1How the gold has become dim; the fine gold has changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the head of every street.2The precious sons of Zion, weighed against refined gold, are counted as earthen vessels, the work of the hands of the potter!3Even the monsters draw out the breast to suckle their young. But the daughter of my people is cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.4The tongue of the infant cleaves to the roof of his mouth in thirst; the young children ask for bread; there is none broken to them.5Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; those brought up in scarlet embrace refuse heaps.6For the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown as in a moment, with no hands to writhe over her.7Her Nazirites were purer than snow, whiter than milk; they were redder of body than rubies; their polishing as sapphires.8Their appearance is blacker than soot; they are not recognized in the streets; their skin has shriveled on their bones; it is dried up; it has become like wood.9Better off are the ones slain by the sword than the ones slain by hunger; for they pine away, pierced through for lack of the fruits of the fields.10The hands of the compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people.11Jehovah has fulfilled His fury; He has poured out His fierce anger, and has kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured its foundations.12The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy would have entered the gates into Jerusalem.13For the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, shedding the blood of the just in her midst,14they have wandered as blind men in the streets; they are defiled with blood, so that no one could touch their clothes.15They cried out to them, Depart! Unclean! Depart, depart! Do not touch us! When they fled and wandered, they said among the nations, They will not continue to live there.16The face of Jehovah has scattered them out; He will no longer have regard for them; they did not respect the persons of the priests, nor show favor to the elders. 17As for us, our eyes failed, watching in vain for our help; in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us. 18They have hunted our steps to keep us from going in our streets; our end was near, our days were fulfilled, for our end has come.19Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heavens; they pursued us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.20The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Jehovah, was captured in their pits; of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.21Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, who lives in the land of Uz. The cup also shall pass through unto you; you shall become drunk and stripped naked.22The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will send you into captivity no more. He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins.
Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary 1
THE SAD CAPTURE OF JERUSALEM, THE HOPE OF RESTORATION, AND THE RETRIBUTION AWAITING IDUMEA FOR JOINING BABYLON AGAINST JUDEA. (Lam. 4:1-22)
gold--the splendid adornment of the temple [CALVIN] (Lam 1:10
; 1Kgs 6:22
; Jer 52:19
); or, the principal men of Judea [GROTIUS] (Lam 4:2
stones of . . . sanctuary--the gems on the breastplate of the high priest; or, metaphorically, the priests and Levites. 2
comparable to . . . gold-- (Job 28:16
, Job 28:19
earthen pitchers-- (Isa 30:14
; Jer 19:11
sea monsters . . . breast--Whales and other cetaceous monsters are mammalian. Even they suckle their young; but the Jewish women in the siege, so desperate was their misery, ate theirs (Lam 4:10
; Lam 2:20
). Others translate, "jackals."
ostriches--see on Job 39:14
; Job 39:16
, on their forsaking their young. 4
thirst--The mothers have no milk to give through the famine. 5
are desolate--or, "perish."
in scarlet embrace dunghills--Instead of the scarlet couches on which the grandees were nursed, they must lie on dunghills.
embrace--They who once shrank sensitively from any soil, gladly cling close to heaps of filth as their only resting-place. Compare "embrace the rock" (Job 24:8
greater than . . . Sodom-- (Matt 11:23
). No prophets had been sent to Sodom, as there had been to Judea; therefore the punishment of the latter was heavier than that of the former.
overthrown . . . in a moment--whereas the Jews had to endure the protracted and manifold hardships of a siege.
no hands stayed on her--No hostile force, as the Chaldeans in the case of Jerusalem, continually pressed on her before her overthrow. Jeremiah thus shows the greater severity of Jerusalem's punishment than that of Sodom. 7
Nazarites--literally, "separated ones" (Num 6:2
). They were held once in the highest estimation, but now they are degraded. God's blessing formerly caused their body not to be the less fair and ruddy for their abstinence from strong drink. Compare the similar case of Daniel, &c. (Dan 1:8
). Also David (1Sam 16:12
; 1Sam 17:42
). Type of Messiah (Song 5:10
rubies--GESENIUS translates, "corals," from a Hebrew root, "to divide into branches," from the branching form of corals.
polishing--They were like exquisitely cut and polished sapphires. The "sapphires" may represent the blue veins of a healthy person. 8
blacker than . . . coal--or, "than blackness" itself (Joel 2:6
; Nah 2:10
like a stick--as withered as a dry stick. 9
The speedy death by the sword is better than the lingering death by famine.
pine away--literally, "flow out"; referring to the flow of blood. This expression, and "stricken through," are drawn from death by "the sword."
want of . . . fruits--The words in italics have to be supplied in the original (Gen 18:28
; Ps 109:24
; Deut 28:56
pitiful--naturally at other times compassionate (Isa 49:15
). JOSEPHUS describes the unnatural act as it took place in the siege under Titus.
fire . . . devoured . . . foundations-- (Deut 32:22
; Jer 21:14
). A most rare event. Fire usually consumes only the surface; but this reached even to the foundation, cutting off all hope of restoration. 12
Jerusalem was so fortified that all thought it impregnable. It therefore could only have been the hand of God, not the force of man, which overthrew it. 13
prophets--the false prophets (Jer 23:11
, Jer 23:21
). Supply the sense thus: "For the sins . . . these calamities have befallen her."
shed the blood of the just-- (Matt 23:31
, Matt 23:37
). This received its full fulfilment in the slaying of Messiah and the Jews' consequent dispersion (Jas 5:6
blind--with mental aberration.
polluted . . . with blood--both with blood of one another mutually shed (for example, Jer 2:34
), and with their blood shed by the enemy [GLASSIUS].
not touch . . . garments--as being defiled with blood (Num 19:16
They . . . them--"They," that is, "men" (Lam 4:14
). Even the very Gentiles, regarded as unclean by the Jews, who were ordered most religiously to avoid all defilements, cried unto the latter, "depart," as being unclean: so universal was the defilement of the city by blood.
wandered--As the false prophets and their followers had "wandered" blind with infatuated and idolatrous crime in the city (Lam 4:14
), so they must now "wander" among the heathen in blind consternation with calamity.
they said--that is, the Gentiles said: it was said among the heathen, "The Jews shall no more sojourn in their own land" [GROTIUS]; or, wheresoever they go in their wandering exile, "they shall not stay long" [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU], (Deut 28:65
Ain and Pe are here transposed (Lam 4:16
), as in Lam 2:16
; Lam 3:46
anger--literally, "face"; it is the countenance which, by its expression, manifests anger (Ps 34:16
). GESENIUS translates, "the person of Jehovah"; Jehovah present; Jehovah Himself (Exod 33:14
; 2Sam 17:11
divided--dispersed the Jews.
they respected not . . . priests--This is the language of the Gentiles. "The Jews have no hope of a return: for they respected not even good priests" (2Chr 24:19
-22) [GROTIUS]. MAURER explains it, "They (the victorious foe) regard not the (Jewish) priests when imploring their pity" (Lam 5:12
). The evident antithesis to "As for us" (Lam 4:17
) and the language of "the heathen" at the close of Lam 4:15
, of which Lam 4:16
is the continuation, favor the former view. 17
As for us--This translation forms the best antithesis to the language of the heathen (Lam 4:15
). CALVIN translates, "While as yet we stood as a state, our eyes failed," &c.
watched for a nation that could not save us--Egypt (2Kgs 24:7
; Isa 30:7
; Jer 37:5
cannot go--without danger. 19
The last times just before the taking of the city. There was no place of escape; the foe intercepted those wishing to escape from the famine-stricken city, "on the mountains and in the wilderness."
swifter . . . than . . . eagles--the Chaldean cavalry (Jer 4:13
pursued--literally, "to be hot"; then, "to pursue hotly" (Gen 31:36
). Thus they pursued and overtook Zedekiah (Jer 52:8
breath . . . anointed of . . . Lord--our king, with whose life ours was bound up. The original reference seems to have been to Josiah (2Chr 35:25
), killed in battle with Pharaoh-necho; but the language is here applied to Zedekiah, who, though worthless, was still lineal representative of David, and type of Messiah, the "Anointed." Viewed personally the language is too favorable to apply to him.
live among the heathen--Under him we hoped to live securely, even in spite of the surrounding heathen nations [GROTIUS]. 21
Rejoice--at our calamities (Ps 137:7
). This is a prophecy that Edom should exult over the fall of Jerusalem. At the same time it is implied, Edom's joy shall be short-lived. Ironically she is told, Rejoice while thou mayest (Eccl 11:9
cup--for this image of the confounding effects of God's wrath, see Jer 13:12
; Jer 25:15
, Jer 25:21
; as to Edom, Jer. 49:7-22. 22
). Thou hast been punished enough: the end of thy punishment is at hand.
no more carry thee . . . into captivity--that is, by the Chaldeans. The Romans carried them away subsequently. The full accomplishment of this prophecy must therefore refer to the Jews' final restoration.
discover--By the severity of His punishments on thee, God shall let men see how great was thy sin (Jer 49:10
). God "covers" sin when He forgives it (Ps 32:1
, Ps 32:5
). He "discovers," or "reveals," it, when He punishes it (Job 20:27
). Jer 49:10
shows that Margin is wrong, "carry captive" (this rendering is as in Nah 2:7
; compare "discovered," Margin).