King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Lamentations 4

The deplorable state of the nation is contrasted with its ancient prosperity.

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The deplorable state of the nation is contrasted with its ancient prosperity

1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.

2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.

4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them.

5 They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.

6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.

7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:

8 Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.

9 They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.

10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

11 The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.

12 The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.

13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,

14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.

15 They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.

16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.

17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.

18 They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.

19 Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.

21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.

22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Colour. Heb. “gold.” Sept. “silver;” (H.) denoting the patriarchs, (Theod.) chiefs, (Vatab.) or ornaments of the temple. C. — It had formerly glittered with gold; now there was nothing but smoke and ruins. W.

Ver. 2. Best. Heb. “gold of Phaz,” in Colchis. Gen. ii. 11. C. — In Solomon’s reign, they powdered their hair with gold dust. Jos. Ant. viii. 7. — Vessels. Is. xxx. 14.

Ver. 3. Sea-monsters. Lit. Lamia. Heb. Tannim. H. — The lamia has a face like a woman, and a body like beasts; and is cruel, yet feeds its young. W. — The fabulous lamia is supposed to destroy all children, (Diod. Sic. xx. Ovid. Fast. vi.) and cannot be meant. But the sea dog, though most cruel will not neglect its young ones. C. — Ostrich. Heb. henim, (H.) “swans.” Is. xiii. 21. Job xxix. 14. The ostrich is said to break some of its eggs. Elian iv. 37.) — Swans do the like, and devour their young; for which reason they are hated by the Indians. Elian xiv. 3. — Sept. “their young (drajohs) have suckled the daughters of my people, so that they can find no remedy, like,” &c. H. — Though the ostrich has wings it never flies, but dwells in desert places. Such is the condition of the Israelites. Theodoret. — The ostrich forsakes its eggs. W. — All are solicitous for themselves.

Ver. 5. Scarlet. Lit. “yellow;” croceis. H. — Heb. means purple. Those who have been educated in the most delicate manner, are forced to feed on the most disgusting things. 4 K. vi. 25. and xviii. 27. Deut. xxviii. 54.

Ver. 6. In her. Sodom was destroyed by God. Her temporal misery was short. H. — Jerusalem was exposed to greater afflictions (C.) here, (H.) and her ingratitude and abominations were greater. Ezec. xvi. 46.

Ver. 7. Old ivory. Whiteness shews its age. Pliny iii. 8. — As it grows old it turns yellow, and loses much of its value. But the ancients had the art of dyeing it scarlet. ├ćneid xii. Iliad iv. Ovid ii. Am. v. C. — Heb. poninim may signify (H.) “pearls,” the shells of which are stained with a delicate red; though the epithet ruddy may mean “shining,” in which sense purpureus is used. Hor. iv. Od. 1. — The complexion of the Nazarites was fair, with a mixture of red. Cant. v. 10. They were probably clothed in white, and were highly respected. 1 Mac. ii. 49. Amos ii. 11. Num. vi. 18. C.

Ver. 8. Coals. Heb. “blackness.” Sept. “soot.” H. — The people were naturally brown. Fasting and distress cause them to turn black. C. v. 10. Joel ii. 6. C. — They were so changed, that old acquaintances knew not one another. W.

Ver. 9. For. Lit. “by the barrenness of the earth.” H. — Such a death was, no doubt, more painful than to perish quickly by the sword. C.

Ver. 10. Pitful. So their nature dictates. W. — But hunger made them the reverse. Some think they slew their children, to prevent them being exposed to more cruel torments, (C.) as the people of Colchis do their sick. Chardin. — Sodden: boiled or roasted; coxerunt. v. 5. Deut. xxviii. 55. At the last siege of Jerusalem, this barbarity was manifested. C. Jos. Bel. vii. 8. Gr. 21. See C. ii. 20. — Daughter. So cities are styled. W.

Ver. 12. Believed. God had so often protected this city against Sennacherib, Holofernes, &c. H. — It had been also so strongly fortified. 2 K. v. 6. C.

Ver. 13. Priests. They too generally favoured H. the false prophets. C. ii. 26. &c. They were judges, and condemned the innocent: or exposed (C.) the citizens to destruction, by not warning them to amend, (H.) and to submit to the Chaldees. C. — Impostors are called prophets, as they have the same outward appearance. W.

Ver. 14. They. Sept. “Her guards have tottered in,” &c. — When. Prot. “so that men could not touch their garments,” as they were defiled. H. — These hypocrites were afraid of touching blood, as they observed external ceremonies, while they disregarded the spirit of religion.

Ver. 15. Depart. They were not ashamed to speak thus to others, or the citizens address the priests contaminated with blood. Even the Chaldees looked upon the Jews with abhorrence, as an abandoned people. — For they. Heb. “but they understood not, and wandered about. They, (C.) the Gentiles, said.“ H.

Ver. 16. They, the Jews; or rather the prophet thus describes the Chaldees. C. v. 12. Deut. xxviii. 50.

Ver. 17. Save. The Egyptians attempted it in vain. C. xxxiv. 8. and xxxvii. 10.

Ver. 18. Streets. There were enemies within as well as without. C.

Ver. 20. Christ, &c. According to the letter, is spoken of their king, who is called the Christ; that is, the anointed of the Lord. But is also relates in the spiritual sense to Christ our Lord, suffering for out sins. Ch. Is. liii. 5. S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. xviii. 33. — It literally speaks of Josias, or of Sedecias. W. — Josias was slain by the Egyptians. S. Jer. in Zac. xii. — But Sedecias seems chiefly to be meant. The people were much attached to him, though he was wicked; and they expected that he would have rescued them from the power of the Chaldees, as his league with the neighbouring Gentiles (C.) seemed to insure, (H.) if they had proved faithful. C. — But all was useless against the Lord. H.

Ver. 21. Rejoice. Edom had manifested her joy at the misfortunes of Juda. The prophet hints at this with a cutting irony. Ps. cxxxvi. 7. Abd. 11. — Come, as at a feast. Edom was visited five years after the Jews. C. xlix. 7. — Naked. Sept. “and shalt pour it out,” (H.) or vomit. C. Grot.

Ver. 22. Accomplished, and sufficiently punished by exile. C. l. 20. Is. xl. 2. — Discovered. Gen. xliv. 16. and 3 K. xvii. 18. C. — In vain wouldst thou hid them. H.