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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 9
“fountain of tears that I might weep.” Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet” because of verses such as this (cp. Jer. 9:10; 14:17) and because of his writing the book of Lamentations. The Hebrew translated “fountain” means “spring,” a place where water bubbles up out of the ground, an apt description for crying, where tears well up from the eyes. Of all the prophets and men and women of God in the Bible, Jeremiah most openly shows his love for the people in the fact that in spite of their egregious sin and what they do to Jeremiah, he weeps and cries over them. In many verses Jeremiah openly reveals the deep emotional hurt he has because of the sin of his people and the consequences of that sin (cp. Jer. 8:21, 9:1; 10:19-20; 13:17; 14:17).
“the daughter of my people.” An idiom of endearment meaning my dear people (see commentary on Jer. 8:21).(top)
|Jer 9:2||- (top)|
“They bend their tongue like their bow for lies.” Other verses in the Bible compare the tongue to a bow that shoots words like arrows that then hurt and wound people (cp. Ps. 64:3-4; Jer. 9:8). Although the verse has been translated different ways depending on how the words in the text are arranged and punctuated, the meaning is basically that people speak hurtful words.(top)
“deceive, yes, deceive.” Scripture emphasizes deceive by the figure of speech polyptoton, in which the verb is repeated twice, but in different verbal aspects. There is also a word play because the word used for “deceive” here is related to the name “Jacob.” Thus the idea in the text is something like every brother will be a Jacob” and deceive and supplant his brother like Jacob deceived and supplanted Esau. In fact, it has been suggested that the verse could be translated that every brother is a “deceiving Jacob.”(top)
“they weary themselves committing iniquity.” Many of the sinful things of life are tiring and wear people out.(top)
“Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit.” The Hebrew text of Jeremiah 9:6 is difficult, and that plus the difference between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint and other ancient versions has led scholars to suggest a number of different changes to the text. This has resulted in the large number of different translations in the English versions. However, the message is basically the same: the people are mired in sin and refuse to acknowledge God.(top)
“Behold, I will smelt them and try them.” Here in Jeremiah 9:7, God returns to the metaphor that compares Israel to impure metal (cp. Jer. 6:27-30).
“because of the daughter of my people?” Verses such as Jeremiah 9:7 highlight the interaction that occurs between God and people, and highlights the free will that people have.(top)
|Jer 9:8||- (top)|
“punish.” The word is also translated “visit,” but here “punish” is the clearer translation. [For more on “visit,” see commentary on Exodus 20:5].
“my soul.” Here the phrase “my soul” is used according to common idiom to mean “I,” thus, “should I not be avenged.” [For more on the uses of “soul,” see Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul’”].(top)
“and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness, because they are burned up.” God is God over the heavens and earth, and when people sin the weather patterns change and the land becomes harder to live on or even uninhabitable. [For more on sin affecting the land, see commentary on Lev. 18:25].(top)
|Jer 9:11||- (top)|
“that can understand this.” This may also be translated, “that can explain this,” because the Hebrew word translated “understand” is in the Hiphil, “to cause to understand” (cp, J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah).(top)
|Jer 9:13||- (top)|
|Jer 9:14||- (top)|
“give them poisonous water to drink.” God speaks again about giving the people poisoned water in Jeremiah 23:15. The people spoke about it in Jeremiah 8:14.(top)
|Jer 9:16||- (top)|
“the mourning women...the skillful women.” In the ancient world, death often came quickly and unexpectedly, and often there was no time to gather the family because dead bodies were buried the same day the person died. Also, it was important and customary to make a loud weeping and wailing when someone died to demonstrate one’s feeling of loss and as more or less of a tribute to the dead person. Also, when other people at the funeral cried, it was easier to feel the emotion and cry too. All this contributed to there being professional mourners, women, who would loudly cry and lament the death of the person. Jeremiah is saying that because of the impending invasion of Judah by the Babylonian army, there will be much death and destruction and a need for the professional wailing women.(top)
|Jer 9:18||- (top)|
“For we have abandoned the land.” This is the prophetic perfect; the prophet is seeing the future, not what was real at the time.
“homes.” The Hebrew is more literally “tents,” but here it refers to the people’s homes because many of them lived in houses in cities.(top)
“teach your daughters wailing.” The fact that mothers would teach their daughters to wail would refer to very young girls, because the daughters seem to be still at home, but they were usually married and gone by age 14. The idea of the verse is that there is so much death that even young girls would have to do the job of professional mourners.(top)
“for death has come up through our windows.” This is a bold and chilling metaphor of death as a robber who climbs into the house through the window, who even enters the “strongholds,” the supposedly secure places in the house or town where people normally feel safe and protected, and kills the young men, who are the strength and future of society. The word “stronghold” can also be translated as “palace,” but the word “palace” usually causes the modern reader to think of opulence, wealth, and power, not the strength of its fortifications, but it is the strength of fortifications that is in view here, fortifications that cannot prevent death from coming in.(top)
“Say this.” Yahweh now directs Jeremiah in exactly what to say. The image is not pretty, but it is designed to grab our attention. God created people to serve and obey Him and be blessed and be a blessing to others. When people defy and rebel against God they are like worthless garbage and will die and be burned up in the Lake of Fire. This is a consistent message in Scripture. By the time of Jesus, the garbage dump of Jerusalem was the Valley of Hinnom (“Ge Hinnom” in Hebrew). Jesus taught that the unsaved would be thrown into Ge Hinnom and thus burned up like the garbage (see commentary on Matt. 5:22).
“and no one will gather them.” To not be buried was a huge disgrace. In a culture when family tombs and burial plots were common and it was a great curse to not be buried, most people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus, this verse was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).(top)
|Jer 9:23||- (top)|
“let the one who boasts boast about this, that he has understanding and knows me.” This verse is quoted in 1 Corinthians 1:31.(top)
|Jer 9:25||- (top)|
|Jer 9:26||- (top)|