|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-9 The people were in tears. But it was rather the cry of their trouble, and of their sin, than of their prayer. Let us be thankful for the mercy of water, that we may not be taught to value it by feeling the want of it. See what dependence husbandmen have upon the Divine providence. They cannot plough nor sow in hope, unless God water their furrows. The case even of the wild beasts was very pitiable. The people are not forward to pray, but the prophet prays for them. Sin is humbly confessed. Our sins not only accuse us, but answer against us. Our best pleas in prayer are those fetched from the glory of God's own name. We should dread God's departure, more than the removal of our creature-comforts. He has given Israel his word to hope in. It becomes us in prayer to show ourselves more concerned for God's glory than for our own comfort. And if we now return to the Lord, he will save us to the glory of his grace.
Verse 2. - The tenses in the following description should be perfects and presents; the Authorized Version, by its inconsistency, destroys the unity of the picture. The gates thereof; i.e. the people assembled there. They are black unto the ground. "To be black," in Hebrew, is "to be dressed in mourning" (so e.g., Psalm 35:14, "I bowed down in black"). Here we must understand the same verb which is expressed in the psalm, "They bowed down in mourning attire to the ground." "Black," however, is not to be taken literally; it means rather "squalid, unwashed" (of garments).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Judah mourneth,.... That is, the inhabitants of Judah; those of the house of Judah, as the Targum; these mourned because of the drought and famine that were upon the land:
and the gates thereof languish; the cities of Judah, as the Targum; the inhabitants of them, which used to be supplied from the field, and out of the country; gates may be mentioned, because through the gates the provisions were brought into the city; but now none; and therefore are said to languish; or else those that sat in the gates are meant, the elders of the people, the senators, the judges, and civil magistrates; these shared in the common calamity:
they are black unto the ground; that is, the inhabitants of the cities, and those that sit in the gates, their faces are black through famine; see Lamentations 4:8, so the Targum,
"their faces are covered with blackness, they are black as a pot;''
and which they turned to the ground, and looked downwards, not being able to lift them up through the sorrow and distress they were in, and through faintness of spirit for want of food:
and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up: meaning the cry and lamentation of the inhabitants of Jerusalem because of the famine, for that city was not exempted from it, it having its supply from the country; or the prayer of them, and of the people from all parts got together there, which went up to heaven for rain: it being usual, in times of common distress, for the people in the country to come up to Jerusalem to the temple to pray to God, and particularly for rain, when there was a want of it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. gates—The place of public concourse in each city looks sad, as being no longer frequented (Isa 3:26; 24:4).
black—that is, they mourn (blackness being indicative of sorrow), (Jer 8:21).
unto the ground—bowing towards it.
cry—of distress (1Sa 5:12; Isa 24:11).
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