Lamentations 1:17
Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.
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(17) Zion spreadeth forth her hands . . .—The normal attitude of Eastern prayer, or, perhaps, of lamentation and despair.

That his adversaries . . .—Better, that those round about him should be his adversaries, the nearest neighbours being the bitterest foes.

Jerusalem is as . . .—The image is the same as in Lamentations 1:8, and might be rendered as one polluted, or as an abomination.

Lamentations 1:17. Zion spreadeth forth her hands — She extendeth her hands as a suppliant praying for relief and consolation. And there is none to comfort her — None who can, or are even inclined to do it. The Lord hath commanded, &c. — That is, it came to pass by God’s command, that the surrounding nations were the adversaries of Jacob. We meet with a similar form of expression Psalm 68:11, The Lord gave the word, great was the company of those that published it. Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman — She is become loathsome and filthy in the eyes of her former friends, like women separated from the congregation in the time of their legal uncleanness.

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.Spreadeth forth her hands - In prayer Exodus 9:29, Exodus 9:33, but Zion entreats in vain. There is no one to comfort her - not God, for He is chastising her, nor man, for all the neighboring nations have become her enemies. See Lamentations 1:2.

That his adversaries ... - Rather, that those round about him should be his adversaries; all the neighboring states should regard him with aversion.

Jerusalem is ... - i. e. is become an abomination. The words are virtually the same as in Lamentations 1:8.

17. Like a woman in labor-throes (Jer 4:31).

menstruous woman—held unclean, and shunned by all; separated from her husband and from the temple (compare La 1:8; Le 14:19, &c.).


The same in this verse is meant by Zion, Jacob, and Jerusalem, unless Zion more specially signifieth the Jews considered as a church, because of the temple built upon it. She spreadeth out her hands as in a posture of mourning, and bewailing herself; but she had none that could afford her any comfort. God had commanded concerning the Jews who were descended from Jacob, (their twelve tribes from his twelve sons,) that their enemies should encompass them. They were become loathsome and filthy even in the eyes of their enemies, like women which were separated from the congregation during their legal uncleanness.

Zion spreadeth forth her hands,.... Either as submitting to the conqueror, and imploring mercy; or rather as calling to her friends to help and relieve her. The Targum is,

"Zion spreadeth out her hands through distress, as a woman spreads out her hands upon the seat to bring forth;''

see Jeremiah 4:31. Some render the words, "Zion breaks with her hands" (f); that is, breaks bread; and Joseph Kimchi observes, that it was the custom of comforters to break bread to the mourner; but here she herself breaks it with her hands, because there was none to comfort her:

and there is none to comfort her; to speak a word of comfort to her, or to help her out of her trouble; her children gone into captivity; her friends and lovers at a distance; and God himself departed from her; See Gill on Lamentations 1:16;

the Lord hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him; that he should be surrounded by them, and carried captive, and should be in the midst of them in captivity: this was the decree and determination of God; and, agreeably to it, he ordered it in his providence that the Chaldeans should come against him, encompass him, and overcome him; and that because he had slighted and broken the commandments of the Lord; and therefore was justly dealt with, as is acknowledged in Lamentations 1:18. So the Targum,

"the Lord gave to the house of Jacob commandments, and a law to keep, but they transgressed the decree of his word; therefore his enemies encompassed the house of Jacob round about:''

Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them; reckoned filthy and unclean, abominable and nauseous; whom none cared to come near, but shunned, despised, and abhorred; as the Jews separated from the Gentiles, and would not converse with them; so neither now would the Chaldeans with the Jews; but treat them as the offscouring of all things.

(f) "frangit Sion manibus suis", sub. "panem", Vatablus.

Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be around him: Jerusalem is {r} as a menstruous woman among them.

(r) Who because of her pollution was separate from her husband, Le 15:19 and was abhorred for the time.

17. Here the poet speaks, while Zion resumes her lament from Lamentations 1:18 to the end of the ch.

spreadeth forth her hands] in fruitless supplication. For the phrase itself cp. Exodus 9:29; 1 Kings 8:38, etc. The Targ., however, takes the expression to indicate a gesture of pain.

Jerusalem is, etc.] They look on her with loathing, as though ceremonially defiled.

Verse 17. - Again the poet passes into the tone of reflection, thus relieving the strain upon the feelings of the reader. Spreadeth forth her hands. The gesture of supplication and entreaty (comp. Psalm 28:2; Psalm 63:4; Isaiah 65:2). That his adversaries, etc.; rather, those who are about him are his adversaries. The neighbouring peoples, who ought to be sympathetic and friendly, gloat over the spectacle of his calamities. They both hate and (comp. ver. 8) despise the fallen city. Lamentations 1:17The complaint regarding the want of comforters is corroborated by the writer, who further developes this thought, and gives some proof of it. By this contemplative digression he breaks in on the lamentation of the city, as if the voice of the weeping one were choked with tears, thus he introduces into the complaint a suitable pause, that both serves to divide the lamentation into two, and also brings a turn in its contents. It is in vain that Zion stretches out her hands (פּרשׁ בּ, to make a spreading out with the hands) for comforters and helpers; there is none she can embrace, for Jahveh has given orders against Jacob, that those round about him should act as oppressors. סביביו are the neighbouring nations round about Israel. These are all of hostile disposition, and strive but to increase his misery; cf. Lamentations 1:2. Jerusalem has become their abomination (cf. Lamentations 1:8), since God, in punishment for sins, has exposed her before the heathen nations (cf. Lamentations 1:8). בּיניהם, "between them," the neighbouring nations, who live round about Judah. The thought that Jahveh has decreed the suffering which has come on Jerusalem, is laid to heart by her who makes complaint, so that, in Lamentations 1:18, she owns God's justice, and lets herself be roused to ask for pity, Lamentations 1:19-22.

Starting with the acknowledgment that Jahveh is righteous, because Jerusalem has opposed His word, the sorrowing one anew (Lamentations 1:18, as in Lamentations 1:12) calls on the nations to regard her sorrow, which attains its climax when her children, in the bloom of youth, are taken captives by the enemy. But she finds no commiseration among men; for some, her former friends, prove faithless, and her counsellors have perished (Lamentations 1:19); therefore she turns to God, making complaint to Him of her great misery (Lamentations 1:20), because the rest, her enemies, even rejoice over her misery (Lamentations 1:21): she prays that God may punish these. Gerlach has properly remarked, that this conclusion of the chapter shows Jerusalem does not set forth her fate as an example for the warning of the nations, nor desires thereby to obtain commiseration from them in her present state (Michaelis, Rosenmller, Thenius, Vaihinger); but that the apostrophe addressed to the nations, as well as that to passers-by (Lamentations 1:12), is nothing more than a poetic turn, used to express the boundless magnitude of this her sorrow and her suffering. On the confession "Righteous is Jahveh," cf. Jeremiah 12:1; Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Chronicles 12:6; Psalm 119:37, etc. "Because I have rebelled against His mouth" (i.e., His words and commandments), therefore I am suffering what I have merited. On מרה , cf. Numbers 20:24; 1 Kings 13:26. כּל־עמּים (without the article, which the Qeri supplies) is a form of expression used in poetry, which often drops the article; moreover, we must here bear in mind, that it is not by any means the idea of the totality of the nations that predominates, but nations are addressed merely in indefinite generality: the expression in the text means nations of all places and countries. In order to indicate the greatness of her grief, the sorrowing one mentions the carrying into captivity of the young men and virgins, who are a mother's joy and hope.

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