|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.
Verse 7. - Her Nazarites; rather, her eminent ones (just as Joseph is called n'zir ekhav,"eminent among his brethren"). The rendering of the Authorized Version is lexically possible, but is intrinsically improbable. The Nazarites constituted too small a portion of the Jewish people to receive so prominent a place in the elegy. Rubies; rather, corals. Their polishing was of sapphire; literally, their shape was (like) a sapphire. But the point in which the sapphire is compared to the bodies of the princes is evidently not the outline of its form, but its gleaming brilliant appearance; so that the Authorized Version is substantially correct.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Her Nazarites were purer than snow,.... Such who separated themselves by a vow to the Lord, and abstained from drinking wine and strong drink, and by a moderate diet, and often washing themselves, as well as taking great care of their hair, appeared very neat and comely, like snow, without any spot or blemish. Some think such as were separated from others in dignity, very honourable persons, the sons of nobles, are meant, since the word has the signification of a "crown", and interpret it, her princes; Jarchi makes mention of this sense, and rejects it; but it is received by many: and the meaning is, that her young noblemen, who were well fed, and neatly dressed, looked as pure and as beautiful as the driven snow:
they were whiter than milk; this intends the same thing, expressed by another metaphor:
they were more ruddy in body than rubies; or rather "than precious stones"; and particularly "than pearls", which Bochart (q) proves at large are designed by the word used, which are white, and not red; and the word should be rendered, "clearer" or "whiter than pearls", as it is by Lyra and others (r); and the word in the Arabic language signifies white and clear (s), as pearls are; and so the phrase is expressive of the beauty and comeliness of these persons: and Ludolphus (t) says, that in the Ethiopic language it signifies "beautiful"; and he translates the whole, "they were more beautiful than pearls"; denoting the clearness of their skins, and the goodness of their complexion:
their polishing was of sapphire; or "their cutting, sapphire" (u); they were as beautiful as if they had been cut out of sapphire, and polished; which is a very precious stone, and looks very beautiful; so smooth were their skins. The Targum is,
"their face or countenance is as sapphire.''
Braunius (w) thinks the word used signifies the veins full of blood, which variously intersect the flesh like sapphirine rivers; and that the sense of the words is,
"their bodies were white like snow and milk, yea, shining like pearls (or red in the cheeks, lips, &c. like coral (x)); veins full of blood running between like sapphire, of a most agreeable sky colour; which is, a true description of a most fair and beautiful body.''
See Sol 5:14. All this is to be understood of them before the famine, but, when that came upon them, then they were as follow:
(q) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 5. c. 6. p. 688. (r) "lucidiores corpore margaritis", Bochart; "candidi fuerunt in corpore prae margaritis", Noldius. (s) "camelis tributum, candidus perquam albus", Giggeius; "candidi coloris", Dorcas, Giggeius apud Golium, Colossians 49, 51. (t) Comment. in Ethiop. Hist. l. 1. No. 107. (u) "sapphirus excisio eorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Calvin; "quasi sectio eorum esset ex sapphiro", Munster. (w) De Vestitu Sacerdot. Hebr. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 7. p. 676. (x) So Bootius, Animadv. l. 4. c. 3. sect. 8. p. 144. Lutherus & Osiander in ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. Nazarites—literally, "separated ones" (Nu 6:2). They were held once in the highest estimation, but now they are degraded. God's blessing formerly caused their body not to be the less fair and ruddy for their abstinence from strong drink. Compare the similar case of Daniel, &c. (Da 1:8-15). Also David (1Sa 16:12; 17:42). Type of Messiah (So 5:10).
rubies—Gesenius translates, "corals," from a Hebrew root, "to divide into branches," from the branching form of corals.
polishing—They were like exquisitely cut and polished sapphires. The "sapphires" may represent the blue veins of a healthy person.
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