Jeremiah 9:20-21

20. Yet hear the word of the Lord, O ye women, and let your ear receive the word of his mouth, and teach your daughters wailing, and every one her neighbor lamentation:

20. Itaque audite mulieres sermonem Jehovae, et percipiant aures vestrae sermonem oris ejus, et docete filias vestras luctum, et unaquaeque (mulier, ad verbum) sociam (vel, propinquam) suam planctum:

21. For death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets.

21. Quia ascendit mors in fenestras nostras, intravit in palatia nostra ad excidendum infantem e platea (e via publica) electos (hoc est adolescentes, etiam in flore oetatis et vigore) in compitis.


He proceeds with the same subject, but adopts another figure. He then somewhat changes the comparison; for he had bidden them before to hire women to excite to mourning by fictitious tears, but he now addresses women in general; as though he had said, that such would be the mourning, that hired lamentations would not be sufficient, for the calamity would touch all hearts, and that mercenary wailing would not be real. Hear, he says, ye women.

Why he addresses women may be accounted for in two ways: the softness of women more easily leads them to weep; there may be also here an indirect condemnation of the men, that they were deaf and so hardened that no threatenings terrified them. But the first seems to be the most suitable reason here, provided we still understand that real mourning is opposed to reigned mourning. Then Jeremiah passes from the particular to the general; that is, after having spoken of hired women, he now includes all women; for lamentation would prevail in every city, and also in every house: Hear then, ye women, the word of Jehovah.

And he adds, and let your ears receive the word of his mouth. He mentions on the one hand the mouth of God, and on the other the ears of women. It seems indeed a redundancy, but the repetition is not superfluous. Had he said only, "Let your ears hear the word of his mouth," there would have been a redundancy; but he spoke before only of the word of God, and hear ye; now he adds, the mouth of God, and the ears of women. The Prophet no doubt intended to rebuke that hardness which we have often noticed. The word of God was deemed of no moment; hence he says, the mouth of God: as though he had said, "God speaks with you as it were from mouth to mouth: for though he employs my labor, I am yet but his instrument; so that you may easily find out that I declare nothing presumptuously, but faithfully deliver what I have received from him." We hence see how emphatical is this repetition, which may seem at first sight to be superfluous. The same emphasis belongs to the ears of women; it is as though he had said, that they had been hitherto extremely indifferent, and that it was time for their ears to be attentive.

He adds, And teach your daughters; as though he had said, that such would be the wailing, that it would reach not only the old and the middle-aged, but even young girls, as yet rude and ignorant. And let every one, he says, teach her neighbor lamentation. In short, the meaning is, that no women, old or young, would be exempt from this mourning, as all would be implicated in a common sorrow; for God's judgment would reach every age, sex, and order of men, and would also penetrate into every house.

And by way of explanation he adds, For death has ascended into our windows. There is here a kind of derision; for the Jews, as it has been said, had falsely promised to themselves a perpetual impunity; and therefore the Prophet adopts here a most suitable comparison. For as they sleep securely, who with closed doors seem to themselves to be beyond the reach of danger; so the Jews at that time despised God and all his judgments, as though the doors of their houses were closed. Hence the Prophet says, that death had entered in through the windows; and he thus derides their folly for thinking that they could escape the hand of God, because their gates were shut, as though. God's power could not ascend above the clouds nor enter through their windows, when the doors were closed. In short, he intimates that the doors would not be opened by God; for though he might not be disposed to break them, he could yet immediately ascend into the windows. We now apprehend the Prophet's design in saying, that death had entered through the windows.

And what he adds respecting palaces bears the same import; as though he had said, "Were our houses even fortified, and were they not. only commodious habitations, but made like citadels, yet God could not be excluded; for his power can penetrate through the highest and the thickest walls, so that a palace is to him like the weakest and frailest cottage." We hence see that by this comparison he checks that foolisll confidence by which the Jews had deceived themselves, and by which they were as yet inebriated. Death then has ascended into our windows, etc.

He then adds, To cut off the young, or children, from the public ways, and the youths from the streets.1 By these words he sets forth the dreadfulness of the calamity; for the youths would not be able to defend themselves by their own strength; for by Myrwxb, bechurim, he means the most robust. Even these would not be able to repel the onset of their enemies; though in the flower of their age, yet their rigor, however strong, would not protect them, nor would children and infants be spared. We see that two things are here set forth by the Prophet, -- that the assaults of their enemies would be so violent, that young men would in vain resist them, as their vigor would avail them nothing, -- and then that such would be the cruelty of their enemies, that no regard would be shewn for age, for they would put to death even infants newly born. It follows --

1 The objection, that there is an inconsisteney in saying that death entered through the windows to cut off children from the street, disappears, when we consider that the Jews thought themselves safe because their gates were dosed and their city fortified. Be it so, says the Prophet, yet death will enter, if not through the gates, yet through the windows, and through our towers, and it will destroy the children who play in our streets, and our young men assembled in the squares and the wide places of our city. That those collected at Jerusalem are here meant, is evident from the nineteenth verse. Then, in the next verse, he refers to those who still continued in the country. And this accounts for the change made in the sentence, which has puzzled some expounders, and induced them to propose emendations. The verse may be thus rendered, --

For climbed has death through our windows, It has come through our towers, To cut off the child from the street, The young men from the broad streets.

Though the gates were closed, yet death came in, not only through windows, or any openings there might have been, but also through strong towers. -- Ed.