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L Α Μ Ε Ν Τ Α ΤΙ NS
OF JEREMIA H.
An opinion has been entertained that these · Lamentations' are the same which are mentioned, in 2 Chron. xxxv. 25, as having been composed upon occasion of the death of king Josiah. But these compositions appear most clearly not to refer to the death of any one person, but to lament the ruin of a city and a people. The more general and probable impression on the subject is, that which is conveyed in the title which we find prefixed to the Lamentations in the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic versions :-'And it came to pass, after that Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem laid waste, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said, etc. That this is also the impression retained in the East appears from the fact that, at Jerusalem, Jews, Christians, and Moslems concur in regarding with veneration a certain grotto, at the foot of a large quarry, a little to the north of the present town, beyond the Damascus gate, with which they associate the name of Jeremiah, believing that it was some time the residence of the prophet. The grot is large, and on one side of it, about eight feet from the ground, is a rocky shelve, which is alleged to have been his bed. Near this is also pointed out the spot where he is supposed to have composed his Lamentations over the holy city. At present it is in the exclusive possession of the Turks, and is usually shut up.
Bishop Lowth speaks largely of the Lamentations in his 22nd Lecture. They are evidently written in metre, and consist of a number of plaintive effusions which, in his opinion, are composed upon the plan of the funeral dirges—all upon the same subject, and uttered without connection, as they arose in the mind, in a long course of separate stanzas ; and which were afterwards put together and formed into a collection or correspondent whole. The nature and design of the poem neither required nor admitted a methodical and artificial arrangement and sequence of ideas. "In the character of a mourner,' says Lowth, the prophet celebrates in plaintive strains the obsequies of his ruined country. Whatever presented itself to his mind in the midst of desolation and misery, whatever struck him as particularly wretched and calamitous, whatever the instant sentiment of sorrow dictated, he pours forth in a kind of spontaneous effusion. He frequently pauses, and, as it were, ruminates upon the same object; frequently varies and illustrates the same thought with different imagery, and a different choice of language; so that the whole assumes the appearance rather of an accumulation of corresponding sentiments than an accurate and connected series of different ideas, arranged in the form of a regular treatise.' He afterwards adds :- In my opinion there is not extant any poem which displays such a happy and splendid selection of imagery in so concentrated a state.' Blayney says, “We cannot too much admire the full and the graceful flow of that pathetic eloquence in which the prophet pours forth the effusions of a patriotic heart, and piously weeps over the ruins of his venerable country: Dr. South also, in his own peculiar manner, says of this book :
-One would think that every letter was wrote with a tear, every word the sound of a breaking heart; that the author was a man compacted of sorrows, and disciplined to grief from his infancy; one who never breathed but in sighs, nor spoke but in a groan.'
The Lamentations are very properly divided into five chapters. The original marks this as the proper division ; the four first chapters being acrostical, so that the termination of the alphabet completes the poem, while the distinction of initials naturally divides each into twenty-two distinct periods, according to the number of letters contained in the Hebrew alphabet. In the two first chapters each period begins with its proper initial, and consists of a triplet (as appears even in our translation), except in the seventh period of the first chapter, and the nineteenth of the second, which have each a supernumerary line. In the third chapter every period contains three verses, which have all the same initial letter, so that the acrostical series comprehends sixty-six verses. The fourth chapter resembles the three former in metre, but the periods are only couplets. The fifth chapter, which is not acrostical, also consists of couplets, but the measure is considerably shorter. 2 C
A very considerable proportion of the commentators on the Prophecy of Jeremiah, enumerated in the Introduction to that Book, have also written on the Lamentations. There are besides a good number of separate commentaries on the book, which, considering its small extent, strongly evince the peculiar interest which has been felt in it. It will be seen by the list that towards the latter end of the last century this interest revived, after having slumbered for more than a hundred years, during which scarcely any thing was produced with special reference to this book. In this country it has received much less attention than might have been expected.
