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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 9:1

 

 

Oh that my head were waters And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!

Adam Clarke Commentary

O that my head were waters - מים ראשי יתן מי mi yitten roshi mayim, "who will give to my head waters?" My mourning for the sins and desolations of my people has already exhausted the source of tears: I wish to have a fountain opened there, that I may weep day and night for the slain of my people. This has been the sorrowful language of many a pastor who has preached long to a hardened, rebellious people, to little or no effect. This verse belongs to the preceding chapter.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-9.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-9.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

JEREMIAH 9

SORROWFUL LAMENT FOR FALLEN ISRAEL

The theme of this whole chapter is given here in Jeremiah 9:1, which in the Hebrew Bible concludes Jeremiah 8, to which it also is appropriate.

The pitifully wicked and immoral behavior of God's Once Chosen People had at last reached its terminal extent; and the horrible punishment which their apostasy so richly deserved was soon to be executed upon the degenerate, reprobate nation. The lament expressed here was not only applicable to the fallen condition of ancient Israel; but the words are just as appropriate today for the millions of people who have forsaken their first love, and have chosen to wallow in the sensuous pleasures of sin for a season, rather than to live by the true standards of God's Word.

Halley's thumbnail summary of this chapter is as good as any we have seen.

"Jeremiah, a man of sorrows, in the midst of a people abandoned to everything vile (Jeremiah 9:2-9), weeping day and night at the thought of impending retribution, moved about among them, begging, pleading, persuading, threatening, entreating, imploring that they turn from their wickedness. But in vain."

Jeremiah 9:1

"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."

Jeremiah had already wept over the condition of Israel as much as it was possible for him to weep; and here he expressed a wish for the ability to weep even more. Henry pointed out that in Hebrew the same word signifies "both the eye and a fountain, as if in this land of sorrows our eyes were designed rather for weeping than for seeing. And while we find our hearts such fountains of sin, it is fit that our eyes should be fountains of tears."[2]


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jeremiah-9.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,.... Or, "who will give to my head water, and to mine eyes a fountain of tears?" as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions. The prophet wishes that his head was turned and dissolved into water, and that tears might flow from his eyes as water issues out from a fountain; and he suggests, that could this be, it would not be sufficient to deplore the miserable estate of his people, and to express the inward grief and sorrow of his mind on account of it.

That I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people; the design of all this is to set forth the greatness and horribleness of the destruction, signifying that words were wanting to express it, and tears to lament it; and to awaken the attention of the people to it, who were quite hardened, insensible, and stupid. The Jewish writers close the eighth chapter with this verse, and begin the ninth with the following.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-9.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

O that my head were a waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

(a) The prophet shows the great compassion that he had toward this people, seeing that he could never sufficiently lament the destruction that he saw to hang over them, which is a special note to discern the true pastors from the hirelings. {See (Jeremiah 4:19) }

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-9.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 9:1-26. Jeremiah‘s lamentation for the Jews‘ sins and consequent punishment.

This verse is more fitly joined to the last chapter, as Jeremiah 9:23 in the Hebrew (compare Isaiah 22:4; Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48).


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-9.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

He follows the same subject. During times of tranquillity, when nothing but joyful voices were heard among the Jews, he bewails, as one in the greatest grief, the miseries of the people; and being not satisfied with this, he says, Who will set, or make, my head waters, and my eye a fountain of tears? He intimates by these words, that the ruin would be so dreadful that it could not be bewailed by a moderate or usual lamentation, inasmuch as God’s vengeance would exceed common bounds, and fill men with more dread than other calamities.

The meaning is, that the destruction of the people would be so monstrous that it could not be sufficiently bewailed. It hence appears how hardened the Jews had become; for doubtless the Prophet had no delight in such comparisons, as though he wished rhetorically to embellish his discourse; but as he saw that their hearts were inflexible, and that a common way of speaking would be despised, or would have no weight and authority, he was constrained to use such similitudes. And at this day, there is no less insensibility in those who despise God; for however Prophets may thunder, while God spares and indulges them, they promise to themselves perpetual quietness. Hence it is, that they ridicule and insult both God and his servants, as though they were too harshly treated. As then, the same impiety prevails now in the world as formerly, we may hence learn what vehemence they ought to use whom God calls to the same office of teaching. Plain teaching, then, will ever be deemed frigid in the world, except it, be accompanied with sharp goads, such as we find employed here by the Prophet (235) He adds —


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-9.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A TRUE PATRIOT

‘Oh … that I might weep day and night.’

