Lamentations 4

1The prophet bewaileth the wretched condition of Zion: 21he threateneth Edom, and comforteth Zion.

1HOW1 is 2the gold become 3dim! how is the most fine gold changed! 4the stones of the sanctuary are 5poured out 6in the top of every street.

1 This is a question with grief and admiration, as Lam. 1:1.

2 That glorious temple, glittering with gold, whereby it was beautified and partly covered over and overlaid within. See 1 Kings 6:20, 21, etc.; 2 Chron. 3:4, 5, 6.

3 Since the Chaldeans did break down the temple, all things became dusty and darkened. Hebr. covered.

4 Or, the stones of holiness, that is, which were at the building of the temple, which were ingeniously and curiously hewn and polished, 1 Kings 5:17, 18; 6:7. Compare herewith the stones of the second temple, Mat. 24:4; Luke 19:44.

5 Or, cast out. Hebr. poured out.

6 That is, scattered in the ends and corners of the streets, as if they were of no value. Compare Psalm 79; Lam. 2:11, 12, 19.

27The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, 8how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

7 That is, the most excellent and most honorable men of the city and country. See similar similitudes, comparisons Job 28:16, etc.

8 How they now are become as base, vile and contemptible as earthen vessels. Compare Isa. 30:14.

3Even the 9sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become 10cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.

9 Other, sea-calves. Some render here the Hebrew word dragons, but this seems not to suit well in this place, because there is no kind of dragons that has breasts. Otherwise the Hebrew word signifies all manner of creeping monsters which are on the earth, or in the waters. The phocae or sea-calves are of such a nature that they live in the water, and also upon the land, and they lay their young ones by the bank of the waters, and come to them and breastfeed them, letting them lie so long upon the land till they are able to endure the water. See Plinius book 9, chap. 13. When the prophet here says that the sea-calves draw out the breasts to give suck to their cubs, it is as if he said: The sea-calves come boldly to the shore and give suck to their cubs, which they are able to leave them there quietly for some time, but the daughter of My people, that is, the mothers, who among My people have sucking children and endure such famine and want, cannot give suck to their children, and are, also with their little children, so hated, driven and persecuted from one place to another, that they have no place nor rest to give their children quietly their food; but she is like the ostriches (or owls), which are hated, chased and pursued by other fowls in the wilderness. Compare Job 30:29.

10 Hebr. unto a cruel one. Other, must be unmerciful. Other, because of the cruel ones, namely, tyrants, persecutors.

4The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth 11for thirst: the young children ask 12bread, and no man 13breaketh it unto them.

11 Because the breasts of their mothers are dry and without milk.

12 That is, meat or bread, as Lam. 1:11.

13 See Isa. 58 on verse 7 of the signification of the Hebrew word. Here is the sense: No one shares out bread unto the children, because they have it not themselves, and therefore their little children must perish for hunger and thirst.

5They that did feed 14delicately are desolate in the streets: they 15that were brought up in 16scarlet 17embrace dunghills.

14 Dainty food, the daintiest of all.

15 That is, those who were used to wear the richest and costliest garments.

16 See Isa. 1 on verse 18.

17 That is, they now lie and wallow upon the dunghills and in the mire and filth of the streets. Or, they eat dung. Compare 2 Kings 6:25.

6For the punishment of the 18iniquity of the daughter of my people 19is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as 20in a moment, and 21no hands stayed on her.

18 By the words iniquity and sin may here be understood either the iniquity and sin itself, or the punishments of them. See Lev. 5 on verse 1.

19 Both in respect of the punishment itself, and in respect of the duration thereof.

20 That is, quickly, suddenly, unawares, as Psalm 6:10. See Gen. 19:25; Ezek. 16:46, 47, etc.

21 That is, men’s hands had no trouble to destroy Sodom, but God did it without the help or means of man; but it was quite otherwise with Jerusalem. Other, there remained no hands on or in her, that is, no strength; they were soon utterly destroyed; on the contrary, the armies of the Chaldeans stayed a long while in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, vexing and plaguing the people of God continually. Sodom was suddenly and as in a moment turned upside down (Genesis 19) by the hand of God, without the use of armed soldiers.

722Her 23Nazarites 24were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, 25their polishing was of sapphire:

22 Namely, the daughter of My people.

23 That is, the most excellent and most honorable and most separated ones. Hebr. nezirim, Nazarites. They were called as such among the Jews who had vowed to live a special kind of life, abstaining from certain meats, drinking no wine nor strong drink, and not cutting off the hair, Num. 6:2, 3, 4, etc. See Judges 13 on verse 5; Judges 16:17; 1 Sam. 1:11; Luke 1:15. But it signifies sometimes such kind of persons as exceed others in worth and excellence. Thus Joseph is called a separated one from his brethren, Gen. 49:26.

24 Namely, before the land of the Jews was fallen into this miserable condition.

25 Hebr. their cutting or polishing or graving was as of a sapphire, that is, so pure, as if they were cut out of a sapphire, or they were like smooth sapphire.

