Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CHAPTER (ELEGY) 5
EPIPHONEMA, OR A
RECAPITULATION OF THE
TREATED IN THE
(Ps 89:50, 51).
2. Our inheritance--"Thine inheritance"
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
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 life.
our wood--In Judea each one could get wood without pay; in Babylon,
"our wood," the wood we need, must be paid for.
5. Literally, "On our necks we are persecuted"; that is, Men tread
on our necks
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
6. given . . . hand to--in token of submission
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
to be satisfied with bread--
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
8. Servants . . . ruled . . . us--Servants under the Chaldean governors
ruled the Jews
Israel, once a "kingdom of priests"
is become like Canaan, "a servant of servants," according to the curse
The Chaldeans were designed to be "servants" of Shem, being descended
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
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
11. So in just retribution Babylon itself should fare in the end.
Jerusalem shall for the last time suffer these woes before her final
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
13. young men . . . grind--The work of the lowest female slave
was laid on young men
children fell under . . . wood--Mere children had to bear burdens of
wood so heavy that they sank beneath them.
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
Ps 89:39, 44).
(La 1:22; 2:11).
18. foxes--They frequent desolate places where they can freely and
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
20. for ever--that is, for "so long a time."
"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 [CALVIN].