Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Jeremiah 31:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

After that I was turned - Converted from my sin, folly, and idolatry.

I repented - To conviction of sin, I now added contrition for sin. Conviction, in this sense of the word, must precede contrition or repentance. As soon as a man sees himself lost and undone, he is convicted of sin; when convicted, he begins to mourn. Thus contrition follows conviction.

I smote upon my thigh - My sorrow grew deeper and deeper; I smote upon my thigh through the extremity of my distress. This was a usual sign of deep affliction. See Ezekiel 21:12. It was the same among the ancient Greeks. So Homer: -

Ως εφατ ' αυταρ Αρης θαλερω πεπληγετο μηρωπ

Χερσι καταπρηνεσσολοφυρομενος δε προσηυδα.

IL. lib. 15:113.

"She spake: and with expanded arms, his thighs

Smiting, thus sorrowful, the god exclaimed."


- αυταρ Αχιλλευς

Μηρω πληξαμενος Πατροκληα προσεειπεν.

IL. lib. 16:124.

"Achilles saw it, smote his thigh, and said."


I have often seen persons in deep grief act thus.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 15-22

The religious character of the restoration of the ten tribes. Chastisement brought repentance, and with it forgiveness; therefore God decrees their restoration.

Jeremiah 31:15

Ramah, mentioned because of its nearness to Jerusalem, from which it was distant about five miles. As the mother of three tribes, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, Rachel is regarded as the mother of the whole ten. This passage is quoted by Matthew (marginal reference) as a type. In Jeremiah it is a poetical figure representing in a dramatic form the miserable condition of the kingdom of Ephraim devastated by the sword of the Assyrians.

Jeremiah 31:16

Rachel‘s work had been that of bearing and bringing up children, and by their death she was deprived of the joy for which she had labored: but by their being restored to her she will receive her wages.

Jeremiah 31:17

In thine end - i. e., for thy time to come (see the Jeremiah 29:11 note).

Jeremiah 31:18

As a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke - literally, like an untaught calf. Compare the Hosea 10:11 note. Ephraim, like an untrained steer, had resisted Yahweh‘s will.

Jeremiah 31:19

After that I was turned - i. e., after I had turned away from Thee. In Jeremiah 31:18 it has the sense of turning to God.

Instructed - Brought to my senses by suffering. The smiting upon the thigh is a sign of sorrow. Compare Ezekiel 21:17.

The reproach of my youth - i. e., the shame brought upon me by sins of my youth.

Jeremiah 31:20

Moved to compassion by Ephraim‘s lamentation, Yahweh shows Himself as tender and ready to forgive as parents are their spoiled (rather, darling) child.

For … him - Or, “that so often as I speak concerning him,” i. e., his punishment.

My bowels are troubled - The metaphor expresses the most tender internal emotion.

Jeremiah 31:21

Waymarks - See 2 Kings 23:17 note.

High heaps - Or, signposts, pillars to point out the way.

Set thine heart - Not set thy affection, but turn thy thoughts and attention (in Hebrew the heart is the seat of the intellect) to the highway, even the way by which thou wentest.

Jeremiah 31:22

Israel instead of setting itself to return hesitates, and goes here and there in a restless mood. To encourage it God gives the sign following.

A woman shall compass a man - i. e., the female shall protect the strong man; the weaker nature that needs help will surround the stronger with loving and fostering care. This expresses a new relation of Israel to the Lord, a new covenant, which the Lord will make with His people (Jeremiah 31:31 following). The fathers saw in these words a prophecy of the miraculous conception of our Lord by the Virgin.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Ephraim (the ten tribes) is weeping for sin. He is angry at himself for his sin, and folly, and frowardness. He finds he cannot, by his own power, keep himself close with God, much less bring himself back when he is revolted. Therefore he prays, Turn thou me, and I shall be turned. His will was bowed to the will of God. When the teaching of God's Spirit went with the corrections of his providence, then the work was done. This is our comfort in affliction, that the Lord thinks upon us. God has mercy in store, rich mercy, sure mercy, suitable mercy, for all who seek him in sincerity.