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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Lamentations 1

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Lamentation Of The Daughter Of Zion Over The Ruin Of Jerusalem And Judah [or Rather, The Lamentation Of The Daughter Of Jerusalem Over The Destruction Of The City, The Nation And The Temple.—W. H. H.].

[The song is naturally divided into two parts of equal length. Lamentations 1:1-11 describe the wretched condition of the city. Lamentations 1:12-22 are, more strictly, the lamentation over this condition. In both sections the speaker is the ideal person of the genius or daughter of the city, who twice, Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:11, interrupts the description of the first section, which is given in the third person, with an outcry of pain uttered in the first person.—W. H. H.]

Part I

I. Lam 1:1-11

א Lamentations 1:1. How sitteth solitary

The city that was full of people!
She is become as a widow!
She that was great among the nations,
A Princess over the Provinces,—
Is become tributary.

ב Lamentations 1:2. Bitterly she weepeth in the night,

And her tears are [constantly] upon her cheeks.
She hath no comforter
From among all her lovers:
All her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
They have become her enemies.

ג Lamentations 1:3. Judah is gone into exile,

From oppression and from heavy bondage.
She dwelleth among the heathen:
She hath not found rest:
All her pursuers have overtaken her
Amidst her straits.

ד Lamentations 1:4. The ways to Zion are mournful

Because none come to her appointed services.
All her gates are destroyed.
Her priests sigh:
Her virgins are sorrowful:
And she, herself,—is in bitterness!

ה Lamentations 1:5. Her adversaries are exalted,

Her enemies prosper.
For Jehovah hath afflicted her
For the greatness of her sins.
Her young children are gone captives
Before the adversary.

ו Lamentations 1:6. And departed from the daughter of Zion

Is all her beauty.
Her princes have become like harts
That find no pasture,
And go, without strength,
Before the pursuer.

ן Lamentations 1:7. Jerusalem remembers, in the days of her tribulation and of her wanderings,

All her pleasant things that she had in the days of old.
When her people fall by the hand of the adversary
And there is no helper for her,—
Her adversaries behold her—
They mock at her Sabbaths!

ח Lamentations 1:8. Jerusalem has grievously sinned;

Therefore is she become vile.
All, who honoured her, despise her,
For they see her nakedness.
Yea, she herself sigheth
And turneth backward.

ט Lamentations 1:9. Her filthiness is on her skirts.

She considered not her end,
Therefore she came down wonderfully
She has no comforter.
Behold, O Jehovah, my affliction,
For the enemy magnifieth himself.

י Lamentations 1:10. His hand has the oppressor stretched out

Over all her precious things:
For she saw heathen
Come into her sanctuary:
Of whom Thou didst command
‘That they come not into Thy congregation.’

כ Lamentations 1:11. All her people sigh,

Seeking for bread;
They give their precious things for food
To sustain life.
See, Jehovah, and consider
How wretched I am become!


The logical construction is preserved, although rendered difficult by the constraint of the alphabetical arrangement of the verses. From Lamentations 1:1 to the last clause of Lamentations 1:11, the poet speaks. [Rather the poet puts this language into the mouth of a third person, who is revealed to us in Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:11, and still more plainly in the whole of the second part, Lamentations 1:12-22, as the ideal representative of the ruined city.—W. H. H.] Lamentations 1:1-2 present to us the ideal person of Jerusalem, sharply defining the contrast between what she was and what she is now. Lamentations 1:3 personifies in like manner the tribe of Judah. Lamentations 1:4-6 depict the present condition of Jerusalem in ruins, in the midst of which description the ideal person in her grief is introduced; and also, by way of contrast, her successful foe: the forsaken roads of the city, the broken gates, the mourning priests and virgins, the exiled people, and especially the nobles plunged from splendor into the deepest misery, are the separate features which compose this picture. [The especial subject of this description is not the city, strictly speaking, but Zion, the crown and glory of the city. Around the ideal daughter of Zion all the accessories of the picture are drawn. Jerusalem, herself, is the immediate subject of the following verses.—W. H. H.] Lamentations 1:7 relates again to the ideal Jerusalem and informs us how she remembers with pain her former estate, whilst now suffering bitter mockery from her foes. Lamentations 1:8-9 declare the cause of the judgment, already indicated in Lamentations 1:5, namely, the heinous sin of Israel: in consequence of which sin heathen, Lamentations 1:10, had intruded into the sanctuary of Zion, which was forbidden in the law. Finally, Lamentations 1:11, to the last clause, describes the distressing famine of the besieged people. From the last clause of Lamentations 1:11 to the end of the chapter, the Poet lets Zion herself speak, as she had already done parenthetically in Lamentations 1:9.

Lamentations 1:1-2

1How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, 2how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.


Lamentations 1:1.—בָדָד, subst., solitariness, is to be regarded as in the accusative. See Lamentations 3:28; Leviticus 13:46; Jeremiah 15:17; Jeremiah 49:31, לְבָדָד, Numbers 23:9; Micah 7:14.—רַבָּתִי. The ־ִי is archaic. See Olsh., § 123, d. [In שָׂרָתִי also. The paragogic ־ִי was, originally, perhaps, a mark of the genitive, as the corresponding letter in Arabic. Occurs in poetry and in compound names, as מַלְכִי־צֶדֶק ,אֲדֹנִי־בֶזֶק. Henderson.] The archaic ־ִי, not infrequent in Jeremiah 10:17 (K’tib); Jeremiah 22:23; Jeremiah 49:16; Jeremiah 51:13. Yet this particular word occurs only here.—רַב, great, in the qualitative sense, not merely multus, but also magnus, potens, great, powerful, occurs often; Psalms 48:3; Isaiah 63:1; Isaiah 53:12; Jeremiah 41:1. See רַב טַבָּחִים, et sim., and רַבָּה, the metropolis of the Ammonites. The phrase רב בַגֹויִם occurs only here. [See Intr., Add. Rem. (1). p. 20.]—The בְּ after שָׂרָתִי indicates the object over which the Princess rules. See Fuerst. [Blayney, Boothroyd, translate over, instead of among.]—שָׂרָה is synonymous with רַבָּה, e. g., שַׂר טַבָּחָים, Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1, et al., and שַׂר סָריִסִים, Daniel 1:7; Daniel 1:9, et al. are synonymous with רַב ט׳ and רַב ס׳. The sing. שָׂרָה excepting as the proper name Sarah, occurs only here. Plural in Judges 5:29; Isaiah 49:23; 1 Kings 11:3; Esther 1:18, shows that it is an old word and in earlier times peculiar to poetry. [See Intr., Add. Rem. (2). p. 29.]—מְדִיגָה, province, satrapy, in sing. occurs only in books of Ezra (Ezra 2:1), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 7:6; Nehemiah 11:3), Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 5:7), Daniel (Daniel 8:2; Daniel 11:24), and especially Esther (Esther 1:1; Esther 1:22; Esther 3:12; Esther 3:14, etc): in plu in Esther 1:3; Esther 8:9; Esther 9:3-4; Esther 9:16; Ezekiel 19:8; 1 Kings 20:14-15; 1 Kings 20:17; 1 Kings 20:19 [not 2 Kings 20:19, a mistake of Fuerst copied by Naegelsb.], Ecclesiastes 2:8. Its use in Ezekiel and Kings shows that it was not unknown in the time of Jeremiah. [See Intr. Add. Rem. (2). p. 30.]—[מַם. W. Robertson, Key to Heb. Bib., derives from מָסַם, to melt, dissolve, “a consuming of strength, virium dissolutio et confectio.” Fuerst from same verb taken in a secondary signification, to split, divide, separate, sunder hence metuph. to number, measure, distribute. The only evidence of such a secondary signification of the verb is in the derivatives themselves, מַם and מִסָּה. The old quaint idea seems better. “מַם from מִסָּה, because it doth melt and dissolve, as it were, the substance of those who are forced to be tributaries.” Gesenius says this is not “tolerable,” and derives from כָסַם to number. But there is a word already from that root, מֶכֶם, meaning tribute in the strict sense, while מַם means any sort of tribute-service or bond-service (see crit. notes below), having a sense that cannot be extracted from a verb, signifying to number.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:2.—[בָּכוֹ תִבְכֶה. The infinitive construct before a finite verb expresses intensity, after it continuity. She weepeth sore or sorely, Broughton, E. V., Blayney, Boothroyd, Henderson, or bitterly, Noyes, not continually, as old Eng. vers., Digdati, French vers., Wordsworth, and Naegelsbach.—W. H. H.]—לְחִי never occurs in Jeremiah. [See Intr., Add. Rem. (2). p. 30.]—Jeremiah uses the Piel נִחַם, Jeremiah 16:7; Jeremiah 31:13; but not the phrase אֵין מְנַחֵם, occurring in this chapter four times, and elsewhere only in Ecclesiastes 4:1. [See Intr., Add. Rem. (3). p. 30.] Jeremiah uses, אֹהֲבֶיהָ Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 20:6; רֵעַ Jeremiah 29:23; Jeremiah 5:8; Jeremiah 7:5. etc.; בָגַד Jeremiah 3:8; Jeremiah 3:11; Jeremiah 3:20; Jeremiah 5:11; Jeremiah 12:6, etc.; אֹיֵב, frequently, Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 15:11; Jeremiah 18:17, etc.—הָיוּ לְאֹיְבִים occurs elsewhere only in Psalms 139:22.


Lamentations 1:1. How, אֵיכָה. The second and fourth chapters also begin with this word. It is used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 8:8; Jeremiah 48:17), and not seldom in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 1:12; Deuteronomy 7:17; Deuteronomy 12:30; Deuteronomy 18:21). In Isaiah it occurs once, Isaiah 1:21, a passage which seems to have been in our Poet’s mind. There, as here, the ideal person of Jerusalem, i. e., of the city of Jerusalem (in distinction from the tribe of Judah, to which Lamentations 1:3 relates), is the subject. The personification is apparent: 1. From the expression, sits solitary. 2. From the words, as a widow. The comparison with a person shows that the subject of comparison is regarded as a person. 3. The singular forms in Lamentations 1:2, she weeps, her tears, her cheeks, etc., as certainly indicate a personification, as the plural forms would prove a reference to the concrete multitude of the exiles. The Poet then has in his eye, not, perhaps, the collective person of the exiled people, but the ideal person of the city of Jerusalem, now ruined. This person he sees in the spirit, sitting solitary amidst the devastated holy places.—Doth the city sit solitary. Solitary, because she has lost her inhabitants, her children. This is evident from the antithesis,—the city that was full of people. [Noyes: “There are several Roman coins extant, representing on the one side the emperor Vespasian, and on the other a woman (the daughter of Zion) sitting upon the ground under a palm tree, in a mournful attitude, and having around her a heap, of arms, shields, etc. The legend is Judæa Capta—Judea taken.”]—That was full of people! In regard to sense and construction, see Jeremiah 51:13; 1 Samuel 2:5. [Henderson: “It is impossible to determine what was the extent of the population of ancient Jerusalem. Before the revolt under Rehoboam it must have been very great, especially during the celebration of the three annual festivals, when the males congregated there from all parts of the country: and even after that event, there is reason to believe that, as the metropolis of the southern kingdom, the number of inhabitants was considerable. It not only continued to be the resort of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but was one of the principal mercantile cities of the East.”]—How. [The repetition of the How in the second and the last clauses of the verse, as in our English version, is not only unnecessary, but mars the rhythmical construction and interrupts the consecutive flow of thought. There is no more propriety in its repetition in Lamentations 1:1, than there would be in Lamentations 1:2, which in form and matter is a continuation of Lamentations 1:1. The particle, as used in the beginning of the verse, is ejaculatory, not interrogative. It rouses and directs attention, with fine poetical effect, to the image of the ideal Jerusalem, once representing a city full of people, now seen as a dejected woman, sitting solitary, as in the deepest grief. The attention thus gained, the description goes on to the end of Lamentations 1:2, adding feature to feature, and circumstance to circumstance, with admirable art and graphic power, till the picture is complete.—W. H. H.]—Is sheshe isbecome as a widow! In Isaiah 1:21, the faithful city has become a harlot. Here, where we have a poem not of invective and denunciation, but of lamentation, the populous city has become as a widow. For she is no longer (בְּעֻלָה) a married one, since she no longer enjoys communion with Jehovah, her Husband (בַּעַל. See Delitzsch on Isaiah 54:1 sqq.). She is a woman forsaken (Isaiah 54:6), and the reproach of widowhood (Isaiah 54:6) rests upon her. The expression as a widow [כְּאַלְמָנָה, as one forsaken, widowed] implies that Jerusalem has not lost her husband utterly and forever, but she is only separated from him for a period. There is in the particle as a foreshadowing of reunion. See the expression as widows in Lamentations 5:3.—She that was great among the nations. [Dr. Naegelsbach’s punctuation, which is the punctuation also of the Sept., Vulg., and some more modern versions, requires us to connect these words with the preceding declaration. She is become as a widow, the great one (Die Grosse) among the nations. This is, however, in violation of the masoretic punctuation, and does not seem to strengthen the meaning that Dr. N. derives from the expression as a widow. See critical notes below. Nor is there a necessary antithesis between being as a widow and having been great among the nations. If we adopt the punctuation of the Sept. and Vulg., we should adopt the translation in full of one or the other of those versions, both of which do preserve an antithesis. The Sept. reads She is become as a widow, i. e., a lone, forsaken woman, who was filled with nations. The Vulg. reads, She the lady of nations became as a widow. The punctuation in our present Hebrew Bibles, which is retained by our English version, Broughton, Gattaker, Noyes, and Gerlach, certainly makes the sense clearer and the thoughts more copious. The city sits solitary that was full of people! She is become as a widow! She that was great among the nations. … is become tributary.—W. H. H.]—And princess among the provinces. That not only Israelitish, but foreign provinces also, were at times governed by Jerusalem, is sufficiently established in history. [See David’s conquests and sovereignty over the neighboring states, 2Sa 8:1-4; 2 Samuel 10:6-19; the extent of Solomon’s dominions, 1 Kings 4:21; 1Ki 4:24; 2 Chronicles 9:23-24; the power of Judah in the reign of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 17:10-11, and in that of Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26:6-8. See also Ezra 4:20, “There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them.”—W. H. H.]—How is she becomeis become. [See remarks on How above.]—Tributary. [“Obliged to pay tribute-service. This is the common meaning of the word.” Noyes.]

יָֽשְׁבָה בָדָד, sitteth solitary. This cannot mean dwelleth alone. For the isolated location of the city could be no misfortune, since contact with heathen neighbors was forbidden as injurious. (See Numbers 23:9; Leviticus 20:24; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 33:28; Exodus 23:31-33; Judges 2:3.) Nor can יָֽשְׁבָה have the sense of situation, place of location, for יָשַׁב never has that sense in the Hebrew. See Gesen.,Thes. In Psalms 122:5; Psalms 125:1; Zechariah 2:8; Zechariah 12:6; Zechariah 14:10 it has either the active signification of inhabiting, or the passive of being inhabited (see Jeremiah 17:6; Jeremiah 17:25; Jeremiah 30:18; Jeremiah 50:13; Jeremiah 50:39, et al). That this last named passive signification does not suit here is evident from the contradiction involved by the words solitary and as a widow. We can only translate How sits solitary the city. [Fuerst,Lex., “יָשָׁב, to sit, as an expression of being bowed down, struck down and forsaken, with לָאָרֶץ, Isaiah 3:26; Job 2:13; עַל־עָפָר, Isaiah 47:1; בָדָד, Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 3:28; מְשׁוֹמֵם, Ezra 9:3; אַלְמָגָה, Genesis 38:11; Isaiah 47:8.”] רִבָּתִי. It is probable that the form מְּלֵאֲתִי, in the kindred passage, Isaiah 1:21, influenced the choice of the form of the word here.—כְּאַלְמָנָה, as a widow. In antithesis to רַבָּתִי עָם, full of people, שְׁכּוּלָה, bereaved of children, childless, would be first suggested: but this word occurs only once, Isaiah 49:21. שַׁכֻּלָה, also, occurs once only (in connection with אַלְמָנָה), Jeremiah 18:21. עֲקָרָה is the barren woman, מְשַׁכֵּלָה or מְשַׁכֶּלֶת is abortum faciens, Exodus 23:26; 2 Kings 2:19; 2 Kings 2:21, or infanticida, Ezekiel 36:13. אַלְמָנָה suits admirably, in that it involves the impossibility of bearing children in the future. And that is what the Poet would say. Jerusalem is placed in a condition in which it is impossible for her to become a mother of children, Psalms 113:9. The other feature, that she is also a widow robbed of the children already born to her, is further brought out in what follows. I do not believe, therefore, that Jerusalem is here called a widow, because she is bereaved “of king and princes, and the protection and guidance of rulers,” as Vitringa and others after him (lately Engelhardt), appealing to Isaiah 47:8, have been inclined to think. Besides that, כְּאַלְמָנָה is not synonymous with לְא׳, Raschi has already remarked. Compare לָמַם at the close of this verse, and לְזוֹנָה, Isaiah 1:21. The word אַלְמָנָה is often found in Jeremiah 7:6; Jeremiah 15:8; Jeremiah 18:21; Jeremiah 22:3. [Henderson is too positive when he says, “The כּ in כְּאַלְמָנָה is simply that of comparison, and is not intended to express any hope that she would be restored from her widowed state, as Jarchi fancifully supposes.” Comparison is not assertion: a thing is not what it is compared with. If כְּ then does simply indicate a comparison, yet it leaves a possibility, and hence a hope of restoration from a widowed state; and there is certainly more than a ‘fanciful’ distinction between being a widow, לְאַלְמָנָה, and being like one,כְּאַלְמָנָה.—W. H. H.]—הֲיְתָה לָמַם, has become tributary. The expression is found in Genesis (Genesis 49:15) and in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 20:11); and is especially frequent in 1 Kings (1 Kings 5:27, 28; 1 Kings 9:15; 1 Kings 9:21) and in Judges (Judges 1:28; Judges 1:30; Judges 1:33; Judges 1:35). It is also found in Isaiah (Isaiah 31:8). The etymology and fundamental meaning are not quite certain. At all the places cited the word indicates bond-service, or rather, collectively, services (see מַם עֹבֵד, Genesis 49:15; Joshua 16:10; 1 Kings 9:21). It first occurs in the sense of tributum, a money tax, very late, Esther 10:1. It is, however, unimportant whether we take the word in our text in the one sense or the other. Nor can we from this word determine the exact period of time, as J. D. Michaelis would do, when he says: “Therefore she is still standing, but has become tributary. This first happened under the Egyptians” (he has here in mind evidently 2 Kings 23:33). “To what time then is this to be referred,—to that of the elegy on Josiah, or to that of a later period?” If Jerusalem was no longer standing, and not a human soul dwelt there, yet the place on which the ruins of Jerusalem remained had become, with the whole land, a part of the territory subjected to the Chaldeans.

Lamentations 1:2. She weepeth sore in the night.She weeps and weeps the night throughout. [This translation is beautiful and expository, but for grammatical reasons the E. V. is to be preferred. See the Gramm. Notes.—W. H. H.] The sorrowing widow weeps in the night. Not in the night-time only, in distinction from day-time,—nor, as Ewald prefers, ‘until the night.’ For why should she not weep during the night also? Precisely this is the meaning of the poet. She weeps in the night, but not only a part of the night, for that were nothing wonderful, but so that her weeping fills up the time which is usually spent otherwise. So is בַּלַּילָה to be understood in Numbers 14:1, “and the people wept that night.” See Jeremiah 6:5; Jeremiah 36:30, et al. [Henderson: “To express the more aggravated character of the weeping, it is represented as indulged even during the night—the period of rest and quiet.”]—And her tears are on her cheeks. ‘Tears,’ Jer. 8:23; Jeremiah 9:17, et al. The absence of a predicate index, which renders the supplement of the copula ‘are’ necessary, gives the idea evidently that the tears on her cheeks are constantly there, have fixed there, as it were, their permanent place. [Henry: “Nothing dries away sooner than a tear, yet fresh griefs extort fresh tears, so that her cheeks are never free from them.”]—Among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her.She has no comforter.—[That this phrase has an important meaning is to be inferred by its recurrence four times in this chapter (Lamentations 2:9; see also Lamentations 1:16), and from its being an unusual form, occurring elsewhere only in Ecclesiastes 4:1. It can have no common-place meaning. It refers indirectly to the loss of the Comforter—their God.—W. H. H.]—All her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. The words lovers and friends indicate the human supports on which Jerusalem foolishly and presumptuously believed she could rely, especially all those nations whose friendship she had so often preferred, instead of trusting in Jehovah. See Lamentations 1:19; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:33; Jeremiah 2:36-37; Jeremiah 22:20; Jeremiah 22:22; Hosea 2:7 sqq.; Ezekiel 23:0. These places show, in harmony with history, that the nations toward which Israel felt itself drawn in amorous love, but by which at last they were not only deserted, but treated with even positive hostility, were especially Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. With reference to Egypt, see particularly Ezekiel 29:6-7; Ezekiel 29:16. See Ewaldin loc. [Henderson: “The lovers and friends were those neighboring states which were allies of the Hebrews,—and their idol-gods, which they worshipped, and in which they trusted. Egypt especially was the object of their confidence, but not even she durst venture to come to their help against the Chaldeans. Those in the more immediate vicinity actually joined the northern enemy on his irruption into the country. 2 Kings 24:2.”]

