Jer 9.1-26 tells us that Jeremiah weeps over the coming judgment to his people and how Judah has been given over to deception and idolatry. He tells them how to prepare for what is coming and why it is coming. As he ponders what is coming he summons the mourning women to get ready to do their job. The people were not to glory or boast in their wisdom or money, but in God only.
v 1…O 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 (even though the people turned from the Torah, Jeremiah still mourns for his people and what he foresees devastating. He had inexhaustible grief)!
v 2…O that I had in the desert a wayfarer’s lodging place; that I might leave my people and go from them (he was disgusted with their behavior and just wanted to get away from them)! For all of them are adulterous (infidelity literally and spiritually), an assembly of treacherous men (full of falsehoods and deceit).
v 3…”And they bend their tongues like a bow (to shoot lies); lies and not truth prevail in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me,” declares the Lord.
v 4…Let every one be on guard against his neighbor (even those whom profess to be friends), and do not trust any brother (treachery was even in blood relatives); because every brother deals craftily (Hebrew “yakov” or “surplant or trip up by the heel” and a wordplay on Gen 27.26), and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer (tale bearer, and the word “rakil” here has the same root as “rakal” or merchant).
v 5…”And every one deceives his neighbor, and does not speak the truth (in conversation, trade and business), they have taught their tongue to speak lies (they are so accustomed to lying it comes naturally); they weary themselves committing iniquity (spare no effort).
v 6…Your dwelling (Jeremiah’s) is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me,” declares the Lord.
v 7…Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I will refine them and assay them (affliction for their own good); for what else can I do ( it was a proper thing to do), because of the daughter of my people?
v 8…Their tongue is a deadly arrow (v 3); it speaks deceit; with his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him (to trap him or defraud him).
v 9…Shall I not punish them for these things?” declares the Lord. “On a nation such as this shall I not avenge myself?
v 10…For the mountains I will take up a weeping and a wailing (because of all the desolation there), and for the pastures of the wilderness a dirge because they are laid waste (by Babylon), so that no one passes through, and the lowing of the cattle is not heard (they have been carried off); both the birds of the sky and the beasts have fled; they are gone no seed or fruit for them to eat)
v 11…And I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation, without inhabitant.”
v 12…Who is the wise man that may understand this (very few)? And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it (what the causes of the calamity were)? Why is the land ruined, laid waste like a desert, so that no one passes through?
v 13…And the Lord said (the answer), “Because they have forsaken my law (the Torah) which I set before them (to be understood; it was not in heaven or beyond the sea-Deut 30.11), and have not obeyed my voice nor walked according to it (they did not listen to the Torah or walk according to it),
v 14…But have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them (continuously from one generation to another; our enemy does not mind if we pray, fast, or weep all day as long as we do not study the Scriptures and understand them),”
v 15…Therefore (because of the above reasons) thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, wormwood (bitterness) and give them poisoned water to drink (very severe judgment).
v 16…And I will scatter them among the nations, whom neither they nor their fathers have known (carried out of the land into foreign lands-Deut 28.64); and I will send the sword after them until I have annihilated them (in escaping they will not be safe, only a remnant will survive).”
v 17…Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider and call for the mourning women (who lost loved ones), that they may come; and send for the wailing women (skilled in mourning-Ecc 12.5; Amos 5.16- they were experts in this business. Since the people themselves were not moved enough themselves to mourn over what was coming, send for the experts to mourn because they needed to be ready).
v 18…And let them make haste (hurry because judgment is imminent), and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may shed tears, and our eyelids flow with water.
v 19…For a voice of wailing is heard from Zion (out of the fortress of Jerusalem), how we are ruined (they thought the city could never be taken)! We are put to shame (confounded over what is happening, they thought Jerusalem was safe because the Temple and the Ark was there), for we have left the land (forsaken it), because they have cast down our dwellings (fulfilling Lev 18.28).”
v 20…Now hear the word of the Lord, O you women (professional mourners), and let your ear receive the word of his mouth; teach your daughters wailing, and every one her daughter a dirge (they will not mourn in a contrived manner but there will be real mourning by everyone).
v 21…For death (Babylon) has come up through our windows (scaling their walls); it has entered our palaces (rich housing of the nobles that were like fortresses) to cut off the children from (playing) in the streets, the young men from the town squares (doing business).
v 22…Speak, “Thus declares the Lord (Yehovah), ‘The corpses of men will fall like dung in the open field (wholesale slaughter), and like the sheaf after the reaper (left upon the ground), but no one will gather them (for burial).'”
v 23…Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom (worldly, natural wisdom won’t help), and let not the mighty man (in a natural sense) boast of his might (that strength won’t help), let not a rich man boast of his riches (earthly riches won’t help),
v 24…But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands (comprehends) and knows (“yada” or discerning the truth and gaining the capacity to know the Lord in an intimate way) me, that I am the Lord (Yehovah) who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness (as defined by the Torah) on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord (Yehovah gives them the medicine for their healing. To know Yehovah in an intimate way is what was needed-2 Chr 17.6; Jam 1.9; Prov 16.1; Isa 33.6. The Hebrew “yada” means to be “familiar with in an intimate way”-Gen 4.1; Jer 31.34; Hos 2.18-20, 4.6; Matt 7.21-23; 1 John 2.3-4; Dan 11.32. The heart of Yehovah towards us is to know him. How? With our reason, logic and intellect. Feelings can deceive us, we need to listen and stay focused on him, calm and not defensive. Seek friends who challenge us. Better the criticism of friends than the kiss of an enemy. Don’t be afraid to ask questions).
v 25…”Behold (take note of), the days are coming (with Babylon)” declares the Lord, “that I will punish all who are circumcised (in the flesh) and yet uncircumcised (unfruitful in their heart; don’t think that being Abraham’s natural seed will save you);
v 26…Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the sons of Ammon, and Moab, and all those inhabiting the desert (dwell alone, like the Arabians) who clip the hair on their temples (a pagan mourning ritual-Lev 19.27-28; Deut 14.1-2; Lev 21.5); for all the nations are uncircumcised (in the flesh and are unfruitful in Torah righteousness), and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart (unfruitful, disobedient and don’t follow the Torah just like the pagan nations; notice Judah is listed with these other nations).”