Ecolampadii Enarrationes in Threnos Jeremiæ, Argent., 1533 ; Clenardi Meditationes Grammatice in Threnos, Paris, 1536; Palladii Enarratio in Threnos Jeremia, Vitemb., 1560 ; Tossani Lamentationes Jeremiæ Prophetæ, Francof., 1581 ; Quinquarborei Paraphrasis Chaldaica in Lament. Jerem., Latinitate donata, cum Adnott., Paris, 1556 ; Strigelii Comment. in Threnos Jeremiæ, Lips., 1564 ; Selnecceri Auslegung über die Klaglieder Jeremiæ, Lips., 1565; Taillepiedi Commentarii in Threnos, Paris, 1582; Panigarolæ Paraphrasis et Adnott. in Lament. Jeremia, Veronæ. 1583; Agellii Commentarius in Threnos, Romæ, 1589; Figueiro Comment. in Jeremia Lament., Lugd., 1596; Navarette, Comment. in Threnos Jeremia, Cordubæ, 1602; Bacmeisteri Explicatio Threnorum, Rostoch., 1603 ; Delrionis Comment. litteralis in Threnos Jeremiæ, Lugd., 1608; Udall, Commentary on Lamentations, London, 1603 ; Topsell, Comment. in Threnos, Lond., 1613 ; Hull, Exposition of Jeremiah's Lamentations, Lond., 1618; S. Acosta de Andrada Comment. in Threnos, Lugd., 1609, P. Martyr, Comment in Threnos, Tiguri, 1629; F. de Lemos, Comment. in Threnos Jeremie Propheta, Madrid, 1649; Tayler, _Threnorum textus et in eum Paraphrasis Chaldaica, cum Commentariis Raschii et Aben Ezre, Lond., 1651 ; Lessing, Observatt. in Tristia Jeremia, Lips., 1770; Bormel, Jeremias Klaggesänge übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen, 1781 ; Horrer, Neue Bearbeitung der Klaggesänge, Halle, 1784; Loewe und Wolfssohn, Jeremias Klaggesänge, übersetzt und mit Anmerkungen, Berlin, 1790 ; Pareau, Threni Jeremia, philog. et crit. illustrati
, Lugd., 1790 ; Schnurrer, Dissertatio philol. crit. ad Threnos Jerem., Tubing., 1795 ; Otto, Dissertatio philologico-critica ad Threnos Jeremia, Tubing., 1795; Welcker, Die Elegien Jeremias, in Griechischem Versmaas getreu übersetzt, Giessen, 1810; Riegler, Die Klaglieder des Propheten Jeremias, etc., Erlang., 1814; Erdmann, Cure Exegetico-Criticæ in Jeremiæ Threnos, Rostoch., 1815 ; Björn, Threni Jeremiæ, etc., Hafn., 1914; Goldwitzer, Die Klaglieder des P. Jeremias, Salzb., 1828 ; Wiedenfeld, Jeremiah's Klaglieder, neu übers. und eläutert, Elberf., 1830; Kalkar, Lamentationes critice et exeg. illustrata, cum præmissis disputationibus historico-criticis tribus, Hafniæ, 1836; M. J. B. M. N***, Le Livre des Lamentations du Prophete Jérémie, Lyon, 1842.
she hath none to comfort her : all her friends 1 The miserable estate of Jerusalem by reason of her
have dealt treacherously with her, they are sin. 12 She complaineth of her grief, 18 and con
become her enemies. fesseth God's judgment to be righteous.
3 Judah is gone into captivity because of OW doth affliction, and because of great servitude: she the city sit rest: all her persecutors overtook her between
heathenfindeth no solitary was full of the straits. people ! how
4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because is she become none come to the solemn feasts : all her gates as a widow ! are desolate : her priests sigh, her virgins are she that was
afflicted, and she is in bitterness. great among
5 Her adversaries are the chief, her enethe nations, mies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her and princess for the multitude of her transgressions : her among the children are gone into captivity before the provinces, enemy. how is she 6 And from the daughter of Zion all her become tri- beauty is departed : her princes are become
butary like harts that find no pasture, and they are 2 She 'weepeth sore in the 'night, and her gone without strength before the pursuer. tears are on her cheeks : among all her lovers 7 Jerusalem remembered in the days of her 1 Jer. 13. 17.