Lamentations 1:3

3Judah is gone into captivity, because of affliction, and because of great servitude; she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.


Lamentations 1:3.—גָּֽלְתָה, see Jeremiah 1:3.—עֳנִי, found in Lamentations 1:3; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 3:1; Lamentations 3:19, does not occur in Jeremiah; yet Isaiah uses it Isaiah 48:10 : occurs also in Pentateuch; Genesis 16:11; Genesis 29:32; Genesis 31:42; Exodus 3:7; Deuteronomy 16:3; Deuteronomy 26:7, etc.; in Psalms 9:14; Psalms 25:18; Psalms 31:8, and in other writings of earlier origin than Lam.—מֵרֹב is found in Isaiah 7:22; Isaiah 24:22; Nahum 3:4, et al.: Jeremiah says אַלרֹב, Jeremiah 30:14-15, or בְּרֹב, Jeremiah 13:22.—עֲבֹדָה does not occur in Jeremiah, yet frequently in Pentateuch, and in Isaiah 14:3; Isaiah 32:17; Isaiah 28:21.—מָנוֹחָ occurs Genesis 8:9; Deuteronomy 28:65; Isaiah 34:14, is not used by Jeremiah; he uses מנוּחָה, Jeremiah 45:3. [See Intr. Add. R. (4). p. 30. (6). p. 31.]—נָשַג occurs in Jeremiah 42:16 (see also Jeremiah 39:5; Jeremiah 52:8 ).]


Lamentations 1:3. The tribe of Judah is the subject here, as the city of Jerusalem was in Lamentations 1:1-2, and is conceived of similarly as an ideal person.—Judah is gone into captivity, because of affliction and because of great servitude.Into exile is Judah gone from oppression and severe servitude. It has been correctly remarked that from oppression and from hard servitude cannot refer to the involuntary exile of Judah, since it is added she findeth no rest. For who may expect rest for a people carried into captivity? But voluntary fugitives might hope to find rest. Of such voluntary exiles, Jeremiah speaks in Jeremiah 40:11-12, and from Jeremiah 43:4-7 we learn that all these finally agreed together to seek rest in Egypt. That they found no rest there exactly agrees with what the prophet had declared, Jeremiah 42:13-22, to the people stubbornly persisting in the flight to Egypt. When the Poet speaks here of Judah as a fugitive, seeking rest and finding none, the reason for his doing so may be surmised from the fact that he himself belonged to that part of the people that were living in exile. We may suppose, also, that he regarded this part of the nation as a representative of the whole nation, because they consisted of people who were at least free. It is much like saying,—Judah is no longer with those who have become mixed with a foreign people as slaves. If it yet survive, it survives in a voluntary exile, where, notwithstanding its distressed state and reduced numbers, it still retains at least its personal liberty. [Blayney: “Our translators, who have rendered, Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction and because of great servitude, seem to have adopted the notion of the Chaldee Paraphrast, who represents the Jews to have been carried into captivity in retaliation of their having oppressed the widow and the fatherless among them, and prolonged illegally the bondage of their brethren who had been sold them for slaves.” Henderson adopts this view, that Judah is here represented as suffering captivity on account of, or because of her oppressing and cruelly enslaving her own people, see Jeremiah 34:0. But the other view, that Judah sought by voluntary exile to escape the oppression and enslavement of the Chaldeans, is recommended by the reasons given above, and is adopted by Blayney, C. B. and J. D. Michaelis, Boothroyd and Noyes. Houbigant, quoted approvingly by Boothroyd in his Heb. Bib., connects the words “from oppression and hard servitude” with the words “she findeth no rest,” an obvious and awkward attempt to escape the difficulty of the supposed causal sense of מִתנ. Hugh Broughton translates Judah leaveth country after affliction and much bondage.—W. H. H.]—[She dwelleth among the heathen, lit., nations, i.e., the heathen nations. The word dwell conveys an idea of a settled permanent abode, not required by the Hebrew, יָֽשְׁבָה. The German, sitzet, which Naegelsbach uses, is better (see Lamentations 1:1). The fugitive, fleeing before her pursuers, finds at last a place among the heathen, where she sits down in hoped-for security: but in vain; her pursuers overtake her, as the hart is found by the hunter, in the straits or defiles of the mountain, from which there is no escape. See Lamentations 1:6, they flee like harts before the pursuer.—W. H. H.]—She findeth no rest: all her persecutors, pursuers, in antithesis to all her lovers and all her friends in Lamentations 1:2 (see Lamentations 1:6; Lamentations 4:19; Jeremiah 15:15; Jeremiah 17:18; Jeremiah 20:11) overtook her between the straits.מְצָרִים (Sing. מֵצַר) occurs, besides here, only Psalms 116:3; Psalms 118:5. It can mean neither θλίβοντες (so Sept., which erroneously takes it for a participle), nor termini,ὁρισμοί (so Chald., Venitian Greek, et al.). It means angustiæ, narrow defiles from which there is no outlet. The figure is taken from the cbase. See the German phrase, “in die Engen treiben,” “to drive one into straits.” [W. Robertson: “מְצָר, a streight, or a streighting distress.” Fuerst: “to take one in the straits, i.e., to get one at last into our power, a proverbial phrase.” The present use of the English word straits (as ‘reduced to straits,’ ‘in great straits’) explains the sense here, but does not justify the translation, overtook her between the straits.—W. H. H.] The fugitive Judah sits indeed in the midst of a heathenish people, but has found there no rest. She would flee still further, were it possible. But whither could the Jews, with their wives, their children, and all their goods, have fled beyond the desert-surrounded Egypt? They dwelt there, it is true, but they dwelt amidst straits. All their pursuers (and that there were enough of them in Egypt, old and new, is evident from Jeremiah 44:12; Jeremiah 44:18; Jeremiah 44:26 sqq.) could reach them there.

Lamentations 1:4-6

4The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate; her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. 5Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity 6before the enemy. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture; and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.


Lamentations 1:4.—אָבֵל, adj. mournful [not desert, waste, devastated, as Fuerst says, which destroys the beautiful personification—W. H. H.], occurs Genesis 37:35; Isaiah 57:18, et al., never in Jeremiah. The verb אָבַל he uses, in the same sense as the adjective here (Jeremiah 4:28; Jeremiah 12:4; Jeremiah 12:11; Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 23:10) [and also the noun אֵבֶל, Jeremiah 6:26, et al.—W. H. H.] Isaiah uses the adjective, Isaiah 57:18; Isa 61:23.—מִבְּלִי, see Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 9:10-11.—The expression בָּאֵי (see Genesis 23:10; Genesis 23:18) is not found in Jeremiah.—מוֹעֵד is found in Jeremiah twice, Jeremiah 8:7; Jeremiah 46:17, both times in the sense of tempus fixum. In the Lamentations the word occurs six times, and always in the sense of a time of feast, a festival, Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:15; Lamentations 2:6-7; Lamentations 2:22, or the place of a feast, Lamentations 2:6. [It may have here the sense of an appointed time. Ordinary services in the Temple are neglected. None flock to Zion at the usual times of service.—W. H. H.]—The part. שׁוֹמֵם is not in Jeremiah: he uses the part. Niph., Jeremiah 33:10, and שָׁמֵם, Jeremiah 12:11. The plur. ending ין—(see Lamentations 4:3, K’tib), is not found in Jeremiah.—The root אָנַח Jeremiah does not use, either in a verbal or a substantive form (see Lamentations 1:8; Lamentations 1:11; Lamentations 1:21).—נוּגוֹת, see הוֹנָהּ below.—מַר Jeremiah does use, Lamentations 2:19; Lamentations 4:18.

Lamentations 1:5.—As shown above, הָיוּ לְרֹאשׁ is a Deuteronomic, שָׁלוּ a Jeremiac expression. For grammatical form of latter, see Olsh., § 233, b. הוֹגָהּ never occurs in Jeremiah, but frequently in Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:32-33 : elsewhere, Isaiah 51:23; Zephaniah 3:18. [Vulgate derives it from הָגָה, which sometimes means to speak; quia Dominus locutus est super eam; Douay, because the Lord hath spoken against her. But Sept., Syr. and Versions generally derive it from יָנָה.—W. H. H.]—עַל־רֹב is entirely Jeremiac (see on מֵרֹב, Lamentations 1:3).—פֶשַׁע in Jeremiah only once, Lamentations 5:6.—עוֹלֵל, Jeremiah 44:7; עוֹלָל, Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:20.—הָלַךְ שְׁבִי is peculiar to this place. שְׁבִי cannot well be an accusative, since to go into exile is always elsewhere expressed by הָלַךְ בַּשְּׁבִי, see Lamentations 1:18. [Henderson: her children are gone captives before the enemy.]—The sing. צָר, which is frequent in Lam. (Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10; Lamentations 2:4; Lamentations 4:12), never occurs in Jeremiah: he uses only the plural (Jeremiah 30:16; Jeremiah 46:10) and צָרָה (Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 6:24, et al.).

Lamentations 1:6.—יָצָא מִן, for forsaken, lost, is peculiar. [Henderson: “Forמִן־בַּת the K’ri and some MSS. read more correctly מִבַּת. The phrase is also thus quoted in the Rabboth.” This best suits the rhythm.—W. H. H.]—הָדָר is never found in Jeremiah; nor אַיִּל (yet see אַיָלָה, Jeremiah 14:5); nor מִרְעֶה (Jeremiah always says מַרְעִית, Jeremiah 10:21; Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 25:36). We find expressions in Jeremiah analogous toבְּלֹא כֹחַ, Lamentations 2:11, בְּלֹא יוֹעִיל, Lamentations 5:7, בְּלֹא אֱלחִֹים ּ—רֹרֶף is found in Jeremiah, but only with suffixes, Jeremiah 15:15; Jeremiah 17:18; Jeremiah 20:11.


These verses contain a description of the present condition of the city and people of Jerusalem [or, a new aspect of their condition is presented.—We have here another of those changes which impart to these poems a highly dramatic character. A third personage is introduced,—“the daughter of Zion.” The ideal person here is not that of the city of Jerusalem, formerly in outward splendor and estate a queen among the nations, now fallen and humbled (Lamentations 1:1-2), nor yet that of the tribe of Judah, or of the theocratic people, now a fugitive among the heathen (Lamentations 1:3),—but of Zion, formerly the seat of the theocracy, the abode of God, the Temple where Judah and Jerusalem worshipped, now forsaken and despoiled. No longer do the people gather to her appointed solemnities. Silence reigns on Zion, broken only by the sobs of her priests and the moaning of her virgins, a higher evidence than either the ruined city or the exiled people, that the glory was departed from Israel.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:4. The ways of Zion,The way to Zion, those ways which lead to Zion: not the streets of the city, as Rosenmueller thinks, for the latter are called חוּצוֹת (see Hosea 7:1 with Hosea 6:9), do mourn,are mournful (Prosopopœia, as, e. g.,Lamentations 2:19; Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 23:10; Amos 1:2), because none come to the solemn feasts,forsaken by those who used to come to her feasts [because there are none coming to her appointed services. Appointed assemblies, including all occasions of stated worship, whether daily sacrifices or annual festivals, would more correctly interpret the sense than either “feasts,” “solemn feasts,” or “festivals.”—W. H. H.]—All her gates are desolate,destroyed. Concerning the city itself, its gates are destroyed. But ruined gates are the sign of a ruined city. [“Destroyed,” so Naegelsbach,zerstört, Sept. ἠφανισμέμαι= rezed to the ground, Vulg. destructæ. E. V. and modern Versions generally read desolate. It is the gates of Zion, not the gates of the city of Jerusalem, that are here referred to. Those sacred barriers are removed. The holy place has lost its sanctity. It is open now to the intrusion of any who please to enter. See Lamentations 1:10 : “She hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary whom Thou didst command that they should not enter into Thy congregation.” What could more forcibly express, in accordance with Jewish ideas, the idea that the theocratic glory had departed from Israel?—W. H. H.]—Her priests sigh: her virgins are afflicted,sorrowful. Two classes of the inhabitants are named,—the priests and the virgins: the former the nobility, the latter the flower and ornament of the nation. The former sigh under heavy oppression; the latter, who formerly rendered every festival attractive, with dances and pastimes (see Jeremiah 31:13; Herz.Real. Encyc., XV., pp. 414, 415), are now sorrowful. It is thus intimated that every possibility of making a joyous festival is gone. See Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9; Jeremiah 25:10; Jeremiah 33:11; comp. Jeremiah 30:19. The Sept. reads, instead of sorrowful,ἀγόμεναι=led away; the translation evidently of נְהוּגוֹת, which either really stood in the text, or was erroneously substituted by the Alexandrian for the rare word נוּגוֹת. Ewald follows the Sept. Incorrectly, it seems to me. נוּגוֹת is sufficiently expressive, if it be taken as an indication of the prevailing grief and in antithesis to the indications of the public rejoicings that existed in former times. [The mention of “the priests” particularly shows that the sacred precincts of Zion, where they ministered, and where “the virgins” went up to the solemn feasts with joy and gladness, are before the Poet’s eye. To say that the priests are mentioned because they constituted “the nobility” of the inhabitants of the city, is not only awkward, but untrue. Noyes translates the last clause Her virgins wail: a meaning of the original word not licensed by authority.—W. H. H.]—And she is in bitterness. In these words the whole is summed up. [It is, perhaps, impossible to give in English the exquisite force of the original. Naegelsbach nearly reproduces it in German, “Und ihr—ist wehe.”—W. H. H.] Here it is evident that the ideal person of Zion is the embodiment of all the particular members and ranks of the community (des volkslebens). [If this were indisputably evident, it would not militate with the fact that Zion represented the religious life as Judah did the political life of the people.—W. H. H.]—This relative conclusion shows that the Poet proposes to pass to something new. In fact, Lamentations 1:4 describes the positive sorrows and afflictions of the people: Lamentations 1:5, a. b., the good fortune of her enemies as the natural reciprocal effect of the misfortunes of Judah; Lamentations 1:5, c.,Lamentations 1:6, the negative side of the painful experience of the people, namely, the losses they sustained.

Lamentations 1:5. Her adversaries are the chief, lit., have become the head [i. e., her superiors.Blayney and Noyes: or, the head over her.Boothroyd.] In Deuteronomy 28:13 a promise is made to Israel, if obedient, ‘and the Lord shall make thee the head and not the tail,” and in same chapter, Lam 1:44, the reverse is threatened, if disobedient. The Poet, without doubt, had these passages in his mind.—Her enemies prosper. The darkness of Israel’s sorrows is deepened by the brilliant prosperity of her enemies. The expression occurs in same sense, Jeremiah 12:1. See Psalms 122:6; Job 12:6.—For the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions. This advantage on the part of their enemies had not happened by chance, nor by mere arbitrariness or unrighteousness on the side of God, but by an act of Divine rectitude in the punishment of Israel for their sins. What is professedly made conspicuous in Lamentations 1:8 is here anticipated. [Observe, in connection with Zion, as the representative of the religious element of the theocratic idea, in distinction from the national, the name Jehovah is first introduced, and the calamities suffered by the people are first distinctly ascribed to their sins;—the sins especially of priests and ministers of religion, and of hypocrisy, formalism and idolatry on the part of the people.:—W. H. H.]—Her children are gone into captivity,her young children are gone captives. From here to end of Lamentations 1:6 the Poet describes what Judah has lost. And first, her children.עוֹלָלִים are little children (see Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 4:4; Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:20). These are compelled as captives to go forth before the oppressor into foreign lands. See Joel 4:2, 3.—Before the enemy. [The word adversary (so Broughton) is preferred to enemy, E. V., because the word in Hebrew is the same as that rendered “adversaries” in the first clause. Oppressor and oppressors might be well substituted.—W. H. H.] What renders this more dreadful is the idea that the little children are torn away from parents and brothers and sisters, to be driven as merchandise by their purchasers, some to one place and some to another. [Henderson: “In the representations which we find on ancient sculptures nothing is more affecting than to observe females and young children driven as captives before their conquerors.” Observe, young children are mentioned in connection with Zion because they, in a peculiar sense, are the care of the church, of the religious rather than the political rulers, the lambs of the flock entrusted to the spiritual shepherds of Israel. Nothing could more forcibly express, in accordance with Jewish ideas, the fact that God had forsaken His people, than that the heathen were suffered, without Divine hindrance, to carry away these young children, the children of the covenant, into captivity and slavery. It is this thought that constitutes the poetic climax, showing how severely Jehovah afflicted Zion for her sins.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:6. And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed. Zion has lost, not only her dearest and most precious ones, her children, but also her beauty, her glory. This last feature is represented by the princes, with whom, and before them all, the king is to be classed. [What then was the beauty of Zion—the King and the Princes, or God Himself? The beauty of Zion was the presence of Jehovah and the maintenance of His worship on the Holy Mount. See Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 2:6; 1 Samuel 4:21-22; Ezekiel 7:20-22; Psalms 1:2, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined,” Psalms 96:9, “Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” בְּהַדְרַת־קֹדֶשּׁ. Psalms 132:13-14. The beauty of Zion departed when God forsook His people, suffered the Temple to be destroyed, Jeremiah 52:13, and the ordinances of worship to be discontinued. The condition of her princes, like hunted harts, pursued and overtaken, is the consequence of the destruction of Zion, whence they are driven forth, deprived of all spiritual nourishment. God is no longer with them. No more are they fed with the bread of Heaven; and therefore, like starved and parched harts, they fall an easy prey to their pursuers.—W. H. H.]—Her princes are become like harts that find no pasture; and they are gone without strength before the enemy. These noble and fleet-footed animals lose, by hunger, their strength and the power of flight. They are caught and driven at pleasure. So the princes of Zion, formerly her pride and strength, are driven forth by the pursuer. The Sept. and Jerome have κριοί, arietes,=rams. They read or understood אֵלִים. But evidently אַיִל is the stag or hart (see Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 14:5; Deuteronomy 15:22): rams would not suit in this connection, since rams do not belong to those animals of the chase, which only suffer themselves to be taken by men, when hunger deprives them of power to escape.

Lamentations 1:7

7Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction, and of her miseries, all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her: the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths.