Jeremiah 9:1

How was this one man able to do so much for Israel, to give it no less than six hundred years of life? Because of his character.

We, too, have great tasks to perform. Salt kills corruption and so saves life. Christ says to us, ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.’ Are we giving life to the nation we belong to?

If we wish to know how to do it, let us note what it was that empowered Jeremiah for his bitter, glorious task. Three characteristics are worthy of note.

I. His unbending steadfastness.—His two strongest passions were love of country and love of God. But he made the love of God supreme, and had to suffer abuse, imprisonment, all but death, at the hands of the countrymen he so dearly loved (Jeremiah 20:7-11). He was, as God had called him to be—an iron pillar. This is what we need in our churches. To save our nation from the love of pleasure we need such ‘iron pillars.’

II. His tender sympathy.—The four chapters, 31–33, are known as the ‘Book of Consolation.’ Where can you find more touching messages than these? ‘Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he a pleasant child? My bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.… Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears.… I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. Upon this I awaked and beheld, and my sleep was sweet unto me’ (Jeremiah 31:20; Jeremiah 31:16; Jeremiah 31:25-26). He was a man of a great soul, able and willing to weep with the oppressed and suffering and guilty. He was an ‘iron pillar’ in steadfastness to his God, but he was as a gentle mother to the erring children.

III. His spirituality.—The people had broken the old covenant. It had been written on tables of stone. Jeremiah’s great hope was in looking forward to a New Covenant that was to be purely spiritual. ‘This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. In their heart will I write it.… They shall all know Me.… I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more for ever’ (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Here, then, is to be our strength—in unbending steadfastness to God, in tender love for the people, and in having the law and the love of God written on our hearts. Let us see to these three things and we shall become powerful for the pulling down of strongholds.

Illustrations

(1) ‘With the beautiful Temple fell all the hopes and confidence of the Jews. They were carried off into captivity, and it seemed as if the last stay of God’s true worship was gone. (597 and 586 b.c.) But one man was left to build up the ruins. It was Jeremiah. He preserved his faith in the one true God; rallied Israel around that belief as the centre of their national life; and gave them the hope of again enjoying God’s favour. Thus they were kept steadfast in exile, and came back, some sixty or seventy years after (537 b.c.), to their own land with a purified faith. The nation had been at the point of extinction. It was brought back to its fatherland and lived six hundred years. But it sinned once again, and this time against God’s own Son, and was finally shattered in the year 70 a.d.’

(2) ‘Tears, give me tears, as I see the vast population of Great Britain, growing up without the religion that made our land great. When the working classes in growing numbers absent themselves from places of worship; when the youths and maidens turn their backs upon the religion of their fathers; when the little children count their Sunday-schools irksome—what reason there is to weep! When Jesus beheld the city He wept over it.’

(3) ‘Once the voice of joy and thanksgiving had been heard in Jerusalem, but now on every side there was bloodshed, and the patriot prophet could only weep incessantly over the slain. A lodge in the wilderness seemed preferable to the most luxurious mansion in the city, better than to continue to associate with the ungodly perpetrators of such crimes. Yet we must not go out of the fray as long as our Captain wants us to remain in it, in dependence upon Him.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/jeremiah-9.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 9:1 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!

