Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
LAMENTATION FOR THE
1. This verse is more fitly joined to the last chapter, as
in the Hebrew (compare
La 2:11; 3:48).
2. lodging-place--a caravanseral for caravans, or companies travelling
in the desert, remote from towns. It was a square building enclosing an
open court. Though a lonely and often filthy dwelling, Jeremiah would
prefer even it to the comforts of Jerusalem, so as to be removed from
the pollutions of the capital
(Ps 55:7, 8).
3. bend . . . tongues . . . for lies--that is, with lies as their
arrows; they direct lies on their tongue as their bow
(Ps 64:3, 4).
not valiant for . . . truth--
MAURER translates, "They do not prevail by
truth" or faith
Their tongue, not faith, is their weapon.
upon . . . earth--rather, "in the land."
know not me--
4. supplant--literally, "trip up by the heel"
walk with slanders--
5. weary themselves--are at laborious pains to act perversely
[MAURER]. Sin is a hard bondage
6. Thine--God addresses Jeremiah, who dwelt in the midst of deceitful
refuse to know me--Their ignorance of God is wilful
(Jer 9:3; 5:4, 5).
7. melt . . . try them--by sending calamities on them.
for how shall I do--"What else can I do for the sake of the
daughter of My people?" [MAURER],
8. tongue . . . arrow shot out--rather, "a murdering arrow"
speaketh peaceably . . . in heart . . . layeth . . . wait--layeth
his ambush [HENDERSON],
(Jer 5:9, 29).
10. Jeremiah breaks in upon Jehovah's threats of wrath with
lamentation for his desolated country.
mountains--once cultivated and fruitful: the hillsides were
cultivated in terraces between the rocks.
habitations of . . . wilderness--rather, "the pleasant herbage
(literally, 'the choice parts' of any thing) of the pasture plain." The
Hebrew for "wilderness" expresses not a barren desert, but an
untilled plain, fit for pasture.
burned up--because no one waters them, the inhabitants being all
none can pass through them--much less inhabit them.
11. And--omit "And." Jehovah here resumes His speech from
12. Rather, "Who is a wise man? (that is, Whosoever has inspired
let him understand this (weigh well the evils impending, and the causes
of their being sent); and he to whom the mouth of the Lord hath spoken
(that is, whosoever is prophetically inspired), let him declare
it to his fellow countrymen," if haply they may be roused to
repentance, the only hope of safety.
13. Answer to the "for what the land perisheth"
Baalim--plural of Baal, to express his supposed manifold powers.
fathers taught them--
We are not to follow the errors of the fathers, but the authority of
Scripture and of God [JEROME].
(Jer 8:14; 23:15;
16. nor their fathers have known--alluding to
"Their fathers taught them" idolatry; therefore the children shall be
scattered to a land which neither their fathers nor they have known.
send a sword after them--Not even in flight shall they be safe.
17. mourning women--hired to heighten lamentation by plaintive cries
baring the breast, beating the arms, and suffering the hair to flow
cunning--skilled in wailing.
19. The cry of "the mourning women."
dwellings cast us out--fulfilling
Le 18:28; 20:22.
CALVIN translates, "The enemy have cast
down our habitations."
20. Yet--rather, "Only" [HENDERSON].
This particle calls attention
to what follows.
teach . . . daughters wailing--The deaths will be so many that there
will be a lack of mourning women to bewail them. The mothers, therefore,
must teach their daughters the science to supply the want.
21. death . . . windows--The death-inflicting soldiery, finding the
doors closed, burst in by the windows.
to cut off . . . children from . . . streets--Death cannot be said
to enter the windows to cut off the children in the streets, but
to cut them off, so as no more to play in the streets without
22. saith the Lord--continuing the thread of discourse from
handful . . . none . . . gather them--implying that the handful has
been so trodden as to be not worth even the poor gleaner's effort to
gather it. Or the Eastern custom may be referred to: the reaper cuts the
grain and is followed by another who gathers it. This grain shall
not be worth gathering. How galling to the pride of the Jews to hear
that so shall their carcasses be trodden contemptuously under foot!
23. wisdom--political sagacity; as if it could rescue from the
24. Nothing but an experimental knowledge of God will save the
understandeth--theoretically; in the intellect.
knoweth--practically: so as to walk in My ways
loving kindness--God's mercy is put in the first and highest place,
because without it we should flee from God in fear and despair.
judgment . . . righteousness--loving-kindness towards the godly;
judgment towards the ungodly; righteousness the most perfect
fairness in all cases [GROTIUS].
Faithfulness to His promises to
preserve the godly, as well as stern execution of judgment on the
ungodly, is included in "righteousness."
in the earth--contrary to the dogma of some philosophers, that God
does not interfere in terrestrial concerns
in these . . . I delight--as well in doing them as in seeing them
done by others
(Mic 6:8; 7:18).
25. with the uncircumcised--rather, "all that are circumcised
in uncircumcision" [HENDERSON].
The Hebrew is an abstract term, not a concrete, as
English Version translates, and as the pious "circumcised" is.
The nations specified, Egypt, Judah, &c., were outwardly
"circumcised," but in heart were "uncircumcised." The heathen
nations were defiled, in spite of their literal circumcision, by
idolatry. The Jews, with all their glorying in their spiritual
privileges, were no better
De 10:16; 30:6;
Ro 2:28, 29;
Eze 31:18; 32:19,
may imply that the Egyptians were uncircumcised; and it is uncertain as
to the other nations specified whether they were at that early time
circumcised. HERODOTUS says the Egyptians were so;
but others think this applies only to the priests and others having a
sacred character, not to the mass of the nation; so English
Version may be right
(Ro 2:28, 29).
26. Egypt--put first to degrade Judah, who, though in privileges
above the Gentiles, by unfaithfulness sank below them. Egypt, too,
was the power in which the Jews were so prone to trust, and by whose
instigation they, as well as the other peoples specified, revolted from
in the utmost corners--rather, "having the hair shaven (or clipped)
in angles," that is, having the beard on the cheek narrowed or cut: a Canaanitish custom, forbidden to the Israelites
(Le 19:27; 21:5).
The Arabs are hereby referred to (compare
Jer 25:23; 49:32),
as the words in apposition show, "that dwell in the wilderness."
uncircumcised . . . uncircumcised in the heart--The addition of "in
the heart" in Israel's case marks its greater guilt in proportion
to its greater privileges, as compared with the rest.