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by Johann Peter Lange
THEOLOGICALLY AND HOMILETICALLY EXPOUNDED
Dr. C. W. EDUARD NAEGELSBACH,
Pastor in Bayreuth Bavaria.
TRANSLATED, ENLARGED, AND EDITED
WM. H. HORNBLOWER, D. D.
Professor Of Sacred Rhetoric, Church Government, And Pastoral Theology In Western Theological Seminary, Allegheny, PA.
LAMENTATIONS OF JEREMIAH
§ 1. Name, Place In Canon, Liturgical Use
1. In Hebrew MSS. and editions this book is called אֵיכָה, i. e., How! from the first word in it (as Proverbs and the Books of the Pentateuch are designated by their initial words), which word also begins chs. 2 and 4, and thus appears to be a characteristic of the Book.1 The Rabbins called it קִינוֹת, i. e., neniœ, dirges, elegiœ, elegies, lamentations. קִינָה is found in the Old Testament in 2 Samuel 1:17; Amos 5:1; Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 9:19; Ezekiel 2:10; Ezekiel 19:1; Ezekiel 19:14; Ezekiel 26:17; Ezekiel 27:2; Ezekiel 27:32; Ezekiel 28:12; Ezekiel 32:2; Ezekiel 32:16; 2 Chronicles 35:25. In Ezekiel 2:10; the plural form קִינִים is used, and in 2 Chronicles 35:25 קִינוֹת. The Septuagint always translates this word θρῆνος, θρῆνοι, whence are derived the Latin names Threni, Lamentationes, Lamentations 2:0Lamentations 2:0.
2. Since Josephus, con. Apion, I. 8, states the number of the books of Holy Scripture as twenty-two, and divides them into three classes, the first consisting of the Pentateuch, the second of thirteen prophetical books, and the third of four books which contained ὕμνους εἰς τὸν θεὸν καὶ τοῖς [“hymns to God and precepts for the conduct of human life”], it is evident that he included the Lamentations, not in the כְּתוּבִים [Hagiographa], but in the prophetical Scriptures, and hence that he appended it to the Prophecies of Jeremiah. The same classification and estimated number of these books are found in the canon of Melito (Euseb. Eccl. Hist., IV. 26), where the Lamentations are not expressly named, but are evidently reckoned with the Prophetical Books, as they are in the Treatise of Origen on the oldest canon (Euseb., Hist. Eccl., VI. 25), where it is said Ἱερεμίας σὺν θρήνοις καὶ τῇ ἐπιστολῇ ἐν ἑνὶ Ἱερεμίᾳ,—so also Hilarius Pictav. (Prolog. to the Psalms), Rufinus (Expos. Symboli Apostol.), the Council of Laodicea, can. 60 (see Herz. R.- Enc., VIII., p. 199) Epiphan., De mens. et pond. cap. 22, 23 (Opp. II., 180, ed. Petav.), the canons of the African Synods of 393 (Can. 36, Mansi III. 924) and 397 (Can. 47, Mansi III. 891), Augustine (De doct. Christ., II. 8) and by Jerome in the Prolog. Galeat., where likewise the Lamentations are not mentioned, but are evidently appended to the Prophetical Book, for after the enumeration of the twenty-two books he says, “Some would include Ruth and Lamentations in the Hagiographa, and by adding these compute the whole number of books as twenty-four, etc.”—Another method of enumeration and classification was gradually adopted by the Jews, the first trace of which we find in Vol. 4 of Ben Ezra, 4, 44, where the ninety-four (this, without doubt, is the correct reading) sacred books are divided into two classes of seventy and twenty-four books. The twenty-four books, manifestly, are the canonical ones. The Talmud also, in the Treatise Baba Bathra Fol., 14 b. enumerates twenty four books, probably in accordance with the number of letters of the Greek alphabet, which was made to correspond with the Hebrew alphabet by adding to the latter the double yod,יי, that was used to express with reverence the name of Jehovah. The Talmud now reckons the Lamentations among the Hagiographa, which it arranges in the following order, Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s Song, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra (with Nehemiah), Chronicles. The Masorites introduced a third modification, arranging the Hagiographa thus,—Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra. But only the Spanish manuscripts preserve this order. The German give the order thus,—Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles. This is the usual order in our Hebrew editions of the Bible.—In the Septuagint, the various recensions of which differ from each other, another principle of arrangement prevails. This depends generally on the distinction of the books into historical, poetical and prophetical, in which order they succeed each other. But Lamentations is added to the prophetical book of Jeremiah. The Latin versions follow the same order, both the Itala and Vulgate. The Council of Trent has sanctioned this arrangement, in Decr. I., Sessio IV., where the Lamentations, without being mentioned, are reckoned with the Prophetical Book of Jeremiah. Our Protestant Bibles assign the book to the same place.
3. The Masoretic arrangement of the Hagiographa, in separating from the other books and placing together the five Megilloth [or festival rolls, which were appointed for rehearsal on certain feast and memorial days],—is purely conjectural. For not earlier than the Masorites do we find these five books placed together. The order of the German manuscripts is accommodated to the succession of holy-days. On this account the Song of Solomon comes first, because it was read at Easter; then follows Ruth (Whitsuntide); then the Lamentations. These were read on the ninth of Ab, on which day the Jews commemorated the destruction of both the first and second Temples. (See Herzog, R.-Enc., VII. p. 254).—As the Israelites have appointed the Lamentations for that great mourning festival, it is also a rule with them that an Israelite, when mourning a death, read no other book than Job and Lamentations. (Herz., R.-Enc., XVI. p. 364).—In the Romish Church, passages out of the Lamentations are read on the last three days of Holy-week. Three lessons are assigned to each one of the three days; the lessons are, on Maundy-Thursday, I. Lam 1:1-5, II. Lam 1:6-9, III. Lam 1:10-14; on Good Friday, I. Lam 2:8-11, II. Lam 2:12-15, III. Lam 3:1-9; on Saturday, I. Lam 3:22-30, II. Lam 4:1-6, III. Lam 5:1-11. Every lesson concludes, by way of response and versicle, with the words, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum, turn to the Lord thy God. (See Officium hebdomadœ sanctœ, Separat-Abdruck aus Dr. Reischl’s Passionate. München, 1857. Die Charwoche in ihren Ceremonien und Gebeten, herausg. mit Gutheissung des bischöfl. Ordinariats, Speier, 1856. Neumann, Jeremias von Anatot. II., S. 486). With reference to the musical execution of the Lamentations in Holy-week at Rome, see Die Reisebriefe von Felix Mendelsohn-Bartholdy, Leipzig, 1861, S. 166 ff. (Brief an Zelter in Berlin). In the Evangelical Church Ludecus and Lossius have arranged passages of the Lamentations for Divine service during the solemnities of Holy-week, the former for the solemnities of the last three days, the latter only for the solemnity of the Sunday in Holy-week. And Nicolaus Selnecker has liturgically arranged the whole of the Lamentations in the German language (in his Kirchen-Gesänge, 1587), not for Holy-week, but for the festival of the Tenth Sunday after Trinity (the destruction of Jerusalem). Further on this subject, see Schöberlein, Schatz des liturg. Chor-und-Gemeindegesanges, II., S. 444 ff.
§ 2. Contents And Structure
1. The general subject of the Lamentations is the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. That this book is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, as Tremellius and others have asserted (see Förster, Comm. in Thr., p. 5), is an utterly groundless opinion, which we mention only for curiosity’s sake.3 Similar Songs of lamentation, having for their subject the death of individual persons, or political catastrophes, occur in the Old Testament. See the citations in § 1, 1. But no lamentation of equal length and so artistically constructed is now extant. The peculiar structure which is common to all these songs shows that they all have one general subject. In Song I., the poet himself is the first speaker, Lamentations 1:1-11 b, whilst he introduces to us Zion [Jerusalem]4 as an ideal person. He pictures here the sad consequences of the destruction, whilst he indicates the causes of the same (Lamentations 1:8). In the second half of the chapter (Lamentations 1:11 c.—22) the personified Jerusalem herself speaks, portraying her misfortunes under manifold images, explaining their causes and praying for help and vengeance. In Song II., in the first part of it, the poet himself speaks, (a) ascribing the destruction to the agency of the Lord (Lamentations 2:1-9), (b) depicting the consequences of the destruction (Lamentations 2:10-12), (c) addressing the object of the destruction, namely, the personified Jerusalem, expressing his grief, his opinion as to the causes of the catastrophe, and exhorting her to prayer (Lamentations 2:13-19). To this exhortation Zion, here represented by the wall of Jerusalem [Zion], responds in a prayer breathing the deepest and acutest sorrow (Lamentations 2:20-22). In Song III., which evidently forms the climax of the whole, the poet introduces as speaking that man, who in those troublous times had suffered more than all others, and consequently had attained, as it were, to the very summit of the common calamity, for he had suffered not only from the enemy what was common to all, but also from his own people and associates, a thing unheard of save in this particular instance. This sufferer was the Prophet Jeremiah. He does not name him, it is true, and it is evident that he has in his eye, not the person of the prophet merely, but rather the servant of the Lord as a representative of the (Ἰσραὴλ πνευματικὸς) spiritual Israel, yet all the particular features of this Lamentation are borrowed from the history of that prophet (Lamentations 3:1-18). This section ends with a cry of despair (Lamentations 3:18). But immediately the poet lets a morning twilight, as it were, succeed this night of despair, (Lamentations 3:19-21), which through the utterances of united believing Israel-soon expands into daylight, beaming with the most radiant consolation (Lamentations 3:22-38). In what follows successively, the evening twilight gathers, and then the poem sweeps back into such a night of grief and mourning, that Israel begins to confess his sins (Lamentations 3:39-42), but then gives vent to lamentations on account of those sins (Lamentations 3:43-47), until finally, in the last and third part, Jeremiah again takes up the word in order to weep out his grief over Zion’s misery and sins, (those sins which were likewise the source of his own misfortunes), and to implore the Lord, in beseeching prayer, for protection and for righteous avengement upon his enemies (Lamentations 3:48-66). In Song IV., the poem loses more and more of its ideal character. In the beginning indeed we find an ideal and well sustained description of Israel, as if it were the nobility of the nations, and then, further, of the princes of Israel, as the noblest among the noble, and then, appearing in sharper relief by standing out on such a back-ground, a delineation of the sufferings endured by those nobles (Lamentations 4:1-11); but in the second half of the chapter the poem becomes more prosaic: the chief guilt is imputed to the prophets and the priests, whose well-deserved punishment is then portrayed in the gloomiest colors (Lamentations 4:12-16). Then follows a description, graphic in the highest degree in spite of its brevity, of the events occurring from the extinction of the last gleams of the rays of hope kindled by the Egyptians, till the imprisonment of the king (Lamentations 4:17-20). The conclusion is a short address to Edom, which is ironically congratulated at the downfall of Jerusalem, while, at the same time, the punishment of its malicious joy is foretold (Lamentations 4:21-22). In Song V., the style is almost entirely prosaic. For, with the exception of Lamentations 5:16 a, no poetical expression is found in the whole chapter, rather only a concrete graphic picture of the naked reality. The alphabetical acrostic is entirely wanting in this chapter. The whole chapter is intended as a prayer; for it begins and ends with words of petition (Lamentations 5:1; Lamentations 5:19-22). What lies between is only a narration of the principal afflictions, which had befallen those who had been carried to Babylon and those who had fled to exile in Egypt (Lamentations 5:2-18). The concluding prayer expresses the hope that the Lord, who cannot Himself change, nor altogether reject His people, will bring them back again to Himself and to their ancient splendor (Lamentations 5:19-22).
2. As regards its external structure, the composition of this book, both as a whole and in its several parts, is so artistic, that anything like it can hardly be found in any other book of Holy Scripture. First of all it is significant, that there are five Songs. For the uneven number has this advantage, that the middle part of the whole Poem is represented by a whole number, and does not fall between two numbers, as it would in case there were an even number of songs [i. e., the middle part of the whole poem is represented by one Song, and is not composed of parts of two songs]. By this means the prominence of the middle Song and, in connection with that, an ascent and a descent, a crescendo and decrescendo movement, with a clearly marked climax, is made possible. Thus it is manifest that the third chapter constitutes the climax. And this is truly and really so in two respects, both as to matter and form. As to the first, we have already shown that the first two chapters bear an ideal and highly poetical character. They constitute only the front-steps to the third chapter, which, externally, as the middle of the five songs and by its internal character, conducts us into the very middle of the night into which Israel sank, and then of the day which rose over Israel. For are not the frightful sorrows which the Prophet Jeremiah, the servant of God and representative of the spiritual Israel, had endured, and which rose at last to that terrible exclamation—My strength and my hope is perished from Jehovah (Lamentations 3:18), the expressions of the highest outward and inward temptation which can befall a true servant of the Lord? Here it should be observed that in Lamentations 3:1-17, there is no reference to God except as the author of those sorrows which are represented, on that account, as Divine temptations; while the name of God is not even mentioned till at the end of Lamentations 3:18, where, as the last word, with startling vehemence, the name “Jehovah” is pronounced. Here then we see the servant of the Lord, in the deepest night of his misery, on the brink of despair. But where exigency is greatest, help is nearest. The poet could lay up in his heart everything that he had against God, but he could not shut God Himself out of his heart. On the contrary it was proved, that after he had given the fullest expression to what he had in his heart against God, God Himself was deeply rooted therein. The night is succeeded by the dawn of morning, as represented in Lamentations 3:19-21. With Lamentations 3:22, breaks the full day. This ushers in with full effulgence the light of Heavenly consolation. Suffering now is seen to be the proof of God’s love. In this love, that suffering finds its explanation, its limit, and its remedy. As the pyramid of Mont Blanc, seen at sunset from Chamouny, its summit gleaming with supernal splendors, whilst below, the mountain has already disappeared wrapped in deepest darkness (See Göthe’s Letters from Switzerland, Nov. 4, 1779; Aug. 12, 1840), so, out of the profound night of despair and misery, this middle part of the third song and of the whole book towers upward, radiant with light. From this culmination point, the poet again sets out upon his downward track. Evening twilight follows the bright day (Lamentations 3:40-42) and passes into a night dark with misery (Lamentations 3:43-47). From the beginning of the section, so full of hope and encouragement (Lamentations 3:22), the poet speaks in the plural number, as if he would make it most emphatically apparent, that this was common property. He continues to speak in the plural number till after the beginning of the third and last part of the Song, when the night has begun again. Then once more (Lamentations 3:48), the poet speaks in the singular number. But he no longer speaks of those highest temptations, which were the subject of Lamentations 3:1-18, but of those inferior ones, which men inflict upon us. He treats of them also much more briefly; and from Lamentations 3:55 to the end of the chapter, finds relief in a prayer for help and avengement.—It is evident that this chapter consists of three parts. The first part includes Lamentations 3:1-21; the second, Lamentations 3:22-42; the third, Lamentations 3:43-66. The second part represents the culmination point of the whole book. It constitutes the point of separation between the crescendo and decrescendo movement. The latter continues in chapter fourth, in which the ideal and poetical sensibly subside, until at last in chapter fifth the style changes into plain prose.—With this artistic arrangement of the matter, the external form or structure corresponds. Every one of the five Songs has 22 verses, according to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, only in the third Song every verse is divided into three members, hence it has 66 (masoretic) verses. The first four Songs are acrostics. In the first two Songs the verses consist of three distiches. It has been usual to recognize four distiches in Lamentations 1:7 and Lamentations 2:9, but improperly: for there is no fixed measure for the length of each member of the distich; and there are, therefore, in the places referred to, only three distiches, some lines of which are composed of a greater number of syllables than the others have. The third chapter shows by its external dress that it is the middle and climax of the whole. The three distiches of each verse (corresponding to three Masoretic verses successively) begin with the same alphabetical letter. The middle part, namely Lamentations 3:19-42, is still further distinguished, as the dome crowning the whole building, as follows: (1). Every verse-triad constitutes a finished whole with respect to sense [is one complete sentence]. (2). In Lamentations 3:25-39, each distich begins with the same word, or with a similar word (see Intr. to Lamentations 3:0). (3). While in Lamentations 3:1-18, the name of God is mentioned only once, and then with peculiar emphasis at the end of ver 18, in Lamentations 3:19-42 we read the names of God repeatedly, and so arranged that in Lamentations 3:22; Lamentations 3:24-26 we have יְהוָֹה, in Lamentations 3:31; Lamentations 3:36-37 אֲדֹנָי alternating with עֶלְיוֹן in Lamentations 3:35; Lamentations 3:38, in Lamentations 3:40 again יְהוָֹה and at last in Lamentations 3:41 אֵל בַּשָׁמַיִם. Observe here, particularly, that עֶלְיוֹן occurs in the Lamentations only in the two places named above, and אֲדֹנָי occurs only once, in the beginning of the decrescendo movement, Lamentations 3:58, whilst in chapter first it is used three times, Lamentations 3:14-15 (twice), and in chapter second seven times, Lamentations 3:1-2; Lamentations 3:5; Lamentations 3:7; Lamentations 3:18-20. Chapter fourth is indeed an acrostic, but the decline of the poetical afflatus is indicated externally by the verses being composed of only two distiches. The solemn names of God אֲדֹנָי and עֶלְיוֹן occur no more, on the other hand יְהּוָֹה occurs three times, Lamentations 3:11; Lamentations 3:16; Lamentations 3:20. The fifth chapter indicates its relation to the four preceding ones only by the number of verses (22). The acrostic dress entirely disappears. The style has become prose. Yet the name of God יְהוָֹה is found three times in the words of prayer, Lamentations 3:1; Lamentations 3:19; Lamentations 3:21.
