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Lamentations 2:16

16. All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it

16. Aperuerunt 167167     This verse begins with פ, and the next with ע; thus the alphabetical order is deranged. The same thing occurs in the two next chapters, though in the first chapter the usual order of the letters is preserved. Many conjectures have been made on the subject, but no satisfactory reason has been assigned. The Targ. and the early versions, except the Syr., follow in the three places the present text; only the Sept., very strangely, prefix the letters in their alphabetical order, and yet give the verses as they now are. When, added to this, we find the meaning favors the present arrangement, we cannot but conclude that it was the original one, though the reason why Jeremiah changed, as to these two letters, even in three instances, the alphabetical order, cannot now be discovered. — Ed super te os suum cuncti hostes tui, sibilarunt et frenduerunt dente (vel, dentibus;) dixerunt, Devorabimus; utique hic dies quem expectavimus; invenimus, vidimus.

 

Here, also, the Prophet introduces enemies as insolently exulting over the miseries of the people. He first says, that they had opened the mouth, even that they might loudly upbraid them; for he is not said to open the mouth who only speaks, but who insolently and freely utters his calumnies. God is, indeed, sometimes said emphatically to open his mouth, when he announces something that deserves special notice; and so Matthew says, that Christ opened his mouth when he spoke of true happiness. (Matthew 5:2.) But in this place and in others the enemy is said to open his mouth, who, with a full mouth, so to speak, taunts him whom he sees worn out with evils. Hence, he refers to petulance or insolence, when he says, that enemies had opened their mouth

He then adds, that they had hissed. By hissing he no doubt means scoffing or taunting; for it immediately follows, that they had gnashed with their teeth, as though he had said, that enemies not only blamed and condemned them, but had also given tokens of extreme hatred; for he who gnashes with his teeth thus shews the bitterness of his mind, and even fury; for to gnash the teeth is what belongs to a wild beast. The Prophet then says, that enemies had not only harassed the people with taunts and scoffs, but had also cruelly and even furiously treated them. Now we know that to men of ingenuous minds, such a treatment is harder than death itself: for it is deemed by many a hard thing to fall in battle — and we see how men of war expose themselves to the greatest danger; but a disgraceful death is far more bitter. The Prophet, then, no doubt, amplifies the miseries of the people by this circumstance, that they had been harassed on every side by taunts. And he mentions this on purpose, because reproofs by the prophets had not been received by them; for we know how perversely the Jews had rebelled against the prophets, when they reproved them in God’s name. As, then, they would not have borne the paternal reproofs of God, they were thus constrained to bear the reproaches of enemies, and to receive the just reward of their pride and presumption. Nor is there a doubt, as I have said, but that the Prophet related reproaches of this kind, and the scoffs of enemies, that the people might at length know that they had been exposed to such evils, because they had proudly rejected the reproofs given them by the prophets.

He says, that enemies spoke thus, We have devoured; surely this is the day which we have expected; as though they triumphed when they saw that they got the victory, and that they could do with the people as they pleased. And as I have said, this in itself was a very bitter thing to the people; but. when the Prophet related, as in the person of the enemies, what was already sufficiently known to them, the people ought to have called to mind the reason why they had been so severely afflicted; and this is what the Prophet clearly sets forth in the next verse; for he, adds, —


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