"Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets... " (Jeremiah 31:4). "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God" (Jeremiah 31:18).
The context of these passages reveals clearly that the prophet is not referring to a literal virgin or to Ephraim as a person, but to the nation of Israel, which in this instance is personified, in a similar manner as Great Britain is sometimes personified as 'Britannia' or 'John Bull'. There are no such persons as this woman and man, but when they are referred to in books or portrayed in pictures everyone knows that Great Britain is meant.
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