CHAPTER (ELEGY) 1
1. how is she … widow! she that was
great, &c.—English Version is according to the
accents. But the members of each sentence are better balanced in
antithesis, thus, "how is she that was great among the nations become
as a widow! (how) she who was princess among the provinces (that is,
she who ruled over the surrounding provinces from the Nile to the
Euphrates, Ge 15:18; 1Ki 4:21; 2Ch 9:26; Ezr
4:20) become tributary!"
sit—on the ground; the posture of
mourners (La 2:10; Ezr 9:3). The coin struck on the taking of
Jerusalem by Titus, representing Judea as a female sitting solitary
under a palm tree, with the inscription, Judæa Capta,
singularly corresponds to the image here; the language therefore must
be prophetical of her state subsequent to Titus, as well as referring
retrospectively to her Babylonian captivity.
2. in the night—even in the night, the
period of rest and oblivion of griefs (Job 7:3).
lovers … friends—the heathen
states allied to Judah, and their idols. The idols whom she "loved"
2:20-25) could not
comfort her. Her former allies would not: nay, some
"treacherously" joined her enemies against her (2Ki 24:2, 7;
3. (Jer 52:27).
because of great servitude—that is, in
a state "of great servitude," endured from the Chaldeans. "Because" is
made by Vatablus indicative of the
cause of her captivity; namely, her having "afflicted" and
unjustly brought into "servitude" the manumitted bond-servants (Jer
34:8-22). Maurer explains it, "Judah has left her land
(not literally 'gone into captivity') because of the yoke imposed on it
no rest—(De 28:64, 65).
overtook her between …
straits—image from robbers, who in the East intercept
travellers at the narrow passes in hilly regions.
4. feasts—the passover, pentecost (or
the feast of weeks), and the feast of tabernacles.
gates—once the place of concourse.
5. the chief—rule her (De 28:43, 44).
adversaries … prosper; for the
Lord—All the foes' attempts would have failed, had not God
delivered His people into their hands (Jer 30:15).
6. beauty … departed—her temple,
throne, and priesthood.
harts that find no pasture—an animal
timid and fleet, especially when seeking and not able to "find
7. remembered—rather, "remembers," now,
in her afflicted state. In the days of her prosperity she did not
appreciate, as she ought, the favors of God to her. Now, awakening out
of her past lethargy, she feels from what high privileges she has
when her people fell, &c.—that is,
after which days of prosperity "her people fell."
mock at her sabbaths—The heathen used
to mock at the Jews' Sabbath, as showing their idleness, and term them
Sabbatarians [Martial, 4.4]. Now,
said they ironically, ye may keep a continuous Sabbath. So God
appointed the length of the captivity (seventy years) to be exactly
that of the sum of the Sabbaths in the four hundred ninety years in
which the land was denied its Sabbaths (Le 26:33-35). Maurer
translates it "ruin." But English Version better expresses the
point of their "mocking," namely, their involuntary "Sabbaths," that
is, the cessation of all national movements. A fourth line is
added in this stanza, whereas in all the others there are but three. So
8. (1Ki 8:46).
is removed—as a woman separated from
the congregation of God for legal impurity, which is a type of moral
impurity. So La 1:17; Le 12:2; 15:19, &c.
her nakedness—They have treated her as
contumeliously as courtesans from whom their clothes are stripped.
turneth backward—as modest women do
from shame, that is, she is cast down from all hope of restoration
9. Continuation of the image in La 1:8. Her ignominy and misery cannot be
concealed but are apparent to all, as if a woman were suffering under
such a flow as to reach the end of her skirts.
remembereth not … last
end—(De 32:29; Isa 47:7). She forgot how fatal must be the end
of her iniquity. Or, as the words following imply: She, in despair,
cannot lift herself up to lay hold of God's promises as to her "latter
that is, with amazing dejection.
O Lord, behold—Judah here breaks in,
speaking for herself.
for the enemy hath magnified
himself—What might seem ground for despair, the elated
insulting of the enemy, is rather ground for good hope.
10. for—surely she hath seen,
heathen … command … not enter
… congregation—for instance, the Ammonites and Moabites
(De 23:3; Ne 13:1, 2). If the heathen, as such, were not
allowed to enter the sanctuary for worship, much less were they allowed
to enter in order to rob and destroy.
