Return, Maiden Yisrael! Return to these towns of yours! Jeremiah 31:20 (The Israel Bible™)

Return, Maiden Yisrael! Return to these towns of yours! Jeremiah 31:20 (The Israel Bible™)


Prophecies of Promise


While Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) is known as the prophet of doom, his prophecies also contain much promise. By the time he becomes a prophet, the destruction of Yehuda (Judea) and the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) is almost inevitable. Yirmiyahu tries one last time to awaken the Israelite nation to return to Hashem (God), but they refuse to listen and are exiled from their land. However, even in exile, far from their land, the Jewish people are not to abandon hope. As Hashem promises through Yirmiyahu, “I will delight in treating them graciously, and I will plant them in this land faithfully, with all My heart and soul” (32:41). The ingathering of the exiles to the Land of Israel during the past 70 years has seen this amazing prophecy fulfilled before our eyes!


Jeremiah 31


1  Thus said Hashem: The people escaped from the sword, Found favor in the wilderness; When Yisrael was marching homeward


א  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה מָצָא חֵן בַּמִּדְבָּר עַם שְׂרִידֵי חָרֶב הָלוֹךְ לְהַרְגִּיעוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃


2  Hashem revealed Himself to me of old. Eternal love I conceived for you then; Therefore I continue My grace to you.


ב  מֵרָחוֹק יְהוָה נִרְאָה לִי וְאַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתִּיךְ עַל־כֵּן מְשַׁכְתִּיךְ חָסֶד׃


3  I will build you firmly again, O Maiden Yisrael! Again you shall take up your timbrels And go forth to the rhythm of the dancers.


ג  עוֹד אֶבְנֵךְ וְנִבְנֵית בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד תַּעְדִּי תֻפַּיִךְ וְיָצָאת בִּמְחוֹל מְשַׂחֲקִים׃


4  Again you shall plant vineyards On the hills of Shomron; Men shall plant and live to enjoy them.


ד  עוֹד תִּטְּעִי כְרָמִים בְּהָרֵי שֹׁמְרוֹן נָטְעוּ נֹטְעִים וְחִלֵּלוּ׃


31:4   Again you shall plant vineyards on the hills of Shomron


Return of life to the Holy Land is symbolized by the rejuvenation of vineyards in Samaria, a miracle taking place today. Grapes and vineyards play a prominent role throughout Tanakh. The first cultivated plants mentioned in the Bible were grapevines: “Noach, the tiller of soil, was the first to plant a vineyard” (Genesis 9:20).  Grapes are mentioned more than any other fruit in the entire Tanakh.  When Moshe sent the 12 spies to scout out Eretz Yisrael, the book of Bamidbar (13:23) records that they returned with a sample of grapes that was so large it had to be carried on poles by strong men, an image that now serves as the logo of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.  This honored fruit aslo plays a prominent role in Judaism, as Shabbat and Holiday meals begin with a blessing over a cup of wine.




5  For the day is coming when watchmen Shall proclaim on the heights of Efraim: Come, let us go up to Tzion, To Hashem our God!


ה  כִּי יֶשׁ־יוֹם קָרְאוּ נֹצְרִים בְּהַר אֶפְרָיִם קוּמוּ וְנַעֲלֶה צִיּוֹן אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ׃


6  For thus said Hashem: Cry out in joy for Yaakov, Shout at the crossroads of the nations! Sing aloud in praise, and say: Save, Hashem, Your people, The remnant of Yisrael.


ו  כִּי־כֹה אָמַר יְהוָה רָנּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב שִׂמְחָה וְצַהֲלוּ בְּרֹאשׁ הַגּוֹיִם הַשְׁמִיעוּ הַלְלוּ וְאִמְרוּ הוֹשַׁע יְהוָה אֶת־עַמְּךָ אֵת שְׁאֵרִית יִשְׂרָאֵל׃


7  I will bring them in from the northland, Gather them from the ends of the earth— The blind and the lame among them, Those with child and those in labor— In a vast throng they shall return here.


ז  הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ צָפוֹן וְקִבַּצְתִּים מִיַּרְכְּתֵי־אָרֶץ בָּם עִוֵּר וּפִסֵּחַ הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת יַחְדָּו קָהָל גָּדוֹל יָשׁוּבוּ הֵנָּה׃


8  They shall come with weeping, And with compassion will I guide them. I will lead them to streams of water, By a level road where they will not stumble. For I am ever a Father to Yisrael, Efraim is My first-born.


ח  בִּבְכִי יָבֹאוּ וּבְתַחֲנוּנִים אוֹבִילֵם אוֹלִיכֵם אֶל־נַחֲלֵי מַיִם בְּדֶרֶךְ יָשָׁר לֹא יִכָּשְׁלוּ בָּהּ כִּי־הָיִיתִי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְאָב וְאֶפְרַיִם בְּכֹרִי הוּא׃


9  Hear the word of Hashem, O nations, And tell it in the isles afar. Say: He who scattered Yisrael will gather them, And will guard them as a shepherd his flock.


