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Lamentations 1:19

19. I called for my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and mine elders gave up the ghost in the city, while they sought their meat to relieve their souls.

19. Clamavi ad amicos nucos, ipsi deceperunt me: sacerdotes mei et seniores mei in urbe obierunt, quia quaesierint cibum sibi et refocillarunt (ad verbum, hoc est, ut refocillarent) animam suam (ad verbum, ut redire facerent, quemadmodum Gallice dicimus, faire revenir le coeur.)

 

Here the people of God complain in the person of a woman, as we have before seen, that in their calamity they were left destitute of every comfort. And it is a circumstance which increases grief, when no one is present to shew any kindness to the miserable; for it is no small alleviation of sorrow, when friends offer their kind services, and as far as they can, endeavor to mitigate the severity of the evil.

The Church of God now says, that she was so forsaken by friends as to be left alone to pine away in her mourning and sorrow. There may, however, be here an allusion to shameful and impure connections; for by this term, friends, the Spirit often points out the Egyptians as well as others in whom the Israelites had foolishly trusted; for in this manner, we know, they had turned aside from conjugal fidelity. God had bound them to himself, that they might acquiesce in his favor alone; and so to acquiesce was their spiritual chastity. Rightly, then, does Scripture compare both the Egyptians and the Assyrians to harlots, whenever the Israelites sought aid from them. But as this explanation seems too refined, I am content to view what is said simply as a complaint., that the people of God, though looking in all directions, yet could find no comfort in the world. I cried, she said, to my friends; they deceived me.

It is then added, My priests and mine elders expired in the city. Had they been slain in battle, it would have been no wonder; for they who go against an enemy, go as it were to meet death. But God’s people here deplore a more grievous evil, that the priests died in the city, not through the enemies’ sword, but through famine, which is as it were the extreme of evils. It is then said, that the priests as well as the elders perished through famine, because they could not find food. And when it is said that they sought food to refresh the soul, there is a contrast to be understood between ordinary food and a remedy for the famine; for we naturally seek food whenever we feel hungry; but the Prophet refers here to something more than this, even that the priests and the elders sought food, because long abstinence urged them; and it was very sad, that the priests, who excelled in honor, and also the elders, were thus reduced to want. Had such a thing happened to the common people, it would not have been so wonderful; for the long siege of the city had consumed all their provisions. But when the priests, and those who had wealth, were thus oppressed with hunger, we may conclude that the want which the Prophet wished to describe was extreme. It follows, —

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