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They were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
CD) The Lord hath accomplished his fury; he hath
poured out his fierce anger, And hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured . the foundations thereof.
The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of
the world, would not have believed That the adversary and the enemy should have entered
into the gates of Jerusalem. (D) For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of
That have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her, (3) They have wandered as blind men in the streets,
they have polluted themselves with blood, So that men could not touch their garments. (D) They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean;
here, in the sense full of pity, but much to be pitied. For the former, compare (Latimer, Sermons, p. 391). "Because I speak here of orphans, I shall exhort you to be pitiful unto them."—Bible Word Book.
sodden] boiled; the participle of to seethe, for which last see 2 Kings iv. 38, and for sodden, Exod. xii. 9.
11. hath kindled a fire in Zion] The literal burning of Jerusalem was typical of the Lord's anger, which had blazed forth against it.
12. all the inhabitants of the world] an ordinary form of Eastern hyperbole, suggesting to their minds only the same notion as our every body, the obvious limitations being given by the sense in each case. Probably from and after the overthrow of Sennacherib (2 Kings xix. 34, 35), it came to be believed that Jerusalem was impregnable. Its fortifications had been much strengthened by Uzziah (2 Chron. xxvi. 9), Jotham (ib. xxvii. 3), and Manasseh (ib. xxxiii. 14).
13. The reason for the event which has thus amazed the world is now given, and at the beginning of the verse by way of connexion we must supply some such words as, This has happened.
the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests] See Jer. vi. 13, xxiii. 11, xxvi. 8, etc.
14. They] these prophets and priests.
•wandered] literally, staggered. The last part of the verse expresses forcibly how terribly reckless they had been of human life.
IB. Those who met these blood-stained priests and prophets in the street, abhorred them, and warned them off with the leper's cry, Unclean, unclean! (Lev. xiii. 4$). The words 'it is' need not have been inserted in the Eng. Vers. The adjective indeed is in the sing., but only as meant to correspond the more absolutely with the cry which in the case of leprosy the afflicted man was himself to raise.
depart, depart, touch not, when they fled away and wandered:
They said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.
(S) The anger of the Lord hath divided them; he will 16
no more regard them: They respected not the persons of the priests, they
favoured not the elders. (y) As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: 17 In our watching we have watched for a nation that could
not save us.
Of) They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our 18 streets:
Our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.
(p) Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the 19 heaven:
They pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.
when they fled away and wandered] when they fled away, then they wandered. It was the same thing when they went abroad. They travelled with step as uncertain as at home (see 'wandered' of ver. 14), and abroad also men would have none of them.
They said among the heathen] men said, etc. See previous note.
These two verses may well be not merely a graphic way of setting forth the horrible crimes of the prophets and priests, but an actual record of facts of which this is the only trace remaining to us.
16. hath divided them] hath scattered (hem (among the nations). they] men, as in the previous verse.
17. As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help] rather, Our eyes still waste away (as we look) for our help in vain. The expectation that Egypt or some other nation might come to the rescue, was cherished to the end of the year and a half of the siege, and here is set forth the heart-sickness caused by this hope deferred.
in our watching] or, according to some, on our watch-tower.
18. They hunt our steps] This expresses either the definite danger which existed in the more exposed parts of the city, from the towers advanced gradually nearer to the walls by the besiegers, in which they lay in wait and let fly at the citizens, or in general it denotes the constant dread which beset their hearts under the figure of game for which the hunter lays wait.
19. swifter than the eagles] a favourite simile, taken from Deut. xxviii. 49. See note on Jer. iv. 13.
They pursued us upon the mountains] See Introduction, chap. i. §. 3.
2Q (")) The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits, Of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.
21 (2?) Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; The cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked. M (ft) The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: He will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.
This passage was supposed by those who chose the earlier date for the Lamentations to have special reference to the overthrow and death of Josiah. The real reference is no doubt either to the circumstances attendant on the capture of Zedekiah (Jer. xxxix. 4, 5, lii. 8.) who is referred to more distinctly in the following verse, or in general to the condition of the Jews at the taking of the city.
20. The breath of our nostrils] With this, as applied to a king, a sentence of Seneca (adNeronem dc dementia, I. 4) has well been compared: "He (the Emperor) is the breath of life, which these many thousand (subjects) draw." As regards its application to Zedekiah individually we are to remember that whatever may have been his personal weaknesses (and he was weak rather than vicious), he was the one on whom the whole of the people's hopes depended for the continuance of their national life.
was taken in their pits] a metaphorical expression drawn from hunting. Compare i. 3, 13. ofwhom we said...] See last note but one.
