Lamentations 1:5
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD has 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. The closing portion of this chapter, viz., the notice regarding the liberation of Jehoiachin from imprisonment, ad his elevation to royal honours by Evil-merodach after Nebuchadnezzar's death, substantially agrees with the account given of that even in 2 Kings 25:27-30. The difference of date, "on the twenty-fifth of the month" (Jeremiah 52:31), and "on the twenty-seventh of the month" in 2 Kings, has arisen through the entrance of a clerical error into one text or the other. The few remaining variations of the two texts have no influence on the meaning. As to the fact itself, and its importance for the people languishing in exile, we may refer to the explanation given at 2 Kings 25:27.
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