The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

The tents and curtains (Hab 3:7-3:7)

“I saw the tents

Of Cushan

Under affliction.

I saw the curtains

Of the land of Midian

Tremble.”

Habakkuk said that he saw the afflicted tents of Cushan.  Where is this Cushan?  It is probably not Cush in Ethiopia.  However, it could be a tribe next to the Midians in the Sinai area.  In Midian, the curtains on their tents were shaking or trembling.  This might be a vague allusion to the route from Egypt to the promised land.

The everlasting covenant (Jer 32:40-32:41)

“I will make

An everlasting covenant

With them.

I will never draw back

From doing good

To them.

I will put the fear of me

In their hearts.

Thus they may not turn

From me.

I will rejoice

In doing good

To them.

I will plant them

In this land

In faithfulness,

With all my heart,

With all my soul.”

Yahweh was going to make an everlasting covenant with the new returnees from the exile. He was not going to stop doing good for them. They would have the fear of Yahweh in their hearts, so that they would never turn away from him again. Yahweh would rejoice in helping them. He wanted to plant them in this land of faithfulness with all his heart and soul. In other words, Yahweh was giving himself to the returning exiles to the Promised Land.

Ephraim pleads to return (Jer 31:18-31:20)

“Indeed I heard

Ephraim pleading.

‘You disciplined me!

I took the discipline

Like an untrained calf.

Bring me back!

Let me come back!

You are Yahweh!

My God!

After I had turned away

I repented.

After I was discovered,

I struck my thigh.

I was ashamed.

I was dismayed.

Because I bore

The disgrace of my youth.’

‘Is Ephraim my dear son?

Is he the child I delight in?

As often as I speak

Against him,

I still remember him.

Therefore I am deeply moved

For him.

I will surely have mercy

On him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Here Jeremiah has Ephraim, the son of Joseph, whose territory was just north of Benjamin plead with Yahweh to let him return to the Promised Land. Samaria and Bethel were in this territory that was the capitol of the northern Israelites. Ephraim admitted that he needed discipline, like a young calf. He wanted to come back home. He had repented and struck his thigh, a sign of penance. He was ashamed and dismayed because of his disgraceful youth. Yahweh, on the other hand, seemed very happy to have him come back. Ephraim was his dear delightful child. Yahweh still remembered him, despite his diatribes against him. Yahweh was deeply moved and would have mercy on him. The northern Israelites can return to Israel.

The past and future Exodus (Jer 23:7-23:8)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore the days are surely coming,

When it shall no longer be said.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought the people of Israel

Up out of the land of Egypt.’

But they will say.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought out,

He led the offspring

Of the house of Israel

Out of the north,

Out of all the lands,

Where he had driven them.’

Then they shall live

In their own land.”

This is almost a word for word duplication from chapter 16 about the past and future Exodus. Instead of people talking about the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land as they had, now they will talk about returning to the Promised Land after the Exile. Thus, this passage assumes that the Exile will happen and come to an end. It is the living God, Yahweh, who brought them out of Egypt. So too, he will bring them back from the northern area and the other countries where they would have been driven into. They will once again have their own Promised Land, like their ancestors, to live in. In other words, there will be new Exodus.

The past and future Exodus (Jer 16:14-16:15)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore the days are surely coming,

When it shall no longer be said.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought the people of Israel

Up out of the land of Egypt.’

But they will say.

‘As Yahweh lives!

He brought the people of Israel

Up out of the north area,

Out of all the lands

Where he had driven them.’

I will bring them back

To their own land

That I gave to their ancestors.”

Instead of people talking about the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land as they had, now they will talk about returning to the Promised Land after the Exile. Thus this passage assumes that the Exile will happen and come to an end. It is the living God, Yahweh, who brought them out of Egypt, so too, he will bring them back from the northern area and the other countries where they would have been driven into. They will once again have the Promised Land of their ancestors. In other words, there will be new Exodus.

The return from the Exile (Jer 3:15-3:18)

“‘I will give you shepherds

After my own heart.

They will feed you

With knowledge.

They will feed you

With understanding.

When you have multiplied,

You will have increased in the land.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

They shall no more say.

‘The ark of the covenant of Yahweh.’

It shall not come to mind.

It will not be remembered.

It will not be missed.

There will not be another one made.

At that time

Jerusalem shall be called

The throne of Yahweh.

All nations shall gather to it.

In the presence of Yahweh,

In Jerusalem,

They shall no more stubbornly follow

Their own evil will.

In those days

The house of Judah shall

Join the house of Israel.

Together they shall come

From the land of the north

To the land that I gave your ancestors

For a heritage.’”

Yahweh speaks via Jeremiah about what was going to happen in the future after they returned from the Exile. They would have good shepherd rulers with knowledge and understanding leading them. They would increase and multiply in the promised land of their ancestors.   In a strange sort of comment, the Ark of the Covenant would be replaced by the city of Jerusalem as the throne of Yahweh. Somehow they were going to forget and not miss the Ark of the Covenant. Many nations would come to Jerusalem. This sounds like it was written at the time of the Exile about a future hope for Jerusalem. The returned Israelites would no longer follow their own evil ways, as the house of Judah would come together with the northern tribes of Israel. They would enjoy the land that was given to them as the heritage of their ancestors.