Lamentations 1:12
Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow, which is done to me, with which the LORD has afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.
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(12) Is it nothing to you . . .—Literally, Not to you, ye passers by, which the Authorised version takes as a question. The LXX. and Vulg., however, seem to have taken the adverb as an interjection: “O all ye that pass by . . .” And some interpreters have taken the negative but not the question, “Nor to you . . . (do I say this).The Authorised version, however, has most to commend it. What the mourning city felt most keenly was that her unparalleled sufferings were met with an unparalleled indifference.

Lamentations 1:12. Is it nothing to you? &c. — The Vulgate reads this clause without an interrogation, thus: O vos omnes qui transitis per viam attendite, videte, &c. O all ye, who pass by the way, observe, see, &c. Lowth also and Blaney prefer reading it in a similar way; the former thus: O all ye that pass by; or, O! I appeal to all you that pass by: and the latter, O that among you, all ye that pass by the way, ye would look and see, &c. Our translation, however, is more agreeable to the Hebrew, and certainly more expressive and emphatical. The prophet speaks in the name of Jerusalem, or of the Jewish Church, still represented as a woman in misery, sitting by the way-side, and calling to travellers that passed by to have compassion on her, suggesting to them that hers was no ordinary affliction, nor the visitation of a common and ordinary providence, but the effect of the Lord’s fierce anger, a most severe though just chastisement. The intention of the passage is to show that the calamities brought on the Jews, as the punishment of their idolatries and other crimes, ought to be observed and maturely considered by people of all nations, that from their miseries they might learn how dangerous it was to provoke the God of Israel by such practices; which he would not overlook in any people, not even in those that stood in the nearest relation to him, but would assuredly punish them: and to signify to the Babylonians themselves in what danger they stood by despising and setting at naught this only living and true God. But the prophet does not address them by name, nor speak more pointedly, lest he should irritate them still more against his already too miserable countrymen. “These words are often quoted in speaking of our Lord’s sufferings, and they are capable of a striking accommodation thereto: but it should be recollected that this is only an accommodation, and not the real meaning of the sacred writer.” — Mr. Scott: who adds, “The address is so exquisitely pathetical, that no comment can possibly do justice to it.”1:12-22 Jerusalem, sitting dejected on the ground, calls on those that passed by, to consider whether her example did not concern them. Her outward sufferings were great, but her inward sufferings were harder to bear, through the sense of guilt. Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ. Does he not from the cross speak to every one of us? Does he not say, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Let all our sorrows lead us to the cross of Christ, lead us to mark his example, and cheerfully to follow him.The lamentation of the city, personified as a woman in grief over her fate.12. The pathetic appeal of Jerusalem, not only to her neighbors, but even to the strangers "passing by," as her sorrow is such as should excite the compassion even of those unconnected with her. She here prefigures Christ, whom the language is prophetically made to suit, more than Jerusalem. Compare Israel, that is, Messiah, Isa 49:3. Compare with "pass by," Mt 27:39; Mr 15:29. As to Jerusalem, Da 9:12. M AURER, from the Arabic idiom, translates, "do not go off on your way," that is, stop, whoever ye are that pass by. English Version is simpler.


The prophet speaks in the name of the Jewish church, as a woman in misery sitting by the way-side, and calling to passengers that came by to have compassion on her, suggesting to them that her affliction was no ordinary affliction, nor the effect of a common and ordinary providence, but the effect of the Lord’s fierce anger, a most severe punishment. Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?.... O ye strangers and travellers that pass by, and see my distress, does it not at all concern you? does it not in the least affect you? can you look upon it, and have no commiseration? or is there nothing to be learned from hence by you, that may be instructive and useful to you? Some consider the words as deprecating; may the like things never befall you that have befallen me, O ye passengers; be ye who ye will; I can never wish the greatest stranger, much less a friend, to suffer what I do; nay, I pray God they never may: others, as adjuring. So the Targum,

