CHAPTER (ELEGY) 5
Epiphonema, or a Closing Recapitulation of the
Calamities Treated in the Previous Elegies.
1. (Ps 89:50, 51).
2. Our inheritance—"Thine inheritance"
79:1). The land given of old
to us by Thy gift.
3. fatherless—Our whole land is full of
orphans [Calvin]. Or, "we are
fatherless," being abandoned by Thee our "Father" (Jer 3:19), [Grotius].
4. water for money—The Jews were
compelled to pay the enemy for the water of their own cisterns after
the overthrow of Jerusalem; or rather, it refers to their sojourn in
Babylon; they had to pay tax for access to the rivers and fountains.
Thus, "our" means the water which we need, the commonest necessary of
our wood—In Judea each one could get
wood without pay; in Babylon, "our wood," the wood we need, must be
5. Literally, "On our necks we are
persecuted"; that is, Men tread on our necks (Ps 66:12; Isa
51:23; compare Jos 10:24). The extremest oppression. The foe not
merely galled the Jews face, back, and sides, but their neck. A just
retribution, as they had been stiff in neck against the yoke of God
30:8, Margin; Ne 9:29;
6. given … hand to—in token of
submission (see on Jer 50:15).
to … Egyptians—at the death of
Josiah (2Ch 36:3, 4).
Assyrians—that is, the Chaldeans who
occupied the empire which Assyria had held. So Jer 2:18.
to be satisfied with bread—(De 28:48).
7. (Jer 31:29).
borne their iniquities—that is, the
punishment of them. The accumulated sins of our fathers from age to
age, as well as our own, are visited on us. They say this as a plea why
God should pity them (compare Eze 18:2, &c.).
8. Servants … ruled …
us—Servants under the Chaldean governors ruled the Jews
5:15). Israel, once a
"kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6), is
become like Canaan, "a servant of servants," according to the curse
9:25). The Chaldeans were
designed to be "servants" of Shem, being descended from Ham (Ge 9:26). Now through the Jews' sin, their
positions are reversed.
9. We gat our bread with …
peril—that is, those of us left in the city after its capture
by the Chaldeans.
because of … sword of …
wilderness—because of the liability to attack by the robber
Arabs of the wilderness, through which the Jews had to pass to get
"bread" from Egypt (compare La 5:6).
10. As an oven is scorched with too much fire,
so our skin with the hot blast of famine (Margin, rightly,
"storms," like the hot simoom). Hunger dries up the pores so that the
skin becomes like as if it were scorched by the sun (Job 30:30;
11. So in just retribution Babylon itself
should fare in the end. Jerusalem shall for the last time suffer these
woes before her final restoration (Zec 14:2).
12. hanged … by their hand—a piece
of wanton cruelty invented by the Chaldeans. Grotius translates, "Princes were hung by the hand
of the enemy"; hanging was a usual mode of execution (Ge 40:19).
elders—officials (La 4:16).
13. young men … grind—The work of
the lowest female slave was laid on young men (Jud 16:21;
children fell under … wood—Mere
children had to bear burdens of wood so heavy that they sank beneath
14. Aged men in the East meet in the open
space round the gate to decide judicial trials and to hold social
converse (Job 29:7, 8).
16. The crown—all our glory, the kingdom
and the priesthood (Job 19:9; Ps 89:39, 44).
17. (La 1:22; 2:11).
18. foxes—They frequent desolate places
where they can freely and fearlessly roam.
19. (Ps 102:12). The perpetuity of God's rule over
human affairs, however He may seem to let His people be oppressed for a
time, is their ground of hope of restoration.
20. for ever—that is, for "so long a
21. (Ps 80:3; Jer 31:18). "Restore us to favor with Thee, and so
we shall be restored to our old position" [Grotius]. Jeremiah is not speaking of spiritual
conversion, but of that outward turning whereby God receives men into
His fatherly favor, manifested in bestowing prosperity [Calvin]. Still, as Israel is a type of the Church,
temporal goods typify spiritual blessings; and so the sinner may use
this prayer for God to convert him.
22. Rather, "Unless haply Thou hast utterly
rejected us, and art beyond measure wroth against us," that is, Unless
Thou art implacable, which is impossible, hear our prayer [Calvin]. Or, as Margin, "For wouldest Thou
utterly reject us?" &c.—No; that cannot be. The Jews, in this
book, and in Isaiah and Malachi, to avoid the ill-omen of a mournful
closing sentence, repeat the verse immediately preceding the last