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.
42 DAVID A. BOSWORTH
who deny that YHWH weeps in the weeping poems, acknowledge that
YHWH weeps here. Perhaps the divine tears are â€œacceptableâ€ within
the oracles about the nations because these oracles have been regarded
as â€œthe dregs of the prophetic movementâ€ 58.
The weeping of YHWH in Jer 48,32 resembles the weeping of
YHWH elsewhere in Jeremiah with the exception that here YHWH sor-
rows over the suffering of a people other than Israel/Judah. Fretheim
remarks that â€œto hear such mourning on the part of God for a non-Is-
raelite people is striking indeedâ€ 59. However, YHWHâ€™s concern for
other nations appears in other oracles about the nations (Jer 48,47;
49,6.39), and Moabites appear in a positive light in Ruth and 1 Sam
22,3-4 60. As with Israel, YHWH announces judgment, but takes no
pleasure in the ensuing destruction. YHWH weeps empathetically for
the pain of Moab. J. Woods suggests that this empathy is further mo-
tivated by the futility of the Moabitesâ€™ attempts to save themselves.
She renders the sense of these verses as â€œI will make an end of Moab
(and therefore all she does is futile). Her sacrifices, though earnest,
are pointless. Therefore my heart wails over the futility. (I will make
an end of Moab) and therefore all she has gained will perishâ€ 61. Moab
thereby presents a pathetic spectacle and can motivate YHWHâ€™s tears
even though YHWH is also the agent of Moabâ€™s destruction.
III. Divine Tears in the Context of Jeremiah
Although Jeremiah presents the catastrophe that overcomes
Judah as brought by YHWH, the book also presents YHWH as suffer-
ing in consequence of the destruction of the people. YHWH weeps
for Israel in 8,23; 9,9; 9,17; 13,17; 14,17 and for Moab in 48,32.
Jeremiah may embody these divine tears in at least 8,23; 9,17; 13,17.
D.L. CHRISTENSEN, Transformations of the War Oracle in Old Testament
Prophecy. Studies in the Oracles against the Nations (Harvard Dissertations
in Religion; Missoula, MT 1975) 1. He does not concur with the assessment
FRETHEIM, Suffering of God, 133. Similarly, WOODS, Jeremiah 48, 165-169.
WOODS (Jeremiah 48, 265-269) thinks the extensive focus on YHWHâ€™s
mourning over Moab might be partially explained by the positive references
to Moab in other parts of Scripture.
WOODS, Jeremiah 48, 265.
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