore their captivity [fortunes (in many translations)], May YHWH bless [or prosper] you, pasture [or dwelling place] of righteousness, holy mountain.” After their restoration from exile and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, the people would once again be able to express this prayerful sentiment. The “pasture of righteousness” or “dwelling place of righteousness” and the “holy mountain” designate the elevated site of YHWH’s temple in Jerusalem. YHWH is the ultimate “Righeous One.” Therefore, his representative dwelling place, the temple site, is appropriately called “righteous.” It was also a holy place, for YHWH is the Holy One. The Septuagint rendering is, “Blessed [or praised] be the Lord upon the righteous mountain, his holy [mountain].” (31:23 [38:23, LXX])

In the land (literally, “in it”), “Judah and all its cities” (or the people living in the territory of Judah and in Jerusalem and other cities there) “will reside together, farmers and shepherds” (literally, “those setting out with their flocks”). Formerly, men who cultivated the soil and those who pastured sheep and goats often had disputes and conflicts with one another regarding sources of water and damage to crops. These disputes and conflicts would end, with farmers and shepherds enjoying a good relationship with one another. (31:24 [38:24, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

In the case of the restored people, YHWH promised to “saturate” or fully invigorate the “weary soul” (or the thirsty individual or the one exhausted from laboring) and to “fill every languishing soul” or every person who was weak from hunger. (31:25 [38:25, LXX])

Upon waking up, Jeremiah “saw.” There is no object regarding what he did see upon awakening. Perhaps the meaning is that he opened his eyes or that he looked around. If what he saw relates to his dream, Jeremiah would have perceived that the then-existing circumstances were markedly different from those that his dream revealed. The message about the restoration of the land of Judah, Jerusalem, and the temple must have been encouraging to him. This may be why he spoke of his sleep as having been pleasant to him. A number of modern translations are specific in conveying a meaning that is not apparent from the wording of the Hebrew text nor that of the Septuagint. “Those who feel tired and worn out will find new life and energy [verse 25], and when they sleep, they will wake up refreshed.” (CEV) “So then, people will say, ‘I went to sleep and woke up refreshed.’” (TEV) (31:26 [31:26, LXX])

The word “look” focuses attention on the message that Jeremiah received. YHWH declared that “days” (or the time) would come when he would “sow the house of Israel” (or the territory of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) “and the house of Judah” (or the land of the kingdom of Judah) “with the seed of man and the seed of beast.” This indicated that the desolated and depopulated land would again become a place where people would reside with their domestic animals. (31:27 [38:27, LXX])

In the past, YHWH “watched over” the people in the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah, seeing to it that they would be punished for their unfaithfulness to him. This severe punishment was an act of pulling up, breaking down, overthrowing, destroying, and bringing evil or calamity. The Septuagint rendering is shorter, quoting God as saying that he watched over them “to pull down and to bring evil.” In the same way, he would watch over the people or see to it that they would be restored and flourish. There would be building and planting. (31:28 [38:28, LXX])

“In those days” after the return from exile to their own land, the repentant people would no longer use the proverb, “The fathers have eaten the unripe grapes, and the teeth of the sons [or children] are set on edge,” or result in an unpleasant sour taste in their mouths. This indicates that they would not blame their forefathers for the calamities and suffering that had befallen them but would recognize their own guilt. (31:29 [38:29, LXX]) The people would understand that every person would “die for his own iniquity.” “Every man eating the unripe grapes” is the one who will have his “teeth set on edge,” experiencing the unpleasant sour taste. (31:30 [31:30, LXX])

