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Lamentations 4:19

19. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

19. Velociores fucrunt persequutores nostri aquilis coelorum; super montes insequuti sunt nos, in deserto insidiati sunt nobis

 

Here, then, the Prophet means, that the Jews were so straitened, that there was no escape for them, because their steps were observed by their enemies, and also because the Chaldeans had recourse to the greatest celerity, that they might take them.

He then, says, first, that their enemies were like hunters, for the Jews could not go even through the streets of their own city. We know that they were reduced to the greatest straits; but how hard the siege was is better expressed by this similitude, even that they dared not walk through the city; for there is an implied comparison, as though he had said, “We had no liberty in the very city, much less were we allowed to go out and ramble through the open fields.” he, in the second place, adds what corresponds with the first clause, Approach did our end, fulfilled were our days; surely come did our end 218218     He describes throughout what had taken place. Our version is not right in giving the verbs in the present tense. “For” is better than “surely” before “come.”
   They hunted our footsteps,
That we could not walk in our streets:
Near was our end; fulfilled were our days,
For come had our end.

   Then he describes what happened when the city was taken. — Ed.
He concludes, that no hope remained since their enemies were thus oppressing them. He, then, infers that the end was at hand, by which he means final ruin or destruction; and he adds, that the days were fulfilled, where, he seems to compare the state of Jerusalem with the life of man; for he is said to have fulfilled his day who leaves the world — for a certain time for cur sojourn has been prefixed. God, when it pleases him, calls us to himself. Hence, our time is then fulfilled, as our course is said to be finished; for, as the life of man is compared in Scripture to a race, so death is like the goal. So now, speaking of the city, the Prophet says that its time was fulfilled, for it was not God’s will that it should remain any longer. In the third place, he says, that the end had come. He said before, that it was nigh, but he says now, that it had come. he, in short, shows that God, having long spared the Jews, when he saw that they made no end of sinning, at length had recourse to rigor, for they had shamefully abused his forbearance; for he had long suspended his judgment, and had often tried whether they were healable. The Prophet, then, reproves now their obstinacy, when he says that their end had come, and that their time was fulfilled.

He afterwards, for the same purpose, adds, that swifter than eagles had been their persecutors or pursuers. The Prophet, no doubt;, continues the same subject. As, then, he had made the Chaldeans to be like hunters, so he says now, that in flying they exceeded the eagles. It is, indeed. a hyperbolical expression, but the Prophet could not otherwise express the incredible celerity with which the Chaldeans hastened in pursuing the Jews. Nor is there a doubt but that he indirectly derided the security of the foolish people; for we know, that whenever the prophets threatened them, this false opinion ever prevailed, that the Chaldeans would not come, because they were far away, the journey was long and difficult, time were many hinderances. The Prophet, then, now taunts them for this confidence, by which they had been deceived, when he says, that swifter titan the eagles of the heavens were their enemies.

He mentions the ways they adopted, Through the mountains they pursued, and laid in wait in the desert. He means that every way of escape was closed up. For when enemies come, many hide themselves on mountains and thus escape; and others, betaking themselves to the desert, find there some hiding-places. But the Prophet says that such was the velocity of the Chaldeans, that the Jews in vain looked to the mountains or to deserts, for snares were everywhere prepared, and they were present everywhere to pursue them. Thus he confirms what he had said, that the time was fulfilled, for the Lord kept them shut up on every side.

Now, though the Prophet speaks here of the ruin of the city, yet we may gather a useful doctrine: When the hand of God is against us, we in vain look around in all directions, for there will be no safety for us on mountains, nor will solitude protect us in the desert. As, then, we see that the Jews were closed up by God’s hand, so when we contend with him, we in vain turn our eyes here and there; for, however we may for a time entertain good hopes, yet God will surely at last disappoint us. It follows, —


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