21. Rejoice and be glad] Enjoy thy shortlived triumph, while thou mayest. For the joy of Edom over the destruction of Jerusalem see Utter part of note Concerning Edom, Jer. xlix. 7.
that dwellest in the land of Uz] See note on Jer. xxv. 20. the cup] the figurative expression for God's wrath; compare Jer. xxv. 17.
thou shalt be drunken...] a figurative way of saying, thou shalt be exposed in the eyes of the world to the contempt which attends upon disaster (compare i. 8).
22. The punishment of thine iniquity] Thine iniquity. See ver. 6 above. The prophet, as he looks into the future with its Messianic hopes, sees the time when the Jews shall be delivered alike from the sinful courses which have weighed upon them for generations and from the punishment which has ensued.
he will discover thy sins] The reading of the Eng. margin (he mil
Chap. V. 1—18. A sorrowful enumeration of the insults heaped on Zion because of her sins.
Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us:
Consider, and behold our reproach.
Our inheritance is turned to strangers,
Our houses to aliens.
We are orphans and fatherless,
Our mothers are as widows.
We have drunken our water for money;
Our wood is sold unto us.
Our necks are under persecution:
We labour, and have no rest.
We have given the hand to the Egyptians,
And to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
carry thee captive for thy sins) depends upon the fact that the verb in the Heb. is the same as that so rendered earlier in the verse. It is however common in both senses, and thus the present case must rather be looked on as an untranslateable play on words. For discover used virtually in the sense of punish compare the converse use of cover in Ps. xxxii. 1, lxxxv. 2.
Chap. V. 1—18. A Sorrowful Enumeration Of The Insults
HEAPED ON ZlON BECAUSE OF HER SiNS.
1. This final poem, although its verses are equal in number with the letters of the Heb. alphabet, yet does not, like its predecessors, adhere to any rule as to the initial letters of the verses.
2. Our inheritance] our land.
our houses] either the houses throughout the country parts of Judaea, or those in Jerusalem as well, which had been spared. See note on Jer. lii. 13.
3. orphans and fatherless] not, as having lost our king, as some would explain, but desolate and without protectors, as the mothers of Israel are for the same reason likened in the second part of the verse to widows.
4. The bitterness of their captive state is shewn by the fact that they the rightful owners were compelled to buy from the enemy who had come into possession the commonest necessaries of life.
6. Our necks are under persecution] The simile of an actual pursuit is used. We are as it were hard pressed and harassed in flight by a foe who is gaining upon us.
6. The nation has been starved into willingness to submit to either of the two great powers, Egypt or Babylon. For 'we have given the hand' see note on Jer. 1. 15, and for Assyria meaning Babylon, note on Jer. ii. 18.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not; And we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us:
There is none that doth deliver us out of their hand.
9 We gat our bread with the peril of our lives Because of the sword of the wilderness.
10 Our skin was black like an oven Because of the terrible famine.
11 They ravished the women in Zion,
• And the maids in the cities of Judah. u Princes are hanged up by their hand:
The faces of elders were not honoured. 13 They took the young men to grind,
And the children fell under the wood. J 4 The elders have ceased from the gate,
The young men from their musick. is The joy of our heart is ceased;
Our dance is turned into mourning.
7. and are not] or, better, they are not.
we have borne their iniquities] See Introduction, chap. i. § 3 (a).
8. Servants have ruled] Slaves have ruled. The Chaldaeans are meant, among whom it was nothing unusual for a slave to rise through ability or favour to the highest station.
9. We gat our bread] We get our bread. The reference is to the bands of wild Arabs (Bedaween), seeking opportunities for the plunder of those who venture from the shelter of the city to reap the harvest.
10. was black like an oven because of the terrible famine] glows like an oven because of the burning blast of famine. The feverishness brought on by hunger is meant.
12. Princes are hanged up by their hand] The reference probably is not to death by crucifixion, but to subsequent impalement in order to expose to the utmost ignominy. Both death by crucifixion and impalement after death were regarded with the utmost abhorrence by the Jews. For the former see Deut. xxi. 23.
13. They took the young men to grind] The young men have borne the mill This involves the thought of their also being employed to grind the corn, and thus the general sense of the verse is that as rank and advanced age was no safeguard, neither did tenderness of age secure against the most oppressive and menial of labours.
14. from the gate] the place of social enjoyment and conversation, answering to our clubs and other places of entertainment. Compare Jcr. xiv. 2 with note.