Lectionary Year B
January 5, 2003
Jeremiah 31:7-14

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The center of theological concerns in this pericope is God who promises to save Israel's remnant and calls people to sing with gladness and to praise the goodness of God's mercies which saved them and all others, as well, by becoming their personal leader to restoration. This poem also describes this scattering and re-gathering God and says the blessings will be extensive. These designations leave as minor elements this passage covers and re-covers to be the allusions to the misfortunes of the exile, e.g., their weeping and mourning and sorrowing and the large areas into which they are said to have been scattered where they must have encountered "hands too strong for him", and/or, actually, for them, not to mention, for us! The variety of kinds of people and the various panoramas through which they will journey to return home seem to fill out the picture, if metaphorically, of the redemption, joy and comfort. These observations leave, also, for minor concerns the actual names of such as pregnant women and those bearing children, the young and older and the different favorable scenarios along which their trip home will take them as well as the priests at the end of the lection. Now, what about the "brilliance" with which the returnees get God's Word of promise and delivery? Is it major or minor? It is, of course, response more than Gospel, but since it is a part of the promise God makes, it has some hints, at least, of major interest.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 7 Yea/Indeed thus says Yahweh, "Give a ringing cry (in joy and exaltation) unto Jacob with joy/mirth/gladness and neigh (figuratively of men as stallions) and in/to the chief/head of the nations proclaim and praise and say, 'deliver Yahweh Your people/nation the remnant of Israel'." 8 Behold, I am leading them from the land of the north and I am gathering them together from out of the extreme ends of the earth and among them the blind and lame and any pregnant and/or actually giving birth together and as a great assembly, return (imperative) ye the same way. 9 In weeping they shall come and with supplication. I brought them along. I caused them to walk toward the valley of waters in a way straight and never will they ever again stumble in it. For I am to Israel like a loving father and Ephraim (northern Israel) is definitely my first-born. 10 Hear the word of Yahweh, it says to people to declare to all the regions out in the distant country and say, "The one who is believed to have scattered them/you will now gather them/you together. I am keeping guard/watch over them/you like they/you were My flock grazing safely. 11 For I, Yahweh, have ransomed/delivered/redeemed Jacob and I have ransomed/redeemed them/you from a hand too strong for any alone to escape. 12 So, come and sing in the height of Zion (Judah) and be shining/beaming unto the good of Yahweh upon/unto/toward grains and wine and even fresh/shinning oil and also sheep and cattle, too. And you shall be becoming like a soul/self resembling a garden watered and not will you languish ever again. 13 Then will rejoice virgins in dancing and youths and the elderly together. I will turn their mourning into joy/gladness and I shall be comforting them and causing them to rejoice from all tribulations. 14 And I shall satisfy (the) soul/life/spirit of (the) priests with blessings my people (by) my goodness will be satisfied. This is the Word of Yahweh.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Since this Sunday's passage comes so near to Epiphany, we consider the story of the Magi as an auxiliary lesson and refer to it in part of the interpretation. Matthew 2 records the Wise Men's journey and King Herod's consternation and scheme to find the prophesied Christ Child, pretending to want to go and worship Him. The Magi found Him and worshiped Him and following a warning in a dream decided not to tell Herod where He was. Evidently they had discerned that Herod was up to evil against the Christ Child. So, the Wise Men exiled themselves. Recently, someone wrote somewhere, the source escapes me, that today's church is in exile. We are no longer the center of our society, nor are we influencing decision makers, the article contended. How could we disagree? So, how do we cope? Do we try to do something about re-gaining prominence? Do we stay exiled or what? Possibly interpreting today's text will help.

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