Jeremiah 3:19
But I said, How shall I put you among the children, and give you a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, You shall call me, My father; and shall not turn away from me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) But I said.—Better, And I said. There is no contrast with what precedes. The speaker is, of course, Jehovah. The How shall I put thee! is an exclamation rather than a question, the utterance of a promise as with an intensity of affirmation. Special stress is laid on the pronoun “I.” The words have been rendered by some commentators, following the Targum, How shall I clothe thee with children?

A pleasant land.—Literally, as in the margin, a land of desire, i.e., desirable.

A goodly heritage of the hosts of nations.—More accurately, a heritage of the beauty of beauties (Hebrew for “chief beauty”) of the nations. The English version rests on the assumption that the word translated “beauties” is the same as that elsewhere rendered “Sabaoth,” or “hosts,” which it closely resembles.

And I said.—Not, as in the English, the answer to a question, but the continuance of the same thought. God will treat repentant Israel as His child: He will lead Israel to trust Him as a father. The days of apostasy (“turning away”) will then be over. The original Hebrew seems, to judge from the LXX. version, to have had the plural “ye shall call,” “ye shall not turn away,” the prophet passing from the collective unity to the individuals that composed it.

Jeremiah 3:19. But I said — Namely, within myself, God is here represented as deliberating with himself, after the manner of men, in what way he might, consistently with his divine attributes, receive the Jewish people into his favour, and admit them into the Christian Church. How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land? — How can it be consistent with my divine holiness and justice to receive such a rebellious people into my favour, to own them for my children, and restore them to the possession of that goodly inheritance which I gave to their fathers. Judea is elsewhere called a pleasant land, the glory of all lands, and the land which God had espied out for his chosen people: see Daniel 8:9; and Daniel 11:16; Daniel 11:45; Ezekiel 20:6. A goodly heritage of the hosts of nations — The Hebrew, צבי צבאות גוים, is literally, the glory of hosts, or, multitudes of nations, that which they esteem glorious, a phrase of the same import with that now quoted from Ezekiel, the glory of all lands. This pleasant land, and glory of the hosts of nations, is here to be taken figuratively, for the Christian Church and the privileges of the gospel covenant. And the condition of adoption into the former, and of enjoying the latter, are expressly stated by Christ and his apostles to be the same as are here prescribed, namely, true faith in God, as our Father, our reconciled Father in Christ, (which faith is always preceded by the repentance required, Jeremiah 3:13,) and uniform obedience for the time to come. Thou shalt call me, My Father, and shalt not turn away from me — On these conditions I will put thee among the children.3:12-20 See God's readiness to pardon sin, and the blessings reserved for gospel times. These words were proclaimed toward the north; to Israel, the ten tribes, captive in Assyria. They are directed how to return. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive them. These promises are fully to come to pass in the bringing back the Jews in after-ages. God will graciously receive those that return to him; and by his grace, he takes them out from among the rest. The ark of the covenant was not found after the captivity. The whole of that dispensation was to be done away, which took place after the multitude of believers had been greatly increased by the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Israelites scattered among them. A happy state of the church is foretold. He can teach all to call him Father; but without thorough change of heart and life, no man can be a child of God, and we have no security for not departing from Him.But I-- (emphatic). "And I." The emphasis lies in the abundant goodness of God contrasted with Israel's waywardness.

How ...? - Rather, How ...! i. e., How gloriously! With what honor will I place thee among the children!

Goodly ... of the hosts ... - Rather, "a heritage of the chief beauty of nations." The general sense is, that Israel "possesses the most beautiful territory of any nation."

And I said - This clause is not the answer to a difficulty, as in the King James Version, but completes the description of God's loving purpose. "I said within myself that I would treat thee as a son, and give thee a glorious inheritance: I also said, that ye would return my love, would call me Father, and be untrue to me no more."

