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Jeremiah 31 verses 31-33, talks about a new covenant forged explicitly with Jews/Israel and only with Jews/Israel, and none other.

I'm quoting the passage in Hebrew and providing the phrase literal translation, so that we would not have to deal with the inaccuracies and inadequacies of English translations like KJV or NIV (or even the JPS).

I would very much want your answer to refer the passage using the Hebrew I laid here, rather than on any English translations of the passage.

Question

  • What is this new covenant that is forged with Jews/Israel but not with non-Jews/non-Israel?
  • Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only?
  • What is the meaning of "I will give/present My law within them and write it upon their hearts"?
  • In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of G-d?
  • Do you agree that this passage affirms the Torah, rather than invalidate her? That this passage does not allow any concept of invalidating the Torah?

My personal opinion is that this passage licensed Jews/Israel to write the Talmud. Therefore, I would very much like a Jewish opinion on this passage too.

הנה ימים באים
נאם יי
Hence the days will be coming
declares the LORD

וכרתי את בית ישראל
ואת בית יהודה
ברית חדשה
I will forge with house of Israel
and with house of Judah
a new covenant.

לא כברית אשר כרתי את אבותם
ביום החזיקי בידם
להוציאם מארץ מצרים
Unlike the covenant which I forged with their fathers
in the days I strengthened them by their hand
to flee from the land of Egypt

אשר המה הפרו את בריתי
ואנכי בעלתי בם
נאם יי
whence they broke my covenant
and I became husband to them
declares the LORD

כי זאת הברית
אשר אכרת את בית ישראל
אחרי הימים ההם
נאם יי
For this covenant
which I shall forge with the house of Israel
thereafter those days
declares the LORD

נתתי את תורתי
בקרבם
ועל לבם
אכתבנה
I will present them My law (torah)
within them
and upon their hearts
I will write it

והייתי להם
לאלהים
והמה יהיו לי
לעם
and I will be to them
as G-d
and they will be to me
as a people

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You might need to read Joshua Moon's book, Jeremiah's New Covenant: An Augustinian Reading. He's got all the data. Away you go! –  Davïd Oct 24 at 15:58
5  
I have a hard time agreeing with the close vote as "too broad." While certainly volumes have been written about Jer 31:31, it is but a single verse, and all the sub-questions relate to the interpretation of it. So if our site cannot handle trying to interpret a single verse, then we might as well close shop. It seems a summary answer can be given without getting too bogged down in extensive details. Of course, differing hermeneutics will probably give differing summaries, but that is a good thing. –  ScottS Oct 24 at 17:26
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@ScottS at least three of the five questions (and perhaps all five) could be separate questions in their own right - and they are independent enough that there seems no need to bundle them into one question even if they all arise from the same verse. What advantage do you see in having all the questions rolled into one here? –  Jack Douglas Oct 24 at 18:05
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I disagree with the close vote: these questions are so tightly linked I could not even give a simple answer to any without addressing all. –  J. C. Salomon Oct 27 at 0:56
    
This looks like a systematics question to me. –  curiousdannii Oct 27 at 2:54

6 Answers 6

Verse 33 explains what’s going on:

ולא ילמדו עוד איש את־רעהו ואיש את־אחיו לאמר דעו את־ה׳; כי־כולם ידעו אותי למקטנם ועד־גדולם נאם-ה׳ כי אסלח לעונם ולחטאתם לא אזכר־עוד׃
and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know the LORD’; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; …

I’m adapting the explanation given by Radak and Malbim with a concrete example:

For the past three weeks, those following the daf yomi cycle of Talmud study have been tracing through the intricacies of how the Laws of incest and of levirate marriage interact, given family situations that make the song “I’m my own grandpa” seem trivial. Between the Written Law and the Orally-Transmitted Law, the rules are all there—but it takes a lot of effort to puzzle them out and apply them correctly.

In the times the prophet speaks about, it will be as if the Law had been given anew: “I will place My Law within them, and write it on their hearts”, says God in v. 32. The effort I’ve spent to get what I know is only a cursory understanding of the Law will no longer be necessary; everyone of the House of Yisrael and of the House of Yehudah will intuitively know what it is the Law demands in any situation.

(The interpretation is almost obvious to anyone who’s experienced the delight and frustration of trying to understand God’s Law which David sang about.)

To be explicit about the bullet points in your question:
The “new covenant” is simply a new possibility in understanding God’s Law, and so only applies to those the original covenant was forged with, reaffirming their ancient rôle; it in no way allows for the invalidation of the original compact.


ETA: I just noticed the part of the question where you suggest that “this passage licensed Jews/Israel to write the Talmud”. No, it would not have: The Rabbis who wrote the Talmud did not believe this prophecy had yet been fulfilled; the effort needed to understand the Law well enough to write the Talmud makes that fairly evident.

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First, let me put into context that "new covenant" as used in Jeremiah does not mean a covenant that replaces an "old covenant." When we speak of "the Covenant" we are usually talking about the one between the Jewish people and God made at Mt. Sinai. But that covenant was not the first, nor the last covenant between G-d and the Jewish people. See, e.g. Gen. 8 (with Noah); Gen. 17 (with Abraham); Gen. 28:10-22 (with Jacob); Joshua 1 (with Jewish people who crossed into Israel). In every case, the prior covenant was not replaced, but merely reaffirmed, expanded or codified existing practice. Not one of those covenants is or has ever been "obsolete."

