[b-hebrew] New or Renewed in Jeremiah 31:31?

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 13 08:21:41 EDT 2007

Dear Yohanan,
> I look at context of the text, along with other language idioms, and
> expressions, and draw conclusions from such, and as you mentioned concerning
> the אָרֶץ חֲדָשָׁה and שָׁמַיִם חֲדָשִׁים of Isaiah 65:17 - is this really a
> new earth, and new skys (heavens), or merely a rejuvenation of the old, thus
> making it somehting new, something unknown to the current generation?
The heavens and earth are new enough that the term new can be used. Here 
is some NT verses describing the process that leads to a new heavens and 
earth, all written by ancient Jews of the first century:

2Pet. 3:10-13  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The 
heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by 
fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since 
everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you 
to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the 
day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the 
destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the 
heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new 
heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Rev. 20:11  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on 
it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.

Rev. 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven 
and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

HH: I don't object to the term "renewed" heavens and earth, for the text 
does not indicate that the old heavens and earth totally evaporate. But 
the issue arose because somebody was claiming that the word meant 
"renewed covenant," but the context is discussing a distinct difference 
and contrast, which does not seem to suit the idea of "renewed." If 
something is not like a former covenant, it does not seem like a renewed 
form of the same covenant. And again, the Hebrew word does not show any 
OT case where it clearly means "renewed," but many, many cases where it 
must mean "new."

> I think we all understand, whether Jew, or Christian, or Agnostic on the
> forum that ִנֵּה יָמִים בָּאִים, נְאֻם-יְהוָה; וְכָרַתִּי, אֶת-בֵּית
> יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת-בֵּית יְהוּדָה--בְּרִית חֲדָשָׁה. denotes that this בְּרִית
> חֲדָשָׁה is to be made with the בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל and בֵּית יְהוּדָה, for I
> do not think this is something that can linguistically be argued
> against. The issue is if from the language used can we derive what this
> בְּרִית is, and is not? And I think where it states נָתַתִּי אֶת-תּוֹרָתִי
> בְּקִרְבָּם, וְעַל-לִבָּם אֶכְתְּבֶנָּה; וְהָיִיתִי לָהֶם לֵאלֹהִים,
> וְהֵמָּה יִהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם (I will cut my Torah in their inward parts, a
> upon their hearts I will write it, and I will be for them, their God; and
> they will be for me, my people) is evident to what it is, and is not. But
> the issue would come down to what תּוֹרָתִי means, or does not mean, since
> it has been suggested that this means something other than the miswoth, the
> huqim, and mishpatim found within Sefer HaTorah. And to truly understand the
> meaning of this word I think it is best to look in other places through out
> the Miq'ra at how the word is used:
> Sefer Hoshe'a (Hosea) 8:1 uses this to speak of the Torah given through
> Mosheh bin-Amram (אֶל-חִכְּךָ שֹׁפָר, כַּנֶּשֶׁר עַל-בֵּית יְהוָה--יַעַן
> עָבְרוּ בְרִיתִי, וְעַל-תּוֹרָתִי פָּשָׁעוּ.).
> Sefer Yishayahu (Isaiah) 51:7 also uses this to speak of the Torah given
> through Mosheh bin-Amram ( שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי יֹדְעֵי צֶדֶק, עַם תּוֹרָתִי
> בְלִבָּם:  אַל-תִּירְאוּ חֶרְפַּת אֱנוֹשׁ, וּמִגִּדֻּפֹתָם אַל-תֵּחָתּוּ.).
> In Sefer Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) chapter 16 verse 11 we also see him use this
> term to speak of the Torah given through Mosheh bin-Amram (וְאָמַרְתָּ
> אֲלֵיהֶם, עַל אֲשֶׁר-עָזְבוּ אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם אוֹתִי נְאֻם-יְהוָה, וַיֵּלְכוּ
> אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, וַיַּעַבְדוּם וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לָהֶם; וְאֹתִי
> עָזָבוּ, וְאֶת-תּוֹרָתִי לֹא שָׁמָרוּ.) . Chapter 9 verse 12 of the same
> book also does the same.
> I think after looking through the Miq'ra, the only place where I could find
> תּוֹרָתִי not to speak about the Torah given through Mosheh bin-Amram was in
> Sefer Mishlei where Shlomo bin-Dawidh uses the term to speak about his
> instructions to his children.

HH: These are good comments, and I am not claiming that God's law is 
completely unlike the Mosaic law. Without any doubt the Mosaic law 
expresses God's eternal moral law. However, the Mosaic law contains many 
provisions that may not express God's eternal relations with mankind. 
That is, there may be any number of provisions in it which reflect the 
needs of the people of Israel as God found them after their slavery in 
Egypt. The Mosaic law is geared for a particular people at a particular 
time in history. So the law that God places in the hearts of his people 
at the end of this age may differ at numerous points of detail from the 
many provisions of the Mosaic covenant, but it will not differ at all 
from the essential moral and spiritual truths enshrined in that law.

Harold Holmyard

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