1 "In that day," says the LORD, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.
2 I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. I will again come to give rest to the people of Israel."
3 Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
4 I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.
5 Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there.
6 The day will come when watchmen will shout from the hill country of Ephraim, `Come, let us go up to Jerusalem* to worship the LORD our God.' "1
7 Now this is what the LORD says: "Sing with joy for Israel*! Shout for the greatest of nations! Shout out with praise and joy: `Save your people, O LORD, the remnant of Israel!'2
8 For I will bring them from the north and from the distant corners of the earth. I will not forget the blind and lame, the expectant mothers and women about to give birth. A great company will return!
9 Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and not stumble. For I am Israel's father, and Ephraim is my oldest child.
10 "Listen to this message from the LORD, you nations of the world; proclaim it in distant coastlands: The LORD, who scattered his people, will gather them together and watch over them as a shepherd does his flock.
11 For the LORD has redeemed Israel from those too strong for them.
12 They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem. They will be radiant because of the many gifts the LORD has given them--the good crops of wheat, wine, and oil, and the healthy flocks and herds. Their life will be like a watered garden, and all their sorrows will be gone.
13 The young women will dance for joy, and the men--old and young--will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
14 I will supply the priests with an abundance of offerings. I will satisfy my people with my bounty. I, the LORD, have spoken!"
15 This is what the LORD says: "A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah--mourning and weeping unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted--for her children are dead."
16 But now the LORD says, "Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you. Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future," says the LORD. "Your children will come again to their own land.
18 I have heard Israel* saying, `You disciplined me severely, but I deserved it. I was like a calf that needed to be trained for the yoke and plow. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the LORD my God.3
19 I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.'
20 "Is not Israel still my son, my darling child?" asks the LORD. "I had to punish him, but I still love him. I long for him and surely will have mercy on him.
21 "Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Mark well the path by which you came. Come back again, my virgin Israel; return to your cities here.
22 How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the LORD will cause something new and different to happen--Israel will embrace her God.*"4
23 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "When I bring them back again, the people of Judah and its cities will again say, `The LORD bless you--O righteous home, O holy mountain!'
24 And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness.
25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing."
26 At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.