Jeremiah 31:22: Proverb, Promise, or Prophecy? Part I -- By: Charles Lee Feinberg

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 123:492 (Oct 1966)
Article: Jeremiah 31:22: Proverb, Promise, or Prophecy? Part I
Author: Charles Lee Feinberg

Jeremiah 31:22: Proverb, Promise, or Prophecy?
Part I

Charles Lee Feinberg

[Charles Lee Feinberg, Dean and Professor of Semitics and Old Testament Literature, Talbot Theological Seminary, La Mirada, California.]

[Editor’s note: In this study which will be printed in two parts, the first, in addition to introducing the problem, will discuss interpretations which regard the passage as a proverb and as a promise. The second article will discuss the interpretation which regards it as a prophecy and will present the author’s conclusions.]

[Author’s note: In two previous articles in this quarterly (“The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament,” Oct 1960, pp. 313-24; and “The Virgin Birth in the Old Testament and Isaiah 7:14, ” July, 1962, pp. 251-58), the writer began a treatment of the crucial passages on the virgin birth in the Old Testament, a trilogy completed with this study.]

In any discussion of the doctrine of the virgin birth in the Old Testament, Isaiah 9:6–7 (Hebrew, 9:5–6) and Micah 5:2 (Hebrew, 5:1) cannot be overlooked. The first text reads: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this (ASV).”

Unquestionably, the prophet is predicting the birth of One who is altogether human (a child and a son), and at the same time is altogether divine, indicated by an unusual accumulation of titles applicable to deity alone. Moreover, this divine-human One has royal rights linked with the Davidic dynasty.

The second passage is equally familiar: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be

ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting (ASV).” In the same eighth century Micah is foretelling of the coming of One who is born in time in a specific geographical locality, but at the same time has carried on activities from eternity. Again, there is the combination of the divine and the human in the incomparable theanthropic personality of the Messiah...

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