11. (Jer 37:21; 38:9; 52:6).
given … pleasant things for
meat—(2Ki 6:25; Job 2:4).
relieve … soul—literally, "to
cause the soul or life to return."
for I am become vile—Her sins and
consequent sorrows are made the plea in craving God's mercy. Compare
the like plea in Ps 25:11.
12. The pathetic appeal of Jerusalem, not only
to her neighbors, but even to the strangers "passing by," as her sorrow
is such as should excite the compassion even of those unconnected with
her. She here prefigures Christ, whom the language is prophetically
made to suit, more than Jerusalem. Compare Israel, that is, Messiah,
49:3. Compare with "pass by,"
27:39; Mr 15:29. As to
Jerusalem, Da 9:12.
M AURER, from the Arabic idiom,
translates, "do not go off on your way," that is, stop, whoever ye are
that pass by. English Version is simpler.
13. bones—a fire which not only consumes
the skin and flesh, but penetrates even to my "bones" (that is, my
prevaileth against—not as Rosenmuller, "He (Jehovah) hath broken them";
a sense not in the Hebrew.
net—(Eze 12:13); image from hunting wild beasts. He has
so entangled me in His judgments that I cannot escape.
turned me back—so that I cannot go
forward and get free from His meshes.
14. yoke … is bound by his
Metaphor from husbandmen, who, after they have bound the yoke to the
neck of oxen, hold the rein firmly twisted round the hand. Thus
the translation will be, "in His hand." Or else, "the yoke of my
transgressions" (that is, of punishment for my transgressions) is held
so fast fixed on me "by" God, that there is no loosening of it;
thus English Version, "by His hand."
wreathed—My sins are like the withes
entwined about the neck to fasten the yoke to.
into their hands, from whom—into the
hands of those, from whom, &c. Maurer translates, "before whom I am not able
15. trodden, &c.—Maurer, from Syriac root, translates, "cast
away"; so 2Ki 23:27.
119:118, supports English
in … midst of me—They fell not
on the battlefield, but in the heart of the city; a sign of the divine
assembly—the collected forces of
Babylon; a very different "assembly" from the solemn ones which once
met at Jerusalem on the great feasts. The Hebrew means,
literally, such a solemn "assembly" or feast (compare La 2:22).
trodden … virgin … in a
wine-press—hath forced her blood to burst forth, as the red
wine from the grapes trodden in the press (Isa
63:3; Re 14:19, 20; 19:15).
16. (Jer 13:17; 14:17). Jerusalem is the speaker.
mine eye, mine eye—so La 4:18, "our end … our end"; repetition
17. Like a woman in labor-throes (Jer 4:31).
menstruous woman—held unclean, and
shunned by all; separated from her husband and from the temple (compare
1:8; Le 14:19, &c.).
18. The sure sign of repentance; justifying
God, condemning herself (Ne 9:33; Ps 51:4; Da 9:7-14).
his commandment—literally, "mouth";
His word in the mouth of the prophets.
19. lovers—(La 1:2; Jer
elders—in dignity, not merely age.
sought … meat—Their dignity did
not exempt them from having to go and seek bread (La 1:11).
20. bowels … troubled—(Job 30:27; Isa 16:11; Jer 4:19; 31:20). Extreme mental distress affects the
bowels and the whole internal frame.
heart … turned—(Ho 11:8); is agitated or fluttered.
abroad … sword … at home … as
death—(De 32:25; Eze 7:15). The "as" does not modify, but
intensifies. "Abroad the sword bereaveth, at home as it were death
itself" (personified), in the form of famine and pestilence (2Ki 25:3; Jer 14:18; 52:6). So Hab 2:5, "as death" [Michaelis].
21. they are glad that thou hast done
it—because they thought that therefore Judah is irretrievably
the day … called—(but) thou wilt
bring on them the day of calamity which thou hast announced,
namely, by the prophets (Jer 50:1-46; 48:27).
like … me—in calamities (Ps
137:8, 9; Jer 51:25,
22. Such prayers against foes are lawful, if
the foe be an enemy of God, and if our concern be not for our own
personal feeling, but for the glory of God and the welfare of His
come before thee—so Re 16:19, "Babylon came in remembrance
before God" (compare Ps 109:15).