Ver. 1. Oh that mine head were waters.] Mira sermonis transfiguratione utitur propheta, A wonderful wish of this weeping prophet, and to be taken up by God’s faithful ministers, considering the woeful condition of their perishing people, posting to perdition. Pia est illa tristitia, et si dici potest, beata miseria, Appease this sadness and if able to be said, bless this woe, saith Augustine; (a) this is a sweet sorrow, a blessed misery. Such waters will be turned into wine, at the wedding day of the Lamb; for which purpose also they are kept safe in God’s bottle. [Psalms 56:8]

And mine eyes a fountain of tears.] That there might be a perennity of them. The same word in Hebrew signifieth both an eye and a fountain; both because the eye is of a watery constitution, and for that our eye should trickle down and not cease for our own and other men’s sins and miseries. [Lamentations 3:49] Athanasius by his tears, as by the bleeding of a chaste vine, is said to have cured the leprosy of that tainted age. (b)


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-9.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Chapter opens with the cry of the Prophet over the sins and calamities of the people. Jeremiah having poured out his soul upon this occasion, and wept before the throne, prosecutes his Sermon, in calling upon the people to hear the Lord's decrees concerning them.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/jeremiah-9.html. 1828.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 9:1

The "weeping prophet" is the title often given to Jeremiah. He is not a popular prophet. Unhappy men are not commonly popular men. Yet this one had ample reason for the depression under which he lived and the minor key which runs through the strain of his writings. He had a most delicately sensitive nature, a most profound attachment to the cause of God, an intense patriotic love of his native land; yet it was his lot to live at an age when the people of God had fallen into most fearful apostasy, and the most terrible judgments were impending over them. It was his mission to tell the people of their sins, to rebuke the nobles for their oppression, the humbler orders for their vileness, the priesthood for their falseness, even his fellow-prophets for their infidelity to the living God. To his own times and people he was the prophet of doom.

I. Jeremiah represents a class of good men and women of whom some exist in every age. There are some good men of whom it must be conceded that they are not gay Christians. They have a peculiarly sensitive and deep nature. Their religion is proportionately deep and tender.

II. Christians of the broken heart, it must be confessed, are not apt to be popular with the world; very hard things are said of them, very unjust judgments they have to bear in silence.

III. The class of men and women of whom Jeremiah is the type possess a very profound style of Christian character. Eternity will show to us all that some of the world's great souls are among them.

IV. Such Christians as the weeping prophet represents are men and women of great spiritual power. The world does not like them, but cannot help respecting them. We love realities after all. We feel the power of the man who knows the most of them and feels them most profoundly.

V. Who can help seeing that brokenhearted Christians are in some respects very nearly akin to the Lord Jesus Christ?

VI. These Christians of the broken heart are sure of a very exalted rank in heaven.

A. Phelps, The Old Testament a Living Book, p. 7.


Reference: Jeremiah 9:1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii., No. 150.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/jeremiah-9.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 9:1. Oh that my head were waters We have here a fine instance of the pathetic, wherein Jeremiah so much excels. He sympathizes with the calamities of his people, in order to excite them to a sense of their own misfortunes, and to prevail upon them to humble themselves under the afflicting hand of the Almighty.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-9.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

JEREMIAH CHAPTER 9

The prophet’s lamentation continueth over their adultery, deceit, idolatry, which God would certainly punish, and they should be laid waste, when they should sufficiently lament, Jeremiah 9:1-22. No trust in ourselves, but in God, who will punish all nations, Jeremiah 9:23-26.

Oh that my head were waters! Heb. Who will give, &c.? by way of inquiry, because the Hebrews do want the imperative mood. The prophet in this chapter principally bewailing his poor countrymen’s calamity, whom Its therefore calls

the daughter of his people, he expresseth the greatness and excess of his sorrows, by wishing that his brains were as it were dissolved into water, (for the word is singular,) as if he wished it were all one water, signifying plenty, and that his eyes might distil tears like a fountain; the same word in the Hebrew for eye signifies a fountain; noting the continuance of it, as not to be drawn dry, expressed by day and night, apprehending it a misery so great, as never sufficiently to be bewailed. See Luke 19:41.

The slain; or that are to be slain, viz. by the Babylonians; a prophetical style; as sure to be slain as if they were slain already.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-9.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-9.html. 1874-1909.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Jeremiah 9:1. Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, then, I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

Matthew Henry well observes that, in the Hebrew, the same word signifies “eye” and “fountain”, as if God had as much given us eyes to weep with as to see with, as if there were as much cause to sorrow over sin as to look out upon the beauties of the world. Magnificent in its poetry, and most touching in its pathos, is this verse, which ought never to have been cut off from the previous chapter: “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 exposition consisted of readings from Jeremiah 8; Jeremiah 9:1.