"I adjure you, all ye that pass by the way, turn aside hither:''

or as calling; so the words may be rendered, "O all ye that pass by" (y); and Sanctius thinks it is an allusion to epitaphs on tombs, which call upon travellers to stop and read the character of the deceased; what were his troubles, and how he came to his end; and so what follows is Jerusalem's epitaph:

behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me; as it is natural for everyone to think their own affliction greatest, and that none have that occasion of grief and sorrow as they have; though there is no affliction befalls us but what is common unto men; and when it comes to be compared with others, perhaps will appear lighter than theirs:

wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me, in the day of his fierce anger; signifying, that her affliction was not a common one; it was not from the hand of man only, but from the hand of God; and not in the ordinary way of his providence; but as the effect of his wrath and fury, in all the fierceness of it.

(y) "O vos omnes", V. L.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there is any {n} sorrow like my sorrow, which hath fallen upon me, with which the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.

(n) Thus Jerusalem laments moving others to pity her and to learn by her example.

12. Is it nothing to you] This rendering is precarious. Löhr considers the original commencement of the v. to be irrevocably lost. The lit. rendering of MT. is “not to you, etc.” So the Syr., while the LXX fail to give any clear indication of their Heb. text. The Heb. letter (Lamed) which commences the v. is written small, apparently as an indication that a corruption is suspected. Budde’s translation (obtained by a slight difference in the punctuation of the first word in MT.), viz. “O ye that pass by, look on me and see,” is perhaps the best.

12–22. See introductory note. Zion, as at the end of the previous v., now speaks.Verses 12-22. - The same subject; Jerusalem the speaker. Verse 12. - Is it nothing to you? The Hebrew is very difficult, and the translation therefore insecure. Keil, however, adopts a rendering very near that of the Authorized Version "(Cometh it) not unto you?" i.e. "Do ye not heed it?" Ewald supposes the phrase to be abbreviated from "Do I not call unto you?" (comp. Proverbs 8:4); but this would be a very harsh construction. The Septuagint has Οἱ πρὸς ὑμᾶς; the Targum, "I adjure you;" the Vulgate, O vos; - all apparently pronouncing lu instead of lo. At any rate, the object of the words is to heighten the force of the appeal which follows. Her adversaries or oppressors, in relation to her, have become the head (and Judah thus the tail), as was threatened, Deuteronomy 28:44; whereas, according to Deuteronomy 28:13 in that same address of Moses, the reverse was intended. Her enemies, knowing that their power is supreme, and that Judah has been completely vanquished, are quite at ease, secure (שׁלוּ, cf. Jeremiah 12:1). This unhappy fate Zion has brought on herself through the multitude of her own transgressions. Her children (עוללים, children of tender age) are driven away by the enemy like a flock. The comparison to a flock of lambs is indicated by לפני. But Zion has not merely lost what she loves most (the tender children), but all her glory; so that even her princes, enfeebled by hunger, cannot escape the pursuers, who overtake them and make them prisoners. Like deer that find no pasture, they flee exhausted before the pursuer. כּאיּלים has been rendered ὡς κριοὶ by the lxx, and ut arietes by the Vulgate; hence Kalkschmidt, Bttcher (Aehrenl. S. 94), and Thenius would read כּאילים, against which Rosenmller has remarked: perperam, nam hirci non sunt fugacia animalia, sed cervi. Raschi had already indicated the point of the comparison in the words, quibus nullae vires sunt ad effugiendum, fame eorum robore debilitato. The objections raised against כּאיּלים as the correct reading are founded on the erroneous supposition that the subject treated of is the carrying away of the princes into exile; and that for the princes, in contrast with the young, no more suitable emblem could be chosen than the ram. But רודף does not mean "the driver," him who leads or drives the captives into exile, but "the pursuer," who runs after the fugitive and seeks to catch him. The words treat of the capture of the princes: the flight of the king and his princes at the taking of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:3.) hovered before the writer's mind. For such a subject, the comparison of the fugitive princes to starved or badly fed rams is inappropriate; but it is suitable enough to compare them with harts which had lost all power to run, because they had been unable to find any pasture, and בּלא־כח (without strength, i.e., in weakness) are pursued and caught.
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