1How alone sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow, who was once great among the nations, a princess among the nations, but now has come under tribute.2She weeps bitterly in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers, she has no one to comfort her. All her friends have dealt deceitfully with her; they have become her enemies.3Judah went into captivity under affliction and hard labor. She dwells among the nations; she finds no rest; all her pursuers have overtaken her between the straits.4The roads of Zion mourn because none go to the appointed meetings. All her gates are deserted; her priests sigh; her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.5Her oppressors have become the chief; her enemies are at ease; for Jehovah has afflicted her for the multitude of her sins. Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.6And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty has departed. Her rulers have become like deer, who find no pasture, that flee without strength before the pursuer. 7In the days of her affliction and her wandering, Jerusalem remembered all her desirable things from ancient days, when her people fell into the hand of the enemy with no one to help her. The enemies saw her; they laughed at her annihilation. 8Jerusalem has grievously sinned, therefore she has become impure. All who honored her despise her because they have seen her nakedness; yea, she sighs and turns backward.9Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not remember her end, and her downfall was extraordinary. There is no comforter for her. O Jehovah, behold my affliction, for the enemy has magnified himself.10The enemy has spread out his hand upon all her desirable things; for she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary, whom You commanded that they should not enter into Your assembly.11All her people sigh; they seek bread. They have given their desirable things for food to restore life. See, O Jehovah, and look upon me, for I have become vile.12Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which is done to me, with which Jehovah has afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger.13From above He has sent fire into my bones and it has laid them low. He has spread a net for my feet; He has turned me back; He has made me desolate and faint all the day.14The yoke of my transgressions is bound by His hand, woven together, and thrust upon my neck. He has made my strength to falter; the Lord has delivered me into their hands. I am not able to rise up.15The Lord has trampled all my mighty ones in my midst; He has called a gathering against me to crush my young men. The Lord has trodden the virgin daughter of Judah, as in a winepress.16For these I weep; my eye, my eye runs down with water, because the comforter who could refresh my soul is far from me. My children are desolate because the enemy has prevailed.17Zion spreads forth her hands, but no one comforts her. Jehovah has commanded concerning Jacob that his enemies should be all around him; Jerusalem has become as an impure thing among them.18Jehovah is righteous, for I have rebelled against His command. I beseech you, all peoples, hear and behold my sorrow. My virgins and my young men have gone into captivity.19I called for my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and my elders died in the city while they sought food for them to restore their life.20Behold, O Jehovah, for I am in distress; my stomach is upset; my heart churns within me, for I have grievously rebelled. Outside the sword bereaves; at home it is like death.21They hear that I sigh; but no one comforts me. All my enemies have heard of my evil; they are glad that You have done it. You will bring the day that You have called, and they shall be like me.22Let all their wickedness come before You; and do to them as You have done to me for all my transgressions. For my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.
Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary 1
how is she . . . widow! she that was great, &c.--English Version is according to the accents. But the members of each sentence are better balanced in antithesis, thus, "how is she that was great among the nations become as a widow! (how) she who was princess among the provinces (that is, she who ruled over the surrounding provinces from the Nile to the Euphrates, Gen 15:18
; 1Kgs 4:21
; 2Chr 9:26
; Ezra 4:20
) become tributary!" [MAURER].
sit--on the ground; the posture of mourners (Lam 2:10
; Ezra 9:3
). The coin struck on the taking of Jerusalem by Titus, representing Judea as a female sitting solitary under a palm tree, with the inscription, Judća Capta, singularly corresponds to the image here; the language therefore must be prophetical of her state subsequent to Titus, as well as referring retrospectively to her Babylonian captivity. 2
in the night--even in the night, the period of rest and oblivion of griefs (Job 7:3
lovers . . . friends--the heathen states allied to Judah, and their idols. The idols whom she "loved" (Jer 2:20
) could not comfort her. Her former allies would not: nay, some "treacherously" joined her enemies against her (2Kgs 24:2
, 2Kgs 24:7
; Ps 137:7
because of great servitude--that is, in a state "of great servitude," endured from the Chaldeans. "Because" is made by VATABLUS indicative of the cause of her captivity; namely, her having "afflicted" and unjustly brought into "servitude" the manumitted bond-servants (Jer 34:8
). MAURER explains it, "Judah has left her land (not literally 'gone into captivity') because of the yoke imposed on it by Nebuchadnezzar."
