Notes & Commentary:
[Preface] And, &c. This preface was not written by Jeremias, but added by the seventy interpreters, to give the reader to understand upon what occasion the Lamentations were published. (Challoner) — The author is not known, (Worthington) and few assert with Gretser that it is canonical; as it is only a title, (Calmet) like those prefixed to the Psalms. (Haydock) — It is not found in Hebrew, Chaldean, Syriac, or St. Jerome. (Calmet)
Ver. 1. City. David had conquered many. Jerusalem was long considered as the finest city in those parts. — Tributary. It had been so to the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Chaldeans, 4 Kings xxiv. 1. From this and similar passages, it would seem that the city was still existing: yet in others it appears to have been demolished. Here then the prophet declares what it had been: (Calmet) unless he wrote part after the death of Josias. (Haydock) — The beholders are astonished at the change and misery of the city. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Night; privately, or without ceasing. — Friends, who had made a league with Sedecias, chap. xxvii. 3., and xlviii. 26.
Ver. 3. Rest. Many returning to join Godolias, chap. xl. 7. (Calmet) — The Jews who beheld their brethren led away to Babylon, retired into Egypt, but were in misery. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Feast, thrice a-year. This was the most charming sight, when all the nation met to adore God, and to renew their friendship with one another. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Lords. Literally, “at the head,” (Haydock) which Moses had threatened, Deuteronomy xxvi. 1, 43. (Calmet) — This would be most cutting. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Beauty; princes’ palaces, but particularly the temple, ver. 10. (Calmet) — Rams, fleeing from place to place to seek relief. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Of all. She compares her past happiness with her present chastisement. — Sabbaths, or days of rest. The pagans derided them as so much lost time. Ignava et partem vitæ non attigit ullam. (Juvenal v.; Seneca, apud St. Augustine, City of God vi. 11.) — If none of their legislators thought of such an institution, it was because they had not the spirit of Moses: their feasts were dissolute. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Unstable. Hebrew also, “removed,” (Haydock) like a woman unclean. (Calmet) — Such were excluded from places of prayer, and were not allowed to touch a sacred book, or to pronounce God’s name. Their husbands could not look at their face, nor give them any thing, but laid it down for them to take. (Buxtorf, Syn. 31.) — No condition could be more distressing. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. End in her prosperity, to avert this misfortune. (Haydock) — Idolatry is a spiritual adultery, (Worthington) and one of the worst species of filth. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Church. Deuteronomy xxxiii. 1., and Ezechiel xliv. 9. The Chaldeans disregarded the ordinance.
Ver. 11-12. O. Hebrew of the Masorets, “It is.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “Is it nothing to you, all?” &c. (Haydock) — But the Vulgate is much clearer, and approved by many Protestants, lu being often used as an exclamation, Genesis xvii. 18. (Calmet) — Vintage. He has plundered all, ver. 22. (Haydock) — The king took a great deal, and his general the rest, 4 Kings xxiv., and xxv. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Bones: fortresses. (Theodoret) — I am like one in a burning fever, Ezechiel xxiv. 4. (Calmet) — Chastised. Literally, “instructed.” This is the good effect of affliction. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Watched. This metaphor is not too harsh, chap. xxxi. 28. The Masorets prefer, (Calmet) “is bound by his hand.” (Protestants) But miskad is explained (Haydock) by the Septuagint, &c., in the sense of the Vulgate. God lays the yoke on my neck suddenly. My iniquities are like bands, and Nabuchodonosor has power over me.
Ver. 15. Mighty. Hebrew, “magnificent” princes, (Luke xxii. 25.) or warriors. — Time of vengeance. All is animated. Hebrew also, “a troop” of Chaldeans, chap. ii. 22. — Juda. God, as the first cause, punishes the Jews by war.
Ver. 17. Then. They surround the city, to starve the inhabitants, ver. 8.
Ver. 19. Me. Egypt attempted to relieve Juda, to no purpose, ver. 2. (Calmet) — It could not, or at least did not, prove of any service to the Jews, chap. ii. 18. (Worthington)
Ver. 20. Alike, by famine, &c. (Calmet) (Worthington) — Ubique pavor et plurima mortis imago. (Virgil, Æneid ii.)
