Yahweh explains why he is doing this (Jer 9:13-9:14)

“Yahweh says.

‘They have forsaken my law

That I set before them.

They have not obeyed my voice.

They have not walked in accordance with it.

But they have stubbornly followed

Their own hearts.

They have gone after the Baals,

As their ancestors taught them.”

Yahweh explains why this punishment was about to take place. They simply have forsaken the law of Yahweh that he set before them. They have not obeyed his voice. They have not walked according to his ways. They have stubbornly followed their own hearts. They went to the pagan idol gods of Baal, like their ancestors. Yahweh clearly explained his reasoning.

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Why this ruin? (Jer 9:12-9:12)

“Who is wise enough

To understand this?

To whom

Has the mouth of Yahweh spoken?

Who can declare it?

Why is the land ruined?

Why is it laid waste

Like a wilderness?

Why does no one pass through?”

Yahweh asks the simple question. Why did there have to be this devastating ruin? Was anyone wise enough to understand what was happening? Who did Yahweh tell about what was going to happen? Why this great ruin and wasteland with no one around? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. Yahweh will respond to his own questions.

The punishment (Jer 9:10-9:11)

“Take up weeping!

Wail for the mountains!

Take up a lamentation

For the pastures of the wilderness!

Because they are laid waste,

Thus no one passes through.

The lowing of cattle is not heard.

The birds of the air

Have fled.

The animals are gone.

I will make Jerusalem

A heap of ruins.

I will make it

A lair of jackals.

I will make the towns of Judah

A desolation without inhabitants.”

Now Yahweh reveals his punishment but he laments doing it. He wants them to cry and weep for the mountains and the pastures because they were going to become a wasteland. They will not hear the cattle, the birds, or other animals because they will have gone and fled away. Jerusalem will be a ruined heap and a home for jackals, while the towns of Judah will become desolate towns without anyone living there.

How should they be punished? (Jer 9:7-9:9)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will now refine them.

I will test them.

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

They are planning

To lay an ambush.

Shall I not punish them

For these things?

Shall I not bring retribution

On a nation such as this?’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh wants to test or refine this sinful people. Their tongues are like deadly arrows because of their deceit. They speak friendly words to their neighbors, but they are planning an ambush for them. How are they to be punished? How much retribution should be handed out to such a people and a country?

The deceitful neighbors (Jer 9:4-9:6)

“‘Beware of your neighbors!

Put no trust in any of your relatives!

All your relatives are liars.

Every neighbor goes around

Like a slanderer.

They all deceive their neighbors.

No one speaks the truth.

They have taught their tongues

To speak lies.

They commit iniquity.

They are too weary to repent.

Oppression upon oppression!

Deceit upon deceit!

They refuse to know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh about watching out for your neighbors and their deceitfulness. Not only are they to be aware of their neighbors, but also their own relatives and next of kin. They were not to trust them because they were liars, hoping to take their place. Neighbors are going around slandering them. No one was speaking the truth because they all had taught their tongues to lie. When they did something wrong, they were too weary to repent. Thus there was oppression piled on oppression, deceit after deceit. They all refused to know Yahweh.

A lamentation about the moral corruption of Judah (Jer 9:1-9:3)

“‘O that my head were a spring of water!

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears!

Thus 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!

Thus I might leave my people!

Thus I might go away from them!

They are all adulterers.

They are a band of traitors.

They bend their tongue

Like bows.

They have grown strong in the land

Because of falsehood,

Not because of truth.

They proceed from evil to evil.

They do not know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh that speaks out about his lament over the corruption in Judah. Yahweh wished that he had a head with a spring of water or fountain of tears in his eyes, so that he could weep all day and night for the dead people of Judah. He wished that he had a lodging place in the desert so that he could get away from his poor people. They were all adulterers and traitors. They bent their tongues like bows with all their falsehood, instead of truth. They simply went from one evil to another evil. They did not even know Yahweh. It was a terrible scene. There is a slight discrepancy of the verse numbers since this first verse in the Jerusalem Bible is the last of the preceding chapter. However, I will follow the Revised Standard edition numbering for this chapter.

Who will heal them? (Jer 8:21-8:22)

“I am hurt

For the hurt

Of my poor people.

I mourn.

Dismay has taken hold on me.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health

Of my poor people

Not been restored?”

Jeremiah is hurting for his poor people. He is mourning because he is dismayed. There is no healing with the balm from Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan River. There were no physicians to help them. The health of his poor people was not being restored. In fact, it was deteriorating instead of getting better.