Lamentations 1:7.—יְמֶי עָנְיָהּ ו׳ is not the object of זָֽכְרָה, but indicates the time, as is evident from the absence of ו before כֹל. The accusative יְמֵי answers, as frequently, the question, When? See my Gr., § 70, d. [Blayney: “Houbigant supposes that we ought to read בימי for ימי: but I am inclined to think that it is not the ב, but the מ, which has been sunk before ימי, by means of the preceding word having been terminated with the same letter,—a mistake of which we find numberless instances originating from the same cause. מימי signifies during the days, or since they began, asמימי קדם does presently after, in or during former days,” Boothroyd quotes this note with approval in his Hebrew Bible. Henderson says, “in יְמֵי there is an ellipsis of בְּ, of which there are numerous examples.” But nouns may be “used absolutely to express the relations of time,” see Green’s Gr., § 274, 2.—W. H. H.]—מְרוּדִים, not from מָרַד, but from ררּד, dissipari, vagari (Hosea 12:1; Jeremiah 2:31), is vagatio, erratio, vita extorris et erratica (Fuerst). The word is found, besides here and Lamentations 3:19. only at Isaiah 58:7. [Dr J. A. Alexander translates וְַעֲנִיִים מְרוּדים, the afflicted, the homeless, and remarks, “Lowth’s version—the wandering poor—is now commonly regarded as substantially correct. מְרוּדִים is properly an abstract, meaning wandering (from רוּד), here used for the concrete wanderers.” Accepting the opinion of Lowth and Alexander, I have put “wanderings” in the text. Fuerst, in his concordance, derives the word from רוּד, as above, but, in his Lexicon, from מָרַד, and translates it expulsion, persecution, misery. W. Robertson says, מְרוּדֶיהָ, her mournings, her lamentations, her miseries or calamities, or her rebellions, for the word may be referred to the root רוּד, in Hiph., to mourn, to lament; or to the root מָרַד, to rebel.” Blayney says it “comes from יָרַד, to descend from a higher to a lower condition,” and so translates it abatement. The variety of meanings put upon the word is indicated in the following English Versions: Broughton, vexation; Blayney, abasement; Boothroyd, misery; Henderson, persecution; Noyes. oppression. But wanderings is evidently best supported by its use and most natural derivation, and suits the meaning here, but in Lamentations 3:19 it seems to denote simply a condition of wretchedness.—W. H. H.]—מַֽחֲמֻדֶּיהָ, only here and Lamentations 1:11, K’tib. Neither מַחְמָד, nor מַחֲמֹד, found in Jeremiah. He uses only חֶמְדָּה (Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 12:10; Jeremiah 25:34).—מִימֵי קֶדֶם, in Jeremiah we have כִימֵי־קֶדֶם, Jeremiah 46:26.—בְּיַד could be into the hand [E. V., Blayney, Boothroyd, Henderson, Noyes] instead of by [Broughton]; the difference is not important.—[Blayney: “Instead of רָאוּהָ צָרִים I propose to read רָאוּ חַֽצָרִיִם.” An ingenious, but unnecessary, unauthorized change.—W. H. H.]


Lamentations 1:7. Jerusalem. [Here occurs another of those sudden changes which give to this poem its highly dramatic character. In the preceding verses, which may be properly regarded as introductory to all that follows, the city, the nation, and the church have been successively introduced. Now Jerusalem is named for the first time. Jerusalem, here, must be regarded as generic and comprehensive; the representative of the theocratic idea; the head of all the cities of Israel, the type of its nationality, the seat of its worship, where God dwelt in its consecrated Zion. The ideal persons who have already appeared,—the ruined city, pictured as a sorrowing widow and dethroned and conquered queen, of Lamentations 1:1-2,—the exile, fleeing from misery and bondage, seeking a home among heathen, but finding no rest, no escape from trouble and persecution, of Lamentations 1:3,—the daughter of Zion, despoiled of her beauty, bewailing the absence of worshippers, the invasion of her sacred courts by heathen, the captivity of her infant children and the humiliation of her proud leaders and princes, of Lamentations 1:4-6,—all now are embraced under the generic name of Jerusalem, which from this verse to the end of the chapter is personified as the representative of the theocratic idea.—W. H. H.]—remembered,remembers. The unfortunate cannot forbear recalling their former prosperity, the remembrance of which serves both to comport them and to increase their sorrow. Zion follows this propensity of nature.—in the days of her affliction and of her miseries, all her pleasant things.—All the glorious things, of a spiritual and of a temporal nature, which had fallen to the lot of the chosen people from the beginning of their history, are now the subject of painful remembrance.—that she had in the days of old. See Lamentations 2:17; Isaiah 23:7; Isaiah 37:26; Micah 7:20. [Broughton: “in the old time.” Henderson: “from ancient days.”] Ewald regards the words, all the pleasant things she had from the days of old, as erroneously transplanted here out of Lamentations 1:10. His principal reason seems to be that they spoil the rhythm. Vaihinger supposes that this verse, as well as Lamentations 2:19, contains four members. I see no necessity for this. We are only to regard the two members of the first part of the verse as of greater length. There is apparently no exact measure for the number of syllables of the several members. The thought that Jerusalem in her misery remembers her present misery [which would be the sense according to Ewald’s emendation] is unnatural; for זָכַר [to call to mind, to remember] always suggests something distant, remote, in reference to space or time, and, in the latter relation, either past or future. Besides, the words, “that she had in the days of old,” so appropriate in Lamentations 1:7, would be altogether superfluous and confusing in Lamentations 1:10.—when her people fell into the hand of the enemy,when her people fall by the hand of the oppressor.This is a more particular description of “the days of her affliction.” They were the days when her people fell by the hand of their enemies.—and none did help her,and she has no helper. [So all the Eng. Versions, except E. V.]—the adversaries saw her,her oppressors behold her. The construction is determined by what precedes, according to acknowledged usage. See. my Gr., § 99.—[רָאָה = to see, has here the sense of looking at in the way of inspection, beholding (Broughton), perhaps in the sense of ‘looking at a person with satisfaction or joy,’ to ‘feast the eyes upon one with malicious joy’ (see Fuerst’sLex.). The remark of Dr. J. A. Alexander on Isaiah 53:2, that רָאָה “means to view with pleasure only when followed by the preposition ב,” needs qualification.—W. H. H.]—and did mockthey mockat her Sabbaths.מִשְׁכָּת is an ἅπ. λεγ. The sense of the word itself is clear. It can only mean cessationes, excidia [cessations, destructions]. But the choice of a word else unused, seems to indicate that the scorn of their enemies was of an equivocal character; namely, they scoffed not only because Zion had come to its end, but likewise because now a general Sabbath, a day of rest for the land in a bad sense, had begun. We have then a proof that the Sabbath was to the heathen, even before the days of Rome (see Juv. Sat. XIV. 96–106; Pers. V. 179–184; Mart. IV. 4, 7), an occasion for mockery. [Hugh Broughton: “This prophesieth how in Babel they will mourn for desire unto their feasts, which in their Land they would not keep aright. And the Chaldeans will scoff at their Sabbatisms, as did long after Horace, Ovid, and other Poets,—and Tully, too, deserving to have his head cut off and his tongue pricked, as he had. The Psalms 137:0 commenteth upon this verse.”]. This early mockery of the Jewish Sabbath would be more likely to happen, since it would naturally come to the ears of those who destroyed Jerusalem, that the commandment itself predicted to the disobedient people a time of desolation, as an involuntary Sabbath rest of the land. See Leviticus 26:34; Lev 26:43; 2 Chronicles 36:21. I believe, therefore, that the old explanation of Vulg., Arab., Luther, L. Capelle, translating מִשְׁבַּתִּים by Sabbaths, is right, so far as it allows an equivocal sense of this word. [This word has given the translators and commentators much trouble. The Sept. translates it by μετοικεσία, “and mocked at her captivity,” deriving the noun from שָׁבָה, captivum ducere. The other Versions vary. Blayney:“discontinuance;” “Houbigant justly observes that שבה is nowhere used for Sabbath, etc. But without taking the liberty which he does of substituting another word, משברה, the use of the verb שבת will justify giving to משבתה a sense well suited to the exigence of the passage, namely, ‘her discontinuance,’ that is, the ceasing, or causing to cease, of her, or of her former prosperity.” Boothroyd and Noyes: “destruction.” Henderson: “they laughed at her ruin,” “מִשְׁבַּתֶּיה, lit., her ruined circumstances; the state of the complete cessation of all the active businesses of life. Root, שָׁבַתto cease; Hiph., to put an end to, cause to cease.”Broughton: “Sabbatisms;” (which, as preserving the equivocal sense, is to be preferred).—Blayney: “Some critics have been willing to discard this line, Her oppressors behold her—they mock at her Sabbaths—as well as the fourth in Lamentations 2:19, but for no better reason than because all the other periods in the two chapters consist, of three lines only. But I think this not a sufficient ground, in opposition to the authority of all the Hebrew copies and ancient Versions.” Henderson, who makes four lines of this verse, and only three of the others, remarks, “there is no reason to believe that Jeremiah considered himself so rigidly bound to adhere to his triple arrangement, as on no occasion to break through it in order to give utterance to a thought forcibly bearing on the statement which he had just made.” Why then adopt an artificial style at all? But there is no necessity for making four members instead of three of this verse. Each member consists of two distinctly marked clauses; and in this verse the first member has two clauses of more than usual length. Naegelsbach’s arrangement of the lines in sixes, instead of triplets, plainly disposes of this difficulty, and its correctness is vindicated by the accents.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:8-11.

8Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honored her, despise her, because they have seen her nakedness; yea, she sigheth, and9 turneth backward. Her filthiness is in her skirts; she remembereth not her last end; therefore she came down wonderfully: she had no comforter. O Lord, behold10my afflictions; for the enemy hath magnified himself. The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter 11into thy congregation. All her people sigh, they seek bread: they have given their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider; for I am become vile.


Lamentations 1:8.—חֵטְא חָֽטְאָה. See my Gr., § 93, d, note. The form חֵטְא (frequent in Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 21:22, etc., comp. Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 53:12; Hosea 12:9) is never found in Jeremiah, and in Lam. only here and Lamentations 3:39. Jeremiah uses only the form חַטָּאת Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 17:3; Jeremiah 17:3; Jeremiah 18:23, et al. The verb חָטָא is frequent with him, Jeremiah 2:35; Jeremiah 3:25; Jeremiah 8:14.—[Blayney: “For לְנִידָה, which occurs nowhere else, nineteen MSS., and the first edition of the Hagiographa, read לְנִדָּה, as at Jeremiah 1:17 and various other places.”]—מְכַבֵּד, not found in Jeremiah; 1 Samuel 2:30; 2 Samuel 10:3; Proverbs 14:31.—The Hiphil form, הִזִּיל (not to be confounded with הִזִּיר from נָזַּל, Isaiah 48:21), occurs only here. See Olsh., § 255, h, note. In Jeremiah 15:19 we find זוֹלֵל, abjectum, vile. [The word is from זָלַל, Chaldaic inflexion. See Benjamin Davidson; Analyt. Lex., § 18,14; or from זוּל, see Fuerst, Lex.—W. H. H.]—עֶרְוָה, not found in Jeremiah. See Isaiah 47:3; Ezekiel 16:37. [Cranmer, Bishops’ B., filthiness; Broughton, Boothroyd, Noyes, shame.]—אָהוֹר is found in Jeremiah only with הָלַךְ, Jeremiah 15:6, and נָסוֹג, Jeremiah 38:22; Jeremiah 46:5.

Lamentations 1:9.—טֻמְאָתָהּ. Ewald, wholly unnecessarily, would read טָֽמְאַֽתָה, she polluted (§ 194, b). The word is not found in Jeremiah.—פְלָאִים, acc. adverbial. See נִפְלָאוֹת, Job 37:5; נוֹרָאוֹת, Psalms 65:6; מֵישָׁרִים, Psalms 75:3; my Gr., § 70, k.—הִנְדִיל requires neither נַפְשׁוֹ nor פִּיו to complete the sense. The object lies in the verb itself. The direct causative is needed (see my Gr., § 18, 3). It also means, to play the part of or to affect greatness; see Jeremiah 48:26; Jeremiah 48:42; comp. 1 Samuel 20:41. [Fuerst gives this verb an inchoative sense, to grow violent. This sense of the word seems to have induced the inaccurate translation of Blayney, Behold how an enemy hath aggravated mine affliction. Boothroyd gives same sense.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:10.—פָרַשׂ (see Lamentations 1:13; Lamentations 1:17; Lamentations 4:4) is not strange to the vocabulary of Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 16:7; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22.—Before בָּאוּ supply אֲשֶׁר.—[Henderson: “The ה in צִוִּיתָה is merely the fuller form of the pronominal fragment for צִוִּיתָ, the common form. It is omitted in some MSS.”]

Lamentations 1:11.—מַֽחֲמַודֵּיהֶם, see Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10. [Henderson: the form is “quite irregular. It is corrected in the K’ri, which rejects the ו. The word is thus exhibited in a great number of MSS. and in eight printed editions.”]—בְּ .בְּאֹכֶל indicates something given in the way of price or wages; see Genesis 29:18; Genesis 30:26; Isaiah 7:23; my Gr., § 112, 5, a. אֹכֶל is not found in Jeremiah. He says אָכְלָה, Jeremiah 12:12; or מַֽאֲכָל, Jeremiah 7:33; Jeremiah 16:4; Jeremiah 19:7; Jeremiah 34:20.—לְהָשִׁיב נָפֶשׁ occurs Lamentations 1:16; Lamentations 1:19; Ruth 4:15; Psalms 19:8; Proverbs 25:13, never in Jeremiah.—רְאֵה וְהַבִּיטָה. These two imperatives are found together, only in the reverse order, in Job 35:5; Isaiah 63:15; Psalms 80:15; Psalms 142:5. In the Lamentations we also have הַבִּיטוּ וּרְאוּ, Lamentations 1:12; וּרְאֵה הַבִּיטּ, Lamentations 1:1, and הַבִּיטָה alone Lamentations 3:63. Jeremiah never uses the verb נָבַט, which Isaiah uses constantly, Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 5:30; Isaiah 8:22; Isaiah 18:4; Isaiah 42:18; Isaiah 63:15; Isaiah 20:5-6, etc.—זוֹלֵלָה occurs once in Jeremiah 15:19. See הִזִּילוּהָ Lamentations 1:8. The word is used in a contemptuous sense; Zion [Jerusalem] has become a עֶצֶב נִבְזֶה (Jeremiah 22:28) when she ought to be נַֽחֲלַת צְבִי צִבְאוֹת גוֹיִם (Jeremiah 3:19). [זוֹלֵל‍ is properly the participle of זָלַל, to shake to and fro, to totter, hence figuratively to be low, bad, contemptible, abject, mean, and then again figuratively to be miserable, unhappy, in which last sense it is used here. See Fuerst, Lex.—W. H. H.]


Lamentations 1:8. It is sin that has made Jerusalem an object of abhorrence. Her uncleanness has become notorious: therefore those who might comfort her keep far from her, while her heathen oppressors, who, according to the law, should keep away from her, have free access to her.—Jerusalem hath grievously sinned. [Lit., hath sinned a sin. This Hebraism suggests the idea, not only of a sin of a grievous character, but of sin persevered in, and its guilt aggravated by constant repetition. So Cranmer translates: “Jerusalem hath sinned ever more and more.” Naegelsbach, poetically, if not accurately: Gesündigt, gesündigt hat Jerusalem.Calvin: “Here the Prophet expresses more clearly and strongly what he had briefly referred to, even that all the evils which the Jews suffered proceeded from God’s vengeance, and that they were worthy of such a punishment, because they had not lightly offended, but had heaped up for themselves a dreadful judgment, since they had in all manner of ways abandoned themselves to impiety. This is the substance of what is said.”—W. H. H.]—Therefore she is removed. [Correctly, therefore she is become vile.Westminster Annotations: “She is become as a woman separated for her uncleanness,” Leviticus 15:19; Ezekiel 22:10; Ezekiel 36:17; or, an abominable thing, for so also is the word used in an abstract notion, Leviticus 20:21; 2 Chronicles 29:5; Ezra 9:11. So Lamentations 1:17.—W. H. H.]—All that honoured her despise her. Those who formerly honored Jerusalem, her friends and allies, now despise her. [Calvin: “This also did not a little increase the grievousness of her calamity; she had been repudiated by her friends, by whom she had before been valued and honored. The reason is mentioned.”]—Because they have seen her nakedness. By the discovery of her nakedness we are to understand, not merely that after the removal of all protecting covering (i. e., of all means of defence), men could see and even enter into the precincts of her innermost recesses, but especially that in this way the nakedness of Jerusalem, in a moral sense, has become notorious. In reference to her nakedness in this moral sense, Nebuzaradan said (Jeremiah 40:3), “because ye have sinned against Jehovah, and have not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.” See Delitzsch on Isaiah 47:3 : “The nakedness of Babylon is her shameful deeds, which are become manifest as such.” The same figure of speech is found in Hosea 2:10; Nahum 3:5; Ezek. 13:37.—Yea, she sigheth. [Yea, she herself, or, as for herself she sigheth, etc.—W. H. H.]—And turneth backward. The shame of Jerusalem is so manifest that she herself cannot deny it. There remains nothing for her to do, but groaning to hide herself. See Lamentations 1:13; Lamentations 2:3; Psalms 9:4; Psalms 44:11; Psalms 56:10. [The sense seems to be that she herself is so self-convicted and stricken with grief and mortification, that she can only sigh and turn her back upon the spectators in the vain endeavor to hide her shame. This would be very natural in the case of a naked woman, and such is the disagreeable image employed by the poet. Naegelsbach:und wendete sich züruck, lit., and turned herself round. The only other sense that can be put upon the phrase is to regard it as expressive of despair. So Calvin, “to turn backward means the same as to be deprived of all hope of restoration.” But the correctness of such an interpretation is far from obvious. The other is more natural and probable. West. Annotations:“Yea, she sigheth and turneth backward for shame; as those in such case would do, that have any shamefacedness, or spark of ingenuity at all in them, see Isaiah 47:5 : for they seem to swerve here from the genuine sense, who understand the term turning back as intimating a want of power to stand to it, or to rise and recover again, as Jeremiah 46:5.”—W. H. H.]

לְנִידָה, vile. The old translators derive the word from נוּד, vagari, errare, in the sense of agitatio, jactatio facta,i. e.,agitata jactata est. Others take it in the sense of מָנוֹד (Psalms 44:15), that at which men shake the head [as an expression of contemptuous pity.—W. H. H.]. But the connection requires that the word be used in the sense of that which excites abhorrence: for, according to the following clause, Jerusalem is despised because men now see her nakedness and her uncleanness. Since the lengthening of a syllable, to compensate for the doubling of the following consonant, is not infrequent [see הִזִּילוּהָ for הִזִלּוּהָ, next clause, and Green’sGr., § 141, 3.—W. H. H.], we may take נִידּהָ as another form of נִדָּה (Lamentations 1:17). See Olsh., § 82, c. But נִדָּח is that which one avoids, flings away from him as vile, abominates, that which is unclean, an object of abhorrence, and then the condition [or state, in the abstract] of uncleanness. It is especially used of the uncleanness of women (Leviticus 12:2; Leviticus 15:19, etc.). Here it would denote the person afflicted with such uncleanness, and become, on that account, an object of abhorrence, as Ezekiel 18:6 speaks of a אשָּׁה נִדָּה. Neither נִידָה nor נִדָּה occur in Jeremiah. [The authorities for the translation of this word are about equally divided. Those that agree with our author are: the Syr., horror; Ital., a laughing-stock; Ger., ein unreines Weib;Blayney,one set apart for unclean;Henderson,unclean;Noyes,vile. On the other hand we have: Sept., fluctuation; Vulg., instable; Targ., vagrant;Cranmer and Bishops‘ B., therefore she is come in decay; E. V. and Boothroyd,therefore she is removed.Calvin,therefore she is become a wanderer; “the word ought properly to be applied to their exile, when the Jews became unfixed and vagrants:” to which his English Editor, Rev. John Owen, adds this note, “the reference here is evidently to banishment, and not to uncleanness, as some take it, because the noun is sometimes so taken, persons being removed from society on account, of uncleanness.” Hugh Broughton,therefore came she into dispersion, “such uncertainty of place as Cain had, Gen. iv., wandering from place to place.” The argument derived from the connection seems to be decisive in favor of the first opinion, therefore is she become vile, or abominable,Naegelsbach,zum Abscheu.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:9. Her filthiness is in her skirts.—Zion [Jerusalem] for a long time trifled with sin. She believed the evil she did would not become manifest to her injury. Now it is all become manifest. Her uncleanness has come to the surface: it is no longer hidden within her, but it is on her skirts (see Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 13:26; Nahum 3:5). [Wordsworth: “It is visible to all; she cannot deny her uncleanness.” Calvin refers this to the punishment, rather than the guilt of their sin; as Lowth remarks: “she carries the marks of her sins in the greatness of her punishment.” The idea of personal uncleanness, however, is stated with such revolting plainness that we cannot fail to see that the very punishment consists in the exposure of her moral pollution. See Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 2:34.—W. H. H.]—She remembereth not her last end. She considered not what the end would be. She did not in the beginning reflect what the consequences of her sin must be. [Assem.Annot.:She remembered not. She considered not, when time was, what the issue of her wicked courses would be, what they would bring her to at last; see Deuteronomy 32:29. So was it with Babel, Isaiah 47:7, and with this people, though forewarned of it, Jeremiah 2:25.” Calvin understands this to mean, “that the Jews were so overwhelmed with despair, that they did not raise up their thoughts to God’s promises;—they were so demented by their sorrow, that they became stupified, and entertained no hope as to the future.” This interpretation grows out of the view that the first clause refers to the punishment of sin and not to sin itself; and is inconsistent with the apparent sense, with the context and with the ordinary use of the phrase “remembering the latter end.”—W. H. H.]—Therefore she came down wonderfully.—Lit. She considered not her latter end, and came down wonderfully. In consequence of her want of consideration she has fallen and is degraded from her high estate. See Deuteronomy 28:43; Jeremiah 48:18.—She hadhasno comforter. See ver.2.—O Lord, behold my affliction, for the enemy hath magnified,doth magnifyhimself.—A pious ejaculation, which is put in the mouth of Zion [Jerusalem] herself. Jehovah is implored to observe how proudly the enemy, to whom Zion [Jerusalem] is no match, exalts himself. [Henderson: “After ascribing the fall of Jerusalem to heedless indulgence in sin, by a striking prosopopeia, he introduces her as imploring the compassionate regard of Jehovah.” See, for a strikingly similar rhetorical construction, Genesis 49:18.—The idea in the last clause, for the enemy magnifies himself, is that the enemy increases his insolence and violence (see gram. note above), he is growing more and more vindictive. This may be considered, not only as a reason why Jerusalem utters a cry to God, but as an argument addressed to God for His interposition. So Calvin represents it: “The Prophet, in order to obtain favor, says, that enemies had greatly exalted themselves. And this deserves a special notice; for what seems to occasion despair to us, ought, on the contrary, to encourage us to entertain good hope, that is, when enemies are insolent and carry themselves with great arrogance and insult us. The greater and the less tolerable their pride is, with more confidence may we call on God, for the Holy Spirit has not in vain taught us this truth, that God will be propitious to us when enemies thus greatly exalt themselves, that is, when they become beyond measure proud, and immoderately indulge themselves in every kind of contempt.”—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:10. Since Zion [Jerusalem] has not preserved the sanctuary of her heart from pollution by the enemy of her soul, but has suffered that enemy to rob her of her spiritual treasures, she must not wonder if her earthly enemies desecrate by their presence her earthly sanctuary, and stretch out the hand towards its precious things.—The adversary hath spread out his hand [or rather, stretched it out, (so Fuerst, Naegelsbach, and Assem.Annot.), as about to seize and appropriate them.—W. H. H.], upon all her pleasant things. Precious, or glorious things. The vessels and treasures of the Temple are intended (see 2 Chronicles 36:10; Jeremiah 52:17 ff.), as is evident from the explanatory conjunction for with which the next clause begins: for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom Thou didst command that they should not enter into Thy congregation. In Deuteronomy 23:2-3, we find the command never to allow Ammonites and Moabites to come into the congregation of the Lord. This special command was afterwards applied to all the heathen: Ezekiel 44:7; Ezekiel 44:9; Nehemiah 13:3. We are reminded also of the Porch of the heathen, violation of which, according to Josephus (Jewish Wars, VI., 2, 4; comp. Acts 21:28), was forbidden on pain of death. [Observe the antithesis between sanctuary and congregation.Boothroyd expresses this in his translation, in which he says “the sense is given and not the idiom:” Surely she hath seen nations enter into her sanctuary, whom Thou didst forbid to enter even into Thy congregation. Those who were forbidden even to worship with the people, had intruded into the holy place—only priests might enter. “If even their entering to perform an act of worship would have been construed as a violation of the precept, how much more when it had for its object destruction and spoliation” (Henderson).—W. H. H.]

