|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:8-13 All who labour only for the meat that perishes, will, sooner or later, be ashamed of their labour. Those that place their happiness in the delights of sense, when deprived of them, or disturbed in the enjoyment, lose their joy; whereas spiritual joy then flourishes more than ever. See what perishing, uncertain things our creature-comforts are. See how we need to live in continual dependence upon God and his providence. See what ruinous work sin makes. As far as poverty occasions the decay of piety, and starves the cause of religion among a people, it is a very sore judgment. But how blessed are the awakening judgments of God, in rousing his people and calling home the heart to Christ, and his salvation!
Verses 8-13. - The consequence of such ruin and havoc is great and general lamentation. The drunkards were first called on in the preceding verses to mourn, for the distress came first and nearest to them. But now the priests, the Lord's ministers, mourn; things inanimate, by a touching personification, join in the lamentation - the land mourneth; the husbandmen that till the ground mourn. Verse 8. - Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
1. The verb here, which is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον, is
(1) imperative feminine; the subject must, of course, correspond. That subject has been variously supplied:
(a) the ground, according to Aben Ezra;
(b) naphshi, my soul, i.e. the prophet's address to himself;
(c) the daughter of Zion, or virgin daughter of Zion; but
(d) the congregation or people of Judah, as suggested in the Chaldee, is the real subject.
(2) The LXX. has θωρήνησον πρός με, evidently combining two readings, or rather two punctuations, of the same word, viz. אֵלַיִ, to me, and ךאלִי, lament.
2. The mourning is of the deepest, bitterest kind, like that of a virgin for the husband of her youth. It is either the case of a maiden betrothed to a youthful bridegroom, whom she sincerely loves, but he dies before they are married, and thus, instead of the wedding dress, she puts on the garment of mourning, the sackcloth of rough hair; or she has been married, and her husband, still in youth, is snatched away from her by death, and she is clothed in widow's weeds - in her case real weeds of woe, and outward tokens of sincere, not simulated, sorrow. The expression reminds us of Isaiah's "wife of youth," and of the Homeric expression frequently translated "virgin or youthful spouse," though more correctly "wedded wife." Such is the lamentation to which the people of Judah are called.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Lament like a virgin,.... This is not the continuation of the prophet's speech to the drunkards; but, as Aben Ezra observes, he either speaks to himself, or to the land the Targum supplies it, O congregation of Israel; the more religious and godly part of the people are here addressed; who were concerned for the pure worship of God, and were as a chaste virgin espoused to Christ, though not yet come, and for whom they were waiting; these are called upon to lament the calamities of the times in doleful strains, like a virgin:
girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth; either as one that had been betrothed to a young man, but not married, he dying after the espousals, and before marriage; which must be greatly distressing to one that passionately loved him; and therefore, instead of her nuptial robes, prepared to meet him and be married in, girds herself with sackcloth; a coarse hairy sort of cloth, as was usual, in the eastern countries, to put on in token of mourning: or as one lately married to a young man she dearly loved, and was excessively fond of, and lived extremely happy with; but, being suddenly snatched away from her by death, puts on her widow's garments, and mourns not in show only, but in reality; having lost in her youth her young husband, she had the strongest affection for: this is used to express the great lamentation the people are called unto in this time of their distress.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. Lament—O "my land" (Joe 1:6; Isa 24:4).
virgin … for the husband—A virgin betrothed was regarded as married (De 22:23; Mt 1:19). The Hebrew for "husband" is "lord" or "possessor," the husband being considered the master of the wife in the East.
of her youth—when the affections are strongest and when sorrow at bereavement is consequently keenest. Suggesting the thought of what Zion's grief ought to be for her separation from Jehovah, the betrothed husband of her early days (Jer 2:2; Eze 16:8; Ho 2:7; compare Pr 2:17; Jer 3:4).
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