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Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 9

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

Oh that my head were waters. This verse is more fitly joined to last chapter, as Jeremiah 9:23 in the Hebrew (cf. Isaiah 22:4, "I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people;" Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48, "Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people").

Verse 2

Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.

Lodging place - a caravanserai for caravans, or companies traveling in the desert, remote from towns. It was a square building enclosing an open court. Though a lonely and often filthy dwelling, Jeremiah would prefer even it to the comforts of Jerusalem, so as to be removed from the pollutions of the capital (Psalms 55:6-7).

Verse 3

And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. They bend their tongues like their bow for lies - i:e., with lies as their arrows; they direct lies on their tongue as their bow (Psalms 64:3-4, "Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words").

Not valiant for the truth - (Jeremiah 7:28). Maurer translates, 'They do not prevail by truth' or faith (Psalms 12:4, "With our tongue will we prevail"). Their tongue, not faith, is their weapon.

Upon the earth - rather, 'in the land.'

They know not me - (Hosea 4:1, "There is no knowledge of God in the land").

Verse 4

Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.

Every brother will utterly supplant - literally, trip up by the heel (Hosea 12:3, "He (Jacob) took his brother (Esau) by the heel").

Walk with slanders - (Jeremiah 6:28).

Verse 5

And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

Weary themselves to commit iniquity - are at laborious pains to act perversely (Maurer). Sin is a hard bondage (Habakkuk 2:13, "Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity").

Verse 6

Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.

Thine habitation - God addresses Jeremiah, who dwelt in the midst of deceitful men.

They refuse to know me - their ignorance of God is willful (Jeremiah 9:3; Jeremiah 5:4-5).

Verse 7

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?

I will melt them and try them - by sending calamities on them. The image is taken from melting metals in order to purge them of their dross (cf. Jeremiah 6:29; Isaiah 1:25; Malachi 3:3, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness").

For how shall I do - `what else can I do for the sake of the daughter of my people?' (Maurer.)

Verse 8

Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.

Their tongue is as an arrow shot out, [ cheets (H2671) shaachuT] - rather, 'a murdering arrow' (Maurer). So Jerome, 'a wounding arrow.' Some Rabbis make the Hebrew to be equivalent to [showcheeT] the participle present 'killing.' But others, as the English version, make it equivalent to [ shaachuwT (H7819)] drawn, whether over a whetstone to sharpen it, and so meaning sharp; or on a bow-string, and so meaning, as the English version, shot out. So Buxtorf would read. The original meaning is doubtless drawn, so applied either to a sword drawn across the neck, and so killing; or an arrow drawn on a string, and so shot out (Jeremiah 9:3).

Speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in his heart he layeth wait - layeth his ambush (Henderson). (Psalms 55:21, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords").

Verse 9

Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this? (Jeremiah 5:9; Jeremiah 5:29).

Verse 10

For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.

Jeremiah breaks in upon Yahweh's threats of wrath with a lamentation for his desolated country.

For the mountains - once cultivated and fruitful: the hill-sides were cultivated in terraces between the rocks.

For the habitations of ... wilderness - [ nª'owt (H4999) midbaar (H4057), either from naa'aah (H4998) pleasant, or from naawaah (H5115), to dwell. Buxtorf rightly prefers the latter; hence, habitations, shepherds' dwellings; the Hebrew letter waw (w) being changed into the Hebrew letter 'aleph ('). Still the root idea is to dwell in a pleasant place]. Translate, 'the pleasant haunts ('pastures' is the translation of the same Hebrew in Psalms 65:13) of the pasture plain.' The Hebrew for wilderness expresses not a barren desert, but an UNTILLED plain, fit for pasture.

Burned up - because no one waters them: the inhabitants being all gone.

None can pass through them - much less inhabit them.

Fowl ... are fled - (Jeremiah 4:25).

Verse 11

And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.

And - omit And. Yahweh here resumes His speech from Jeremiah 9:9.

Heaps - (remark, Isaiah 25:2).

A den of dragons - jackals.

Verse 12

Who is the wise man, that may understand this? and who is he to whom the mouth of the LORD hath spoken, that he may declare it, for what the land perisheth and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passeth through?

Rather, 'Who is a wise man (i:e., Whosoever has inspired wisdom, 2 Peter 3:15, "Our beloved brother, Paul, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you") let him understand this (weigh well the evils impending, and the causes of their being sent)? and he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken (i:e., whosoever is prophetically inspired), let him declare it to his fellow-countrymen, if haply they may be roused to repentance, the only hope of safety?

Verse 13

And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;

Because they have forsaken my law - answer to the "for what the land perisheth" (Jeremiah 9:12).