We have here only one other matter to remark upon, the question why in chapters 2, 3 and 4. פּ is placed before ע. This is usually explained as a copyist’s mistake. In fact some Codd. in Kennicott and De Rossi have these verses in their usual places. The Peschito also gives these verses in their proper alphabetical order. The Septuagint places the letters in their proper order in the margin, but leaves the verses themselves to follow each other in the order of the original. But this supposition of an error of transcriber is refuted, (1) by the fact that it is repeated three times, (2) by the impossibility of supposing that in Lamentations 3:0 three verses could have been transposed by mistake, (3) by the interruption of the sense which would result in chapters 3 and 4 [if the present order were changed]. If some Codd. and Versions have the letters in their right order, this is evidence of revision and correction. Others (as Riegler) explain this irregularity as merely arbitrary, others again (Bertholdt) as the result of forgetfulness on the part of the author. Grotius holds the singular opinion that the order in chapters 2, 3, 4 may be that of the Chaldaic alphabet, and therefore that Jeremiah in Lamentations 1:0 “speaks as a Hebrew, in the following chapters as a subject of the Chaldeans.” Thenius would explain the alphabetical difference by a diversity of authors, but the unity of the plan, already proved above, and the unity of the language used, which will be proved in § 3 (to which also belongs the threefold אֵיכָה at the beginning of chaps, 2, 3, 4) contradict this most decidedly. Ewald is (even still in his Second Edition, p. 326) of the opinion that the ע in chapter 1 “might have been transferred to its own place by later hands.” But this would be a manifest interruption of the connection: for ver. 16 is directly connected in the closest manner with ver. 15 by עַל כֵּן therefore, [עַל־אֵלֶּה, for these things?], whilst ver. 18 [17?] begins a new thought. The liberty which the older poets especially allowed themselves in pursuing the alphabetical order (see Psalms 9:10, 25, 37, 145, and Keil in Haevernick’s Introduction to Old Testament, III., p. 50) are manifold [See Barnes’ Introduction to Job, pp. 44, 45]. Whether they were influenced in this by a then prevailing diversity of method in respect to the succession of the letters, is not yet by any means sufficiently ascertained, but is nevertheless the most likely explanation of that liberty. See Delitzsch on Psalms 145:0, p. 769.5
§ 3. Author And Time Of Composition
1. That the Prophet Jeremiah was the author of this book, not only is an old tradition, but has been maintained by the majority of commentators up to the present time. Yet there is no canonical [Scriptural?] testimony for it. For neither in the later books of the Old Testament, nor in the New Testament, is Jeremiah ever named as the author of Lamentations. There is not in the above named parts of the Holy Scriptures a single quotation from the Lamentations. The passage in James 1:12, which is appealed to, has only a very general resemblance to Lamentations 3:26; and as regards Zechariah 1:6, the expression עָשָׂה יְהוָֹה כַאֲשֶׁר זָמָם [Jehovah hath done like as He purposed] is not specific enough, and if it is a quotation could refer to Jeremiah 51:12, as well as to Lamentations 2:17. But the Alexandrian translation has preceding Lamentations 1:1, these words, Καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὸ αἰχμαλωτισθῆναι τὸν Ἰσραὴλ καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐρημωθῆναι, ἐκάθισεν Ἰερεμίας κλαίων καὶ ἐθρήνησε τὸν θρῆνον τοῦτον ἐπὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ εἶπε. [“And it came to pass, after Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem was become desolate, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said.”] The Vulgate also has these words, except that in place of the simple καὶ εἶπε [and he said], it has the words, et amaro animo suspirans et ejulans dixit [“and with a sorrowful mind, sighing and moaning, he said” (Douay)]. The Arabic gives exactly the words of the Septuagint. The Targum Jonathan begins with the words, Dixit Jeremias propheta et sacerdos magnus [Jeremiah the prophet and chief priest (? וְכַהֲנָא רַבָּא) said]. Josephus in the Antiq. Jud. L., X. c.5, § 1, after he has spoken of the death and burial of King Josiah, says, Ἱερεμίας δ’ ὁ προφήτης ἐπικήδειον αὐτοῦ συνέταξε μέλος θρηνητίκὸν, ὅ καὶ μέχρι νῦν διαμένει [“and Jeremiah the prophet composed an elegy to lament him which is extant till this time also” (Whiston’s Josephus)].6 Thenius is of the opinion that this asserts only the existence of the elegy on the death of Josiah composed by Jeremiah, and has no reference at all to the Lamentations. But I believe that Thenius here is in error. For the words of Josephus cannot be translated the (solenne) elegy on Josiah, because in that case it must have been called τὸ ἐπικήδειον αὐτου [the elegy on him]. We can only translate thus,—Jeremiah composed as an elegy on him a lamentation song, which is still extant. To call it τὸ ἐπικήδειον (the elegy) would imply that the poem then existing really belonged to the species “elegy,” that is to say, it possessed all the peculiarities of such a poem and was manifestly the solenne [elegy] on the deceased king Josiah that the customs of the times demanded.7 But the absence of the article marks the still extant μέλος θρηνητικὸν [song of lamentation] as not necessarily belonging to the species “elegy,” but only as a μέλος [song] which had served as an elegy. This admirably suits the Lamentations, which indeed contain not a single syllable referring to a dead king. Add to this, that Josephus in the same chapter, after he had related the death and burial of Josiah, seizes the opportunity to give a short notice of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and of their writings. For after the words quoted, he proceeds thus, “This prophet also predicted, and left [those predictions] in writing, the calamity that was coming upon the city, and truly as well that destruction which has in our days come upon us, as the Babylonish captivity. But not only he foretold such things, but the prophet Ezekiel, who first wrote and left behind him two books concerning these things.” However we understand the somewhat obscure words concerning the writings of Ezekiel, this much at least is evident, that Josephus intends to give here a brief notice of the writings of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. And so he says, Jeremiah has left behind him two writings, a lamentation song and prophecies, Ezekiel has likewise left behind him prophecies, and truly in two books. Thenius says, if Josephus had meant our Lamentations by that μέλος θρηνητικὸν [lamentation song], then he would have written ἐν τοῖς θρήνοις [in the Lamentations]. But I maintain on the contrary, that if Josephus meant the θρήνοι [Lamentations] by the μέλ. θρήν. [lamentation song], the addition ἐν τοῖς θρήνοις [in the Lamentations] was not necessary [see note, p. 6.—W. H. H.], but if he intended to say what Thenius makes him say, then he would have written οὐκ ἐν τοῖς θρήνοις [not in the Lamentations]. For since Josephus in this place speaks, not only of the elegy on Josiah’s death, but likewise of the writings of Jeremiah generally, and since in his times our Lamentations were already regarded as a writing of Jeremiah’s, as we know by the superscription of the Septuagint, he should, not to be entirely unintelligible, expressly declare that he did not mean by this μέλος θρηνητικὸν [lamentation song] which Jeremiah had composed on the death of Josiah, the θρηνοι [Book of Lamentations]. Since he has not done this, every one who knows that there are two writings in the canon which are referred back to Jeremiah as their author, must understand the words of Josephus as intended to designate those two writings extant in the canon. According to this, therefore, Josesephus regarded Jeremiah as the author of the Lamentations, in which he, as Jerome did (Comment, Zechariah 7:11), recognized the elegy on Josiah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 35:25. Among the moderns, Usher, J. D. Michaelis (on Lowth de sacr. poes. Hebr. Not. 97, pp. 445 sqq.), and Dathe (prophetœ maj., Exodus 1:0) shared this opinion, but both the latter receded from it (see N. Or. Bibl. I., 106, and Dathe proph. maj., Exodus 2:0). The Talmud also regards Jeremiah as the author of Lamentations (Baba batr., Fol. 15, Colossians 1:0), Jeremias scripsit libram suum et libram regum et threnos [Jeremiah wrote his own book and the book of Kings and the Lamentations]. This is the opinion also of the church fathers, all of them, (see Origen in Euseb. hist, eccl., iv. 25, Jerome in Prolog. galeat. and on Zechariah 12:11) and of later theologians. The learned and whimsical Herman von der Haardt, in a Programme in which he announced a commentary on Lamentations (Helmstädt, 1712), was the first to deny the authorship of Jeremiah ascribing the book to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and the king Joachin, assuming that each one of them had written one chapter. Later, the unknown author of an Essay in the Tübingen Theol. Quart., 1819, Part 1,—afterwards, though only in the way of conjecture, Augusti, in his Intr. to the Old Test. Scrip., p. 227,—and again Conz in Bengel’s Archiv, IV. pp. 161, 162, 422 sqq.,—express themselves as against the authorship of Jeremiah. Kalkar also in his commentary (Hafniæ, 1836) thinks it suspicious that the Book so long retained its place among the Hagiographa and that the Greek version of it differs so much from that of the prophetical book, although he will not allow that those circumstances are decisive, as in fact they are not. Ewald, who in the first edition of the Poetical Books of the Old Testament (1839, V. 1, pp. 139 ff.) in no way impugned the traditional opinion, has since (Gesch. Isr. IV. S. 22 ff.; see Jahrb. für bibl., Wissenschaft, VII. S. 151; Poet. Bücher, 2te. Aufl. I. Th. 2te. Hälfte., p. 321 ff.) expressed his opinion to this effect, that ‘Jeremiah’s authorship, with nothing to prove it, may be regarded as impossible on the ground of the language alone.’ He believes that the author was probably one of Jeremiah’s disciples, “Baruch or some other.” Bunsen also [before Ewald] ascribes the authorship to Baruch (Gott in der Geschichte, I. S. 426). Thenius announces the opinion in his commentary (10 te. Lief. des kurzgef. exeg. Hdb. z. A. T., 1855, § 3 der Vorbemm., S. 117,] that chapters 2 and 4 are indeed by Jeremiah, but the other parts proceeded from other authors. He combats the argument drawn from tradition, and whilst he infers from the difference between the prcëmium of the Septuagint and that of the Vulgate, that there was a Hebrew original, he also infers from the absence of the same in the Hebrew Codd. that the Jews doubted its genuineness, and thus he accounts for the transposition of the Lamentations to the Ketubim [or Hagiographa]. He contends further, that the traditional opinion is not confirmed by the subject-matter, spirit-tone and language, or by the character of unity in the Book itself.8 He finds it highly unlikely that Jeremiah should have treated of the same subject five times. He says further, “It requires only a very ordinary degree of æsthetical sensibility to distinguish the difference between Odes 2, 4, which are really fine, unconstrainedly animated, methodical and natural in arrangement and succession of ideas, and remarkable for their simplicity, and the dissimilar and weaker Song of Solomon , 1, 3, which, whatever excellence they have in other respects, are hampered with the external form, in many ways artificial, here and there heaping up images and confusing them together and losing themselves in reminiscences of the past.” To this he adds, that 1, 3, 5, among other things, record circumstances in which Jeremiah had no part. Finally the fact, that in 2, 4, the verses beginning with פ precede those beginning with ע is only explicable by assuming a diversity of authors. Agreeably to these sentiments, Thenius ascribed chapters 2, 4, to Jeremiah, as already remarked, but is of the opinion that chapter 1 was composed “sometime after the destruction of Jerusalem, by one who had remained in the land, and who at least was acquainted with Lamentations 2:0;” and that Lamentations 3:0 was composed, also by one remaining in the land, shortly before the last deportation. He regards Song V., finally, as “the entirely disconnected poetry of a man there [in the land] who was probably a leader of a crowd of nobles, who having refused to join the expedition to Egypt, wandered about everywhere seeking a safer place of refuge.”10 These arguments of Thenius have no matter-of-fact foundation, and cannot therefore be convincing.
As for me, formerly I was so convinced that Jeremiah was the author, as to declare this conviction in the article “Lamentations of Jeremiah,” in Herzog’s Real Encyclopædia, and even in various places in my exposition of Jeremiah. But my conviction has been shaken on more accurate examination by the following matters of fact. 1. The tradition originates from the testimony of the Alexandrian translation. But on what does this testimony itself rest? We are compelled to ask this question, for the authority of that translation is by itself an entirely insufficient foundation. It is possible that the Alexandrian translator had predecessors in his opinion. But no evidence of that nature has come to us.11 It is further possible that he, or his predecessors, or both, derived that opinion from the book itself. For it is easy to suppose that the prophet, who had himself lived to see Jerusalem’s fall, should write upon it an appropriate dirge. This was more likely to be supposed since this prophet had formerly been acknowledged as a composer of dirges (2 Chronicles 35:25). Moreover, how could a tearful song over Jerusalem’s downfall fail to be expected from that prophet who had said, “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eye a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1). Add to this, that in chapter 3 the poet seems to identify himself with the prophet, and that the undeniably obvious and sympathetic harmony with the prophetical writings of Jeremiah seems to confirm that identity. The probability, therefore, that Jeremiah may have written a book of this description, cannot be denied. But how stands it with the evidence which the book itself, in Lamentations 3:0, seems to give in regard to its author, and how with the harmony in the way of thought and language? As for the internal evidence of Lamentations 3:0, in the first and third parts of that chapter the prophet Jeremiah certainly speaks. But the question occurs, whether he speaks as the author, or whether the author makes him speak? Either is in itself possible. For since the author in Lamentations 1:11 makes the personified Zion speak, he may likewise in Lamentations 3:0 make the prophet Jeremiah, as the representative of the Ἰσραελ πνευματικος [the spiritual Israel], speak. But, on the other hand, since in Lamentations 2:0 the author is the speaker and there speaks of himself in vers. 11, 13, so in Lamentations 3:1-28; Lamentations 3:48-66, the author may be the speaker, and according to the purport of the contents, he is speaking of himself. But here two things are to be taken into account. The first is this, that Lamentations 3:0 (see the exposition) constitutes the middle and climax of the whole book. Here the artistic construction reaches its highest pinnacle, and the prophet speaking in the first and last of the three parts, forms with his mournful lamentations the background for the bright and consolatory section contained in vers. 22–42. Is it now likely that Jeremiah would thus have made his own person the middle-point of the poem and would have done this with so much art?12 To me this seems not likely, even though it is assumed that the prophet speaks here in the name of the whole Jehovah-faithful Israel. Jeremiah, who was so modest and humble, would at the most have let his personal sufferings appear, if at all, only as an element or constituent part of the suffering which the faithful Israel had to suffer in common. But it does not seem like him thus to place his own person in the foreground as he does in that section which begins with “I am the man,” Lamentations 3:1. In regard to the artistic construction, I have already in the Introduction to his Prophecies (§ 3), confessed that Jeremiah’s style is not deficient in art. See for example his second discourse, chs. 3–6. But this refinement of art, this acrostic, this adroit periodic versification, these ingenious transitions in Lamentations 3:19-21; Lamentations 3:39-42, this crescendo and decrescendo movement resting upon the five-fold division of the whole poem—truly all this seems not like Jeremiah. In his writings nothing similar to this is found.13 Would any one ascribe the most perfect product, in regard to the external artistic structure, of the Old Testament Scriptures, to that same prophet whose style is elsewhere characterized as sermo incultus et pæne subrusticus, if indeed one pauses to recognize his style at all, and does not rather direct his attention to those rerum cœlestium mysteria which are concealed under the sacramentis literarum? Nevertheless, I freely grant that neither the psychological, nor the rhetorical argument can, by itself alone, claim to be decisive.
But another argument must be added to these, namely, Secondly, The prevailing character of the language in the Lamentations. This differs very considerably from that of the prophetical book. Although the author of Lamentations has much in common with that prophet, not only in general, as a Hebrew writer, but also in particular by a designed reference to the writings of Jeremiah, yet on the other hand, he has so much that is peculiar to himself, and so much that Jeremiah has not at all, or has only in a different form, that it is difficult to believe in the identity of the two. I have spared myself no trouble to compare every word of the Lamentations (with the exception of such as are constantly recurring, as &אִיש הָיָה, etc., without which Hebrew cannot be written) with the writings of Jeremiah. I have availed myself for this purpose of the Concordance of Fuerst, and have found the same correct and to be depended upon, with the exception of what is given in respect to the word אֲדֹנָי. The following is the result of this painfully laborious comparison, wherein I refer in every instance for authentication to the exposition of the passages in which the words occur.
[Note.—The bearing of the argument to be derived from the verbal differences, between the Prophecies of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations, is critically examined in the Appendix to this Introduction. The writer of this note, unwilling to insert his dissent from the very learned and conscientious author of this Introduction in the text of these pages, and unable to condense the reasons for his dissent in notes at the bottom of the pages, would here refer the reader to the Appendix, for a general summary of arguments in confirmation of the opinion that Jeremiah was the author of the Lamentations.—W. H. H.]
1.Lamentations 1:1. The phrases רַבָּתִי עָם and ר׳ בַגויִם occur only here. The singular שָׂרָה as an appellative, only here. מְדִינָה is not foreign to Jeremiah’s times, but is never used by him. הָֽיְתָה לָמַם, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:2. לְחִי never in Jeremiah. אֵין מְנַחֵם, only in this chapter, vers. 2, 9, 16, 17, 21, and in Ecclesiastes 4:1 (although the Piel of the verb נָחַם occurs in Jeremiah 16:7; Jeremiah 31:13).
Lamentations 1:3. עֳנִי five times in Lamentations. Jeremiah uses neither it nor the root עָנָה. See Lamentations 3:33; Lamentations 5:11. For מֵרֹב Jeremiah says עַל רֹב or מָנוֹחַ עֲבֹרָה בְּרֹב (Jeremiah says מְנוּחָה מְעָרִים, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:4. אָבֵל never in Jeremiah. מוֹעֵד, which occurs in Lamentations six times, and always in the sense of a time or place of a festival, is found twice in Jeremiah, but both times in the general sense of tempus fixum. The expressions שׁו̇&מֵם בָּאֵי פ׳ּ (see vers. 13, 16; Lamentations 3:11), the termination ־ִין, the verbs אָנַח (see vers. 8, 11) and יָגָה (four times in Lamentations) never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:5. הָלַךְ שְׁבִו is peculiar to this place. The sing. צַר, which occurs five times in Lamentations, is never in Jeremiah. He uses only the plural.
Lamentations 1:6. יָצָא מִן for forsaken only here. &אַיָּל הָדָר (masc.), מִרְעֶה (Jeremiah always מַרְעִית) never with Jeremiah. רֹדֵף Jeremiah uses only with suffixes.
Lamentations 1:7. מְרוּדִים, only here, Lamentations 3:19, and Isaiah 58:7. מַֽחֲמֹד (see vers. 10, 11; Lamentations 2:4) never in Jeremiah. He uses only &חֶמְדָּה מִשְׁבָּת ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 1:8. חֵטְא (see Lamentations 3:39) never in Jeremiah. He uses only חַטָּאת הִזִּיל מְכַבֵּד נִידָה (only here), עֶרְוָה never in Jeremiah. אָחוֹר (see Lamentations 1:13) occurs in Jeremiah only with הָלַךְ. or נָסוֹג
Lamentations 1:9. &פְּלָאִים טֻמְאָה never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:10. מַחְמָד never in Jeremiah (see Lamentations 1:7).
Lamentations 1:11. אָנַח (see Lamentations 1:4), מַֽחֲמִֹד (see Lamentations 1:7), נָבַט הָשִׁוב נֶפֶשׁ אֹכֵל (see Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:63; Lamentations 4:16; Lamentations 5:1), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:12. עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ (see Lamentations 2:15), יוֹם חֲרוֹן אַפוֹ (Isaiah 13:13) never in Jeremiah. See Lamentations 2:1. עוֹלֵל (see Lamentations 1:22; Lamentations 2:20; Lamentations 3:51) Jeremiah uses only once in the sense of racemari. Once also in Hithp. Jeremiah 38:19.
Lamentations 1:13. &דָּוָה רֶשֶׁת (see Lamentations 5:17) never in Jer.
Lamentations 1:14. שָׂקַד ἅπ. λεγ. הִשְׂתָּרַג Hithp. only here. אֲדֹנָי in Jeremiah never alone, but always joined with יְהוָֹה; in Lamentations fourteen times, and always alone.
Lamentations 1:15. גַּת קָרָא מוֹעֵד סָלָה never in Jeremiah. דָּרַךְ גַּת לִפְ֥ only here.
Lamentations 1:16. בֹכִיָה only here. מְנַחֵם see Lamentations 1:2. מֵשִׁיב נַפְשִׁי, see Lamentations 1:11. שׁוֹמֵמִים, see Lamentations 1:4.
Lamentations 1:17. אֵין מְנֵחֵם, see Lamentations 1:2. נִדָּה (see Lamentations 1:8) never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:18. מָרָה פֶּה never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:19. רִמָּה, Piel, גָּוַע never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:20. עַר, see Lamentations 1:5. חֲמַוְמַר (see Lamentations 2:11), נֶהְפַּךְ לִבִּי never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 1:21. נֶאֱנַח, see Lamentations 1:4. מְנַחֵם, see Lamentations 1:2.
Lamentations 1:22. &אֲנָחָה בָּאָה רָעָה לִפְנֵי פּ֥ never in Jeremiah.
2.Lamentations 2:1. יָעִיב ἅπ. λεγ, &יום אַף הָדוֹם (see Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 2:21-22) never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:2. בִּלַּע, Piel, never in Jeremiah, in this chapter five times. Instead of לאֹ חָמַל (see Lamentations 2:17) Jeremiah says &לֹא נִחַם נְאוֹת יַֽעֲקֹב only here.
Lamentations 2:3. Jeremiah uses only the Niphal of נָדַע חֳרִי אַף never in Jeremiah. הֵשִׁיב אָחוֹר, see Lamentations 1:8. יָמִּין, Jeremiah uses only once, and then not in a figurative sense. Jeremiah never says אָכַל סָבִיב, he uses in this connection always סְבִיבִים. or סְבִיבוֹת.
Lamentations 2:4. נִצַב Niph. never in Jeremiah. מַחְמָד, see Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10-11. אֹחֶל בַּת צִיּוֹן only here.
Lamentations 2:5. וַבִּלַּע. see Lamentations 2:2. תַֽאֲנִיָה רַאֲנִיָה from Isaiah 29:2.
Lamentations 2:6. מוֹעֵד. see Lamentations 1:4. שִׁכַּה Piel only here. שַׁבָּת in Jeremiah only in the passage Jeremiah 17:21-27.
Lamentations 2:7. זָנַח never in Jeremiah; in Lamentations three times, Lamentations 2:7; Lamentations 3:17; Lamentations 3:31. אֲדֹנָי, see Lamentations 1:14. נָאַר in no form in Jeremiah. הִסְנגִּיר, Hiph. never in Jeremiah, he once only uses the Pual (Jeremiah 13:19).
