World English Bible Jeremiah 31:22

How long will you go here and there, you backsliding daughter? for Yahweh has created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall encompass a man.

A related question is this: What is the meaning of "encircled" in Jeremiah 31:22?

The most favored answered from there was this:

תסובב tesovev, literally means encircles, but should be translated here metaphorically to mean “court” or “woo” as in "courting a woman."

I am coming at this verse from a different angle. I want to emphasize on the newness of this apparently new thing.

Before Jeremiah, we have in Isaiah 4:1

In that day seven women will take hold of one man and say, "We will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace!"

Now, that favored answer does not seem so new to me. So my question is this: What exactly is new about this new thing spoken in Jeremiah 31:22?

  • Good question. Up-voted +1. The previous answer did not cite any scripture or examine the Hebrew or quote any reference regarding the suggestion to translate תסובב tesovev "metaphorically". It was a mere expression of opinion.I believe it is literal, as the citation below indicates.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 22, 2020 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


The verse is mysterious : some call it 'obscure'. But some have seen an undeniable expression of the coming New testament in the few words of this remarkable statement.

The 'new thing' is the new creation. And the beginning of that new creation is the birth of Jesus Christ, supernaturally - a woman shall compass a man.

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; [Revelation 3:14, KJV]

From Jamieson-Fausset Brown's Commentary on Jeremiah 31:22 : Biblehub

The Christian fathers (Augustine, &c.) almost unanimously interpreted it of the Virgin Mary compassing Christ in her womb. This view is favored:—(1) By the connection; it gives a reason why the exiles should desire a return to their country, namely, because Christ was conceived there.

(2) The word "created" implies a divine power put forth in the creation of a body in the Virgin's womb by the Holy Ghost for the second Adam, such as was exerted in creating the first Adam (Lu 1:35; Heb 10:5).

(3) The phrase, "a new thing," something unprecedented; a man whose like had never existed before, at once God and man; a mother out of the ordinary course of nature, at once mother and virgin. An extraordinary mode of generation; one conceived by the Holy Ghost without man is specified, so it is likely the Holy Spirit designated the place of His being conceived.

(4) The specification "in the land" (not "earth," as English Version), namely, of Judah, where probably Christ was conceived, in Hebron (compare Lu 1:39, 42, 44, with Jos 21:11) or else in Nazareth, "in the territory" of Israel, to whom Jer 31:5, 6, 15, 18, 21 refer; His birth was at Beth-lehem (Mic 5:2; Mt 2:5, 6). As the place of His nativity, and of His being reared (Mt 2:23), and of His preaching (Hag 2:7; Mal 3:1), are

(5) The Hebrew for "woman" implies an individual, as the Virgin Mary, rather than a collection of persons.

(6) The restoration of Israel is grounded on God's covenant in Christ, to whom, therefore, allusion is naturally made as the foundation of Israel's hope (compare Isa 7:14). The Virgin Mary's conception of Messiah in the womb answers to the "Virgin of Israel" (therefore so called, Jer 31:21), that is, Israel and her sons at their final restoration, receiving Jesus as Messiah (Zec 12:10).

(7) The reference to the conception of the child Messiah accords with the mention of the massacre of "children" referred to in Jer 31:15 (compare Mt 2:17).

(8) The Hebrew for "man" is properly "mighty man," a term applied to God (De 10:17); and to Christ (Zec 13:7; compare Ps 45:3; Isa 9:6) [Calovius].


Could the “new thing” in Jeremiah 31:22 be a prophecy of the virgin birth?

A simple answer," the new thing " HAS NOTHING TO DO "as a prophecy of the virgin birth. The new thing is — ["a female shall compass (woo) a man.”] AMPC, — ["Israel will embrace her God.”] NLT. But what does it mean?

It certainly has nothing to do with a virgin birth. The prophecy in Jeremiah chapter 31 refers to the resettlement of the Israelites from their exile in Babylon. Please note some other translations of the verse for greater clarification.

Jeremiah 31:22 (AMPC)

22 How long will you waver and hesitate [to return], O you backsliding daughter? For the Lord has created a [a]new thing in the land [of Israel]: a female shall compass (woo, win, and protect) a man.

Jeremiah 31:22 NLT

How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new to happen— Israel will embrace her God.”

Jeremiah 31:21-22 (NASB) The words "unfaithfulness" and "woo" inserted in the verse by me''

21 “Set up for yourself roadmarks, Place for yourself guideposts; Direct your [a]mind to the highway, The way by which you went. Return, O virgin of Israel, Return to these your cities. 22 “How long will you go here and there,(in unfaithfulness) O faithless daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth— A woman will encompass ( woo) a man.”

God referred to the nation of Israel as his wife - "symbolic wife! -(Isaiah 54:5) and in the verses above God invites the virgin of Israel, the Israelites, in other words, to return back to him and asks: "How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? (NASB) and " How long will you waver and hesitate [to return], "{AMPC]

[To return] back to him, that is to set their hearts and minds on the roads and signposts that leads them back to their God-their figurative husband, God will then put his spirit in her " Like a woman that would "woo" a man to get into a good relationship with him, likewise the nation Israel would "woo" God, pressure around him in order to get into good relations with him, their figurative husband according to Law of Covenant.

  • The OP already mentioned that this interpretation is not new. Can you elaborate what are new in your answer?
    – user35953
    Jul 23, 2020 at 22:27

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