Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ELEGY OVER THE
There is a tacit antithesis between this lamentation and that of the
Jews for their own miseries, into the causes of which, however, they did
1. princes of Israel--that is, Judah, whose "princes" alone were
recognized by prophecy; those of the ten tribes were, in respect to the
2. thy mother--the mother of Jehoiachin, the representative of David's
line in exile with Ezekiel. The "mother" is Judea: "a lioness," as
being fierce in catching prey
referring to her heathenish practices. Jerusalem was called Ariel (the
lion of God) in a good sense
and Judah "a lion's whelp . . . a lion . . . an
to which, as also to
Nu 23:24; 24:9,
this passage alludes.
nourished . . . among young lions--She herself had "lain" among lions,
that is, had intercourse with the corruptions of the surrounding heathen
and had brought up the royal young ones similarly: utterly degenerate
from the stock of Abraham.
Lay down--or "couched," is appropriate to the lion, the Arab name of
which means "the coucher."
3. young lion--Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, carried captive from Riblah to
Egypt by Pharaoh-necho
4. The nations--Egypt, in the case of Jehoahaz, who probably provoked
Pharaoh by trying to avenge the death of his father by assailing the
bordering cities of Egypt
(2Ki 23:29, 30).
in their pit--image from the pitfalls used for catching wild beasts
(Jer 22:11, 12).
chains--or hooks, which were fastened in the noses of wild beasts
5. saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost--that is, that her
long-waited-for hope was disappointed, Jehoahaz not being restored to
her from Egypt.
she took another of her whelps--Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, who
was placed on the throne by Pharaoh
according to the wish of Judah.
6. went up and down among the lions--imitated the recklessness and
tyranny of the surrounding kings
catch . . . prey--to do evil, gratifying his lusts by oppression
7. knew . . . desolate palaces--that is, claimed as his own their
palaces, which he then proceeded to "desolate." The Hebrew, literally
"widows"; hence widowed palaces
VATABLUS (whom FAIRBAIRN
follows) explains it, "He knew (carnally) the widows of those whom he
But thus the metaphor and the literal reality would be blended: the
lion being represented as knowing widows. The reality,
however, often elsewhere thus breaks through the veil.
fulness thereof--all that it contained; its inhabitants.
8. the nations--the Chaldeans, Syrians, Moab, and Ammon
9. in chains--
Margin, "hooks"; perhaps referring to the hook often passed
through the nose of beasts; so, too, through that of captives, as seen
in the Assyrian sculptures (see on
voice--that is, his roaring.
no more be heard upon the mountains--carrying on the metaphor of the
lion, whose roaring on the mountains frightens all the other beasts. The
insolence of the prince, not at all abated though his kingdom was
impaired, was now to cease.
10. A new metaphor taken from the vine, the chief of the
fruit-bearing trees, as the lion is of the beasts of prey (see
in thy blood--"planted when thou wast in thy blood," that is, in thy
very infancy; as in
when thou hadst just come from the womb, and hadst not yet the blood
washed from thee. The Jews from the first were planted in Canaan to
take root there [CALVIN]. GROTIUS translates as the Margin, "in thy
quietness," that is, in the period when Judah had not yet fallen into
her present troubles. English Version is better. GLASSIUS explains it well, retaining the metaphor, which
CALVIN'S explanation breaks, "in the blood of thy
grapes," that is, in her full strength, as the red wine is the strength
of the grape.
is evidently alluded to.
many waters--the well-watered land of Canaan
11. strong rods--princes of the royal house of David. The vine shot
forth her branches like so many scepters, not creeping lowly on the
ground like many vines, but trained aloft on a tree or wall. The mention
of their former royal dignity, contrasting sadly with her present sunken
state, would remind the Jews of their sins whereby they had incurred
among the thick branches--that is, the central stock or trunk of the
tree shot up highest "among its own branches" or offshoots, surrounding
it. Emblematic of the numbers and resources of the people.
translates, "among the clouds." But
Eze 31:3, 10, 14,
supports English Version.
12. plucked up--not gradually withered. The sudden
upturning of the state was designed to awaken the Jews out of their
torpor to see the hand of God in the national judgment.
east wind--(See on
13. planted--that is, transplanted. Though already "dried up" in
regard to the nation generally, the vine is said to be "transplanted" as
regards God's mercy to the remnant in Babylon.
dry . . . ground--Chaldea was well-watered and fertile; but it is the
condition of the captive people, not that of the land, which is referred
14. fire . . . out of a rod of her branches--The Jews'
disaster was to be ascribed, not so much to the Chaldeans as to
themselves; the "fire out of the rod" is God's wrath
kindled by the perjury of Zedekiah
"The anger of the Lord" against Judah is specified as the cause why
Zedekiah was permitted to rebel against Babylon
thus bringing Nebuchadnezzar against Jerusalem.
no strong rod . . . sceptre to rule--No more kings of David's stock
are now to rule the nation. Not at least until "the Lord shall send the
rod of His strength ("Messiah,"
out of Zion," to reign first as a spiritual, then hereafter as a
is . . . and shall be for a lamentation--Part of the lamentation (that
as to Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim) was matter of history as already
accomplished; part (as to Zedekiah) was yet to be fulfilled; or, this
prophecy both is a subject for lamentation, and shall be so to distant