Despite this, Christians point to Jeremiah 31:31-34, and his use of the term "new covenant," to claim that the Torah -- God's Covenant with the Jewish people as a whole -- has been superceded by a "New Covenant" i.e. the "New Testament." See Hebrews 8:13. It is true, that the prophet predicted a messianic era in which there would be "new covenant," but in doing so he never suggests that any of the previous covenants would become null and void. In fact, in Leviticus God explicitly says that His Covenant with the Jewish people cannot be broken, no matter how much they sin -- yes, they will be subject to punishments for their misdeeds, but God's promises will be left intact and the door for redemption will always be open. Lev. 26:44-45. Jeremiah's prophecy is not that there will be a new law, but that the existing laws will be "inscribed in the hearts" of the Jewish people (i.e. they will not have to study the Law, as before, but all of its details will be known "by heart" and practiced by every Jew without question). This desire for such an inate understanding of the Law is referred to also at Deut. 6:6-8 where God commands that the words of the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord is One" - Deut. 6:4) shall be "upon your heart" and, literally, "inscribed on your doorposts." So Jeremiah is saying that the in the Messianic Era, all of Israel will be keeping the law as if it were inscribed on their hearts, or as we might say today, "programmed into their DNA."

Addressing your specific questions:

What is this new covenant that is forged with Jews/Israel but not with non-Jews/non-Israel? I answered this above -- it describes a messianic era where Jews will embrace the Covenant of Moses to the extent that the laws will be inscribed in their heart, and they can go on to learn bigger, better things. As noted above, this is an additional covenant stacked upon the others that preceded it, that we will experience in the Messianic Era; The the many and complex Torah laws will be inscribed on our hearts -- i.e. they will come to us intuitively, like mastering the many operations necessary to drive a car -- and the new covenant will be new challenges and insights we cannot imagine. Non-Jews can have access to the this new covenant so long as they accept the dominion of the former covenants.

•Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only? Yes and no. To the extent that non-Jews can convert to Judaism, they can then experience the New Covenant in the world to come.

What is the meaning of "I will give/present My law within them and write it upon their hearts"? Asked and answered.

In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of G-d? It is a reaffirmation that the commandments are not too difficult, as it says in Deut. 30:12.

•Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only? I think that it must, although non-Jews can convert.

Finally, as for your speculation that the prophecy is the authorization for the Talmud -- I regret to say that that shows a misunderstanding about what the Talmud is all about. The Talmud is a collection of discussions and debates of the rabbis who were trying to codify oral traditions that Moses and the elders passed down explaining how the Law should be observed, and also attempted to apply the written and oral law to specific situations not described in the Bible.

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downvoter: would you care to explain your vote? –  Bruce James 16 hours ago
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It is very brutal to downvote an answer simply because it does not agree with your ideology. I asked for Christian and Jewish view points, so that when someone gives a valid Jewish view, you should not downvote it unless you are Jewish, and have no affiliation to Christianity. –  Blessed Geek 16 hours ago
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What I meant is, you need not be Jewish, but should look at the answer from a Jewish scholar's perspective. And you have to ask yourself whether you are able to avoid making an indictment of Jewish theology. Whether your downvote is part of an indictment of Jewish theology. –  Blessed Geek 15 hours ago

The Idea in Brief

The New Covenant is extended to all nations of the world, because those people who accept this New Covenant are fused (or baptized) into the mystical Body of the Christ. That is, his blood of Jesus Christ is the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). In this respect, then, the New Covenant is not an extension of the Old Covenant but of both the Davidic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant, by which the "nations of the world were to be blessed through the seed of Abraham" (Gen 18:18; Gen 22:18; and Gen 26:4).

Discussion

• Question 1: What is this New Covenant that is forged with Jews/Israel, but not with non-Jews/non-Israel?

The New Covenant forged with Israel is the placement and writing of the Laws of the Lord on the mind and heart, respectively (Jer 31:33); the indwelling presence of the Spirit of the Lord (Ez 11:19-21 and Joel 2:28-29) whose power will enable continued and faithful obedience (Ez 36:25-27); the re-gathering of all Israelites into the Promised Land (Jer 16:15 and Ez 34:13-16), which will include resurrection from the dead (Ez 37:12); the forgiveness of sins (Jer 31:34); and the universal knowledge of the Lord throughout the earth (Hab 2:14; Is 11:9; Jer 31:34). Finally, the removal of the curse from the ground appears to be another aspect of the New Covenant (Hosea 2:18, Is 11:6-9 and Ez 34:23).

The Apostle Paul indicates in Ephesians 2:11-22 that Gentiles have access to this New Covenant through the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:12-13 (NASB)
12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

The "blood of Christ" is the New Covenant (Luke 22:20), so we know that Paul is talking about the New Covenant, for which the Gentiles are no longer excluded. That is, at the beginning, the faithful Jewish remnant at Pentecost, comprised of the disciples of Jesus, had received the New Covenant from heaven. (The day of Pentecost was the same day that the nation of Israel at Sinai had received the Old Covenant from heaven.) Subsequent to Pentecost, the New Covenant was then extended to non-Jews through fusion (baptism) into the mystical Body of Christ -- Cornelius and his household were the first in this regard (Acts 9-11). So non-Jews participate in the Jewish promises through union or "grafting" (Romans 11:17-24) into the mystical Body of Christ.

