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What is the correct interpretation of Jeremiah 31:22?


Jeremiah 31:22

NKJV - 22 How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth - A woman shall encompass a man.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 16 2016 Mini vanessa pannuti

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
This is a difficult passage, but, in my opinion, Jeremiah is speaking with reference to the return of Judah to its land following its captivity in Babylon, and to Judah also being restored to faithfulness to Him (which perhaps has not yet seen complete fulfillment).

Given Judah's past sin and unfaithfulness to God, this would be "a new thing", and as unprecedented as a woman either having the bulk and strength of a warrior or a mighty man (which is implied by the Hebrew word translated as "man" in the New King James Version); or (in that culture) pursuing a man, rather than God (as Judah's figurative husband, as God refers to Himself just a few verses later in the same chapter (Jeremiah 31:32)) always trying to restore "backsliding" Judah to Himself.

(I do not think that the passage has any prophetic significance with regard to the future virgin birth of the Messiah.)

February 16 2016 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Kenneth Heck
This verse is perhaps the most obscure in Jeremiah. Verse 20 addresses Ephraim. Verse 21 addresses the virgin of Israel. Verse 22 continues the address of the prior verse.

Notice that verse 21 doesn't say virgin Israel, but virgin of Israel, suggesting that the LORD is addressing the actual virgins of Israel, not Israel itself. God does express particular concern for women in many passages in the Bible. Also, Judah could not really be regarded as a virgin, since Ezek 23 describes Judah as Aholibah, the sinner, in graphic terms. 

Verses 21 and 22 seem to be entreating the virgins that have backslidden (fallen to a heathenish or apostate condition apparently due to foreign influences) to return to the religion of Israel (return to the cities of Israel, not want or desire the perhaps more attractive cities of the heathen). The incentive to do so is given that a woman shall compass a man. This, on its face, would generally elevate the status of the women of Israel up to nearly that of men. Both Israel and the heathen nations roundabout held women in generally low esteem at that time, but Christianity is well known for elevating the status of women substantially above the Jewish level.

The question is when will this prophecy occur? The prophecy of the virgin-born Messiah in Isa 7:14 was made over 700 years in advance. If this prophecy is about Mary the mother of the Messiah, then it would take over 500 years for fulfillment.

Another problem is that the LORD said that he had already created a new thing, not that he will in the future. Is creation of a soul the same as physical birth? In other words, could the soul of Mary be created over 500 years before her actual physical birth? We do not know, but it seems possible given her unique status ("from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" Luke 1:48).

In my opinion, there is justifiable reason for supposing that this is a Messianic verse, but the verse is too obscure to be very definitive.

A comment about the "new thing in the earth." Solomon wisely said "there is no new thing under the sun" (Ecle 1:9). This saying was was good for its time, (about 1000 BC), but doesn't apply to Christ and Christianity. Christ stated that he was greater than Solomon (Matt 12:42). In Christ every man is a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). There will be a New Jerusalem, a new heaven, and a new earth (Rev 21:1-2). Also, the resurrection will be a new thing. God has repetitively risen beyond human wisdom of Solomon in the scriptures.

February 17 2016 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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