Jeremiah 9:1
Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IX.

(1) Oh, that my head were waters . . .!—Literally, Who will give my head waters . . .? The form of a question was, in Hebrew idiom as in Latin, the natural utterance of desire. In the Hebrew text this verse comes as the last in Jeremiah 8. It is, of course, very closely connected with what precedes; but, on the other hand, it is even more closely connected with what follows. Strictly speaking, there ought to be no break at all, and the discourse should flow on continuously.

A fountain.—Here, as in Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 17:13, and elsewhere, the Hebrew word makor is a tank or réservoir rather than a spring.

Jeremiah 9:1. O that my head, &c. — The prophet sympathizes with the calamities of his people, as before, Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 8:21; and thereby excites them to a sense of their own misfortunes, that they might humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. The passage is a fine instance of the pathetic, wherein Jeremiah so much excels. That I might weep day and night for the slain, &c. — For the multitudes of his countrymen that he foresaw would fall by the sword of the Babylonians. When we hear of great numbers slain in battles and sieges, we ought not to make a light matter of it, but to be much affected with it; yea, though they be not of the daughter of our people — For of whatever people they are, they are of the same human nature with us; and there are so many precious lives lost, as dear to them as ours to us, and so many precious souls gone into eternity.9:1-11 Jeremiah wept much, yet wished he could weep more, that he might rouse the people to a due sense of the hand of God. But even the desert, without communion with God, through Christ Jesus, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, must be a place for temptation and evil; while, with these blessings, we may live in holiness in crowded cities. The people accustomed their tongues to lies. So false were they, that a brother could not be trusted. In trading and bargaining they said any thing for their own advantage, though they knew it to be false. But God marked their sin. Where no knowledge of God is, what good can be expected? He has many ways of turning a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwell therein.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.

CHAPTER 9

Jer 9:1-26. Jeremiah's Lamentation for the Jews' Sins and Consequent Punishment.

1. This verse is more fitly joined to the last chapter, as verse 23 in the Hebrew (compare Isa 22:4; La 2:11; 3:48).The prophet’s lamentation continueth over their adultery, deceit, idolatry, which God would certainly punish, and they should be laid waste, when they should sufficiently lament, Jeremiah 9:1-22. No trust in ourselves, but in God, who will punish all nations, Jeremiah 9:23-26.

Oh that my head were waters! Heb. Who will give, &c.? by way of inquiry, because the Hebrews do want the imperative mood. The prophet in this chapter principally bewailing his poor countrymen’s calamity, whom Its therefore calls

the daughter of his people, he expresseth the greatness and excess of his sorrows, by wishing that his brains were as it were dissolved into water, (for the word is singular,) as if he wished it were all one water, signifying plenty, and that his eyes might distil tears like a fountain; the same word in the Hebrew for eye signifies a fountain; noting the continuance of it, as not to be drawn dry, expressed by day and night, apprehending it a misery so great, as never sufficiently to be bewailed. See Luke 19:41.

The slain; or that are to be slain, viz. by the Babylonians; a prophetical style; as sure to be slain as if they were slain already.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,.... Or, "who will give to my head water, and to mine eyes a fountain of tears?" as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions. The prophet wishes that his head was turned and dissolved into water, and that tears might flow from his eyes as water issues out from a fountain; and he suggests, that could this be, it would not be sufficient to deplore the miserable estate of his people, and to express the inward grief and sorrow of his mind on account of it.

That I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people; the design of all this is to set forth the greatness and horribleness of the destruction, signifying that words were wanting to express it, and tears to lament it; and to awaken the attention of the people to it, who were quite hardened, insensible, and stupid. The Jewish writers close the eighth chapter with this verse, and begin the ninth with the following.

O that my head were {a} waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

(a) The prophet shows the great compassion that he had toward this people, seeing that he could never sufficiently lament the destruction that he saw to hang over them, which is a special note to discern the true pastors from the hirelings. See Geneva Jer 4:19

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Jeremiah 9:1. Cp. Jeremiah 13:16 f. This is the climax of the prophet’s lamentation, and so to be disconnected from the section that follows.

Ch. Jeremiah 9:2-26. Judah’s corruption described. Her consequent sufferings. The recognition of Jehovah alone secures the weal of any nation

The section may be subdivided as follows.

(i) Jeremiah 9:2-9. The prophet yearns for any retreat, even of the most dreary type, if it will deliver him from the sights he must behold in the city, viz., mutual distrust, treachery, and falsehood, which vitiate even the closest kinship, and lead to rejection of Jehovah, who must punish all this wickedness. (ii) Jeremiah 9:10-16. Disaster is set forth in detail. The land is laid waste. All vegetation and animate life have vanished. Jerusalem itself shall be sacked. Can the wise interpret this? It is because of idolatrous excesses. (iii) Jeremiah 9:17-22. The professional mourning women are bidden to come, and words are given them in which to bewail the fallen nation. Death steals in like a thief. No place is exempt; while the young are cut off in the open. (iv) Jeremiah 9:23-26 are foreign to the context. See notes.Verse 1. - The Hebrew more correctly attaches this verse to Jeremiah 8. Oh that my head were waters, etc.! A quaint conceit, it may be said. But "if we have been going on pace for pace with the passion before, this sudden conversion of a strong-felt metaphor into something to be actually realized in nature, is strictly and strikingly natural." So Bishop Dearie, quoting, by way of illustration, Shakespeare's 'Richard II.,' "meditating on his own utter annihilation as to royalty:"

"Oh that I were a mockery king of snow,
To melt before the sun of Bolingbroke!"
The tone of complaint continues in the following verse, though the subject is different. The terribleness of these enemies is heightened by a new figure. They are compared to snakes of the most venomous description, which cannot be made innocuous by any charming, whose sting is fatal. "Vipers" is in apposition to "serpents;" serpents, namely basilisks. צפעני is, acc. to Aq. and Vulg. on Isaiah 11:8, serpens regulus, the basilisk, a small and very venomous species of viper, of which there is no charming. Cf. for the figure, Cant. 10:11; and fore the enemies' cruelty thereby expressed, cf. Jeremiah 6:23; Isaiah 13:18.
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