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Bible Commentaries
Lamentations 4

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Lamentations 4:1-2 . How is the gold, זהב zahab, so called because of its superior lustre to other metals, now become dim. Gold does not oxidize, and scarcely receives a tarnish; yet the rulers and priests have degenerated into base mixtures; and so much so, as to be vile as the potter’s vessels.

Lamentations 4:3 . Even the sea-monsters, תנין tinnin, draw out the breast. Our elder critics, less acquainted with natural history, read “dragons,” serpents of the larger species. But as whales are assuredly of the mammalia class, and give suck to their young, our version appears to be correct. The balœna, or whale, is the largest species of living beings which sport in the seas. One was caught in Greenland ninety feet in length; one in the south seas, where they are less disturbed, a hundred and six feet. Even the careless ostriches will cover up their eggs in the sands, and leave them to be hatched in the sun; but now, during the horrors of famine, even mothers become unnatural.

Lamentations 4:7 . Her Nazarites were purer than snow, whiter than milk, more ruddy than rubies, as described in Leviticus 6:1. And if men looked so well who drank no wine, what need have we of tobacco and gin? These debilitate the constitution, and destroy our national character: ruin in every form attends their train.

Lamentations 4:8 . Their visage is blacker than a coal. When the bile can form no chemical combination with the aliments for want of food, the absorbent vessels convey it to the blood, which turns the aspect to a sable hue; so that a man can scarcely know his brother.

Lamentations 4:12 . The kings of the earth, deeming Jerusalem an impregnable city, could not believe that the Chaldeans could have forced her gates. Of what use are walls to a great city? If fifty thousand men cannot defend it, walls, by the calamities of the siege, do but augment the vengeance of the assailants.

Lamentations 4:13 . For the sins of her prophets, ever the first to persecute the true prophets, and to shed the blood of the just, the city was delivered to the enemy. Read their deeds, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:20. Jeremiah 5:11. Matthew 23:35.

Lamentations 4:18 . They, the Chaldean cavalry, hunt our steps on the mountains. They are swifter than eagles, leaving no hopes of escape, while they search the whole land for spoils and for food. They spare neither virgin, nor hoary age, nor the sucking child.

Lamentations 4:21 . Rejoice and be glad, oh daughter of Edom. These are words of consummate irony; for the sword in three or four years would be at her gates. Jeremiah 47:7. It is not wise to rejoice at a neighbour’s calamity; for we know not how soon it may be our own case.


How dreadful are the horrors of famine. This is the final argument with an impregnable fortress to surrender. The soldier loses all his courage when he comes to fight with death. Why then should sinners be at war with omnipotence? The mountains are no defence, neither can the caverns afford retreat.

In the fall of Jerusalem, we see the instability of all worldly glory. David’s house loses the crown; the fine gold becomes base by deteriorations; the holy temple, once the glory and boast of the whole earth, now in flames.

“He builds too low, who builds beneath the skies.” YOUNG.

Let us then build on Christ the rock of ages, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.

Jeremiah boldly names the cause of Zion’s fall. It was the sins of her false prophets, and prophets mostly of the sacerdotal order. They misused and killed the prophets of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 36:16; and polluted the sanctuary, which pollutions could not be purged but by the blood of the culprits. Thus the aged oak begins to decay first at the heart. It is a bitter complaint of Peter Jurieu, that the persecution of the French protestants was undertaken at the particular solicitations of the clergy; and the visitations on that order resembled those which befel the house of Aaron. How wonderful are thy judgments, oh Lord!

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Lamentations 4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/lamentations-4.html. 1835.
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