Some graphs will help to explain, which are only conceptual for the purposes of illustration. First, this graph (please click here) portrays the arrangement of the Old Covenant in the Hebrew Bible. (Please note that there is ALWAYS a faithful remnant of believers somewhere; for example, please see 1 Kings 19:18.) According to the Christian New Testament, when the nation of Israel had rejected its king (Jesus called the Christ), the faithful Jewish remnant remained and became the Jewish cadre to receive the New Covenant at Pentecost. Please click here.

• Question 2: Do you agree that this New Covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only?

Yes and No - and please click here, and please note how the promise in the Book of Genesis regarding the Seed of Abraham (and also David) now blesses the world. At the current time, the appearance of Gentiles into the New Covenant occurs through Jesus Christ, whose blood as already noted is the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). Thus Jews and Gentiles become one as the following verse indicates -

Colossians 3:10-11 (NASB)
10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

In this respect, the definition of Jew in the Christian New Testament is not "one who is circumcised with hands" but one whose "circumcision is of the heart" (Col 2:11). For such a person the "Promised Land" is centered in the citizenship of heaven (Phil 3:20), the place of the "Jerusalem above" (Gal 4:26), which is also called the "Zion above, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb 12:22).

One may ask why the Hebrew Bible points to the exclusive promise of the New Covenant for Israelites (that is, the biological descendants of Abraham and proselytes, who are ethnic Jews). Even the Christian New Testament reiterates this exclusivity of the New Covenant with "the House of Israel and the House of Judah" (Hebrews 8:8). The answer is that the narrative of the Christian New Testament indicates that the Gentiles were "grafted" as wild olive branches into the root, who is Jesus Christ (Rom 11:11-24). This "grafting" was the so-called mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul.

In several passages of the Christian New Testament the Apostle Paul speaks about the mystery, concerning which he had received direct and special revelation from heaven. The verses here indicate that this mystery was not revealed in the Hebrew Bible; that is, the New Covenant would unite Jews and Gentiles into "one" body, and therefore establish peace between Gentiles and Jews through mystical union into the Body of Christ (Eph 2:13-16).

Paul also indicated that the inclusion of Gentiles into the Body of Christ would continue until the "fullness of the Gentiles" was complete.

Romans 11:25-27 (NASB)
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

 “The Deliverer will come from Zion,   
  He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”   
  27 “This is My covenant with them,   
  When I take away their sins.”

Based on my own limited understanding of the Hebrew Bible (both language and narrative), the graph depiction here portrays the general eschatological outlook from the perspective of the Hebrew Bible, which the Apostle Peter had assumed at the time of Pentecost. That is, the Apostle Peter had expected the imminent Day of the Lord (Acts 2:17-20), when the Messiah would come and save ("Hosanna" = save us) the people of Israel from Gentile world power. (According to Acts 1:6, there was imminent expectation of the establishment of the visible theocratic kingdom on earth.) Not surprisingly, in the same chapter of Acts, the Jewish believers at that time and at that place divested themselves of all their worldly possessions (Acts 2:43-47). The appearance of Gentiles into Christianity then came by complete surprise (Acts 9-11), for which Jewish believers were caught unawares (Acts 11:1-3).

In Galatians 2:1-2, the Apostle Paul appears to have disclosed this mystery to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem sometime after Paul's first missionary journey. After the Apostle Paul disclosed the mystery, the graph depiction here portrays the eschatological expectation understood in light of the mystery -- that is, in concert with the Book of Revelation, the mystery appears to be an "intercalation" of time splitting the "70 Weeks" of Daniel. In this regard, the Day of the Lord does not appear to have occurred during the First Century, since Gentile Christians (non-Jews) living in Thessalonica (mainland Greece) were worried the Day of the Lord had begun (2 Thess 2:2). In other words, the Day of the Lord is a time when the not only Israel will be affected, but also the entire world (to include places like mainland Greece), and such is the general genre of the Book of Revelation.

In summary, the New Covenant is in partial fulfillment at the current time and includes Gentiles, but only through direct fusion, or union into the mystical Body of Christ. After an unknown point of time, the "wild olive branch" will be broken off (Rom 11:22) because the "Fullness of the Times of the Gentiles" will be completed, and the original olive branch will continue and proclaim the New Covenant during the Day of the Lord (i.e., the last "week" of Daniel's 70 weeks).

• Question 3: What is the meaning of "I will give/present My law within them and write it upon their hearts"?

The passage in Ezek 36:25-27 seems to indicate that the heart of stone will be "circumcised" (cut away) and be replaced with the heart of flesh, which the indwelling Spirit of God will address through the conscience (or law within them and written on their hearts).

In this regard the writer of Hebrews quotes the LXX and states that Jer 31:33 indicates that the laws of the Lord will be placed in the mind and written on the hearts. However, in Heb 10:16 the phrases are then inverted; that is, in the current era (or time of the mystery) the laws are placed in the heart and written on the mind. The implication is that obedience occurs through "the renewal of the mind" through Scripture learning and study (Rom 12:2 and Eph 4:23).

• Question 4: In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of G-d?