3 Heb. for the greatness of servitude. 4 Deut. 28. 13, 14. 5 Jer. 52. 28.
9 Job 7.3.
affliction and of her miseries all her 'pleasant my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath things that she had in the days of old, when called an assembly against me to crush my her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and young men : the LORD hath trodden the none did help her: the adversaries saw her, virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a wineand did mock at her sabbaths.
press. 8 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned ; there- 16 For these things I weep; "mine eye, fore she ?is removed : all that honoured her mine eye runneth down with water, because despise her, because they have seen her the comforter that should relieve my soul is nakedness : yea, she sigheth, and turneth far from me: my children are desolate, because backward.
the enemy prevailed. 9 Her filthiness is in her skirts ; she re- 17 Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there membereth not her last end ; therefore she is none to comfort her: the Lord hath comcame down wonderfully: she had no com- manded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries forter. O LORD, behold my affliction : for should be round about him: Jerusalem is as the enemy hath magnified himself.
a menstruous woman among them. 10 The adversary hath spread out his hand 18 | The Lord is " righteous; for I have upon all her 'pleasant things : for she hath rebelled against his "commandment: hear, I seen that the heathen entered into her sanc
pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow : tuary, whom thou didst command that "they my virgins and my young men are gone into should not enter into thy congregation. captivity
11 All her people sigh, they seek bread ; 19 I called for my lovers, but they deceived they have given their pleasant things for meat me: my priests and mine elders gave up the
to relieve the soul : see, O LORD, and con- ghost in the city, while they sought their meat sider; for I am become vile.
to relieve their souls. 12 T'Is it nothing to you, all ye that 'pass 20 Behold, O LORD; for I am in distress : by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow my bowels are troubled ; mine heart is like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, turned within me ; for I have grievously rewherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the belled : abroad the sword bereaveth, at home day of his fierce anger.
there is as death. 13 From above hath he sent fire into my 21 They have heard that I sigh : there is bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath none to comfort me: all mine enemies have spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me heard of my trouble ; they are glad that thou back : he hath made me desolate and faint all hast done it: thou wilt bring the day that the day.
thou hast ''called, and they shall be like unto 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand": they are wreathed, and come up 22 Let all their wickedness come before upon my neck : he hath made my strength to and do unto them, as thou hast done fall, the Lord hath delivered me into their unto me for all my transgressions : for my hands, from whom I am not able to rise up. sighs are many, and my heart is faint. 15 The Lord hath trodden under foot all
7 Heb, is become a removing, or, wandering. 10 Or, to make the soul to come again. 11 Or, It is nothing.
12 Heb. pass by the way. 18 Or, the winepress of the virgin, &o. 14 Jer. 13. 17, and 14. 17. Chap. 2. 18.
15 Keb, bring back.
19 Or, proclaimed.
6 Or, desirable.
8 Or, desirable.
9 Deut. 23. 3.
16 Dan. 9. 7.
17 Heb. mouth.
18 Isa. 16. 11. Jer. 48. 36.
Verse 11. 'They have given their pleasant things for daughters burst into tears, and then the contending feelmeat!--A striking illustration of this is given by Mr. ings of hunger, and love for their "pleasant things, alterRoberts : The people of the East retain their little nately prevail. In general the conclusion is to pledge, valuables, such as jewels and rich robes, to the last ex- and not to sell, their much-loved ornaments; but such is tremity. To part with that which has perhaps been a the rapacity of those who have money, and such the exkind of heir-loom in the family is like parting with life. treme penury of those who have once fallen, that they Have they sold the last wreck of their other property; seldom regain them.' (Oriental Illustrations, p. 483.) are they on the verge of death?—the emaciated members Under such circumstances, and particularly in times of of the family are called together, and some one under- public calami it often happens that jewels, and other takes the heart-rending task of proposing such a bracelet, property of the most valuable description, are disposed of or armlet, or ear-ring, or pendant of the forehead, to be for the merest trifle, that a little bread may be obtained sold. For a moment all are silent, till the mother or į to relieve the soul.
