What does chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah really mean and refer to?
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Chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah talks about a coming time when the tribes of Israel will be gathered and saved. But, some Anglo-Israelist writers have taken one or two verses in that chapter out of their context, and caused people to believe that it refers to a time when the Lord will more or less annihilate those tribes.
This article takes a closer look at Jeremiah 30:7 and the translation “the time of Jacob’s trouble” and the context of that verse, and considers what that passage really means and refers to.
Some clarifying notes: The word “Jacob” in Jeremiah 30 is a name for the tribes of Israel. Background: Israel was the patriarch Jacob’s second name, see Genesis 34:24–28. His sons’ descendants formed twelve “tribes”. After the reign of Solomon the son of king David, the nation Israel was divided in two. The southern part was called “Judah” (whence the word “Jews”) and had Jerusalem as its capital. The northern part was called “Israel” and made after a time Samaria as its capital. (Of course, also the Jews continued to be counted as “Israelites”, even after that political division.) Later, all of Israel was driven out of their land and taken into captivity; first the northern tribes and then the southern ones.
In order to properly understand chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah, one must realise that the tribes of Israel still remain in dispersion. They have not been restored yet. [a] The article eya018.htm has some notes on this. Regarding other, related matters, see the other parts in this series on the tribes of Israel. Links to them are found in the “recommended reading” section at the end of this present article.
a In the days of Ezra, a number of people of Israel’s southern tribes (Jews), returned to the land of Israel, but the northern tribes never returned. Around year 70 CE, the Roman army killed countless Jews in that land, some say three million. It is not clear what happened to the remainder. Regarding the people who since the 1800s have moved to the land of Israel and call themselves Jews, and what their origin might be, see the article eya018.htm.
Before going to verse 7 in Jeremiah 30, let us first note that the context talks about a coming restoration of Israel. That is what that whole chapter is all about. We can begin in verse 3:
Jeremiah 30:3 ‘For, behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it’.” (NASB77, highlighting added)
“I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel and Judah”, and, “I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers”. That chapter talks about a coming, still future time when the tribes of Israel will be restored and placed to live in the land of Israel. Again: Today, they still remain in the dispersion which began more than 2500 years ago. They have not been restored yet. Jeremiah 30 talks about the coming time when they will be that.
Anglo-Israelist writers have claimed that the Anglo-Saxon people are “Israelites”, “the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh”. They have further claimed that Jeremiah 30 means that the Anglo-Saxons are going to be captured and taken out of their lands, into captivity. But, that chapter has nothing to do with the Anglo-Saxons. For more on this, see the other parts in this series on the tribes of Israel. You can find them via the “recommended reading” section at the end of this article.
Jeremiah 30 is about the tribes of Israel, people who in Old Testament times were taken out of the Promised land, into dispersion among the nations, without having a land of their own.
It is important to carefully consider all of Jeremiah 30, in order to see what it really talks about. So, let us read the whole chapter. Note especially the parts which are highlighted, below. They show the clear saving and restoration theme in this chapter.
Jeremiah 30:1 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. 3 ‘For, behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it’.” 4 Now these are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah, 5 “For thus says the Lord, ‘I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. 6 ‘Ask now, and see, If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? 7 ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, [b] But he will be saved from it. 8 ‘And it shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds; and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves. 9 ‘But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. 10 ‘And fear not, O Jacob My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘And do not be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at ease, And no one shall make him afraid. 11 ‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to save you; For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, Only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, And will by no means leave you unpunished.’ 12 “For thus says the Lord, ‘Your wound is incurable, And your injury is serious. 13 ‘There is no one to plead your cause; No healing for your sore, No recovery for you. 14 ‘All your lovers have forgotten you, They do not seek you; For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, With the punishment of a cruel one, Because your iniquity is great And your sins are numerous. 15 ‘Why do you cry out over your injury? Your pain is incurable. Because your iniquity is great And your sins are numerous, I have done these things to you. 16 ‘Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured; And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; And those who plunder you shall be for plunder, And all who prey upon you I will give for prey. 17 ‘For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her.”’ 18 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob And have compassion on his dwelling places; And the city shall be rebuilt on its ruin, And the palace shall stand on its rightful place. 19 ‘And from them shall proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who make merry; And I will multiply them, and they shall not be diminished; I will also honor them, and they shall not be insignificant. 20 ‘Their children also shall be as formerly, And their congregation shall be established before Me; And I will punish all their oppressors. 21 ‘And their leader shall be one of them, And their ruler shall come forth from their midst; And I will bring him near, and he shall approach Me; For who would dare to risk his life to approach Me?’ declares the Lord. 22 ‘And you shall be My people, And I will be your God.’” 23 Behold, the tempest of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, A sweeping tempest; It will burst on the head of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back, Until He has performed, and until He has accomplished The intent of His heart; In the latter days you will understand this. Jeremiah 31:1 “At that time,” declares the Lord, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” (NASB77, highlighting and note sign added)
Right here, the point is that chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah talks about a coming time when the Lord will save the tribes of Israel and restore them and place them to live in the Promised Land
In contrast to that, many Anglo-Israelist writers have caused people to believe that that chapter talks about a time when those tribes are destroyed and the survivors taken into exile.
b Verse 7 and the translation “distress” (some bible-versions have “trouble”) and the Hebrew word in question, is discussed below.