Lamentations 2:8. בִּלָּע, see Lamentations 2:2. Jeremiah does not use the Hiph. of &אָבַל חֵל. never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:10. עָפָר never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:11. דְּמָעוֹת never in Jeremiah; he uses only &דִּסְעָה חֳמַרְמַר, see Lamentations 1:20. כָּבֵד, liver, never in Jeremiah. עַטַף (three times in Lamentations and only in Lamentations 2:0, namely, vers. 11, 12, 19) never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:12, הִתְעַטֵּף, see Lamentations 2:11. Hithp. הִשְׁתֵּפֵּךְ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:13. דִּמָּה Piel, שָׁוָה and בַּת יְרוּשָׁלַםִ (the last in Lamentations again Lamentations 2:15) never in Jeremiah. Jeremiah never constructs רָפָא with לְ.
Lamentations 2:14. Jeremiah never uses the verb הָזָה alone, nor הָזָה שָׁוְא. The latter is an expression occurring in Ezekiel. Also תָּמֵל, for which Jeremiah says תִּפְלָה (Jeremiah 23:13).—Jeremiah never uses גִלָּה with עַל (see again Lamentations 4:22). מַשְׂאוֹת (chosen with reference to Jeremiah 23:33-40) only here. Jeremiah uses שָׁוְא only in the formula &לַשָּׁוְא מַדּוּחִים, (probably framed with reference to Jeremiah 27:10; Jeremiah 27:15) is ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 2:15. Jeremiah never says סָפַק כַּפַּיִם nor עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ (see Lamentations 1:12), nor הֵנִיעַ רֹאשׁ. For the last Jeremiah says &בֵּתּ יְרוּשָׁלַםִ הֵנִיר בְּרֹאשׁ, see Lamentations 2:13. The שׁ, relat., never in Jeremiah; in Lamentations four times, Lamentations 2:15-16; Lamentations 4:9; Lamentations 5:18. כְּלִילַת יֹפִי is an expression of Ezekiel’s (Ezekiel 27:3; Ezekiel 28:12). כָּלִיל is never found in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 2:16. פָּצָה (see Lamentations 3:46), הָקַר never in Jeremiah. בִּלַּע, see Lamentations 2:2.
Lamentations 2:17. בִּצַּה, Piel never in Jeremiah. He uses only &אֶמְרָה בּוֹצֵעַ בֶּצַע, ἅπ. λεγ. וְלֹא הָמַל, see Lamentations 2:2. קֶרֶך once in Jeremiah, הֵרִים קֶרֶך never.
Lamentations 2:18. פּוּגָה (see Lamentations 3:49) only here. בַּת עַיִך only elsewhere in Psalms 17:8.
Lamentations 2:19. נָשָׂא כַפַּיִם שָׁפַךְלֵב רֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת עָטוּף, (see Lamentations 2:12) never in Jeremiah. בְּרֹאשׁ כָל־הוּצוֹת is found in Nahum 3:10; Isaiah 51:20; in the Lamentations again Lamentations 4:1; in Jeremiah never.
Lamentations 2:20. רְאֵה יי׳ רְהַבִּיטָה, see Lamentations 1:11. טִפֻּחִים, ἅπ. λεγόμ.
Lamentations 2:21. יוֹם אַף, see vers. 22, 1. לֹא חָמַלְתָּ, see Lamentations 2:2.
Lamentations 2:22. מוֹעֵד, see Lamentations 1:4. טִפַח only here. רִבָּה, Piel never in Jeremiah. יוֹם אַף יי׳, see Lamentations 2:1.
Lamentations 3:1. עֳנִי (see Lamentations 1:3) never in Jeremiah. שֵׁבֶט only found in Jeremiah in the critically suspicious places, Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19. שֵׁבֶט עֶבְרָתוּ, from Proverbs 22:8.
Lamentations 3:2. &חשֶׁךְ נָהַג, never in Jeremiah. The sentence חשֶׁךְ וְלֹא אוֹר from Amos 5:18; Amos 5:20; Job 12:25.
Lamentations 3:4. שִׁבַּר עֲצָמוֹת בָּלָה (see Isaiah 38:13), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:5. &תְּלָאָה נָקַף never in Jeremiah. רֹאשׁ, poison, Jeremiah uses only in the phrase מֵי רֹאשּׁ.
Lamentations 3:6. מַֽחֲשַׁכִּים never in Jeremiah. מֵתֵי עוֹלָם only elsewhere Psalms 143:3; comp. Psalms 88:5-7.
Lamentations 3:7. גָדַר (see Lamentations 3:9), הִכְבִּיד Hiph., never in Jeremiah. וְלֹא אֵצֵא only elsewhere Psalms 88:9. נְחשֶׁת never in Jeremiah; he uses only נְחֻשְׁתַּיִם.
Lamentations 3:8. שָׂתַם שָׁוַע סָתַם)never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:9. גָדַר, see Lamentations 3:7. &עוָּה גָּזִית. Piel, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:10. דּב never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:11. סוֹרֵר as Pilel from סוּר, or Poel from סָרַר, only here. פָּשַׁח is also ἄπ. λεγ. שׁוֹמֵם, see Lamentations 1:4.
Lamentations 3:12. מַטָּדָא, in the sense of mark, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:13. בְּנֵי אַשְׁפָּה only here.
Lamentations 3:14. נְגִינָה never in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 3:63; Lamentations 5:14.
Lamentations 3:15. מְרוֹרִים never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:16. &חָרָץ גָּרַם never in Jeremiah. כָּפַשׁ ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 3:17. זָנַח never in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 2:7; Psalms 88:15.
Lamentations 3:18. נֵצַח, in the sense here required, and תּוֹחֶלֶת never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:19. עֳנִי, see Lamentations 1:3. מְרוּדִים, see Lamentations 1:7. רֹאשׁ, see Lamentations 3:5.
Lamentations 3:20. שׁוּחַ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:21. &יָחַל הֵשִׁיב אֶל־לֵב, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:22. חֲסָדִים, plural, never in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 3:32.
Lamentations 3:23. לַבְּקָֽרִים never in Jeremiah; he uses in this sense, once only, לֵבֹּקֶר.
Lamentations 3:24. אָֽמְרָה נַפְשִׁי only here. יָחַל never in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 3:21.
Lamentations 3:25, קָוָה, Kal never in Jeremiah; he uses only Piel and Niphal.
Lamentations 3:26. יָחִיל only here. דּוּמָם never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:27. נָשָׂא עֹל only here.
Lamentations 3:28. נָטַל never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:29. נָתַן פֶּה בְּעָפָר only here. עָפָר, alone, never in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 2:10.
Lamentations 3:30. מַכֶּה Part., לְחִי (see Lamentations 1:2), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:31. זָנַח (see Lamentations 3:17; Lamentations 2:7), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:32. יָגָה (see Lamentations 3:17; Lamentations 1:4-5; Lamentations 1:12), חֲסָדִים, Plural (see Lamentations 3:22) never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:33. עָנָה, in this sense (see Lamentations 5:11), as well as its derivative &יָגָה עֳנִי (see Lamentations 3:32), בְּנֵי אִישׁ, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:34. אָסִיר never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:35., עֶלְיוֹן הַטּוֹת מִשְׁפַּט פ׳, as a name of God (see Lamentations 3:38), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:36. עָוַת (see Lamentations 3:59) never in Jeremiah. אַדֹנָי, see Lamentations 1:14.
Lamentations 3:37. אָמַר וַתֶּֽהִי, from Psalms 33:9. אֲדֹנָי, see Lamentations 1:14.
Lamentations 3:38. עֶלְיוֹך see Lamentations 3:35.
Lamentations 3:39. &חֵטְא אָנַך (see Lamentations 1:8) never in Jeremiah. Jeremiah uses חַי only in oaths.
Lamentations 3:40. חָפַשׂ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:41. נִשָּׂא לֵבָב (see Lamentations 2:19), אֵל בַּשָּׁמָיִם, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:42. נַחְנוּ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:43. סָכַךְ (see Lamentations 3:44) never in Jeremiah. לֹא חָמָלְתָּ, see Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 2:21.
Lamentations 3:44. סָכַךְ, see Lamentations 3:43.
Lamentations 3:45. סְחִי and מָאוֹס, as substantives, only here; Jeremiah expresses these ideas otherwise. בְּקֶרֶב never in Jeremiah without suffix; he says בְּתוֹךְ.
Lamentations 3:46. See Lamentations 2:16.
Lamentations 3:47. הַשֵּׁאת only here.
Lamentations 3:48. פֶּלֶג never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:49. חֲפוּגָה ἅπ. λεγ. See Lamentations 2:18.
Lamentations 3:50. שָׁקַף never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:51. עוֹלְלָה, see Lamentations 1:12.
Lamentations 3:52. צִפּוֹר never in Jeremiah. אֹיְבַי חִנָּם only here.
Lamentations 3:53. צָמַת never in Jeremiah
Lamentations 3:54. &גָּזַר צוּף never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:55. &תַּחְתִּיוֹת קָּרָא שֵׁם יי׳, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:56. &רְוָחָה עָלַם, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:57. קָרַב, Kal Jeremiah never uses: nor the expression יוֹם אֶקְרָאֶךְָ.
Lamentations 3:58. The plural רִיבִים Jeremiah never uses. גָּאַל he uses once in the participle.
Lamentations 3:59. עַוָּתָה only here.
Lamentations 3:62. הִגָּיוֹן never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 3:63. קִימַה only here. נָבַט, see Lamentations 1:11. מַנְגִינָה, see Lamentations 3:14; the word is ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 3:64. הֵשִׁיב גְּמוּל never in Jeremiah; he says מַ&ֽעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם שִׁלֵּם גְּמוּל in Jeremiah only in the critically disputed passage Jeremiah 25:14.
Lamentations 3:65. &תַּֽאֲלָה מְגִנָּה, both ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 3:66. Jeremiah uses only Niphal of &שְׁמֵי יי׳ שָׁמַד only here.
Lamentations 4:1. שָׁנָא עָמַם שָׁנָה) in this signification, &אַבְנֵי קֹדֶשׁ כֶּתֶם, never in Jeremiah. רֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת, see Lamentations 2:19.
Lamentations 4:2. סָלָא only here. &נֶחְשַׁב פָּז Niph., never in Jeremiah. מַֽעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי יוֹצֵר (see Lamentations 3:64) only here.
Lamentations 4:3. אַכְזָר שַׁד חָלַץ (Jeremiah says only אַכְזָרִי) never in Jeremiah. עֹנִים, if the K’tib were right, we should compare Jeremiah 51:14, the K’ri יָעֵן only here.
Lamentations 4:4. חֵךְ never in Jeremiah. צָמָא only once in Jeremiah, and then for צָמֵא, Jeremiah 48:18.
Lamentations 4:5. &אָמַך מַֽעֲדַנִּים in the physical sense, אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת חָנַק תּוֹלָע, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:6. כְּמוֹ דֶגַע only here.
Lamentations 4:7. צָחַח נָזִיר זָכַךְ (as a verb) never in Jeremiah. חָלָב only in the phrase גִּזְרָה סַפִּיר פְּנִינִים אָדַם אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:8. חָשַׁך Jeremiah uses only once in the Hiph. &צָפַד שְׁחוֹר, only here. יָבֵשׁ, as an adject., never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:9. שׁ, relat., see Lamentations 2:15. זוּב in Jeremiah only Jeremiah 49:4, and in another sense. תְּנוּבָה never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:10. רַֽחֲמָנִי ἅπ. λεγ לָמוֹ בָּרָה בָּשַׁל (see Lamentations 4:15), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:11. יְסֹד never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:12. &צַר ישְׁבֵי תֵבֵל in sing. (see Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10), צַר וְאוֹיֵב (see Esther 7:6), never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:13, דַּם צַדִּיקִים only here.
Lamentations 4:14. גָּעַל גָּאַל never in Jeremiah, see, Isaiah 59:3.
Lamentations 4:15. לָמוֹ, see Lamentations 4:10. נוּץ only here.
Lamentations 4:16. Of חָלַק only the Hiphil is found in Jeremiah, in one critically doubtful place, Jeremiah 37:12. חַבִּיט, see Lamentations 1:11. נָשָׂא פָנִים never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:17. צִפִּיָה, ἅπ. λεγ.—לֹא יוֹשִׁיַע is a phrase peculiar to Isaiah (Isaiah 45:10); Jeremiah says לאֹ יוֹעִיל (Lamentations 2:11).
Lamentations 4:19. דָּלַק never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:20. שָׁחִית מְשִׁיחַיי׳ אפֵינוּרוּחַ, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:21. תַּֽעֲבֹר כּוֹם only here, עָרָה in no form in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 4:22. תַּם עָווֹך only here. גִּלָּה עַל, see Lamentations 2:14.
Lamentations 5:1. הַבִּיט, see Lamentations 1:11.
Lamentations 5:2. For נֶהְפַּךְ in this sense Jeremiah uses נָסַכ, Jeremiah 6:12.
Lamentations 5:5. &הוּנַח עַל צַוָּאר, Pual only here. רָדַף, in the sense of driving, hunting, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:7. סָבַל never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:8. פָּרַק never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:9. חֶרֶב הַמִּדְבָּר only here.
Lamentations 5:10. זַלְעָפָה תַּנּוּר כָּמַר, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:11. עָנָה, see Lamentations 3:33.
Lamentations 5:12. &הָדַר תָּלָה, never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:13. טְחוֹך, ἅπ. λεγ.
Lamentations 5:14. נְגִינָה, see Lamentations 3:14.
Lamentations 5:17. דָּוֶח, see Lamentations 1:13.
Lamentations 5:18. שׁ, relat., see Lamentations 2:15. &הִלֵּךְ שׁוּעָלִים Piel, never in Jeremiah, who always expresses these ideas in other words.
Lamentations 5:19. לְדֹר וָדֹר never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:20. אֹרֶךְ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:21. חָדַשׁ never in Jeremiah.
Lamentations 5:22. עַד־מְאֹד never in Jeremiah.
I will lay no stress on the ἅαξ λεγόμενα, which are included for the sake of completeness in the above catalogue. But besides these, there remains so great a number of words, expressions and constructions foreign to the usual language of Jeremiah, that I know not how the conclusion can be escaped, that Jeremiah could not have written the Lamentations. Or how may it be explained, that Jeremiah never uses עֶלְיוֹך, never אֲדֹנָי alone by itself, as a name of God, and yet that the latter occurs fourteen times in the Lamentations; that Jeremiah never uses הִבִּיט, never עֳנִי or its root עָנָה, never שׁוֹמֵם, never עָעָטַף עָפָר לאֹ חָמַל בִּלָּע מַהְמָד חֵטְא זָנַח אָנַח יָגָה נָשָׂא פָנִים יחָלַ נגִינָה חשֶׁךְ פָּצָה חָזָה, never לָמוֹ never the שׁ relat., never בֱּקרֶב without a suffix, whilst all these expressions occur more or less frequently in the Lamentations? And, be it observed, these expressions are not of so specific a sort that their omission in the prophetical book, and their employment in the Lamentations, would be explicable from the nature of the subject treated of, but they belong for a great part, if I may say so, to the home-costume of the writer, which he always wears, of which he avails himself more or less unconsciously and undesignedly.
Thirdly. The words נְבִיאַיִךְ חָזוּ לָךְ שָׁוְא וְתָפֵל, Lamentations 2:14, are beyond doubt a quotation from Ezekiel 12:24; Ezekiel 13:14-15; Ezekiel 13:14-15; Ezekiel 21:28, 34; Ezekiel 22:28; for only in those places, and nowhere else in the Old Testament, does the phrase חָזָה שָׁוְא in connection with תָפֵל occur. The phrase כִּלִילַת יֹפִי, Lamentations 2:15, is also decidedly Ezekiel’s, for it is found only in Ezekiel 27:3; comp. Ezekiel 28:12, and nowhere else.14 That the Lamentations may be the source from which Ezekiel obtained these phrases, no one can believe who has read Ezekiel in the places referred to with attention. For in those places (especially in chapter 13) everything is so peculiar and so impressed, in construction and expression,—as where he uses תְפֵל,—with the distinct individuality of Ezekiel, that a borrowing of the words is not to be thought of. I say the words, for that Ezekiel had in mind the substance of Jeremiah 23:0, cannot be doubted. If then in Lamentations 2:14-15, we have quotations from Ezekiel, what is the inference with reference to the authorship of our Book by Jeremiah? In the prophetical book, even in the latest parts of it, we find no trace of the adoption of Ezekiel’s phraseology.15 If we detect this here, it must be conceded that Jeremiah might have received already some parts of Ezekiel’s Book before the whole was finished. Were the Jeremiac origin of the Lamentations established in other respects, then perhaps we could allow this particular matter to pass without question. But since the differences in language strongly shake that traditional opinion, we are obliged to say that a quotation from Ezekiel in the Lamentations argues rather against the opinion that Jeremiah wrote the Lamentations, than for it. See further below, under 2d general head of this section.
We are therefore compelled to decide that the tradition which has the Septuagint for its first representative rests on no solid foundation, and is in opposition especially to the philological characteristics of the book. But who then did write the Lamentations? We can take it for granted that the author must have been an eye-witness of the incidents related in his book. For he speaks with such warmth of feeling, with such clear insight and accurate knowledge of the events he narrates, that it is evident that he does not speak of matters learned at a distance and through others, but of those of which he has a direct personal knowledge and experience. Especially the last two chapters, which have a more prosaic character exactly reflecting the things as they actually were, are copious in details which seem to us to be copied from life. In chapter fourth the author, alluding to the humiliating sufferings of the people, in order to heighten the effect, describes the Israelites generally as the nobility of the nations, and then especially singles out the nobility of Israel, and contrasts their former with their present condition. Since he thus extols the nobility of his people, with manifest predilection, yes, enthusiasm (see Lamentations 4:7, comp. Lamentations 1:6, and remarks on those places), and since in this connection he says nothing at all of the culpability of those high in rank, which Jeremiah makes so eminently conspicuous (Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 5:5; Jeremiah 5:25-28; Jeremiah 23:1-2; Jeremiah 34:19; Jeremiah 37:0; Jeremiah 38:0; Jeremiah 44:17), but on the contrary, very decidedly blames the prophets and priests, as the causers of the misfortune (Lamentations 2:14; Lamentations 4:13-15), all this seems to indicate that our author belongs to the order of the שָׂירִם [the princes, or nobles].16 In this opinion we are strengthened when we read the description Lamentations 4:17-20, where the author so vividly and intelligently describes, as only an eye witness could, the king’s flight and his capture. He must therefore have been one of the king’s companions and belonged to his court. But he seems himself to have escaped capture. Else he had shared the fate of the other princes captured with the king, who according to Jeremiah 52:10, were put to death together at Riblah. Since he was not captured, neither could he have been transported, but must have joined himself to the company of those remaining in the land who afterwards fled to Egypt. Hence Lamentations 5:9-10 relate to his personal experience.
2. As regards the Time of Composition, chapter second at least must have been written after the book of Ezekiel was known: for vers. 14, 15 of that chapter presuppose Ezekiel 12:13, Ezekiel 12:21, Ezekiel 12:22, Ezekiel 12:27, consequently the first part of his writings (1–32) at least. These verses could not have been added at a later period, for they were necessary to the completeness of the alphabet from the first. Still less could the whole of the second chapter have been composed at a later period, for the whole work, based from beginning to end on its five-fold construction, was in fact made out of one casting. But when the first copy of Ezekiel’s writings may have reached Egypt, it is impossible to ascertain. We can only say this much, that the latest date mentioned in Ezekiel’s writings is the 27th year of Jechoniah’s captivity (Ezekiel 29:17). This refers us to the year 571 or 570 B. C., and consequently to a period about which time, according to the greatest probability, Jeremiah’s death occurred. For though we were obliged to show [in the Commentary on Jeremiah 52:31-34] that it was not absolutely impossible for Jeremiah to have lived till the year 561, B. C., yet this is only the extremest imaginable possibility. Much more likely is it that he lived only till about the year 570. See Intr. to Jeremiah, pp. 9, 12. But Ezekiel, even if he received his last revelation in the year 571–570, must after that have consumed some time in finishing the composition of his book, and more time still must have elapsed before a copy of his writings could come from Chebar to Egypt.17 Besides, is it credible that Jeremiah, in his old age and while suffering every affliction, wrote a book so artistic in its construction, and so full of sprightliness, as the Book of Lamentations is? It can as little be inferred from Lamentations 3:4, that the author was old, as it can from Lamentations 3:27, that he was young. But the freshness and vivacity with which the book is written, and the labor which it has cost, make it improbable that it was written by an aged man in the last stage of his vital powers.