Verse 14

But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:

Walked after the imagination of their own heart - (Jeremiah 7:24).

Baalim - plural of Baal, to express his supposed manifold powers.

Which their fathers taught them - (Galatians 1:14, "I ... profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers;" 1 Peter 1:18.) We are not to follow the errors of the fathers, but the authority of Scripture and of God (Jerome).

Verse 15

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

I will feed them with wormwood - (Psalms 80:5, "Thou feedest them with the bread of tears").

Verse 16

I will scatter them also among the heathen, whom neither they nor their fathers have known: and I will send a sword after them, till I have consumed them.

Nor their fathers have known - alluding to Jeremiah 9:14, "Their fathers taught them" idolatry; therefore the children shall be scattered to a land which "neither their fathers nor they have known."

Send a sword after them - not even in flight shall they be safe.

Verse 17

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Consider ye, and call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for cunning women, that they may come:

Mourning women - hired to heighten lamentation by plaintive cries, baring the breast, beating the arms, and suffering the locks to flow dishevelled (as in their mourning for Josiah, 2 Chronicles 35:25; Ecclesiastes 12:5; Matthew 9:23).

Cunning - skilled in wailing.

Verse 18

And let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters.

That our eyes may run down with tears ... - (Jeremiah 14:17).

Verse 19

For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion, How are we spoiled! we are greatly confounded, because we have forsaken the land, because our dwellings have cast us out.

How are we spoiled! - the cry of "the mourning women."

Spoiled - laid waste.

Our dwellings have cast us out - fulfilling Leviticus 18:28, "That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you" (cf. Leviticus 20:22). Calvin translates, 'The enemy have cast down our habitations.' I prefer the English version, as fulfilling Leviticus 18:28, to which Jeremiah alludes.

Verse 20

Yet hear the word of the LORD, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbour lamentation.

Yet - rather, 'Only' (Henderson). This particle calls attention to what follows.

Teach your daughters wailing - the deaths will be so many that there will be a lack of mourning women to bewail them. The mothers, therefore, must teach their daughters the science, to supply the want.

Verse 21

For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets.

Death is come up into our windows - the death-inflicting soldiery, finding the doors closed, burst in by the windows.

To cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets. Death cannot be said to enter the windows, to cut off the children in the streets; but to cut them off so as no more to play in the streets without (cf. Zechariah 8:5): cf. Jeremiah 6:11 above, on the destruction of the children and young men.

Verse 22

Speak, Thus saith the LORD, Even the carcases of men shall fall as dung upon the open field, and as the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them.

Thus saith the Lord - continuing the thread of discourse from Jeremiah 9:20.

The carcasses of men shall fall as dung - (Jeremiah 8:2). As the handful after the harvestman, and none shall gather them-implying that the handful has been so trodden as to be not worth even the poor gleaner's while to gather it. Or the Eastern custom may be referred to: the reaper cuts the grain, and is followed by another who gathers it. This grain shall not be worth while gathering. How galling to the pride of the Jews to hear that so shall their "carcasses" be trodden contemptuously under foot!

Verse 23

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom - political sagacity; as if it could rescue from the impending calamities.

Might - military prowess.

Verse 24

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Let him that glorieth glory in this ... knoweth me. Nothing but an experimental knowledge of God will save the nation.

Understandeth - theoretically; in the intellect.

Knoweth - practically; so as to walk in my ways (Jeremiah 22:16, "He judgeth the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him. Was not this to know me, saith the Lord;" Job 22:21, "Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace;" 1 Corinthians 1:31, which is Paul's quotation of this verse, as inspired, "According as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness. God's mercy is put in the first and highest place, because without it we should flee from God in fear and despair.

Judgment and righteousness. Loving-kindness toward the godly; judgment toward the ungodly; righteousness the most perfect fairness in all cases (Grotius). Faithfulness to his promises to preserve the godly, as well as stern execution of judgment on the ungodly, is included in "righteousness."

In the earth - contrary to the dogma of some philosophers, that God does not interfere in terrestrial concerns (Psalms 58:11).

In these things I delight - as well in doing them as in seeing them done by others (Micah 6:8; Micah 7:18, "He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy").

