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20. Shall women devour the fruit of the womb, little ones dandled on the hands?] All the versions and interpreters in general understand this passage of the fulfilling of the curse denounced Lev. xxvi. 29. Deut. xxviii. 53, 56, 57. by women eating their own children through distress of famine during the siege of Jerusalem. But in that case in
.10 .Ch. iv,,ילדיהן as we do פויהן we ought to read פרים stead of
Houbigant indeed questions, whether in Scripture language it would be tolerable to use the fruit of a woman for the fruit of her womb. But ,"their fruit," is used Psal. xxi. 11. for their children, or progeny, without any other addition. The LXX. Chald. and Arab. however in this place furnish a word expressive of the womb, and render, "the fruit of their womb ;" which induces me to think that most probably the true reading may have been instead of ; in which case we should render, "Shall women devour the fruit of the womb ?" --- signifies the distended, or open palm of the hand. Hence we have a verb, De, ver. 22. which the Rabbins interpret of the women stroking and smoothing the limbs of new born children, when they swaddle them; but, I conceive, may as well denote the carrying of them upon the open palms of their hands in nursing; and accordingly binau Ghy, “Children of palms," may signify such as are of an age for size to be so carried about. Thirty six, perhaps thirty seven, MSS. and two Editions, read ; which however would make no great difference; for 2 might signify the act of carrying the children in such a nanner, and so my would be, little ones accustomed to such sort of gestation.---But we does not always signify women properly so called, but is sometimes used metaphorically for weak and effeminate persons; as Isa. iii. 12. xix. 16. (I think also, xxvii. 11.) Jer. 1. 37. li. 30. Nahum iii. 13. Jerusalem may therefore here be understood to expostulate, "Shall the weakest and most dastardly of my enemies destroy the fruit of the womb, infants of the tenderest age ?" Other ages and conditions are afterwards specified as involved in the general ruin, the priest and the prophet, the boy and the old man, the maidens and young men.
Ibid.---in the sanctuary of JEHOVAH] For TN thirty nine MSS. and four Editions read in.
21. My virgins and my young men are fallen; with the sword hast thou slain [them ;] The metre evidently requires this division of the lines, supposing the text to be right, as it stands at present. It deserves notice however, that the LXX. (who have likewise construed nam
,הלכו בשבי to have read נפלו, seem in the place of (בחוב with But if .הלכו בשבי נפלו One MS. reads
επορεύθησαν εν αιχμαλωσία, all these words are genuine, I conceive that the two former ought to
,ובחורי after ,נעלי,and the latter ,בתולתי come immediately after
thus distinguishing between the fate of the virgins, who are said to be gone into captivity, and that of the young men of an age to bear arms, who fell by the sword in battle. In this case the lines would run thus,' My virgins are gone into captivity, and my young men are fallen by the sword;
Thou hast slain in the day of thine anger, thou hast killed with
Ibid.---thou hast shewed no mercy] Thirty nine MSS. and four Editions with the Syr. Chald. and Vulg. read non-," and hast shewed no mercy." See Note on ver. 2.
22. Thou hast convoked---] For Npn the LXX. appear to have read p, but the Syr. np, which latter must certainly be the true reading, as the sense and context require. It is probable that a transcriber, having repeated then which is at the end of the preceding word, found his mistake when he came to the end of this word, but chose rather to omit the n there, than deface his MS. with a blot; a niceness to which those professional writers have too often sacrificed the integrity of the text.
Ibid.---such as were strangers to me--sojournings," people among whom I was a stranger and foreigner, when I came into their country, as of course they were the like in respect to me. All these nations round about being assembled against Jerusalem at one time, as if a day had been fixed for the purpose, prevented, as it follows in the next line, the escape of almost a single individual.
properly signifies * my מגורי
Ibid. Those whom I had fostered, &c.] 56 wx---See note on ver. 20.---," were all of them mine enemies." Most of the ancient interpreters, as well as the modern, have rendered as the verb with the affix plural, " have," or "hath consumed them.” But , I think, may better be understood of all those foreign nations, who had risen and flourished in a great measure through the fostering care and protection of the kingdom of Judah, but who had ungratefully returned the kindness by declaring against it in the time of its distress.