826Their visagea is blacker than 27a coal; 28they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; 29it is withered, it is become like a stick.

26 That is, their beauty.

a face, expression

27 Issuing from great famine, sickness and other miseries and vexations, which they endured. Compare Job 30:30. Other, darker than blackness itself.

28 Or, they do not know them in the streets. Hebr. they are not known, etc. They are so altered that whosoever meets them in the streets, do not take them to be the same people as they were before.

29 Or, they are withered; they are like a stick, so withered and so hard, as if it were a piece of wood. See Lam. 5:10.

9They that be slain with the sword are 30better than 31they that be slain with hunger: for 32these 33pine away, stricken through 34for want of the fruits of the field.

30 Or, happier. Hebr. better.

31 For, those who are killed by or with the sword are not so long in pain and misery as those who famish little by little.

32 Namely, those who die of hunger.

33 That is, they die little by little.

34 That is, for want of food, which the earth is used to yield unto men, they are become so withered and so lean, that their bones do almost stick through their skin. Compare Psalm 109:24.

1035The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their 36meat 37in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

35 Or, The pitiful women have cooked their children with their own hands. See Lev. 26:29; Deut. 28:53; 2 Kings 6:29; Lam. 2 on verses 20 and 22.

36 Hebr. for to eat, or to feed.

37 That is, at that time when Jerusalem was destroyed.

11The LORD hath 38accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and 39hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.

38 That is, He has omitted nothing which served to manifest His wrath towards His people, according to the prediction of His prophecies.

39 That is, He has sent a consuming flame into Jerusalem, which has not only consumed the tops of the houses, but also the foundations themselves, leaving no remains, nor any hope of building it up again.

1240The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that 41the adversary and the enemy should have entered 42into the gates of Jerusalem.

40 When the land of the Jews and the city of Jerusalem were in their flourishing condition, they were very much esteemed and greatly feared by all the kings and nations round about. See Deuteronomy 28 and Psalm 48 the promises and likewise the threatenings, which God makes unto the people of the Jews.

41 Namely, of the Jews.

42 Because Jerusalem was not only strong in situation and building, but because the Lord had also for many years powerfully protected it, to the admiration of the entire world.

1343For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, 44that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,

43 The sense is: The cause, that moved God to deal thus with Jerusalem, was the great sins, which not only the common people had committed, but also the prophets and the priests (meaning the false prophets and priests), who ought to have instructed the people and to have gone before them in all manner of righteousness. See Jer. 5:31; 23:21.

44 That is, which have come to such an height and abomination of sinning, that they have caused those to be put to death by the magistrate and other ways, who are more righteous than themselves, Jer 26:11; Mat. 23:34.

1445They 46have wandered 47as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves 48with blood, so that men 49could 50not touch their garments.

45 Namely, those wicked men, whereof is spoken in verse 13.

46 Or, strayed, went to and fro.

47 Who did not see the truth revealed to them by God, or the punishment that was near at hand. See Isa. 42 on verse 18, 19.

48 Namely, with the blood of the just, which they had shed.

49 Could go or stand nowhere. Or, could not pass by, or, could not avoid it.

50 In regard these (namely, who had shed righteous blood) did so often and so frequently meet their fellow citizens in the streets. Others understand this 14th verse thus: They, namely, the citizens of Jerusalem were so amazed because of the cruelty of the enemies, that they, as blind men, knew not whither to twist or turn themselves. They defile themselves with blood, forasmuch as they were so amazed, they could not walk circumspectly, but they did tread, as if they were blind, in the blood of the dead, thus defiling themselves. They touched with their garments which was not lawful for them to do, namely, dead bodies, which none, without defiling himself, was to touch.

1551They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: 52when they fled away and wandered, 53they said among the heathen, 54They 55shall no more sojourn there.

51 The meaning seems to be: They, namely, who were defiled with blood, cried unto them, namely, to those whom they met: Depart, depart (see Lev. 13:45), thus, of their own accord, confessing and acknowledging by the conviction of their own conscience that they were unclean. Compare Isa. 52:11.

52 The meaning seems to be: As those who are healthy do shun the touching of lepers, so neither will godly and honest persons dwell or converse any longer with wicked men, in order that they may not likewise partake of those judgments that hang over their heads. Or, we may understand it thus: that here, in a deriding way, is declared unto them God’s judgment concerning their scattering and wandering abroad.

53 Namely, the godly, who dwell among the heathen, unto whom they went for refuge. Other, they said among the heathen, etc., that is, the heathen themselves said to one another that the Jews, by reason of their wickedness, could neither stay in their own land, nor anywhere else.

54 Namely, those wicked wretches.

55 Understand herewith: but the earth shall swallow them up, forasmuch as they are so foully polluted with innocent blood.

1656The 57anger of the LORD hath 58divided them; he will 59no more regard them: 60they 61respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not 62the elders.

56 This the prophet speaks in the person of the heathen.

57 That is, the face of the Lord. See the annotation at Lev. 17 on verse 10; Psalm 21 on verse 9.

58 Or, scattered, namely, among the strange and far remote heathen and nations.

59 Namely, with a smiling countenance; or, to receive them into favor.

60 Namely, the Jews, respected not the teachers of the law, whom they had. Other, they, namely, the Chaldeans, spared not the priests.