[Naegelsbach translates: For she saw heathen who came into her sanctuary. It would be better to translate, For she hath seen how heathen came, etc. I have tried to preserve the same form of the verb כָאוּ in both clauses by making heathen the object of one verb and subject of the other. If this is a fault, I share it in company with old Hugh Broughton and. with Blayney. The Cranmer and Bishops’ Bibles give the sense excellently: “Yea, even before her eyes came the heathen in and out of the sanctuary; whom Thou (nevertheless) hast forbidden to come within Thy congregation.”—It is difficult to preserve the force of the final word לָךְ, without putting the clause in quotation marks. The possessive pronoun in the English version “thy congregation” must refer to the people, not to God.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:11. To dreadful spiritual distress is added the greatest bodily want, hunger. The Israelites must part with their jewels in order to procure necessary food. See Lamentations 1:19. [All her people sigh. The distress is real and universal. In Lamentations 1:4 the priests sigh; in Lamentations 1:8 the ideal person, Jerusalem, sigheth: but here we have, not a poetical image, but the actual groaning of the people, suffering with hunger and searching for food.—They seek bread, or rather seeking for bread. This expresses the reason for their sighing.—They have given (they give) their pleasant things (precious things,Broughton, Cranmer, Bishops’ Bible, Henderson, Noyes;jewels,Naegelsbach, Wordsworth); for meat (food). By precious things are, doubtless, meant those ornaments which oriental women value so highly. “A striking illustration of this is given by Mr. Roberts:—‘the people of the East retain their little valuables, such as jewels and rich robes, to the last extremity. To part with that, which has perhaps been a kind of heirloom in the family, is like parting with life. Have they sold the last wreck of their other property; are they on the verge of death?—the emaciated members of the family are called together, and some one undertakes the heartrending task of proposing such a bracelet, or armlet, or ear-ring, or the pendant of the forehead, to be sold. For a moment all are silent, till the mother or daughters burst into tears, and then the contending feelings of hunger, and love for their ‘pleasant things’ alternately prevail. In general, the conclusion is to pledge, and not to sell their much-loved ornaments; but such is the rapacity of those who have money, and such the extreme penury of those who have once fallen, that they seldom regain them” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 483). “Under such circumstances, and particularly in times of public calamity, it often happens that jewels and other property of most valuable description, are disposed of for the merest trifle, that a little bread may be obtained to relieve the soul” (Pictorial Bible, Lon. See also Comp. Comm.).—W. H. H.]—To relieve the soul [marg. E. V., to make the soul to come again]. The meaning is evident from 1 Kings 17:21-22; 1 Samuel 30:12; Judges 15:19. [To sustain life: lit., to cause the breath, or life to return. “This mode of expression is founded on the idea, that when one is faint, the breath or life is as it were gone” (Henderson). See Job 2:4, “all that a man hath will he give for his life.”—W. H. H.] See, O Lord, and consider. See Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 5:1; comp. Lamentations 3:63; Lamentations 4:16.—[For I am become vile.How wretched I am become. There is certainly, as Henderson remarks, “something incongruous in assigning her vileness as a reason why God should regard’ Jerusalem;” what is here meant is, as Henderson acknowledges while he retains the word “vile,” “not her moral pollution, but her abject and despised condition, which was exposed to all around her.”—Naegelsbach with the last clause of this verse begins an entirely new section. In all that follows, he says, down to Lamentations 1:16 Zion herself speaks. She entreats first Jehovah, then all passers-by to regard her misery. In fact, however, the address of Jerusalem to Jehovah begins with the last clause of Lamentations 1:9, and is continued down to end of this verse. The appeal to God in the last clause of Lamentations 1:10, which Thou commandest, etc., and again this prayer to God at the close Lamentations 1:11, shows that the whole is addressed to Him: the use of the third person instead of the first in the first two clauses both of Lamentations 1:10 and Lamentations 1:11, does not refute this, as the change from the first to the third person is so frequent in Hebrew descriptive poetry.—W. H. H.]


Lamentations 1:12-22

ל Lamentations 1:12. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

Behold and see
If there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow,
Which is inflicted on me,
Wherewith Jehovah hath afflicted me
In the day of His fierce anger!

מ Lamentations 1:13. From on high hath He sent fire into my bones,

And it subdued them.
He hath spread a net for my feet,
He hath turned me back.
He hath made me desolate—
All the day long sorrowful!

נ Lamentations 1:14. The yoke of my sins is bound fast to His hand.

They are twined together,
They rise up above my neck.
He hath caused my strength to fail.
The Lord hath delivered me into the hands of those
Whom I cannot resist.

ם Lamentations 1:15. The Lord hath made despicable all my mighty men

In the midst of me.
He hath proclaimed a set-time against me
To crush my young men.
The Lord hath trodden the wine-press
As to the virgin, Judah’s daughter.

ע Lamentations 1:16. For these things I weep.

Mine eye, mine eye—runneth down with water,
Because the Comforter—Restorer of my soul—
Is far from me.
My children are perishing
Because the enemy prevails.

פ Lamentations 1:17. Zion stretches out her hands,

But there is no Comforter for her.
Jehovah has given charge concerning Jacob
That his neighbors be his enemies.
Jerusalem has become
An abomination in the midst of them.

צ Lamentations 1:18. Jehovah—He is righteous:

For I have disobeyed His commandment.
Hear, I pray you, all ye peoples,
And behold my sorrow.
My virgins and my young men
Are gone into captivity.

ק Lamentations 1:19. I called to my lovers:

They deceived me.
My priests and my elders
Expired in the city,
For they sought food for themselves
To revive their souls.

ר Lamentations 1:20. Behold, O Jehovah, how I am distressed!

My bowels are greatly troubled.
My heart is turned within me,
For I have grievously rebelled;
Abroad the sword bereaveth,
At home—Death!

שֹׁ Lamentations 1:21. They heard that I sigh,

That I have no Comforter.
All my enemies heard of my trouble.
They rejoiced that Thou hadst done it,
That Thou hast brought the day Thou hadst proclaimed.
But they shall be like me!

ת Lamentations 1:22. Let all their wickedness come before Thee;

And do unto them
As thou hast done unto me
For all my transgressions:
For my sighs are many
And my heart is faint.


From the last clause of verse 11, the Poet lets Zion [Jerusalem] herself speak, as she had done already, parenthetically, in Lamentations 1:9. This method of recital continues to the end of the chapter, with a single interruption, Lamentations 1:17, where the Poet himself throws in a word. [There is no necessity for supposing a change of speaker in Lamentations 1:17.—W. H. H.] Zion [Jerusalem] invites all who pass by, Lamentations 1:12, to convince themselves by their own observation, that there is no sorrow like unto her sorrow; it streamed as fire through her bones, whilst at the same time a net had caught her feet, Lamentations 1:13. She was the victim of sins of her own sowing, in consequence of which she had been helplessly given up to mighty enemies, Lamentations 1:14; her heroes had proved themselves powerless, for her enemies had been called together against Judah as to a feast at the wine-press, Lamentations 1:15. It is most natural that Zion’s [Jerusalem’s] tears should flow without ceasing for such calamities, and all the more natural since after the catastrophe all hope failed her, Lamentations 1:16. By way of confirmation the Poet repeats, in his own words, the thoughts expressed by Zion [Jerusalem] in the preceding context, Lamentations 1:17 : that she stretches forth her hands for help in vain, that the Lord had called together all her foes against her, so that she now stood in the midst of them as an object of abhorrence. Lamentations 1:18-22, Zion [Jerusalem] speaks again. Once more she repeats, Lamentations 1:18-19, in the way of recapitulation, the acknowledgment of her sin, the invitation to consider her great distress, the description of the principal items of the same, the banishment of her efficient youth, the defection of human allies, the pitiable death by starvation of her venerable priests and elders. The last three verses are a prayer. May the Lord regard her misery; the hopeful heart is broken by the blows of the angel of death, Lamentations 1:20. May the Lord bring upon her malignant enemies such a day of vengeance as He had brought upon Zion [Jerusalem], Lamentations 1:21-22. The last two lines of Lamentations 1:22 are a final exclamation of pain, from which it is evident that the petitions offered to the Lord had not availed to allay the deeply-seated agony of mind.

Lamentations 1:12

12Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.


Lamentations 1:12.—כָל־עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ. This phrase is found in Lamentations 2:15; Job 21:29; Psalms 80:13; Psalms 89:42; Proverbs 9:15.—אִם־יֵשׁ, comp. Lamentations 1:18. These words, by brevity and simplicity, are highly poetical.—עוֹלַל. The Pual. conj. occurs only here; the active in Lamentations 1:22; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 3:51; Jeremiah 6:9 in the sense of racemari [to glean; so Jerome renders it in our text, Who has gleaned me.—W. H. H.], comp. Jeremiah 38:19.—הוֹגָה, see נוּגוֹת, Lamentations 1:4.—בְּיוֹם ח׳. This expression is found only here and Isaiah 13:13. חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ is an expression common with Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 4:26; Jeremiah 25:37-38; Jeremiah 30:24; Jeremiah 49:37.


Lamentations 1:12. Zion [Jerusalem] addresses herself now to men, especially to all “passers by,” in order to gain their attention and stir up their sympathy for her sufferings. [This address, according to Naegelsbach, extends to Lamentations 1:16, but in fact, to the end of Lamentations 1:19, when Jerusalem again addresses herself to Jehovah.—W. H. H.]—Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? The Hebrew is very difficult and hardly capable of a satisfactory explanation. It seems to me that the only allowable explanation is this: not on yourselves (look), but look and see whether any sorrow is as my sorrow. [See crit. note below. There is a difficulty first in deciding whether the first word in the Hebrew is a mere particle of wishing: oh if, oh that, utinam, would that! Or whether it is the particle of negation. If the former, then we may adopt Blayney’s translation, “O that among you, all ye that pass by, ye would look and see, if there be a sorrow like unto my sorrow,” etc. Thus our text is a call for sympathy. But there is little in favor of this interpretation. But if the word referred to is a particle of negation, then there are other difficulties: is it a simple negative, or a negative of interrogation? In either case, what is the meaning? If it is a simple negative, we may explain it in several ways. 1. We may, as Naegelsbach does, connect the negative with the following verbs, Look not on yourselves, but look and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow. Or, 2. We may translate literally, it is not to you, and then we may explain it in two ways: either as an enunciation of the fact that what had befallen her had not befallen them; so Hugh Broughton,This hath not befallen you, O all that pass by the way. Consider ye and see if, etc; or it may be taken as a complaint that her sorrows were so slighted—and then the sense is, It is nothing to you, i. e., you have no concern in it or care for it. Or, 3. We may translate it in the form of a wish or prayer, ‘let not that befall you that hath befallen me.’ If we take the word interrogatively, then we may suppose a word omitted, ‘Whether or no shall I call upon you,’ etc.; or we may render it as the English version has it, and in favor of which we have the weight of authority on the part of translators and commentators: Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?West. Annot.: “Do ye make light of mine afflictions? or, do ye not regard them, and lay them to heart? as complaining that, her calamities were so slighted by others, and endeavoring to move them to some commiseration of her. See somewhat the like form of speech in the prayer of those holy men to God, Nehemiah 9:32.”—Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me. West. Annot.: “The manner of persons that sit weeping and wailing, as wandering outcasts, by the wayside, is wont to be no other than is here deciphered, in a proneness to acquaint others with their calamitous condition (so Lamentations 1:18), and to aggravate them in relation of them, as being such as had never the like been known or heard of before. See Lamentations 3:1; Lamentations 4:6.”—Wherewith the Lord (Jehovah) hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger. See Lamentations 1:5. “By the transcendent greatness of mine affliction ye may easily perceive that there is a special hand and work of God in it. See Isaiah 10:5.” West. Annot.—W. H. H.]

לוֹא אֲלֵיכֶם. The Sept. reads οἱ πρὸς ν̔μᾶς, where without doubt we should read οἴ πρ. ὑ. Vulgate: O vos omnes. Chald.: Adjuro vos omnes. Syr., very literally: Nihilne ad vos omnes viatores? Arab.: O quotquot viam transitis! That the Sept. read לוֹא as לוּא is very probable. There is nothing that should prevent our pointing it so today, if any thing were to be gained by it. But לוּ (for which we have לוּא, 1 Samuel 14:30; Isaiah 48:18; Isaiah 63:19) never stands as a simple interjection, but is a conjunction, and always requires a verb after it. We could indeed supply such a verb (Oh, that my call might compel your attention, or the like); but it is difficult to supply the right word, and we cannot conceive why the Poet should leave the reader to supply it. If we read לֹוא (which, according to the Masora, stands 35 times for לֹא, see Fuerst), then there are two ways of explaining it. Either it may be understood interrogatively: nonne ad vos? Then אֻקְרָא must be supplied, as Proverbs 8:4 reads, אֲלֵיכֻם אִישִׁים אֻקְרָא. But there אֶקְרָא is expressed. To supply it here, seems to me, were equally as difficult as the supply of a word after לוּא would necessarily be. Or, לוֹא may be understood as a negation. In this sense Aben Ezra and Rosenmueller take it, whilst they supply the wordsהִגִיעֵ אֲשֶׁר קָרָה לִי, i. e., hucusque non tetigit vos, quod mihi accidit; vos tanta mala, quanta nos opprimunt, nondum estis experti. But this explanation is evidently very arbitrary. אֲלִיכֶם is to be regarded as dependent on הָבִּיטוּ, which is often construed with אֵל, Numbers 21:9; Psalms 34:6; Psalms 102:20; Isaiah 22:11, etc. This explanation is not, it is true, entirely satisfactory. But may not the forced construction arise from the constraint of the alphabetical arrangement of the text? [See remark above לוא here is the same as הֲלְֹא, see Fuerst and 1 Samuel 14:30. The omission of the interrogation הֲ is accounted for by the desire to employ ל as the initial letter. Henderson: “לוֹא is a strong mode of expressing the negation לֹא, which has here all the force of a substantive put interrogatively, as it is in the common version: Is it nothing?”—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:13-16

13From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet; he hath turned me back; he hath made me desolate 14and faint all the day. The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand; they are wreathed, and come up upon my neck; he hath made my strength to fall; the Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. 15The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden 16the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a wine-press. For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me; my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed.


Lamentations 1:13.—מָרוֹם occurs often in Jeremiah 17:12, etc.; מִמָּרוֹם, Jeremiah 25:30.—עֲצָמוֹת, Jeremiah 8:1, and elsewhere.—וַיִרְדֶּנָּה. The word is obscure. It is the Imp. Kal. of רָדָה. But רָדָה signifies to tread upon, govern. The subject can be אֵשׁ, since this word is also used as a masculine (אֵשׁ לֹהֵט, Psalms 104:4). The singular suffix —ֶנָּה refers to עַצְמוֹתַי, since the bones are regarded as constituting one body. See Naegelsb. Gr., § 105, 7, rem. 2. We translate, thererefore, and it subdued them. [Fuerst: וַיִּרְ׳ for וַיַרְ׳, and he caused it (the fire) to become master. Blayney, translates, and hath caused it to penetrate into my bones, and says. “This is obviously the right construction, and it is that which is approved by the LXX.” But the Sept. uses the verb κατήγαγεν,—and obviously neither that verb nor the Hebrew means to penetrate. All the other versions use the word ‘prevail,’ ‘subdue,’ or ‘govern,’ except Boothroyd, who blindly follows Blayney.—W. H. H.] רָדָה, Jeremiah 5:31. Comp. Leviticus 25:43; Leviticus 25:46; Leviticus 25:53.—פָּרַשׂ. See Lamentations 1:10. רֶשֶׁת occurs not again in Lamentations and not at all in Jeremiah.—[הֱשִׁיבַנִי. The Hiphil form, caused me to turn. This favors the idea of the net as the instrument of preventing escape; see below.—W. H. H.]—שׁוֹמֵמָה. See שׁוֹמֵמִין, Lamentations 1:4.—דָּוָה. This word does not occur in Jeremiah. It is found, besides here, Lamentations 5:17; Leviticus 15:33; Leviticus 20:18; Isaiah 30:22.