19. The good land covenanted to Abraham is to be restored to his seed. But the question arises, How shall this be done?

put … among … children—the Greek for adoption means, literally, "putting among the sons."

the children—that is, My children. "How shall I receive thee back into My family, after thou hast so long forsaken Me for idols?" The answer is, they would acknowledge Him as "Father," and no longer turn away from Him. God assumes the language of one wondering how so desperate apostates could be restored to His family and its privileges (compare Eze 37:3; Calvin makes it, How the race of Abraham can be propagated again, being as it were dead); yet as His purpose has decreed it so, He shows how it shall be effected, namely, they shall receive from Him the spirit of adoption to cry, "My Father" (Joh 1:12; Ga 4:6). The elect are "children" already in God's purpose; this is the ground of the subsequent realization of this relationship (Eph 1:5; Heb 2:13).

pleasant land—(Jer 11:5; Eze 20:6; Da 11:16, Margin).

heritage of … hosts—a heritage the most goodly of all nations [Maurer]; or a "heritage possessed by powerful hosts" (De 4:38; Am 2:9). The rendering "splendors," instead of "hosts," is opposed by the fact that the Hebrew for "splendor" is not found in the plural.

How shall I words that speak either, first, God’s putting them to their own thoughts, how they could think he should bring such a perfidious people as they were into the land which he had promised; else, secondly, his considering within himself how or what course he should take to bring such a thing about, and accomplish it, they had so greatly degenerated from him and disobliged him; see Hosea 6:4; both implying that such a thing could not be brought about without repentance and true conversion to him, wrought by his free grace, Ephesians 1:5,6.

Put thee among the children; esteem thee as my child, till thou give some clearer proof and demonstration of thy repentance.

And give thee a pleasant land; how shall I put thee into possession of that pleasant land of desire that I have promised thee? Canaan is so called, Psalm 106:24 Daniel 8:9 11:16,41.

A goodly heritage, Heb. heritage of glory, or beauty: see Isaiah 4:2.

Of the hosts of nations; so called, either because possessed by several potent nations, Numbers 13:28 Deu 4:38; or rather, it may note the great hosts and multitudes of nations, or Gentiles, that should be joined to them in the gospel church, viz. of God’s elect, and so a heritage of the greatest delights, or the desire of nations; a people to whom all the nations would desire to flock; see Ezekiel 20:6; and may be spoken also of the heavenly Canaan: the LXX. render it, the heritage of God, the omnipotent Governor of the nations.

And I said, Thou shalt call me, My father: God comes now to a resolution how he would do it. Either it is a direction: q.d. On this condition, that thou wilt own me, and not return any more to idols, this shall be done; or a promise, I will cause thee to own me, and give thee perseverance, that thou shalt not depart from me; and this is very applicable to the work of Christ; see John 1:12; see also 2 Corinthians 6:17,18; and the condition is indeed no more than God promiseth to effect in them. But I said,.... Within himself, in the thoughts of his heart, when he took up a resolution concerning their conversion, open adoption, and return to their own land, as a symbol of the eternal inheritance:

how shall I put thee among the children? among the children of God, who are so by special adopting grace, which is a high and honourable privilege, greater than to be the sons and daughters of the greatest potentate on earth; who as they are high birth, being born of God, so they are brought up, and fed, and clothed as the children of the King of kings; they have great nearness to and freedom with God their Father; they are heirs with God and joint heirs with Christ, and shall ever remain in this relation. There is a secret and an open putting of the sons of men among the children of God. The secret putting of them among the children is by God the Father, when he predestinated them unto the adoption of children by Christ; when he promised in covenant he would be their Father, and they should be his sons and daughters; and as an act of his own will, secretly, in his own breast, adopted them into his family, his will to adopt being the adoption of them; hence they are called the children of God, previous to their redemption and sanctification, Hebrews 2:13. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ was concerned in this affair by espousing these persons to himself in covenant, whereby his Father became their Father, and his God their God; and by assuming their nature, whereby they became his brethren, and so the children of God; and by redeeming them, whereby way is made for their actual reception of the adoption of children; when they are openly put among them in the effectual calling, in which the Holy Spirit is concerned, who regenerates them, works faith in them, and witnesses their adoption to them, from whence he is called the Spirit of adoption; regeneration and faith are the evidences of adoption, John 1:12 and the Spirit the witness, Romans 8:15. Now, as all things were seen in one view by the Lord from eternity, as well when he secretly as openly puts them among the children, it may well be thought there were difficulties, at least seeming ones, in the way of it; or, however, such as make it wonderful and marvellous that any of the sons of Adam should be put among the children of God; seeing they that are, sinned in Adam as the rest, fell with him in his transgression into a state of condemnation and death; are corrupt in their first birth, defiled in soul and body, and cast out like the wretched infant, to the loathing of their persons; are as the children of the Ethiopians, black with original and actual sins; are children of disobedience, traitors and rebels against God, and children of wrath, even as others. And though these words may have a principal respect to the Jews, who dealt treacherously with God, in departing from his pure worship, rejecting the Messiah, and continuing in their obstinacy and infidelity, having a "loammi" upon them, and notwithstanding shall be called the children of the living God, Hosea 1:9, yet may be applied to any of the sons and daughters of men, whether Jews or Gentiles, that are put among the children of God.

