|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-9 The prophet must conduct himself as one who expected to see his country ruined very shortly. In the prospect of sad times, he is to abstain from marriage, mourning for the dead, and pleasure. Those who would convince others of the truths of God, must make it appear by their self-denial, that they believe it themselves. Peace, inward and outward, family and public, is wholly the work of God, and from his loving-kindness and mercy. When He takes his peace from any people, distress must follow. There may be times when it is proper to avoid things otherwise our duty; and we should always sit loose to the pleasures and concerns of this life.
Verse 7. - Tear themselves for them. The verb is used in Isaiah 58:7 of breaking bread (the accusative is there expressed), and there is no doubt that this is the meaning here. The only question is whether lahem, for them, should not rather be lekhem, bread (this was read by the Septuagint, Peshito, Vulgate, Targnm). St. Jerome sees here an allusion to the funeral feasts (comp. the parentalia), and surely he is right. The Jews had a conception of the nature of the life of the other world only less distinct than that of their Egyptian neighbors. The funeral feast was not merely for the living, but for the dead. Indeed, it was primarily intended for the spiritual nourish-merit of those who had gone before to the unseen world (comp. Bonwick, 'Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought,' p. 48). Chardin, the old traveler, asserts that "the Oriental Christians still make banquets of this kind by a custom derived from the Jews." The cup of consolation. It would seem as if the funeral feasts had dwindled among the Jews into little more than a refection for the benefit of the mourners.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Neither shall men tear themselves,.... Either their flesh, or their clothes: or, "stretch out" (y); that is, their hands, and clap them together, and wring them, as persons in great distress do: or "divide", or "break", or "deal unto them" (z); that is, bread, as at their funeral feasts. Thus the Septuagint version, neither shall bread be broken in their mourning; and to the same sense the Targum; so the word is used in Isaiah 63:7, a practice that obtained among the Heathens; see Deuteronomy 26:14 and now with the Jews, as it seems: which they did
for them in mourning, to comfort them for the dead; they used to carry or send food to the surviving relations, and went and ate with them, in order to comfort them for the loss of their friends; but this now would not be done, not because an Heathenish custom, but because they would have no heart nor leisure for it: see Ezekiel 24:17.
Neither shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or for their mother: not give them a cup of good liquor to comfort and cheer their spirits, overwhelmed with sorrow, on account of the death of a father or mother; which was wont to be done, but now should be omitted; the calamity would be so great, and so universal, that there would be none to do such offices as these; see Proverbs 31:6.
(y) "et non expandent, sub. manus suas", Vatablus, Montanus; "extendent", Pagninus, Calvin. So Kimchi and Ben Melech. (z) "Non divident", Tigurine version; "neque impertientur, sub. cibum", Junius & Tremellius; "partientur panem", Piscator; "neque cibum dabunt", Schmidt. So Jarchi, Joseph Kimchi, and Abarbinel.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. tear themselves—rather, "break bread," namely, that eaten at the funeral-feast (De 26:14; Job 42:11; Eze 24:17; Ho 9:4). "Bread" is to be supplied, as in La 4:4; compare "take" (food) (Ge 42:33).
give … cup of consolation … for … father—It was the Oriental custom for friends to send viands and wine (the "cup of consolation") to console relatives in mourning-feasts, for example, to children upon the death of a "father" or "mother."
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