Lamentations 1:14.—נִשְׁקַד is ἁπ. λεγ. The root קַד, which reappears in אָ־קַד, ligare (Genesis 22:9),אָ־גַד ,אָ־כַד, Aram. אֲגַד, ligavit (see אֲגֻדָּה, nodus, Is. Iviii. 6) cat-ena, kettle (observe the change of the aspirate to the sibilant, comp. ὗς and sus, ὕλη and silva, ὕπερ and super, ἅλς and sal, שָׂרַג and אָרַג, Ges. Thes., p. 1318), seems to have the signification of binding, tieing. Ewald conjectures that שָׂקד may have been the common technical term for harnessing.—עֹל, frequent in Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 5:5; Jeremiah 28:2; Jeremiah 28:4; Jeremiah 28:11; Jeremiah 28:14; Jeremiah 30:8. In עֹל and עָלוּ the Poet seems to aim at a play upon words.—פֶּשׁע occurs only Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:14; Lamentations 1:22; Jeremiah 5:6.—The Hithpahel הִשְׂתָּרַג only here; elsewhere only the Pual, Job 40:7. [Boothroyd, translating עָלוּ as if it were עֻלוֹ, is compelled to translate יִשְׂתָּֽרְגוּ in the sing., His yoke Be hath twisted on my neck.—For a similar use of עָלוּ with עַל, in the sense of rising above the object indicated, see Deuteronomy 28:43.—W. H. H.]—הִכְשִיּל. Kal frequent in Jeremiah; Hiph., labare fecit, Jeremiah 18:15; Hoph. Jeremiah 18:23.—בִּידֵי. Construction as in Jeremiah 2:8. See my Gr., § 65, 2, f. [“A noun is sometimes put in the construct before a succeeding clause with which it is already connected,”—“particularly when the relation is itself omitted, בְּיד־תִּשְׁלָּה, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send” (Green’s Gr.). This construction renders it necessary to take קוּם in a transitive sense; or else to introduce a word besides the relative; so E. V.: from whom I am not able to rise up. Noyes: against whom I cannot stand up. Whom I cannot withstand or resist. This seems to be the sense, and is not foreign to the use of קדּם.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:15.—סִלָּה. Piel only here: Kal, Psalms 119:118 : Pual, Job 28:16-17.—אַבִּיר, often in Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 46:15; Jeremiah 47:3; Jeremiah 50:11. In Lam. only here.—קָרָא מוֹעֵד, Leviticus 23:4. See Lamentations 1:4. Jeremiah generally uses the noun in the sense of tempus finum [and that is its meaning here. Owen: He hath brought on me the fixed time to destroy my young men.—W. H. H.]—לִשְׁבֹּר בַּחוּוַי. A peculiar expression, yet see Jeremiah 51:22.—דָרַךְ גַּת לְ. A peculiar use of לְ [it seems to mean with relation to, as to, quoad.—W. H. H.]. גַּת, not in Jeremiah, yet he uses דָרַךְ of the treaders of the wine-press, Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 48:33; Jeremiah 51:33.—בְּתוּלַת כַּת, in Jeremiah once, of the Egyptians, Jeremiah 46:11, and once in the connectionבְּתוּלַת בַּת עַמִּי, Jeremiah 14:17; comp. Jeremiah 18:13; Jeremiah 31:4; Jeremiah 31:21. In Lam., besides here, only in Lamentations 2:13, comp. Lamentations 2:10.

Lamentations 1:16.—בּוֹכִיָּה (see פֹּרִיָּה, Isaiah 17:6 and elsewhere; Olsh., § 177, 6) occurs only here. Yet Jeremiah uses כֹּכֶה, Jeremiah 41:6, and מְבַכָּה, Jeremiah 31:15 : in the last place in connection with עַל, as here: elsewhere בָּכָה is constructed with ace. Jer 8:23, לְ, Jeremiah 22:10, or מִפְּנֵי, Jeremiah 13:17. [ Green, Gr., § 209, 1, and Pauli, Anal., p. 264, attribute the form to the fact that יwas originally the last radical of the verb. Pauli, in his Key, p. 63, n, informs ns that “the Prophet uses the feminine gender for the purpose of expressing meekness and the intensity of his grief.” A rather remarkable instance of a rule made to meet a supposed case. Fortunately we are not obliged to allow the Prophet to unsex himself, since not the Prophet himself, but the ideal and feminine Jerusalem is the speaker.—The verb, properly intransitive, is used in a transitive sense: my eye runs damn water. A peculiar Hebrew idiom to express abundance, Joel 4:18, תְּלַכִנָה חָלָב, the hills shall run milk. See Green’s Gr.—W. H. H.]—The part. מְנַחֵם Jeremiah does not use.—שׁוֹמִמִים, see Lamentations 1:4.—גָּכֵר is found Jeremiah 9:2.


Lamentations 1:13-16 contain a particular account of the various sufferings endured, together with their efficient causes.

Lamentations 1:13. The sufferings [of the city] appear under two images. The first image is derived from the fire that falls from Heaven (Genesis 19:24; Deuteronomy 29:23; Psalms 11:6). Heavenly fire burns more fiercely than earthly; it cannot be quenched. [The image of fire is suggested by the last words of the preceding verse, “in the day of his fierce anger,” which may be rendered in the day of His glowing or burning anger. So Calvin,in die excandescentiæ iræ suæ.From above, lit., from on high. Calvin: “the expression is emphatical, for the Prophet means that it was no common or human burning; because what is ascribed to God exceeds what is human or earthly.”—Hath he sent fire into my bones. Calvin: “They who interpret bones of fortified places, weaken the meaning of the Prophet. I take bones in their proper sense, as though it were said, that God’s fire had penetrated into the inmost parts. This way of speaking often occurs in Scripture.—David deplored that his bones were vexed or troubled, Psalms 6:2. And Hezekiah said in his song, “As a lion he hath broken my bones,” Isaiah 38:13.”—W. H. H.]—And it prevaileth against them. And it hath subdued them, or got the better of them. [Calvin: “The Prophet says that fire had been sent by God, which ruled in his bones,—that is, which not only burnt the skin and the flesh, but also consumed the bones.” The Cranmer and Bishops’ Bibles translate very freely, but preserve the sense, “From above hath He sent down fire into my bones, and it burneth them cruelly.”—W. H. H.]—The second image is derived from the hunter, who lays nets for the wild beast.—He hath spread a net for my feet. [Calvin: “There is another similitude added, that God had spread a net before her feet,—and thus He had taken away every means of escape. She had been ensnared by God’s judgments, so that she was bound over to ruin, as though she had fallen into toils or snares.”]—He hath turned me back. See Lamentations 1:8. This and the two following clauses contain ideas by means of which the poet seems to pass over from the image to the reality. [But is not this clause to be explained by the metaphor of the net, by which, when she sought to escape, she was turned back? So Calvin understands it: “She had been turned back by the nets of God.” Or we may explain it consistently with the metaphor, as the’ Westminster Annotations do: “Cast me down backward; thrown me down and laid me on my back.”—He hath made me desolate, and faint all the day: or, better, sorrowful all the day: so Naegelsbach and Calvin. Cranmer’s B. and Bishops’ B. both render it, “He hath made me desolate, so that I must ever be mourning.” Calvin: “It is stated in the third place, that she was desolate all the day, so that she sorrowed perpetually.”—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:14. A third metaphor, which indicates the cause of the ruin which has befallen Zion [Jerusalem].—The yoke of my transgressions is bound by His hand, to His hand. Zion [Jerusalem] may not be relieved from her guilt, but rather it is tied fast upon her as a yoke. And truly this is done by God’s hand. But what God binds, that He holds fast; no mortal power can loosen it. [Henderson: “The next metaphor is taken from agricultural life. As the hand of the ploughman firmly binds the yoke on the neck of the ox, so inseparably had the punishment of the iniquities of Jerusalem been connected with her rebellious conduct towards Jehovah.”—There is some uncertainty as to the verb in this clause. In the Keri or Masoretic reading and in several MSS. and printed editions of the Bible, the verb used means to be watched: and the verb is taken in the sense of watching in the Sept., Syr. and Vulgate, and the old versions generally. It is singular that Naegelsbach does not refer to this reading, since it is the one adopted in the text of the German Bible. Dr. Blayney and the Rev. John Owen, insist that this is the correct reading. All the versions and translators adopting this reading, except the Vulgate, take the word rendered yoke not as a noun, but as a preposition. Mr. Owen translates thus: He hath watched over my transgressions, by His hand they are twined. This gives a good sense. “To ‘watch over transgressions,’ is similar to ‘watch upon (or over) the evil’ in Daniel 9:14; it is to watch over them in order to punish them” (J. Owen). But the grammatical objections to this rendering are nearly insuperable. See Crit. Note below.—Another point of interest is whether we should translate by His Hand, or in, or to His hand. The former is adopted by Naegelsbach, Henderson and Boothroyd, and has the sanction of the English Version. The latter in His hand, is supported by Sept., Vulg., Bishops’ Bible, Calvin, Blayney, and Noyes, and is recommended by the sense, and also best expresses the primitive sense of the preposition. The Bishops’ Bible reads, the yoke of my transgressions is bound fast to His hand; and appends this note, “The bondage through sin is most grievous, which therefore is called the yoke of sins, fastened in or to God’s hand because by no means it can be shaken off or remitted, but only of God’s grace and mercy.” Noyes: “The yoke of my transgressions is fastened in His hand. A metaphor drawn from the practice of a husbandman, who, after fastening the yoke upon the cattle, keeps the cords wound round his hand. So she says the yoke of her transgressions, i. e., the consequences of them, is fastened upon her neck, and the cords connected with it wound round the hand of God, so that she could not throw it off.” Calvin has a long note to the same effect.—W. H. H.].—They are wreathed and, or, [leaving out the conjunction which is not in the original] theycome uprise up aboveupon my neck. Comp. Psalms 38:5. As if the yoke were fastened by many cords, interwoven together, and forming, as it were, a heap or elevation upon the neck. The verbs being in the plural must have for their subject the word “transgressions,” hence it is evident that he regarded the sins themselves as the cords which fastened the yoke on the neck. And very certainly sins constitute the bond between the guilty one and his guilt. [Wordsworth: “My sins are twined together, so as to fasten the yoke upon my neck. Comp. Deuteronomy 28:48. The reason of this comparison is that sins become punishments (peccati pœna peccatum), and are a sore burden, too heavy for the sinner to bear (Psalms 38:4).” Henderson: “To express more forcibly the complicated character of the iniquities of the Jews as entailing punishment upon them, they are said to entwine or interweave themselves, the idea being probably borrowed from the intertwining of withes for the purpose of binding the yoke with them.” The expression, they come up upon my neck (variously rendered, they go over my neck (Broughton), come up about my neck (Bish. Bible), rise up on my neck (Henderson), are laid upon my neck (Noyes), may express the idea of a burden in addition to that of a yoke, that the sins wreathe themselves into a yoke that is heavy and burdensome on the neck, “a yoke which is insupportable” (Wordsworth, Noyes),—or the idea may be, that the yoke is so wreathed together and knotted as it were upon the neck, that the head cannot be withdrawn from it. The last seems to be Naegelsbach’s idea. So Calvin, “we ought to bear in mind the two clauses—that God’s hand held the yoke tied, and also that the yoke was bound around the neck of Jerusalem, * * * it is tied, and so fastened, that it cannot be shaken off.” So also Broughton, who translates, they plat themselves; they go over my neck, and in a treatise on “Jeremie’s Lamentations” explains this passage thus: “The yoke of their sin was platted over their head. The state in Jeremie’s time was so entangled with the idolatry of the Egyptians and their other friends, that they could not get their head out of it.”—W. H. H.] In what follows the Poet as in Lamentations 1:13, drops the metaphorical style for the literal.—He hath made my strength to fall. He has broken my strength. [The primitive meaning of the Hebrew verb suggests the idea of one tottering to and fro, staggering from weakness (see Isaiah 5:27), as, in the present instance, under a heavy yoke. Our E. V. vainly strives to preserve this idea in a phrase that is awkward and needs explanation, “He has made my strength to fall.” Blayney comes nearer the primitive meaning of the verb by using the word “stumble” instead of “fall,” hath caused my strength to stumble. But it is doubtful if the verb, in the form in which it is used, expresses more than the idea of weakening or exhausting the strength. Owen: “He hath weakened my strength.” Calvin:corruere fecit (vel, debilitavit) robur meum. Bishops’ Bible and Henderson: “He hath caused my strength to fail.”—W. H. H.]—The Lord hath delivered me into their hands, from whom I am not able to rise up, whom I cannot resist.—The Lord, Adonai. This name, Adonai, never occurs alone in the prophecies of Jeremiah, but is always followed by Jehovah (and that, too, according to the Masoretic punctuation אֲדנָי הֱוִֹה), Jeremiah 1:6; Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 14:13 : Jeremiah 44:26, Jeremiah 49:5; Jeremiah 50:31. But in the Lamentations, Adonai is never followed by Jehovah, and stands alone in fourteen places, Lamentations 1:14-15 twice; Lamentations 2:1-2; Lamentations 2:5; Lamentations 2:7; Lamentations 2:18-20; Lamentations 3:31; Lamentations 3:36-37; Lamentations 3:58 [see Introduction, Add. Rem., p. 32. If Adonai is the correct reading, its significance is thus explained by Wordsworth: “The prophet appears thus to intimate in the Lamentations, that now, in her captivity and humiliation, Jerusalem felt the lordship of Jehovah, the God of Israel; but by reason of her sins, no longer felt that lordship to be exercised by Him as Jehovah,i. e., as the God of His covenanted people, to protect them. A similar feeling made Solomon abstain in Ecclesiastes from the use of the name Jehovah altogether.”]

[The argument of Owen for reading נִשְׁקַד instead of נִשְׂקַד, that where all the versions agree, there is a strong presumption that they are right, is offset by the difficulty of construction, in that case and the necessity it involves of changing עֹלyoke into עַלupon in the first clause, and the verb עָלוּthey rise up into the noun and pronoun עֻלֹהhis yoke in the third clause. The difficulties of construction are evident in the translations of Blayney and Owen, the two advocates for this reading; Blayney gives the verb in the singular a plural noun for its subject, my transgressions have been closely watched; and Owen renders the verb, which is confessedly a passive verb and so rendered by the Sept. and all the old versions except the Vulgate, which Owen himself says “hardly gives any meaning,” in an active sense, He hath watched over my transgressions. A reading involving three changes in the Masoretic points, and even then incapable of correct grammatical construction, surely ought to be rejected.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:15. The Lord hath trodden under foot.—Hath cast away, or rejected [despised or made despicable—W. H. H.]. This verse begins in the literal style of speaking, and ends in the metaphorical. [If our English version is to be retained, trodden under foot, then the metaphor is begun in the first clause, and beautifully developed as the verse proceeds. But the E. V. cannot be sustained, see Critical Note below.—W. H. H.] All my mighty men,—Heroes, Ger. Helden [Fuerst:great men].—In the midst of me;in meiner Mitte. [Calvin. “She says, in the midst of me. And this ought to be observed, for if they had fallen on the field of battle, if they had been taken in the fields by their enemies, such a thing would not have been so grievous; but that they had thus been laid prostrate”—or rather, deprived of strength to resist and thus rendered contemptible,—“in the very bosom of the city, was indeed a token of vengeance from above.”—He hath called an assembly against meHe has proclaimed a solemn feast [a set time.—W. H. H.] against me.—to crush my young men,—to break in pieces my young men. As to a festive gathering the Lord calls her enemies to Jerusalem. The purpose of this festive gathering is indicated in a general way by the words against me; but is more clearly indicated by the words to crush or break in pieces my young men. In this expression is already shadowed forth the following metaphor; for the wine-press breaks to pieces, crushes the berries. [Wordsworth: “An oxymoron; the term to call an assembly signifies the gathering of a holy convocation for festal rejoicing, or other religious purposes. But now the religious festival of Jerusalem hath ceased (see Lamentations 1:4), and God has called an assembly of enemies to crush her. Compare the expression to sanctify war, or consecrate an army against a city. See on Isaiah 13:3; Jeremiah 6:4; Jeremiah 51:27-28; Joel 3:9.”—Though it may impair a beautiful figure, it seems better to take מוֹעֵד in its usual meaning of a set time. God appointed the time, as for a great solemnity, and it came according to His appointment the time to crush the young men.—W. H. H.]——The Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a wine-press.—The Lord trod the winepress of the virgin Judah’s daughter. We find substantially the same image used, Joel 4:13; Isaiah 63:2-3; Revelation 14:18-20; Revelation 19:15. [Owen:The wine-press has the Lord trodden as to the virgin, the daughter of Judah.]

סִלָּה. The meaning is tollere, lüpfen [to lift up, to remove a thing from its place, to cast it away, and thus to treat it with contempt, or to destroy it, as the case may be. The old lexicographers, tracing a remote analogy between this verb and סָלַל, gave to it the sense of treading down, or treading under foot, which is adopted here by E. V., Broughton, Calvin, Blayney, Boothroyd and Noyes; but has not the sanction of the ancient versions. Cranmer and Bishops’ Bible translate it hath destroyed. Henderson:hath east away. So Naegelsbach:verworfen hat: so also the Sept., ἕξηρεν, and the Vulg., abstulit. So also Noyes in Psalms 119:118, “Thou castest off all who depart from Thy laws;” which Alexander translates, “Thou despisest all those straying from Thy statutes,” in which he agrees with the Sept., ἐξονδενωσας, and with the Vulg., sprevisti. This sense, “Thou hast despised,” is very suitable to our text. It is still better to give the Piel the force of Hiphil, Thou hast caused to be despised, or rendered despicable, “my mighty men in the midst of me.” See Calvin’s note above on the words “in the midst of me,” and observe how admirably then the first clause of this verse follows the last clause of the preceding verse: She is given up into the hands of those she cannot resist, and thus her mighty men in the midst of her are made objects of contempt. On the other hand, to translate as Naegelsbach, Fuerst and Henderson, “The Lord has rejected, or cast away, all my mighty men in the midst of me,” is awkward and not very intelligible.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:16. For these things I weep.—This refers back to Lamentations 1:12. Zion [Jerusalem] asserted in Lamentations 1:12 that no sorrow was like her sorrow. The correctness of this assertion is established, Lamentations 1:13-15, by matters of fact. Zion [Jerusalem] then, in Lamentations 1:16, refers in the words for these things I weep, back to the foregoing assertion, whilst she repeats the same with emphasis though in other words.—Mine eye, mine eye. The emphatic repetition of the same word is not intrequent with Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 23:25.—Runneth down with water. See Lamentations 3:48; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17.—Because the comforter. See Lamentations 1:2.—that should relieve (marg., bring back) my soul,—the Reviver of my soul: see at. Lamentations 1:11 [the Restorer of my soul, more nearly expresses the original, which is purposely generic and pregnant.—W. H. H.].—Is far from me. [Five times in this poem we have an allusion to an absent comforter; Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:16-17; Lamentations 1:21. That there is an allusion to God the Holy Ghost seems evident. The addition of the words “Restorer of my soul,” reminding us of Psalms 23:3, makes this plain. Diodati: “The comforter, namely, God by His Holy Spirit.” It was the absence of God who comforts His people by His word and Spirit, that Jerusalem deplored, and she might have expressed her grief in the words of the Psalmist, “Why standest Thou afar off, O Jehovah? Why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble (Psalms 10:1)?” Noyes betrays the theologicum odium in his version, violating the grammar and changing the text, to destroy any possible reference to a Divine personality, “Far from me are they that should comfort me, that should restore my strength.” We may translate מְנַחֵםthe comforter, or a comforter, the one comforting, one that comforts, but cannot make plurals of it and מֵשִׁיב, or get the idea of “strength” out of נֶפֶשִׁ.—W. H. H.]—My children are become desolate,—perished, lit., have become perishing; same word as is used in Lamentations 1:4, “her gates are desolate” = destroyed—W. H. H.]—Because the enemy prevailedprevails [or has become more powerful. Some take this as if an explanation of the preceding,—that Jerusalem is comfortless because the children, who should comfort her, are themselves helpless. But this is too broad a distinction between Jerusalem and her children, and destroys the unity of the ideal image of the mourning daughter of Jerusalem. We are to take the last words as stating a result, rather than a cause of the helpless Jerusalem, forsaken of her comforter, who could restore her life, and therefore unable to prevent her children from perishing under the superior power of the enemy.—W. H. H.]

[עֵינִי עֵינִי. Mine eye, mine eye. Blayney, Boothroyd and Noyes omit the repetition on the authority of the ancient versions and some Hebrew MSS. All the other modern versions retain it; even the Douay departs from the Vulgate so far as to read “my eyes.” We cannot agree with Blayney that the repetition incumbers the metre. It is more difficult to account for the repetition in so many MSS. than for its omission in a very few. Blayney feels this, when he taxes his ingenuity by suggesting that “perhaps אַנִי may originally have followed בוֹכִיָה, and have been thus the ground of the transcriber’s mistake.” Owen, the editor of Calvin, says: “Though the Sept. and Vulg. do not repeat the ‘eye,’ yet the Targ. has ‘my two eyes’ ” [so the German, meine beiden Augen] “and the Syr. ‘mine eyes.’ ” All the ancient versions, therefore, do not omit the second עֵינִי, as has been asserted. Most of the Heb. MSS. contain it: and it is very emphatic, highly poetical, and “quite in the style of Jeremiah.”—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:17

17Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.