The Apostle Paul is very clear about his reaffirmation of Israel, which had received the gifts and promises of the Lord in the Hebrew Bible.

Romans 11:25-28 (NASB)
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery —so that you will not be wise in your own estimation— that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

  “The Deliverer will come from Zion,   
  He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”   
  27 “This is My covenant with them,   
  When I take away their sins.”

28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (emphasis added)

The Book of Acts in addition to various other New Testament epistles (to include many written by Paul) indicate that many Jews in the First Century rejected Jesus as the Christ. However, this "hardening of heart" was "partial" because some Jews (such as Paul) became converts to Christianity so not all Jews rejected Jesus as the Christ -- these Jews appear in Galatians 6:16 to be the "Israel of God" (Faithful Israeli Remnant during the mystery era). Notwithstanding that many Jews oppose Christianity (in the sense of rejecting Jesus as their Messiah), this opposition never can nullify the gifts and promises made to Israel through the lens and perspective of the Christian New Testament. Thus the mystery is only temporary until such time as the "Fullness of the Gentiles" occurs, and Israel continues the eschatological trajectory (Day of the Lord) as was understood by Peter when the New Covenant began.

• Question 5: Do you agree that this passage affirms the Torah, rather than invalidate her? That this passage does not allow any concept of invalidating the Torah?

The Torah contains the promises made to Abraham. According to the Christian New Testament, the promises to Abraham provide the basis to the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant. In other words, the Christian New Testament places priority of the Abrahamic Covenant over the Mosaic Covenant, since the former was based on unconditional promises whereas the latter was based on conditional behavior. Kindly click here for a more through discussion of these points.

Conclusion

In summary, the New Covenant forged with Israel will receive its complete fulfillemnt in the future. This fulfillment will include the placement and writing of the Laws of the Lord on the mind and heart, respectively (Jer 31:33); the indwelling presence of the Spirit of the Lord (Ez 11:19-21 and Joel 2:28-29) whose power will enable continued and faithful obedience (Ez 36:25-27); the re-gathering of all Israelites into the Promised Land (Jer 16:15 and Ez 34:13-16), which will include resurrection from the dead (Ez 37:12); the forgiveness of sins (Jer 31:34); and the universal knowledge of the Lord throughout the earth (Hab 2:14; Is 11:9; Jer 31:34). Finally, the removal of the curse from the ground appears to be another aspect of the New Covenant (Hosea 2:18, Is 11:6-9 and Ez 34:23).

The current time however in the current era is only an intercalation of time, in which Gentiles and Jews have joint access to partial fulfillment of the New Covenant through direct fusion, or union, with the mystical Body of Christ. This union was not revealed in the Hebrew Bible, and therefore appears as the mystery within the Christian New Testament.

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Are you saying that the Christian part of the Bible is in conflict with the Jewish part of the Bible? Because the Jeremiah 31 clearly says the new covenant is for Jews/Israel only. Even if you are "grafted", can Christians consider themselves Jews/Israel? I have not come across any "grafting" provision in the Jewish part of the Bible. –  Blessed Geek Oct 26 at 6:47
    
@BlessedGeek - I have not completed my post yet. (I am writing it in chunks.) Please hold on for more info this week. –  Joseph Oct 26 at 6:50
    
Without a provision of "grafting" or an equivalent wording ever being mentioned in the Jewish part of the Bible, don't you think it justifies someone willy-nilly writing an appendix to the deed of my house and then abruptly claiming ownership of my house? Because Islam itself make similar claims of superseding Jews and Christianity. Which means any religion could willy-nilly write an appendix to the Bible and claim to be part of Israel. –  Blessed Geek Oct 26 at 6:54
    
@BlessedGeek - please hold in there - I will add more this week. Very Respectfully, Joseph –  Joseph Oct 26 at 20:22
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it was actually Moses himself (in "the Jewish part of the Bible") who describes how gentiles (non Jews) can become part of (i.e. be 'grafted into') the nation of Israel. –  Richard yesterday

• What is this new covenant that is forged with Jews/Israel but not with non-Jews/non-Israel?

The covenant with Jeremiah is an expansion of the covenant with Abraham. With Abraham, God’s covenant has three aspects to it to be expanded by the latter covenants:

  1. Land: Expanded By Mosaic Covenant {Ex. 19 - Lev. 27; Deut.}

  2. Seed: Expanded by Davidic Covenant {2 Sam. 7:5-16; Psa. 89:1-37}

  3. Blessing: Expanded By Jeremiah Covenant { Jer. 31:31-39; 32:37-41; 33:14-26; Ezk. 36:22-38; 37: 1-14 }

• Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only? No. This covenant expands the blessing aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant in which all the world is blessed: both Jews and Gentiles. G-d said he would pour his spirit on all flesh and not just the Jews. The pouring out of his spirit includes gentiles. Acts 2:17 (KJV) 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

• What is the meaning of "I will give/present My law within them and write it upon their hearts"?

In Ancient Near Eastern Covenants, the people would keep a copy of the covenant contract in the temple of the deity to whom it belonged. Here God is saying his covenant instructions would be moved out of a man made temple and written on all believers’ hearts. This is referring to Torah in this case. We can call this a Ketubah or Jewish marriage contract which the Israelites said “I do” at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
Exodus 24:3 (KJV) 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.

