Jeremiah 9:10-19 – The Lament of God


Jeremiah 9:10-19


The pathos of God over the suffering of the people of Israel is once again expressed in intense terms.


In this section, readers are initially confronted with an issue of translation, evident in the differences between NRSV (“Take up weeping and wailing”) and NIV (“I will take up weeping and wailing”). The latter is a translation of the Hebrew text; the former is based on Septuagint and Syriac translations. There is no good reason not to follow the Hebrew text here; the idea that God would weep and wail certainly has parallels elsewhere in Jeremiah as we have seen. So, God weeps and wails over what has happened to the environment, including land, livestock, birds, and animals. This is an effect of the Babylonian invasion, which Jeremiah 9:11 makes clear is due to the judgment of God. This combination of divine weeping and judgment is common in Jeremiah; again and again, God’s wrath is accompanied by God’s tears. Anger and tears flow together for God, as for human beings who have suffered the brokenness of close relationships.

After a repetition of indictment against the people and an announcement of judgment (9:13-16), divine weeping once again fills the scene over the devastation experienced by the people of Israel (9:17-22). In 9:17, God calls on the audience to gather the mourning/skilled women to participate in a wake. These women are professional mourners who represent the entire community at the death of an individual or the destruction of a city. They are called to raise a dirge over “us,” so that “our” eyes may flow with tears and “our” eyelids flow with water (see 14:17-18). Inasmuch as God is speaking, God is included among the “us” and “our,” both as one who mourns and is mourned for. In some sense, God has died the death of this people; God, too, goes into exile.