upon the ground, and keep silence : they have
cast up dust upon their heads ; they have 1 Jeremiah lamenteth the misery of Jerusalem. 20 He
girded themselves with sackcloth : the virgins complaineth thereof to God.
of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the How hath the LORD covered the daughter of ground. Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down 11 Mine eyes do fail with tears, my from heaven unto the earth the beauty of bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the earth, for the destruction of the daughter the day of his anger !
of my people ; because the children and the 2 The Lord hath swallowed up all the habi- sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. tations of Jacob, and hath not pitied : he hath 12 They say to their mothers, Where is thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of corn and wine? when they swooned as the the daughter of Judah; he hath brought wounded in the streets of the city, when them down to the ground: he hath polluted their soul was poured out into their mothers' the kingdom and the princes thereof.
bosom. 3 He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the 13 What thing shall I take to witness for horn of Israel : he hath drawn back his right thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O hand from before the enemy, and he burned daughter of Jerusalem ? what shall I equal against Jacob like a flaming fire, which de- to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin voureth round about.
daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great 4 He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he like the sea : who can heal thee ? stood with his right hand as an adversary, and 14 Thy 'prophets have seen vain and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the foolish things for thee: and they have not tabernacle of the daughter of Zion : he poured discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy out his fury like fire.
captivity ; but have seen for thee false burdens 5 The LORD was as an enemy: he hath and causes of banishment. swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all 15 All that pass by clap their hands at her palaces : he hath destroyed his strong thee; they hiss and wag their head at the holds, and hath increased in the daughter of daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the Judah mourning and lamentation.
city that men call "The perfection of beauty, 6 And he hath violently 'taken away his The joy of the whole earth ? *tabernacle, as if it were of a garden : he hath 16 All thine enemies have opened their destroyed his places of the assembly: the mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sab- teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up : baths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised certainly this is the day that we looked for; in the indignation of his anger the king and we have found, we have seen it. the priest.
17 The LORD hath done that which he had 7 The LORD hath cast off his altar, he hath devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he abhorred his sanctuary, he hath 'given up into had commanded in the days of old : he hath the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces ; thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath they have made a noise in the house of the caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he Lord, as in the day of a solemn feast. hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.
8 The Lord hath purposed to destroy 18 Their heart cried unto the Lord, O the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath wall of the daughter of Zion, ''let tears run stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his down like a river day and night : give thyhand from 'destroying: therefore he made the self no rest ; let not the apple of thine eye rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.
19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the be9 Her gates are sunk into the ground; he ginning of the watches pour out thine heart hath destroyed and broken her bars : her king like water before the face of the LORD: lift and her princes are among the Gentiles: the up thy hands toward him for the life of thy law is no more; her 'prophets also find no young children, that faint for hunger in the vision from the LORD.
top of every street. 10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit 20 | Behold, O LORD, and consider to
1 IIeb. made to touch.
3 Psal. 80. 12, and 89. 40. Isa. 5. 5. 4 Or, hedge. 5 Heb. shut up. 6 Heb. swallowing up. 7 Psalm 74.9. 8 Or, faint. 9 Jer. 2. 8, and 5. 31, and 14. 14, and 23. 16. 10 Heb. by the way.
11 Psal. 48. 2.
13 Jer. 14. 17. Chap. 1. 16.
whom thou hast done this. Shall the women hast slain them in the day of thine anger; eat their fruit, and children of a span long ? | thou hast killed, and not pitied. shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the 22 Thou hast called as in a solemn day sanctuary of the LORD ?
my terrors round about, so that in the day 21 The young and the old lie on the of the Lord's anger none escaped nor reground in the streets : my virgins and my mained; those that I have swaddled and young men are fallen by the sword; thou | brought up hath mine enemy consumed.