• In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of G-d?

When you view each covenant I listed they are all eternal. Some say Moses’ covenant was conditional but this is wrong. Supplications of the Covenant dealing with blessings and curses are conditional. In other words if you obey the instructions then you will enjoy the blessings of the covenant. If you disobey then you will suffer the curses. This can be likened to a child/ parent relationship. Do what you are asked and all is well. Do what you want and you are punished. But this doesn’t annul the covenant itself. Keep in mind the Sabbath is the eternal (Exodus 31:13) sign of the Mosaic covenant. If the covenant isn’t eternal then God lied about the sign as well. One covenant cannot annul the previous since in this case we are talking about the covenants of G-d. Modifications can be made but not such that one ceases to exist. At the last Supper of Jesus, he talks about his blood covenant and uses the wine and bread to refer back to scripture that also uses the phrase “the blood of my covenant.” This meal was the ratification meal for the Jeremiah covenant. When a covenant is modified/reaffirmed there usually has to be a death of the Monarch/deity for this type of meal to occur. Then the new deity coming along will affirm the original covenant which is what Jesus was doing. He became the heir to the throne when he resurrected. Technically he was not the King of the Jews until he resurrected because he had to inherit the Kingdom. The previous ruler had to be dead for the heir to take over. This does not do away with the nature of Israel and her role but affirms by virtue of the covenants. The Messiah will rule from his chosen nation, Israel-not a gentile nation.

• Do you agree that this passage affirms the Torah, rather than invalidate her? That this passage does not allow any concept of invalidating the Torah?

I agree that Torah is affirmed. I am however of the mind that Torah is the constitution of the land of Israel. Gentiles were never expected to observe Torah in order to have a relationship with G-d. Galatians is often used, incorrectly, to say that Torah is done away with. Within the context, Paul calls Oral Traditions of the Pharisees “the law of sin and death.” This is a direct link back to when Eve quoted G-d’s instructions to the serpent. She added something (that wasn’t said to Adam) which was the command “not to touch the fruit.” She touched the fruit and she did not die. But God never said not to touch the fruit.

Genesis 3:3 (KJV) 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. So she must have thought well the serpent is right and if I can touch it and not die then I can eat it and not die. So adding to Torah and taking away from Torah is effectively what Paul calls the “Law of sin and death” when he describes Pharisaic traditions. They had built a “fence around the law” by way of their interpretations and additions to scripture. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about this (Lk 11:52) and accused them of preventing people from entering into the kingdom and then did not enter in themselves. This was by way of Oral traditions which were so restrictive that one trying to follow them literally could not follow written Torah. Thus they were instead following the “law of sin and death.” Galation’s is about two Torahs, one of Liberty, G-d’s Torah, and one that leads to sin and death, Oral Tradtions. Jesus said, “blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it,” (Luke 11:28) which is a connection back to the “I do” at Mt. Sinai and his Torah.

@Blessed Geek

I answered your remarks here:

  1. Isaiah 2 says the nations will say come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and worship the God of Jacob. Zechariah 8:22-23 reminds us that there will come a time when the people of the world will say let me go to the house of the Lord with you I want to worship your God. That is reflecting on the traditional Jewish understanding of the role of the Torah and the covenants in the messianic age. The Jeremiah Covenant can not be built on a single verse. Jeremiah 31:31 is merely a starting point.
  2. Paul was a Pharisee and his thought on Oral Torah vs Written Torah is not "Christian" but Jewish in nature. After all its Hebrew thought not to add or take away from written Torah:

    Deuteronomy 12:32 (KJV) 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

    If Oral Tradition keeps one from observing Written Torah then the Oral Tradition causes one to sin. This is Paul, the Pharisee's, point, that written Torah is to be observed first in the life of the faithful.

Thats as far as I will take my answers. Any further and I may as well post an entire book on it. Thanks for the feed back though!


Hegg, Tim. The Letter Writer Pauls Background and Torah Perspective. Tacoma: FIRST FRUITS OF ZION, 2002. Print.

Murray, John. The Covenant Of Grace. Phillipsburg: Presbiterian and Reformed, 1953. Print.

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Which means you have to depend on the Christian documents to reach your conclusions. Such that for us who depend on the Hebrew part of the Bible alone would not be able to reach your conclusion, and will conclude that the new covenant is for Jews only. And if consider the Christian documents, we would merely conclude that the Christian documents are in conflict with the Jewish documents. –  Blessed Geek Oct 26 at 6:38
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"This was by way of Oral traditions which were so restrictive that one trying to follow them literally could not follow written Torah." That is the opinion of certain Christians. Making such a statement is an unfriendly indictment of Jewish laws. –  Blessed Geek Oct 26 at 7:04
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@user6053 Short of writing an entire volume, this is a good answer. The question isn't that G_d made a Covenant with Israel, but in Jeremiah, He made a Covenant in which all the nations of the world would be blessed by it. If Israel were the only nation on earth, then she would be the only nation blessed; but because G_d visits Israel and writes His Torah on their hearts, then ALL nations are blessed through their relationship with Israel...(Acts 2/Joel 2) –  user2479 Oct 26 at 14:31
    
@user2479 Thank you. Covenant Theology when correctly understood is a wonderful thing to know. –  user6053 Oct 26 at 20:34
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Let us continue this discussion in chat. –  user6053 Oct 27 at 4:16

Clearly this question is expansive, so forgive me if I do not give direct support or citation for everything. Rather I want to put forward the basic idea of an interpretation and would love to continue in conversation.

