Lamentations 4

CHAPTER IV

The present deplorable sate of the nation is now contrasted

with its ancient prosperity, 1-12;

and the unhappy change ascribed, in a great degree, to the

profligacy of the priests and prophets, 13-16.

The national calamities are tenderly lamented, 17-20.

The ruin of the Edomites also, who had insulted the Jews in

their distress, is ironically predicted, 21.

See Ps 137:7, and Ob 1:10-12.

The chapter closes with a gracious promise of deliverance from

the Babylonish captivity, 22.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV

Verse 1. How is the gold become dim] The prophet contrasts, in

various affecting instances, the wretched circumstances of the

Jewish nation, with the flourishing state of their affairs in

former times. Here they are compared to gold, zahab, native

gold from the mine, which, contrary to its nature, is become dim,

is tarnished; and even the fine, the sterling gold, kethem,

that which was stamped to make it current, is changed or

adulterated, so as to be no longer passable. This might be

applied to the temple, but particularly to the fallen priests and

apostate prophets.

The stones of the sanctuary] abney kodesh, the holy

stones; the Jewish godly men, who were even then the living stones

of which God built his Church.

Verse 2. The precious sons of Zion] The Jewish priests and

Jewish believers.

Comparable to fine gold] Who were of the pure standard of

holiness; holy, because God who called them is holy; but now

esteemed no better than earthen pitchers-vessels of dishonour in

comparison of what they once were.

Verse 3. Even the sea monsters draw out the breast] The whales

give suck to their young ones. The word tannin, signifies all

large and cruel creatures, whether aquatic or terrestrial;

and need not here be restrained to the former sort. My Old MS.

Bible translates curiously: Bot and the cruel bestis that ben

clepid Lamya, and thei nakeden ther tetis, geve ther whelpis

souken.

Like the ostriches in the wilderness.] For her carelessness

about her eggs, and her inattention to her young, the ostrich is

proverbial.

Verse 4. The tongue of the sucking child]

See Clarke on La 2:12.

Verse 5. Embrace dunghills.] Lie on straw or rubbish, instead

of the costly carpets and sofas on which they formerly stretched

themselves.

Verse 6. For the punishment] He thinks the punishment of

Jerusalem far greater than that of Sodom. That was destroyed in

a moment, while all her inhabitants were in health and strength;

Jerusalem fell by the most lingering calamities; her men partly

destroyed by the sword, and partly by the famine.

Instead of no hands stayed on her, Blayney translates, "Nor were

hands weakened in her." Perhaps the meaning is, "Sodom was

destroyed in a moment without any human labour." It was a judgment

from God himself: so the sacred text: "The LORD rained down fire

and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven." See Ge 19:24.

Verse 7. Her Nazarites were purer than snow] nazir does

not always signify a person separated under a religious vow; it

sometimes denotes what is chief or eminent. It is applied to

Joseph, Ge 49:26.

Blayney therefore translates here, HER NOBLES.

"Her nobles were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk;

They were ruddier on the bone than rubies; their veining was

the sapphires."

On which he remarks:-"In the first line the whiteness of their

skin is described, and in the second, their flesh;" and as

gazar signifies to divide and intersect, as the blue veins

do on the surface of the body, these are without doubt intended.

Milk will most certainly well apply to the whiteness of the

skin; the beautiful ruby to the ruddiness of the flesh; and

the sapphire, in its clear transcendent purple, to the veins in

a fine complexion. The reverse of this state, as described in the

following verse, needs no explanation. The face was a dismal dark

brown, the flesh gone, the skin shrivelled, and apparently

wrapped round the bones.

Verse 10. The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own

children] See Clarke on La 2:20. But here there is a

reference to mothers eating their own children; and this was done, not by

mothers cruel and brutal, but by nashim rachmaniyoth,

the compassionate, the tender-hearted mothers. From these horrible

scenes it is well to pass with as hasty a step as possible.

Verse 12. The kings of the earth] Jerusalem was so well

fortified, both by nature and art, that it appeared as a miracle

that it should be taken at all.

Verse 13. For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of

her priests] These most wretched beings, under the pretense of

zeal for the true religion, persecuted the genuine prophets,

priests, and people of God, and caused their blood to be shed in

the midst of the city, in the most open and public manner; exactly

as the murderous priests, and blood-thirsty preachers, under the

reign of bloody Queen Mary, did in England. However, the

profligate priests and idolatrous prophets in Jerusalem, only shed

the blood of the saints of God there: but the sanguinary papists,

in the above reign, burnt the blood here, for they burnt the

people alive; and at the same time, in their worse than Molochean

cruelty, consigned, with all the fervour peculiar to their then

ruthless Church, the souls of those whom they thus massacred, to

the bitter pains of eternal death! O earth, cover not thou their

blood!

Verse 14. They have wandered as blind men in the streets]

Rather, "They ran frantic through the streets, they were stained

with blood." This was in their pretended zeal for their cause.

Bishop Bonner, who was at the head of those sanguinary executions

in England, was accustomed to buffet the poor Protestants, when on

their examinations they were too powerful for him in argument:-

"He proved his doctrine orthodox,

By apostolic blows and knocks."

Just as his elder brethren, the false priests and prophets of

Jerusalem.

Verse 15. When they fled away] These priests and prophets were

so bad, that the very heathen did not like to permit them to

sojourn among them. The prophet now resumes the history of the

siege.

Verse 17. We have watched for a nation] Viz., the Egyptians, who

were their pretended allies, but were neither able nor willing to

help them against the Chaldeans.

Verse 18. We cannot go in our streets] Supposed to refer to the

darts and other missiles cast from the mounds which they had

raised on the outside of the walls, by which those who walked in

the streets were grievously annoyed, and could not shield

themselves.

Verse 19. They pursued us upon the mountains] They hunted down

the poor Jews like wild beasts in every part of the country by

their marauding parties, whilst the great army besieged Jerusalem.

But this may apply to the pursuit of Zedekiah. See what follows.

Verse 20. The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord]

That is, Zedekiah the king, who was as the life of the city, was

taken in his flight by the Chaldeans, and his eyes were put out;

so that he was wholly unfit to perform any function of government;

though they had fondly hoped that if they surrendered and should

be led captives, yet they should be permitted to live under their

own laws and king in the land of their bondage.

Verse 21. Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom] A strong

irony.

The cup also shall pass through unto thee] Thou who hast

triumphed in our disasters shalt shortly have enough of thy own.

They had joined themselves to the Chaldeans, (see Ps 137:7,) and

therefore they should share in the desolations of Babylon.

Verse 22. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O

daughter of Zion] On the contrary: Rejoice, O Jerusalem, for thy

captivity will soon end; thy sufferings are nearly completed; thou

shalt soon return to thy own land: but he will visit thy iniquity,

O Edom; he will discover thy sins. When sin is pardoned, it is

said to be covered: here, God says he will not cover the sins of

Edom-he will not pardon them; they shall drink the cup of wrath.

The promise in this last verse may refer to Jerusalem under the

Gospel. When they receive Christ crucified, they shall be gathered

from all nations, become one with the Church among the Gentiles,

be one flock under one and the same Shepherd, and shall be carried

no more into captivity.

Copyright information for Clarke