Jeremiah 9:20
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.
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(20) Teach your daughters wailing.—The thought of Jeremiah 9:9 is continued. The words rest upon the idea that wailing was an art, its cries and tones skilfully adapted to the special sorrows of which it was in theory the expression. They perhaps imply also that death would do its work so terribly that the demand for mourners would be greater than the supply, and that supernumeraries must be trained to meet it. Looking to the many other coincidences between our Lord’s teaching and that of Jeremiah, it is not too much to see in His words to the daughter of Jerusalem, “Weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:27-28), a parallel to what we read here.

9:12-22 In Zion the voice of joy and praise used to be heard, while the people kept close to God; but sin has altered the sound, it is now the voice of lamentation. Unhumbled hearts lament their calamity, but not their sin, which is the cause of it. Let the doors be shut ever so fast, death steals upon us. It enters the palaces of princes and great men, though stately, strongly built, and guarded. Nor are those more safe that are abroad; death cuts off even the children from without, and the young men from the streets. Hearken to the word of the Lord, and mourn with godly sorrow. This alone can bring true comfort; and it can turn the heaviest afflictions into precious mercies.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.20. Yet—rather, "Only" [Henderson]. This particle calls attention to what follows.

teach … 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.

Yet, or therefore, hear the word of the Lord, i.e. do not think I speak words out of my own mind or fancy, but what I speak is from the Lord.

O ye women; either those hired women mentioned before, or rather the women of the land; for God would have it not a mercenary, but a real mourning; and he mentioneth women,

1. To upbraid the men with their stupidity.

2. As being more apt to grieve, thereby to express the readiness that he would have the land to be in for mourning.

3. Because of the decay and want there would be of men, as is expressed in the next verse, by reason partly of the slaughter, and partly of the captivity; therefore here is mention of women with reference to children in the next verse, after whom their bowels would yearn; and daughters, either the scholars of the mourning women, or rather, with reference to young men, unto whom they might be given in marriage.

4. Because the female sex is least able to help themselves in a common calamity. Or,

5. Because they would be least solicitous, but would indulge their delicacies, pride, sloth, and wantonness, Isaiah 32:9,11. Every one her neighbour, Heb. a woman her friend; namely, that the grief might spread the further, and become deeper; for affections and passions, of what kind soever, are augmented by company: it notes how large and universal the mourning shall be, Amos 5:16.

Yet hear the word of the Lord, O ye women,.... Not the mourning women, but others who had lost their husbands and their children, and had just reason for real mourning; and therefore they are called upon to it, not only because they were more tenderhearted than men, as Kimchi observes; or because they were more attentive to the hearing of the word of God than men; but because of the paucity of men, such numbers being slain in the siege, and by the sword; and of the loss the women had sustained, see Jeremiah 9:22,

and let your ear receive the word of his mouth; by his prophets; so the Targum,

"let your ear hearken to the words of his prophets:''

and teach your daughters wailing. The Arabic version, "a mournful song"; but not the daughters of the mourning women are meant; but the real daughters of those who had lost their husbands or children; since it follows:

and everyone her neighbour lamentation; signifying that the mortality among them would be very universal, not a family escaping; which is described in the next verses. This wailing and lamentation was made by responses, according to the Jews; for they say (d),

"what is lamentation? when one speaks, and all the rest answer after her, as it is written in Jeremiah 9:20.''

(d) Misn. Moed Katon, c. 3. sect. 9.

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

(p) He derides the superstition of the women who made an art of mourning, and taught to weep with feigned tears.

20. No traditional formula will suffice; Jehovah will dictate a dirge, and it shall be for universal use.

Verse 20. - Yet hear; rather, for hear. Jeremiah 9:20Death comes in through (in at) the windows, not because the doors are to be thought of as barricaded (Hitz.), but as a thief in the night, i.e., suddenly, in an unexpected way. Perhaps Jeremiah was here thinking of Joel 2:9. And comes into the palaces, i.e., spares no house, but carries off high and low. The second clause is not to be very closely joined with the first, thus: Death comes into the houses and palaces, to sweep the children from off the streets; this would be self-contradictory. We must rather repeat "comes" from the first clause: He comes to sweep off the streets the child at play. That is: In the houses and palaces, as upon the streets and highways, he will seize his prey.
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