Jeremiah 31: The Gathering if Israel

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 162–163

Jeremiah 31 continues the message begun in chapter 30. Chapter 31 contains great promises concerning the gathering of Israel, both the gathering to Jerusalem from captivity in ancient times and the gathering to Jesus Christ and His Church in the latter days from all places in the world where Israel had been scattered.

Understanding the Scriptures

Jeremiah 31

Which were left of(v. 2)Survivors 
Drawn (v. 3)Gathered 
Adorned (v. 4)Decorated 
Tabrets (v. 4)Musical instruments 
Remnant of Israel (v. 7)Israelites not destroyed, scattered, or in captivity 
Supplications (v. 9)Prayers of pleading 
Redeemed, ransomed (v. 11)Pay for someone’s freedom from bondage 
Satiate (vv. 14, 25)Satisfy 
Rahel (v. 15)Rachel (wife of Jacob [Israel] and mother of Joseph and Benjamin) 
Refrain (v. 16)Stop 
Unaccustomed (v. 18)Not used to 
Confounded (v. 19)Ashamed 
Bear the reproach (v. 19)Carry the shame 
Bowels (v. 20)Feelings 
Waymarks (v. 21)Signs on the road 
Compass (v. 22)Surround 
Habitation (v. 23)House 
Husbandman (v. 24)Farmer 
Replenished (v. 25)Filled up 
Sow (v. 27)Plant 
Plucked up (vv. 28, 40)Pull up, uproot 
Teeth are set on edge, teeth shall be set on edge(vv. 29–30)Pucker 
Ordinances (vv. 35–36)Regular motions 
Depart from before me(v. 36)Removed 

Jeremiah 31—The Gathering of Israel

The entire chapter of Jeremiah 31 is about the gathering of the house of Israel. Israel is gathered in two ways: physically and spiritually. For individual members of the house of Israel the two gatherings may occur at the same time, or they may occur separately. Because these two gatherings have occurred at different times throughout history and will yet occur in the future, scriptures about the gathering of the house of Israel can be confusing. Jeremiah 31:1–30 certainly applies to the physical gathering of the family of Israel from the lands in which they were scattered and captive to their promised lands. But these verses may also apply to those who are spiritually gathered to the Lord and His Church. Jeremiah 31:31–34 seems to have special application to the spiritual gathering (see D&C 45:56).

Jeremiah 31:9—“Ephraim Is My Firstborn”

Ephraim was not literally the firstborn of Israel, since he was Jacob’s grandson, the son of Joseph who received the birthright from Jacob, or Israel (see Genesis 48–49). The reference in Jeremiah 31:9 to Ephraim being the firstborn refers to this position of heir to the birthright.

Jeremiah 31:31–34—The “New Covenant”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained the following about the “new covenant”:

“The ‘new covenant,’ … was the covenant contained in the Book of Mormon and in the ‘former commandments’ [see D&C 84:57]. … These former commandments must have been the Lord’s prior revelations, as contained in the Bible (the Old and New Testaments) and in those modern revelations already given to the Saints. …

“The covenant described in [the] scriptures, made new by its renewal and confirmation in these latter days, refers to our covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. It incorporates the fullness of the gospel. …

“… The ‘new covenant’ contained in the Book of Mormon and the former commandments is that central promise of the gospel, rooted in the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives us the assurance of immortality and the opportunity for eternal life if we will repent of our sins and make and keep the gospel covenant with our Savior. By this means, and through his grace, we can realize the great promise ‘that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3)” (Dallin H. Oaks, Another Testament of Jesus Christ [CES fireside address, 6 June 1993], 4–5).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Jeremiah 31.

Activity A iconIllustrate an Idea

Draw a picture or make a diagram that represents an idea you read about in Jeremiah 31:1–30. Write a brief explanation for your picture or diagram.

Activity B iconDescribe the Difference

  1. 1.

    According to Jeremiah 31:31–34, when did the Lord make the old covenant with the house of Israel?

  2. 2.

    Describe how and why the new covenant is different than the old covenant.