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O that my head were a spring of water,

and my eyes a fountain of tears,

so that I might weep day and night

for the slain of my poor people!


O that I had in the desert

a traveler’s lodging place,

that I might leave my people

and go away from them!

For they are all adulterers,

a band of traitors.


They bend their tongues like bows;

they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth;

for they proceed from evil to evil,

and they do not know me, says the L ord.



Beware of your neighbors,

and put no trust in any of your kin;

for all your kin are supplanters,

and every neighbor goes around like a slanderer.


They all deceive their neighbors,

and no one speaks the truth;

they have taught their tongues to speak lies;

they commit iniquity and are too weary to repent.


Oppression upon oppression, deceit upon deceit!

They refuse to know me, says the L ord.



Therefore thus says the L ord of hosts:

I will now refine and test them,

for what else can I do with my sinful people?


Their tongue is a deadly arrow;

it speaks deceit through the mouth.

They all speak friendly words to their neighbors,

but inwardly are planning to lay an ambush.


Shall I not punish them for these things? says the L ord;

and shall I not bring retribution

on a nation such as this?



Take up weeping and wailing for the mountains,

and a lamentation for the pastures of the wilderness,

because they are laid waste so that no one passes through,

and the lowing of cattle is not heard;

both the birds of the air and the animals

have fled and are gone.


I will make Jerusalem a heap of ruins,

a lair of jackals;

and I will make the towns of Judah a desolation,

without inhabitant.


12 Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has the mouth of the L ord spoken, so that they may declare it? Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? 13And the L ord says: Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accordance with it, 14but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their ancestors taught them. 15Therefore thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am feeding this people with wormwood, and giving them poisonous water to drink. 16I will scatter them among nations that neither they nor their ancestors have known; and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.


The People Mourn in Judgment


Thus says the L ord of hosts:

Consider, and call for the mourning women to come;

send for the skilled women to come;


let them quickly raise a dirge over us,

so that our eyes may run down with tears,

and our eyelids flow with water.


For a sound of wailing is heard from Zion:

“How we are ruined!

We are utterly shamed,

because we have left the land,

because they have cast down our dwellings.”



Hear, O women, the word of the L ord,

and let your ears receive the word of his mouth;

teach to your daughters a dirge,

and each to her neighbor a lament.


“Death has come up into our windows,

it has entered our palaces,

to cut off the children from the streets

and the young men from the squares.”


Speak! Thus says the L ord:

“Human corpses shall fall

like dung upon the open field,

like sheaves behind the reaper,

and no one shall gather them.”


23 Thus says the L ord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the L ord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the L ord.

25 The days are surely coming, says the L ord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.


Jeremiah, speaking in God’s name, concludes that the chastisement, of which he had spoken, was necessary; And what I have already said appears more clearly from this verse, — that he brings to light their sins, that they might know that they could not escape God’s hand, who is a just avenger of wickedness; for they had extremely provoked him by their petulance and obstinacy.

I will try or melt them, he says, and I will prove them As they put on a false color, he says that there was a trial needful, as when any one shews copper or any other metal for gold, he is disproved by trial. Any impostor might otherwise sell dross for silver: the spurious metal, that is passed as gold or silver, must be proved; it must be cast into the fire and melted. As then the Jews thought that they had honest pretences to cover their baseness, God gives this answer, that he had yet a way to discover their deceitfulness, and as it were tells them, “The goldsmith, when any one brings dross for silver, or copper for gold, has a furnace, and he tries it; so will I try and melt you; for you think that you can dazzle ray eyes by false pretences: this will avail you nothing.” In short, God intimates that he had means ready at hand to discover their deceitfulness, and that thus their hypocrisy would be of no advantage to them, as his judgments would be like a furnace. As then stubble or wood, cast into the furnace, is immediately burnt, so hypocrites cannot endure God’s judgment. They indeed at first exhibit some brightness, until God tries them; but their deceits must eventually be discovered; and they themselves will be consumed when they come to be really proved. This is the meaning.

And the reason is added, For how should I do with the daughter of my people? This may be applied to Jeremiah himself; but it would be a strained meaning. He then continues, I have no doubt, to speak in God’s name; How then should I do, or act, with the daughter of my people? God speaks here as one deliberating; and thus he more fully proves the Jews guilty; for since he admits them as judges or counsellors, they could give no other reply. We hence see that this question is very emphatic; for the Prophet intimates, that except the Jews were beyond measure stupid, they could no longer flatter themselves in their sins, so as to demand to be otherwise treated by God, as they had in so many ways and with s.uch perversity procured vengeance for themselves. 240240     All the ancient versions (except the Vulgate) and the Targum read, as though בת “daughter,” were רעת “wickedness,” as in Jeremiah 7:12. Both Houbigant and Horsley adopt this reading; and the first gives the meaning of “thus” to איך, and not “how.” Then the verse would be,
   Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, — Behold I will melt them that I may try them;
For thus will I do because of the wickedness of my people.

   The rendering of the last line, according; to the received text, might be this, which is nearly the Vulgate,

   For how should I deal otherwise with the daughter of my people?

   The passage runs better in this way, than according to the proposed emendation. — Ed.

But we hence learn that it is right that judgment should begin at the house of God, as it is elsewhere said. (1 Peter 4:17.) God indeed will not pass by anytliing without punishing it: hence the heathens must at last stand before his tribunal. But as he is nearer to his Church, their impiety, who profess themselves to be as it were his domestics, is less tolerable, as though he had said, “I have chosen you to be my peculiar people, and have taken you under my care and protection; when ye become intractable, what remains for me to do, but to try you, as ye act so unfaithfully towards me.” It follows —

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