|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-16 Is any afflicted? Let him pray; and let him in prayer pour out his complaint to God. The people of God do so here; they complain not of evils feared, but of evils felt. If penitent and patient under what we suffer for the sins of our fathers, we may expect that He who punishes, will return in mercy to us. They acknowledge, Woe unto us that we have sinned! All our woes are owing to our own sin and folly. Though our sins and God's just displeasure cause our sufferings, we may hope in his pardoning mercy, his sanctifying grace, and his kind providence. But the sins of a man's whole life will be punished with vengeance at last, unless he obtains an interest in Him who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.
Verse 13. - They took the young men to grind; rather, the young men have borne the mill. The lower millstone seems to have been specially hard, and therefore heavy (see Job 41:24), and to carry it about must have required a more severe exertion even than the constant turning of the mill handle. Dr. Thomson "cannot recall an instance in which men were grinding at the mill" ('The Land and the Book,' edit. 1881, p. 108), and both Exodus 11:5 and Matthew 24:41 presuppose that it was women's work. The conquered Jewish youths, however, share the fate of Samson -
"Eyeless, in Gaza, at the mill with slaves."
(Samson Agonistes,' 41.) Eyeless, indeed, they may some of them have been, as putting out the eyes was a common Oriental punishment (comp. Jeremiah 39:7). The children. This is, perhaps, too strong. The Hebrew na'ar is applicable, not only to children, but to youths at the age for marriage (Genesis 34:19) or war (1 Kings 20:15). The wood; not the wooden handle of the mill, but the wood required for fuel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
They took the young men to grind,.... In the mill, which was laborious service; and which persons were sometimes put to, by way of punishment; and was the punishment of servants; see Judges 16:21. Some render it, "the young men bore the grist" (x); carried the corn, the meal ground, from place to place. The Targum is,
"the young men carried the millstones;''
and so Jarchi, they put millstones upon their shoulders, and burdens so as to weary them. Ben Melech, from their Rabbins, relates, that there were no millstones in Babylon; wherefore the Chaldeans put them upon the young men of Israel, to carry them thither. The Vulgate Latin version is,
"they abused the young men in an unchaste manner;''
suggesting something obscene intended by grinding; see Job 31:10; but the context will not admit of such a sense:
and the children fell under the wood; such loads of wood were laid upon them, that they could not bear them, but fell under them. Aben Ezra understands it of moving the wood of the mill, of turning the wooden handle of it; or the wooden post, the rider or runner, by which the upper millstone was turned: this their strength was not equal to, and so failed. The Targum interprets it of a wooden gibbet, or gallows; some wooden engine seems to be had in view, used as a punishment, which was put upon their necks, something like a pillory; which they were not able to stand up under, but fell.
(x) "juvenes farinam portaverunt"; so some in Gataker; "juvenes molam tulerunt", Cocceius; "juvenes ad molendum portant", Junius & Tremellius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. young men … grind—The work of the lowest female slave was laid on young men (Jud 16:21; Job 31:10).
children fell under … wood—Mere children had to bear burdens of wood so heavy that they sank beneath them.
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