no rest-- (Deut 28:64
overtook her between . . . straits--image from robbers, who in the East intercept travellers at the narrow passes in hilly regions. 4
feasts--the passover, pentecost (or the feast of weeks), and the feast of tabernacles.
gates--once the place of concourse. 5
the chief--rule her (Deut 28:43
adversaries . . . prosper; for the Lord--All the foes' attempts would have failed, had not God delivered His people into their hands (Jer 30:15
beauty . . . departed--her temple, throne, and priesthood.
harts that find no pasture--an animal timid and fleet, especially when seeking and not able to "find pasture." 7
remembered--rather, "remembers," now, in her afflicted state. In the days of her prosperity she did not appreciate, as she ought, the favors of God to her. Now, awakening out of her past lethargy, she feels from what high privileges she has fallen.
when her people fell, &c.--that is, after which days of prosperity "her people fell."
mock at her sabbaths--The heathen used to mock at the Jews' Sabbath, as showing their idleness, and term them Sabbatarians [MARTIAL, 4.4]. Now, said they ironically, ye may keep a continuous Sabbath. So God appointed the length of the captivity (seventy years) to be exactly that of the sum of the Sabbaths in the four hundred ninety years in which the land was denied its Sabbaths (Lev 26:33
). MAURER translates it "ruin." But English Version better expresses the point of their "mocking," namely, their involuntary "Sabbaths," that is, the cessation of all national movements. A fourth line is added in this stanza, whereas in all the others there are but three. So in Lam 2:19
is removed--as a woman separated from the congregation of God for legal impurity, which is a type of moral impurity. So Lam 1:17
; Lev 12:2
; Lev 15:19
her nakedness--They have treated her as contumeliously as courtesans from whom their clothes are stripped.
turneth backward--as modest women do from shame, that is, she is cast down from all hope of restoration [CALVIN]. 9
Continuation of the image in Lam 1:8
. Her ignominy and misery cannot be concealed but are apparent to all, as if a woman were suffering under such a flow as to reach the end of her skirts.
remembereth not . . . last end-- (Deut 32:29
; Isa 47:7
). She forgot how fatal must be the end of her iniquity. Or, as the words following imply: She, in despair, cannot lift herself up to lay hold of God's promises as to her "latter end" [CALVIN].
wonderfully--Hebrew, "wonders," that is, with amazing dejection.
O Lord, behold--Judah here breaks in, speaking for herself.
for the enemy hath magnified himself--What might seem ground for despair, the elated insulting of the enemy, is rather ground for good hope. 10
for--surely she hath seen, &c.
heathen . . . command . . . not enter . . . congregation--for instance, the Ammonites and Moabites (Deut 23:3
; Neh 13:1
). If the heathen, as such, were not allowed to enter the sanctuary for worship, much less were they allowed to enter in order to rob and destroy. 11
; Jer 38:9
; Jer 52:6
given . . . pleasant things for meat-- (2Kgs 6:25
; Job 2:4
relieve . . . soul--literally, "to cause the soul or life to return."