The word “look” serves to focus attention on the message from YHWH that follows. He promised to make a new covenant or solemn agreement with the “house of Israel” (the people of the former ten-tribe kingdom of Israel) and the “house of Judah” (the people of the kingdom of Judah). It would be new from the standpoint of its being markedly different from the covenant he had concluded with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. (31:31 [38:31, LXX]) YHWH made the former covenant “with their fathers” or forefathers when (literally, “in the day”) he “took them by the hand” and brought them “out of the land of Egypt,” leading them out of enslavement in Egypt as if taking hold of their hand like a loving father. The Israelites, however, proved unfaithful, breaking the covenant or failing seriously to live up to its requirements. The covenant bound the people to YHWH like a wife is bound to her husband, but this relationship did not keep the people from disregarding the covenant. According to the Septuagint rendering, the Lord declared, “they did not continue in my covenant, and [so] I was unconcerned for them.” On account of their disobedience, they ceased to benefit from his loving care and concern. (31:32 [38:32, LXX]) At a future time (literally, “after those days”), YHWH promised to put his law within the people (to give or impart his laws to their minds [LXX]) and to write it “upon their heart [hearts (LXX)].” His law would then become the motivating principle in their hearts or in their inmost selves, prompting them to think, speak, and act uprightly. They would acknowledge him as their God, and he would recognize them as his people. He expressed the relationship to Jeremiah, “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (31:33 [38:33, LXX]) No one would need to tell his fellow [“his fellow citizen” (LXX)] or brother to “know YHWH,” for they would all know him as persons enjoying an approved relationship with him. YHWH would forgive their iniquity and “no more remember their sin.” He would graciously extend his mercy to them and grant them complete forgiveness. (31:34 [38:34, LXX])

The book of Hebrews applies the words of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (38:31-34, LXX) to the new covenant that was put into effect on the basis of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 8:7-9:28; 10:15-18) The first ones to be granted the opportunity to be beneficiaries of the new covenant were Israelites from all the tribes. Accordingly, the covenant was initially concluded with the “house of Israel” and with the “house of Judah.” Aside from minor variations in wording, the quotation from Jeremiah 31:31-34 (38:31-34, LXX) in Hebrews 8:8-12 is the same as that of the extant Septuagint text. This is also the case with the quotation of Jeremiah 31:33, 34 (38:33, 34, LXX) in Hebrews 10:16, 17.

YHWH is portrayed as identifying himself as the Creator, the One “giving the sun for light by day [and] the statutes of the moon and stars for light by night, [the One] stirring up the sea so that the waves roar.” The “statues” (or “laws” [LXX]) for which YHWH represents himself as being responsible probably relate to what appears to be the orderly and dependable movement of the moon and stars in the night sky. “YHWH of hosts” (“Lord Almighty” [LXX]) is “his name,” revealing him to be a personal God who causes things to be and who has hosts of angels in his service. (31:35 [38:36, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

If the statutes (laws [LXX]) pertaining to the moon and the stars were to “depart” (or cease to exist) “from before the face” (or person) of YHWH, then the “seed,” offspring, or people of Israel would “cease to be a nation before [his] face” or before him, “all the days” or for all time to come. These words assured the people that Israel would continue to exist as a nation, for the statutes governing the moon and the stars would continue to remain in effect. (31:36 [38:37, LXX])

If it were possible for humans to measure the “heavens above” (the apparent celestial dome) and to “search out” or explore the “foundations of the earth below” (or that on which the land appears to be firmly established), then YHWH would “cast off all the seed,” offspring, or people of Israel “for all that they have done,” or for all their wayward deeds. He, however, would not permanently cast off the people, for the implied thought is that no human could measure the heavens or search out the “foundations of the earth.” In the Septuagint, these words are rendered as a positive declaration. “‘If heaven be lifted up to a high elevation … and if the floor of the earth [or land] below be made low, I still will not reject the race of Israel,’ says the Lord, ‘for all that they have done.’” (31:37 [38:35, LXX])

The opening word “look” directs attention to a new message from YHWH. “Days” or the time would come when the “city” (Jerusalem) would be rebuilt “for YHWH from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.” The Tower of Hananel was situated on the north wall of Jerusalem. It is mentioned in connection with the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah. (Nehemiah 3:1) The Corner Gate appears to have been located west of the temple area and to have served as the entrance and exist point in the northwest corner of the wall. (31:38 [38:38, LXX])

