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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 9

 

 

Verse 1

PREVAILING DECEIT AND WICKEDNESS, Jeremiah 9:1-8.

1. Mine eyes a fountain of tears — This verse should go with the preceding chapter, as indeed it does in the Hebrew. We see in its pathetic words, as in a mirror, the heart of him who has been denominated, and not unaptly, the Weeping Prophet. Comp. Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48.


Verse 2

2. From his own sorrows the prophet now turns to the people’s sins. He sighs for solitude rather than contact with the prevailing wickedness. Similarly has a modern poet spoken in a passage which is not merely an imitation, but almost a literal translation of this:

O for a lodge in some vast wilderness,

Some boundless contiguity of shade,

Where rumour of oppression and deceit,

Of unsuccessful or successful war,

Might never reach me more! Cowper.

Wilderness — An uninhabited place away from the homes and haunts of men.

Lodging place — Caravansary. They were created on the route of caravans for their accommodation. They were often a mere enclosure, lonely and filthy, but preferred by the prophet to a dwelling among a corrupt people.

An assembly — This word here has some suggestion of disparagement, like gang or crew.


Verse 3

3. Tongues like their bow — Ready to shoot out lies.

Not valiant for the truth — This grand phrase is not defensible as a translation in this place. The precise thought is, They do not bear sway in faithfulness; that is, they gain their influence by treachery and deceit.

Upon the earth — Rather, in the land, namely, Judea.


Verses 4-6

4-6. Every brother will utterly supplant, etc. — A terrible indictment! Just in the ratio in which truth is put down must the bonds of mutual confidence be relaxed. Such a state of things brought forward to its full result and made permanent, would be hell! No material flames would be needed. The fires of universal enmity and distrust would burn to the very core of the soul.


Verse 7

7. I will melt them… try them — Even their punishment is not simply retributive, but rather, corrective. God punishes for their sake and not for his own. He puts them into the crucible, not to torture, but to purify. How shall I do, etc. — That is, how else can I do? Is there any other course for me to take? Other and milder measures have failed, this alone remains.


Verse 8

8. An arrow shot out — This is founded on the Keri of the Masorites. But the English text a murderous arrow, is better.


Verse 10

THE DESOLATION OF THE LAND AND THE DISPERSION OF THE PEOPLE, Jeremiah 9:9-15.

10. The whole passage to the twenty-second verse is devoted to setting forth in detail the punishment which is about to come upon the land and the people.

For the mountains — Once cultivated and fruitful, and covered with happy flocks, but now desolate.

For the habitations — Namely, of the shepherds, who pitch their tents or construct their booths wherever is pasturage for their flocks. But these pastures are to be burned up, so that there will be no life left.


Verse 11

11. Dragons — Rather, jackals. Fittingly associated with the ruinous stone heaps of Jerusalem.


Verse 12

12. For what the land perisheth — This is the question which is proposed for the consideration of the wise men, and should stand out: Wherefore doth the land come to ruin?


Verse 16

THE CARNIVAL OF DEATH, Jeremiah 9:16-21.

16. I will scatter them — God’s determination thus to do is rendered more appalling by the statement whom neither they nor their fathers have known.

Till I have consumed them — Not utterly, as is repeatedly indicated in this book: God’s forbearance still continuing to the remnant who should be spared a feeble life in their own land.


Verse 17

17. Because they have forsaken my law — Thus far the challenge to attention: now follows the formal and fearful statement of the people’s sin and misery. They had openly and wilfully and persistently disobeyed the laws of Jehovah. They had deliberately prostituted themselves to the service of Baalim, (see Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 2:23,) and hence the penalty threatened in the law (Leviticus 26:33) will be inflicted.


Verses 17-20

17-20. Consider ye, and call — To heighten the poetical effect of this passage Jehovah calls for the mourning women; those women who among the Orientals are hired to make lamentation, because “skilled in the arts of woe,” and so here called cunning. (See Miss ROGER’S Domestic Life in Palestine. pp. 181-184. for a very vivid picture of these mourning ceremonies at the present time.) Here every impressive feature of such a picture is blended: the office of the women themselves, their character, their words, the effect of their lamentations, and finally their fewness as compared with the greatness of the woe, so that they are called upon to teach their arts to others.

Teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbour lamentation — The ravages of death have overstepped the resources of mourning, as in the times of fearful pestilence.


Verse 21

21. Death is come up into our windows — Implying his resistlessness, and the universality of his conquests. He comes in by all avenues. As the result of his work there are no children… without, nor young men in the streets. Silence and death bear undisputed sway.


Verse 22

22. Carcasses of men — The burning utterances of the prophet burst forth into one vivid and comprehensive statement — a fitting conclusion to this remarkable passage. The dead shall be too many to be buried, as in Jeremiah 8:32, 33. As the reaper lets fall his handful of grain for the gleaner, so death shall cast down his handful, and none shall gather them.


Verse 23

THE ONLY SAFETY, Jeremiah 9:23 to Jeremiah 26:23. In such a calamity, where is help and deliverance? Not in human wisdom, nor might, nor riches. Could these avail, this ruin had not come.


Verse 24

24. I am the Lord — Driven from all these human defences. God still remains, and so the grand lesson for this time and for all time is, Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth… the Lord.


Verse 25

3. The Means of Escape from Impending Punishment. Jeremiah 9:25 to Jeremiah 10:25.

25. Circumcised with the uncircumcised — Rather, circumcised in uncircumcision; literally, with the foreskin. The meaning is, God will cut off all who are really uncircumcised, and among these are included those who have received merely the outward rite.


Verse 26

26. Egypt… Judah, etc. — Many commentators, and among them Ewald and Nagelsbach, understand from this passage that all the peoples enumerated practised the rite of circumcision. But there is not sufficient historical proof of this; indeed there is positive evidence to the contrary. For instance. Josephus (Ant., Jeremiah 13:9; Jeremiah 13:1) tells how John Hyrcanus offered the Edomites the alternative of circumcision, which they accepted. We conclude, then, that the statement, all these nations are uncircumcised, means all nations besides Israel, and that the word “these,” which the translators have inserted, should be thrown out.

All that are in the utmost corners — Rather, all who have the corners of their hair shorn. The allusion is to certain Arabian tribes who were accustomed to crop the edges of the beard, and to cut off the hair from the temples, a practice forbidden to the Israelites. Leviticus 19:27.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-9.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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