3. That the five songs are the work of one and the same author, is evident from the following facts and considerations: (1.) The unity of the plan, proved above. (2) The thrice repeated initial word אֵיכָה, in Lamentations 1:1; Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 4:1. For it would be indeed remarkable in the highest degree, if different writers had begun their songs with precisely the same word. (3) The similarity of the language. Although verbal peculiarities occur, which distinguish the songs from each other, yet a common language prevails in all. In regard to the first point, the phrase אֵין מְנַחֵם occurs four times (Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 1:17; Lamentations 1:21) and רָחַק מְנַחֵם once (Lamentations 1:6) in the first chapter, and in no other; נֶאֱנָח three times (Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:8; Lamentations 1:11) and substantive אֲנַחָה once (Lamentations 1:22), and in no other chapter; &מַחְמָר מַחֲמֹד) three times in the first (vers. 7, 10, 11), once in the second chapter (ver. 4); כִּלַּע five times in the second chapter (vers. 2, 5 bis, 8, 16), and exclusively there; the same is true of עָטַף, which occurs three times, although in different forms, in Lamentations 2:0. (vers. 11, 12, 19); and יוֹם אַף occurs three times in Lamentations 2:0. (vers. 1, 21, 22), and only there. Each of the following words occurs twice in Lamentations 3:0, גָדַר (vers. 7, 9), רֹאשׁ (vers. 5, 19), אוֹחִיל (vers. 21, 24, comp. vers. 18, 26), חֲסָדִים (vers. 22, 32) סָכַךְ (vers. 43, 44), עִוֵּת and עַוָּתָה (vers. 36, 59). In Lamentations 4:0 לָמוֹ occurs twice (vers. 10, 15). In Lamentations 5:0 no similar repetition of characteristic expressions occurs. I believe that these more frequent repetitions in the first chapters are due to the more lavish expenditure of art, for which those chapters are remarkable. Not that these repetitions are themselves indications of art; they are rather the involuntary consequence of that constraint which an artificial style imposes upon the writer. As the Poet becomes better accustomed to the artificial form in Lamentations 3:0., these repetitions decrease in number.18 To the same cause we must ascribe the peculiarity that the Divine name אֲדֹנָי occurs only in the first three chapters. Up to the culmination point, which we recognize in the middle of Lamentations 3:0 (vers. 19–40), we find this Divine name, which belongs rather to grave and solemn discourse, thirteen times, and afterwards in the decrescendo passage it occurs only once (Lamentations 3:58).19 Apart from these repetitions in one and the same chapter, which prove nothing against the identity of the author, many characteristic expressions are repeated in several chapters, a fact which testifies that one and the same style, or habit of speaking, prevails throughout the whole Book. The following expressions thus occur. יָגָה, Lamentations 1:4-5; Lamentations 1:12, and Lamentations 3:32-33. עֳנִי, Lamentations 1:3; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:9, and Lamentations 3:1; Lamentations 3:19. עָנָה, deprimere, Lamentations 3:33, and Lamentations 5:11. זָנַח, Lamentations 2:7, and Lamentations 3:17; Lamentations 3:31. נְגִינָה, Lamentations 3:14; Lamentations 3:63, and Lamentations 5:14. לֹא חָמַל, Lamentations 2:2, Lamentations 2:17, Lamentations 2:21, and Lamentations 3:43. רֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת, Lamentations 2:19, and Lamentations 4:1. טוֹב (happy), Lamentations 3:26, and Lamentations 4:9. צַר (sing.), Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10, and Lamentations 4:12. הִכִּיט, Lamentations 1:11-12; Lamentations 3:63; Lamentations 4:16; and Lamentations 5:1. גִּלָּה עַל, Lamentations 2:14, and Lamentations 4:22. דָרָה, Lamentations 1:13, and Lamentations 5:17. שׁ, relat., Lamentations 2:15-16; Lamentations 4:9; and Lamentations 5:18. מוֹעֵד (place or time of a festivity), Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:15, and Lamentations 2:6-7; Lamentations 2:22. שׁוֹמֵם, Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:13; Lamentations 1:16, and Lamentations 3:11. מְרוּדִים, Lamentations 1:7, and Lamentations 3:19. חֵטְא, Lamentations 1:8, and Lamentations 3:39. עֹבְרֵי דֶדֶךְ, Lamentations 1:12, and Lamentations 2:15. &עוֹלֵל עוֹלַל), Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 1:22; Lamentations 2:20, and Lamentations 3:51. חֱמַרְמַר, Lamentations 1:20, and Lamentations 2:11. שׁוּב אָחוֹר, Lamentations 1:8, and Lamentations 2:3. &מַחְמָר מַֽהֲמֹד), Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10-11, and Lamentations 2:4. פָּצָה, Lamentations 2:16, and Lamentations 3:46. &פּוּגָה הֲפוּנוֹת), Lamentations 2:18, and Lamentations 3:49. לְחִי, Lamentations 1:2, and Lamentations 3:30. עָפָר, Lamentations 2:10 and Lamentations 3:29. נִשָּׂא לֵבָב, Lamentations 2:19, and Lamentations 3:41. I think that this comparison, which contains only those instances that are most apparent to the eye, strengthens the principal argument for the identity of the author of the several songs, which argument consists in the unity of the plan on which they are constructed.
§ 4. Literature
We have the Patristical Commentaries of Theodoret and Ephraem Syrus.—Jerome has not explained this Book. The short Tractatus in Jeremiæ Lamentationes, which is found under his name in the editions of his works, and which is nothing but a mystical interpretation of the alphabet, was composed, according to Ghisler., Sixtus Senensis and Bellarmine (see Ghisler., p. 5), by Rhabanus Maurus, according to Ballarsius and others (see Vallars. Tom. V. p. 1011), by the venerable Bede.—The book of Lamentations was held in high esteem by the Fathers. Gregory Nazianzen says of it (in his Orat. prima de pace, according to Ghisler., p. 4), “As often as I take this book into my hands, and am engaged in reading those Lamentations (whenever I do read it, I desire to be modest in the enjoyment of prosperity), my voice choked with emotion is lost, my eyes are filled with tears, and I seem to see the very calamity he describes and lament with him in his lamentations.” The alphabetical acrostic furnished rich material for allegorical interpretation. Thus Cassiodorus (explic. Psalms 24:0, in Ghisler., p. 3), says, “Jeremiah bemoaned the captivity of Jerusalem in a quadruple alphabetical Lamentation, indicating to us, by the sacrament of letters, the mysteries of celestial things.”—With respect to Rabbinical Commentators, we refer to those mentioned on the Prophet Jeremiah, to whom we must add Aben Ezra.—There is a Hebrew Commentary by M. Mendelsohn, on the five Megilloth, with the title אשׁכנזי ובאור חמשׁ מגלות עם תרגום, Wien, 1807.
Of later Christian Commentators we shall in general speak of such only as treat of this book alone. Paschasius Radertus, expositio in Lamentt. Jeremiæ, Colon., 1532, and other editions.—[Bullinger, Tigur., 1575.]—Petrus Figueiro, Comment. in Lamentt. Jer. et in Malachiam proph., Leyden, 1596.—[Calvin, Prolog. in Threnos.—Oecolampadius, Argent. 1558. Zuinglius, Lam 1544: are mentioned in Intr. Jer.—To this list Maldonatus should be added.]—Martini Del-Rio (a Jesuit), Comment. literalis in Threnos, Leyd., 1608.—Jo. a Jesu Maria, Lamentationum Jer. interpretatio, Neapl, 1608. Luc. Bacmeister, explicatio Threnorum, Rost., 1603.—Thren. Jer. latine vers. notisque expl. a J. H. Fattenborg, 1615 (diss. academ.).—[Peter Martyr, Tigur., 1629.]—Tarnov, Comment. in Thren., Rostock, 1642, Hamb., 1707.—[C. B. Michaelis, Notes in the Uberiores Adnot. in Hagiogr. U. T. Libros, by J. H. Michaelis and others, Vol. II., 1730.]—Joh. Theoph. Lessing, observations in Tristia Jerem., Lips., 1770.—Jeremia’s Klagegesänge, übersetzt und mit Anmm. von J. G. Börmel, mit einer Vorrede begleitet von Herder, Weimar, 1781.—J. F. Schleussner, curæ crit. et exeget. in Threnos Jeremiæ (in Eichhorn’s Repert. für bibl. und morgenl. Literatur., P. xii., Leipzig, 1783).—G. A. Horrer, neue Bearbeitung der Klagegesänge, Halle, 1784.—Jeremia’s Klagegesänge, übers. und mit. Anmm. von Joel Lœwe u. Aaron Wolfsohn, Berlin, 1790.—Pareau, Joh. Heinr., Threni Jer. philolog. et crit. illustr., Leyden, 1790.—[J. Hamon, Comm. sur les Lam. de Jérémie, Paris, 1790.—J. D. Michaelis, Obss. philol. et crit. in Jerem. Vaticinia et Threnos, Edidit et auxit J. F. Schleusner, Gotting., 1793 (see Intr. Jer.).—J. K. Volborth, Klagegesänge aufs neue übers., Celle, 1795.]—Joh. Otto, dissert. philolog. critica ad Thren. Jer. (præside C. F. Schnurrer), Tübing., 1795.—J. F. Gaab, Beiträge zur Erkl. des sog. H. Lieds, Kohelets und der Klagelieder, Tüb., 1795.—J. Melch. Hartmann, die Klagel. d. Jer. übers (in den Blumen althebr. Dichikunst v. Justi), Giessen, 1809.—[T. A. Dereser, Die Klagelieder u. Baruch, aus d. Hebr. u. Griech. übers. u. erklärt, Frankf. a. M., 1809.]—Die Elegien des Jerem. in griech. Versmass getreu übers. (von Welcker), Giessen, 1810.—Threnos Jer metrice reddidit notisque illustr., C. A. Björn, Havniæ, 1814.—G. Riegler, die Klagl. des. Proph. Jer. aus dem Hebr. in’s Deutsche übers. mit Anmm., Erlangen, 1814.—Franc. Erdmann, curarum exegetico-criticarum in Jer. Thren. specimen, Rostock, 1818.—C. P. Conz, die Klagl. d. Jer. (in Bengel’s Archiv., Bd. IV. S. 146 ff.), Tub., 1821.—Theod. Fritz, novi in Thr. Jer. Commentarii specimen, exegesin Cap. i. exhibens. Dissert. theol., Argent., 1825.—[E. F. C. Rosenmueller, Lat. trans. and notes in his Scholia in V. T. pars 8., Vol. ii., 1827. See Intr. Jer.]—Sporsen, Threni, etc., suethice cum adnott. philolog., Lund., 1828.—Goldwitzer, Uebersetz. mit Vergl. der Sept. und Vulg. und krit. Anmm., 1828.—[Maurer, notes in his Comm. gram. crit. in V. T., 1835, 691–708. See Intr. Jer.]—C. A. H. Kalkar, Lamentt. crit. et exeg. illustr., Hafniæ, 1836.—Wiedenfeld, Uebers., Elberfeld, 1838.—Tanchumi Hieros., commentarius arabicus in Lamentt. e cordice unico, Bodleiano ed. Cureton. London, 1843.—[A. Hetzel, Die Klagelieder in deutsche Liederform übertragen mit erkl. anmm. 1854.]—Thenius, im kurzges. exeg., Hdb., 1855. Vaihinger, 1857.—[Neumann, Jeremias u. Klagelieder, 1858.]—Die Thränenlieder des Proph. Jerem. Eine bibl. Studie von H. Beckh. In der Zeitschr. f. Prot. u. K. März, 1861. See the “Lebensbild des Proph. Jeremia,” attributed to the same author, in the Deutschen Zeitschr. f. Christl. Wiss. etc., 1859, Nr. 19–21.—Ewald in den Dichtern des A. B. Theil. i, zweite Hälfte, S. 321 ff., 1866—Die Klagel. Jer. übers. u. ausgel. v. Wilh. Engelhardt, Leipzig, Teubner, 1867.—[Die Klagelieder Jeremiä erklärt von Dr. Ernest Gerlach, Berlin, 1868. A very valuable commentary, published about the same time with this volume of Lange.—“Other translations which deserve mention here, but which embrace either the poetical books or the whole of the Old Testament, are those of Dathe, DeWette, Cahen, Meier, and H. A. Perret-Gentil (La Sainte Bible, Paris, 1866, publ. by the Société biblique protestante de Paris).” Smith’s Dict. Bible, Am. ed., art. “Lamentations;” note by “A.”—W. H. H.]
[English Translations and Commentaries. William Lowth, Commentary upon the Prophecies and Lamentations of Jeremiah, London, 1718, and Benjamin Blayney, Jeremiah and Lamentations. A new translation with notes critical, philological and explanatory, Oxford, 1784, are referred to by Dr. Naegelsbach, in the Introduction to Jeremiah’s Prophecies.—“Jeremy the Prophet, with the Song of Moses, translated by George Joye in the month of May. 8vo. 1534;”—“The Wailings (i.e. the Lamentations) of the Prophet Hierimiah, done into English verse by Geo. Drant, Lond., Thomas Marshe, Lam 1566:—The Lamentations of Jeremy with notes, by Hugh Broughton, no place, nor printer’s name, 4to, Lam 1608:” are mentioned in Clarke’s “Concise view of the succession of sacred Literature.” The last is preserved in “The works of the Great Albionean Divine, renowned in many nations for rare skill in Salem’s and Athens’ Tongues, and familiar acquaintance with all Rabbinical Learning, Mr. Hugh Broughton; collected into one volume, and digested into four Tomes. London, printed for Nath. Ekins, 1662.” The Preface, containing life of H. Broughton, is signed John Lightfoot. The translation is one of the first into English directly from the Hebrew, and is characterized by great simplicity and force, and an agreeable musical rhythm. The notes are curious, but of little exegetical value, and abruptly terminate with the sixth verse of the second chapter, as if the author tired of them, for he closes with this singular remark: “And further large commenting I shall not need. The learned in Ebrew upon a warning may by mine examples search how still from other holy writers Jeremy fetches his phrases.”—The very valuable Annotations of Westminster Assembly, contributed by John Gataker, about 1642.—Nearly the whole Book of Lamentations is “metrically analyzed and translated” in a work showing considerable knowledge of Hebrew and a very weak judgment, called Hebrew Criticism and Poetry, by George Somers Clarke, D.D., London, 1810.—“The Calvin Translation Society,” in Vol. V. of Calvin’s Commentaries, Edinburgh, 1855, have given us, besides the valuable Commentary on the Lamentations, a metrical version in English of Calvin’s Latin Version; the translator and editor, Rev. John Owen, Vicar of Thrussington, and rural Dean, Leicestershire, has added many notes of his own, and sometimes gives us a new translation from the Hebrew. The quotations from Calvin’s Commentary in the following pages, made by the present translator, are all taken from Owen’s translation, without reference to the original.—“The Holy Bible … now translated from corrected texts of the original Tongue, and with former translations diligently compared,… by B. Boothroyd, D.D.” London, 1853. Boothroyd in the translation of the Lamentations has copied too closely the translation of Blayney, which with all its excellencies, is often fanciful and sometimes rests on merely conjectural changes of the received text: Boothroyd affords little exegetical help in his brief notes, many of which are unmarked quotations from Blayney.—Deservedly better known is the translation from the original Hebrew and Commentary, by E. Henderson, D.D. London, 1851.—The “American Unitarian Association,” has furnished us with a new translation of Lamentations, with notes, by George R. Noyes, D.D., Vol. 2d of the Hebrew Prophets. 3d edition. Boston, 1866. The notes are good, but meagre and insufficient. The translation generally is marked by taste and good judgment, but sometimes indicates haste and absence of careful study.—The notes of Chr. Wordsworth, D.D., Bishop of Lincoln, in Vol. V., Part II., of his “Holy Bible, in the authorized version, with notes and introductions,” London, 1869, make us wish that they were more numerous and more extended.—W. H. H.]
Of Homiletical Treatises, should be mentioned the Conciones in Thren. Jer., by the Franciscan Joh. Wild (Ferus), Colon., 1570; but especially, the admirable and frequently found Seventeen Sermons, which were delivered by Egid. Hunnius, at that time Professor in Marburg, in the year 1585, at Frankenberg in Hesse, to which place the University was removed from time to time on account of the plague, and which were afterwards published under the title of “Die Klagelieder des h. Proph. Jer. ausgelegt u. erkl. zu Frankenberg, in 17 Predigten,” etc. First ed., 1588. I have the third edition: Frankfurt a. M, 1600.
ADDITIONAL REMARKS ON THE QUESTION OF AUTHORSHIP
By W. H. H.
The commonly received opinion that Jeremiah was the author of the Lamentations is sustained by the following considerations:
1. The presumptive probability that Jeremiah was the author is strong. Dr. Naegelsbach concedes its force (see p. 9).
Jeremiah survived the fall of the city long enough to have written this book. The authentic records of his history close with his residence among the Jewish fugitives in Tahpanhes, Egypt (Jeremiah 43:8). Whether we accept the early Christian tradition that “the Jews at Tahpanhes, irritated by his rebukes, at last stoned him to death” (Smith’s Bib. Dict.), or the report that he was “put to death by king Hophra” (Milman’s Hist. of the Jews); or adopt the more likely belief of the Jews, “that on the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, he with Baruch made his escape to Babylon or Judea and died in peace,” having lived to add the last words appended to his prophecies, Jeremiah 52:31-34 (see Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. “Jeremiah,” Stanley’s Jewish Church, Series 2d, p. 620),—it is at least certain, that Jeremiah survived the destruction of Jerusalem long enough to have written the Lamentations, which include historical facts not complete till after the death of Gedaliah and the flight to Egypt. Surviving, it is next to in credible, that he, the prophet of the destruction, should not be the author of this poem of lamentation over the great event and issue of his prophetical career. Who can read first his prophetical book and then this description of the city and the people after the destruction of the former, and not say,—if Jeremiah still lived, Jeremiah and no other was the painter of this picture, in which all the conspicuous figures are what his former writings would lead us to expect, which presents an exact fulfilment of all he predicted, and which so corresponds with the doctrine, facts and previsions, contained in the prophetical book, that when we turn from one to the other, it is difficult to say which picture is most like the reality,—which is the mirror that most accurately reflects the downfall of the State and the dispersion of the people! “The poems belong unmistakably to the last days of the kingdom, or the commencement of the exile. They are written by one who speaks, with the vividness and intensity of an eye-witness, of the misery which he bewails. It might almost be enough to ask, who else then living could have written with that union of strong passionate feeling and entire submission to Jehovah, which characterizes both the Lamentations and the Prophecy of Jeremiah?” (Smith’s Bib. Dict. art. Lament.). Who can believe that Jeremiah, after continuing to speak and write for God through a long life-time, so suddenly dropped the pen and remained silent and suffered a total eclipse from the splendor of an unknown author, to whose identity neither Scripture nor tradition give us the slightest clue?