The “measuring line” would go out farther (or be used in measuring) “straight to the hill [hills (LXX)] of Gareb” and then “turn to Goah.” The “hill of Gareb” may have been the western limit of the city wall, but its actual location is unknown. Goah, too, has not been identified. The Septuagint does not include any reference to Goah. It indicates that the city would be encompassed round about with “choice stones.” (31:39 [38:39, LXX])

Areas around the city that formerly had been unclean or defiled would become so no longer. The “whole valley of the corpses and the ashes” would become “sacred to YHWH.” Also “all the fields” as far as Wadi (Nachal [LXX], a transliteration of the Hebrew designation) Kidron, up to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, would likewise become holy. For all time to come, Jerusalem would not be uprooted or overthrown. “All the fields” may have been terraces on which crops were cultivated. Wadi Kidron runs along the eastern side of Jerusalem and separates the city from the Mount of Olives. The Horse Gate seems to have been located in the eastern part of the city wall not far to the south of the temple complex. In view of the fact that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE, the permanence of Jerusalem may be understood to refer to the Jerusalem above or heavenly Jerusalem. (31:40 [38:40, LXX]; compare Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22.)


The wording of the Septuagint in verse 2 of chapter 38 differs significantly from that of the Hebrew text of verse 2 in chapter 31. “Thus says the Lord, I found warmth (survivors who were not cold corpses) in a wilderness with people destroyed [literally, with ones being destroyed] by the sword. Proceed, and do not destroy Israel.” It appears that the Septuagint translator read the consonantal Hebrew text differently, including the Hebrew words for “favor” as “warm,” for “with” as “people,” and for “escape” as “destroy.” A measure of obscurity in the wording of the Hebrew text also has given rise to a variety of different renderings. “Those who survive the coming destruction will find blessings even in the barren land, for I will give rest to the people of Israel.” (NLT) “The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel.” (NIV) “A people that escaped the sword found favour in the wilderness. The LORD went to give rest to Israel.” (REB) “They have found pardon in the desert, those who have survived the sword. Israel is marching to his rest.” (NJB) “In the desert I was kind to those who escaped death. I gave them peace, and when the time is right, I’ll do the same for you.” (CEV)

In verse 8 of chapter 38, the Septuagint rendering differs somewhat from the wording of the Hebrew text. “Look, I am bringing them from the north, and I will gather them from the remote part of the earth at the festival of phasek [a transliteration of the Hebrew word for passover], and you will give birth to a large crowd, and they will return here.”

In verse 12, the rendering “radiant” is based on a derivation of the Hebrew verb from a root that is used metaphorically to mean “shine” or “be radiant.” Another meaning of the Hebrew verb is “stream.” This accounts for other renderings of the Hebrew text. “They shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.” (NAB) “They will come … thronging towards Yahweh’s lavish gifts.” (NJB)

The rendering of verse 15 of chapter 38 in the Septuagint is much like the reading of the Hebrew text of verse 15 of chapter 31. “Thus said the Lord, a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and weeping and mourning; Rachel did not want to cease weeping for her sons, because they are not.”

Verse 17 of chapter 38 in the Septuagint is shorter than verse 17 of chapter 31 in the Hebrew text. The rendering of the Septuagint could indicate that the “children” of Rachel would come to have a secure or permanent place.

In verse 21, the Hebrew word rendered “guideposts” is of uncertain meaning. The Septuagint rendering is a form of timoría, which may be translated “retribution,” “punishment,” or “vengeance,” and the Hebrew word for “road markers” is rendered “Sion” (Zion). (“Prepare yourself, Zion, meet out vengeance.”) There is a possibility, however, that the words in the Greek text (sion and timorían) are transliterations of the Hebrew words. (“Set up sionim for yourself; make timrorim.”)

The concluding phrase of verse 24 of chapter 38 in the Septuagint is, “and he will be lifted up with a flock.” Possibly, because a shepherd pastured his flock on hills and mountain slopes, he is referred to as “lifted up” or “raised up” with the animals.

In the Septuagint, the wording in verses 35 through 37 differs from the order in the Hebrew text but is otherwise basically the same.