ט  שִׁמְעוּ דְבַר־יְהוָה גּוֹיִם וְהַגִּידוּ בָאִיִּים מִמֶּרְחָק וְאִמְרוּ מְזָרֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל יְקַבְּצֶנּוּ וּשְׁמָרוֹ כְּרֹעֶה עֶדְרוֹ׃


10  For Hashem will ransom Yaakov, Redeem him from one too strong for him.


י  כִּי־פָדָה יְהוָה אֶת־יַעֲקֹב וּגְאָלוֹ מִיַּד חָזָק מִמֶּנּוּ׃


11  They shall come and shout on the heights of Tzion, Radiant over the bounty of Hashem— Over new grain and wine and oil, And over sheep and cattle. They shall fare like a watered garden, They shall never languish again.


יא  וּבָאוּ וְרִנְּנוּ בִמְרוֹם־צִיּוֹן וְנָהֲרוּ אֶל־טוּב יְהוָה עַל־דָּגָן וְעַל־תִּירֹשׁ וְעַל־יִצְהָר וְעַל־בְּנֵי־צֹאן וּבָקָר וְהָיְתָה נַפְשָׁם כְּגַן רָוֶה וְלֹא־יוֹסִיפוּ לְדַאֲבָה עוֹד׃


12  Then shall maidens dance gaily, Young men and old alike. I will turn their mourning to joy, I will comfort them and cheer them in their grief.


יב  אָז תִּשְׂמַח בְּתוּלָה בְּמָחוֹל וּבַחֻרִים וּזְקֵנִים יַחְדָּו וְהָפַכְתִּי אֶבְלָם לְשָׂשׂוֹן וְנִחַמְתִּים וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים מִיגוֹנָם׃


13  I will give the kohanim their fill of fatness, And My people shall enjoy My full bounty —declares Hashem.


יג  וְרִוֵּיתִי נֶפֶשׁ הַכֹּהֲנִים דָּשֶׁן וְעַמִּי אֶת־טוּבִי יִשְׂבָּעוּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃


14  Thus said Hashem: A cry is heard in Rama— Wailing, bitter weeping— Rachel weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted For her children, who are gone.


יד  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה קוֹל בְּרָמָה נִשְׁמָע נְהִי בְּכִי תַמְרוּרִים רָחֵל מְבַכָּה עַל־בָּנֶיהָ מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם עַל־בָּנֶיהָ כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ׃


15  Thus said Hashem: Restrain your voice from weeping, Your eyes from shedding tears; For there is a reward for your labor —declares Hashem: They shall return from the enemy’s land.


טו  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה מִנְעִי קוֹלֵךְ מִבֶּכִי וְעֵינַיִךְ מִדִּמְעָה כִּי יֵשׁ שָׂכָר לִפְעֻלָּתֵךְ נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְשָׁבוּ מֵאֶרֶץ אוֹיֵב׃


16  And there is hope for your future —declares Hashem: Your children shall return to their country.


v’-YAYSH tik-VAH l’-a-kha-ree-TAYKH n’-UM a-do-NAI v’-SHA-vu va-NEEM lig-vu-LAM


טז  וְיֵשׁ־תִּקְוָה לְאַחֲרִיתֵךְ נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְשָׁבוּ בָנִים לִגְבוּלָם׃


17  I can hear Efraim lamenting: You have chastised me, and I am chastised Like a calf that has not been broken. Receive me back, let me return, For You, Hashem, are my God.


יז  שָׁמוֹעַ שָׁמַעְתִּי אֶפְרַיִם מִתְנוֹדֵד יִסַּרְתַּנִי וָאִוָּסֵר כְּעֵגֶל לֹא לֻמָּד הֲשִׁיבֵנִי וְאָשׁוּבָה כִּי אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי׃ 

31:17  Your children shall return to their country 


In this moving passage, God speaks directly to the matriarch Rachel, who is known in Jewish tradition as having a special role in the redemption of her children, the Jewish people, and their return to Israel.  According to Jewish tradition, when her father Laban gave her sister Leah to Yaakov in marriage in her stead, Rachel revealed to Leah a secret sign she had made with Yaakov in order to spare Leah from embarrassment. Because of Rachel’s unparalleled selflessness and love for her sister, it is Rachel’s prayers, tears and cries for compassion to her children that are heard by God more than any other biblical figure. God promises Rachel that those tears are not for naught, but rather “There is a reward for your labor” (verse 16) and “your children shall return to their country.” In a moving example of symbolism, this verse is often sung with emotion at Ben Gurion Airport as new Jewish immigrants arrive in Israel.