Above, that chapter was quoted in its full length, but let us again read verse 7, which some Anglo-Israelist writers have taken out of its context.
Jeremiah 30:7 ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress (NASB77)
“Distress” – some translations have “trouble”. The Hebrew text has tsarah which could mean, not only “trouble” or “adversity” but also “adversary” (“enemy”, “oppressor”). Tsarah is a feminine form of tsar which is found in many Old Testament passages, even Jeremiah 30. Verse 16:
Jeremiah 30:16 ‘Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured; And all your adversaries, [Hebrew tsar] every one of them, shall go into captivity; And those who plunder you shall be for plunder, And all who prey upon you I will give for prey. (NASB77, comment added)
So, verse 16 refers to the fact that the Israelites’ adversaries (tsar) will go into captivity. What about verse 7 – does the word tsar in it refer to Jacob’s “adversity”, or to Jacob’s “adversaries” (trouble, or troublers)? That is not really important, because the rest of that chapter makes the matter so clear. Those days will be hard for all, even for the Israelites (the descendants of Jacob) – but, the end result will be that while the tribes of Israel are saved and restored, their enemies are destroyed.
Once again: The theme in that chapter is that the tribes of Israel will be saved and restored. Verse 8:
Jeremiah 30:8 ‘And it shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck, and will tear off their bonds; and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves. (NASB77, note sign added)
“I will break his yoke from off their neck” – that refers to the still future time when Jacob (the tribes of Israel) will be freed from the hands of their enemies and oppressors.
A note: Anglo-Israelist writers have caused people to believe that Jeremiah 30 refers to a new exile and dispersion for the tribes of Israel. But, the Bible does not say anything of that kind. Today, the northern tribes of Israel (the ten “lost” tribes) still remain in the exile and dispersion which began around 734–722 BCE. Likewise, there are no two gatherings (restorations) prophesied for those tribes but only one, the one which is yet to come. Nor are there two times of restored blessings promised for those ten tribes but only one. That will occur after Jesus has returned.
The article eya018.htm has some notes on the prophesied fate of the tribes of Israel, before their restoration. (That article considers even the origin of those people who since the 1800s have moved to the land of Israel and call themselves Jews.)
There is no new exile or dispersion prophesied for the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. They still remain in the dispersion which began more than 2500 years ago. The article eya018.htm has some notes on this.
Chapter 30 in the book of Jeremiah talks about the coming time when that dispersion will finally come to its end – a time when the descendants of Jacob (Israel) will be saved and restored, while their adversaries are destroyed.
Links to the other 14 parts in this series on the tribes of Israel are found in the “recommended reading” section, below.
Please send or mention the address to this site to others. You can also link to these pages. The address to the table of contents page is biblepages.net/articles.htm
Recommended reading here at the Bible Pages, on related as well as other matters
An explanation of the short names for the bible-translations that are quoted or mentioned at this site. → esa095.htm
What does the Bible say about the “great tribulation”? On Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14. → eta046.htm
Gentiles, pagans and heathen – what do those words really mean? → ega018.htm
Why does God allow evil, sickness, pain, war and suffering? Does the Bible explain that matter? → ewa017.htm
The other parts in the ‘tribes’ series:
The lost ten tribes of Israel in prophecy. → eya018.htm
Leviticus 26:19, “and I will break the pride of your power”. How and when was the Israelites’ pride broken? → eya026.htm
On the meaning of Genesis 22:17, the words “and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies”. → eya037.htm
Jacob’s birthright, and that of his son Joseph. On what the concept “birthright” meant and referred to, in regard to inheritance, in ancient times. → eya047.htm
On the meaning of the words “seven times” in Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24 and 28. Does the wording in the Hebrew text mean “seven times more” or “sevenfold” as many translations have it, or “2520 years” as some writers have claimed? → eya058.htm
On the prophet Ezekiel and his mission, and the “Ezekiel message” dogma. → eya077.htm
The lost sheep of the house of Israel of Matthew 10:6 – who were they, and where? Also: Where did the apostles go? → eya088.htm
Did the ten lost tribes of Israel move into Europe? Are the white north-west Europeans Israelites, as some say? → eya097.htm
Is the line of David the king of Israel still ruling somewhere on Earth? → eya108.htm
The meaning of the words “branch” and “twig” in Ezekiel 17:22. Some notes on Anglo-Israelist dogmas regarding king Zedekiah’s daughters. → eya116.htm
The prophet Jeremiah – where did he die? Did he go to Ireland, as some have claimed? Also, what about the “stone of destiny” which some writers talk about? → eya127.htm
Did people of the ten “lost” tribes of Israel travel to Greece, Denmark and Ireland? Some notes on certain Anglo-Israelist dogmas. → eya137.htm
Regarding Anglo-Israelism: What if it is Russia and her Slavic sisters who are the lost ten tribes of Israel? → eya147.htm
Ethnic groups which could eventually belong to the “lost” tribes of Israel. → eya157.htm
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