Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; forasmuch as they broke My covenant, although I was a lord over them, saith the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know the LORD’; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

—Jeremiah 31:31-34 (JPS).

What is the new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, spoken of by Jeremiah?


2 Answers 2


The answer is two verses later:

"This is the covenant that I will conclude... I will place My Torah inside them, and write it upon their hearts."

So the content of this "new covenant" is exactly the same G-dly Torah and mitzvos as we have had until now. The difference is just that previously, unfortunately, we violated it numerous times, whereas in the future era of Moshiach, when G-d will "banish the spirit of impurity from the earth" (Zech. 13:2), we will no longer have an evil inclination that tempts us to do so; what G-d wants us to do will be a basic part of our psyche ("written upon our hearts").

Incidentally, for anyone who wants to research this further: this is one of the places where the numbering differs between our Tanachs and, lehavdil, the common non-Jewish translations; the verse cited in the question is 31:30 in a Tanach. Why the difference - I don't know.

  • IMHO, as long as we have the attribute of freewill, the evil inclination will always be a threat. Sin will always lie at our door, although with us will the potential be to avoid it. (Gen. 4:6,7)
    – Ben Masada
    Jan 29, 2011 at 14:27
  • 2
    Consider this analogy. A normal person, who has free will, won't stick his hand into a fire. Why not, if he's free to do so? Because he knows instinctively that he will harm himself by doing so, so he has no natural inclination towards it. In somewhat the same way, then: yes, in the era of Moshiach we will still have free will, but G-dliness will be so evident in the world ("the glory of G-d will be revealed, and all flesh will see that the mouth of G-d has spoken" - Isaiah 40:5) that it will be obvious to any thinking person that sin is self-destructive, so he won't be drawn towards it.
    – Alex
    Jan 30, 2011 at 4:29
  • This answer was posted on a deleted duplicate question and merged hither. Jan 24, 2016 at 3:10

The important details to understand from this quote is that this covenant is only with the Jewish people, not with non-Jews. Additionally, it is important to include the 35th through 39th posukim from the chapter which emphasizes that the Torah of Moshe, 'these ordinances', shall always be. They shall not be 'plucked out' or 'thrown out' even by a false prophet or dreamer of dreams or a miracle worker who arises from amongst the Jewish people and says either, "Let us follow alien gods." or says, "I will add or subtract from these commandments." Like for for example the Jew who did miracles and said that his commandment, the commandment that he added to G-d's commandments, was to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The concept of 'the new covenant' is that there will be a completely new and deeper insight into the covenant that G-d made at Har Sinai. The root of this word 'new', is also associated with the meaning of 'chiddush', which means 'innovation'.

In other words, what Jeremiah is talking about is that with the final redemption there will be an innovation in the understanding of the covenant that was made at Har Sinai through the Torah.

It is a continuation and preservation of the covenant made at Har Sinai with Moshe. Not an overturning of this covenant like is taught in Christianity.


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