This is adapted from my notes for today’s daily reading from the Chumash (Pentateuch). If you email me at email@example.com, I can add you to the daily email list for notes on the Chumash and the gospels.
An earlier promise very similar to this one is in Deuteronomy 4:29-31.
Tigay (JPS Torah Commentary: Deuteronomy) points out the repeated use, with different connotations, of the word שוב shuv (return, turn). We will bring back (hashevota) God’s words to our minds (vs. 1) and return (shavta) to the Lord (vs. 2). The Lord will restore our captivity (shav…shevut, vs. 3) and he will return (shav) and gather us from the peoples (vs. 3).
Vs. 1 shows that Jewish history is to be reflected upon and in some generation our people will reflect and be awakened by the evidence of God’s hand in that history, for good and evil.
Vs. 2 shows the extent of revival required: a turning of heart and soul toward Hashem.
Vs. 3 becomes a major theme in the prophets, the regathering from the nations.
Vs. 4 shows the extent of Hashem’s saving love, reaching to every distant part of the world in redemptive power.
Vs. 5 is about the place of this miraculous redemption, the covenanted land, the land of the fathers, Israel.
Vs. 6 is about the transformation that will take place in our people at that time: circumcised hearts, which for Jeremiah means hearts inscribed with Torah (31:33), and for Ezekiel is a new heart with a new spirit (36:26). The meaning of the circumcised heart is spelled out in the prophecy: we will at last love God will all of our heart and mind, a state of perfect love never realized in this world, requiring a divine transformation of our being, bringing us to a higher level of being than we have ever realized.