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Bibliography
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/jeremiah-9.html. 2011.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jeremiah loved his people so much that he wished he had more tears to shed for those of them that had died (cf. 2 Samuel 18:33; Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:41-44; Romans 9:1-5; Romans 10:1). His empathy with his people"s sufferings earned him the nickname "the weeping prophet" (cf. Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17). This is the last verse of chapter8 in the Hebrew Bible.

"It"s unusual today to find tears either in the pulpit or the pews; the emphasis seems to be on enjoyment." [Note: Wiersbe, p90.]


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-9.html. 2012.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Jeremiah 9:1. O that my head, &c. — The prophet sympathizes with the calamities of his people, as before, Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 8:21; and thereby excites them to a sense of their own misfortunes, that they might humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. The passage is a fine instance of the pathetic, wherein Jeremiah so much excels. That I might weep day and night for the slain, &c. — For the multitudes of his countrymen that he foresaw would fall by the sword of the Babylonians. When we hear of great numbers slain in battles and sieges, we ought not to make a light matter of it, but to be much affected with it; yea, though they be not of the daughter of our people — For of whatever people they are, they are of the same human nature with us; and there are so many precious lives lost, as dear to them as ours to us, and so many precious souls gone into eternity.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-9.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

To. Hebrew is more expressive. (Calmet) --- "Who will give my head waters, (Haydock) or change it into water, and my eyes into a fountain." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Oh that my head were waters." (Haydock) --- The miseries of my people are so great, (Calmet) a few tears would not suffice to bewail them. (Worthington)


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-9.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Oh that, &c. Figure of speech Pathopoeia.

waters . . . fountain . . . tears. Figure of speech Catabasis.

slain. Not healed by "balm" or "physician".


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-9.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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!

Oh that my head were waters. This verse is more fitly joined to last chapter, as Jeremiah 9:23 in the Hebrew (cf. Isaiah 22:4, "I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people;" Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48, "Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people").


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-9.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

IX.

(1) Oh, that my head were waters . . .!—Literally, Who will give my head waters . . .? The form of a question was, in Hebrew idiom as in Latin, the natural utterance of desire. In the Hebrew text this verse comes as the last in Jeremiah 8. It is, of course, very closely connected with what precedes; but, on the other hand, it is even more closely connected with what follows. Strictly speaking, there ought to be no break at all, and the discourse should flow on continuously.

A fountain.—Here, as in Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13, and elsewhere, the Hebrew word makor is a tank or réservoir rather than a spring.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-9.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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!
O that
Heb. Who will give, etc.
4:19; 13:17; 14:17; Psalms 119:136; Isaiah 16:9; 22:4; Lamentations 2:11,18,19; Lamentations 3:48,49; Ezekiel 21:6,7
weep
Psalms 42:3
the daughter
6:26; 8:21,22

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-9.html.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah 8:18 to Jeremiah 9:1. Jeremiah's Sorrow over Judah's Suffering.—The prophet, in sorrowful sympathy with his people, hears in anticipation the cry of the exiles and Yahweh's answer. They reproach Him with His abandonment of Zion; He points to their idolatry, and introduction of foreign ("strange") deities. The people lament (apparently in proverbial form) the disappointment of their hope of deliverance; it is as when the hope of harvest (April-June) has been destroyed, and the failure of the autumn ingathering (Jeremiah 8:20 mg.) has removed the remaining expectation; they (emph.) have not been rescued from their distress (the reference in "saved" is to material prosperity, not to a spiritual change). The prophet himself goes arrayed as a mourner ("I am black", mg.), appalled because of his people's wound; is there no cure? He cannot sorrow enough for the tragedy of Judah.

Jeremiah 8:22. balm: not the balsam, but mastic, a medicinally used resin, abundant in Gilead (Genesis 37:25, mg.), and exported to other countries.—health: Heb. "new flesh", which "comes up", i.e. forms over a wound.


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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9:1". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jeremiah-9.html. 1919.

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