2. The presumption that Jeremiah wrote the Lamentations is confirmed by the most decisive testimony of tradition.
Few historic facts are sustained by a tradition so ancient, so long undisputed and so generally received. The truthfulness of this tradition was never, we may say, seriously questioned till the middle of this century, when Ewald gave his verdict against it. Up to that time, with the exception of an anonymous writer in 1819, and the whimsical Von der Haardt in 1712, it was universally accepted by Jews and Christians. We trace it back through the Vulgate, the Syriac and the Septuagint versions, to the probable evidence of Hebrew MSS. earlier than the oldest of those versions (see note p 8). The existence of such Hebrew MSS is entirely probable. It is easier to account for the loss of what once were the connecting words between the Prophecies of Jeremiah and the Lamentations, by the transfer of the latter to the Hagiographa, than it is to explain the insertion of the words in the Septuagint and their reproduction, with additions and changes, in the Vulgate, if they never existed in Hebrew originals. It is impossible to suppose that the Septuagint translators inserted in the text a mere presumption of their own, “derived from the book itself,” as Dr. Naegelsbach suggests. If it could be proved that they did not find these words in Hebrew MSS., we must believe that they received them through written or oral tradition, that had descended to them from earlier ages and was, in their times, universally accepted and undisputed. It is not credible that such a tradition could have been founded in error. When and how could an error, in reference to the authorship of this book, have come into universal acceptation previous to the translation by the Seventy? It is asserted that other writings, of unknown authorship, were attributed by the Jews to Jeremiah (Smith’s Bib. Dict.; Stanley’s Jewish Ch.). But there is no evidence of their having attributed to him a canonical book, that had always been esteemed canonical, and had never been lost sight of or forgotten. There is reason to believe that this book was highly valued by the exiled Jews, and was in their possession on their return from captivity (Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. Lam.). From that time to the time of the translation of the LXX., the Jews, cured of idolatry, cherished their sacred Scriptures and especially revered the memory and the words of the prophet Jeremiah. During this long period, we can fix upon no point of time, when the true history of this extraordinary book could have been lost, when the brilliant name of its real author could have lapsed into oblivion, or when the fable could have been fabricated, that was destined to be universally accepted as a historic truth, that Jeremiah was that author.
3. The facts related or referred to in the book render it certain that Jeremiah wrote the book.
We have already ascertained that he lived long enough after the events alluded to had happened, to have written about them. We have also intimated that the topics discussed or suggested in the Lamentations are exactly what we would expect to find in a writing of Jeremiah’s, composed after the destruction of Jerusalem. To this we now add, that the assumption that the Lamentations were written by one, who had been both a spectator of the events described and a participator in those events, points directly to Jeremiah as the probable author of the book. This assumption, indeed, is not inevitable; for not all graphic descriptions of events are written by those who participated in them: what eye-witness, for example, could bring the reader more immediately into the presence of actors and scenes far remote from the writer, than Dean Stanley, who has given us his eloquent version of the same incidents in Jewish history? But granting the assumption in the present instance, who could have been a more authentic writer of the facts contained in the Book of Lamentations, than the prophet Jeremiah? Or what great event is described in that Book, that was not witnessed and participated in by the prophet Jeremiah? Dr. Naegelsbach suggests only one possible exception; he would infer, from the description of the flight from Jerusalem and the pursuit and capture of the king and the princes, that the author of Lamentations was a companion of the king and one of the princes of the court. To this we answer; 1st. There is no intimation that even one of those princes escaped the slaughter at Riblah “and the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah.” 2d. There is absolutely nothing, in the brief allusion in the Lamentations to the flight and capture of the king, that indicates that it was written by a companion of the king. The only possible reference to this tragical incident is contained in two verses, Lam 4:19-20.20 The 19th verse,—“Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven; they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness,”—is in no sense personal to the writer, nor is its application to be restricted to the king and his army; but is spoken with reference to the whole people, as the preceding verses show, and refers to the rapid pursuit of all fugitives from the city, whether they endeavored, like the king, to find safety in the mountains of Jericho or the wilderness of Judea, or in any other mountains or wildernesses in the vicinity of the doomed city. The first member of Lamentations 4:20,—“the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits,”—simply states the fact of the king’s capture, without any incidental detail, such as would indicate a description of the event by an eye-witness; and the second member of this verse,—“of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen,”—is the language of the people generally, not of the companions of the king only, for the desire of the nation doubtless was, that their king should escape to some place of security, even among the heathen, whither they might follow him, and where they might gather around him and perpetuate their monarchy and nationality. There is, then, nothing in these two verses to embarrass the conclusion that Jeremiah wrote the Lamentations.
Having shown that there is nothing in this Book involving the personal experience and observation of the author, that renders it impossible for Jeremiah to have been that author, we come now to the fact, that there is much in this Book which belongs peculiarly and exclusively to the personal history of that prophet. This is especially true of the third chapter or song. Here we clearly have the prophet Jeremiah speaking to us. Dr. Naegelsbach himself is compelled to acknowledge this. But he says that the writer of the Book personifies the prophet and puts these words into his mouth. Who can believe this? Who could justify the sudden intrusion of a new speaker into such a finished composition, without a hint, either preceding or following his soliloquy, as to his name, rank, or official position? Who would imagine that any intelligent author would attempt such an abrupt assumption of another man’s personality? Who can believe in the possibility of such a complete identification between an author and a character dramatically introduced into his poem? Either Jeremiah wrote the whole poem, or he wrote no part of it. If he wrote the whole, the 3d chapter, beginning with the words “I am the man that hath seen affliction,” is natural, lucid and appropriate. If Jeremiah did not write the poem, this third chapter is certainly intended to deceive us into the belief that he did. Otherwise, it is an anomaly and solecism in literature, that no reputable writer could be guilty of. The argument that a modest man would not make himself the central object in his own poem, is of no force; especially when we remember that the poet is also the prophet of Jehovah, and not only on that account a representative man, but a living prophecy in his own life, as Hosea was. Besides, the argument may be offset by another consideration, that a poet, as skilful as the author of Lamentations was, would not leave us to guess who the central figure of his poem is, by the mere accidental coincidences of historical details. Indeed, we find in this absence of his name and titles the best evidence, that the modest Jeremiah was himself the author; for if another had written the Book, he would have had every inducement to tell us, that the great and holy prophet Jeremiah was the speaker in this 3d Song. The whole argument for modesty, however, is greatly overstrained, and receives no support from the free and frank way in which Jeremiah speaks of himself in his prophecies.
4. Characteristics and similarities of style add still further evidences to the fact that Jeremiah wrote the Lamentations.
Arguments derived from style are precarious. The investigations into the authorship of Junius admonish us that the most astute critics may be deceived, and that it is possible for an author to excel himself in one single production beyond the recognition of his most intimate and sagacious friends. In the present instance, we encounter the difficulty of determining what are the general characteristics of Jeremiah’s style. Till the critics decide this point, the question whether the Lamentations harmonize with his style must be demurred. “Jerome complained of a certain rusticity in Jeremiah’s style,” an idea that Naegelsbach seems to accept (See p. 12. Sermo incultus et pene subrusticus.)21 Lowth confesses that he can discover no vestige of this rusticity, he thinks that in several of his prophecies he “approaches very near the sublimity of Isaiah,” he regards Ezekiel as “much inferior to Jeremiah in elegance” (Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, Gregory’s translation, II., pp. 88, 89). Lowth also compares him to Simonides; and Seb. Schmidt compares him to Cicero (Smith, Bib. Die, Art., Jeremiah). Bishop Wordsworth, speaking of him as “peculiarly the prophet of the affections,” calls him “the Euripides—and more than the Euripides—of the Hebrew canon” (Introduction to Jeremiah, p. xv.).—There is again a conflict of opinion in regard to the merits of the Lamentations as a work of art and taste. Ewald speaks of it slightingly as possessing some merit. Noyes almost reproduces Ewald’s language, when he says, “The Lamentations are, indeed, possessed of considerable merit in their way, but still betray an unpoetic period and degenerated taste” (Introduction to Psalms, p. 48). On the other hand, Naegelsbach accords the highest place to the Book as a work of art, and regards its production as far above and beyond the ability of the uncultured and almost rustic Jeremiah. He is certainly right in his appreciation of the style of the Lamentations, and many of the best judges of style agree with him. “Never was there a more rich and elegant variety of beautiful images and adjuncts, arranged together within so small a compass, nor more happily chosen and applied” (Lowth, De Sac. Poes. Heb. Prælect. XXII. Kitto, Cyc. Bib. Lit.). “Never did city suffer a more miserable fate, never was ruined city lamented in language so exquisitely pathetic. Jerusalem is, as it were personified, and bewailed with the passionate sorrow of private and domestic attachment: while the more general pictures of the famine, the common misery of every rank, and age, and sex, all the desolation, the carnage, the violation, the dragging away into captivity, the remembrance of former glories, of the gorgeous ceremonies, and the glad festivals, the awful sense of the Divine wrath heightening the present calamities, are successively drawn with all the life and reality of an eye-witness. They combine the truth of history with the deepest pathos of poetry” (Milman, Hist. of Jews, vol. I. B. viii. p. 260). Before we leave this matter of the general characteristics of the style of Jeremiah’s prophecies and of the style of the Lamentations, we would repeat an assertion already made, that there must be, in the nature of the case, great diversity between “the oratorical prose” (as Bishop Wordsworth calls it) of the one22 and the rhythmical lyrical poetry of the other.
The acrostic structure of the Lamentations is regarded as a peculiarity of style that Jeremiah would not have adopted. “De Wette maintains (Comment, über die Psalm, p. 56) that this acrostic form of writing was the outgrowth of a feeble and degenerate age, dwelling on the outer structure of poetry when the soul had departed. His judgment as to the origin and character of the alphabetic form is shared by Ewald (Poet. Büch., I., p. 140). It is hard, however, to reconcile this estimate with the impression made on us by such Psalms as the 25th and 34th; and Ewald himself, in his translation of the Alphabetic Psalms and the Lamentations, has shown how compatible such a structure is with the highest energy and beauty” (Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. Lament., n. g.). The modern acrostic—the spelling out of words or sentences in the initial letters of rhymed verses—is justly regarded as a species of literary trifling, pleasing only to a fanciful, finical or puerile taste. If the alphabetical acrostic of the Hebrews is also to be regarded as belonging merely to the curiosities of literature, the chief or whole merit of the production consisting in the acrostic itself, or derived from the difficulties to be overcome, an exhibition of literary acrobatism—poetry on an alphabetical tight-rope,—then we may condemn it as an evidence of vitiated taste, and should regard it as beneath the dignity of any inspired writer, and especially of such a glorious and venerable prophet as Jeremiah was. But we find on examination, that these alphabetical Hebrew poems have great merit, aside from their acrostic form, which they retain when stripped of that form, as they are in our modern translations. This and the fact that this form was ever adopted by inspired writers, lead us to the conclusion that the Hebrew alphabetical acrostic must have served a far higher purpose than our modern acrostics do. It is not impossible that it may have belonged to the highest art of ancient Hebrew poetry, though we, now, may not be able to appreciate all the excellencies an ancient Hebrew might have discerned in this species of writing.23 Without doubt it had mnemonic advantages and also served the purpose of an artificial vinculum for thoughts and sentences having no close logical connection. But we cannot accept the opinion that these were its only or even its chief recommendations.24 Jeremiah might have been influenced by the first reason in adopting this style in the Lamentations: but the other could hardly have influenced him, for the Lamentations are not composed of thoughts and sentences loosely connected, as has been too often asserted, needing to be strung together by this alphabetical artifice; on the contrary there is a very close logical connection and a consecutive flow of thought in these poems, and that this is not always apparent is owing to this very alphabetical structure, which sometimes breaks up and interrupts the sense, and is in this respect an actual hinderance to the natural and proper connection of sentiment and expression. It is, therefore, impossible that Jeremiah chose it for the purpose of supplying by artificial means the lack of logical connection in the subject matter of his poem. He must have been influenced by other considerations. What were they? We can, we think, specify three reasons, any one of which would justify his adoption of this style, and all of which probably combined in determining the external structure of this exquisite poem. 1. The assistance afforded by this alphabetical structure in maintaining the rhythmical parallelism of the poem. The parallelism of the Lamentations, as may be seen at a glance, is not the usual parallelism of thought and sentiment, so characteristic of Hebrew poetry: but it is strictly the parallelism of rhythm (see Noyes, Introduction to Psalms, pp. 43–46). “The simply rhythmical parallelism holds the most prominent place in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Here the parallelism of thoughts is to be reckoned almost among the exceptions, and when it does occur, it is, for the most part, the subordinate parallelism of a member by itself; in general, the rhythm alone predominates, and that too with a regularity which is rare among Hebrew poets, producing here a suitable effect, namely, monotony of complaint” (Noyes, ib., p. 45). This rhythm consists in dividing each verse into three members in Lamentations 1:2, Lamentations 1:3, into two members in Lamentations 4:0, and in making each verse of chapter 5 consist of one member, and in balancing each member with a cæsura, “which coincides with the sense and the accent,” though “we are sometimes under the necessity of abandoning the accents, because they follow the sense, while the rhythm is independent of the sense” (Noyes). This peculiar construction gives to the Hebrew original “that conciseness and brevity” which, as Henderson remarks (Introduction, p. 277), it is impossible to exhibit in a translation. But rhythmical parallelism, as Noyes observes, “is too loose a form to retain an exuberant matter without passing over into the prosaic style.” This is to be guarded against. In the absence of the parallelism of thoughts and sentiments, how shall the writer distinguish his poetry from mere prose composition, in which rhythm often occurs without constituting poetry? To meet the difficulty, the advantage of the artificial restraint of the alphabetical structure is obvious. At equal periods, both writer and reader are reminded, in the absence of parallel thoughts, that the rhythmical parallelism is ended, and is to begin anew. Thus the writer is checked and curbed and saved from the fault of an inelegant redundancy of expression, while the reader is instructed to observe the proper inflections and to expect some new change of thought or expression. If the original was written without points, as doubtless it was, we can readily apprehend how almost necessary some such artificial help to correct writing and reading, as this alphabetical structure afforded, may have been. It is not impossible that the poem, as originally written, could not have been intelligibly read, without great difficulty, but for this artificial and alphabetical arrangement. 2. This artificial structure gives to the Poem an expression of unity and completeness. The five songs, each of twenty-two verses, four of them alphabetically arranged, the middle one repeating the alphabet three times, the last one, not alphabetical, but short, rapid and metrical, compose a symmetrical whole, that would be vitiated by any structural change whatever. Even through the eye, this external form, when clearly written, must have conveyed to the mind a conviction that the five Songs composed one poem. The visual effect was an aid to the intellectual apprehension of the design and spiritual purport of the poem. It is one, and only one.25 The architectural idea suggested by Naegelsbach is thus perfected, a temple rising to the crowning dome supported by the well proportioned columns that rest on a common foundation. Or we may imagine our poem a Jacob’s ladder, each golden round of which is denoted by a letter; as this ladder rises from earth to heaven, the separate steps, at first wide apart, grow closer together, and then their distinctive marks are lost to sight and we can only see that the top of the ladder is overshadowed with the glory of God amidst the clouds of incense of prayer and adoration. These illustrations, if deemed over fanciful, may yet serve to show how the alphabetical structure of the poem assists our conception of it as a whole, binds together its separate parts and gives it the expression of unity and completeness. 3. The alphabetical structure was a mechanical assistance to the writer, helping him to curb and control his own emotions and check the ebullitions of violent and turbulent grief. This is the view taken by the author of the article on Lamentations in Dr. Wm. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible. He says, “the choice of a structure so artificial as that which has been described above, may at first sight appear inconsistent with the deep intense sorrow of which it claims to be the utterance. Some wilder, less-measured rhythm would seem to us to have been a fitter form of expression. It would belong, however, to a very shallow and hasty criticism to pass this judgment. A man true to the gift he has received will welcome the discipline of self-imposed rules for deep sorrow as well as for other strong emotions. In proportion as he is afraid of being carried away by the strong current of feeling, will he be anxious to make the laws more difficult, the discipline more effectual. Something of this kind is traceable in the fact that so many of the master-minds of European literature have chosen, as the fit vehicle for their deepest, tenderest, most impassioned thoughts, the complicated structure of the sonnet; also in Dante’s selection of the terza rima for his vision of the unseen world. What the sonnet was to Petrarch and to Milton, that the alphabetic verse system was to the writers of Jeremiah’s time, the most difficult among the recognized forms of poetry, and yet one in which (assuming the earlier date of some of the [alphabetical] Psalms … ) some of the noblest thoughts of that poetry had been uttered. We need not wonder that he should have employed it as fitter than any other for the purpose for which he used it.” Bishop Wordsworth gives the same reason why Jeremiah adopted this form. “Like persons of strong emotions, he trembles at the power of his own passions, and resorts to mechanical helps, which may employ his attention, and may save him from being overcome by his feelings, and swept away by the strong tide and current of the violent impetuosity of his passions. As an Alpine traveller, skirting the sharp edge of a precipice, is not unthankful for the wooden hand-rail which runs along it, and by which he supports his steps if his eyes become dizzy at the sight of the dark deep gulf and the foaming cataract below him, so Jeremiah does not disdain to lean on artificial supports in the most vehement outbursts of his emotions. His Lamentations amid the ruins of Jerusalem are the most impassioned utterances of Hebrew poetry; and the alphabetical arrangement of the stanzas, which at first sight may seem to be a rigid mechanical device, was doubtless designed, not only as a help to the memory of his Hebrew fellow-countrymen, who would recite them in their captivity and dispersion, but also to be a stay and support to himself in his own vehement agitations” (Introduction to Jeremiah, p. xv.).
The vigor and vivacity of style have been urged as a reason why Jeremiah could not, in his old age, have composed the Lamentations. These we are told reveal a young man. The expression in Lamentations 3:27 is appealed to as a plausible evidence that the writer was young. This sage observation, however, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth,” is certainly the grave, mature reflection of an old man. The young are not apt to appreciate the benefits of affliction. It is the old man of long experience and long observation, who looking backward, as it is the habit of old men to do, discerns the wholesome discipline there was in the sorrows and trials of earlier years. In this very verse, therefore, as in the whole book, we recognize the tone and spirit of an aged man;—of a man who has, in fact, left hope in regard to the things of this world behind him, and exchanged it for a sublime faith in the fulfilment of Divine purposes and promises in a future that lies beyond the terminus of his own individual life-time,—such faith as bought the field in Anathoth, when the prophet was fully persuaded that he himself would derive no benefit from it.—But it is not certain that Jeremiah had arrived at an extreme old age when the Book of Lamentations was written In the thirteenth year of Josiah, he speaks of himself as “a child.” He may have been then as young as was Samuel, when he was called to the prophetical office, in which case Jeremiah would have been not more than fifty-three years of age when Jerusalem was destroyed. But had he been twenty years old in the thirteenth year of Josiah, he would have been just over sixty at the destruction of Jerusalem, and in the very prime of intellectual and moral vigor.—But granting the possibility that he might have been seventy or eighty years of age, or even older, it should not surprise us, that he, the prophet of God, writing by inspiration of the Spirit of God, should produce a book which is confessedly written with a mental force unabated and a versatility of genius unimpaired. Nor would it be “by any means a singular instance of a richer and mellower imagination at the close of life, than during its morning or its meridian. This for example was remarkably the case with the magnificent Burke.” The writer just quoted, speaking of the Book of Ecclesiastes and its aged author, says: “Solomon, at the close of his life here hived up the wisdom of past years for our instruction. * * The setting of the sun of the great Master of wisdom, whom God Himself made chief of learned men, threatened indeed to be enveloped with dark clouds, but its rays broke nobly forth before it passed below the horizon, and upon those clouds are painted the rich hues of mingled imagination and philosophy” (Pres. Quart. Review, Jan. 1861, Art. IV., p. 462). Jeremiah, too, at the close of life, compressed the spirit and the teachings of all his prophecies into one wondrous poem, excelling all he had before written in the vigor of its conception, and force, beauty and pathos of its expression. His life and his ministry had been like a stormy day. But that day was not abruptly ended, as was threatened, in the dark night of Jerusalem’s destruction. For him there remained a protracted evening twilight, comparatively calm and tranquil, though sorrowful always and perturbed with some fitful returns of stormy experiences, as the animosities of Egyptians and Israelites against him, provoked by his prophecies in Tahpanhes, indicate (see Jeremiah 43, 44): and in these chastened hours, before his life finally dissolved in tears, his genius gathered into one harmonious composition, the spirit and truth of his eloquent prophecies, to remain for ever the crown and glory of his ministry in the church of God.
