Jeremiah 31:22

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter?.... From place to, place, from country to country, from one kingdom to another, as the Jews do to this day; and not return unto the Lord, and David their king, and to their own country? Or, "how long wilt thou be foolish" {a}? in backsliding from the Lord; in slighting the written word; neglecting the promises and prophecies, the exhortations, cautions, and instructions therein given; in adhering to and extolling the traditions of the elders, even above the Scriptures; in pertinaciously rejecting the Messiah, next prophesied of; all which folly the Jews are still guilty of, and continue in. So the word signifies in the Arabic language {b};

for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man; a mighty one, a mighty man, the man Jehovah's fellow; conceived, contained, and encompassed, in the womb of the virgin, the woman, whose seed he was to be of, and of whom he was: this was a "new", unheard of, extraordinary thing, a "creation", a work of almighty power! the human nature of Christ was formed and prepared by the power of the Holy Ghost, without the help of man; and this now is mentioned as an argument and an encouragement to the Jews to return to their own land, since the Messiah is born there of a virgin, as it was foretold he should. This seems to be the true and genuine sense of the words, and other senses weak and impertinent; as when they are made to refer to the heroic spirit in some women superior to men; to the unusual practice of women suing to men for marriage; and to the people of Israel returning to the Lord from their apostasy. So the Targum,

"for, behold, the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth and the people of the house of Israel have given themselves up to the law.''

And very foreign are the senses which some Christian interpreters give of this passage; as when they interpret it of the Jews conquering and oppressing their enemies; or of the Jewish church seeking after God, her husband, when separated from him; or of the Christian church, though weak, resisting her mighty persecutors by her confession of faith, and overcoming them; or of the church under the New Testament embracing Christ; which indeed is preferable to the other, and especially to that Popish one of the eucharist containing the body of Christ {c}; but the true sense is what is before given: and even some of the Jewish doctors themselves have acknowledged, that the Messiah is here intended. In an ancient {d} book of theirs, on mention of these words, it is added,

"this shall be in the time of the Messiah, which will be on the sixth day;''

that is, the sixth millennium And elsewhere {e} "a woman shall compass a man"; says R. Hona, in the name of R. Ame, this is the King Messiah. So says R. Joshua ben Levi {f},

"he, that is, God, heals with the same he wounds; so will you find in Israel, they sinned by a virgin, and were punished in virgins, Ezekiel 23:1; so he comforts them by a virgin, according to Jeremiah 31:21; "turn again, O virgin of Israel", &c. "a woman shall compass a man". R Huna, in the name of R. Idi and R. Joshua, said, that this man is the King Messiah, of whom it is said, Psalms 2:7, "this day have I begotten thee" {g}.''

{a} Nyqmxtt ytm de "quamdiu fatua eris?" Majus apud Stockium, p. 358.
{b} "mente laboravit, stultus fuit", Golius, col. 653. "et dementer, more fatui egit", Camus & Giggeius apud Castel. col. 1289. Arab. qmx "fatuatus, nugatus fuit, ineptiit", Schindler, col. 603.
{c} Vid. Erlmanni, "novum omnium novorum", &c. ad Jer. xxxi. 22. in Thesaur. Dissert. Theolog. Philolog. tom 1. p. 851.
{d} Zohar in Gen. tom. 13. 4.
{e} In Abarbinel. Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 37. 4.
{f} Apud Moses Hadarsan in Gen. c. 41. Vid. Galatin. de Arcanis Cath. Ver. l. 7. c. 14. p. 52, 526.
{g} See my book of the "Prophecies of the Messiah", &c. p. 100, 101.