Jeremiah 48:29-39 – The Tears of God



God weeps over the suffering of the Moabites.


The word of God spoken against Moab is one of several oracles against the nations in Jeremiah 46-51. Most, if not all, of them are set in relation to the advances of Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar. The Moabites suffered as much as did the Israelites, not least because they had joined Israel in rebellion (see 27:1-11). Their pride and arrogance are especially mentioned as the reason for their participation in the judgment. The references to weeping and wailing on the part of the Moabites are similar to the many references in Jeremiah to the suffering of the Israelites.

Five different words are used for the weeping of the Moabites. As great as their pride is, the intensity of their fall has been comparably great. Equally as intense is God’s lament over what has happened to this people: God wails, cries out, and mourns for Moab and for individual cities (as also in Isaiah 15:5; 16:9, 11).

God’s lament has been interpreted as ironic or mocking of Moab. Yet, given the similarities of God’s lamenting to the divine laments over Israel (8:18-9:1; 9:10, 17-19; 13:17; 14:17), it is more likely that God’s mourning is to be taken at face value. It is especially striking that God laments over the suffering of nonchosen people. Israel has no monopoly on divine empathy.