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Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive out of his own land.
28—30. Enumeration ofNebuchadnezzar's captives.
This is the people whom Nebuchadrezzar carried away s8 captive: in the seventh year three thousand Jews and three and twenty: in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar he 29 carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred thirty and two persons: in the three and twentieth year of Nebu- 30 chadrezzar Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred forty and five persons: all the persons were four thousand and six hundred.
31—34. Last notice of Jehoiachin. And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of 31
28—30. Enumeration Of Nebuchadnezzar s Captives. 28. in the seventh year] This passage does not occur in the Septuagint, perhaps as coming out of a separate document from the rest, and containing certain difficulties. In the seventh year the reference can hardly be to the captivity of Jehoiakim, as that was in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and the number of captives was far greater than is here specified (2 Kings xxiv. 12, 14). Probably therefore the Heb. for tenth has dropped out before seventh, and we are to read seventeenth year. If then we consider the document from which this is taken to have dated from Nebuchadnezzar's formal (one year later than his actual) accession (see note on ver. 12), we make the reference to be to the time when the siege was going on (his eighteenth year, according to the common reckoning). Thus this captivity would consist chiefly, at any rate, of inhabitants of the country parts. In the next year, his 'eighteenth'1 (nineteenth), Jerusalem was taken, and the second of these three deportations took place, while five years later in his 'three and twentieth (four and twentieth) year', (and therefore a considerable time after the troubles related chaps, xl.—xlii.), a third deportation occurred, of which we have no other account than this. To reconcile the total given here (ver. 30) with the much larger number who returned with Ezra (Ezra ii. 64) leaving many behind in Babylon, we have only to remember (a) those who were carried away with Jehoiachin before any of the three captivities here mentioned, (b) the probably constant emigration of Jews to Babylon, and (c) the lapse of time, equal to two generations, which intervened before the return.'
31—34. Last Notice Of Jehoiachin. 31. This passage occurs also with slight variations in 2 Kings xxv. S7—3°
the seven and thirtieth year] B.C. 501, as his captivity had begun B.C. 597.
the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, thai Evil-merodach king of Babylon in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and 31 brought him forth out of prison, and spake kindly unto him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were
33 with him in Babylon, and changed his prison garments: and he did continually eat bread before him all the days of
34 his life. And for his diet, there was a continual diet given him of the king of Babylon, every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
the five and twentieth day of the month] in 2 Kings xxv. 27 the seven and twentieth day of the month.
Evil-merodach] son of Nebuchadnezzar. He reigned two years, and was slain by his brother-in-law Neriglissar (the Nergal-sharezer of xxxix. 3, 13) who succeeded him.
lifted up the head] For the phrase in this sense compare Gen. xl. 13, 10.
32. set his throne above] in general, paid him more honour.
the kings] captured kings were kept at the court of their conqueror as a means of perpetuating the memory of his triumph. Compare Jud. i. 7. So Croesus dwelt at the court of Cyrus.
33. changed his prison garments] Compare Gen. xli. 42; Esth. viii. 15 ; Dan. v. 29; Luke xv. 22. The frequent mention of such a circumstance shews the importance attaching in the Oriental mind to the style of a person's dress.
did continually eat bread before him] was admitted to the king's own table. Compare 2 Sam. ix. 7, xix. 33, etc. So this privilege was accorded to Democedes the Greek physician after his cure of Darius, (Herod, iii. 132).
34. until the day of his death, all the days of his life] The latter of these clauses, as the text now stands, is probably either an addition to, or originally a substitution for, the former, in order to avoid the inauspicious ending with the word death. The general object too of the paragraph seems to have been somewhat similar, viz. to leave the reader with a parting ray of comfort and encouragement in the thought that even in exile the Lord remembered His people and softened the heart of the heathen tyrant towards David's seed. See note on Lam. v. 22.
LAMENTATIONS OF JEREMIAH.
NAME, POSITION, DATE AND STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK.