Question

1. What is this new covenant that is forged with Jews/Israel but not with non-Jews/non-Israel?

It is actually quite important that you noted the distinction between Judah and Israel. It is a distinction that seems to be commonly ignored even though most Major and Minor Prophets speak about both as separate entities. The House of Israel is the Northern Kingdom and is lead by the House of Ephraim, Joseph's name is also often used to distinguish. Judah is the leader of the Southern Kingdom. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Jeremiah 31 before you continue. The first section speaks directly to Israel and names Ephraim as His firstborn in verse 9. (Jer 31:2-22). Then a small section speaks directly to Judah in verses 23-6. Both are spoken to from verse 27 on where it names both the house of Israel and the house of Judah as the recipients. You should disregard most section headers in your Bible at this point as the first half of the chapter clearly flows into verse 31 and forward, not a new section.

Now that we understand this prophecy is for not just the Jews or Christians, but for Judah (Jews) and Israel. For those that immediately disregard this saying that either 1) all Israel is among the Jews or 2) that the Lost Tribes of Israel are just that, lost and simply destroyed I'd encourage you to read Jer 31:35-37 following the new covenant verses.

Jer 31:37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.”

It is basically a rhetorical statement saying that he will NOT forget all the offspring of Israel, which would include the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom. Also consider Ezekiel 37:15-22.

2. Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only?

I do believe it is for the descendents of Judah and Israel. However, when we dig deeper on who the descendents of Israel include, it becomes a lot less exclusive. Also we see in Isaiah 56 that the foreigner may join himself to the Lord.

Isaiah 56:7-8 for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

The people of the house of Israel have been scattered literally around the world. Their descendents are among all nations of the world. This is not some heretical theology. It is simply drawing the line between Genesis 48:15-20 and James 1:1 and 1 Peter 1:1-2

Genesis 48:19 Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude[d] of nations.

Ephraim was declared Jacob's firstborn and inherited the Abrahamic covenant. Remember when Jer 31:9 calls Ephraim God's firstborn?

Then we consider James and 1 Peter:

James 1:1, James, a servant[a] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

1 Peter 1:1, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia 1 Peter 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully

These passages are directed to Israelites in the Dispersion, not just Gentile believers. Though they were, in a way, Gentiles, if we understand the term "ethnos" ἔθνος in it's basic meaning of non-Jew.

I fully understand the immensity of what I am saying. It is something I have struggled with and questioned and studied for the better part of a year now. It is however, beautifully simple. It is also far bigger than this answer, but as I said when I opened I am going to have to keep moving so forgive me for only lightly touching on things.

3. What is the meaning of "I will give/present My law within them and write it upon their hearts"?

I'll save some time here with the simple answer. This is the Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as given to believers at Pentecost in Acts 2.

4. In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of G-d?

Yes. Again, Jeremiah 31:33 echos Ezekiel 37:23 speaking of how the two houses will be reunited, no longer divided into two Kingdoms as they were in Zechariah 11 with the breaking of the Staff of Union, and He will be their God and they shall be His people.

5. Do you agree that this passage affirms the Torah, rather than invalidate her? That this passage does not allow any concept of invalidating the Torah?

Basically, the Abrahamic covenant is alive and well. From Ephraim to the House of Israel to the Dispersion to them receiving the Gospel of Christ and one day to their reunion with Judah and their gathering from the four winds (language used both for the gathering of Israel in the Prophets and the gathering of the Church)

So, that is quite a lot, but I did my best to hit the major points. I know this understanding is probably not familiar to most of you, I just ask you keep your mind open, study the Scriptures and pray. There are honestly countless more passages I could quote and refer you to to paint the larger picture. Genesis 48, Zechariah 10-12, Ezekiel 37, Jeremiah 31, all of Hosea, Isaiah 60 and many more smaller passages.

I will make a final comment to clarify, this is NOT replacement theology. I am not saying the church has replaced "Israel" and that we can just insert "the Church" wherever we see "house of Israel" I am saying that the house of Israel continues to this day among the nations, that they were refined in their exile and dispersed, seeded in a sense, prepared to accept the coming Gospel of their Messiah. The Church was founded on these descendents and many current Christians could trace their ancestry to Israel at least in part. Modern genetics support this as well. And of course, foreigners and true gentiles still may join themselves to God's people and they will all be reunited, Israel and Jew and Gentile, in the end days.