We have shown that there is nothing in the style of the Lamentations incompatible with the belief that Jeremiah was their author. We are now to exhibit the evidences of certain similarities of style between Jeremiah’s Prophecies and the Lamentations, which confirm our belief that both Books were the production of one author. 1. The individual temperament of Jeremiah, as evinced in his acknowledged writings, was precisely that of the elegiac poet of the Lamentations; occupied with the present and actual, rather than given to discursive flights into the regions of the distant and possible; sensitive, quick in susceptibility; ready to express his emotions and never concealing them, revealing “unreservedly the secret recesses and inmost working of his own heart” (Wordsworth); passionate in his grief, and prone to linger among the causes of his sorrow and brood over them and harp upon them; and tender-hearted towards others and sympathetic, throwing himself “unhesitatingly into the condition of those to whom he speaks” (Wordsworth). 2. The religious characteristics of Jeremiah reappear in the Lamentations. The same disposition to hold both God and the people firm to covenant engagements: the habit of tracing suffering to sin: the quick discernment of punishment, past or coming, on Jew and Gentile. What has been said of Jeremiah with reference to his prophecies, may be affirmed of the author of the Lamentations: “the Religion, the Monarchy and the other Institutions of his country, seem to be absorbed and concentrated in him; and his own individuality is lost in sympathy with them. His prophetic sternness is a consequence of the intensity of his zeal for the glory of the God of Israel, and of his love for the People of the Lord” (Wordsworth, Intr. Jer., p. 15). 3. The following general “marks of style” have been indicated (see Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. Jeremiah) as characteristic of his prophetic writings, all of which are manifest, some of them very distinctly, in his Lamentations. Reminiscences and reproductions of what earlier prophets had written. Influences on his mind of the newly discovered law, and especially of the Book of Deuteronomy. A tendency to reproduce himself—to repeat in nearly the same words the great truths which affected his own heart, and which he wished to impress on the hearts of others. Analogies drawn “not from the region of the great and terrible, but from the most homely and familiar incidents (Deuteronomy 13:1-11; Deuteronomy 18:1-10).” 4. It is a striking peculiarity of Jeremiah, which we find repeated in the Lamentations, that the future deliverance of Israel is set forth under the form of the destruction of their enemies. Thus elegies, 1, 3 and 4, end with predictions of the punishment of hostile nations, where we would expect an announcement of deliverance and salvation for Israel. Turn now to the prophecies of Jeremiah and read his predictions against Egypt (46), Philistia (47), Moab (48), Ammon, Edom, Syria, Kedar, Hazor, Elim (49), and Babylon (50, 51). Do we not recognize the same prophetical spirit, and the same peculiar, characterististic recognition of the heathen nations in their “typical character, as representatives of various kinds of enmity against the church of Christ” (Wordsworth, Intr. Jer., p. xiii.), so that their humiliation or destruction is tantamount to the glory and deliverance of the people of God? 5. Incidental evidences of the identity of the author of Jeremiah’s prophecies and of the Lamentations, in many minute points of resemblance.—“As in the Prophecies of Jeremiah, so here, the causes of the exile of the people, and of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, are represented to be the vices and crimes of the covenant people (compare Lamentations 1:5; Lamentations 1:8; Lamentations 1:14; Lamentations 1:22; Lamentations 3:39; Lamentations 3:42; Lamentations 4:6; Lamentations 4:22; Lamentations 5:16, with Jeremiah 13:22; Jeremiah 13:26; Jeremiah 14:7; Jeremiah 16:10-12; Jeremiah 17:1-3), their guilty reliance on false prophets and profligate priests (comp. Lamentations 2:14; Lamentations 4:13-15, with Jeremiah 2:7-8; Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 23:11-40; Jeremiah 27:0. etc.), their false confidence of security in Jerusalem (comp. Lamentations 4:12, with Jeremiah 7:4-15), their vain hope of the assistance of weak and perfidious allies (comp. Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:19; Lamentations 4:17, with Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:36; Jeremiah 30:14; Jeremiah 37:5-10), Haev. Einl., S. 515” (Keil, Einleitung in A. T., § 127, p. 379).—“In both” (the prophecies of Jeremiah and the Lamentations) “we meet once and again, with the picture of the ‘virgin daughter of Zion,’ sitting down in her shame and misery (Lamentations 1:15; Lamentations 2:13; Jeremiah 14:17). In both there is the same vehement outpouring of sorrow. The prophet’s eyes flow down with tears (Lamentations 1:16; Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 3:48-49; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17). There is the same haunting feeling of being surrounded with fears and terrors on every side (Lamentations 2:22; Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 46:5). In both the worst of all the evils is the iniquity of the prophets and priests (Lamentations 2:14; Lamentations 4:13; Jeremiah 5:30-31; Jeremiah 14:13-14). The sufferer appeals for vengeance to the righteous Judge (Lamentations 3:64-66; Jeremiah 11:20). He bids the rival nations that exulted in the fall of Jerusalem prepare for a like desolation (Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 49:12)” (Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. Lamentations).—Besides undeniable repetitions, there are many similarities of thought and structure. There are passages in the Lamentations that seem Jeremiah-like, echoes and suggestions of his prophecies, though we cannot always connect them with any particular utterance of that Prophet. Sometimes, again, the one distinctly and promptly suggests and recalls the others. For example. In Lamentations 1:20, “Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress; my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me,” and in Lamentations 2:11, “my bowels are troubled within me, my liver is poured upon the earth,” we recognize the man of whom it has been said—with reference to Jeremiah 4:19, “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me”—“through the chambers of his innermost heart there is a shudder” (Ewald, quoted by Stanley). Lamentations 2:14, aside from its verbal similarities, could only have been written by the author of Jeremiah 23:36-38. The same clarion voice that rung out the cry as if from the ramparts of Babylon in Jeremiah 51:12, is heard resounding from the broken walls of Jerusalem in Lamentations 2:17. He who arrested himself on the very verge of a criminal despair, when he wrote Lamentations 3:18 (see the Commentary), surely had in his mind the words he had before written in Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 20:7. And the author of Lamentations 3:10,—“He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places,”—was only, in imagination transferring to himself that perilous position, in which he had with grief and horror contemplated “the struggles of the expiring kingdom of Judah, like those of a hunted animal,—now flying, now standing at bay, between two huge beasts of prey, which, whilst their main object is to devour each other, turn aside from time to time to snatch at the smaller victim that has crossed their midway path.”
5. Last of all, and most conclusive as a rebutting argument to Dr. Naegelsbach’s assertion, we have the striking verbal analogies between these two books. But now we come into direct collision with Dr. Naegelsbach’s assertion, that the language is not the language of Jeremiah.
It would be a stronger argument to say that Jeremiah did not write Lamentations, because it introduces a great many thoughts and ideas not contained in his prophecies, than it is to urge the appearance of new words, or of old words in new combinations, not found in his prophecies. For it is notorious that men of letters have greater command of language than of thoughts, greater versatility in expressing the same thought in different words, than of infusing original ideas into old words. But Dr. Naegelsbach has succeeded in making his argument very imposing and formidable in appearance at least, by spreading out upon his pages a long list of assumed variations in language between Jeremiah’s prophecies and the Lamentations. Only ten verses in the whole book have escaped his acute criticism, the results of which are all displayed to full advantage. While the patient labor evinced by this minute catalogue is to be commended, the reader will feel that Dr. Naegelsbach might have spared him the almost equal labor of entering into all the details of the work of investigation, by classifying its results under a few general heads. Had he done so, his pages would have presented to the eye at least, a less startling array of facts and instances,—but he himself might have discovered, in the process of generalization, that those facts and instances are more apparent to the eye than they are to the understanding. In reviewing this catalogue we ought, first of all, to remember that great differences in style and language, between two such books as the prophecies of Jeremiah and the Lamentations, even if the productions of one author, were to be expected; and then, secondly, we should inquire, whether the differences that do exist are such as are compatible, according to the rules of a just criticism, with their being the productions of one author. With regard to the first point, we should observe, that the prophecies, for the most part, have somewhat of the character of unpremeditated, extemporaneous effusions, designed to produce an immediate effect on the hearts and consciences of the king, the princes, priests, prophets and people. Therefore they were expressed in the common colloquial words, idioms and phrases of daily life. These prophetical deliverances often assumed the forms and diction of poetry. But it was the poetry of the orator, rather than of the writer. Eloquence always is poetical. This is especially true of oriental eloquence. But its poetry is the expression of impassioned thoughts in language imaginative and ornate, spontaneously and unconsciously falling into harmonious cadences, that with us who speak the English language grow into rhythmical periods, but with the Hebrews passed into parallelisms and regularly constructed sentences, divided by cesuras and accents into parts corresponding more or less accurately in length. Such is the poetry we find in the prophecies of Jeremiah; touching our hearts by their pathos, as in the weeping Rachel, refusing to be comforted, or in the plaintive cry, Is there no balm in Gilead, no physician there? or in the outburst of his own grief, when he exclaims, “Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people;” again delighting us with beautiful imagery, as by the heath in the desert, the wayfaring man, the athlete wearied by the footmen before he contends with the horses; or overwhelming us with the grandeur and sublimity of his conceptions, as in chapter fourth, where he depicts “the tokens attesting the forthcoming of the Lord to vengeance. Chaos comes again over the earth. Darkness covers the heavens. The everlasting mountains tremble. Man disappears from below and the birds fly from the darkened air. Cities become ruins, and the fruitful places wildernesses, before the advancing anger of the Lord. Byron’s Darkness is a faint copy of this picture,—it is an inventory of horrible circumstances, which seem to have been laboriously culled and painfully massed up. Jeremiah performs his task with two or three strokes; but they are strokes of lightning” (Gilfillan: Bards of the Bible). Jeremiah’s Prophecies contain much real poetry, not only such in virtue of intensity of feeling and vividness of illustrative description, but in virtue of the parallelisms and alternating sentences, which mark Hebrew poetry as distinctly as rhythm and rhyme do English poetry. Even unpoetic translators have felt compelled to give it the external garb of poetry, by marking its periods with lines, though some, like our own lamented Dr. J. Addison Alexander, have ineffectually protested against ever arraying Hebrew in these modern vestments. But, after all, the poetry of Jeremiah’s Prophecies is the production of a Hebrew orator, rather than of a Hebrew writer. The fourth chapter, for instance, from which the description of the coming judgment is taken, was a fervent address to the people, designed to stir them up to repentance. It was a sermon, an exhortation, a prophetic message from God to His Church. Its poetical features were incidental to its impassioned style. The same remarks will apply to all the poetical portions of the Book; and much of the Book is undeniably simply prose, historical or ethical. Throughout he seeks, not poetical, but oratorical effect. He speaks, not as the poet, but as the preacher. Unlike the Prophecies, the Lamentations are in the strictest sense a poem. This poem was composed in circumstances very different from those in which the Prophecies were produced, and for a very different purpose. The prophet-preacher and orator had fulfilled his unsuccessful mission and retired in a measure from public view. He was in exile with that portion of his countrymen who had fled to Egypt. Here he, who had passed the whole of the former part of his life amidst the excitements and agitations of events more critical and important than any that had occurred in the history of the Jews since they entered on possession of the promised land, now in his old age experienced comparative quiet and leisure. There were, it is true, sorrow and suffering enough around him. The fifth chapter of the Lamentations affords hints of these, and the first chapter tells us how “the pursuers overtook them in the straits.” Yet life in that Egyptian exile was stagnation compared with the turbulent history of the prophet’s former years. The venerable and broken-hearted man had time now for careful composition. He improved the melancholy hours in the production of a lyrical poem, in which his object was, not as in his prophecies, to produce some immediate effect upon his countrymen, but to publish to the world such a description of God’s judgments on Israel, as should redound to the glory of God and convey lessons of wisdom and piety to the Church in all time to come. Everything in this poem shows premeditation and pains-taking in the execution, such as we might expect of the prophet in the circumstances in which he was placed. He imposed upon himself the most artificial rules then practised by the writers of poetry, either by his own preference, or to adapt his poem to the prevailing tastes of the Hebrew people. The initial letters of the verses were to be alphabetically arranged, and in the middle chapter or song the alphabet was to be thrice repeated by giving the same initial letter to every clause of each verse; each verse of the first three chapters was to consist of three periods, or members, the fourth chapter of two, and the fifth of one, agreeing externally with what Dr. Naegelsbach has described, in musical terms, as a crescendo and decrescendo movement; and each period or member of a verse was to be composed of two parts, clearly marked, both to the mind and ear, by a pause. These were the rules or laws of composition adopted. Yet these artificial restraints were to be so managed that they should not interrupt the continuity of thought, prevent harmony of expression, or destroy the unity that should characterize the five songs as the component parts of one perfect poem. To fulfil all these requirements, a careful choice of words and phrases was imperative. Deliberation was necessary at every step. And the Poet must go beyond the resources of his accustomed dialect and habit of speaking and writing, and cull from the whole Hebrew language the words, idioms and expressions that best suited his purpose. The result inevitably was the occurrence in this poem of a phraseology that is nowhere else found, either in the prophecies of the same author, or in any other single Book of the Holy Bible. How could it be otherwise? We think, therefore, that it ought to be assumed and granted, as a foregone conclusion, that the Lamentations, even if written by Jeremiah, should contain words, phrases, and turns of thought expressed by a novel use of words, nowhere produced in his book of prophecies. Granting this, we are next to ask, whether the verbal differences between the prophecies of Jeremiah and the Lamentations are of such a character as to compel us to the decision that they could not be the productions of the same author? For a full answer to this question, we must refer to the remarks made upon these verbal differences, as they occur, in the following commentary. But a sufficient answer is contained in the statement, that all these differences may be explained, consistently with the presumption that Jeremiah is the author of this book, by a due consideration of the following rules, or laws of construction. In the application of these rules, frequent reference will be made to the poems of Shakspeare compared with his plays. The choice of these poems for this purpose is induced by the fact that Mrs. Clark’s Concordance to Shakspeare’s Plays enables us to detect what is new and peculiar in his poems as compared with his plays. Time has not allowed a full examination of these poems. Only some thirty verses of the two larger poems, “Venus and Adonis,” and “Tarquin and Lucrece,” have been subjected to a rapid investigation. We should not expect as many verbal discrepancies between the plays and poems of Shakspeare, as may exist between the Prophecies and Lamentations of Jeremiah, for two reasons. The plays of our English poet are so voluminous that they might be expected to exhaust even his vocabulary, while the prophecies of Jeremiah could not possibly call into use all the words and expressions at the command of a writer or speaker of even ordinary fluency. And again, there is less difference between the blank verse of Shakspeare’s plays and the rhymed verse of his poetry, than there is between the poetry of the Prophecies and that of the Lamentations. Shakspeare had occasion to employ over and over again in his dramas the very words that must be repeated in his poems: while Jeremiah would need for his Lamentations a diction to a great extent unlike that in which his Prophecies were composed. Yet in the very first stanza of Venus and Adonis, consisting of six lines, there are four instances of words or expressions that do not occur in the plays of the dramatist, purple-colored face, weeping morn, hied, sick-thoughted, and two that occur only once in his plays, rose-cheeked and bold-faced. In the first stanza of Tarquin and Lucrece, consisting of seven lines, there are three instances of words not found in the plays, trustless, lust-breathing, and lightless. With such facts as these before us, we ought to be prepared for great novelties in the style and language of the Lamentations. And yet we will find that what Dr. Naegelsbach has so elaborately spread out before us as novelties, may be classified under the following six heads.
(1). New combinations of words familiar to the writer and occurring with more or less frequency in his Prophecies. These seldom involve real differences in language and style, and it is unfair to cite them as such. They are in nearly every instance similarities in the habit of the writer’s phraseology, that prove his identity. When we find in Venus and Adonis expressions, like these, loaded satiety, time-beguiling, ashy pale, blue-veined, thick-sighted, or, in Tarquin and Lucrece, silver melting dew, high-pitched, all too timeless, death-boding, do we doubt whether Shakspeare wrote these poems, because these particular combinations of familiar words do not occur in his plays? The very first specifications of Naegelsbach are of this character, רַבָּתִי עָם and רַבָּתִי בַגּויִם, Lamentations 1:1. These are, in fact, indications of Jeremiah’s authorship. For the writer who used the expression in Jeremiah 51:13, רַבַּת אוֹצָרֹת, full of treasures, would be very likely to say רַבָּתִי עָם, full of people; and the writer, who was accustomed to the use of רַב in the sense of great (Jeremiah 41:1; Jeremiah 32:19), would be very likely to follow the phrase רַבָּתִי עָם with this other phrase, involving a poetical play upon the word and a pleasant repetition of sound to the ear, רַבַּתִי בַגוֹיִם, great among the nations. To specify מֵרֹב, Lamentations 1:3, as a peculiarity of style, is a species of literary trifling unworthy of the name of argument. Any writer might connect so common a preposition with a familiar noun. If Jeremiah did it only once, so Isaiah in all his writings uses this expression once, and only once (Isaiah 24:22). Besides, מֵרוֹב occurs twenty-one times, scattered throughout the Bible from Genesis to Zechariah. הָלַךְ שְׁבִי, Lamentations 1:5, involves a peculiarity of construction as likely to be perpetrated by the writer of Jeremiah 22:22; Jeremiah 30:16, who says בַּשְּׁבִי יֵלֵכוּ, as by any one else. Many of the specifications given by Dr. Naegelsbach fall under this first head, and are, in fact, strong evidences of Jeremiah’s authorship.
(2). A word not occurring in Jeremiah’s prophecies (perhaps not in any other Scriptures), simply because the idea it represents does not occur. Thus in Lamentations 1:1, שָׂרָה, princess, is the only place in the whole Bible where a princess is distinctly indicated. Hence the word occurs only here. Is it fair to put this down as an indication of style? In fact, however, we claim the evidence of this very word in behalf of the traditional theory. For the word in the plural, שָׂרוֹת, princesses, was familiar to Jeremiah in the other Scriptures. If he never used it in his prophecies, it was because he had no occasion to do so: but he does use the verb from which it is derived and other derivatives from it; and so often does the word שַׂר, for a prince, ruler, chieftain, or distinguished person, occur in his prophecies, that we should expect the feminine form of that word, שָׂרָה, would be most likely to occur to the mind of the author of those prophecies, when, for the first time, he desired to speak of a princess.—The word מְדִינָה, province, Lamentations 1:1, does not occur in the prophecies, because Jeremiah had no occasion to use it in that book. In Venus and Adonis we read for the first time in Shakspeare of a dive dapper, a much more uncommon word in English literature than מְדִינָה is in Hebrew.—The word לְחִי, cheek, Lamentations 1:2, Jeremiah had no occasion to use in his prophecies. When for the first time he would speak of the cheek, what word should he use, but the only one used by the inspired Scriptures with which he was familiar? See Deuteronomy 18:3; 1 Kings 22:24; (2 Chronicles 18:23); Job 16:10; Song of Solomon 1:10; Song of Solomon 5:13; Isaiah 1:6; Mic. 4:14. (The word occurs in thirteen other places, where it seems to mean the jaw.) This word, therefore, gives all the testimony that can be extracted from it, in favor of Jeremiah, and not against him.
(3). Forcible expressions that occur in other Scriptures extant in Jeremiah’s times, which he, therefore, would not be unlikely to repeat; sometimes indeed they may be intended as quotations.—אֵין מְגַחֵם, there is no comforter, Lamentations 1:2. See Ecclesiastes 4:1. If Solomon years before had used the expression and given it currency in the Hebrew language, is it strange that Jeremiah repeated it? Or if Solomon was allowed to use it only once in the whole book of Ecclesiastes, without risking his title to the authorship of that book, may not Jeremiah be permitted to use it in only one chapter of all his writings? Or, if there is any thing in the argument at all, ought we not to conclude that the author of the first chapter of Lamentations could not have written the other chapters, because this unique expression occurs five times in the first chapter and not at all in the others?—הָיְתָה לַמַם, became tributary, Lamentations 1:1. This phrase was familiar to Jeremiah in Genesis 49:15; Joshua 16:10; Deuteronomy 20:11, besides many similar expressions in the old Scriptures.
