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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-26

Jeremiah 9:2 . Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodgingplace of wayfaring men. In countries where the peasantry are very poor, travellers provide for themselves as they can. Even in Spain many of the passadoes only lodge the traveller; he must provide his own food. Jeremiah preferred a lodging among the country poor, rather than occupy his station in the temple. In the East they have caravanseras, often dirty and very offensive.

Jeremiah 9:4 . Take ye heed every one of his neighbour. Take heed of his tongue, his bow is already bent. Take heed of your character among the people of Sodom; take heed of your property, of your wife, of your daughter, yea of your own life. Do we need books on original sin? Is not every heart a volume?

Jeremiah 9:5 . Weary themselves to commit iniquity. What is it that bad men will not do to gratify the leading passion of their heart? Money, honour, the tenderest ties, and life itself must go in pursuit of some imaginary pleasure. But when the prodigal drank water instead of wine, “he came to himself.”

Jeremiah 9:10 . Both the fowl and the beasts are fled. The remark of Jerome on Hosea 4:0., applies here. “He who thinks that this has not happened to the people of Israel, let him behold Illyricum. Let him behold Thrace, Macedonia, and Pannonia, and all that tract of land from Propontis and Bosphorus to the Alps; and he will then confess that not only men, but likewise every animal, which was originally formed for the use of man, are extinct, and swept away by the besom of destruction.”

Jeremiah 9:12 . The land is burnt up like a wilderness. When Bonaparte was on his march to Moscow, the Russians set the metropolis on fire that the French might find no shelter. It is likely that the Hebrews did the same to stop the progress of the invading armies, the word burning being of frequent occurrence.

Jeremiah 9:15 . I will give them water of gall. Hebrews ראשׁ rosh, or hemlock. This word must designate a herb, because it grows in the furrows, or bye- places of the field. Hosea 10:4. Moses also associates this plant with wormwood, as in the present instance. With these herbs a stupifying potion was made for culprits before their crucifixion.

Jeremiah 9:17 . Call for the mourning women, taught to touch the minstrel, and utter in dirges the sentiments of a wounded heart for the loss of parents and children. See more in Dr. Beattie’s Minstrel, a beautiful poem; and on Genesis 50:10. It would seem, from Jeremiah 9:20, that women were taught the pensive art by their ancestors. “Oh ye women, teach your daughters wailing.” The prophet justly calls on the women to mourn, for they had been particularly faulty in drawing their husbands to idolatry; “to walk after Baal in the imagination of their heart.”

Jeremiah 9:21 . Death is come up into our windows. The Hebrew soldiers being slain, the assailants overleaped the walls, and stormed the barricaded houses by the windows. These are the scenes which call for the prophet’s tears.

Jeremiah 9:25 . I will punish all the circumcised with the uncircumcised. Egypt, Edom, Ammon, and Moab; and all the house of Israel, uncircumcised in heart. Blaney. After this time, as in Daniel the xith, Syria became the successive theatre of wars, and in scourges so disastrous that the country to the present age has never recovered its glory.

Jeremiah 9:26 . All that are in the utmost corners. Nearly all the Versions support the marginal reading: “All who have the corners of their hair polled, or cut short.”


We have just followed the weeping prophet, in an awful portrait of the sins and the punishments of his people. But when he came to see that the harvest was past, and no salvation; and that the balm of Gilead failed of a cure, the tears trickled down his cheeks, and here he sighs for torrents of tears as the only consolation which remained for his soul.

He not only wept, but he wept for the mountains, he wept for the cities, and wished to fly from a place already accursed in the sentence of heaven. Shrinking from the sight of villas, of palaces, and pleasure-grounds, he sighed for a shepherd’s hut, frequented only by a peaceful group of travellers. Ah, when prophets and saints are prompted to escape a country, and when the Holy Spirit departs from a guilty people, the hour of visitation is just at the door. Yet, oh Lord, stay, stay with Britain; forsake not thy Zion, nor take thy Holy Spirit and arm of sure defence from a forgetful people. This plaintive prophet assigns just and awful reasons for this wish. His people having quenched the emotions of grace, rejected the ministry, and stifled humanity, were rapidly approaching the resemblance of devils rather than men. Every man prevaricated, and bent his discourse as a bow to wound his neighbour, and to supplant him in trade. They were as fed horses neighing for their neighbours’ wives; and they wearied themselves to commit iniquity. Oh what have thy prophets to do any longer among such a people?

While Jeremiah, looking on the dark side, saw nothing but baseness, rust and dross among his people, the Lord saw a small quantity of precious metal among the mass. Therefore said he, “I will melt and try them.” The famine, the pestilence, and the sword were furnaces through which the people passed, and but a small proportion escaped. Hence, as the canker would soon consume the whole, the Lord seemed compelled to hasten his vengeance, lest the remnant should be as the multitude.

On hearing God’s terrible design, the prophet’s sorrow flowed afresh. He wept for the wailings of Zion, to see her young men defeated in the field; he wept for the open country strewed with the slain, and for the survivors about to be scattered among the heathen. Yea, he calls upon Jerusalem to join him in tears; to employ their mourning women, and women most skilled in funeral cries. He calls upon the delicate women of Jerusalem to train up their daughters, not to the fascinating powers of music and song, but to those doleful wailings which better became their situation. What a mirror in which other nations may see their own portrait.

This catastrophe should not be averted by any wisdom or might, or wealth of man. Ahithophel was famed as an oracle in counsel. Samson gloried in his might, and Hezekiah was ostentatious of his treasures. No good followed in any of those cases: so it should be with Jerusalem. The circumcision of Judah was become uncircumcision, and therefore they are sentenced to suffer with the gentile nations. The true glory of man is to know the Lord, and to exult in his favour. Here, though not expressly named, he seems in his sorrows to glance his eye on the gospel glory. St. Paul at least found this passage pertinent to the case of the learned Greeks, to humble the pride of science by a display of the superior wisdom of God in the gospel, which reveals glories which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-9.html. 1835.
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