61 Hebr. took up.

62 Or, the eldest, that is, the rulers and the priests.

1763As for us, our eyes as yet 64failed 65for our vain help: in our watching web have watched 66for a nation that could not save us.

63 That is, notwithstanding all our miseries, we watched yet still for such help, which could not benefit us. Other, When we were yet, namely, in our own country and in prosperity.

64 For the help which was to come to us from Egypt and from other places. See Jer. 37:7, 9.

65 Or, because of our vain help.

b Ezek. 29:16.

66 Namely, upon the Egyptians.

1867They 68hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: 69our end is near, 70our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.

67 Namely, the Chaldeans.

68 The sense is: They did cast mounts or high places in front of our city, from which they could look into our city, and had so oppressed us from them that we could not freely use the streets. Compare 2 Kings 25:4.

69 As if he said: The aforementioned troubles, which are come upon us, are sure signs and messengers that we shall soon be cut off.

70 Namely, the days of our life; or, the days of our destruction; or, the days of our prosperity.

1971Our persecutors are 72swifter than the eagles 73of the heaven: 74they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

71 Namely, the Chaldeans.

72 Hebr. lighter. Compare Jer. 4:13.

73 That is, of the air, as Matthew 6 states: the fowls of the air, that is, which fly in the air or on high.

74 The sense is: Whether we went to the mountains for refuge, or whether we hid ourselves in the woods, our enemies could find us out everywhere.

20The 75breath of our nostrils, 76the anointed of the LORD, 77was taken in their pits, 78of whom we said, Under his shadow 79we shall live 80among the heathen.

75 That is, he by whom we fetch our breath, on whom we relied and hoped to obtain rest and prosperity by him.

76 That is, our king, namely Zedekiah, who was ordained by God to be our king. Some understand it of king Josiah, others of Jeconiah. Of the anointing of kings see 1 Kings 1 on verse 34.

77 That is, he is fallen into the snares or gins of his enemies, Jer. 52:8, 9.That here this glorious title is given to that wicked king Zedekiah, must not be seem strange to any; for, even Saul is also called the Lord’s anointed. This is not done in regard of their person, but in regard of their office in which they served.

78 That is, of whom we had such hope, that we thought and imagined within ourselves.

79 That is, we shall be comforted by him in the grievous heat of great persecutions. See this comparison Dan. 4:12.

80 Namely, though we be scattered among many foreign nations of the heathen.

2181Rejoice and be glad, 82O daughter of Edom, that dwellest 83in the land of 84Uz; 85the cup also shall pass through unto thee: 86thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself 87naked.

81 This the prophet speaks in a deriding way to the enemies of the Jews, as if he said: Delight yourself in us, as long as God gives you power over us.

82 The meaning is: Rejoice all ye that are our enemies, but especially the Edomites, ye who have been so cruel towards us. See Psalm 137:7.

83 Or, by the land of Uz.

84 Of the land of Uz see Gen. 10:23; Job 1 on verse 1.

85 Namely, the cup of God’s wrath. The sense is: The smiting rod of the Lord’s hand shall not only hit us, but you also shall have your share of it. See the annotation at Psalm 11 on verse 6. See also Jer. 25 on verse 15; Micah 7:8; Obadiah verse 16.

86 That is, you also shall abundantly feel God’s judgments.

87 That is, your shame and disgrace shall be made public before all men’s eyes. Other, and thou shalt make thyself naked, as drunken men are wont to do. See Gen. 9:21.

2288The punishment of thine iniquity 89is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; 90he will no more carry thee away into captivity: 91he 92will visit thine iniquity, 93O daughter of Edom; 94he will 95discoverc thy sins.

88 That is, the punishment of your iniquity. See verse 6.

89 That is, it shall surely have an end soon. See the annotations Isa. 40 on verse 2. Here the prophet seems to refer to the seventy years’ captivity of the Jews, wherewith the Lord’s anger was appeased for that time.

90 Namely, the Lord will not permit thee to remain continually and forever in this captivity and banishment, but will at last deliver thee out, and bring thee again into thine own country, and will not hereafter punish thee thus with such captivity or carrying away, as He has done at present. But understand herewith: unless ye compel Me again by your abominable and long continuing sins, as it came to pass at that time when God in His just wrath caused the city of Jerusalem to be utterly wasted by Vespasianus and Titus, the temple to be burned, the entire nation to be destroyed, carried away captive, sold, and scattered throughout the entire world.

91 Hebr. he hath visited, he hath discovered. This is spoken in a prophetical way.

92 Namely, in His anger.

93 Thou who art now so mighty and prosperous.

94 Hebr. he hath visited, he hath discovered. This is spoken in a prophetical way.

95 That is, bring them to light by the punishments wherewith He will punish you. The Lord is said, on the contrary, to cover his sins to whom He pardons them, Psalm 32:1.

c uncover, disclose*