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Lamentations 5:4

4. We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us.

4. Aquas nostras pecunia bibimus, ligna nostra pretio veniunt (non veneunt, nam intelligit ligna afferri, aut venire in illorum manus non sine pretio.)


The Prophet here relates, that the people were denuded, that they labored under the want of water and of wood. He does not say that they were only deprived of corn and wine, he does not complain that any of their luxuries were lessened; but he mentions water and wood, the common things of life; for the use of water, as it is said, is common to all; no one is so poor, if he dwells not in a land wholly dry, but that he has water enough to drink. For if there be no fountains, there are at least rivers, there are wells; nor do men perish through thirst, except in deserts and in places uninhabitable. As, then, water might be had everywhere, the Prophet here sets forth the extreme misery of the people, for water was even sold to them. In stony and high places water is sold; but this is a very rare thing. The Prophet here means that the people were not only deprived of their wealth, but reduced to such a state of want that they had no water without buying it.

At the same time he seems to express something worse when he says, Our water we drink for money, and our wood is brought to us for a price. It is not strange that wood should be bought; but the Prophet means that water was sold to the Jews which had been their own, and that they were also compelled to buy wood which had been their own. Thus the possessive pronouns are to be considered as emphatical. Then he says, “Our own waters we drink,” etc. 224224     To express this meaning, which is probably the true one, the words ought to be thus rendered, —

   4. Our own water, for money have we drunk it;
Our own wood, for a price it comes to us.

   Grotius says that in the land of Canaan the forests were free to all to get wood from. When in exile the Jews had to buy wood. — Ed.
He calls them the waters of the people, which by right they might have claimed as their own; and he also calls the wood The same; it was that to which the people had a legitimate right. He then says that all things had been so taken away by their enemies, that they were forced to buy, not only the wine which had been taken from their cellars, and the corn which had been taken from their granaries, but also the water and the wood.

But were any one disposed to take the words more simply, the complaint would not be unsuitable, — that the people, who before had abundance of wine and all other things, were constrained to buy everything, even water and wood. For it is a grievous change when any one, who could once cut wood of his own, and gather his own wine and corn, is not able to get even a drop of water without buying it. This is a sad change. So this passage may be understood. It follows, —

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