Lamentations 1:17.—פֵּֽרְשָׂה. The construction of Piel with בְ follows the analogy of the Hiphil, then too Piel may have a direct causative signification. See my Gr., § 18 , III., 2, 3; § 69, 1, rem. 2. The Hiphil is found so construed in Jeremiah 18:16. See Psalms 22:8; Job 16:10. [“As the object of an action may, in certain cases, be regarded as the instrument with which it is performed, some transitive verbs admit a construction with בְּ, with” (Green’s Gr., § 272, 2, b). See Judges 3:27, בְּיָדֶיהָ–.וַיִּתְקַע בַּשּׁוֹפָר. Blayney: “Five MSS. read בידה, and the Roman edition of the LXX. represents χειρα αυτης in the singular; but the Alexand and Complut. editions read χειρας.”—W. H. H.]—לְ ·לֲיֽעֲקֹב here is not a sign of the dative, but a preposition of place. [Chaldæus explains, as quoted by Rosenmueller, ‘Jehovah imposed on the house of Jacob the commandments and law, that they should keep them; but they themselves transgressed the decree of his word. It is impossible to crowd so much meaning into three words. The לְ obviously does not indicate a commandment given to Jacob, but a commandment given concerning Jacob. See לִבְתוּלַת, Lamentations 1:15.—The ancient versions which give נִידָה, Lamentations 1:8, the idea of wandering, all agree that נִדָה in this verse has the sense of uncleanness. Yet Owen would insist on translating it here “a wanderer” or fugitive.—W. H. H.]


Lamentations 1:17. The excited speech, begun with last clause of Lamentations 1:11, ends with Lamentations 1:16, as if from sheer exhaustion. We get the impression from Lamentations 1:16, that Zion [Jerusalem] can speak no more on account of pain and tears. Therefore the Poet allows her a pause. He speaks again himself, in order partly to corroborate what has been said, and partly to adduce new matter. [There is no necessity for assuming a change of speakers. See remarks on Lamentations 1:11-12.—The three ideal persons successively introduced in Lamentations 1:1-6, representing the city, the nation, and the Temple,—Jerusalem, Judah, and Zion,—appear again, grouped together, in Lamentations 1:17, but in a reverse order,—Zion, Jacob, and Jerusalem.—The poetical effect of this separate stanza, following and preceding several connected stanzas, is very fine.—W. H. H.]

Zion spreadeth forthstretches outher hands, and there is none to comfort her,—but there is no Comforter for her. See Lamentations 1:2. The underlying thought is evidently this: Zion imploringly stretched out her hands for help, but finds none, neither from men nor from God, for Jehovah Himself commanded her neighbors, from whom first of all help was to be expected, to behave in an unfriendly way towards her. [Henderson: “Spreading out the hands is a token of the greatest distress.” The commentators generally agree in regarding this as a gesture indicating pain; some even regard it in the sense of wringing the hands; so Chaldæus, quoted by Rosenmureller,expandit Zion manus suas præ angustia, sicut expandit mulier, qui sedet ad pariendum.” (See Jeremiah 4:31.) But holding up or stretching out the hands is a natural gesture of entreaty, and is constantly used in the Bible in connection with prayer to God. See especially Exodus 9:29; Exodus 9:33; 1 Kings 8:38; Isaiah 1:15; Psalms 44:21; Psalms 143:6, where the same Hebrew verb is used as here. Naegelsbach, Adam Clark and Assembly’s Annotations give it this sense in our text. And it is exceedingly appropriate as an act of Zion, the ideal representative of the religious element of the theocracy and the seat of worship. Zion stretches out her hands in prayer, seeking the Divine Comforter (see Lamentations 1:16), but finds Him not: while Jacob, the representative of the theocratic people, is surrounded with enemies, and the queenly city, the seat of the theocratic government, is become an object of abhorrence.—The unusual occurrence in the Hebrew of the preposition with before the word hands led some of the Jews to adopt a singular translation, which Diodati adopted in the Italian version: “Sion distributed bread to herself with her own hands. A description of the want of comfort, because that amongst the Jews, the kinsfolks and neighbors did use to bring food to them that mourned for the death of their nearest friends, inviting them to take food and to comfort themselves: see Deuteronomy 26:14; Jeremiah 16:7; Ezekiel 24:17; Hosea 9:4.” Diodati’sAnnotations.—W. H. H.]—The Lord [Jehovah] hath commandedgiven a charge, see Numbers 27:19concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him,—that his neighbors should be his enemies. The word translated in E. V. round about him does not indicate the place where his enemies were assembled, but is to be understood personally, as Jeremiah 48:17; Jeremiah 48:39 : Jehovah so ordered it that his neighbors became his oppressors. [The use of the masculine pronoun his, instead of the feminine her, shows that there is a distinction between the ideal persons described. When the same person is introduced in Lamentations 1:3, under the tribal name of Judah, the feminine particles are used: but the substitution of the name “Jacob” suggests with propriety the idea of a man, rather than of a woman.—The use of masculine or feminine forms in Hebrew indicate often delicate shades of feeling or depths of thought. See Pauli’sAnalecta, Lect. 30.—W. H. H.]—Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among themJerusalem has become an object of abhor rence in the midst of them. The consequence is that Zion [Jerusalem] at last stands in the midst of her oppressors as a woman denied with blood and become an object of horror.

Lamentations 1:18-19

18The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone 19into captivity. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls.


Lamentations 1:18.—כִּי־פִּיהוּ מָרִיתִי. This phrase in full does not occur in Jeremiah. He uses מָרָה alone, with an accusative following, Jeremiah 4:7, comp. Jeremiah 5:23.—[Henderson: “For עַמִּים read with the Keri הַעַמִּים in the vocative.” All ye peoples; Broughton, Cranmer, Calvin, Blayney, Boothroyd, Henderson, Noyes.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:19.—The Part. מְאַהֵב is found in Jeremiah 22:20; Jeremiah 22:22; Jeremiah 30:14.—He also uses רָמָה, Jeremiah 4:29, but not in Piel.—גָּוַע is not found in Jeremiah.—[The וְ prefixed to יָשִׁבוּ has the force of in order that, as in Job 10:20, and the phrase is fully translated by our infinitive.—The Sept and Syr add the words—and found none.—W. H. H.]


Lamentations 1:18. Lamentations 1:18-19 contain nothing new. They only recapitulate. But it is noteworthy that Zion [Jerusalem], who is now again in a condition to speak [see remarks on preceding verse], begins with an acknowledgment of the righteousness of God and of her own unrighteousness.—The Lord is righteousRighteous is He, Jehovah. [Owen: “Righteous He Jehovah: the pronoun is used instead of the verb is—a common thing in Hebrew.”] This acknowledgment, that the Lord is righteous, is found in Jeremiah 12:1. See Deu 32:4; 2 Chronicles 12:6; Psalms 119:137; Psalms 129:4; Psalms 145:17.—For I have rebelled against His commandment. Better, disobeyed His commandment, lit., resisted His mouth. The same expression occurs in Numbers 20:24; Numbers 27:14; 1 Kings 13:21; 1 Kings 13:26.—Hear, I pray you [the Heb. particle of entreaty, נָא], all people [lit., all peoples], and behold my sorrow. Although willing to confess her guilt, yet Zion [Jerusalem] feels the need of human sympathy. She summons, therefore, as in Lamentations 1:12, all peoples to observe her sorrow. [Since men of the acknowledged taste of Henderson and Noyes sanction the use of the reduplicated plural peoples, we may be allowed to retain it; especially since no other word in English is its exact equivalent.—W. H. H.]—Then she recounts, as in Lamentations 1:13-15. the principal causes of her sorrow. The first is the captivity of her young women and young men, who are her pride and strength.—My virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. See Lamentations 1:4-5; Lamentations 1:15.

Lamentations 1:19. The second particular feature of her sorrow is, that her friends and allies had deserted her.—I called for my lovers, but they deceived meI called to my lovers, they deceived me. See Lamentations 1:2.—The last and crowning cause of her sorrow is, that those who represented the dignity and honor of Zion [Jerusalem] are reduced to miserable extremities in order to preserve their lives.—My priests and mine elders gave up the ghost = expired or perished—in the city. [Henderson: “Elders, occurring as it here does in immediate connection with priests, is to be understood in an official sense, and not as simply indicative of old age. Both, without respect to dignity of office, were under the necessity of going in quest of food.” They died in the city—not from the sword of the enemy on the battle field, but while hemmed in by surrounding enemies, and seeking food in vain within the walls; they perished from sheer starvation.—W. H. H.]—While they sought their meat to relieve their soulsfor they sought food for themselves in order to revive their souls. See Lamentations 1:6-11. [Words worth: “for they (even the priests and elders) sought for meat (and sought in vain) to recover their fainting souls.” For themselves, לָמו; Rosenmueller explains the pronoun as used in a reflexive or reciprocal sense. It is certainly emphatic, and suggests the severity of the famine, when the nobility are forced to go themselves in search of food to preserve their own lives.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:20-22

20Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress; my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me: for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there 21is as death. They have heard that I sigh; there is none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done it: thou wilt bring 22the day that thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me. Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.


Lamentations 1:20.—The sing. צַר never occurs in Jeremiah. See Lamentations 1:5. [Naegelsbach here, inadvertently (or else he would have cited this ver. at Lamentations 1:5), mistakes the noun צָר or צַר, used at Lamentations 1:5, for this צַר, which Isaiah 3:0 d sing. perf. of צָרַר, and is so given by Gesenius, Fuerst and Davidson, and is translated as a verb by nearly all the versions.—W. H. H.]—מֵעַי in Jeremiah 4:19; Jeremiah 31:20.—חֳמַרְמָרוּ, to boil, move in an undulating manner; except here and Lamentations 2:11, only in Job 16:16.—See Olsh., § 252, b.—The pause accent Aathenah belongs under קִרְבִי. [An unnecessary change of punctuation.—W. H. H.]—מָרָה, See Lamentations 1:18. The Inf. מָרוֹ is found only here.—The Piel שָׁכֹל, in Jeremiah 15:7. Comp. Lamentations 1:9; Lev 26:22; 1 Samuel 15:33.—מִחוּץ, foris, Jeremiah 21:4.

Lamentations 1:21.—[שָׁמְעוּ. The Sept and Syr. improperly render it in the Imperative.—W. H. H.]—נֶאֱנָח, see Lamentations 1:4,—רָעָה, a very current word with Jeremiah.—שׂוּשׂ, Jeremiah 32:41.—עָשִׂיתָ as the antithesis of speaking, as Jeremiah 3:5. [If we take doing here as the antithesis of speaking, the absence of the affix is emphatical. Thou hast done, acted, as well as spoken. This verb often occurs without an object expressed. See Fuerst, Lex.—W. H. H.]—הֵבֵאתָ, as Jeremiah 6:19; Jeremiah 11:11, and elsewhere.—קָרָא, of prophetical proclamation, Jeremiah 2:2; Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 19:2.

Lamentations 1:22.—תָבֹא. On account of the Imperative עוֹלֵל, we must understand this as stronger than a wish: let it come, which is grammatically allowable. See my Gr., § 89, 3 c.—The phrase בָּאָה רָעָה לִפְּנֵי is not found in Jeremiah.—וְעוֹלֵל. See Lamentations 1:12. [Wordsworth says, “the primary notion” of this word “seems to be that of plucking,” and refers to Gesen., 633. So Cranmer’s B.: Thou shalt pluck them away even as thou hast plucked me. The Sept. gives it the sense of racemandi, gleaning; and substitutes 3d person plur. for 2d sing., and does not translate לִי at all. Καὶ ἐπιφν́λλισον αν̓τοῖς, ὅν τρόπον ἐποίηοίηεαν ἐπιφνλλίδα. The Vulg. takes it in the sense of gathering the vintage, and preserves the grammatical construction of the original: vindemia eos sicut vindemiasti me. Instead of the ἐπιφύλλισον of the Codex Vaticanus, the Codex Alexaudrinus has ἐπιφαύλισον, which seems to mean reject them as vile. That our version is correct would appear from the use of מַעְלָלִים for actions, doings, or deeds. See Jeremiah 17:10; Proverbs 20:11. See Rosenmueller.—W. H. H.]—עַל כָּל־פְּשָׁעָי. See Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:14.—אַנְחֹתַי, Lamentations 1:6.—לִבִּי דַּוַּי is found in Jeremiah 8:18, comp. Isaiah 1:5.


The Poet closes with a prayer, which is composed of an exordium, Lamentations 1:20 a; two principal parts: 1.Lamentations 1:20 b, to Lamentations 1:21 c. Lamentations 1:2.Lamentations 1:21 c, to Lamentations 1:22 c; and a conclusion, Lamentations 1:22 c.

Lamentations 1:20. Behold, O Lord; for I am in distress,—Behold, O Jehovah, how I am distressed! With these words, Behold, O Jehovah, how badly it fares with me, first of all, the attention of Jehovah is directed to Zion. and her misfortune is in general terms commended to His consideration.—The words Behold, O Jehovah, are the same as See, O Jehovah, of Lamentations 1:11.—Then follows the first part of the prayer, which extends to Lamentations 1:21 c, in which are successively detailed the causes of her distress, proceeding from those of an internal to those of an external character. 1. We have her sufferings subjectively considered, in two particulars—(a). My bowels are troubled. [Henderson:My bowels are made to boil. Naegelsbach:Meine Eingewide wallen siedend auf. The Hebrew word “is strongly expressive of that violently excited state of the intestines which is occasioned by excessive grief” (Henderson), or rather, which was employed as an image of mental perturbations and distress.—W. H. H.] (b).—Mine heart is turned within me. The expression is found in this sense, of the turning of the heart as a symptom of the most painful affection, only elsewhere in Hosea 11:8. In another sense, Exodus 14:5-12. We have a statement of the reason which has occasioned her chastisement.—For I have grievously rebelled. Since I rebelliously have rebelled. These words belong evidently to what follows, and accordingly the particle at the beginning is not for, but since, or because. For the first and immediate result of disobedience was the punishment described in what follows, rather than the suffering caused by that punishment. Besides if this clause belongs to what precedes it, then the first half of the verse has four members, and the last only two. [The sense is not affected, whether we connect this with what precedes, or with what follows. The irregular division of the verses is too common to authorize here a change in the Masoretic punctuation, such as Naegelsbach proposes (see Gram. note above), merely for the sake of an equal division of this verse.—W. H. H.]—3. We have the punishment itself in declarations of concentrated meaning.—Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death,—Rages without the sword, as within Death. For the sense according to kindred places, we have Jeremiah 14:18; Ezekiel 7:15. By death in antithesis to the sword it is natural to understand, death wrought by hunger, or pestilence. See Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 18:21. [Boothroyd: “Death as it were acting in propria persona, and not by the instrumentality of another, as when a person is slain by the sword” (Biblia Hebraica). See Jeremiah 9:21; Habakkuk 2:5. Adam Clark gives examples from the poets of similar personification of death.—W. H. H.]

[צַר לִי, impers. lit., it is strait to me, that is, I am in a strait, I am, distressed, I grieve. כִּי־צַר־לִי seems itself a cry of distress, the sharpness of which is lost in the E. V., for I am in distress.—My bowels, etc. It seems impossible to reproduce this in an English form; at least our ideas of the commotions of the bowels have no association, with agitations of the mind. To say with Henderson, “my bowels are made to boil,” though it seems to be sanctioned by the meaning of the verb, yet does not really express the idea of violent motion, as witnessed in boiling water, or the surging of the ocean, which is the idea intended. To say with Noyes,My bowels boil, is worse yet, as the verb is strictly passive. If we might be allowed to ignore the figure, and say simply, my mind is greatly agitated, we would more correctly interpret the words to English ears, than by a figurative use of the word bowels, that never was ingrafted into English thoughts and feelings. If we could accept the opinion that in ancient usage the word bowels denoted the upper viscera and was not restricted as by modern usage to the lower viscera (see Alexander on Isaiah 16:11), we might substitute the word bosom with advantage. But accepting the usual signification of מֵעַי, we can give to חֳמַרְמָרוּ no other English form than we have done, greatly troubled. Owen: “Troubled, or disquieted, is the rendering of all the versions, and also of the Targ. As it is a reduplicate, the verb means greatly troubled or greatly disturbed, or violently agitated.”—נֶהְפַך לִבִּי. Rosenmueller refers to a similar phrase in Psalms 38:11; לִבִּי סְחַרְחַר, cor meum circumit, circumagitur:Alexander explains it of “the palpitation of the heart, denoting violent agitation.”—W. H. H.]—The reading כַּמָּוֶת, whatever may be urged against it, is very old, for the Sept. has ὥσπερ θάνατος. But it is impossible to attach to this כְּ (if it be understood here as a particle of comparison, or as a so-called Kaph veritatis), a pertinent sense. For בַּכַּיִת stands here in antithesis to שִׁכְּלָה ;מִחוּץ is their common predicate; and to fill out the sense there should be a subject indicated corresponding to חֶרֶב, To supply חֶרֶב again, or with Ewald the idea “something similar” before כַּמָּוֶת, would give us a construction in the highest degree forced and unnatural. Unless we suppose a mistake of the transcriber and read simply הַמָּוֶת, as the Syriac has it, there is nothing left, but to transpose the words, and to read כַּמָּוֶת כַּכַּיִת, which the text of the Sept. seems to sanction, for since the Sept. translates ὡς θάνατος ἐν οἴκῳ, its authors apparently read the Hebrew words in the order indicated. [Rosenmueller: “Pareau regards the בַ, placed before מַזֶת in this place, not is the particle of similitude, but what the Grammarians call the כveritatis, which not seldom is used for the name of the thing or person referred to. But I prefer to suppose, with Lœwe and Wolfssohn, that the words are to be transposed, as may be done; מִחוּץ שִׁכְּלָה חֶרֶב כְּמָוֶת בַּכַּיִת, without the sword bereaves, even as death within.”—Henderson has a curiously unsatisfactory remark, which his translation does not clear up, “the Caph is the Caph veritatis expressing the reality of the thing.” What “thing?” Famine or pestilence? We must either adopt Naegelsbach’s opinion, with which Sept., Syr. and Arab, agree, and transpose the words, Abroad the sword has bereaved me, as death at home; or suppose an awkward prosopopœia in the substitution of the word death for famine or pestilence, in which case the כ is strictly the כveritatis; or we must translate as Henderson (though his translation is at variance with his explanation), Abroad the sword bereaveth, in the house, It isas death, and accept the suggestion of Calvin, that the כ is the כ of similitude, at homeit isas death, as if he would say, nothing met them at home but that which was like death itself. There is as little, if not less, difficulty in the first of these explanations, as in either of the others.—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:21. Lamentations 1:4. We have the rejoicing of her enemies at her misfortunes. This subject, now first alluded to, the Poet dwells upon at some length, whilst he only briefly indicated the matters that have been mentioned.—They have heard that I sigh, there is none to comfort me,—that I have no comforter.—All mine enemies have heard of my trouble. What the enemies heard is described as if it came to them borne on successive waves of rumor, proceeding by degrees from the circumference to the very centre of their grief. At first they heard how Zion [Jerusalem] bitterly mourned, because left alone, without Comforter and Helper (see Lamentations 1:2), she was exposed to the violence of her enemies. Then they [her enemies] began to comprehend the nature and extent of her misfortune. But they rejoiced that Jehovah had done it, that is to say, He had actually brought about the day which He had before predicted.—They are glad that Thou hast done it, Thou wilt bring the day that Thou hast called (Marg., proclaimed). They rejoiced because Thou hast done it, that Thou hast brought the day Thou hadst proclaimed. It will be observed that I take the last clause as epexegetical. This seems to me necessary. For, 1. To give a precatory sense to the last clause [as Luther,let the day come;Henderson:Bring the day which Thou hast announced;Notes:O bring the day which Thou hast appointed.—W. H. H.] is very forced. 2. These words are a very suitable explanation of the preceding clause: the Lord has done it by bringing about in fact the day He had predicted or proclaimed, that is to say, He had not merely spoken, but acted [not merely threatened, but carried His threat into execution, by doing what He had said He would do]. Least of all can we say, Thou bringest, Thou proclaimest the day, for this would require a change in the order of the words in the Hebrew, and the text should read קָרָאתָ יֹום. Ewald, following the Sept. [Ἐπήγαγες ἡμεραν, ἐκάλεσας καιρόν], supplies עֵת [an appointed time] after קָרָאתָ. This is unnecessary and arbitrary. [Calvin explains this clause as Naegelsbach does: and his English translator, Owen, remarks: “Our version is wrong in rendering this clause in the future tense. The reference is not to the day of vengeance to the Babylonians, but to the day of vengeance which God had brought on His own people. The versions, except the Syr., give the verb in the past tense.” So Wordsworth: “They are glad that Thou hast done it; that Thou hast brought (upon me) the day (of sorrow) which Thou hadst proclaimed (by Thy prophets, who warned me of my impending destruction).”—W. H. H.]. That the Lord had threatened the people of Israel with eventual destruction, was well known to the heathen. See Jeremiah 40:2-3.—And they shall be like unto me. The second principal part of the prayer begins with this petition, that the Lord would visit her enemies with the same fate which had befallen her. [Wordsworth: “The Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites, who exulted over the destruction of Jerusalem, will share the same fate, at the hand of the same enemy. See Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 12:14; Jeremiah 25:21; and Babylon herself also will be punished for her cruelty to Zion (Jeremiah 1:9-10; Jeremiah 51:35; Isaiah 47:6)].”

