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
Of the various examples of deities weeping noted above, the tears
of Anat over Baal seem particularly parallel to this passage. M.S.
Smith proposes that a literary topos of a deity lamenting on the
steppe underlies both Jer 9,9 and KTU 1.5 IV 25â€“1.6 I 7 21. In the
Ugaritic text, the goddess Anat searches for the body of her deceased
beloved Baal. She searches every mountain and every hill (kl.Çµr;
kl.gbâ€˜) which corresponds to â€œmountainsâ€ (~yrhh) in Jer 9,9, finds
him on the steppe (dbr; cf. rbdm), and weeps for him (bk; cf. ykb).
She then avenges his death by killing Mot. Smith notes the main
modification of the topos in Jer 9,9 is that for YHWH the beloved and
the enemy are one and the same. YHWH weeps for Israelâ€™s suffering
and is the agent of that suffering.
The term â€œwailingâ€ (yhn) occurs often in this chapter and indicates
something audible and associated with weeping (Jer 9,9; 31,15) and
may be understood as a â€œdirgeâ€ in 9,17.18.1922. The term â€œlamentâ€
(hnyq) in 9,9 strengthens the sense that the weeping of YHWH coincides
with an intelligible lament which is quoted after yk. YHWH weeps over
the emptiness of the land in v. 9 and promises in v. 10 to make
Jerusalem similarly empty. These two verses show how the punishment
that YHWH brings to the people is doubly painful to YHWH. YHWH
weeps, wails, and laments over the loss of a cherished relationship, and
weeps too because YHWH must inflict the angry blows that threaten
the relationship (9,11-15). The text describes these tears, which should
cause the Israelites to repent and repair their relationship with YHWH
to end the divine tears and save themselves.
2. Jeremiah 8,23
Attempts to discern multiple speakers in Jer 8,18-23 so that Jere-
miah rather than YHWH weeps in 8,23 are unconvincing. The principal
aim of discerning several changes of speaker is first to separate the
voices of YHWH and Jeremiah, and second to make Jeremiah, not
YHWH, the one who weeps in 8,2323. J.M. Henderson makes explicit
SMITH, â€œJeremiah IX 9â€, 97-99; followed by CRAIGIE, Jeremiah 1â€“25, 145;
FISCHER, Jeremia, 1.354. The motif is common in Mesopotamian laments. See,
for example, COHEN, Canonical Lamentations, 184, 331, 336, 381, 531.
The term is missing from LXX Jer 9,9.
RUDOLPH, Jeremia, 65; THOMPSON, Jeremiah, 301-302; MCKANE, Jer-
emiah, 1.188-193; SCHMIDT, Jeremia, 201; ALLEN, Jeremiah, 111; LUNDBOM,
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