Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jer 31:2To rest - In Canaan.
jer 31:5Samaria - Samaria was the metropolis of the ten tribes. Mountains are convenient for vineyards, being free from shades and exposed to the sun. Shall plant - God promises them a liberty to plant, and that they should enjoy their plantations, eating them as common things, which they could not do 'till the fifth year.
jer 31:6Arise - This was fulfilled under the gospel; for both Galilee and Samaria received the gospel.
jer 31:9With weeping - Some think that it had been better translated, they went weeping; for though the verb be the future tense in the Hebrew, yet that tense has often the signification of the preterperfect tense, thus it answereth, Psa 126:5-6. He that goeth forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shalt doubtless come again rejoicing. There is a weeping for joy, as well as for sorrow, and thus the text corresponds with that, Zac 12:10. I will pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn. By rivers - And they shall have no want as they had when they came out of Egypt, through the wilderness, where they often wanted water.
jer 31:11Hath redeemed - God will as certainly do it, as if he had already done it. In their deliverance as well from Babylon as Egypt, they were types of the deliverance of God's people, by Christ; as well as in their entering into Canaan, they were types of the saints, entering into heaven.
jer 31:12And sing - All the phrases in this verse signify one thing, the happy state of the Jews, after their return from captivity. The height of Zion means the temple. A watered garden - They shall be a beautiful, flourishing, and growing people. Soul seems here to be taken for the whole man. Not sorrow - In that manner they have been. But under these expressions is also promised the spiritual joy which the true Israel of God will have under the gospel, and the eternal joy they shall have in heaven.
jer 31:15In Ramah - That is, in Canaan, and particularly in Ramah, where Nebuzar - adan, Jer 40:1, disposed of the prisoners he had taken, setting some at liberty, ordering others to death, and carrying the rest away to Babylon, which caused a bitter weeping and lamentation. Rachel - Rachel is here brought in, having been buried near that place, as if she were risen up from the grave, and lamented the Jewish nation which came out of her loins (for so Benjamin did, which was one of the two tribes that made the kingdom of Judah.) Were not - Because her children either were not absolutely, being slain by the pestilence, the famine, and the sword of the king of Babylon, or were no longer her children, being transplanted into Babylon. And there was a lamentation like this, when Herod caused the infants of two years old to be slain in Bethlehem, and in the coasts round about Bethlehem, of which Ramah was one.
jer 31:18I have heard - The prophet here shews the change that would be wrought in the hearts of the Israelites preceding this return from their captivity. As a bullock - Which ordinarily are very unruly when they are first put into it.
jer 31:19Surely - After God had changed our hearts, we repented. I smote - After God had instructed us, by his prophets, by our afflictions, and by his Holy Spirit, we smote upon our thighs in testimony of our sorrow. The reproach - The just punishment of the sins which I had long ago committed.
jer 31:20For since - From the time I spake against him by my threatenings, I remember him with the affection and compassion of a father.
jer 31:21Set up - Thou shalt return to these cities which thou now leavest, therefore take good notice of the way, set up marks by which thou mayest know it again, make thee pillars or some high heaps of stones in the way, mind well the way that the Assyrians and the Babylonians carried thee, for thou shalt come back the same way.
jer 31:22Backsliding - Running after idols; or seeking help from foreign nations, instead of applying to God. A woman - This seems to be a promise of the Jewish church in its time, and of the gospel - church, prevailing over all its enemies; though, considering the fewness of the church's members, with the multitude of its enemies, and their power, it seemed as strange a thing, as for a woman to prevail against a strong and mighty man.
jer 31:23The Lord of hosts - These prophecies of the restoration of the Jews, are ordinarily prefaced with these two attributes of God, the one of which asserts his power to do the thing promised; the other his goodness to his people.
jer 31:25For - The words are a promise, that God would give his people abundance of ease and plenty.
jer 31:26Upon this I awaked - Probably this revelation was made to Jeremiah, in a dream.
jer 31:27I will sow - That is, I will exceedingly multiply them, both with men and with cattle.
jer 31:31Behold - And not only with the Jews, but all those who should be ingrafted into that Olive. It is not called the new covenant, because it was as to the substance new, for it was made with Abraham, Gen 17:7, and with the Jews, Deu 26:17-18, but because it was revealed after a new manner, more fully and particularly, plainly and clearly. Nor was the ceremonial law any part of it, as it was to the Jews, a strict observance of that. It was likewise new in regard of the efficacy of the spirit attending it, in a much fuller and larger manner.
jer 31:32Not according - The covenant which God made with the Jews when they came out of the land of Egypt, was on God's part the law which he gave them, with the promises annexed; on their part (which made it a formal covenant) their promise of obedience to it.
jer 31:33With - That is, with those who are Jews inwardly. And write it - The prophet's design is here to express the difference betwixt the law and the gospel. The first shews duty, the latter brings the grace of regeneration, by which the heart is changed, and enabled for duty. All under the time of the law that came to salvation, were saved by this new covenant; but this was not evidently exhibited; neither was the regenerating grace of God so common under the time of the law, as it hath been under the gospel.
jer 31:34I will forgive - God makes the root of all this grace to be the free pardon, and the remission of their sins.
jer 31:36Those ordinances - The ordinances of nature, which are God's establishments for the working of natural causes in their order.
jer 31:37I will cast off - That is, I will never cast off all the seed of Israel.
jer 31:38The city - Shall be built round, as largely as ever.
jer 31:39The line - That is, it shall be built round about upon its old foundations.
jer 31:40The valley - A valley, so called from the multitude of Sennacherib's army slain there. Of the ashes - So called from the ashes of the sacrifices carried thither. Holy - All these places shall be parts of the holy city, and God's name shall be sanctified, and he shall be worshipped in them all. For ever - If we interpret the word for ever of a perpetuity, the church of God must here be understood, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.