It cannot be objected to the above interpretation, that then the adversative sentence should begin with וְחֵם, for the subject of the adversative sentence is the same as that of the preceding one, only viewed in a different light. Whilst what precedes shows what the enemies hitherto had done (שָׂשׂוּ ,שָֽׁמְעוּ ,שָֽׁמְעוּ), the adversative sentence shows what in the future will be done to them: therefore, from שָֽׁמְעוּ to קָרָאתָ, the perfect, only is used, from וְיִהְיוּ the imperfect only. If the sentence began with הֵבֵאתָ, the proper grammatical construction would be תָֹּבִיא תִקְרָא יוֹם וְהָיוּ כָמֹנִי—[שָׁמְעוּ. Rosenmueller: “In the repetition of this word there is emphasis, as below, Lamentations 3:43-44; Psalms 124:1-2. The introduction of this verb, at first, without a subject expressed, was doubtless an expedient suggested by the alphabetical arrangement of the verses which required an initial שׁ; but its introduction in the next clause, with the subject expressed, and that in an intensified form,—“heard (have they) that I sigh,” etc.—“Allmy enemies heard of my trouble,”—is one of those triumphs of the art of the true poet, by which he makes even the artificial and arbitrary laws of poetry contribute to the force and beauty of his sentiments.—כִּי. Owen: “There are here two instances of בי being carried on to the next clause,—

Heard have they that I sigh, that I have no comforter:

All mine enemies have heard of my evil; they have rejoiced
That Thou hast done it, that Thou hast brought the day Thou hast announced.”

It is better, however, to consider each כִּי as uniting the two clauses that follow it as in close apposition, in each case the latter clause being explanatory of the preceding one: They heard that I sigh, I have no comforter, i. e., I sigh because I have no comforter. They rejoiced that Thou hast done it, Thou hast brought the day, i. e., Thou hast done it by bringing the day.—Thou hast done it. The gloss of the famous Jew, Jarchi, quoted by Rosenmueller, is singular, and shows what far-fetched interpretations of Scripture have been allowed: “Thou hast afforded the occasion why my enemies have hated me and rejoiced in my misfortune, because Thou hast given us commandment not to eat and drink what they do, nor to enter into marriages with them. If only I had joined myself in

marriage with them, they would have been disposed to pity me and the children of their own daughters.”—W. H. H.]

Lamentations 1:22. Let all their wickedness come before Thee. The expression come before Thee is to be understood in the sense of becoming acquainted with. See Genesis 37:2.—And do unto them as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions [see gram, notes above]. For my sighs are many and my heart is faint. The conclusion of the prayer contains a declaration of fact. It is impossible to refer this to the thoughts immediately before expressed: for neither confession of sin (“for all my transgressions”), nor prayer for the retribution of the injustice done by her enemies (“do unto them as they have done unto me”), could suggest this concluding sentence. Rather, it relates generally to the prayer for help, which is contained as well under the second head, as in the first part of the prayer. This last clause, containing the evidence of her need of help, naturally recalls the prayer for help.


1.Lamentations 1:1-3. This change of fortune, befallen the holy city and holy people, may well clain our sympathy in the highest degree. But at the same time we should let it be to us a solemn warning. For if this was done to the green tree, what shall be done to the dry (Luke 23:31)? If God rejected the people whom He called the apple of His eye (Deuteronomy 32:10), if He exposed to destruction the city, in reference to which He said, that “His fire is in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 31:9), what claim can the people, kingdoms and dynasties of the Gentiles have?—what claim can the particular Christian churches even have?—what claim can Rome, Geneva and Wirtemberg have to the privilege of eternal existence? Truly, since the Lord could destroy Jerusalem and entirely lay waste Canaan, without being unfaithful to His promise given to the Fathers, even so He can remove the candlestick of every particular Christian church, without breaking the promise given to the church at large, that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

2.Lamentations 1:1-11. “From Jeremiah’s passionate lamentation over the wretched condition of the Jewish land and people, we derive a lesson in reference to the manner in which one in great affliction and misery may be allowed to behave. There have been found, among the heathen, persons reputed for wisdom, some of whom have held the opinion, that a wise, intelligent man should be altogether emotionless, neither rejoicing in good fortune, nor cast down by bad fortune, but willing to let things be as they are. But we see the very opposite of this in pious, holy persons, especially here in Jeremiah, where he bitterly laments the misery of his people and fatherland. Could he have hoped for deliverance from that, misery, or any mitigation of it, how heartily would he have rejoiced! And such emotions, if properly controlled, are not obnoxious to God, since He Himself has implanted them in our human nature. As it would displease a faithful father, should his children laugh when he punished them, so it cannot please God when His people show no sign of grief on account of His chastisements. If we should, in the ordinary affairs of life, rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15), and as the elect of God, holy and beloved, should manifest hearty commiseration towards the suffering (Colossians 3:12), much more should we, in times of general and national calamities, not then be joyful, but heartily mourn and lament on account of the losses and evils suffered by the public generally. Those who do not so, the Lord God reproves; because they eat and drink joyfully, and are not at all concerned for the calamity of Joseph, He threatens severely to punish their false security.” Wuertem. Summ.

3.Lamentations 1:1. The Targum Jonathan compares the destruction of Jerusalem with the expulsion from Paradise: “It was with Jerusalem as with Adam and Eve, when they were judged, who were ejected from the Paradise of pleasure, and then the Governor of the universe lamented over them.”—Origen conceives that under the image of Jerusalem, formerly noble and splendid, but now become widowed and servile, the human soul is represented: “In a sublimer sense, Jerusalem, in the enjoyment of felicity, abounding in people and nations, and the head of provinces, is the (divina est anima) soul which is of divine origin. * * * Even as we are permitted to see Jerusalem, living in the greatest prosperity, with a large population, crowded with foreigners, and head of the provinces, but when virtue fails, desolate and widowed and enslaved, so that it becomes tributary to the enemy that conquered it, so it happens to the soul of him who has fallen from virtue.” Ghisler., p. 11.—So also Olympiodorus: “She became as a widow, having been deprived of the bridegroom—the Logos.”—So also Rhaban Maurus: “Lamentation is made for the faithful soul of man, which formerly was full of virtues and controlled its various passions, governing the appetites of the flesh; but afterwards inflamed by the fire of lust through the agency of malignant spirits, deprived of angelical consolation and wanting divine communion, it was given over to serve as many masters as it had vices.” Ibid., p. 10.—Hugo a Sancto Victore: “When God reigning in our hearts governs us, then the flesh subjected serves Him in the outward life, and in proportion as we are inwardly more humbly submissive to Him, we have in a stronger degree the mastery over the outward life. Thus, therefore, our soul, when it had God for its King, was within ‘full of people,’ i. e., of virtues, and without was also ‘mistress of the nations’—that is, of carnal desires, and ‘a princess of provinces’—that is, of the bodily senses. But now she is ‘solitary,’ because she has lost her king; she is a ‘widow,’ because she is separated from her husband; she is ‘tributary,’ because she serves the vices to which she is subject.” Ibid.

4.Lamentations 1:1. Jerusalem, in this passage, is regarded by many as a type of the church. So says Paschasius Radbertus: “The Prophet mourns, not only because she sitteth in garments soiled with dust and earthly deeds (sedet pulvereis et terrenis operibus sordidata), but especially because she ‘sitteth solitary.’ Solitary, moreover, because ‘as a widow’. And widowed, because she has been deserted by her husband on account of the filthiness of her turpitude. But it should be observed that she is said to be ‘as a widow,’ and not really a widow; since, although she is despised by her spouse, yet her rights of marriage remain, so that if she should reform and discharge the duties of her former love, she may at least receive her husband and immortality through her penitence.” Ghisler., p. 9.—Hugo a Sancto Victore allegorizes in another fashion: “How is it that while we perceive so many people in the church, we see the church herself ‘solitary?’ Because we can find hardly any one who may be esteemed as truly with the church. * * * As Christ remains untouched by the crowd pressing upon Him (Mark 5:24-34), so the church, the body of Christ, ‘sitteth solitary’ amidst a multitude, because the Catholic faith has many professors, but few imitators.” Ibid., pp. 9, 10.—In another way still, the Abbot Rupert von Deutz: “What city is it that was ‘full of people,’ etc.? That holy city, Jerusalem, forsooth, the mother of us all, whose citizens we are, whosoever of us are believers. That city, before the creation of the world, was already full of people in the foreknowledge or predestination of God. * * * How has it come to pass that she should sit solitary, should become as a widow, should pay tribute? Forsooth by transgressing; namely, by one man’s sinning, the first man’s, for in him the whole multitude of his posterity sinned and suffered condemnation. Thus has it come to pass that the holy city should sit solitary—should sit, as it were, as a widow, not having her husband—God, a church holy through faith, though cast out of Paradise, a wanderer in this world, suffering through exile, death and an offended Lord—that is, paying penal tribute for sin.” Ibid., p. 10.

[5.Lamentations 1:1-11. With regard to the allegorical and mystical interpretations of this song, we may adopt the language of Kitto on 1 Samuel 17:0 : “Although we do not, with some, think that ‘these things are an allegory,’ * * * it is impossible for the experienced Christian to read it without being reminded of eventful passages in his own spiritual history. There is no doubt some mysterious connection between even the external things of Scripture history, and the inner things of our spiritual life, which ‘the wise’ are enabled, by the Spirit’s teaching, to discern, and which renders the seemingly least spiritual parts of the holy writ richly nourishing to their souls” (Daily Bible Illustrations).—Scott: “The serious mind perceives abundant cause to meditate, with solemn awe and deep concern, on the tokens of His indignation at the sins of men. * * * How is it that so many populous cities now sit solitary? That so many flourishing empires are now become tributary and enslaved? Whence are the tears, with which vast multitudes wear away their restless nights and joyless days; whilst they mourn the loss of dear relatives, the treachery of professed friends, the cruelty of enemies, the oppression of the powerful, the fury of persecutors, grievous servitude and multiplied afflictions? Whence is it, that idolaters now occupy the places where flourishing churches once were? That the ways of Zion are deserted, her ordinances interrupted or profaned, her gates desolated, her priests and people in bitterness, or cut off? How is it that the adversaries of the church are the chief, and prosper, and that her children are in captivity? However we may vary our inquiries, the same answer recurs: the fierce anger of the Lord for man’s transgressions hath filled the earth with sighs and groans, with tears, sickness and death. * * * Sin fills our consciences with remorse and our hearts with terror; deprives the soul of strength and confidence; perverts every pleasant thing and every good gift of God, and even His truths, Sabbaths and ordinances into occasions of deeper condemnation and misery. * * * Among the manifold evil effects of sin, the pious mind is peculiarly grieved, when, being committed by professors of true religion, it causes the enemies of God to blaspheme, and to mock and scoff at the truths and ordinances of His word and worship. We be to the world because of such offences: and we be to those by whom such offences come, except their repentance be as deep as their transgressions, are aggravated. We ought to prefer any of the other temporal effects of sin to this. Should any be wonderfully brought down from the height of affluence to the depth of penury; should their honor be changed for contempt; should they have no comforter in affliction, and be constrained to part with all their pleasant things for bread to sustain life; nay, should they have the prospect of dying by famine; yet all this ought to be considered as far less afflicting than that their sins should cause the name, truths and ordinances of God to be blasphemed; and men to stumble and fall and perish forever, through the increasing prejudice, hardness and impiety that they have excited. Even the profanation of sacred things, and the sacrilege of those who, in different ages, have laid their rapacious hands on the substance which was dedicated to the support of religion; and the contempt with which the clerical office hath been treated by profligates and infidels; have in great measure been chargeable upon the atrocious sins of professors and preachers of the gospel, who have rendered themselves vile, and exposed themselves to shame by their evident misconduct: and therefore the Lord hath made them vile and contemptible even to the most abandoned of mankind.” (Practical Observations).—W. H. H.]

6. Lamentations 1:1-3. “If God’s chastisements begin, they come not once, twice, or thrice only, but they follow one after another, as one wave pursues another in a tempestuous ocean (Psalms 42:8). For no misfortune comes alone, as is plainly seen in the present instance in the case of the Jews.” Cramer according to Eg. Hunnius (Ser. 2, p. 28).

7. Lamentations 1:4. “What an unspeakable blessing of God it is, when He gives public tranquility, so that people may come in crowds and regularly observe the holy rites of Divine worship, the world knows not, until God creates a famine of His Word and people seek for it over land and water without finding it. Let us be admonished to love the Word of God and the sanctuary where it is preached. Example: David, Psalms 26:8; Psalms 27:4.” Cramer by Eg. Hunnius (Ser. 2, p. 19). “O how many people there are who sigh after the precious gospel and have willingly gone in crowds over many miles to the places, where alone they could obtain and enjoy it. These will on that day stand up and condemn those, who have had it at their very doors, and yet have regarded it so disdainfully and treated it so carelessly.” Eg. Hunnius, Ser. 2, p. 20.

8. Lamentations 1:5. “God has, on account of Zion’s sins, set her enemies in authority over her. What does not this signify! The enemy governs at pleasure! Thus the church must be trodden under foot by the world—and this drives her anew to penitence and prayer. The youth must go bound into slavery. To be obliged to see this, breaks the heart. He who will not understand that it is the enemy of souls, who leads the children, bound by lusts and false doctrine, to hell, that person must regard every thing that he reflects upon in a gross and literal sense.” Diedrich.

9. Lamentations 1:5. “The devil is the author of our spiritual captivity (Colossians 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:26), Christ is our Redeemer (John 8:36), the means of redemption are—in respect to the price paid (ratione acquisitionis) the blood of Christ (Zechariah 9:11; Colossians 1:14),—but with regard to its actual application to us (respectu autem exhibitionis) the Word and Sacraments, especially Baptism which by St. Basil, in his Homily on ‘Holy Baptism,’ is called ‘the ransom for captives’ (Isaiah 61:1).” Förster.

10. Lamentations 1:5. Förster here considers the question, how the participation of children in the sufferings of their parents for sins of which the children are innocent, may be explained. He refers in this connection to Luther’s explanation of Exodus 20:5, where it is said: “This question, why the son suffers for the father, the prophet Ezekiel hath treated of and says (Ezekiel 18:2), ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge;’ and Jeremiah says (Jeremiah 31:29?), “Our fathers have sinned and are gone, but we must suffer for their sins;’—and it is still so in our days; we sin and deserve what those who come after us must suffer. We are not to understand by this that the child is damned on account of the father, as if it referred to the [eternal] punishment of souls. ‘All souls,’ says God by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:4), ‘are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die.’ But we should understand this of temporal punishment; He punishes children on account of the fathers, by letting them die who must yet at any rate die.”

11.Lamentations 1:5. For the multitude of her transgressions.—“If thou fearest not sin, fear at least that which sin leads to.” Augustin by Förster.

12.Lamentations 1:6. Her princes have become like harts, etc.—“The deer is an extremely timid animal, and on that account the heart of a deer is reproachfully imputed to the timid, as appears by this verse of Homer: “O son of Atreus, having dog’s eyes and the heart of a stag.’ And the Apothegm of Philip of Macedon from Stobæus is well known: ‘an army of stags with a lion for a leader, were better than an army of lions with a stag for a leader.’ ” Förster.

13.Lamentations 1:6. All her beauty is departed.—“Now they will consider well the mercies of the Lord they formerly possessed, and how little they had valued them. Such reflections God awakens by means of affliction, and herein again is mercy, though enjoyed only in the midst of tears.” Diedrich.

14.Lamentations 1:7. And did mock at her Sabbaths.—“A corresponding punishment (pœna ἀντίστροφος) answers, by the just judgment of God, to the sin of Sabbath profanation; viz., the derision of the Sabbath (comp. Gregor. Nazianz. The festivals of the people become the door of sins).” Förster. [Adam Clarke: “The Jews were despised by the heathen for keeping the Sabbath. Juvenal mocks them on that account:

Cui septima quæque fuit lux
Ignava et partem vitæ non attigit ullam. Sat. V.
‘To whom every seventh day was a blank and formed not any part of their life.’ St. Augustin represents Seneca as doing the same:—Inutiliter id eos facers affirmans, quod septimani fermè partem ætatis suæ perdent vacando, et multa in tempore urgentia, non agendo lædantur. ‘That they lost the seventh part of their life in keeping their Sabbaths; and injured themselves by abstaining from the performance of many necessary things in such times.’ He did not consider that the Roman calendar and customs gave them many more idle days than God had prescribed in Sabbaths to the Jews.”]

15.Lamentations 1:7. Jerusalem remembered.—Sinning first and remembering afterwards has brought many into great trouble.

16. Lamentations 1:8. Jerusalem hath grievously Binned.—“We, Jerusalem, must suffer on account of our sins, and this chiefly makes our sorrows so very bitter: sin is the sting of death and of every evil.” Diedrich. [Calvin: “Here the Prophet expresses more clearly and strongly what he had briefly referred to, even that all the evil which the Jews suffered proceeded from God’s vengeance, and that they were worthy of such a punishment, because they had not lightly offended, but had heaped up for themselves a dreadful judgment, since they had in all manner of ways abandoned themselves to impiety. It is common to all to mourn in adversities; but the end of the mourning of the unbelieving is perverseness, which at length breaks out into rage, when they feel their evils, and they do not in the meantime humble themselves before God. But the faithful do not harden themselves in their mourning, but reflect on themselves and examine their own life, and of their own accord prostrate themselves before God, and willingly submit to the sentence of condemnation, and confess that God is just.”]

17. Lamentations 1:9. [Her filthiness is in her skirts.—“Much of the Jewish law is employed in discriminating between things clean and unclean; in removing and making atonement for things polluted or prescribed: and under these ceremonies, as under a veil or covering, a meaning the most important and sacred is concealed, as would be apparent from the nature of them, even if we had not, besides, other clear and explicit authority for this opinion. Among the rest are certain diseases and infirmities of the body. * * * The sacred poets sometimes have recourse to these topics for imagery, even on the most momentous occasions, when they display the general depravity inherent in the human mind (Isaiah 64:6), or exprobate the corrupt manners of their own people (Isaiah 1:5-6; Isaiah 1:16; Ezekiel 36:17), or when they deplore the abject state of the virgin, the daughter of Sion, polluted and exposed (Lamentations 1:8-9; Lamentations 1:17; Lamentations 2:2). If we consider these metaphors without any reference to the religion of their authors, they will doubtless appear in some degree disgusting and inelegant; if we refer them to their genuine source, to the peculiar rites of the Hebrews, they will be found wanting neither in force nor in dignity.” Lowth: Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, Lec. VIII.]

18. Lamentations 1:9. She remembereth not her last end.—“It is a peculiarity of sin, that while it may rest a long time in a man’s heart without disturbing him, yet whenever God begins to show His wrath, it wakes up and stings as a serpent and makes a wound that no one can heal (Sir 21:2). It would be well for us to reflect, when the devil makes sin as sweet as honey, that there may be poison concealed in it.” Cramer by Eg. Hunnius (Ser. III., p. 27). [“My son, hast thou sinned? Do so no more, but ask pardon for thy former sins. Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent; for if thou comest too near it, it will bite thee: the teeth thereof are as the teeth of a lion, slaying the souls of men. All iniquity is as a two-edged sword, the wounds whereof cannot be healed.” Sir 21:1-3.]

