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Zion’s Desolation and Sorrow
Though the five poems contained in the book have practically the same theme—the downfall of Jerusalem—yet each poem dwells on a different phase of the subject as intimated in the opening words of each chapter This first one emphasises the desolation and misery of the city, describing it as ’solitary,’ as ’a widow,’ and as ’tributary,’ i.e. Judah has lost her independence; and there is ’no comforter,’ Lamentations 1:2, Lamentations 1:9, Lamentations 1:17, Lamentations 1:21. It falls naturally into three sub-divisions, as seen below. In structure it is strictly alphabetical: each v. being of triple construction.
1-11. The poet laments Zion’s utter desolation.
1. How] a characteristic word for the commencement of an elegy: cp. Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 4:1-2; Isaiah 14:4.
Sit solitary] in the sense of empty houses and deserted streets. Provinces] the neighbouring countries, such as Edom and Moab.
2. Lovers] synonymous with friends, viz. her allies Edom and Egypt (Lamentations 4:22).
3. Because of affliction and.. great servitude] i.e. Judah chose exile to escape the sufferings to which she was exposed in her own land (Jeremiah 40:11). Between the straits] RV ’within the straits.’
4. The ways of Zion do mourn] The roads by which pilgrims came up to the feasts are now deserted (Jeremiah 14:2).
Her virgins] those who took part in the festal occasions (Psalms 68:25).
5. Are the chief] RV ’are become the head’: i.e. Judah has lost her leadership. Before the enemy] driven as slaves.
6. Her princes are become like harts] referring to Zedekiah’s flight with his sons (Jeremiah 39:4-7).
7. Remembered] RV ’remembereth.’
Sabbaths] RV ’desolations,’ in the sense probably of ceasings: cp. the enforced sabbaths of Leviticus 26:34, Leviticus 26:35. The Heb. word employed here is not found elsewhere in OT.
8. Is removed] RV ’is become as an unclean thing.’ Her nakedness] her sin and its punishment (Lamentations 4:21).
9. Her filthiness] moral pollution, expressed by a bold but common Oriental figure (Jeremiah 13:22).
She remembereth not] RV ’she remembered not.’
10. Pleasant things] primarily the vessels of the sanctuary (2 Chronicles 36:10, 2 Chronicles 36:19), but ineluding all of Jerusalem’s precious possessions.
12-19. Zion’s comfortless condition due to Jehovah’s righteousness.
12. Zion yearns for sympathy.
13. From above] RV ’From on high.’
14. Is bound] a bucolic figure, God being represented as binding Judah’s sins upon his neck as a ploughman binds the yoke upon oxen (Jeremiah 27:2). He hath made my strength to fall] rather, ’it (the yoke) hath caused my strength to stumble.’ The Lord] in Heb. Adonai, used 14 times in Lamentations to express lordship; the name Jehovah conveys the covenant idea of redemption.
15. He hath called an assembly] lit. ’an appointed time’: i.e. a religious festival (Leviticus 23:4); not for Israel, however, but for the enemy, to celebrate the defeat of Zion’s soldiers.
16. Mine eye, mine eye] The emphatic repetition reminding one of Jeremiah’s style (Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 6:14).
17. That his adversaries should be round about him] i.e. that his nearest neighbours should be his most hateful foes. In this v. the poet speaks.
19. Lovers] see on Lamentations 1:2. My priests and mine elders] Even the most honoured chiefs of the city died of starvation.
20-22. In distress Zion appeals to Jehovah for redress.
21. The day] i.e. the day of vengeance on Zion, long before announced (Jeremiah 25:17-26).
22. Let all their wickedness come before thee] a not infrequent prayer of OT. saints for righteous retribution upon the enemy: cp. Psalms 69, 109, 137 Jeremiah 18:20-23 not altogether unjustifiable, for the Hebrew was conscious that wickedness must be punished, but far below the plane of the Sermon on the Mount.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 1". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29