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Translation of Hebrew Text

The Hebrew text of Jer. 31:31-34 (Jer. 31:30-33 Masoretic) states,

לא הִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים נְאֻם יַהְוֶה וְכָרַתִּי אֶת בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת בֵּית יְהוּדָה בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה לב לֹא כַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אֶת אֲבוֹתָם בְּיוֹם הֶחֱזִיקִי בְיָדָם לְהוֹצִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם אֲשֶׁר הֵמָּה הֵפֵרוּ אֶת בְּרִיתִי וְאָנֹכִי בָּעַלְתִּי בָם נְאֻם יַהְוֶה לג כִּי זֹאת הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר אֶכְרֹת אֶת בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחֲרֵי הַיָּמִים הָהֵם נְאֻם יַהְוֶה נָתַתִּי אֶת תּוֹרָתִי בְּקִרְבָּם וְעַל לִבָּם אֶכְתְּבֶנָּה וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְהֵמָּה יִהְיוּ לִי לְעָם לד וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ עוֹד אִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו לֵאמֹר דְּעוּ אֶת יַהְוֶה כִּי כוּלָּם יֵדְעוּ אוֹתִי לְמִקְּטַנָּם וְעַד גְּדוֹלָם נְאֻם יַהְוֶה כִּי אֶסְלַח לַעֲו‍ֹנָם וּלְחַטָּאתָם לֹא אֶזְכָּר עוֹד

which may be translated as,

31 "Behold, the days are coming," said Yahveh, "and I will cut a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I cut with their fathers in the day I held their hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt, which covenant they broke, although I was their husband," said Yahveh. 33 "For this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days," said Yahveh. "I will place My law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 And a man will no longer teach his neighbor, nor will a man [teach] his brother, saying, 'Know Yahveh,' for all of them will know Me, from the least of them until the greatest of them," said Yahveh, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will no longer remember their sin."

A New Covenant Implies an Old Covenant

The prophet Jeremiah prophesies of a "new covenant" (בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה) which is evidently to be "cut" in the future, as indicated by the phrase "the days are coming" (יָמִים בָּאִים) (v. 31). This new covenant will be cut between Yahveh Himself and the house of Israel and house of Judah (v. 31).

The prophet compares the new covenant to the covenant that Yahveh cut with the fathers after they came out of Egypt. This old covenant, which is implied by the phrase "new covenant" in v. 31, must then refer to the covenant inaugurated at Sinai (Exo. 24:3-8). The old covenant stipulated that the Israelites obey all the words that Yahveh had commanded them (Exo. 24:7-8), but soon after the covenant was inaugurated, the multitude of Israelites had already broken it (v. 32 cp. Exo. 32:1-6).

Hence, Yahveh promises that the new covenant would not be like the old covenant that Yahveh had made with their fathers (v. 32: "לֹא כַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אֶת אֲבוֹתָם"). The conjunction כִּי (v. 33) commences the explanantion of the distinction between the covenants:

|__________________________________New Covenant__________________||______________________Old Covenant____________________|
| law placed within them (v. 33)                                 || law placed before them (Deu. 4:8)                    |
| law written upon their hearts (v. 33)                          || law written upon stone tablets (Deu. 4:13)           |
| Yahveh/ the Holy Spirit teaches men (Isa. 54:13 cp. Isa. 11:2) || men teach others about Yahveh (v. 34)                |

In the old covenant, men (particularly the priests) taught one another about Yahveh, particularly by reading the Law of Moses, the word of Yahveh. However, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied that men would no longer teach their neighbors or brothers to know Yahveh. Yet, all would know Yahveh, from the least to the greatest. How can this be? By what means can this knowledge be imparted if no longer by reading the Torah? The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of knowledge (רוּחַ דַּעַת) (Isa. 11:2), would teach the Israelites, and thus, they would be taught by Yahveh Himself (Isa. 54:13 cp. John 14:26).

The New Law

The prophet Isaiah prophesied of a time in the future when a law would be promulgated from Zion, i.e. Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3).

2 And it shall come to pass during the last days, the mountain of the house of Yahveh shall be prepared at the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all the nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, “Come and let’s let go up to the mountain of Yahveh, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for a law shall originate from Zion and the word of Yahveh from Jerusalem.”

ב וְהָיָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים נָכוֹן יִהְיֶה הַר בֵּית יַהְוֶה בְּרֹאשׁ הֶהָרִים וְנִשָּׂא מִגְּבָעוֹת וְנָהֲרוּ אֵלָיו כָּל הַגּוֹיִם ג וְהָלְכוּ עַמִּים רַבִּים וְאָמְרוּ לְכוּ וְנַעֲלֶה אֶל הַר יַהְוֶה אֶל בֵּית אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב וְיֹרֵנוּ מִדְּרָכָיו וְנֵלְכָה בְּאֹרְחֹתָיו כִּי מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה וּדְבַר יַהְוֶה מִירוּשָׁלִָם

This "law" that originates from Zion (מִצִּיּוֹן תֵּצֵא תוֹרָה) could not be referring to the Law of Moses which, at the time Isaiah prophesied, had already originated from Sinai. The very fact that the prophet Isaiah refers to a law originating or being promulgated from Zion/Jerusalem indicates a "new law."

The Law of Moses was known as “the book of the Law” (סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה) as well as “the book of the covenant” (סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית). Written therein were “the words of the Law” (דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה) and “the words of the covenant” (דִּבְרֵי הַבְּרִית). In other words, the Law of Moses was the covenant --- the old covenant.

|__________________________________The Law of Moses____________________________________|
| "the book of the law" (2 Kings 22:11)  || "the book of the covenant" (2 Kings 23:2)  |
| "the words of the law" (2 Kings 23:24) || "the words of the covenant" (2 Chr. 34:31) |

The synonymity of "the law [of Moses]" and "the [old] covenant" is thus evident. Therefore, when the prophet Isaiah prophesies of a new law, or the prophet Jeremiah prophesies of a new covenant, they refer to the same thing, a new covenant (unlike the old covenant) to replace the old covenant, being a new law (unlike the old law) to replace the old law, the law of Moses.

