David A. Bosworth, «The Tears of God in the Book of Jeremiah», Vol. 94 (2013) 24-46
The article analyzes several passages in Jeremiah in which God weeps in order to understand the function of divine weeping in the book. Attention to the distribution of weeping in the book finds that God’s weeping (8,23; 9,9.17; 13,17; 14,17) gives way to divine anger and refusal to hear the petitions of the people (15,1; 16,5-7). LXX and many modern commentators have attempted to deny that God weeps in these passages. However, several texts clearly depict God weeping, and weeping deities are common in ancient Near Eastern literature.
THE TEARS OF GOD IN THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
5. Jeremiah 14,17
Here again commentators understand these tears as Jeremiahâ€™s 48.
However, the speech is introduced as YHWHâ€™s words and YHWH is
the one who weeps. Thus, YHWH speaks through Jeremiah in 14,17-
18 49. Perhaps Jeremiah also weeps and thereby embodies YHWHâ€™s
weeping here as in 8,23, but Jeremiahâ€™s participation is less clear 50.
Consequently, I prefer to say that (as in Jer 9,9) YHWH weeps, but
Jeremiah does not. In 14,19-22, the people speak in response to
YHWHâ€™s words, as indicated by the shift to a first-person plural
speaker and second-person masculine singular addressee. Since
YHWH speaks, the tears belong to YHWH:
Let my eye flow with tears (h[md yny[ hndrt)
night and day and without ceasing
As in 13,17, LXX modifies the text to read â€œyour eyesâ€. Again,
LXX understands that YHWH speaks these words but seeks to present
YHWH as not weeping, while modern commentators read the MT as
spoken by Jeremiah. As in 8,23, YHWH desires to weep both â€œnight
and dayâ€, so the language stresses the continuity of weeping. Also
like 8,23, 14,17 speaks of â€œmy (virgin) daughter peopleâ€ and her
â€œwoundâ€ (8,21), which indicates that YHWH weeps for the suffering
of the people which YHWH also inflicts. Unlike 8,23, however, this
passage employs the poetic idiom â€œmy eyes flow with tearsâ€ (also in
9,17 bis; 13,17). The context indicates that this speech is aimed par-
ticularly at the prophets who have been telling the people that there
will be peace and rains will soon end the drought. The tears of YHWH
here explicitly contrast with the optimistic preaching of the prophets.
In response to YHWHâ€™s tears, the people offer a lament of their own
in which they acknowledge their guilt and seek divine assistance in
RUDOLPH, Jeremia, 102; HOLLADAY, Jeremiah, I, 436; MCKANE, Jere-
miah, I, 329; THOMPSON, Jeremiah, 385; CRAIGIE, Jeremiah 1â€“25, 203; LUND-
BOM, Jeremiah, I, 712; ALLEN, Jeremiah, 174. CARROLL, Jeremiah, 316,
identifies the weeper neutrally as â€œthe speakerâ€.
ROBERTS, â€œMotif of the Weeping Godâ€, 141; FRETHEIM, Jeremiah, 224;
FISCHER, Jeremia, 484; JEROME, Jeremiah, 92.
FRETHEIM, Jeremiah, 224, speaks of YHWH weeping here, but not Jere-
miah. STULMAN, Jeremiah, 144, thinks the voices of Jeremiah and YHWH are
too intertwined to separate.
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