Jeremiah 4:31
For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.
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(31) A woman in travail.—Literally, writhing in pain, as in Jeremiah 4:19.

Bewaileth herself.—Literally, pants for breath. The prophet draws his pictures with a terrible intensity. On the one side is Zion as the harlot, in her gold and crimson and cosmetics; on the other we see the forlorn and desperate castaway, in the hour of a woman’s utter helplessness, outraged and abandoned, stretching out her hands to implore mercy from the assassins who attack her, and imploring it in vain.

Jeremiah 4:31. For I have heard a voice of a woman in travail — Here Jerusalem is very pathetically described by the character of a woman under the pangs of her first child-bearing, when her pains as well as her fears are usually greatest. Such, saith the prophet, shall be the anguish of Jerusalem, bewailing the loss of her children by the devouring sword of the Chaldeans, and in vain imploring comfort and assistance. That spreadeth her hands, &c. — Spreading out the hands is the gesture of one displaying the helplessness of her condition, and imploring the aid of others.

“Ingemit, et duplices tendens ad sidera palmas, Talia voce refert — — — .”

VIRGIL ÆN., I. 50:97.

“Struck with unusual fright, the Trojan chief, With outspread hands and eyes, invokes relief.” DRYDEN.

4:19-31 The prophet had no pleasure in delivering messages of wrath. He is shown in a vision the whole land in confusion. Compared with what it was, every thing is out of order; but the ruin of the Jewish nation would not be final. Every end of our comforts is not a full end. Though the Lord may correct his people very severely, yet he will not cast them off. Ornaments and false colouring would be of no avail. No outward privileges or profession, no contrivances would prevent destruction. How wretched the state of those who are like foolish children in the concerns of their souls! Whatever we are ignorant of, may the Lord make of good understanding in the ways of godliness. As sin will find out the sinner, so sorrow will, sooner or later, find out the secure.For a cry have I heard as of one writhing in vain:

Anguish as of one that bringeth forth her first-born:

The cry of the daughter of Zion.

She gasps for breath: she stretches out her palms:

Woe is me! for my soul faints before the murderers.

31. anguish—namely, occasioned by the attack of the enemy.

daughter of Zion—There is peculiar beauty in suppressing the name of the person in trouble, until that trouble had been fully described [Henderson].

bewaileth herself—rather, "draweth her breath short" [Horsley]; "panteth."

spreadeth … hands—(La 1:17).

A voice as of a woman in travail: when the Scripture would express any exquisite sorrow, exceeding all other pains, it doth it by a woman in travail, Isaiah 13:8,9 Jer 6:24 30:6,7. The anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, which of all seems to be the most painful, both from natural causes, and because they have less patience to bear, having not had former experience of the like.

The daughter of Zion, viz. Jerusalem, Isaiah 1:8.

That spreadeth her hands; in her great distress she either reacheth them out to God for some help, Isaiah 1:15; or rather, according to the use of persons in great anguish, clapping or wringing their hands together, as both the former expression of bewailing herself, fetching of deep sighs and lamentations, and the following woe is me, intimates. See Jeremiah 2:37.

Woe is me now! or, the time of my woe is at hand; it draws near.

My soul is wearied because of murderers; there is no more spirit left within me, I am ready to sink under my distress, considering not only that my destruction is so near, but that those of whom I have been so fond, and whose idols I have so zealously served, should become my murderers, Jeremiah 4:30, and that I should fall into the hands of such as will have no compassion, 2 Chronicles 36:17.

For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail,.... So the distress of the Jews, at the time of their destruction, is compared to the sorrows of a woman in travail; and a word, that signifies that is used to express it, Matthew 24:8,

and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child; whose time is more difficult, her pains sharper, her anguish greater, and, having less experience, the more impatient:

the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself; her unhappy condition, and miserable circumstances:

that spreadeth her hands; as persons in distress do, and particularly women in travail: saying,

woe is me now, for my soul is wearied because of murderers: these abounded: under the second temple, and was the reason, the Jews say: (m), of the sanhedrim removing from their usual place in the temple; and why they ceased from the beheading of the red heifer (n).

(m) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 8. 2.((n) Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 9.

For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, that bewaileth herself, that spreadeth her hands, saying, {y} Woe is me now! for my soul is wearied because of murderers.

(y) As the prophets were moved to pity the destruction of their people, so they declared it to the people to move them to repentance, Isa 22:4, Jer 9:1.

31. Thy wiles shall have no effect; for already I hear thy cries of agony and dismay.

daughter of Zion] denoting the inhabitants as a whole. Cp. Jeremiah 6:2, etc.

Verse 31. - For I have heard a voice, etc. This explains the preceding statement, "They will seek thy life." It is this murderous plot which calls forth the "cry as of a woman in pangs." Bewaileth herself; rather, sigheth deeply. Her hands; literally, her palms. Is wearied because of murderers; rather, fainteth into the hands of (literally, is treaty unto) the murderers.

Jeremiah 4:31Jeremiah 4:31, as giving a reason, is introduced by כּי. Zion's attempts to secure the goodwill of the enemy are in vain, for already the prophet hears in spirit the agonized cry of the daughter of Zion, who beseechingly stretches out her hands for help, and falls exhausted under the assassin's strokes. חולה, partic. Kal faem. from חוּל; see Ew. 151, b, and Gesen. 72, Rem. 1. צרה, in parallelism with קול and dependent on "I hear," means cry of anguish. התיפּח, breathe heavily, pant, sign. תּפרשׂ is joined asynd. with the preceding word, but is in sense subordinate to it: she sighs with hands spread out; a pleading gesture expressing a prayer for protection. עיף, be exhausted, here equals sink down faint, succumb to the murderers.
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