Jeremiah 3:12 MEANING

Jeremiah 3:12
(12) Toward the north.--The prophet utters his message as towards the far land of Assyria and the cities of the Medes to which the ten tribes of Israel had been carried away captive (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 17:23). He had a word of glad tidings for the far-off exiles.

Return, thou backsliding Israel.--It is hard to reproduce the pathetic assonance of the original, "Shubah, mashubah,"--turn back, thou that hast turned away; return, thou renegade.

I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you.--Literally, my face; the face so awful in its wrath.

I will not keep anger for ever.--With perhaps a latent reference to the hope held out in Hosea 3:5, and to the words which Judah had uttered in her hypocrisy (Jeremiah 3:5), but which were truer of Israel.

Verse 12. - Israel, therefore, shall be recalled from exile. Her sins are less than those of Judah, and how long and bitterly has she suffered for them! Toward the north. For Israel had been carried captive into the regions to the north of the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11). Comp. the pro-raise in Jeremiah 31:8. I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; rather, my face to fall towards you (i.e. upon your return).

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.Go and proclaim these words towards the north,.... With his face thitherwards, towards Babylon, which lay north of Judea, and was the metropolis of Assyria, where the ten tribes were carried captive; and though they were dispersed in the cities of Media and Persia, which lay eastward, yet Babylon being the head of the empire, respect is had to that; not that the prophet was to go thither to them, or to prophesy in the land of the north, as the Targum paraphrases the words: for the word "go", as Jarchi observes, is only expressive of a command on the part of God; and of readiness, as Kimchi says, on the part of the prophet to obey, but not of local motion; he was to read these words, as the latter of these suggests, in Jerusalem, before the elders of Judah, with a respect to Israel, as if they were before him; and the design of this was to show that the Lord was gracious and merciful, and ready to receive backsliders; and to stimulate Judah to repentance, and to turn unto the Lord:

and say, return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord not return from the land of their captivity, though that they shall return in the last day Kimchi thinks is here intimated; and Jarchi says some of them did return, in the eighteenth year of Josiah; but return from their idols to the living God: and for their encouragement it is added,

and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; or, "my face" (d); by frowning upon them, expressing displicency with them, and anger towards them; the meaning is, that he would not continue his resentments, or cause his anger to fall upon them any more, or at least not for ever, as Kimchi interprets it; he had caused his anger to fall upon them like a mighty storm of rain, by carrying them captive; but now he intimates, should they repent and return, he would remove his anger from them, and not cause it to return any more:

for I am merciful, saith the Lord; so he proclaimed himself before Moses, Exodus 34:6 and of this they had had often instances and proofs:

and I will not keep anger for ever; or, "thy sins", as the Targum; I will not mark and observe them, or reserve them for punishment, but will mercifully forgive them; See Gill on Jeremiah 3:5.

(d) "non faciam cadere facies meas super vos", Schmidt.

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