Ver. 21. Done it. They conclude that I am cast off for ever. But when I shall be comforted, their turn will come; (Calmet) or rather they will feel the scourge soon after me. — Consolation. Hebrew, “which thou hast appointed.” (Haydock) (Chap. xlviii. 26., &c., and Ezechiel xxv., &c.)
Ver. 22. Let. He prays not for their ruin, but predicts it; and wishes rather that they would be converted. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
And it came to pass, after Israel was carried into captivity, and Jerusalem was desolate, that Jeremias, the prophet, sat weeping, and mourned with this lamentation over Jerusalem; and with a sorrowful mind, sighing and moaning, he said:1 Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people? how is the mistress of nations become as a widow; the princess of provinces made tributary?
2 Beth. *Weeping, she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.
3 Ghimel. Juda hath removed her dwelling-place, because of her affliction, and the greatness of her bondage; she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath found no rest; all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits.
4 Daleth. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down; her priests sigh; her virgins are in affliction; and she is oppressed with bitterness.
5 He. Her adversaries are become her lords; her enemies are enriched; because the Lord hath spoken against her for the multitude of her iniquities; her children are led into captivity, before the face of the oppressor.
6 Vau. And from the daughter of Sion, all her beauty is departed; her princes are become like rams, that find no pastures; and they are gone away without strength before the face of the pursuer.
7 Zain. Jerusalem hath remembered the days of her affliction, and prevarication of all her desirable things which she had from the days of old, when her people fell in the enemy’s hand, and there was no helper; the enemies have seen her, and have mocked at her sabbaths.
8 Heth. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, therefore is she become unstable; all that honoured her, have despised her, because they have seen her shame; but she sighed, and turned backward.
9 Teth. Her filthiness is on her feet, and she hath not remembered her end; she is wonderfully cast down, not having a comforter: behold, O Lord, my affliction, because the enemy is lifted up.
10 Jod. The enemy hath put out his hand to all her desirable things; for she hath seen the Gentiles enter into her sanctuary, of whom thou gavest commandment that they should not enter into thy church.
11 Caph. All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given all their precious things for food to relieve the soul: see, O Lord, and consider, for I am become vile.
12 Lamed. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow; for he hath made a vintage of me, as the Lord spoke in the day of his fierce anger.
13 Mem. From above he hath sent fire into my bones, and hath chastised me; he hath spread a net for my feet; he hath turned me back; he hath made me desolate, wasted with sorrow all the day long.
14 Nun. The yoke of my iniquities hath watched; they are folded together in his hand, and put upon my neck; my strength is weakened; the Lord hath delivered me into a hand, out of which I am not able to rise.
15 Samech. The Lord hath taken away all my mighty men out of the midst of me; he hath called against me the time, to destroy my chosen men; the Lord hath trodden the wine-press for the virgin daughter of Juda.
16 Ain. *Therefore do I weep, and my eyes run down with water, because the comforter, the relief of my soul, is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy hath prevailed.
17 Phe. Sion hath spread forth her hands, there is none to comfort her: the Lord hath commanded against Jacob, his enemies are round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.
18 Sade. The Lord is just, for I have provoked his mouth to wrath; hear, I pray you, all ye people, and see my sorrow: my virgins, and my young men are gone into captivity.
19 Coph. I called for my friends, but they deceived me: my priests and my ancients pined away in the city, while they sought their food, to relieve their souls.
20 Res. Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my bowels are troubled; my heart is turned within me, for I am full of bitterness: abroad the sword destroyeth, and at home there is death alike.
21 Sin. They have heard that I sigh, and there is none to comfort me; all my enemies have heard of my evil, they have rejoiced that thou hast done it: thou hast brought a day of consolation, and they shall be like unto me.
22 Thau. Let all their evil be present before thee; and make vintage of them, as thou hast made vintage of me for all my iniquities: for my sighs are many, and my heart is sorrowful.
2: Jeremias xiii. 17.
16: Jeremias xiv. 17.