IN this Chapter the prophet seems to have had it in view to instruct his countrymen in the lesson of bearing themselves well under adversity. To this end he first of all sets himself forth as an example of the most severe and trying afflictions. He then points out the inexhaustible mercies of God as the neverfailing source of his consolation and hope; and exhorts others to patience and quiet resignation under the like circumstances, shewing that God is ever gracious to those that wait on him; that he is prone to pardon and pity, and takes no delight in afflicting mankind; but turns away with disgust from all acts of pression and malignant cruelty. He asserts the divine supremacy in the dispensations of good and evil, and argues that no man has a right to complain, when he is punished according to his deserts. He therefore recommends it to his fellow sufferers to examine themselves and turn to God with contrite hearts, sincerely deploring the sinfulness of their conduct, which had provoked the divine justice to treat them with such extraordinary severity. He professeth himself deeply affected with the calamities of his country. But calling to mind the desperate citcumstances from which he had heretofore been rescued by the divine aid, he declareth his hope, that the same good providence will frustraté
the malice of his present enemies, and turn the scornful reproach they had cast upon him to their own confusion.
1.---that hath seen affliction---] To see is often used by the Hebrew writers for to feel, taste, or have experimental knowledge of any thing. See Psal. xlix. 9. lxxxix. 48. xc. 15. Jer. xiv. 13. xvii. 6, 8. Luke ii. 26.
2.--caused to go in darkness--] The LXX. express 2 before wn, as if they had read 2, S OXOTOS. But the Ellipsis is elsewhere to be met with after . See Prov. x. 9. Darkness is a common emblem of distress, as light is of prosperity.
3. Against me only hath he sitten, &c.] The generality of interpreters deduce w from 11w, and no less than sixty three MSS. and I conceive notwithstanding that aw is right, and not aw', and that it is the preter verb," he hath sitten ;" which denotes a continuance or perseverance in doing any thing; sec Psal. 1. 20. cxix. 23. In which two cited places we may observe that the verb which follows is without any copulative, in like manner as we find here. The Chald. also renders n. The particle N seems to imply, as if the prophet represented God intent upon nothing so much as a continued repetition of the same harsh and afflictive treatment of him.
ישוב three Editions read
5. He hath built upon me, and encompassed my head, so that it is weary] The Syr. and Vulg. and the generality of interpreters besides, ancient and modern, are inclined to render w, gall, or hemlock, a bitter weed sometimes used metaphorically to denote affliction and misery, as ver. 19. But the coupling together of a metaphorical and a proper term is neither usual nor elegant; for which reason though we find wormwood and gall," sometimes joined together, that
gall and travail.” The LXX. render, equλny μs, by which it should seem they read wNI, and one MS. is found to have preserved the, though transposed, reading w. I cannot help thinking that this reading of the LXX. is the true one, and not only so, but that they have rightly represented ♫ as a verb, xa sox. The obvious objection to this is, that UN generally occurs as a masculine noun, but n is a verb in the feminine. But it may be answered, that the other members and parts of the animal body are of the common gender, so as to be found sometimes masculine, and sometimes feminine; and why the same may not be the case with the head, I know not. Few instances occur in the Hebrew, where the gender of wis discernible. But in the present there would be good reason for preferring the feminine gender, supposing the choice free, in order to obviate the ambiguity of the subject.
,לענה וראש ,ראש ותלאח will not justify the use of
6. In the midst of darkness bath he caused me to dwell] See Ps. cxliii. 3. As darkness has before been observed to be an emblem of distress, ver. 2. so the plural number seems to denote an intenseness of degree. See in like manner 2 ver. 15. The meaning here appears to be, that God had involved him in such a depth of distress, that
he was as incapable of extricating himself, as those who had lain long in the dark mansions of the dead were of making their escape thence. 8. he hath obstructed-] For ny eighteen MSS. and the oldest Edition read no. "He hath even barred my prayer from approaching him."
9. He hath blocked up my way with hewn stone, my paths hath he distorted] That is, he hath put an inseparable obstacle in my way, if he had built a stone wall across, so as to oblige me to turn aside from the direct road; by which means I am puzzled and at a loss how to proceed, like a man whose journey lies through crooked and intricate paths. Compare Job xix. 8.
