Lamentations 1:5
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
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(5) Her adversaries are the chief.—Literally, have become the head (Deuteronomy 28:13).

Her enemies prosper.—Better, are at ease, secure from every resistance on her part. “Before the enemy,” driven, i.e., as slaves are driven.

1:1-11 The prophet sometimes speaks in his own person; at other times Jerusalem, as a distressed female, is the speaker, or some of the Jews. The description shows the miseries of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem became a captive and a slave, by reason of the greatness of her sins; and had no rest from suffering. If we allow sin, our greatest adversary, to have dominion over us, justly will other enemies also be suffered to have dominion. The people endured the extremities of famine and distress. In this sad condition Jerusalem acknowledged her sin, and entreated the Lord to look upon her case. This is the only way to make ourselves easy under our burdens; for it is the just anger of the Lord for man's transgressions, that has filled the earth with sorrows, lamentations, sickness, and death.Are the chief ... prosper - Or, "are become the head"... are at rest. Judaea is so entirely crushed that her enemies did not need to take precautions against resistance on her part.

Children - i. e. "young children," who are driven before the enemy (literally the adversary), not as a flock of lambs which follow the shepherd, but for sale as slaves.

5. the chief—rule her (De 28:43, 44).

adversaries … prosper; for the Lord—All the foes' attempts would have failed, had not God delivered His people into their hands (Jer 30:15).


God hath fulfilled his threatening, Deu 28:43; the enemy is got

above us, and

we are brought very low, for the multitude of our sins, directly contrary to his promise in case of obedience, Lamentations 1:13. Not only our young and old men, but the little children, have been driven like sheep before the enemy into a miserable captivity.

Her adversaries are the chief,.... Or, "for the head" (n); or are the head, as was threatened, Deuteronomy 28:44; and now fulfilled; the Chaldeans having got the dominion over the Jews, and obliged them to be subject to them:

her enemies prosper; in wealth and riches, in grandeur and glory; live in ease and tranquillity, enjoying all outward felicity and happiness; while Zion was in distress; which was an aggravation of it; and yet this was but righteous judgment:

for the Lord hath afflicted her; who is righteous in all his ways: the Chaldeans were but instruments; the evil was from the Lord, according to his will and righteous determination, as appears by what follows:

for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy; that is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea were carried captive by the enemy, and drove before them as a flock of sheep, and that for the sins of the nation; and these not a few, but were very numerous, as Mordecai and Ezekiel, and others, who were carried captive young with Jeconiah, as well as many now.

(n) "in caput", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "facti sunt caput", Cocceius.

Her adversaries {g} are the head, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.

(g) That is, have rule over her, De 28:41.

5. are become the head] There may be a reference to Deuteronomy 28:13; Deuteronomy 28:44.

prosper] lit. are at peace. Cp. Jeremiah 12:1 (“are … at ease”).

for the multitude, etc.] The acknowledgement that Israel’s calamities were the requital for her sin recurs frequently in this poem (Lamentations 1:8; Lamentations 1:18; Lamentations 1:20; Lamentations 1:22).

before the adversary] either driven like a flock of cattle on the occasion of the actual deportation, or possibly (as the writer may be dealing with a time many years subsequent) sold by their parents owing to their extreme penury.

Verse 5. - Are the chief; rather, are become the head. Comp. Deuteronomy 28:44, where, as a part of the curse of Israel's rebellion, it is foretold that "he [the stranger] shall become the head, and thou shalt become the tail." Before the enemy. Like a herd of cattle. Lamentations 1:5Her 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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