for I am become vile--Her sins and consequent sorrows are made the plea in craving God's mercy. Compare the like plea in Ps 25:11
The pathetic appeal of Jerusalem, not only to her neighbors, but even to the strangers "passing by," as her sorrow is such as should excite the compassion even of those unconnected with her. She here prefigures Christ, whom the language is prophetically made to suit, more than Jerusalem. Compare Israel, that is, Messiah, Isa 49:3
. Compare with "pass by," Matt 27:39
; Mark 15:29
. As to Jerusalem, Dan 9:12
. M AURER, from the Arabic idiom, translates, "do not go off on your way," that is, stop, whoever ye are that pass by. English Version is simpler. 13
bones--a fire which not only consumes the skin and flesh, but penetrates even to my "bones" (that is, my vital powers).
prevaileth against--not as ROSENMULLER, "He (Jehovah) hath broken them"; a sense not in the Hebrew.
net-- (Ezek 12:13
); image from hunting wild beasts. He has so entangled me in His judgments that I cannot escape.
turned me back--so that I cannot go forward and get free from His meshes. 14
yoke . . . is bound by his hand-- (Deut 28:48
). Metaphor from husbandmen, who, after they have bound the yoke to the neck of oxen, hold the rein firmly twisted round the hand. Thus the translation will be, "in His hand." Or else, "the yoke of my transgressions" (that is, of punishment for my transgressions) is held so fast fixed on me "by" God, that there is no loosening of it; thus English Version, "by His hand."
wreathed--My sins are like the withes entwined about the neck to fasten the yoke to.
into their hands, from whom--into the hands of those, from whom, &c. MAURER translates, "before whom I am not able to stand." 15
trodden, &c.--MAURER, from Syriac root, translates, "cast away"; so 2Kgs 23:27
. But Ps 119:118
, supports English Version.
in . . . midst of me--They fell not on the battlefield, but in the heart of the city; a sign of the divine wrath.
assembly--the collected forces of Babylon; a very different "assembly" from the solemn ones which once met at Jerusalem on the great feasts. The Hebrew means, literally, such a solemn "assembly" or feast (compare Lam 2:22
trodden . . . virgin . . . in a wine-press--hath forced her blood to burst forth, as the red wine from the grapes trodden in the press (Isa 63:3
; Rev 14:19
; Rev 19:15
; Jer 14:17
). Jerusalem is the speaker.
mine eye, mine eye--so Lam 4:18
, "our end . . . our end"; repetition for emphasis. 17
Like a woman in labor-throes (Jer 4:31
menstruous woman--held unclean, and shunned by all; separated from her husband and from the temple (compare Lam 1:8
; Lev 14:19
, &c.). 18
The sure sign of repentance; justifying God, condemning herself (Neh 9:33
; Ps 51:4
; Dan 9:7
his commandment--literally, "mouth"; His word in the mouth of the prophets. 19
lovers-- (Lam 1:2
; Jer 30:14
elders--in dignity, not merely age.
sought . . . meat--Their dignity did not exempt them from having to go and seek bread (Lam 1:11
bowels . . . troubled-- (Job 30:27
; Isa 16:11
; Jer 4:19
; Jer 31:20
). Extreme mental distress affects the bowels and the whole internal frame.
heart . . . turned-- (Hos 11:8
); is agitated or fluttered.
abroad . . . sword . . . at home . . . as death-- (Deut 32:25
; Ezek 7:15
). The "as" does not modify, but intensifies. "Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home as it were death itself" (personified), in the form of famine and pestilence (2Kgs 25:3
; Jer 14:18
; Jer 52:6
). So Hab 2:5
, "as death" [MICHAELIS]. 21
they are glad that thou hast done it--because they thought that therefore Judah is irretrievably ruined (Jer 40:3
the day . . . called--(but) thou wilt bring on them the day of calamity which thou hast announced, namely, by the prophets (Jer. 50:1-46; Jer 48:27
like . . . me--in calamities (Ps 137:8
; Jer 51:25
, &c.). 22
Such prayers against foes are lawful, if the foe be an enemy of God, and if our concern be not for our own personal feeling, but for the glory of God and the welfare of His people.
come before thee--so Rev 16:19
, "Babylon came in remembrance before God" (compare Ps 109:15