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.
30 DAVID A. BOSWORTH
1. Jeremiah 9,9
The clearest case of YHWH weeping in the weeping poems ap-
pears in Jer 9,9:
Over the mountains I take up weeping and wailing
(yhnw ykb afa ~yrhh-l[)
and over the pastures of the wilderness a lament
(hnyq rbdm twan-l[w).
YHWH must be the speaker in vv. 8 and 10 and there is no evidence
of a change in speaker in v. 9 18. Attempts to introduce Jeremiah as
the speaker of v. 9 seem artificial and arbitrary, since scholars typi-
cally offer no argument 19. Given the context, it appears that Jeremiah
cannot be the speaker of v. 9 anymore than of vv. 8 or 10. Those com-
mentators who make Jeremiah the speaker in v. 9 evidently have only
one reason: they do not want YHWH to weep. Modern commentators
may not be the only ones uncomfortable with a weeping deity. LXX
reads the plural imperative â€œtake up weepingâ€ rather than â€œI take up
weepingâ€. LXX correctly understands YHWH as the speaker, but
makes the people the weepers rather than YHWH. LXX is more likely
modified from the MT reading than vice versa 20.
Those who see YHWH weeping here include HOLLADAY, Jeremiah, I, 303-
304; M.S. SMITH, â€œJeremiah IX 9 â€” A Divine Lamentâ€, VT 37 (1987) 97-99;
CRAIGIE, Jeremiah, I, 143; G. FISCHER, Jeremia (HTKAT; Freiburg 2005) I,
354; FRETHEIM, Jeremiah, 159; L. STULMAN, Jeremiah (Nashville, TN 2005)
102; M.E. BIDDLE, Polyphony and Symphony in Prophetic Literature. Reread-
ing Jeremiah 7-20 (Studies in Old Testament Interpretation 2; Macon, GA
1996) 31-32; ROBERTS, â€œMotif of the Weeping Godâ€, 141; Oâ€™CONNOR,
MCKANE (Jeremiah, 203) says that if the MT is original, then Jeremiah
must be the speaker, but he offers no reasons why this should be. Similarly,
LUNDBOM, Jeremiah, 1.549; THOMPSON, Jeremiah, 311-312; CARROLL, Jere-
miah, 241-242; RUDOLPH, Jeremia, 67; SCHMIDT, Jeremia, 205.
The scholars of the Old Testament Text Project prefer the MT reading
supported by 4QJera, Aquila, and Symmachus, contra BHS textual note and
NRSV. See D. BARTHÃ‰LEMY, Critique textuelle de lâ€™Ancien Testament (OBO
50/2; GÃ¶ttingen 1986) 538-539.
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