14 Or, swaddled with their hands.
Verse 11. • My liver is poured upon the earth'-Among the Hebrews the liver not less than the heart was regarded as the seat of the passions and affections. This shows the sense in which such passages as the present are to be understood. Here, as with regard to many other of the bodily organs as mentioned in Scripture, there is not only a literal sense capable of univocal interpretation, but a metaphorical import that cannot be communicated by any literal version, unless when the same metaphorical signification happens to exist also in the language into which the translation is made. Dr. J. M. Good touches on this subject in the preface to his translation of the Song of Songs, and is disposed to contend that such allusions, in order to convey their real signification, should be rendered not literally but equivalently; and we so far agree with him as to think that the force and delicacy of many passages must be necessarily impaired, and their true meaning lost, when the name merely is given, in a language in which that name does not involve the same metaphorical idea. Pursuing the subject, Dr. Good says: 'In Psalm xvi. 9, “My heart is glad and my glory rejoiceth,”
as it occurs in our common version, is literally, “My heart is glad, and my liver rejoiceth.” Yet who could behold such an interpretation without a smile? or who, if he were to behold it, would admit that the original was fairly translated ?' Among ourselves, in like manner, the spleen is supposed to be the region of disappointment and melancholy. But were a Jew
to be told, in his own tongue, that the inimitable Cowper had long laboured under the spleen, he would be ignorant of the meaning of his interpreter ; and, when at last informed of it, might justly tell him that, although he had literally rendered the words, he had by no means conveyed the idea.
18. The apple of thine eye.'— There is a distinct word to denote the pupil, or apple,' of the eye; and that is not here used. The original is, literally, the daughter of thine eye,' which is certainly better to understand of a tear than of the pupil of the eye. is quite in unison with Oriental usage to call the daughter of the eye' the tear which issues from it; and so taken in this place, the expression not only seems more poetical, but conveys a clearer meaning, equivalent to Let not thy tears cease.'
pulled me in pieces: lie hath made me de
solate. 1 The faithful bewail their calamities. 22 By the
12 He hath bent his bow, and set me as mercies of God they nourish their hope. 37 They
a mark for the arrow. acknowledge God's justice. 55 They pray for deliverance, 64 and vengeance on their enemies.
13 He hath caused the 'arrows of his
quiver to enter into my reins. I am the man that hath seen affliction by the 14 I was a 'derision to all my people; and rod of his wrath.
their song all the day. 2 Ile hath led me, and brought me into 15 He hath filled me with bitterness, he darkness, but not into light.
hath made me drunken with wormwood. 3 Surely against me is he turned; he 16 He hath also broken my teeth with turneth his hand against me all the day. gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
4 My flesh and my skin hath he made old; 17 And thou hast removed my soul far off he hath broken my bones.
from peace: I forgat 'prosperity. 5 Ile hath builded against me, and com- 18 And I said, My strength and my hope passed me with gall and travel.
is perished from the LORD: 6 He hath set me in dark places, as they 19 "Remembering mine affliction and my that be dead of old.
misery, the wormwood and the gall. 7 He hath hedged me about, that I cannot 20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, get out: he hath made my chain heavy. and is "humbled in me.
8 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore out my prayer.
have I hope. 9 He hath inclosed my ways with hewn 22 | İt is of the Lord's mercies that we stone, he hath made my paths crooked. are not consumed, because his compassions
10 He was unto me as a bear lying in fail not. wait, and as a lion in secret places.
23 They are new every morning: great is 11 He hath turned aside my ways, and thy faithfulness. 2 Jer. 20.7.
• Or, rolled me in the ashes.
5 Heb. good.
6 Or, remember. 7 Heb. bowed. 8 Heb. make to return to my heart,
1 Heb. sons.
3 Heb. bitternesses.