CHAPTER (ELEGY) 1
1. how is she . . . widow! she that was great, &c.--English Version is according to the accents. But the members of each
sentence are better balanced in antithesis, thus, "how is she that was
great among the nations become as a widow! (how) she who was princess
among the provinces (that is, she who ruled over the surrounding
provinces from the Nile to the Euphrates,
become tributary!" [MAURER].
sit--on the ground; the posture of mourners
The coin struck on the taking of Jerusalem by Titus, representing Judea
as a female sitting solitary under a palm tree, with the inscription,
Judæa Capta, singularly corresponds to the image here; the
language therefore must be prophetical of her state subsequent to
Titus, as well as referring retrospectively to her Babylonian
2. in the night--even in the night, the period of rest and oblivion
lovers . . . friends--the heathen states allied to Judah, and their
idols. The idols whom she "loved"
could not comfort her. Her former allies would not: nay,
some "treacherously" joined her enemies against her
(2Ki 24:2, 7;
because of great servitude--that is, in a state "of great servitude,"
endured from the Chaldeans. "Because" is made by
VATABLUS indicative of
the cause of her captivity; namely, her having "afflicted" and
unjustly brought into "servitude" the manumitted bond-servants
MAURER explains it, "Judah has left her
land (not literally 'gone into captivity') because of the yoke
imposed on it by Nebuchadnezzar."
(De 28:64, 65).
overtook her between . . . straits--image from robbers, who in the
East intercept travellers at the narrow passes in hilly regions.
4. feasts--the passover, pentecost (or the feast of weeks), and the
feast of tabernacles.
gates--once the place of concourse.
5. the chief--rule her
(De 28:43, 44).
adversaries . . . prosper; for the Lord--All the foes' attempts
would have failed, had not God delivered His people into their hands
6. beauty . . . departed--her temple, throne, and priesthood.
harts that find no pasture--an animal timid and fleet, especially
when seeking and not able to "find pasture."
7. remembered--rather, "remembers," now, in her afflicted state. In
the days of her prosperity she did not appreciate, as she ought, the
favors of God to her. Now, awakening out of her past lethargy, she feels
from what high privileges she has fallen.
when her people fell, &c.--that is, after which days of prosperity
"her people fell."
mock at her sabbaths--The heathen used to mock at the Jews' Sabbath,
as showing their idleness, and term them Sabbatarians
Now, said they ironically, ye may keep a continuous Sabbath. So God
appointed the length of the captivity (seventy years) to be exactly that
of the sum of the Sabbaths in the four hundred ninety years in which the
land was denied its Sabbaths
MAURER translates it "ruin." But English
Version better expresses the point of their "mocking," namely,
their involuntary "Sabbaths," that is, the cessation of all
national movements. A fourth line is added in this stanza, whereas in
all the others there are but three. So in
is removed--as a woman separated from the congregation of God for legal
impurity, which is a type of moral impurity. So
Le 12:2; 15:19,
her nakedness--They have treated her as contumeliously as courtesans
from whom their clothes are stripped.
turneth backward--as modest women do from shame, that is, she is cast
down from all hope of restoration
9. Continuation of the image in
Her ignominy and misery cannot be concealed but are apparent to all, as
if a woman were suffering under such a flow as to reach the end of her
remembereth not . . . last end--
She forgot how fatal must be the end of her iniquity. Or, as the words
following imply: She, in despair, cannot lift herself up to lay hold of
God's promises as to her "latter end" [CALVIN].
wonderfully--Hebrew, "wonders," that is, with amazing dejection.
O Lord, behold--Judah here breaks in, speaking for herself.
for the enemy hath magnified himself--What might seem ground for
despair, the elated insulting of the enemy, is rather ground for good
10. for--surely she hath seen, &c.
heathen . . . command . . . not enter . . . congregation--for instance,
the Ammonites and Moabites
Ne 13:1, 2).
If the heathen, as such, were not allowed to enter the sanctuary for
worship, much less were they allowed to enter in order to rob and
(Jer 37:21; 38:9; 52:6).
given . . . pleasant things for meat--
relieve . . . soul--literally, "to cause the soul or life to return."
for I am become vile--Her sins and consequent sorrows are made the
plea in craving God's mercy. Compare the like plea in
12. The pathetic appeal of Jerusalem, not only to her neighbors, but
even to the strangers "passing by," as her sorrow is such as should
excite the compassion even of those unconnected with her. She here
prefigures Christ, whom the language is prophetically made to suit, more
than Jerusalem. Compare Israel, that is, Messiah,
Compare with "pass by,"
As to Jerusalem,
M AURER, from the Arabic idiom, translates,
"do not go off on your way," that is, stop, whoever ye are that pass
by. English Version is simpler.
13. bones--a fire which not only consumes the skin and flesh, but
penetrates even to my "bones" (that is, my vital powers).
prevaileth against--not as ROSENMULLER, "He
(Jehovah) hath broken them"; a sense not in the Hebrew.
image from hunting wild beasts. He has so entangled me in His judgments
that I cannot escape.
turned me back--so that I cannot go forward and get free from His
14. yoke . . . is bound by his hand--
Metaphor from husbandmen, who, after they have bound the yoke to the
neck of oxen, hold the rein firmly twisted round the hand. Thus
the translation will be, "in His hand." Or else, "the yoke of my
transgressions" (that is, of punishment for my transgressions) is held
so fast fixed on me "by" God, that there is no loosening of it;
thus English Version, "by His hand."
wreathed--My sins are like the withes entwined about the neck to
fasten the yoke to.
into their hands, from whom--into the hands of those, from whom, &c.
MAURER translates, "before whom I am not able
15. trodden, &c.--MAURER, from Syriac root, translates, "cast
But Ps 119:118,
supports English Version.
in . . . midst of me--They fell not on the battlefield, but in the
heart of the city; a sign of the divine wrath.
assembly--the collected forces of Babylon; a very different "assembly"
from the solemn ones which once met at Jerusalem on the great feasts.
The Hebrew means, literally, such a solemn "assembly" or feast
trodden . . . virgin . . . in a wine-press--hath forced her blood to
burst forth, as the red wine from the grapes trodden in the press
Re 14:19, 20; 19:15).
(Jer 13:17; 14:17).
Jerusalem is the speaker.
mine eye, mine eye--so
"our end . . . our end"; repetition for emphasis.
17. Like a woman in labor-throes
menstruous woman--held unclean, and shunned by all; separated from
her husband and from the temple (compare
18. The sure sign of repentance; justifying God, condemning herself
his commandment--literally, "mouth"; His word in the mouth of the
elders--in dignity, not merely age.
sought . . . meat--Their dignity did not exempt them from having to
go and seek bread
20. bowels . . . troubled--
Jer 4:19; 31:20).
Extreme mental distress affects the bowels and the whole internal
heart . . . turned--
is agitated or fluttered.
abroad . . . sword . . . at home . . . as death--
The "as" does not modify, but intensifies. "Abroad the sword
bereaveth, at home as it were death itself" (personified), in
the form of famine and pestilence
Jer 14:18; 52:6).
"as death" [MICHAELIS].
21. they are glad that thou hast done it--because they thought that
therefore Judah is irretrievably ruined
the day . . . called--(but) thou wilt bring on them the day of
calamity which thou hast announced, namely, by the prophets
(Jer 50:1-46; 48:27).
like . . . me--in calamities
(Ps 137:8, 9;
22. Such prayers against foes are lawful, if the foe be an enemy of
God, and if our concern be not for our own personal feeling, but for the
glory of God and the welfare of His people.
come before thee--so
"Babylon came in remembrance before God" (compare