Some might protest that "covenant" does not always equate to "law." This is sometimes true in the case of the Abrahamic, Noahic, and Davidic covenants, to name a few, for they were all unconditional convenants, not contingent on obedience, but rather on Yahveh's own faithfulness to His promises. However, in the case of the law of Moses, a bilateral covenant contingent on Israel's obedience to all its words, law = covenant.

In Midrash Otiot deRabbi Akiva, Folio 27, it is written,

And the Holy One, blessed be He, interprets the meanings of a new law in their presence which, in the future, the Holy One, blessed be He, shall give them by the Messiah.

והקב"ה דורש לפמיהן טעמי תורה חדשה שעתיד הקב"ה ליתן על ידי משיח

Even some rabbis did not regard the Law of Moses as unable to be superseded.

In Midrash Kohelet Rabba, Chapter 71.8, it is written,

The law (i.e., of Moses) that man learns in this world is vanity in the presence of the law of the Messiah.

תורה שאדם למד בעוה”ז הבל היא לפני תורתו של משיח

To be clear, the Law of Moses did not contain any promises of eternal life even if the Israelites had successfully kept all the words of the old covenant, i.e. the Law of Moses. Rather, any mention of prolonged life was only in reference to prolonged days on earth in the land of Canaan (cp. Deu. 4:40). Therefore, a new covenant, wherein Yahveh would forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sins (i.e., their breaking of the covenant) was promised (v. 34). Only then could they inherit eternal life in the world to come.

However, the old covenant was actually a marriage covenant, hence "which covenant they broke, although I was their husband" (v. 32; cp. Jer. 3:8). Adultery is punishable by death (Lev. 20:10); therefore, the wife (i.e., national Israel) who committed adultery had to die. I wish to discuss this more at length, but it would be off-topic. Suffice to say, some mechanism had to be conceived by which national Israel would die (because of their sins) yet be resurrected and participate in the new covenant wherein they could inherit eternal life.

Questions

  • Do you agree that this new covenant is forged with Jews/Israel only?

The text doesn't say "only"; therefore, I can't answer positively. If the question implies the exclusion of Gentiles, then allow me to elaborate. Yahveh promised Abraham, "all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in your seed" (Gen. 22:18), a promise which, unless Jesus Christ is the Messiah, remains unfulfilled to this day. By being "in Christ," who is the seed of Abraham, everyone, both Jew and Gentile, are blessed and participate in the new covenant. Even if we should understand it as "the house of Israel and house of Judah only," Jesus Christ is Israel (Isa. 49:3). Therefore, anyone "in Christ" is "in Israel," a member of his body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:27), and thus, a member of the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). The apostle Paul even distinguished between "carnal Israelites" and "spiritual Israelites" (i.e., anyone "in Christ") when he wrote (1 Cor. 10:18),

Behold Israel according to the flesh. Are not those who eat the sacrifices participants of the altar?

βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα οὐχὶ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσίν

By saying "Israel according to the flesh" (τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα), the apostle implies the existence of another Israel, that is, "Israel according to the spirit." Otherwise, he would have simply said, "Israel," period.

As St. Augustine wrote,1 (English | Latin)

And thus the spiritual Israel is made up, not of one nation, but of all the nations which were promised to the fathers in their seed, that is, in Christ.

Sic fit Israel spiritalis, non unius gentis, sed omnium quae promissae sunt patribus in eorum semine, quod est Christus.

  • What is the meaning of "I will place My law within them and write it upon their hearts"?

Yahveh places His Holy Spirit within the Israelites (cp. Eze. 36:26-27). The Holy Spirit instructs the Israelite in Yahveh's will; the Israelite is thus taught by God Himself.

  • In the last stanza which I present, is this a reaffirmation or a modification of Jews/Israel's role as people of God?

The Israelites remain God's people if they participate in the new covenant, as the new covenant replaces the old covenant. In the old covenant, recall that Israelites affirmed their willingness to participate in the covenant by agreeing to obey all the words of the covenant. Similarly, the new covenant is a bilateral covenant in which an Israelite must willingly choose to participate. Those who do not participate cannot be partakers of the covenant and its promises.

  • Do you agree that this passage affirms the Torah, rather than invalidate her? That this passage does not allow any concept of invalidating the Torah?

Absolutely not. A new covenant implies a new law. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that a law would originate from Zion, and with respect to the old covenant, the Law of Moses was the old covenant. Therefore, the origination of another law implies the abolishing of the Law of Moses (and old covenant) and the inauguration of a new covenant (and new law).

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The proposal of a new law is a bit of a stretch. Should we accept Islam as a new law? Why not accept Qabalah as the new law? Why not accept Talmud as the new law? –  Blessed Geek 5 hours ago
    
Why can't we accept a new proclamation of the same old law? –  Blessed Geek 5 hours ago
    
@BlessedGeek: Great questions. If you wouldn't mind creating a new post for those questions, I would love to offer my thoughts. I'm not sure I should include those in my post as the OP didn't originally ask them. My response is quite long as is. Thank you. :) –  H3br3wHamm3r81 2 hours ago

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