And give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of the nations? the allusion, doubtless, is to the land of Israel, which was a goodly and desirable land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and was the heritage or inheritance of the children of Israel, but not of the hosts of nations; wherefore heaven and eternal happiness is ultimately meant, the better country Christian pilgrims are seeking after, and the desired haven Christian sailors make unto: this is a "pleasant land"; pleasantly situated on high, where are great plenty of provisions, solid substance, enduring riches, the greatest liberty and choices, privileges, and the best of inhabitants and company, Father, Son, and Spirit, angels and glorified saints: this is

a goodly heritage or "inheritance"; not only a house not made with hands, a city that has foundations, but a kingdom and glory, an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, which fades not away, reserved in the heavens: and it may be said to be

of the hosts of nations; for, though it is but one inheritance, vast numbers will share in it, and possess it; even an innumerable company of all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues, which are chosen, redeemed, and called out of them: and this is in, the "gift" of God; he regenerates to a lively hope of it, makes meet for it, and of his own good pleasure bestows it; and marvellous it is that he should give it to the persons before described; the putting of them among the children of God, and giving them such an inheritance, are entirely owing to his sovereign grace and goodness, which only can answer the question put, concerning these things.

And I said, thou shalt call me my father; not merely saying these words, but expressing them with affection and faith, under the witnessings of the Spirit of God; and declaring the relation by deeds, by honouring and obeying him, and being a follower of him in his ways and worship: and shalt not turn away from me; either from calling him Father, through the prevalence of unbelief; or from his service and worship, through the power of corruptions, backsliding and revolting from him, with which they are often charged in this chapter; so the Targum,

"shalt not turn from my worship.''

But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. shall … nations] rightly mg. would … nations! Not a question, but the expression of a wish.

children] sons. Cp. Exodus 4:22. The point is that as daughters could not as a rule inherit (Numbers 27:1 ff.; cp. Job 42:15), God desired to treat His people as sons.

goodly heritage of the hosts] heritage of the chief splendour, or, goodliest heritage, mg. the goodliest heritage of the nations, lit. “the heritage of the beauty of the beauties (better than ‘hosts’) of the nations.” Cp. Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15; Daniel 11:16; Daniel 11:41. The sense is that Israel shall have a more glorious land than any other nation.

19, 20. Jehovah would desire to treat His people as sons in the matter of inheritance. Their conduct precludes this.

Chs. Jeremiah 3:19 to Jeremiah 4:4. The invitation includes the whole nation, on a like condition

