|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-11 The prophet sometimes speaks in his own person; at other times Jerusalem, as a distressed female, is the speaker, or some of the Jews. The description shows the miseries of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem became a captive and a slave, by reason of the greatness of her sins; and had no rest from suffering. If we allow sin, our greatest adversary, to have dominion over us, justly will other enemies also be suffered to have dominion. The people endured the extremities of famine and distress. In this sad condition Jerusalem acknowledged her sin, and entreated the Lord to look upon her case. This is the only way to make ourselves easy under our burdens; for it is the just anger of the Lord for man's transgressions, that has filled the earth with sorrows, lamentations, sickness, and death.
Verse 3. - Is gone into captivity because of affliction; rather, is gone into exile, etc. The poet is not thinking of the deportation of the captives, but of those Jews who sought refuge for themselves in foreign lands (comp. Jeremiah 40:11). An objection has been raised to this view that the number of fugitive Jews would not be large enough to warrant their being called "Judah." But we might almost as well object on a similar ground to the application of the term "Judah" to the Jews who were carried to Babylon. The truth may, perhaps, be that, after the fall of Jerusalem, the Jewish nation became split up into three parts:
(1) the Jews who succeeded in escaping into Egypt or elsewhere;
(2) those who were carried captive;
(3) the mass of the common people, who remained on their native soil, Keil, however, retains the view of the Authorized Version, only substituting "out of" for "because of." "Out of" the misery into which the Jews had been brought by the invasions of Necho and Nebuchadnezzar they passed into the new misery of captivity. Among the heathen; rather, among the nations. Between the straits. The phrase is peculiar, and reminds us of Psalm 118:5, "Out of the strait I called unto thee." "A strait," or narrow place, clearly means adversity, just as "a large place" (Psalm 118:5) means prosperity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Judah is gone into captivity,.... Not only Jerusalem the metropolis of Judea was destroyed, but the whole country was ravaged, and the inhabitants of it carried captive into Babylon:
because of affliction, and because of great servitude; because of their sins in oppressing and afflicting their poor brethren, and retaining them in a state of bondage after their seven years' servitude, contrary to the law of God; for which they were threatened with captivity, Jeremiah 34:13; so the Targum,
"the house of Judah went into captivity, because they afflicted the fatherless and the widows; and because of the multitude of service which they caused their brethren the children of Israel to serve, who were sold unto them; and they did not proclaim liberty to their servants and maidens, who were of the seed of Israel:''
or, "through affliction, and through great servitude" (l); that is, through the affliction and servitude they suffered by the Chaldeans, into whose hands they fell; though some understand it of the Jews, who, to escape the affliction and servitude of the Chaldeans, went into a kind of voluntary captivity, fleeing to the countries of Moab, Ammon, and Edom, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; see Jeremiah 40:11;
she dwelleth among the Heathen; the uncircumcised and the unclean; and so was deprived of both her civil and religious liberties; having no opportunity of worshipping God, and enjoying him in his courts, as formerly; and which must be very uncomfortable living, especially to those who were truly gracious:
she findeth no rest. The Targum adds,
"because of the hard service to which they subjected her;''
she found no natural rest, being carried from place to place; nor civil rest, being kept in hard bondage; nor spiritual rest, being deprived of the worship and ordinances of God; and being conscious of her sins, which had brought all this misery on her:
all her persecutors overtook her between the straits; having hunted her as men hunt wild beasts, and get them into some strait and difficult place, and then seize on them. The Targum interprets it, between the borders; or between the hedges, as Ben Melech; and so Jarchi, of the borders of a field and vineyard; and of a ditch on the one side and the other, that there is no room to escape; and who makes mention of a Midrash, that explains it not of place, but time, between the seventeenth day of Tammuz, and the ninth of Ab; see Jeremiah 52:7.
(l) "per afflictionem"; "hic, non prae, sed per significat", Grotius; "vel prae afflictione, sub. a Chaldaeis perpessa"; so some in Vatablus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. (Jer 52:27).
because of great servitude—that is, in a state "of great servitude," endured from the Chaldeans. "Because" is made by Vatablus indicative of the cause of her captivity; namely, her having "afflicted" and unjustly brought into "servitude" the manumitted bond-servants (Jer 34:8-22). Maurer explains it, "Judah has left her land (not literally 'gone into captivity') because of the yoke imposed on it by Nebuchadnezzar."
no rest—(De 28:64, 65).
overtook her between … straits—image from robbers, who in the East intercept travellers at the narrow passes in hilly regions.
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