|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 4. - The ways of Zion do mourn. The reads leading to Jerusalem, usually so thronged with pilgrims, are desolate and "mourn" (comp. ch. 2:8 and Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 14:31). All her gates are desolate. No one goes in or out of Jerusalem, and there is no concourse of citizens in the shady recess of the gates. The virgins are afflicted. So Zephaniah 3:18. The sorrow was on account of the cessation of the festival, in the music of which they took a leading part (comp. Psalm 68:25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The ways of Zion do mourn,.... Being unoccupied, as in Judges 5:6; or unfrequented: this is said by a rhetorical figure; as ways may be said to rejoice, or look pleasant and cheerful, when there are many passengers in them, going to and fro; so they may be said to mourn, or to look dull and melancholy, when no person is met with, or seen in them; thus Jerusalem and the temple being destroyed, the ways which led from the one to the other, and in which used to be seen great numbers going up to the worship of God, which was pleasant to behold, Psalm 42:4; now not one walking in them, and all overgrown with grass; and those roads which led from the several parts of the land to Jerusalem, whither the ten tribes went up to worship three times in the year, and used to travel in companies, which made it delightful and comfortable, and pleasant to look at, now none to be seen upon them; which was matter of grief to those that wished well to Zion; as it is to all truly godly persons to observe that the ways and worship of God are not frequented; that there are few inquiring the way to Zion above, or travelling in the road to heaven; as also when there are few that worship God in Zion below, or ask the way unto it, or walk in the ordinances of it:
because none come to the solemn feasts. Aben Ezra understands this of the sanctuary itself; which sense Abendana mentions; expressed by the word here used; and so called, because all Israel were convened here; but the Targum and Jarchi more rightly interpret it of the feasts, the three solemn feasts of the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, at which all the males in Israel were obliged to appear; but now, the temple and city being in ruins, none came to them, which was a very distressing case; as it is to good men, when upon whatever occasion, either through persecution, or through sloth and negligence, the ministry of the word, and the administration of ordinances, particularly the Lord's supper, the solemn feasts under the Gospel dispensation, are not attended to:
all her gates are desolate; the gates of the temple; none passing through them into it to worship God, pray unto him, praise him, or offer sacrifice; or the gates of the city, none going to and fro in them; nor the elders sitting there in council, as in courts of judicature, to try causes, and do justice and judgment:
her priests sigh; the temple burnt; altars destroyed, and no sacrifices brought to be offered; and so no employment for them, and consequently no bread; but utterly deprived of their livelihood, and had good reason to sigh. The Targum adds,
"because the offerings ceased:''
her virgins are afflicted; or, "are sorrowful" (m); are in grief and mourning, that used to be brisk and gay, and to play with timbrels at their festivals; so the Targum paraphrases it,
"the virgins mourn because they cease to go out on the fifteenth of Ab, and on the day of atonement, which was the tenth of Tisri, to dance in the dances:''
and she is in bitterness; that is, Zion; or the congregation of Israel is in bitterness of spirit, in great affliction and distress; her name might be rightly called Marah; see Ruth 1:20.
(m) "moestae", Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis; "moerent", Piscator; "moestitia affectae sunt", Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. feasts—the passover, pentecost (or the feast of weeks), and the feast of tabernacles.
gates—once the place of concourse.
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