This section should follow immediately on Jeremiah 3:5. See introd. note on Jeremiah 3:6-18.Verse 19. - The concluding words of the last verse have turned the current of the prophet's thoughts. "Unto your fathers." Yes; how bright the prospect when that ideal of Israel was framed in the Divine counsels! Condescending accommodation to human modes of thought; But I said fails to represent the relation of this verse to the preceding. Render, I indeed had said, and continue, How will I, etc. Put thee among the children. This is a very common rendering, but of doubtful correctness. It assumes that, from the point of view adopted (under Divine guidance) in the prophecies of Jeremiah, the various heathen nations were in the relation of sons to Jehovah. This is most improbable; indeed, even Exodus 4:22 does not really favor the doctrine of the universal fatherhood of God in the fullest sense of the word. Moreover, the pronoun rendered "thee" is in the feminine, indicating that the prophet has still in his mind the picture of Israel as Jehovah's bride. It would surely be an absurd statement that Jehovah would put his bride among the children! Render, therefore, How will I found thee with sons! comparing, for the use of the Hebrew verb, 1 Samuel 2:8, and for that of the preposition, Isaiah 54:11. It is, in fact, the familiar figure by which a family or a nation is likened to a building ("house of Abraham," "of Israel"). Jehovah's purpose had been to make Abraham's seed as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16). Instead of that, the restored exiles would be few, and weak in proportion, so that the Jewish Church of the early restoration period is represented as complaining, "We made not the land salvation, neither were inhabitants of the world produced" (Isaiah 26:18). A special Divine promise was needed to surmount this grave difficulty. A goodly... nations; rather, a heritage the most glorious among the nations. So in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 20:6, 15) Palestine is described as "the glory of all lands." The want of irrigation, and the denudation of the land, have no doubt much diminished the natural beauty and fertility of Palestine; but wherever moderate care is bestowed on the soil, how well it rewards it! Thou shalt call me... shalt not turn; rather, thou wilt call me... wilt not turn. It is the continuation of Jehovah's ideal for Israel. In response to his loving gifts, Israel would surely recognize him as her Father, and devote to him all her energies in willing obedience. Father is here used, not in the spiritual and individualizing sense of the New Testament, but in such a sense as a member of a primitive Israelitish family, in which the pairia potestas was fully carried out, could realize. The first instance of the individualizing use of the term is in Ecclus. 23:1-4. (For the Old Testament use, comp. Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 63:16; Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1.) An indispensable element of the return is: Acknowledge thy guilt, thine offence, for grievously hast thou offended; thou art fallen away (פּשׁע), and תּפזּרי את־דּרכיך, lit., hast scattered thy ways for strangers; i.e., hither and thither, on many a track, hast thou run after the strange gods: cf. Jeremiah 2:23.

The repeated call שׁוּבוּ, Jeremiah 3:14, is, like that in Jeremiah 3:12, addressed to Israel in the narrower sense, not to the whole covenant people or to Judah. The "backsliding sons" are "the backsliding Israel" of Jeremiah 3:7, Jeremiah 3:8, Jeremiah 3:11., and of Jeremiah 3:22. In Jeremiah 3:18 also Judah is mentioned only as it is in connection with Israel. בּעלתּי בכם, here and in Jeremiah 31:32, is variously explained. There is no evidence for the meaning loathe, despise, which Ges. and Diet. in the Lex., following the example of Jos. Kimchi, Pococke, A Schultens, and others, attribute to the word בּעל; against this, cf. Hgstb. Christol. ii. p. 375; nor is the sig. "rule" certified (lxx διότι ἐγὼ κατακυριεύσω ὑμῶν); it cannot be proved from Isaiah 26:13. בּעל means only, own, possess; whence come the meanings, take to wife, have oneself married, which are to be maintained here and in Jeremiah 31:32. In this view Jerome translates, quia ego vir vester; Luther, denn ich will euch mir vertrauen; Hgstb., denn ich traue euch mir an;-the reception anew of the people being given under the figure of a new marriage. This acceptation is, however, not suitable to the perf. בּעלתּי, for this, even if taken prophetically, cannot refer to a renewal of marriage which is to take place in the future. The perf. can be referred only to the marriage of Israel at the conclusion of the covenant on Sinai, and must be translated accordingly: I am your husband, or: I have wedded you to me. This is demanded by the grounding כּי; for the summons to repent cannot give as its motive some future act of God, but must point to that covenant relationship founded in the past, which, though suspended for a time, was not wholly broken up.

(Note: Calvin gives it rightly: "Dixerat enim, se dedisse libellum repudii h. e. quasi publicis tabulis se testatum fuisse, nihil amplius sibi esse conjunctionis cum populo illo. Nam exilium erat instar divortii. Jam dicit: Ego sum maritus vester. Nam etiamsi ego tam graviter laesus a vobis fuerim, quia fefellistis fidem mihi datam, tamen maneo in proposito, ut sim bovis maritus;...et perinde ac si mihi semper fidem praestitissetis, iterum assuman vos, inqiut.")