18  Now that I have turned back, I am filled with remorse; Now that I am made aware, I strike my thigh. I am ashamed and humiliated, For I bear the disgrace of my youth.


יח  כִּי־אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבִי נִחַמְתִּי וְאַחֲרֵי הִוָּדְעִי סָפַקְתִּי עַל־יָרֵךְ בֹּשְׁתִּי וְגַם־נִכְלַמְתִּי כִּי נָשָׂאתִי חֶרְפַּת נְעוּרָי׃


19  Truly, Efraim is a dear son to Me, A child that is dandled! Whenever I have turned against him, My thoughts would dwell on him still. That is why My heart yearns for him; I will receive him back in love —declares Hashem.


יט  הֲבֵן יַקִּיר לִי אֶפְרַיִם אִם יֶלֶד שַׁעֲשֻׁעִים כִּי־מִדֵּי דַבְּרִי בּוֹ זָכֹר אֶזְכְּרֶנּוּ עוֹד עַל־כֵּן הָמוּ מֵעַי לוֹ רַחֵם אֲ‍רַחֲמֶנּוּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃


20  Erect markers, Set up signposts; Keep in mind the highway, The road that you traveled. Return, Maiden Yisrael! Return to these towns of yours!


כ  הַצִּיבִי לָךְ צִיֻּנִים שִׂמִי לָךְ תַּמְרוּרִים שִׁתִי לִבֵּךְ לַמְסִלָּה דֶּרֶךְ הלכתי [הָלָכְתְּ] שׁוּבִי בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל שֻׁבִי אֶל־עָרַיִךְ אֵלֶּה׃


21  How long will you waver, O rebellious daughter? (For Hashem has created something new on earth: A woman courts a man.)


כא  עַד־מָתַי תִּתְחַמָּקִין הַבַּת הַשּׁוֹבֵבָה כִּי־בָרָא יְהוָה חֲדָשָׁה בָּאָרֶץ נְקֵבָה תְּסוֹבֵב גָּבֶר׃


22  Thus said God of Hosts, the God of Yisrael: They shall again say this in the land of Yehuda and in its towns, when I restore their fortunes: “Hashem bless you, Abode of righteousness, O holy mountain!”


כב  כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹד יֹאמְרוּ אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה בְּאֶרֶץ יְהוּדָה וּבְעָרָיו בְּשׁוּבִי אֶת־שְׁבוּתָם יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה נְוֵה־צֶדֶק הַר הַקֹּדֶשׁ׃


23  Yehuda and all its towns alike shall be inhabited by the farmers and such as move about with the flocks.


כג  וְיָשְׁבוּ בָהּ יְהוּדָה וְכָל־עָרָיו יַחְדָּו אִכָּרִים וְנָסְעוּ בַּעֵדֶר׃


24  For I will give the thirsty abundant drink, and satisfy all who languish.


כד  כִּי הִרְוֵיתִי נֶפֶשׁ עֲיֵפָה וְכָל־נֶפֶשׁ דָּאֲבָה מִלֵּאתִי׃


25  At this I awoke and looked about, and my sleep had been pleasant to me.


כה  עַל־זֹאת הֱקִיצֹתִי וָאֶרְאֶה וּשְׁנָתִי עָרְבָה לִּי׃


26  See, a time is coming—declares Hashem—when I will sow the House of Yisrael and the House of Yehuda with seed of men and seed of cattle;


כו  הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְזָרַעְתִּי אֶת־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת־בֵּית יְהוּדָה זֶרַע אָדָם וְזֶרַע בְּהֵמָה׃


27  and just as I was watchful over them to uproot and to pull down, to overthrow and to destroy and to bring disaster, so I will be watchful over them to build and to plant—declares Hashem.


כז  וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר שָׁקַדְתִּי עֲלֵיהֶם לִנְתוֹשׁ וְלִנְתוֹץ וְלַהֲרֹס וּלְהַאֲבִיד וּלְהָרֵעַ כֵּן אֶשְׁקֹד עֲלֵיהֶם לִבְנוֹת וְלִנְטוֹעַ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃


28  In those days, they shall no longer say, “Parents have eaten sour grapes and children’s teeth are blunted.”


כח  בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם לֹא־יֹאמְרוּ עוֹד אָבוֹת אָכְלוּ בֹסֶר וְשִׁנֵּי בָנִים תִּקְהֶינָה׃


29  But every one shall die for his own sins: whosoever eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be blunted.


כט  כִּי אִם־אִישׁ בַּעֲוֺנוֹ יָמוּת כָּל־הָאָדָם הָאֹכֵל הַבֹּסֶר תִּקְהֶינָה שִׁנָּיו׃


30  See, a time is coming—declares Hashem—when I will make a new covenant with the House of Yisrael and the House of Yehuda.