(4). Words so familiar to the common dialect of Jeremiah’s times, that their use by him can occasion no surprise, though they do not occur in his prophecies.—We find in the Venus and Adonis words like the following, which do not occur in Shakspeare’s plays: saddle bow, toy as a verb, stalled up (he uses the noun stall often, the verb stall only once, but stall up never, a point our German critics would make very emphatic, if discussing the authorship of this poem), unripe, overswayed, overruled in the sense of ruling over another, uncontrolled in the sense of unconquered, dishevelled, spright, souring, disliking as an adjective, etc. Yet who that is acquainted with the literature of the times in which the great dramatist lived, discovers any thing remarkable in his use of these words? Neither should it surprise us that Jeremiah has happened not to use many current words in his prophecies, which he has chosen to use in the Lamentations. For example, עָנִי, of which we shall speak again. עֲבֹדָה, Lamentations 1:3, which occurs in Ex. twelve, in Lev. five, in Num. thirteen, in 1 Chron. eight, in 2 Chron. three, and in Ez. two times, and once in Gen., in Deut. and in Is. So מָנוחַ, Lamentations 1:3, is found in Genesis 8:9; Deuteronomy 28:65; Ruth 3:1; 1 Chronicles 6:16; Isaiah 34:14.
(5). Slight grammatical variations, licenses allowed every poet; the use of a verb in a tense in which it does not happen to occur in the prophecies; the use of nouns as adjectives, or vice versa; and similar peculiarities.—Lamentations 1:3, מָנוחַ instead of מְנוּחָה; ver. 4, the ending ־ִין; Lamentations 3:13, רָפָא construed with לְ; ver. 14, חָזָה without שָׁוְא; Lamentations 3:6, Hiph. of כָּבַד, etc. As well might we question the authorship of Venus and Adonis, because Shakspeare, often as he uses the verb hie, never in his plays has the preterite hied; nor ’miss for misbehaviour; nor the participle distilling, though he has distil four times, distilled ten, distillative and distilment each once; nor the adjective sappy: nor the participle souring: or the authorship of Tarquin and Lucrece, because in the plays the adjectives made out of nouns, trustless, lightless, bateless, do not occur; nor does the verb stows, though the participle stowed occurs three times; nor the verb cypher, though the noun does; nor the noun blur, though the verb does; nor do the participles parling, pawning. We must remember, too, that the inflections of Hebrew words, the changes produced by affixes and suffixes, and the omission or retention of vowel consonants, give a greater variety of grammatical forms than our English words can possibly undergo.
(6). The exactions of poetry, and especially of the very artificial structure of this poem.—Though the Lamentations may not be strictly rhythmical, yet the sentences are carefully balanced. There is, too, an evident regard to melody in the choice of words. עֲבֹדָה and מָנוֹחַ in Lamentations 1:3, each occurring at the cesura, and both harmonizing with other words in the verse, show that the phraseology was influenced by regard to melodiousness. In spite of the loss of the correct pronunciation of Hebrew, there can be no reasonable doubt of this. Thus we might account for שׁוֹמֵם, Lamentations 3:11, by the pleasing alliteration. The necessities of the alphabetical construction sometimes affected the choice of words, as we seem to see in the repetition of vav conversive in Lamentations 3:16-18, and of גָּדָר in vers. 7 and 9. This may account for the abrupt introduction of the bear, דֹּב, in ver. 10, where the lion would have been quite sufficient, if the acrostic had not invited the bear to come too.
If, now, keeping these rules in mind, the following catalogue is carefully examined, there will be found in it little to weaken our confidence in the traditional opinion that Jeremiah wrote the Lamentations, and some things that will strengthen that belief.
When our fervent popular preacher leaves the pulpit, whence he had been accustomed to address the masses on the passing events of the day, or from which he poured forth instruction, warning, invective and exhortation adapted to produce immediate effects; and comes, as it were, to recite before a listening world a dirge on the fall of Jerusalem, that has been carefully prepared, according to the most artificial rules of poetry, known and practised in his day,—we expect to see him, not in his “home-costume,” but dressed for the occasion,—we expect, nay we demand, that his poem shall exhibit in its phraseology, as well as in its thoughts, the results of a careful premeditated selection of words and phrases, that may often lie beyond the habit of his customary “unconscious and undesigned” way of speaking and writing. Judged by this rule, even the long list of variations enumerated above, were they all found to be actual evidences of a difference of style, should not appal us or drive us to the conclusion that Jeremiah could not have been the author of Lamentations. But in point of
fact, the long catalogue given above contains comparatively few evidences of even verbal differences between the prophecies of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations; and none that may not be explained consistently with the theory that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. Take out of that catalogue all the ἄπαξ λεγομενα (and Jeremiah’s prophecies will show such a list of these, as may raise the question whether their occurrence is not a characteristic of his style?); all the repetitions of the same word or phrase, as there is no comforter; all the words for which no synonym or equivalent occurs in the prophecies, and where of course the introduction of new words was inevitable, as princess, province, cheek; all the combinations of common words into new expressions that any writer of ordinary ability is constantly producing, and that do not really amount to peculiarities of diction, as full of people, great among the nations; and all slight grammatical changes that cannot be regarded as novelties in a writer who uses the same grammatical forms in other words, as the changes effected on words used in the prophecies by number, gender, mood, tense, or the particles attached to them, or the prepositions with which they are construed; remove all these from the catalogue, which ought to be thus sifted before we can reach the truthful result of our analysis, and we shall find little left on which to rest an argument against the authorship of Jeremiah. What the residuum would be, may be discovered in the twenty-four instances (see p. 13) on which Dr. Naegelsbach has taken his last stand, and which he evidently regards as constituting the strongest evidences in the whole Book that Jeremiah did not write it. These words then claim special attention. If it can be shown that they are not incompatible with the fact of Jeremiah’s authorship, it is not likely that any other words or phrases in the whole catalogue are. עֶליוֹך appears only twice and then in close connection in Lamentations 3:35; Lamentations 3:38. In both instances it seems to designate God (though some, as Blayney give it a different sense in Lamentations 3:35); but it is applied to God as a descriptive title, rather than as a name. God is spoken of as the High One, He is not addressed as such. That the author of Lamentations does not call upon God by this title, by which He is designated in Deuteronomy 32:8, and in many of the Psalms, might be claimed as a coincidence between this book and the prophecies of Jeremiah. But the argument that Jeremiah would not be likely to apply to God a word he himself uses (Jeremiah 22:2; Jeremiah 36:10), and which is so constantly associated with God in the old Scriptures (see Genesis 14:18-20; Genesis 14:22; Numbers 24:16), and which Jeremiah the pious priest and prophet, must have so often used in the liturgical Psalms (Psa 7:18; Psalms 9:3; Psalms 21:8; Psalms 46:5, etc.) is too feeble to withstand the first assault. The citation of the next word אֲדֹנָי, without any allusion to the question of its genuineness, does not seem entirely ingenuous. Certain it is that many MSS., some early editions and some of the older versions have יְהוָֹה instead of אֲדֹנָי in every one of the fourteen places referred to in the Lamentations. The evidence in favor of this reading is so strong that in every instance Blayney translates Jehovah, and Boothroyd, in his critical Hebrew Bible, marks אֲדֹנָי as a probable corruption. If we consider the reluctance with which the Jews would regard the connection of the name of Jehovah with the judgments befalling themselves, we can imagine that doubts as to the יְהוָֹה and suggestions of אֲדֹנָי, may have passed in the course of transcription from the margin into the text. But on the supposition that אֲדֹנָי may be the true reading, it is not impossible to reconcile this with Jeremiah’s authorship. Though Jeremiah may have preferred to connect with אֲדֹנָי the name of יְהוָֹה, yet in this poem the artificial style (see Rule 6, p. 31) requiring short terse sentences may have forbidden his usual habit. Yet for the sake of variety of expression, or affected by that indefinable taste that guides the poet and which we may not be able always to detect in reading a foreign language, especially one the original pronunciation of which is lost, Jeremiah may have preferred to write אֲדֹנָי alone, instead of יְהוָֹה alone. The likelihood that the choice of this word was influenced by the arbitrary rules of his poem may be inferred from the fact that the word always takes an important accent. Or again, Jeremiah may have been reluctant to connect the covenant name of God, the name associated with promise, grace and favor, with the fierce and destructive judgments that destroyed His own people and His own Temple. The remarks of Wordsworth on the use of this name in the prophecies give us a sufficient reason, if one is needed, why Jeremiah should depart from his usual custom and omit יְהוָֹה after אֲדֹנָי. “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” (note on Lamentations 1:14). The other words need not detain us long. הִבִּיט occurs five times. Each time it is emphatic, and three times it is intended to intensify the meaning of רָאָה, Lamentations 1:11-12; Lamentations 5:1. It is well chosen for this purpose, nor do the prophecies of Jeremiah suggest a word that both in form and sense would have been equally effective in these places. The word itself must have been familiar to Jeremiah and according to Rule 4, p. 30, cannot be regarded as a peculiarity of style It occurs in Genesis three times, Exodus two, Numbers three, 1 Samuel four, 1 Kings three, 2 Kings once, 1 Chronicles once, Job three times, Psalms seventeen, Proverbs once, Isaiah fifteen times, Amos once, Habakkuk five times, and Jonah three. עֳנִי and the verb from which it is derived עָנָה. This is not exactly accurate. Jeremiah uses the verb עָנָה in its usual meaning of answering frequently, Jeremiah 7:13; Jeremiah 7:27; Jeremiah 11:5; Jeremiah 14:7; Jeremiah 23:35; Jeremiah 23:37; Jeremiah 30:3; Jeremiah 25:17; Jeremiah 42:4; Jeremiah 44:20 : and the derivatives from it in that sense, מַעַך fourteen times, יַעַך eleven times. He also uses עָנָה in the intensive sense of shouting, Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 11:14. But what is more to our purpose is, that once at least he uses the derivation עָני, poor, miserable, Jeremiah 22:16, from עָנָה in the sense of being bowed down, oppressed. He thus at least recognizes the root of עֳנִי, and if in only one single verse of his prophecies we find עָנִי, miserable, shall we be surprised that in only one part of his writings we find עֳנִי, affliction? Besides, this word also, according to Rule 4, p. 30, cannot be regarded as a test of authorship. See Genesis 16:11; Genesis 29:32; Genesis 31:42; Genesis 41:52; Exodus 3:7; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 4:31; Deuteronomy 16:3; Deuteronomy 26:7; Isaiah 48:10, and other books of the older Scriptures. שׁוֹמֵם. This word may be regarded as quite characteristic of Jeremiah; for he uses it in so many of its forms: in Kal pret. Jeremiah 2:12; fut. Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 50:13; in Niphal pret. Jeremiah 4:9; Jeremiah 12:11; part. Jeremiah 33:10; in Hiphil pret. Jeremiah 10:25; fut. Jeremiah 49:20. Why then may he not also use it in Kal participle (see Rule 5, p. 31), especially since he had before him the examples of 2 Samuel 13:20; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 49:19; Isaiah 54:1; Isaiah 61:4 bis, and since his cotemporary Ezekiel twice used this participial form, Jeremiah 36:3-4? (See Rule 4, p. 30). יָגָה. Jeremiah uses the derivative יָגוֹך, Jeremiah 8:18; Jeremiah 20:18; Jeremiah 31:13; Jeremiah 45:3; and was familiar with the verb (Rule 4, p. 30) in Isaiah 51:23; Job 19:2 and his cotemporary Zephaniah 3:18. אָנַח. See Joel 1:18; Exodus 2:23; Proverbs 29:2, which passages may have been in his mind (see Rule 3, p. 30). See the word also (Rule 4, p. 30) in Isaiah 24:7; Ezekiel 9:4; Ezekiel 21:11 bis, 12. זָנַח is used three times, the first time as the initial word of Lamentations 2:7, when the mind of the writer would be going out in search of a suitable word, and not following the unconscious flow of thought and expression; see Rule 6, p. 31. Having used it once, it would readily occur to him again, when the sense suited; and it may be observed that the second time it is used, it stands as an initial word, Lamentations 3:17, just where an unusual word would be expected, although the initial letter of its root is not there required. How familiar it was to the dialect of his times (Rule 4, p. 30) may be judged from Hosea 8:3; Hosea 8:5 and its occurrence in many Psalms and in the Chronicles. חֵטְא here again we have a word first appearing as an initial, Lamentations 1:8, and once repeated, Lamentations 3:39, to which the remarks made on last word will apply. It might be said that חַטָאת, which is used in the prophecies, would have afforded the proper initial letter. חֵטְא may have been preferred for its brevity, and as a matter of taste on account of חָטְאָה immediately following. Its frequent occurrence in the Pentateuch and its use by Amos and Isaiah would meet the requirements of Rule 4. As there is an acknowledged mistake in the K’thib Lamentations 3:39, it is not impossible that the correct reading there is חַטָּאת instead of the accepted K’ri. מַחְמָד. Jeremiah in his prophecies uses חֶמְדָה only three times and then in an abstract sense, Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 12:10; Jeremiah 25:34. The use of מַחְמָד in Joel 4:5; Song of Solomon 5:16; Hosea 9:6; Hosea 9:16, seems to designate that word as better chosen for the idea meant to be expressed. See Rule 4 above. בִּלָּע, here again we have a word first occurring as an initial Lamentations 2:2, where the Poet is deliberately choosing the best and most forcible word for his purpose and not writing unconstrainedly. The Prophet once uses the verb in the Kal, Jeremiah 51:34. May he not then use it in the Piel, when that form is better suited to his purpose, especially since Habakkuk and Isaiah and older writers set him the example?
לֹא חָמל, Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:17. Because Jeremiah once said לֹא נִחַם, Jeremiah 20:16, and once לֹא נִחַמְתִּי, Jeremiah 4:28, are we to assume that he could not twice say לֹא חָמַל? The argument is not only worthless, it is truthless, for Jeremiah does say, Jeremiah 13:14, לֹא אֶחְמוֹל, and Jeremiah 21:7, לֹא יַחְמֹל, besides often using the word חָמַל. We claim this phrase, therefore, as distinctively characteristic of Jeremiah. עָפָר, dust, Lamentations 2:10. Could not Jeremiah repeat a word made classical in Job 2:12, וַיִזְרְקוּ עָפָר עַל־רָאשֵׁיחֶם, and write הֶעֱלוּ עָפָר עַל־רֹאשָׁם? See Rule 3, p. 30. But it so happens that Jeremiah in his prophecies has no occasion to use an equivalent word, he does not speak of the dust, and therefore according to Rule 2, p. 29, this is no indication of his habit of speech. עָטַף. This word occurs only in Genesis, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Jonah and Lam. The Niphal form is found only in Lamentations 2:11, the Kal. part. plural, in Genesis 30:42, Lamentations 2:19, the Hithpael in Jonah 2:8, Lamentations 2:12. We can imagine no valid reason why Jeremiah might not have used it. חָזָה, which occurs twice in Lamentations 2:14, is not found in the prophecies of Jeremiah, but its derivative חָזוֹך is, Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:16. It is used by Isaiah often, by Amos, Micah, Habakkuk and Ezekiel, and is also found in the Pentateuch, in Job, Psalms and Proverbs. See Rule 4, p. 30. מָּצָה occurs twice, Lamentations 2:16, Lamentations 3:46, both times as an initial word. See Rule 6, p. 31, and with the same connecting words. If the word does not occur in the prophecies of Jeremiah, neither is the same idea exactly expressed. Hence they contain no equivalent for this expression of opening the mouth against one. See Rule 2, p. 29. We have the same words in Psalms 22:14. פָצָח with פֶה is used Genesis 4:11; Deuteronomy 11:6; Numbers 16:30. See the word also in Judges 11:35-36; Job 35:16; Isaiah 10:14; Ezekiel 2:8; Psalms 66:14; Psalms 144:10-11. Rule 4, p. 30. חשֵׁךְ. Jeremiah in his prophecies seems to have had occasion to use a substantive for darkness only three times; and each time he used a different one, Jeremiah 13:16, עֲרָפֵל; Jeremiah 23:12, אֲפֵלָה; Jeremiah 2:31, מַֽאֲפֵלְיָה. It cannot be said, therefore, that any one of these words was characteristic of his style, but on the contrary, the choice of a new word, so far as the evidence goes, is characteristic of his style. Besides, he uses the verb חָשַׁךְ, and was familiar with the noun in the sacred Scriptures. See Rule 4. Nor is it improbable, as Naegelsbach himself suggests, that the words חשֶׁךְ וְלֹא אוֹר, in Amos 5:18; Amos 5:20; Job 12:25, were in his mind. See Rule 3, p. 30. גְגִינָה. Jeremiah did not use this word in the prophecies, because he had no occasion to do so. In that book there is no equivalent for it. See Rule 2, p. 29. He found the word ready for him when he wanted it, in Job, Psalms, Isaiah and Habakkuk. See Rule 4. יָחַל. See again Rule 4.
נָשָׂא פָנִים. This phrase is frequent elsewhere, as Dr. Naegelsbach allows. See Rule 4. And observe, moreover, how the use of the expression is induced by the poetry. The initial word of the verse, Lamentations 4:16, is פּנֵי, this is repeated in the second member to mark the parallelism. The whole construction of the verse is verbally artful, and should we grant that the phrase is not idiomatic with Jeremiah, we could still account for his use of it in this particular passage. לָמוֹ. This is simply a rare form that might be adopted by Jeremiah, as well as another. See Genesis 9:26-27; Isaiah 44:15; Isaiah 53:8; Psalms 28:8. שׁ relat. The use of this prefix is characteristic of Ecclesiastes and the Canticles, yet if Solomon was the author of those books, and also of the Proverbs and the seventy second Psalm, he could at pleasure drop this peculiarity. Why then may not Jeremiah be allowed to use the abbreviated relative four times in the Lamentations, without impeaching his title to its authorship? “The occurrence of אֲשֶׁר in Judges 5:27 casts no suspicion on the genuineness of that verse, though שֶׁ is used elsewhere in the Song of Deborah, ver. 7. Nor, on the other hand, does a single שֶ, where אֲשֶׁר is the prevailing form, discredit Genesis 6:3, or Job 19:29” (Lange’s Song of Sol. Introd. § 1, Dr. Green’s note). The constant tendency to rhythm, at least the terseness of style, is sufficient for the adoption of a form here, which the less compressed poetry of the Prophecies did not require. The abbreviations ’gan and’ miss both occurring near the beginning of Venus and Adonis, constitute no ground on which to rest an argument with reference to the author of that poem. See Rule 6, p. 31. Finally, בְּקֶרֶב without a suffix. This happens once in the Lamentations 3:45. The same thing happens elsewhere in the Old Testament sixty-one times, in Genesis, Exodus. Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Micah and Habakkuk; and Jeremiah himself is once imprudent enough to use מִקֶּרֶב, Jeremiah 6:1, without a suffix.—The conclusion to which we are forced, after this too patient examination is, that the phraseology of the Lamentations is beyond all doubt compatible with the tradition that Jeremiah the Prophet was their author.
