Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CHAPTER (ELEGY) 4
RESTORATION, AND THE
1. gold--the splendid adornment of the temple
or, the principal men of Judea [GROTIUS]
stones of . . . sanctuary--the gems on the breastplate of the high
priest; or, metaphorically, the priests and Levites.
2. comparable to . . . gold--
(Job 28:16, 19).
3. sea monsters . . . breast--Whales and other cetaceous monsters are
mammalian. Even they suckle their young; but the Jewish women in the
siege, so desperate was their misery, ate theirs
Others translate, "jackals."
on their forsaking their young.
4. thirst--The mothers have no milk to give through the famine.
5. delicately--on dainties.
are desolate--or, "perish."
in scarlet embrace dunghills--Instead of the scarlet couches on
which the grandees were nursed, they must lie on dunghills.
embrace--They who once shrank sensitively from any soil, gladly
cling close to heaps of filth as their only resting-place. Compare
"embrace the rock"
6. greater than . . . Sodom--
No prophets had been sent to Sodom, as there had been to Judea;
therefore the punishment of the latter was heavier than that of the
overthrown . . . in a moment--whereas the Jews had to endure the
protracted and manifold hardships of a siege.
no hands stayed on her--No hostile force, as the Chaldeans in
the case of Jerusalem, continually pressed on her before her
overthrow. Jeremiah thus shows the greater severity of Jerusalem's
punishment than that of Sodom.
7. Nazarites--literally, "separated ones"
They were held once in the highest estimation, but now they are
degraded. God's blessing formerly caused their body not to be the less
fair and ruddy for their abstinence from strong drink. Compare the
similar case of Daniel, &c.
(1Sa 16:12; 17:42).
Type of Messiah
rubies--GESENIUS translates, "corals," from a Hebrew root, "to
divide into branches," from the branching form of corals.
polishing--They were like exquisitely cut and polished sapphires. The "sapphires" may represent the blue veins of a healthy person.
8. blacker than . . . coal--or, "than blackness" itself
like a stick--as withered as a dry stick.
9. The speedy death by the sword is better than the lingering death
pine away--literally, "flow out"; referring to the flow of blood.
This expression, and "stricken through," are drawn from death by "the
want of . . . fruits--The words in italics have to be supplied
in the original
De 28:56, 57).
pitiful--naturally at other times compassionate
JOSEPHUS describes the unnatural act as it took place in the siege under
11. fire . . . devoured . . . foundations--
A most rare event. Fire usually consumes only the surface; but this
reached even to the foundation, cutting off all hope of
12. Jerusalem was so fortified that all thought it impregnable. It
therefore could only have been the hand of God, not the force of man,
which overthrew it.
13. prophets--the false prophets
(Jer 23:11, 21).
Supply the sense thus: "For the sins . . . these
calamities have befallen her."
shed the blood of the just--
(Mt 23:31, 37).
This received its full fulfilment in the slaying of Messiah and the
Jews' consequent dispersion
14. blind--with mental aberration.
polluted . . . with blood--both with blood of one
another mutually shed (for example,
and with their blood shed by the enemy [GLASSIUS].
not touch . . . garments--as being defiled with blood
15. They . . . them--"They," that is, "men"
Even the very Gentiles, regarded as unclean by the Jews,
who were ordered most religiously to avoid all defilements, cried unto
the latter, "depart," as being unclean: so universal was the
defilement of the city by blood.
wandered--As the false prophets and their followers had "wandered"
blind with infatuated and idolatrous crime in the city
so they must now "wander" among the heathen in blind consternation with
they said--that is, the Gentiles said: it was said among the
heathen, "The Jews shall no more sojourn in their own land"
or, wheresoever they go in their wandering exile, "they shall not stay
16. Ain and Pe are here transposed
(La 4:16, 17),
La 2:16, 17; 3:46-51.
anger--literally, "face"; it is the countenance which, by its
expression, manifests anger
GESENIUS translates, "the person of
Jehovah"; Jehovah present; Jehovah Himself
divided--dispersed the Jews.
they respected not . . . priests--This is the language of the
Gentiles. "The Jews have no hope of a return: for
they respected not even good priests"
[GROTIUS]. MAURER explains
it, "They (the victorious foe) regard not the (Jewish) priests when
imploring their pity"
The evident antithesis to "As for us"
and the language of "the heathen" at the close of
is the continuation, favor the former view.
17. As for us--This translation forms the best antithesis to the
language of the heathen
(La 4:15, 16).
CALVIN translates, "While
as yet we stood as a state, our eyes failed," &c.
watched for a nation that could not save us--Egypt
18. They--the Chaldeans.
cannot go--without danger.
19. The last times just before the taking of the city. There was no
place of escape; the foe intercepted those wishing to escape from the
famine-stricken city, "on the mountains and in the wilderness."
swifter . . . than . . . eagles--the Chaldean cavalry
pursued--literally, "to be hot"; then, "to pursue hotly"
Thus they pursued and overtook Zedekiah
(Jer 52:8, 9).
20. breath . . . anointed of . . . Lord--our
king, with whose life ours was bound up. The original reference seems
to have been to Josiah
killed in battle with Pharaoh-necho; but the language is here applied
to Zedekiah, who, though worthless, was still lineal representative of
David, and type of Messiah, the "Anointed." Viewed personally
the language is too favorable to apply to him.
live among the heathen--Under him we hoped to live securely, even in
spite of the surrounding heathen nations [GROTIUS].
21. Rejoice--at our calamities
This is a prophecy that Edom should exult over the fall of
Jerusalem. At the same time it is implied, Edom's joy shall be
short-lived. Ironically she is told, Rejoice while thou mayest
cup--for this image of the confounding effects of God's wrath, see
Jer 13:12; 25:15, 16, 21;
as to Edom,
Thou hast been punished enough: the end of thy punishment is at hand.
no more carry thee . . . into captivity--that is, by
the Chaldeans. The Romans carried them away subsequently. The
full accomplishment of this prophecy must therefore refer to the
Jews' final restoration.
discover--By the severity of His punishments on thee, God shall let
men see how great was thy sin
God "covers" sin when He forgives it
(Ps 32:1, 5).
He "discovers," or "reveals," it, when He punishes it
shows that Margin is wrong, "carry captive" (this rendering is
compare "discovered," Margin).