The promise of what God will do if Israel repents is given only from ולקחתּי (with ו consec.) onwards. The words, I take you, one out of a city, two out of a race, are not with Kimchi to be so turned: if even a single Israelite dwelt in a heathen city; but thus: if from amongst the inhabitants of a city there returns to me but one, and if out of a whole race there return but two, I will gather even these few and bring them to Zion. Quite aside from the point is Hitz.'s remark, that in Micah 5:1, too, a city is called אלף, and is equivalent to משׁפּחה. The numbers one and two themselves show us that משׁפּחה is a larger community than the inhabitants of one town, i.e., that it indicates the great subdivisions into which the tribes of Israel were distributed. The thought, then, is this: Though but so small a number obey the call to repent, yet the Lord will save even these; He will exclude from salvation no one who is willing to return, but will increase the small number of the saved to a great nation. This promise is not only not contradictory of those which declare the restoration of Israel as a whole; but it is rather a pledge that God will forget no one who is willing to be saved, and shows the greatness of the divine compassion.

As to the historical reference, it is manifest that the promise cannot be limited, as it is by Theodrt. and Grot., to the return from the Assyrian and Babylonian exile; and although the majority of commentators take it so, it can as little be solely referred to the Messianic times or to the time of the consummation of the kingdom of God. The fulfilment is accomplished gradually. It begins with the end of the Babylonian exile, in so far as at that time individual members of the ten tribes may have returned into the land of their fathers; it is continued in Messianic times during the lives of the apostles, by the reception, on the part of the Israelites, of the salvation that had appeared in Christ; it is carried on throughout the whole history of the Church, and attains its completion in the final conversion of Israel. This Messianic reference of the words is here the ruling one. This we may see from "bring you to Zion," which is intelligible only when we look on Zion as the seat of the kingdom of God; and yet more clearly is it seen from the further promise, Jeremiah 3:15-17, I will give you shepherds according to my heart, etc. By shepherds we are not to understand prophets and priests, but the civil authorities, rulers, princes, kings (cf. Jeremiah 2:8, Jeremiah 2:26). This may not only be gathered from the parallel passage, Jeremiah 23:4, but is found in the כּלבּי, which is an unmistakeable allusion to 1 Samuel 13:14, where David is spoken of as a man whom Jahveh has sought out for Himself after His heart (כּלבבו), and has set to be prince over His people. They will feed you דּעה . Both these words are used adverbially. דּעה is a noun, and השׂכּיל an infin.: deal wisely, possess, and show wisdom; the latter is as noun generally השׂכּל , Daniel 1:17; Proverbs 1:3; Proverbs 21:16, but is found also as infin. absol. Jeremiah 9:23. A direct contrast to these shepherds is found in the earlier kings, whom Israel had itself appointed according to the desire of its heart, of whom the Lord said by Hosea, They have set up kings (to themselves), but not by me (Hosea 8:4); kings who seduced the people of God to apostasy, and encouraged them in it. "In the whole of the long series of Israelitish rulers we find no Jehoshaphat, no Hezekiah, no Josiah; and quite as might have been expected, for the foundation of the throne of Israel was insurrection" (Hgstb.). But if Israel will return to the Lord, He will give it rulers according to His heart, like David (cf. Ezekiel 34:23; Hosea 3:5), who did wisely (משׂכּיל ) in all his ways, and with whom Jahveh was (1 Samuel 18:14.; cf. 1 Kings 2:3). The knowledge and wisdom consists in the keeping and doing of the law of God, Deuteronomy 4:6; Deuteronomy 29:8. As regards form, the promise attaches itself to the circumstances of the earlier times, and is not to be understood of particular historical rulers in the period after the exile; it means simply that the Lord will give to Israel, when it is converted to Him, good and faithful governors who will rule over it in the spirit of David. But the Davidic dynasty culminates in the kingship of the Messiah, who is indeed named David by the prophets; cf. Jeremiah 22:4.

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