|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:8-16 The prophet laments that Israel's case is desperate; but declare it not in Gath. Gratify not those that make merry with the sins or with the sorrows of God's Israel. Roll thyself in the dust, as mourners used to do; let every house in Jerusalem become a house of Aphrah, a house of dust. When God makes the house dust it becomes us to humble ourselves to the dust under his mighty hand. Many places should share this mourning. The names have meanings which pointed out the miseries coming upon them; thereby to awaken the people to a holy fear of Divine wrath. All refuges but Christ, must be refuges of lies to those who trust in them; other heirs will succeed to every inheritance but that of heaven; and all glory will be turned into shame, except that honour which cometh from God only. Sinners may now disregard their neighbours' sufferings, yet their turn to be punished will some come.
Verses 10-15. - 4. The judgment on Judah is exemplified by the fate of certain of its cities, whose names the prophet connects with their punishment in a series of paronomasias. Verse 10. - Declare ye it not at Gath. This phrase from David's elegy over Saul (2 Samuel 1:20) had become a proverbial saying, deprecating the malicious joy of their hostile neighbours over the misfortunes that befell them. Gath is mentioned as the seat of the Philistines, the constant and powerful enemy of Judah. (For its situation, see note on Amos 6:2.) The paronomasias in this passage, which seem to modern ears artificial and puerile, are paralleled in many writings both Hebrew and classic, and were natural to a people who looked for mystical meaning in words and names. Thus Gath is taken to signify "Tell town," and the clause is, "In Tell town tell it not." Weep ye not at all; Vulgate, lacrymis ne ploretis; i.e. "weep in silence," or "hide your tears," that the enemy may not know your grief. As in cash of the other clauses a town is mentioned, some editors would here read, "In Acco ('Weep town') weep not!" - Acco being the later Ptolemais, the modern St. Jean d'Acre, and taken here to represent another foreign city which would rejoice at Judah's misfortunes (see, Judges 1:31). The Septuagint alone of all the versions seems to countenance this reading, by translating, Οἱ Ἐνακεὶμ μὴ ἀνοικοδομεῖτε, "Ye Enakim, do not rebuild," which has been resolved into οἱ ἐν Ἀκεὶμ, supposed to be an error for οἱ ἐν Ἀχί The objections against this reading may be seen in Keil and Pusey. There is a play on the words in both these clauses (as in the following five verses), which is not seen in the English Version, begath al taggidu, and bako al tibeku. Knabenbauer imitates the paronomasia in Latin, "Cannis ne canite; Anconae ne angamini;" Ewald and Schegg in German, "In Molln meldet nicht; in Weinsberg. weinet nicht;" Reuss in French, "N'allez pas le dire a Dijon! N'allez pas pleurer a Ploermel!" In these puns, as we should call them, the prophet is far, indeed, from jesting. "He sees," says Dr. Cheyne, "like Isaiah, in Isaiah 10:30, a preordained correspondence between names and fortunes;" and he wishes to impress this on his countrymen, that the judgment may not come upon them unwarned. In the house of Aphrah; better, at Beth-le-Aphrah, i.e. "House of dust;" Vulgate, in domo pulveris. The site of Aphrah is unknown. Some identify it with Ophrah in Benjamin (Joshua 18:23), four miles northeast of Bethel; others, with Ophrah in Philistia (1 Chronicles 4:14). Host of the towns named below lie in the Shephelah. Keil notes that the word is pointed with pathach here for the sake of the paronomasia. Roll thyself in the dust; sprinkle dust upon thyself. This was a common sign of mourning (comp. 2 Samuel 13:19; Jeremiah 6:26). The Hebrew text (in contradistinction to the margin, Keri) gives, "I roll myself," or "I have besprinkled myself," the prophet identifying himself with the people. But as in all the subsequent passages, not what the prophet does, but what the inhabitants do, is the point impressed, the reading of the Keri is hem to be preferred. Vulgate, pulvere vos conspergite. The Septuagint has an inexplicable rendering, κατὰ γέλωτα γῆν καταπάσασθε, "against laughter sprinkle earth," which Brenton translates, "sprinkle dust in the place of your laughter." With this section (vers. 10-15) should be compared Isaiah 10:28-32, which describes the alarm occasioned by Sennacherib's invasion of Judah from the northeast, as Micah represents his progress to the southwest.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Declare ye it not at Gath,.... A city of the Philistines, put for all the rest: the phrase is borrowed from 2 Samuel 1:20; where the reason is given, and holds good here as there; and the sense is, not that the destruction of Israel, or the invasion of Judea, or the besieging of Jerusalem, could be hid from the Philistines; but that it was a thing desirable, was it possible, since it would be matter of rejoicing to them, and that would be an aggravation of the distress of Israel and Judah:
weep ye not at all; that is, before the Philistines, or such like enemies, lest they should laugh and scoff at you; though they had reason to weep, and did and ought to weep in secret; yet, as much as in them lay, it would be right to forbear it openly, because of the insults and reproach of the enemy. The learned Reland (f) suspects that it should be read, "weep not in Acco": which was another city in Palestine, to the north from the enemy, as Gath was to the south; and observes, that there is a like play on words (g) in the words, as in the places after mentioned. Acco is the same with Ptolemais, Acts 21:7; See Gill on Acts 21:7. It had this name from Ptolemy Lagus king of Egypt, who enlarged it, and called it after his own name; but Mr, Maundrell (h) observes,
"now, since it hath been in the possession of the Turks, it has, according to the example of many other cities in Turkey, cast off its Greek, and recovered some semblance of its old Hebrew name again, being called Acca, or Acra. As to its situation (he says) it enjoys all possible advantages, both of sea and land; on its north and east sides it is compassed with a spacious and fertile plain; on the west it is washed by the Mediterranean sea; and on the south by a large bay, extending from the city as far as Mount Carmel;''
in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust; as mourners used to do, sit in the dust, or cover their heads with it, or wallow in it; this is allowed to be done privately, in houses or in towns distinct from the Philistines, as Aphrah or Ophrah was, which was in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:23; called here "Aphrah", to make it better agree with "Aphar", dust, to which the allusion is: and it may be rendered, "in the house of dust roll thyself in the dust"; having respect to the condition houses would be in at this time, mere heaps of dust and rubbish, so that they would find enough easily to roll themselves in. Here is a double reading; the "Keri", or marginal reading, which the Masora directs to, and we follow, is, "roll thyself": but the "Cetib", or writing, is, "I have rolled myself" (i); and so are the words of the prophet, who before says he wailed and howled, and went stripped and naked; here he says, as a further token of his sorrow, that he rolled himself in dust, and as an example for Israel to do the like. This place was a village in the times of Jerom (k) and was called Effrem; it was five miles from Bethel to the east.
(f) Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 534, 535. (g) . (h) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 54. (i) "volutavi me", De Dieu. (k) De locis Hebr. fol. 88. H.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. Declare ye it not at Gath—on the borders of Judea, one of the five cities of the Philistines, who would exult at the calamity of the Hebrews (2Sa 1:20). Gratify not those who exult over the falls of the Israel of God.
weep ye not at all—Do not betray your inward sorrow by outward weeping, within the cognizance of the enemy, lest they should exult at it. Reland translates, "Weep not in Acco," that is, Ptolemais, now St. Jean d'Acre, near the foot of Mount Carmel; allotted to Asher, but never occupied by that tribe (Jud 1:31); Acco's inhabitants would, therefore, like Gath's, rejoice at Israel's disaster. Thus the parallelism is best carried out in all the three clauses of the verse, and there is a similar play on sounds in each, in the Hebrew Gath, resembling in sound the Hebrew for "declare"; Acco, resembling the Hebrew for "weep"; and Aphrah, meaning "dust." While the Hebrews were not to expose their misery to foreigners, they ought to bewail it in their own cities, for example, Aphrah or Ophrah (Jos 18:23; 1Sa 13:17), in the tribe of Benjamin. To "roll in the dust" marked deep sorrow (Jer 6:26; Eze 27:30).
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