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Corrupt leaders disgraced (4:1-22)
Jerusalem’s former glory is contrasted with her present ruin. The once glorious temple, now defiled and shattered, is symbolic of the once glorious people now shamed and broken. Jerusalem’s dead lie in the streets like pieces of broken pottery (4:1-2). The writer recalls again the scene of horror during the siege. Wild beasts provide food for their young, but in Jerusalem mothers are unable to provide food for their children. Rich nobles die on the streets like beggars (3-5).
Sodom’s punishment was great, but Jerusalem’s is greater; for Sodom was destroyed in a day, but Jerusalem is destroyed amid long and bitter agony (6). Even those of the upper classes, who spent much time and money making themselves look beautiful, are now ugly through disease and starvation (7-8). It would be better to be killed in battle than to starve to death or be forced to eat one’s children (9-10). The Jerusalemites thought that because Yahweh was their God, no enemy could conquer their city, but now Yahweh himself has destroyed it (11-12).
Chiefly to blame for Jerusalem’s downfall are its corrupt leaders, especially the prophets and priests. They, more than anyone else, have been responsible for the injustices that have brought God’s judgment on the city (13). Realizing this, the people now treat their former leaders like lepers and drive them out of the city. When the fugitives try to settle in other places, the local people refuse to receive them (14-16).
The writer recalls how Jerusalem expected to be rescued by Egypt, but no deliverance came. Instead the Babylonians came, making the Jerusalemites prisoners in their own city (17-18; cf. Jeremiah 37:6-10). Those who tried to flee to the mountains were caught, including the king Zedekiah, in whom the people had falsely placed their trust (19-20; cf. Jeremiah 39:3-5).
Edom rejoiced to see its ancient enemy Judah overthrown; but Edom too will be overthrown and, unlike Judah, will not rise again. The destruction of Jerusalem is temporary, but Edom’s destruction will be permanent (21-22; cf. Jeremiah 49:7-13; Psalms 137:7; Obadiah 1:10-14).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Lamentations 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter