Jer 9:1-26. Jeremiah's Lamentation for the Jews' Sins and Consequent Punishment.
1. This verse is more fitly joined to the last chapter, as verse 23 in the Hebrew (compare Isa 22:4; La 2:11; 3:48).
2. lodging-place -- a caravanseral for caravans, or companies travelling 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 (Ps 55:7, 8).
3. bend ... tongues ... for lies -- that is, with lies as their arrows; they direct lies on their tongue as their bow (Ps 64:3, 4).
not valiant for ... truth -- (Jer 7:28). Maurer translates, |They do not prevail by truth| or faith (Ps 12:4). Their tongue, not faith, is their weapon.
upon ... earth -- rather, |in the land.|
know not me -- (Ho 4:1).
4. supplant -- literally, |trip up by the heel| (Ho 12:3).
walk with slanders -- (Jer 6:28).
5. weary themselves -- are at laborious pains to act perversely [Maurer]. Sin is a hard bondage (Hab 2:13).
6. Thine -- God addresses Jeremiah, who dwelt in the midst of deceitful men.
refuse to know me -- Their ignorance of God is wilful (Jer 9:3; 5:4, 5).
7. melt ... try them -- by sending calamities on them.
for how shall I do -- |What else can I do for the sake of the daughter of My people?| [Maurer], (Isa 1:25; Mal 3:3).
8. tongue ... arrow shot out -- rather, |a murdering arrow| [Maurer] (Jer 9:3).
speaketh peaceably ... in heart ... layeth ... wait -- layeth his ambush [Henderson], (Ps 55:21).
9. (Jer 5:9, 29).
10. Jeremiah breaks in upon Jehovah's threats of wrath with lamentation for his desolated country.
mountains -- once cultivated and fruitful: the hillsides were cultivated in terraces between the rocks.
habitations of ... wilderness -- rather, |the pleasant herbage (literally, 'the choice parts' of any thing) 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 -- (Jer 4:25).
11. And -- omit |And.| Jehovah here resumes His speech from Jer 9:9.
heaps -- (see on Isa 25:2).
dragons -- jackals.
12. Rather, |Who is a wise man? (that is, Whosoever has inspired wisdom, 2Pe 3:15); 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 (that is, 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.
13. Answer to the |for what the land perisheth| (Jer 9:12).
14. (Jer 7:24).
Baalim -- plural of Baal, to express his supposed manifold powers.
fathers taught them -- (Ga 1:14; 1Pe 1:18). We are not to follow the errors of the fathers, but the authority of Scripture and of God [Jerome].
15. feed -- (Jer 8:14; 23:15; Ps 80:5).
16. nor their fathers have known -- alluding to Jer 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.
17. mourning women -- hired to heighten lamentation by plaintive cries baring the breast, beating the arms, and suffering the hair to flow dishevelled (2Ch 35:25; Ec 12:5; Mt 9:23).
cunning -- skilled in wailing.
18. (Jer 14:17).
19. The cry of |the mourning women.|
spoiled -- laid waste.
dwellings cast us out -- fulfilling Le 18:28; 20:22. Calvin translates, |The enemy have cast down our habitations.|
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.
21. death ... windows -- The death-inflicting soldiery, finding the doors closed, burst in by the windows.
to cut off ... children from ... 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 (Zec 8:5).
22. saith the Lord -- continuing the thread of discourse from Jer 9:20.
dung -- (Jer 8:2).
handful ... none ... gather them -- implying that the handful has been so trodden as to be not worth even the poor gleaner's effort 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 gathering. How galling to the pride of the Jews to hear that so shall their carcasses be trodden contemptuously under foot!
23. wisdom -- political sagacity; as if it could rescue from the impending calamities.
might -- military prowess.
24. 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 (Jer 22:16; Job 22:21; 1Co 1:31).
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 ... righteousness -- loving-kindness towards the godly; judgment towards 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 (Ps 58:11).
in these ... I delight -- as well in doing them as in seeing them done by others (Mic 6:8; 7:18).
25. with the uncircumcised -- rather, |all that are circumcised in uncircumcision| [Henderson]. The Hebrew is an abstract term, not a concrete, as English Version translates, and as the pious |circumcised| is. The nations specified, Egypt, Judah, &c., were outwardly |circumcised,| but in heart were |uncircumcised.| The heathen nations were defiled, in spite of their literal circumcision, by idolatry. The Jews, with all their glorying in their spiritual privileges, were no better (Jer 4:4; De 10:16; 30:6; Ro 2:28, 29; Col 2:11). However, Eze 31:18; 32:19, 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 English Version may be right (Ro 2:28, 29).
26. 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.
in the utmost corners -- rather, |having the hair shaven (or clipped) in angles,| that is, having the beard on the cheek narrowed or cut: a Canaanitish custom, forbidden to the Israelites (Le 19:27; 21:5). The Arabs are hereby referred to (compare Jer 25:23; 49:32), as the words in apposition show, |that dwell in the wilderness.|
uncircumcised ... uncircumcised in the heart -- The addition of |in the heart| in Israel's case marks its greater guilt in proportion to its greater privileges, as compared with the rest.