1. The name Lamentations corresponds to that under which this Book appears in the Latin Vulgate, and which is a translation of the Septuagint Threni, itself a rendering of the Heb. word Ktndth. This last, though not prefixed to the Book, is yet of frequent occurrence in the Hebrew Scriptures : Jeremiah uses the word three times (vii. 29, ix. 10, 20 [in the Heb. 9, 19]; each time rendered "lamentation"). It is the title of David's funeral song over Saul and Jonathan in 2 Sam. i. 17, while the corresponding verb is used in the Heb. of 2 Sam. iii. 33. This last is also used of the dirge composed by Jeremiah on the death of Josiah in battle (2 Chron. xxxv. 25). The title of the Book itself in the Heb. Canon is Aichah, ( = How), the word which commences the first, second and fourth of the five songs to which the five chapters correspond. It is in accordance with Jewish custom to name a Book of the Bible by a conspicuous word at or near its beginning.
2. This book is placed in the Heb. in the last division (Othubhim = Psalms, etc.) according to the threefold classification of the Jewish Scriptures (see Luke xxiv. 44). It is thus rightly reckoned by them among the poetical books of the Canon. It is now placed for synagogue use as one of the five Megilloth
(or Rolls, appointed to be read on special occasions), which stand thus, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther.
3. The date, as determined by Josephus, is considerably earlier than the one generally received. That writer (Antiq. x. 5) says, referring no doubt to this Book, that "Jeremiah composed a dirge for Josiah's funeral, which remains unto this day." He was apparently misled by the statement in 2 Chron. xxxv. 25 (see § 1 above) that the dirges composed by Jeremiah and others on that occasion were "written in the Lamentations" St Jerome supported this view, and in particular chap. iv. was referred to this event and not to the capture of Zedekiah. Both the earliest external testimony, however, viz. that of the Septuagint (see chap. ii. § 1), and the contents of the Book itself, point to the events of which a brief sketch is given in Jer. xxxix. and lii. That the Book could not have been written long after this time is clear from the graphic manner in which the horrors of the siege are portrayed. We know from the history that Jeremiah was well off in comparison with many of his countrymen after the capture of the city, and the favour shewn him by the Chaldaeans may well have allowed him the opportunity of writing this Book some time before he went down to Egypt. "In the face of a rocky hill, on the western side of the city, the local belief has placed 'the Grotto of Jeremiah.' There in that fixed attitude of grief, which Michael Angelo has immortalised, the Prophet may well be supposed to have mourned the fall of his country."—Stanley's J. Ch. n. 473.
4. Four out of the five poems of which this Book consists, may be divided into as many parts (viz. twenty-two) as there are letters of the Heb. alphabet, beginning with the letters consecutively, except in one case, where in the second, third and fourth chapters the order of certain two letters is reversed. More than one of the alphabetical Psalms also shews breaks in the strict order of succession of the letters. The peculiar and hitherto unexplained feature however in the present Book is that it is the same pair of letters in each of the three cases which are thus transposed. Further, if we take the four alphabetical poems separately, we find that in the first three each of the twenty-two parts (or verses, but note that in chap. iii. each part = three Eng. verses) itself may as a rule be subdivided into three, in chapter iv. into two only, while in the third chapter each of these three subdivisions (or verses) begins with the same letter, and is itself divisible into two. In chap. v., although the number of the verses is the same, the alphabetical order is dropped. The above mentioned artificial arrangement, by which a definite rule for the beginning of verses was attained, may be compared with modern rhymed endings, as well as with the more complicated Greek and Latin metres. In such a structure of the poems we may easily discern an additional advantage here, as aiding the memory of the captives to recall them in their distant exile.
1. That the Book of the Lamentations is the work of Jeremiah the prophet has been the apparently universal belief first of the Jewish and then of the Christian Church from the earliest times until recently. The Hebrew indeed contains no direct assertion of the fact. The earliest extant translation however, that called by the name Septuagint, ascribes it to him in a note prefixed to the first chapter to the following effect, "And it came to pass after Israel was taken captive and Jerusalem made desolate, Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said." This evidence brings us back to at least one or two centuries before Christ. Other early authorities also ascribe the Book to Jeremiah, while the Latin Vulgate (4th cent. A.D.) repeats the assertion of the Septuagint, as given above, amplifying however the last words into "and in bitterness of heart sighing and crying said."
2. A few persons in recent times, assuming that the prophecies commonly attributed to Jeremiah are at any rate in the main rightly so ascribed, have suggested the following objections