Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
This verse is joined in the Hebrew to the preceding chapter. But any break at all here interrupts the meaning.
A fountain - Rather, "a reservoir," in which tears had been stored up, so that the prophet might weep abundantly.
From their punishment the prophet now turns to their sins.
The prophet utters the wish that he might be spared his daily striving, and in some lone wilderness give way to his sorrow, without restraint.
A lodging place - It was usual to build in the desert, either by private charity or at the public expense, caravanserais, to receive travelers for a single night, who had however to bring their own supplies with them.
An assembly - Or, a gang.
Treacherous - Faithless toward one another.
Rather, "And they bend their tongue to be their bow of lies, i. e." just as men before a battle get their bows ready, so they of set purpose make ready to do mischief, only their arrows are lying words: "neither do they rule faithfully in the land, i. e." Judaea.
In a state of such utter lawlessness, the bonds of mutual confidence are relaxed, and suspicion takes its place.
Utterly supplant - An allusion to the name of Jacob Gen 27:36. It might be rendered, "every brother is a thorough Jacob."
Will walk with slanders - Or, slandereth.
A continuation of the warning given in Jer 9:4. "Trust no one: for thou dwellest surrounded by deceit on every side." Their rejection of God is the result of their want of honesty in their dealings with one another Jo1 4:20.
I will melt them, and try them - The punishment is corrective rather than retributive. The terms used are those of the refiner of metals, the first being the smelting to separate the pure metal from the ore; the second the testing to see whether the metal is pure, or still mixed with alloy. God will put the nation into the crucible of tribulation, that whatever is evil being consumed in the fire, all there is in them of good may be purified.
For how shall I do ... - Rather, "for how" else could I act with reference to the "daughter of my people?"
An arrow shot out - Rather, "a murderous arrow."
In heart he layeth his wait - Rather, "inwardly he layeth his ambush."
The punishment described in general terms in the preceding three verses is now detailed at great length.
The habitations i. e - the temporary encampments of the shepherds (see Jer 6:3).
So that none can ... - Or, "They are parched up, with no man to pass through them; neither do they hear the voice of cattle; from the birds of the heaven even to the beasts they "are fled, they are gone."
Dragons - Rather, jackals.
For what the land perisheth ... - This is the question proposed for consideration. The prophet calls upon the wise man to explain his question; that question being, Wherefore did the land perish? He follows it by the assertion of a fact: "It is parched like the wilderness with no man to pass through."
The cause of the chastisement about to fall upon Jerusalem, was their desertion of the divine Law.
Imagination - Or, as in the margin.
Which their fathers taught them - It was not the sin of one generation that brought upon them chastisement: it was a sin, which had been handed down from father to son.
I will feed them ... - Rather, I am feeding them. The present participle used here, followed by three verbs in the future, shows that the judgment has beam, of which the successive stages are given in the next clause.
Wormwood - See Deu 29:18, note, and for "water of gall," Jer 8:14, note.
This verse is taken from Lev 26:33. The fulfillment of what had been so long before appointed as the penalty for the violation of Yahweh's covenant is one of the most remarkable proofs that prophecy was something more than human foresight.
Till I have consumed them - See Jer 4:27 note. How is this "consuming" consistent with the promise to the contrary there given? Because it is limited by the terms of Jer 9:7. Previously to Nebuchadnezzars destruction of Jerusalem God removed into safety those in whom the nation should revive.
The mourning women - Hired to attend at funerals, and by their skilled wailings aid the real mourners in giving vent to their grief. Hence, they are called "cunning," literally "wise" women, wisdom being constantly used in Scripture for anything in which people are trained.
Take up a wailing for us - i. e., for the nation once God's chosen people, but long spiritually dead.
Forsaken - Or, left: forced to abandon the land.
Because our dwellings ... - Rather, "because they have east down our dwellings." The whole verse is a description of their sufferings. See Kg2 25:1-12.
The command is addressed to the women because it was more especially their part to express the general feelings of the nation. See Sa1 18:6; Sa2 1:24. The women utter now the death-wail over the perishing nation. They are to teach their daughters and neighbors the "lamentation, i. e., dirge," because the harvest of death would be so large that the number of trained women would not suffice.
Death is come up ... - i. e., death steals silently like a thief upon his victims, and makes such havoc that there are no children left to go "without," nor young men to frequent the open spaces in the city.
The "handful" means the little bundle of grain which the reaper gathers on his arm with three or four strokes of his sickle, and then lays down. Behind the reaper came one whose business it was to gather several of these bundles, and bind them into a sheaf. Thus, death strews the ground with corpses as thickly as these handfuls lie upon the reaped land, but the corpses lie there unheeded.
To the end of Jer. 10 the prophet urges upon the people the practical conclusion to be drawn from God's righteous dealings with them. The three things on which men most pride themselves are shown in this verse to have proved vain.
This is the prophet's remedy for the healing of the nation. It is the true understanding and knowledge of God, of which the first means the spiritual enlightenment of the mind Co1 2:13-14, the other the training of the heart unto obedience Joh 8:31-32. This knowledge of God is further said to find in Him three chief attributes,
(1) "lovingkindness," i. e., readiness to show grace and mercy;
(2) "judgment," a belief in which is declared in Heb 11:6 to be essential to faith;
(3) "righteousness," which is essential to religion absolutely.
Unless men believe that God's dealings with them in life and death are right and just, they can neither love nor reverence him.
All them which are circumcised ... - Rather, "all circumcised in uncircumcision," i. e., all who though outwardly circumcised have no corresponding inward purity.
All that are in the utmost corners - Really, all who have the corners of their hair shorn. The people meant are those Arabs who cut the hair close upon the forehead and temples, but let it grow long behind. See Lev 19:27.
For all these nations are uncircumcised - Or, "for all the pagan are uncircumcised." circumcision probably prevailed partially in the pagan mysteries as a sign of special sanctity, but to the Jews alone it represented their covenant-relation to God.