On the other hand, there are striking verbal analogies between the book of the Prophecies of Jeremiah and the Book of Lamentations, sufficient of themselves to convince us, that the two Books are the productions of one author. What has been remarked of Jeremiah’s writings generally is found to be true of the Lamentations also,—“his language abounds in Aramaic forms, loses sight of the fine grammatical distinctions of the earlier Hebrews, includes many words not found in its vocabulary (Eichhorn, Einl in das A. T., III. 121),” (Smith’s Bib. Dict., art. Jeremiah). Carl Friedrich Keil, in his Introduction to the Old Testament, gives us the following specimens, by way of example, of characteristic words and phrases common to both books. “מְגוּרַי מִסָּבִיב, Lamentations 2:22, compare with מָגוֹד מִסָּבִיִב, Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29; the frequent use of שֶׁבֶר and שֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִי, Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 2:13; Lamentations 3:47-48; Lamentations 4:10, compared with Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 4:14; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 8:21; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 30:12,etc.; יָרַד מַיִם, or יָרַד דִּמְעָה Lamentations 1:16; Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 2:18; Lamentations 3:48-49, compared with Jeremiah 3:23; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17. Compare in full such passages as Jeremiah 3:14, and Jeremiah 20:7; Jeremiah 3:15, and Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 23:15; Jer 3:47, and Jeremiah 48:43; Jer 3:52, and Jeremiah 16:16; Jeremiah 4:21, and Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 25:27; Jeremiah 1:8-9, and Jeremiah 13:21; Jeremiah 13:26. Besides, only a few peculiar words occur as נִשְׂקַד, Lamentations 1:14; יָעִיב, Lamentations 2:1; שָׂתָם, Lamentations 3:8; כָּפַש, Lamentations 3:16; צָפַד, Lamentations 4:8; תַּֽאֲלָח, and מְגִנַּת–לֵב, Lamentations 3:65; and peculiar forms of words, as מִשְׁבָת, Lamentations 1:7; מַדּוּחִים, Lamentations 2:14; פוּגַה, Lamentations 2:18; Lamentations 3:49, etc.” (Einleit., § 127, S. 379). We need only refer to Dr. Naegelsbach’s own Commentary for abounding evidences of coincidences in the use of language in the two books. He makes incessant reference to Jeremiah for the explanation of words and phrases. He often, too with a generous and honorable frankness that we respect and admire, acknowledges that peculiar words and phrases found in Lamentations, occur also in Jeremiah, and sometimes in no other Hebrew writer. Since, then it is conceded that much of the language of this book is characteristic of the writings of Jeremiah, and since we have shown above, that words and phrases used in this Book, and not found in Jeremiah’s Prophecies, are not so numerous and of such a character as to render it incredible that Jeremiah wrote this Book, it is not necessary to delay the reader longer, but leave the further development of this argument to the following Commentary.
Paterson, N. J., Nov. 1870.
[The word is especially proper as indicating the subject and tone of its contents. Gerlach].
[Syriac, Arabic and later versions bear similar titles].
[This assertion of utter groundlessness is rather strong. 2 Chronicles 35:25 and the declaration of Josephus (Ant. B. X., ch. v. § 1) afford some ground on which to rest the hypothesis, that these Lamentations are the elegy written on the death of Josiah, and that they assumed the form of a prophecy of the utter destruction of the city, which Josiah might have prevented by a thorough reformation, but which his partial reformation delayed for a brief time, only to make it the more tremendous when it did come. Therefore, if we assume that the Lamentations are the elegy which Jeremiah wrote on the death of Josiah, and especially if we assume that Jeremiah foresaw the inefficiency of Josiah’s policy (see Stanley’s Jewish Church), it would not seem strange that an elegy, written by Jeremiah, the prophet of the destruction, should be a prophecy of the destruction of the city, which now, on account of Josiah’s death, was hastening all the more rapidly to its fearful conclusion. Nor is it in itself incredible, that the future should be presented in vision to God’s prophet as distinctly as a picture of the historic past. While we accept Isaiah 40-66 as the production of the prophet who wrote the earlier portions of that book, we would speak only with respect of the opinion of those who see in the Lamentations a descriptive prediction of what was to come to pass, while we reject the opinion itself as, on the whole, untenable.—W. H. H.]
[Our author uses Zion in the widest generic sense. Where the sense seems to require it, without changing his word, which would sometimes involve a change in his view of the meaning of the text, the distinguishing name is inserted in brackets, as above.—W. H. H.]
[Gerlach: Intr. pp. 9, Lam 10: “The general remark ‘that the Poet strictly confined himself to the external form, only so long as the thought accommodated itself to it without artificiality’ (Keil, Einl., S. 378; b. Haevernick, III. 58), does not suffice,. …. for the evident ease with which the Poet elsewhere manages the Form, [shows] that another arrangement of the alphabet would have had no difficulties for him. And how little the observations which Neumann (S. 490, 508) makes in the way of explanation, contain an explanation in reality, may be shown by his remark on Lamentations 2:16, where he says, ‘Let us only reflect on the difference between פֶּֽא mouth, and עַֽיִן eye, and we here at least comprehend the transposition, where the mouth is the exulting mouth of God’s enemies, the eye—God’s watchful eye over the life of His people.’ That could only be the real meaning if the following ־ע verse treated of God’s eye watching for the protection of His people; on the very contrary, it does treat of the execution of punishment. But in view of the unsuccessful results of the special and repeated attempts to throw light on the darkness of this anomaly, the author must close this part of his preliminary discussion with a non liquet.”]
[The literal translation is, “Jeremiah the prophet composed an elegy on him, a lamentation song, which is extant now.” The words “a lamentation song,” so obviously superfluous, suggest the question, whether the words καὶ συνέταξε, or words of similar import, may not once have preceded μέλος θρηνητικὸν, and been dropped out on a presumption of error by those who took for granted that all Jeremiah wrote still survived? This would suit what immediately follows, which consists of an account of Jeremiah’s writings.—W. H. H.]
[Thenius: Josephus “only said, that Jeremiah had composed the (solenne) elegy [funeral-poem] on Josiah, and that this was still extant in his (Josephus’) time; how and where, whether in writing or in the mouth of the people [by oral tradition] he does not say, and least of all does he say that he finds that particular dirge (the singular number should not be un-observed) in the אִכָה [Book of Lamentations]; had he believed this, since he adhered almost exclusively to the version of the LXX., he would have surely added to διαμένει [is extant] the words in ἐν τοῖς θρήνοις [in the Lamentations].” The strongest point in this argument is, not the interpolation of the definite article, to which Dr. Naegelsbach justly takes exception, but the fact that Josephus not only fails to say that this dirge is extant in the Book of Lamentations, but speaks of it only in the singular number as “a song of lamentation” (μέλος θρηνητικὸν). We can account for this only, by supposing that he regarded the five songs as essentially one, and that having already characterized it as a lamentation song, he could not add that this Song was found (ἐν τοῖς θρήνοις) in the Songs of Lamentation, without seeming to specify jingle Song of the five as separately and particularly intended. Thenius in his quotation of Josephus omits the won σρηνητικόι (16th Ed., Leipzig, 1855, p. 116), and seems to have wholly overlooked it.—W. H. H.]
[Gerlach: “The grounds of Ewald’s opinions [as to the authorship] are only philological; but how venturesome it is to attempt to decide on such grounds alone, is shown by a comparison between Thenius and Ewald; the former of whom, on philological grounds—those very grounds the perception of which may belong only to ‘an æsthetical sensibility thoroughly practised’—imputes chapters 1, 3, 5 to another author than the author of chapters 2 and 4, which he leaves to Jeremiah; whilst Ewald, and truly in our opinion with entire correctness, remarks, that ‘all these five songs, in the structure of their language, and in their rhetorical and poetical characteristics, as well as in thought and doctrine, and also in their historical allusions and descriptions, have a similarity so complete, that every competent judge will ascribe them to only one Poet.’ (Bibl. Jahrb., VII. S. 151. Comp. Dichter d. A. B., 3d Aufl., S. 325 f.).”]
[Gerlach: “Against the authorship of all five Songs by Jeremiah, Thenius again raises a general objection in the question, whether it were probable that Jeremiah had treated one and the same subject five times. But if, according to his own declaration, the treatment of the same subject twice over has ‘nothing strange in it considering the extraordinary character of the event lamented,’—then this objection to the five Songs appears all the more trivial when it is found on examination, that each Song treats of the common subject from a different point of view. * * * But this objection is entirely destroyed by the acknowledgment, arrived at from most different stand-points, of the ‘internal, organic connection’ (Keil) of all five Songs, of which statement Ewald especially has made great use (Bibl. Jahrb., VII. S. 152; Gött. gel. Anz., 1863, S. 334 f.; Dichter des A. B., 3 d Aufl., S. 323).” Gerlach adds in a note, that with the proof of this “internal, organic connection” between the five Songs, the various attempts to assign the composition of the Songs to different times, or to bring them into different arrangements, must fall to the ground.—W. H. H.]
[Gerlach, with reference to Thenius’ theory concerning Song V., says, “It is difficult seriously to discuss the possibility of such conjectures in order to prove them: Thenius has not even attempted the proof and has thus spared those who come after him the trouble of refutation.”]
[The evidence may not be satisfactory to Dr. Naegelsbach, but he should not say so absolutely that there is “no evidence.” The bare fact of the existence of the words referred to in the Septuagint, a translation on the whole so faithful, and made by Jews who almost superstitiously venerated the written word and scrupulously adhered to Hebrew originals, is some evidence, constituting a probability at least, that the Septuagint copied these words from Hebrew MSS. Then again the grammatical structure of the sentence suits the assumption that it is a translation of a Hebrew original. The general agreement of the Vulgate with the Septuagint and yet the difference between the two, would indicate that the Vulgate is not a mere copy of the Septuagint, but obtained the words from an independent source. Even Thenius is satisfied with the evidence that these words must have had a Hebrew original, and feels it incumbent upon him to explain why they are not found in our existing Hebrew Bibles. Gerlach: “Whether the Vulgate derived that introduction from the LXX., the [additional] words being added or having fallen out of the text of the LXX. [since the Vulgate was written], or whether both, independently of each other, reproduced a note found in their manuscripts, is of no importance, since the grammatical construction of the words in either case refers to a Hebrew original, which preceded both. In this, to be presumed Hebrew original, we have to recognize the oldest tradition concerning the author. But that this [superscription] was not accepted by the editors of our received text, cannot be explained with Thenius by the assumption, ‘that it was not regarded as satisfactory, that those editors were doubtful at least whether Jeremiah had composed the first song,—for that immediately follows after καὶ εἶπε [and he said].’ Since this superscription could have no other object than to connect the Lamentations with a preceding writing (see the καὶ ἐγένετο κ. τ. λ. [and it came to pass, etc.]), and that writing could only be the prophecies of Jeremiah, after which a part of the Jews placed them, then the absence of the superscription in those manuscripts which place the Lamentations among the Hagiographa, is self-explained and nothing less than proper.”—W. H. H.]
[Had he done so he would have violated no rule of good taste or propriety. He could, moreover, without charge or egotism, direct attention to himself, because he was the prophet of Jehovah and the representative of pious Israel and in his sufferings a representative of the Prophet of all prophets and the Head of Israel. But, in fact, there is not a word in the whole chapter, that any good man might not have written of himself without a breach of humility, and in “the brightly-shining comfort-section” (vers. 22–42) Jeremiah hardly alludes to himself at all. That part is not in the first person, but in the third person, and is not personal to the prophet, but passes beautifully and modestly into general truths of universal application.—W. H. H.]
[Shall we doubt whether Shakspeare wrote Tarquin and Lucrece, and Venus and Adonis, because in all his plays there is nothing similar to the very artificial construction of these Spenserian poems? Can we expect the same style, the manifestations of precisely the same qualities of genius in a formal stately poem, like those mentioned, and in the free unembarrassed composition of the stage play? Shall we expect to find no new traits of genius and evidences of versatility of talent, when the orator-prophet, who has electrified Israel by his impromptu bursts of eloquence, called forth by passing events and pressing emergencies, sits down to the careful composition of a lyrical dirge, to be constructed in accordance with pre-determined artistic rules? It is possible that one might read Tarquin and Lucrece, and say that its author was incapable of writing Shakspeare’s plays. Another might read the prophecies of Jeremiah and say, their author was incapable of producing the Lamentations. Both would be mistaken.—W. H. H.]
[Dr. Naegels ach credits himself in the Preface with the important discovery that Lamentations 2:14 is a quotation from Ezekiel. The fact that this is a new discovery is suspicious. May he not have mistaken a mere coincidence in the use of language for a citation of one author from another? Our suspicion grows into certainty when we find that a quotation from Ezekiel in this passage involves the necessity of an absurd and impossible translation of the word תָפֵל,—“Thy prophets saw for thee falsehood and white-wash!” As regards the other words involved in these supposed quotations in Lamentations 2:14-15, there is nothing so unique or remarkable in them, but that they might have occurred to any two different writers. But even if they were phrases of striking peculiarity, both writers might have borrowed them from the popular dialect of the day. The American people gave to English literature in our last war many words and phrases that have since appeared simultaneously in our best writers. So the Jewish people, fearfully awakened from the delusions into which their false prophets had betrayed them, may have cried out in their passion חָזוּ שָׁוְא, and lamented over their ruined city as כְּלִילַת יֹפִי; and Ezekiel and Jeremiah, even on the assumption that the latter had not seen or heard the prophecies that were uttered in Chebar, may both have adopted the phrases that were passing from mouth to mouth. We ought not to forget, either, that both prophets were inspired by the same Spirit, and hence coincidences in thought and expression were to be expected. Our object in these remarks is simply to show, that the repetition in the Lamentations of words and phrases in Ezekiel, does not presuppose an acquaintance with Ezekiel’s prophecies. But in point of fact Ezekiel’s prophecies contained in chapters 12, 13, 21, 22, were in all probability known to the Jews in Palestine almost as soon as published in Chaldea. See notes on Lamentations 2:14-15.—W. H. H.]
[We do find great resemblances in phraseology between the two; and if every remarkable expression occurring in two authors, must be in one of them a quotation from the other, either Jeremiah quotes Ezekiel, or Ezekiel Jeremiah, very often. Observe, for instance, the peculiar use of גוֹלָה in the sense of captivity, and the use of symbolical names, especially פְּקוֹד, Jeremiah 50:21; Ezekiel 23:23.—W. H. H.]
[This is not complimentary to the author. The book itself furnishes evidence that its author could not be blinded by the prejudices of rank, nor meanly capable of exempting his own rank from just censure. The internal evidence is in favor of the opinion that he was himself a prophet and a priest, and intimately associated with the nobility of the land, if not himself a noble.—W. H. H.]
[It is here assumed that Ezekiel’s prophecies were not published till all of them, or a large portion of them, had been carefully collated in book-form and that then they were formally circulated. The modern process of writing, printing, and publishing, seems to be in the writer’s mind. In fact, probably, each prophecy, whether first spoken or written, was instantly and rapidly communicated to all the Jews. It would travel, with marching armies and numerous caravans, to Palestine, and thence by various channels to Egypt, not only in written form, but repeated orally and accurately by those, who in that age of few books and fewer readers, were able readily and exactly to memorize all that their prophets and poets composed. It may be proper here again to refer to the fact that Ezekiel 1-23. was certainly complete before the destruction of Jerusalem, and may have been finished a year, or longer, before that event.—W. H. H.]
[We must wholly dissent from any such explanation of these repetitions. To do so, were to transform some of the most beautiful and impressive passages in these poems into blemishes, that betray the carelessness or the want of skill of the sacred writer. There are few instances in which the reasons for the repetition are not apparent: none in which we cannot imagine that they were intended for rhetorical or poetical effect. The constantly recurring theme in the first song, there is no comforter, or she has no comforter, is one of the master strokes of a great poet. This emphasizes again and again the theme of the whole poem. This is the very acme of the distress of the daughter of Jerusalem, who having forsaken her God, now sitteth solitary, herself forsaken both of God and men, she hath no comforter! So in the second song, the day of His wrath, and the frequent recurrence of the words anger and wrath serve to keep in view the one great thought of this particular song, that God Himself had appeared as an enemy and an avenger. Not only was Jerusalem as a forsaken woman without a comforter, God had turned against her. He had destroyed His own Zion where He dwelt among His people, and all that they suffered, they suffered at His hand, and we are not for a moment allowed to forget that we are reading of what God does in the day of His wrath. The repetitions in the first chapter of that tremulous word נֶאֶנָח, till we seem to hear the broken sighs of priests and people, yea, and of the forsaken sufferer herself; and in the second chapter, of the short expressive word בִּלַּע, till we understand that nothing has escaped the desolations of Heaven’s wrath, that everything is literally and utterly swallowed up or consumed, are instances of that masterly art by which a great poet impresses an idea on the mind by a single word, repeated again and again, with increasing emphasis, where a writer of inferior ability would weaken the force by dividing it among many words. But without multiplying instances, it may be well here to make a general observation which will apply to all these repetitions, and that is that the language of violent passion, and especially of grief, is always broken up into short words, and indulges in the frequent repetition of them.—W. H. H.]
[See note on this word on p. 32.]
See notes on Lamentations 4:17-20, and note at end of Lamentations 4:0.
This opinion of Jerome might have been caused by the use of Aramaic forms and other peculiarities of later Hebrew. Eichhorn, Einleitung, III., p. 122. Gesenius, Geshicte der Heb. Sprache, p. 35. Referred to in Kitto’s Cyc. Sac. Lit., art Jeremiah.
“There remains a single class of poets among the Jews—a class peculiar to that people—the prophets. The most of them delivered their predictions in poetry. It is sui generis. It is not precisely poetry, nor is it oratory. It is sublime vision. The event seen passing before the mental eye of the prophet is revealed in lofty rhythm, in glowing imagery. It is eloquent in the highest sense, and stands near the line where oratory and poetry meet. It will be observed that the most impassioned strains of the greatest orators become rhythmical, and have a solemn march which resembles vision. We see it in all their greatest efforts.” (Pres. Quart. Rev., Jan. 1861, Art. IV, Hebrew Lang, and Poetry, p. 463).
(Gerlach: “That the alphabetical arrangement may be regarded as inappropriate to Jeremiah, when his soul was filled with sorrow, can only be maintained by regarding the metrical style of poetry as generally inconsistent with deep grief, which no one presumes to do. Here the argument finally depends on the question as to the signification of this alphabetical arrangement. De Wette (Comm. Psalms, p. 58), declares it ‘a rhythmical artifice, a product of the later and degenerated taste’ (E. Reuss in Herzog’s Encyc. V., p. 906. Speierlei), and Ewald (Poet. Büch. I., S. 139. 3 Aufl. I., S. 201) esteems it a sign of ‘declining art,’ against what Sommer (bibl. Abhandl, S. 94) says for the higher age of this form of poetry (as Hitzig also, at least he does not deny the Davidical authorship of Psalms 9:10 on account of the alphabetical structure). But if it were proved that such an artificial construction were, on general grounds, unworthy of the prophet, then ‘with equal propriety we would condemn the Songs, Befiehl du deine Wege, by P. Gerhardt, and Wie schön leucht uns der Morgenstern, by Nicolai, since there is an artificialness in the beginning of the verses, such as we could not expect in poets so preeminent and vigorous’ (Hengstenberg, Psalms 2:0, S. 93); and even Thenius allows (S. 190) that this were hypercritical. So much the stranger is the contradiction into which he falls when he asserts (S. 124), that the expansion of the alphabetical structure in Lamentations 3:0, is ‘an artificiality, to which only a less spiritual poet could confine himself, and which alone by itself repels the thought that Jeremiah could have composed this poem.’ Very far from necessarily indicating a peculiarly artificial style, ‘the alphabetical structure rather belongs to the means of giving to poetical writing the character of connectedness which is necessary to it’ (Hengstenberg, ib. loc.), and has for its object ‘to give to such songs, as do not allow of being rounded-off and finished by the internal development of the thoughts, the character of a complete composition by means of passing through the whole alphabet—the symbol of completeness’ (Keil in Haevernick, Einl., III. 8, 48, vgl., 514).”
 Lowth: “The acrostic or alphabetical poetry of the Hebrews was certainly intended to assist the memory, and was confined altogether to those compositions which consisted of detached maxims or sentiments without any express order or connection” (Gregory’s Trans. II., Lect. 22, p. 134). Gerlach with dogmatic positiveness denies that the object of this form was “of the external sort, to assist the recollection of the learners, as Huet, Lowth, and lately Thenius assume.” It could not fail, however, to facilitate the memorizing of the poems thus written; and in an age when the recitation of poems from memory was the prevailing fashion, and in lyrical poems the recitations were sung, rather than pronounced, to the accompaniment of music, the alphabetical structure possessed advantages that the greatest poets would not despise. Gerlach is also at fault, when, like Lowth, he would confine the use of the alphabetical structure to the connection of detached sentences or thoughts only loosely related to each other.
“In order to give to the Lamentations, ever expressed in new words, images and turns of thought, the character of completeness and of a connected production, these Songs are, with the exception of the last one, constructed alphabetically” (Keil, Einleitung des Alt. Test., § 126, p. 377).
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30