10.-a lion-] For thirty MSS. and two editions read with the Masora, 8.
11. He hath turned full upon me] 10 or 7 is applied Hos. iv. 16. to a refractory Heifer, that turns aside, and will not go forward in the straight track, as she is directed. Here it is to be understood of a bear or lion turning aside toward a traveller, to fall upon him in his way.
13.- the issue of his quiver-] Literally, "the sons of his quiver," his arrows. An Hebraism.
14.-their music] on. This is commonly rendered "their song;" but I rather think it means a subject upon which they played, as upon a musical instrument, for their diversion. See ver. 63. Ch. v. 14. Job xxx. 9.
16.- -he hath laid me low in ashes] The verb w occurs no where else in the Hebrew, but all the ancient versions seem to have considered was the same with waan, which the LXX. and Vulg. render, "hath fed me,” ε↓wμsor μs, cibavit me; as if from was came the Latin word cibus. But the usual signification of way is to reduce or bring down a person to any low condition; and accordingly as sitting
הכפישני באפר or lying in ashes was customary in great affliction, s0
may be understood, "he hath laid me low, or made me wallow, in ashes" because of great sorrow and grief. In this condition the grit or ashes would naturally get between the teeth, and be offensive to them.
18.---JEHOVAH hath caused my strength and my hope to fail] Literally, "My strength and my hope have failed through, or by means of, JEHOVAH.", "my strength," seems to imply whatever there is in me, by virtue of which I am in any degree of perfection and excellence. See Taylor's Concord. So that the prophet hereby means to say, that God had at once put an end to all his present good and future expectations.
---See note on Ch. i. 7.
20.---My soul cannot but remember] Literally, "remembering it remembereth."
21. This I revolve in my heart---] Here the prophet begins to suggest the motives of patience and consolation.
22.---they are not exhausted---] For one MS. reads 1n; and all the ancient versions, except the Vulgate, render in the third person. Grotius supposes the 3 may be epenthetically inserted.
23. New are his compassions---] For 1 eighty four MSS. and seven Editions read with the Masora, 1, which is also confirmed by all the ancient versions. But the metre plainly shews van to belong to this verse, which without it would be defective; and the preceding verse would be produced by it to too great a length. It cannot however begin the verse because of the initial letter; we must therefore suppose a transposition, and that we ought
25.---unto him that waiteth for him---] Ten MSS. and one Edition read in the plural, ph, in conformity with the LXX. Chald. and Vulgate. Also four MSS. and one Edition read 1p. But with the Syr. I prefer the present reading, in the singular number.
26.---let him wait with silent hope] Literally, "let him wait, or hope, and be silent." For thirteen MSS. read, which,
think, is right.
29.] This verse is wanting in the LXX. version.
30.---let him be filled full with reproach] Fifteen MSS. and one Edition read aw with the conjunction.
31.-JEHOVAH] The ancient Bodl. MS. No. 1. and one other MS. read 18. Thirty five MSS. and two Editions read only min which seems most conformable to the ancient versions. The Chald. adds the word 1727, "his servants," after ; but is seconded by no
32.his mercies] Sixty eight MSS. and seven Editions read with
34, 35, 36.] In these verses certain acts of tyranny, malice, and injustice are specified, which men often indulge themselves in the practice of one towards another; but which the divine goodness is far from countenancing or approving by any similar conduct. In spared
34. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the land] By "the prisoners of the land” I am persuaded are meant the poor insolvent deba tors, whom their creditors among the Jews, as well as among other nations, were empowered to cast into prison, and oblige them to work out the debt; a power too often exerted with great rigour and inhumanity. See Mat. xviii. 30, 34. The sufferings of these persons seem to be alluded to Isa. lviii. 3, where the people asking with surprise, why their voluntary fastings and acts of self-mortification were so little noticed and regarded by God, receive for answer, that while they laid themselves under restraint in one point, they indulged their vicious passions and inclinations of different kinds, and shewed not that forbearance in their treatment of others, which they hoped to experience at the hand of God. This is clearly the general scope of the reply, but the precise meaning of the terms waar bovary- has not, I think, been sufficiently explained. Our old English Version renders '),