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Jeremiah 31:34 promises some sort of cessation of religious teaching under this covenant made with Israel:

וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ עוֹד אִישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת־אָחִיו לֵאמֹר דְּעוּ אֶת־יְהֹוָה כִּי־כוּלָּם יֵדְעוּ אוֹתִי לְמִקְּטַנָּם וְעַד־גְּדוֹלָם נְאֻם־יְהֹוָה

No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, “Heed G-D ”; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me—declares G-D. (JPS 2023)

  • Who is "they" and "them" in this prophetic verse?
  • What is being promised here? Will all yeshivot, Jewish day schools, etc be closed under this prophecy? What level of knowledge will "all of them" have?

2 Answers 2

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As is often the case, I am mystified by the JPS translation in Jer 31:34. The two words we should "heed" are:

  • יָדַע (yada) = "to know". The JPS translation "heed" is quite interpretive.
  • יְהוָ֑ה (YHWH) = the tetragammaton, "The LORD". It is not the word "G_d" nor "me".

Hence the twice occurring phrase in Jer 31:34 is, "know the LORD".

The prophet's teaching in Jer 31:34 is rather simple and uncomplicated - the passage prophesies of a time (then still future) when teaching about "the LORD" will be unnecessary, "because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD."

Concomitantly with this time, the prophecy also predicts that, "after those days, the LORD, I will put My law [Lit: Torah] in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people." Jer 31:33. Thus, the "they" and "them" are God's covenant people, committed Christians now.

This is referring to the "New Covenant", V31, as confirmed in Heb 8:7-12 and Heb 10:15-17. Thus, the "they" and "them" are God's covenant people, committed Christians now. This will ultimately be fulfilled when, as described by Paul in 1 Cor 13:12 -

Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

... and also by John in Rev 22:4 -

They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

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Teaching about God will always continue, even after people fully know him and heed him. Moreover, children still need to be taught, even if their parents hear and obey. So we need not fear for the future of the yeshivot or their Christian equivalents.

In context, Jeremiah speaks of the new covenant.

כִּ֣י זֹ֣את הַבְּרִ֡ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶכְרֹת֩ אֶת־בֵּ֨ית יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אַחֲרֵ֨י הַיָּמִ֤ים הָהֵם֙ נְאֻם־יְהֹוָ֔ה נָתַ֤תִּי אֶת־תּֽוֹרָתִי֙ בְּקִרְבָּ֔ם וְעַל־לִבָּ֖ם אֶכְתְּבֶ֑נָּה וְהָיִ֤יתִי לָהֶם֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים וְהֵ֖מָּה יִֽהְיוּ־לִ֥י לְעָֽם׃

But such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days—declares GOD: I will put My Teaching into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Whether understood in Jewish or Christian terms, this refers to a situation in which people have internalized God's teaching. They do not require external authorities to tell them how to act but follow their consciences, thereby heeding God. Study will not stop however, either for adults or for children. Just as an artist does not stop studying art once he has mastered its principles, so human beings will always want to study God's nature, ways and history even after we have internalized his Law. "All of us" will know enough of God's teaching to practice the Golden Rule and overcome the tendency to sin.

Regarding "they" and "them," these terms should be understood generically, the same as "one shall no longer say to the other." In a particular sense, it will no longer be necessary for teachers and prophets to tell kings and people to heed the LORD. But neither will it be necessary for any adult to correct any another adult by declaring "know/heed the LORD."

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  • Is there not also an implied promise of more direct contact with God through the Holy Spirit? Apr 22 at 19:12
  • Depends on whether one looks at through Jewish or Christian eyes. Apr 22 at 19:47

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