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!
This verse is joined in the Hebrew to the preceding chapter. But any break at all here interrupts the meaning.
A fountain - Rather, "a reservoir," in which tears had been stored up, so that the prophet might weep abundantly.
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.
From their punishment the prophet now turns to their sins.
The prophet utters the wish that he might be spared his daily striving, and in some lone wilderness give way to his sorrow, without restraint.
A lodging place - It was usual to build in the desert, either by private charity or at the public expense, caravanserais, to receive travelers for a single night, who had however to bring their own supplies with them.
An assembly - Or, a gang.
Treacherous - Faithless toward one another.
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.
Rather, "And they bend their tongue to be their bow of lies, i. e." just as men before a battle get their bows ready, so they of set purpose make ready to do mischief, only their arrows are lying words: "neither do they rule faithfully in the land, i. e." Judaea.
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.
In a state of such utter lawlessness, the bonds of mutual confidence are relaxed, and suspicion takes its place.
Utterly supplant - An allusion to the name of Jacob Genesis 27:36. It might be rendered, "every brother is a thorough Jacob."
Will walk with slanders - Or, slandereth.
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.
Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.
A continuation of the warning given in Jeremiah 9:4. "Trust no one: for thou dwellest surrounded by deceit on every side." Their rejection of God is the result of their want of honesty in their dealings with one another 1 John 4:20.
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 - The punishment is corrective rather than retributive. The terms used are those of the refiner of metals, the first being the smelting to separate the pure metal from the ore; the second the testing to see whether the metal is pure, or still mixed with alloy. God will put the nation into the crucible of tribulation, that whatever is evil being consumed in the fire, all there is in them of good may be purified.
For how shall I do ... - Rather, "for how" else could I act with reference to the "daughter of my people?"
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.
An arrow shot out - Rather, "a murderous arrow."
In heart he layeth his wait - Rather, "inwardly he layeth his ambush."
Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?
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.
The punishment described in general terms in the preceding three verses is now detailed at great length.
The habitations i. e - the temporary encampments of the shepherds (see Jeremiah 6:3).
So that none can ... - Or, "They are parched up, with no man to pass through them; neither do they hear the voice of cattle; from the birds of the heaven even to the beasts they "are fled, they are gone."
And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; and I will make the cities of Judah desolate, without an inhabitant.
Dragons - Rather, jackals.
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?
For what the land perisheth ... - This is the question proposed for consideration. The prophet calls upon the wise man to explain his question; that question being, Wherefore did the land perish? He follows it by the assertion of a fact: "It is parched like the wilderness with no man to pass through."
And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;
The cause of the chastisement about to fall upon Jerusalem, was their desertion of the divine Law.
But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:
Imagination - Or, as in the margin.
Which their fathers taught them - It was not the sin of one generation that brought upon them chastisement: it was a sin, which had been handed down from father to son.
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 ... - Rather, I am feeding them. The present participle used here, followed by three verbs in the future, shows that the judgment has beam, of which the successive stages are given in the next clause.
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.
This verse is taken from Leviticus 26:33. The fulfillment of what had been so long before appointed as the penalty for the violation of Yahweh's covenant is one of the most remarkable proofs that prophecy was something more than human foresight.
Till I have consumed them - See Jeremiah 4:27 note. How is this "consuming" consistent with the promise to the contrary there given? Because it is limited by the terms of Jeremiah 9:7. Previously to Nebuchadnezzars destruction of Jerusalem God removed into safety those in whom the nation should revive.
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:
The mourning women - Hired to attend at funerals, and by their skilled wailings aid the real mourners in giving vent to their grief. Hence, they are called "cunning," literally "wise" women, wisdom being constantly used in Scripture for anything in which people are trained.
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.
Take up a wailing for us - i. e., for the nation once God's chosen people, but long spiritually dead.
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.
Forsaken - Or, left: forced to abandon the land.
Because our dwellings ... - Rather, "because they have east down our dwellings." The whole verse is a description of their sufferings. See 2 Kings 25:1-12.
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.
The command is addressed to the women because it was more especially their part to express the general feelings of the nation. See 1 Samuel 18:6; 2 Samuel 1:24. The women utter now the death-wail over the perishing nation. They are to teach their daughters and neighbors the "lamentation, i. e., dirge," because the harvest of death would be so large that the number of trained women would not suffice.
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 ... - i. e., death steals silently like a thief upon his victims, and makes such havoc that there are no children left to go "without," nor young men to frequent the open spaces in the city.
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.
The "handful" means the little bundle of grain which the reaper gathers on his arm with three or four strokes of his sickle, and then lays down. Behind the reaper came one whose business it was to gather several of these bundles, and bind them into a sheaf. Thus, death strews the ground with corpses as thickly as these handfuls lie upon the reaped land, but the corpses lie there unheeded.
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:
To the end of Jeremiah 10 the prophet urges upon the people the practical conclusion to be drawn from God's righteous dealings with them. The three things on which men most pride themselves are shown in this verse to have proved vain.
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.
This is the prophet's remedy for the healing of the nation. It is the true understanding and knowledge of God, of which the first means the spiritual enlightenment of the mind 1 Corinthians 2:13-14, the other the training of the heart unto obedience John 8:31-32. This knowledge of God is further said to find in Him three chief attributes,
(1) "lovingkindness," i. e., readiness to show grace and mercy;
(2) "judgment," a belief in which is declared in Hebrews 11:6 to be essential to faith;
(3) "righteousness," which is essential to religion absolutely.
Unless men believe that God's dealings with them in life and death are right and just, they can neither love nor reverence him.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;
All them which are circumcised ... - Rather, "all circumcised in uncircumcision," i. e., all who though outwardly circumcised have no corresponding inward purity.
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.
All that are in the utmost corners - Really, all who have the corners of their hair shorn. The people meant are those Arabs who cut the hair close upon the forehead and temples, but let it grow long behind. See Leviticus 19:27.
For all these nations are uncircumcised - Or, "for all the pagan are uncircumcised." circumcision probably prevailed partially in the pagan mysteries as a sign of special sanctity, but to the Jews alone it represented their covenant-relation to God.