Q: so in Jeremiah 13:17 is Jeremiah being literal, figurative(as if He is grieved), or metaphorical when he says “my soul will weep”???

Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, For the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God Before He causes darkness,

And before your feet stumble On the dark mountains, And while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death And makes it dense darkness.

But if you will not hear it, My soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly And run down with tears, Because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:15-17

Post has been edited.

  • Sorry, but I do not see how the context indicates that was God the weeping agent in this passage. The real agent was the prophet (Jeremiah) himself. Apr 10, 2022 at 6:41
  • I could have made a Hermeneutical mistake then. I noticed the surrounding context with the phrases “thus says the Lord”, I had recently been listening to Jeremiah on audio from chapters 1-18, and I heard Jeremiah 13:17 & must have misheard the proper speaker/agent. Either way, if Jeremiah spoke it, him saying “My soul will weep” makes me wonder: What is soulful weeping?
    – Cork88
    Apr 10, 2022 at 7:42
  • 1
    There does not seem to be any text referring to God crying or having tears, according to the Bible concordance I have. However, the Bible does say that "Jesus wept" (Jn.11:35) so there we have God incarnate shedding tears. But God is Spirit, so all references to God in heaven having a beard, or white hair etc must be metaphoric and not literal.
    – Anne
    Apr 10, 2022 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


Any comment about God's divine nature is pure speculation - we are not told!!

What we do know is that the many statements about God's emotions are anthropomorphisms - an attempt to convey impossible -to-describe-information by making it like what we are used to - human. But God is not human so exactly what goes on with Him we do not know.

We are definitely told that God is invisible (Col 1:15) and thus cannot be described. God is also spirit (2 Cor 3:18) about which we know nothing. God is nowhere described in Scripture so we know nothing about His body, assuming that is even meaningful.

The only things we know for sure are some details of God's character, namely that He is loving, kind, holy, pure, gracious, forgiving, patient, etc, etc.

Therefore, I will not speculate.

Jer 13:17

In the specific case of Jer 13:17 we find a very famous passage, one of at least two where the prophet weeps. These have given Jeremiah the title: "The Weeping Prophet".

  • Jer 13:17 - But if you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.
  • Jer 9:1 - Oh, that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night over the slain daughter of my people.
  • Jer 9:10 - I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, a dirge over the wilderness pasture, for they have been scorched so no one passes through, and the lowing of cattle is not heard. Both the birds of the air and the beasts have fled; they have gone away.

Note Ellicott's remarks:

(17) My soul shall weep in secret places for your pride.—The words present no difficulty that requires explanation, but deserve to be noted in their exquisite tenderness as characteristic of the prophet’s temperament (comp. Lamentations 1:16), reminding us of the tears shed over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41) and of St. Paul’s “great heaviness and continual sorrow” (Romans 9:2). Nothing remained for one who found his labours fruitless but silent sorrow and intercession. The “secret places” find a parallel in our Lord’s withdrawal for prayer into a “solitary place” (Mark 1:35).

Thus it is in Jer 13:17 it is the prophet weeping, not God. However, we find many other passages where God expresses emotion, but this another question.

  • I edited it from God to Jeremiah, not sure if that is important to you. ;)
    – Cork88
    Apr 10, 2022 at 20:29
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    @Cork88 - It is the same for Isa 42:1 - where God talks about "my soul". This is clearly an anthropomorphism
    – Dottard
    Apr 10, 2022 at 20:48

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