Verse 25

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;

I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised - rather, 'all that are circumcised in uncircumcision' (Henderson). The Hebrew is an abstract term, not a concrete, as the English version translates, and as the previous "circumcised" is. The nations specified, Egypt, Judah, etc., were outwardly "circumcised," but in heart were "uncircumcised." The pagan nations were defiled, in spite of their literal circumcision, by idolatry. The Jews, with all their glorying in their spiritual privileges, were no better (Jeremiah 4:4, "Take away the foreskins of your heart;" Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Colossians 2:11, "circumcised with the circumcision made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh"). However, Ezekiel 31:18, "Thou (Egypt) shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised," may imply that the Egyptians were uncircumcised; and it is uncertain, as to the other nations specified, whether they were at that early time circumcised. Herodotus says the Egyptians were so; but others think this applies only to the priests and others having a sacred character, not to the mass of the nation; so the English version may be right (Romans 2:28-29. But the Hebrew [bª`aarlaah] - literally, 'in,' or 'with the foreskin,' favours the translation 'circumcised (outwardly; yet still remaining) with the foreskin' of the heart not taken away; retaining carnality at heart though having laid aside its outward fleshly emblem).

Verse 26

Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Egypt - put first, to degrade Judah, who, though in privileges above the Gentiles, by unfaithfulness sank below them. Egypt, too, was the power in which the Jews were so prone to trust, and by whose instigation they, as well as the other peoples specified, revolted from Babylon.

All that are in the utmost corners, [ qªtsuwtseey (H7112) pee'aah (H6285)] - rather, 'having the hair shaven (or clipped) in angles' - i:e., having the beard on the cheek narrowed or cut; a Canaanite custom, forbidden to the Israelites (Leviticus 19:27, "Neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard;" Leviticus 21:5). The Arabs are hereby referred to (cf. Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:32), as the words in apposition show, "that dwell in the wilderness."

These nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in their heart. The addition of "in their heart" in Israel's case marks its greater guilt in proportion to its greater privileges, as compared with the rest.


(1) Once the voice of joy and thanksgiving had been heard in Jerusalem, while she was faithful to her heavenly King; but now scenes of slaughter, the terrible fruit of sin, were witnessed on every side in her, so that the patriot-prophet could only weep incessantly over her slain (Jeremiah 9:1). Sin, soon or late, is sure to change joy into sorrow, life into death, a populous city into heaps and desolation (Jeremiah 9:9-11).

(2) Even a lodging in a wilderness is preferable to the most luxurious mansion in a city polluted with defilements; and a lonely solitude is better than association with the ungodly.

(3) It is a sure sign of the degeneracy of a people when there is apparent a growing disregard of truth and honesty. Such a nation is certain to "proceed from evil to evil" (Jeremiah 9:3). Having no experimental knowledge of the Lord, they have no safeguard against growing corruption. In such a state of things it especially becomes the godly to be "valiant for the truth upon the earth." Zeal for "the truth" as it is in revelation will most effectually preserve us from being tainted by or indifferent concerning the untruthfulness, treachery, selfishness, and slanders of the world around us (Jeremiah 9:3-6; Jeremiah 9:8).

(4) The yoke of Satan is a galling one, and the service of iniquity wearies its bond-servants; yet sinners will go on "wearying themselves to commit iniquity." Therefore the Lord in mercy casts His erring children into the furnace of trial now, that they may be "melted" into sorrow for sin, and the dross may be removed, and His elect may be gathered out from the ungodly mass (Jeremiah 9:7).

(5) Spiritual "wisdom" must be obtained from on high before any man can "understand" God's ways in His providence, and also in His revelation. For "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11), and he to whomsoever the Spirit of God reveals them. This is a "wisdom" in which a man may rightly "glory," though not in mere carnal, natural "wisdom" (Jeremiah 9:23); because "the wisdom which is from above" (James 3:17) will empty us of self-vanity and pride, and will teach us to "glory in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31), in that we "understand and know Him, that He is the Lord who exerciseth loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, delighting in these" especially (Jeremiah 9:24).

(6) He who is taught by the Spirit thus to understand and know the Lord is so taught "that he may declare it" (Jeremiah 9:12) to all around. "Come and hear ... and I will declare what He hath done for my soul" (Psalms 66:16); and again, "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Psalms 34:11).

(7) However fact we shut our doors and windows death enters our houses The palaces of the great no more (7) However fact we shut our doors and windows, death enters our houses. The palaces of the great, no more than the cottages of the poor, can escape the stroke of God's visitation. Death rudely breaks in upon the plays of happy childhood, and "cuts off the young men from the streets" (Jeremiah 9:21). In a dying world, how preposterous it is to glory in physical health and strength, in military "might," or in "riches" (Jeremiah 9:23). These possessions are perishing like ourselves; and even while we have them, fail to give solid satisfaction. They are to be prized only insofar as they are used for the glory of God and the good of man. Let us beware of having "uncircumcision in the heart" amidst all our outward privileges, temporal and spiritual (Jeremiah 9:25-26).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-9.html. 1871-8.
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