ל  הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְכָרַתִּי אֶת־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת־בֵּית יְהוּדָה בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה׃


31:30   I will make a new covenant



The children of Israel were unfaithful to Hashem and were twice exiled from their land.  Throughout the ages, they have experienced oppression and persecution.  Yet, God promises that as long as the celestial bodies of heaven continue to function according to the divinely ordained laws of nature, Israel will continue to be His chosen people (verses 34-35).  This verse confirms that God has not abandoned or replaced His people; the nation of Israel will never be cast away from Hashem.





31  It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers, when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I espoused them—declares Hashem.



לא  לֹא כַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אֶת־אֲבוֹתָם בְּיוֹם הֶחֱזִיקִי בְיָדָם לְהוֹצִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר־הֵמָּה הֵפֵרוּ אֶת־בְּרִיתִי וְאָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָם נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃



32  But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Yisrael after these days—declares Hashem: I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people.



לב  כִּי זֹאת הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר אֶכְרֹת אֶת־בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחֲרֵי הַיָּמִים הָהֵם נְאֻם־יְהוָה נָתַתִּי אֶת־תּוֹרָתִי בְּקִרְבָּם וְעַל־לִבָּם אֶכְתֲּבֶנָּה וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְהֵמָּה יִהְיוּ־לִי לְעָם׃



33  No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, “Heed Hashem”; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me—declares Hashem. For I will forgive their iniquities, And remember their sins no more.



לג  וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ עוֹד אִישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת־אָחִיו לֵאמֹר דְּעוּ אֶת־יְהוָה כִּי־כוּלָּם יֵדְעוּ אוֹתִי לְמִקְטַנָּם וְעַד־גְּדוֹלָם נְאֻם־יְהוָה כִּי אֶסְלַח לַעֲוֺנָם וּלְחַטָּאתָם לֹא אֶזְכָּר־עוֹד׃



34  Thus said Hashem, Who established the sun for light by day, The laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is LORD of Hosts:



לד  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה נֹתֵן שֶׁמֶשׁ לְאוֹר יוֹמָם חֻקֹּת יָרֵחַ וְכוֹכָבִים לְאוֹר לָיְלָה רֹגַע הַיָּם וַיֶּהֱמוּ גַלָּיו יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת שְׁמוֹ׃



35  If these laws should ever be annulled by Me —declares Hashem— Only then would the offspring of Yisrael cease To be a nation before Me for all time.



לה  אִם־יָמֻשׁוּ הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה מִלְּפָנַי נְאֻם־יְהוָה גַּם זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁבְּתוּ מִהְיוֹת גּוֹי לְפָנַי כָּל־הַיָּמִים׃



36  Thus said Hashem: If the heavens above could be measured, and the foundations of the earth below could be fathomed, only then would I reject all the offspring of Yisrael for all that they have done—declares Hashem.



לו  כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה אִם־יִמַּדּוּ שָׁמַיִם מִלְמַעְלָה וְיֵחָקְרוּ מוֹסְדֵי־אֶרֶץ לְמָטָּה גַּם־אֲנִי אֶמְאַס בְּכָל־זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃



37  See, a time is coming—declares Hashem—when the city shall be rebuilt for Hashem from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate;



לז  הִנֵּה יָמִים [בָּאִים] נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְנִבְנְתָה הָעִיר לַיהוָה מִמִּגְדַּל חֲנַנְאֵל שַׁעַר הַפִּנָּה׃



38  and the measuring line shall go straight out to the Gareb Hill, and then turn toward Goah.



לח  וְיָצָא עוֹד קוה [קָו] הַמִּדָּה נֶגְדּוֹ עַל גִּבְעַת גָּרֵב וְנָסַב גֹּעָתָה׃



39  And the entire Valley of the Corpses and Ashes, and all the fields as far as the Wadi Kidron, and the corner of the Horse Gate on the east, shall be holy to Hashem. They shall never again be uprooted or overthrown.



לט  וְכָל־הָעֵמֶק הַפְּגָרִים וְהַדֶּשֶׁן וְכָל־השרמות [הַשְּׁדֵמוֹת] עַד־נַחַל קִדְרוֹן עַד־פִּנַּת שַׁעַר הַסּוּסִים מִזְרָחָה קֹדֶשׁ לַיהוָה לֹא־יִנָּתֵשׁ וְלֹא־יֵהָרֵס עוֹד לְעוֹלָם׃



    Jeremiah 31:31-33 is one of my most favorite passages in the book of Jeremiah. Hashem is telling us that he is now going to write the torah upon our hearts. Our forefathers were given a ketubah, an invitation into a marriage covenant, at Mt Sinai with the giving of the 10 commandments. You know the story….we fell into golden calf worship. The torah was written upon stone tablets, but…we were the problem. We had stony hearts. Here in Jeremiah, Hashem is promising that He will...