19. Lamentations 1:10. “If we have failed to keep diligently the gates of our heart and through some one of our senses lying open the old enemy have found entrance, he advances thence by means of depraved suggestions and illicit lusts into the very sanctuary of our soul, where the Holy Trinity used to dwell by means of true faith, and he despoils that sanctuary of the wisdom and virtues that beautify and embellish it, and we become miserable and most deserving of being overwhelmed with shame.” Rhaban. Maurus by Ghisler. p. 36.

20. Lamentations 1:8-10. “Not the person, but the doctrine sanctifies a place, much less can a place sanctify the person and the doctrine. To which is pertinent that saying of Jerome in his Epistle to Heliodorus,—’It is not easy to stand in the place of Paul and to hold the rank of Peter, both of whom reign with Christ.’ Whence it is said,—‘They are not the sons of the saints who occupy the places of the saints, but those who do their works.’ Wherefore if Jerusalem, the holiest of all cities in the judgment of God Himself, is nevertheless declared in our text to be the wickedest of all cities, who will not rather say this of the city of Rome, which to-day, all the world knows, is the abyss of superstitions and of all possible abominations.” Förster.

21.Lamentations 1:11. See, O Lord, and consider: for I am become vile.—“The righteous are oppressed in the church that they may cry out, they cry that they may be heard, they are heard that they may glorify God.” Augustin by Förster. [Calvin: “We said yesterday, that the complaints which humbled the faithful, and, at the same time, raised them to a good hope, and also opened the door to prayers, were dictated by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, when men indulge in grief, and torment themselves, they become exasperated; and then to be kindled by this irritation is a kind of madness. The Prophet, therefore, in order to moderate the intensity of sorrow, and the raging of impatience, recalls again the faithful to prayer. And when Jerusalem asks God to see and to look, there is an emphasis intended in using the two words; and the reason given does also more fully show this, because she had become vile; so that the church set nothing else before God, to turn Him to mercy, but her own miseries. She did not, then, bring forward her own services, but only deplored her own miseries, in order that she might obtain the favor of God.”]

22. [Lamentations 1:12. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto Me.—Henry: “She justly demands a share in the pity and compassion of spectators. How pathetically does she beg their compassion! Lamentations 1:18. This is like that of Job 19:21. Have pity, have pity upon me, O ye my friends! It helps to make a burden sit lighter, if our friends sympathize with us and mingle their tears with ours; for this evinces that, though in affliction, we are not in contempt, commonly as much dreaded as anything in an affliction.”]

23.Lamentations 1:12. “This is allegorically expounded to be the voice of Christ hanging on the cross, or of souls in Purgatory. * * * Or it is the voice of the church in tribulation. * * * Of the same nature is the anguish of the mother when in labor, or mourning her dead children, or dreading separation from her husband, or carried captive with her children among enemies. * * * It is the voice of the truly penitent soul, for there is no greater desolation than separation from God.” Bonaventura by Ghisler. pp. 41, 42.

24. [Lamentations 1:12. Henderson: “The words of this verse have been very generally applied, in the language of the pulpit, to the sufferings of our Saviour, and unquestionably they graphically describe the intensity of those sufferings; but considering the extent to which the original sense of the passage has been lost sight of, and the accommodated one substituted in its room, it would be well to notify that the secondary meaning is merely an accommodation of the words.” Wordsworth: “This sorrowful exclamation may, in a secondary and spiritual sense, be regarded as coming from the lips of Christ on the cross, bewailing the sins and miseries of the world, which caused Him that bitter anguish, of which alone it could be properly said, ‘that no sorrow was like unto His sorrow.’ ” Thus George Herbert, in “The Sacrifice:”

“Oh all ye, who pass by, whose eyes and mind
To worldly things are sharp, but to Me blind,
To Me, who took eyes that I might you find:
Was ever grief like Mine?
* * * * * * * * * * *
But now I die; now all is finished.
My wo, man’s weal: and now I bow My head:
Only let others say, when I am dead,
Never was grief like Mine.”—W. H. H.]

25.Lamentations 1:12. “Our Saviour could have used this apostrophe on the day of the preparation for the Passover, which might without impropriety be called, in the very words of this text, the day of the wrath and indignation of the Lord, inasmuch as on that day He poured out His wrath as if by a sudden impulse, on His own Son, in accordance with the testimony of Isaiah 53:0. Speaking briefly: the suffering of Christ was infinite and infernal in regard to its atrocity, though not with regard to its duration; and this should be urged in refutation of the frivolous, carping objection of the disciples of Photinus, who with most impious sophistry assert, that the passion of Christ, because not eternal, could not be expiatory of sins which are infinite in guilt. Preachers ought to and can, by means of this prophetical exhortation, stimulate their hearers to more attentive meditation on the Lord’s passion.” Förster.

26. Lamentations 1:12. “Zion’s sorrow exceeds all other sorrow, for Zion is fully sensible of the nature of her sin,—which is the sin of a horrible rebellion against God Himself:—and, at the same time, she feels for the lost sinners, who were called by her word and whom she could have wished to see not lost. Zion’s sorrow is fulfilled and completely realized in Jesus Christ, of Him have the prophets, and all saints, and all who are His, interpreted it,—these know only Christ. He who inflicts the sorrow is God the Father, and He who bears it, in the fullest sense, is the Son of God” Diedrich.

27. [Lamentations 1:13. Pool: “The holy man owneth God as the first cause of all the evil they suffered, and entitles God to their various kinds of afflictions, both in captivity and during the siege, looking beyond the Babylonians, who were the proximate instrumental cause.”]

28. Lamentations 1:14. “Although it may have the appearance of wrath, that God should punish the Jewish people so severely with servitude, famine, disgrace and the contempt of their enemies, yet thereby God promoted their eternal benefit, since many of them were brought by these means to a knowledge of their sins they had not otherwise attained. Moreover, God does many a ‘strange work’ (Isaiah 28:21), in reference to that which He esteems His own. Example, Manasseh.” Cramer by Eg. Hunnius (Ser. III., pp. 28, 29).—“Oh! how salutary is the blow, when God punishes a man for his sins here in this life, and by such temporal punishment preserves him from the future eternal and terrible wrath of God and from unquenchable Hell fire! Thus that holy teacher Augustin speaks, in his Confessions: Lord, burn me here, saw me in pieces here, pierce me here, stone me here. Only spare me in that world.” Eg. Hunnius, id. loc.

29. Lamentations 1:14. “Punishment daily increases because guilt increases daily. Augustin. Sins because they excite the wrath of God, which is an intolerable burden (Prayer of Manass., Lamentations 1:5), are themselves well called, and are, a yoke and an intolerable burden (Psalms 38:4; Psalms 65:4).” Förster. [“My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied: My transgressions are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of Heaven, for the multitude of mine iniquities. I am bowed down with many iron bands, that I cannot lift up mine head, neither have any release: for I have provoked Thy wrath, and done evil before Thee; I did not Thy will, neither kept I Thy commandments: I have set up abominations, and have multiplied offences.” (The Prayer of Manasseh.)—Henry: “We never are entangled in any yoke, but what is framed out of our own transgressions. The yoke of Christ’s commands is an easy yoke, Matthew 9:30; that of our own transgressions a heavy one: God is said to bind this yoke, and nothing but the hand of His pardoning mercy will unbind it.”]

30. Lamentations 1:12-15. “We should observe here, what is the real source of all tribulation and adversity on earth; namely, not blind chance, not celestial agencies, not men, who err in their opinions, or cause misfortunes through wantonness or malice: in these we may find a secondary cause, but the highest cause, which should be first and most considered, is God. The Lord, says Jeremiah, has filled me full of grief; He has sent from on high a fire into my bones; the Lord has so severely handled me that I am not able to rise up. The Lord Himself freely confesses all this and says, ‘Is there evil in the city, which I, the Lord, have not done?’ (Amos 3:6). Therefore if we would escape evil, we must go to no one but God, and see to it that we are reconciled with Him in regard to our sins. Würtemb.: Summar.”—[Scott: “It may properly be inquired of all that pass by, whether the suffering of the people of God be nothing to them? If they have no thought of compassionating or attempting to alleviate their distresses, they may at least behold and be instructed: they may see in them the holiness of God, the evil of sin, the emptiness of forms, the fatal effects of hypocrisy and impiety: and they may take warning to flee from the wrath to come, by considering the temporal miseries to which sin exposes men in this world, ‘For if the righteous scarcely are saved, where will the ungodly and profligate appear?’ If the rod of correction be so terrible, what will the sword of vengeance be?—But whatever may be learned by viewing the desolations of Jerusalem, * * * far more may be learned from looking unto Jesus, and His sufferings and death. Does He not, as it were from the cross, call on every heedless mortal to attend to the scene? Does He not say. ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto My sorrow, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted Me, in the day of His fierce anger against the sins of those whom I came to seek and save? Is it nothing to you that I am here a sinless sufferer? That I, the well-beloved Son of the Father, am consumed by the fire of His wrath, and that My heart in the midst of my bowels is even as melting wax, and all my bones out of joint, and that mine enemies stand staring on and insulting over Me? Is it nothing to you that the Father hath wreathed on My neck the yoke of man’s transgressions, and laid on Me the iniquity of all His people?’ I say, doth not our suffering Immanuel seem thus to address us? And does it not behoove us to consider, who this Sufferer was, what He suffered, and why He suffered at all? Here we may see the evil of sin, the honor of the law, and the justice of God, more than in all the other scenes that we have been contemplating: here we may learn the worth of our souls, the importance of eternal things, the vanity of the world, and the misery of fallen man. Here we may see the only foundation of our hope, and the source of our comfort and happiness. Here we may learn gratitude and patience, meekness and mercy, from the brightest example and the most endearing motives. Let then all our sorrows lead us to contemplate the cross of Christ, and to mark the way He took through sufferings and death to His glory; that we may be comforted under our trials, and cheerfully follow our Fore-runner, that where He is, there we may be also.”]

31. [Lamentations 1:16. Because the Comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me.—The church suffering for her actual sins becomes a type of the Saviour suffering for the sins of the church imputatively. Here we have another cry from the cross. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Those who forsake God will be forsaken of Him, and those who are forsaken of God, will seek in vain for any other comforter, and will be left to cry out with tears and lamentations and ‘spread forth their hands,’ Lamentations 1:17, in vain, because ‘there is none to comfort’ them. The constant allusion to an absent Comforter in this Song, see Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:16-17; Lamentations 1:21, is significant. There is nothing like it in the other Songs of Lamentation.—W. H. H.]

32.Lamentations 1:17. Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her.—“She receives compensatory punishment, in that, having refused to hear Him, who stretched out His hands (Isaiah 65:2), and to seek safety under His wings (Matthew 23:37), she herself should afterwards stretch out her hands and not find a comforter.” Ambrose by Ghisler. p. 53.—“The ancient church (Sion) spreadeth forth her hands, i. e., her legal works and carnal righteousnesses, but there is none to comfort her on account of those works, for the Lord does not justify her through them. But what [is the result of this exhibition of her good works]? If she expects to be justified by spreading out her hands after this fashion, God hath commanded that her adversaries, i. e., her sins, should be round about her, and her sins are much more numerous, nay without comparison, innumerable, and her thousand justifications are as if she were an unclean woman, as a prophet elsewhere testifies, when be says: ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6).” Rupertus Abbas by Ghisler. p. 54.

33.Lamentations 1:18. “It is an ingenious and considerate method of discipline, when the good God would make us better and wiser, not by words, but by examples in other persons. Happy are they, who become wise thus by the misfortunes of others.” Cramer.—The Lord is righteous. “Here recurs a common saying, to which the church bears her most illustrious testimony, in the same way as Mauritius the General, when about to be beheaded, is said to have pronounced publicly these words from Psalms 119:0.: ‘Just art Thou, O Lord, and just are Thy judgments.’ Förster. [The Mauritius referred to is Mauritius Tiberius, sometimes called St. Maurice, though not the Saint usually so designated. Before he himself was beheaded, his five sons were massacred before his eyes; “and Maurice, humbling himself under the hand of God, was heard to exclaim, ‘Thou art just, O Lord, and Thy judgments are without partiality.’ ” (Encyc. Brit.)—W. H. H.]

34.Lamentations 1:19. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me.—“Under God’s judgments we first learn, how foolish it was ever to have expected anything good from the world, to which we paid our earliest court, as Judah to Egypt, and from the Princes of the world. They have betrayed me, is ever said of all nations, whenever the church has relied upon the great ones of a nation as such. The world is the church’s field, which bears thistles and thorns. Those who trust to the world must come eventually to beggary, and thus miserably prolong their lives; whereby they may possibly recover their senses.” Diedrich.

35.Lamentations 1:20-22. “Here the question occurs, whether we may pray against our enemies, since Christ says, ‘Love your enemies’ (Matthew 5:44)? Answer: There are two kinds of enemies. Some, who bear ill-will towards us personally for private reasons, concern ourselves alone. When the matter extends no further than to our own person, then should we privately commend it to God, and pray for those who are ill-disposed towards us, that God would bring them to a sense of their sin; and, besides, we ought, according to the injunction of Christ, to do them good, and not return evil for evil, but rather overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17; Romans 12:21). But if our enemies are of that sort, that they bear ill-will to wards us, not for any private cause, but on account of matters of faith; and are also opposed, not only to us, but especially to God in Heaven, are fighting against His holy Word and are striving with eager impiety to destroy the Christian church;—then indeed should we pray that God would convert those who may be converted, but as for those who continue ever to rage, stubbornly and maliciously, against God and His church, that God would execute upon them according to His own sentence judgment and righteousness (Psalms 139:19).” Cramer by Eg. Hunnius (Ser. III., p. 36).

36. Lamentations 1:20. [Behold, O Lord.—Calvin: “The people turn again to pray to God: and what has been before said ought to be remembered, that these lamentations of Jeremiah differ from the complaints of the ungodly; because the faithful first acknowledge that they are justly chastised by God’s hand, and secondly, they trust in His mercy and implore His aid. For by these two marks the church is distinguished from the unbelieving, even by repentance and faith.”]—For I am in distress. “Such is the distress which arises from a disturbed conscience, of which Ambrosius says (Lib. I., ep. 18), There is no greater pain than that which wounds the conscience with the sting of sin.” Förster.—[Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home there is as death. Hugh Broughton: “Deuteronomy 32:0. They shall be brent with hunger and eaten up with burning and bitter destruction: without, the sword shall rot; within shall be fear. St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 7:5, calleth Moses and Jeremy both into mind, saying when we came into Macedonia my flesh had no rest, we were always in distress, without was fighting, within was fear. Thus divinely honoreth he the Songs of Moses and Jeremy, as having their words still before him, joining Moses’ prophecy with Jeremy’s story, and showing how the Apostles were vexed in the world, as Jerusalem of the Chaldeans.”]

37. Lamentations 1:21. Thou hast done it.—“It is most worthy of observation, that the church in this prayer having turned towards God openly declares, Thou hast done it. Whence it is plainly to be inferred that all calamities are sent by God (θεόπεμπτοι).” Förster.

38. Lamentations 1:21-22. “O that God would let this day come soon, in which the discipline of His children has an end and the flames of God’s wrath shall consume the rods of His chastisement forever! Then, in truth, our sins and the Devil will be once for all under our feet, and the whole world, which now vexes us, will descend into the abyss with howling and shrieks. In the heart of the Prophet, speaks also the Christ, who judges the world and will make it His footstool: and if we are really Christians, then we have, at the same time and in full measure, both sorrows and confidence; yet often the sense of sorrow exceeds, so that we say, my sighs are many and my heart is faint. But these sighs will be turned into joy (John 16:20-22), for they are the birth throes of the new life and of the eternal world. Happy is he who has a part therein.” Diedrich.

39. Lamentations 1:22. “Although our prayer is not a work of merit on account of which God should hear us, yet it is a means by which we are heard (Matthew 7:7).” Cramer.—[Calvin: “We, in short, see that the faithful lay humbly their prayers before God, and at the same time confess that what they had deserved was rendered to them, only they set before God their extreme sorrow, straits, griefs, tears, and sighs. Then the way of pacifying God is, sincerely to confess that we are justly visited by His judgment, and also to lie down as it were confounded, and at the same time to venture to look up to Him, and to rely on His mercy with confidence.”—Hugh Broughton: “The first alphabet row is ended in the prophecy of ending the wicked kingdoms which should be brought under Babel’s yoke, to show that all these troubles are in God’s Providence settled in the most exquisite order for His judgments.”]

40. [Prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that as Thou hast hitherto dealt so mercifully with us, we may anticipate Thy dreadful judgment; and that if Thou shouldest more severely chastise us, we may not yet fail, but that being humbled under Thy mighty, hand, we may flee to Thy mercy and cherish this hope in our hearts, that Thou wilt, be a Father to us, and not hesitate to call continually on Thee, until, being freed from all evils, we shall at length be gathered into Thy celestial kingdom, which Thine only-begotten Son has procured for us by His own blood. Amen.” Calvin.]


1.Lamentations 1:1-11. On a fast-day, a church consecration, a festival in commemoration of the Reformation, at a Synod, or on similar occasions prompting to earnest warning, the congregation could be instructed, on the ground of this text, that the judgment which befell the Old Testament Zion by means of the Chaldeans is a warning example to the New Testament Zion. In doing so, it would be proper to consider: 1. The original glory of the Old Testament Zion, Lamentations 1:7 a. Lamentations 1:2. Her presumptuous security and temerity, Lamentations 1:9 a. Lamentations 1:3. The wickedness that became prevalent in consequence thereof, Lamentations 1:5 b, Lamentations 1:8 a. Lamentations 1:4. The judgment of God, for that wickedness, in its details; intrusion of enemies, Lamentations 1:10, desolation of the city, Lamentations 1:1, captivity of the people and of the Priests and Princes, Lamentations 1:3-6, discontinuance of public worship, Lamentations 1:10, famine, Lamentations 1:11, triumph of enemies, Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:9, disgrace and misery of the people, Lamentations 1:1-3; Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:8-9. Lamentations 1:5. The inference to be drawn from all this for our benefit; how that which happened to them may also happen to us, (Luke 23:31; Romans 11:21-23; Revelation 2:5).

2.Lamentations 1:12. A sermon of consolation, on the occasion of a death, or other great misfortune. Our text suggests remedies for great pain. These are—I. Of a natural kind. 1. The sympathy of all men: ‘I say to you all, etc., look and see, etc.’ 2. Comparison with the pain of others: “see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow,”—where we are warned against the error of supposing our pain the greatest that ever was, and are reminded that some are more unfortunate than ourselves. II. Of a spiritual kind. 1. The Lord has inflicted the wounds. 2. The Lord will heal them. [Consider, here, especially the active sympathy of Christ. To the question ‘Was ever any sorrow like unto my sorrow!’ we may answer, ‘Yes, Christ’s, and greater, too?’ If “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” it was because, more than any man. He was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” He bore the whole burden of our guilt and He suffered its full penalty. “The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all,” and ‘He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.’ Why? Not only in the way of atonement, but that He might be a merciful High Priest, to sympathize with us and to help us. See Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15-16.—W. H. H.]

3.Lamentations 1:12-22. A sermon on penitence; when a calamity, that may properly be considered as a Divine chastisement, calls for repentance. Subject: The calamity, which has befallen us, considered in the light of Divine righteousness and love. I. It proceeds from Divine righteousness. 1. Not another, but the Lord, has ordained it against us, Lamentations 1:14-15. Lamentations 1:2. It corresponds exactly to what we have deserved, Lamentations 1:14; Lamentations 1:18. II. It proceeds from Divine love. 1. It admonishes us to sincere repentance. 2. It dissuades us from confiding in any false hope or support, Lamentations 1:13-16; Lamentations 1:21. Lamentations 1:3. It incites us to seek help from God in a believing spirit, Lamentations 1:20.

4.Lamentations 1:20. Florey—Biblical Guide for spiritual funeral discourses, Leipzig, 1861, No. Lam 385: “Well is it for a distressed widow, in her agony, to look to the Lord. For—1. The Lord knows thy pain, which He Himself has inflicted. 2. The Lord soothes thy pain, for He is the best Comforter. 3. The Lord changes thy pain, sooner or later, into a blessed experience of good.”

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Lamentations 1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/lamentations-1.html. 1857-84.
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