Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom you have done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)To whom thou hast done this—i.e., not to a heathen nation, but to the people whom Jehovah Himself had chosen.
Shall the women eat their fruit.—Atrocities of this nature had been predicted in Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:57; Jeremiah 19:9. They were, indeed, the natural incidents of a besieged city reduced to starvation, as in the case of Samaria (2Kings 6:28), and the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans (Jos., B. J. v. 12), and had been witnessed, as the words show, in that by the Chaldæans. (Comp., as to the famine, Ezekiel 4:16-17; Ezekiel 5:16.)
Shall the priest . . .—Stress is laid on this as being the next element of horror. The very Holy of Holies was profaned with the blood of the priests and prophets of Jehovah.Lamentations 2:20-22. Behold, O Lord, to whom thou hast done this — To thy people, for whom thou hast formerly expressed so much tenderness and affection. Jerusalem seems to be here introduced speaking. Shall the women eat their fruit — We find by comparing this verse with chap. Lamentations 4:10, that God brought upon them that terrible judgment which he had denounced against them, if they continued to provoke him, namely, that they should eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters. See the margin. And children of a span long — Hebrew, שׂפחים, rendered in the margin, swaddled with their hands, and by the LXX., νηπια θηλαζοντα μαστους, infants sucking the breasts. Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? — Shall thy ministers be slain, and that in thy sanctuary? We learn from this, 1st, That the Chaldeans spared no character, no, not the most distinguished; even the priest and the prophet, who, of all men, one would think, might have expected protection from heaven, and veneration on earth, yet they were slain; not abroad in the field of battle, where they would have been out of their place, as Hophni and Phinehas were, but in the sanctuary of the Lord, the place of their business, and which they hoped would have been a refuge to them. 2d, They spared no age, no, not those who, by reason of their tender or decrepit age, were exempted from taking up the sword; for the young and the old lay on the ground slain in the streets. 3d, They spared no sex, the virgins and the young men fell by the sword. In the most barbarous military executions that we read of, the virgins were spared and made part of the spoil, but here they were put to the sword as well as the young men. We learn, 4th, That this was the Lord’s doing; he suffered the sword of the Chaldeans to devour thus without distinction; he slew them in the day of his anger — Namely, his anger for their many and aggravated sins. Thou hast called, as in a solemn day — A day of awful retribution; my terrors round about — As my people were wont to be called together from all parts on solemn days, when they were to meet at Jerusalem for thy service; so now, by thy providence, my terrible enemies are by thee called together to slay thy people in that holy city in which they were wont to worship thee. So that none escaped nor remained — That is, few or none. Those that I have swaddled, and brought up, hath mine enemy consumed — As if they had been brought forth for the murderer, like lambs for the butcher, Hosea 9:13. Zion, that was a mother to them all, laments to see those that were brought up in her courts, and under the tuition of her oracles, thus made a prey of and destroyed.
children … span long—or else, "children whom they carry in their arms" [Maurer].
Schin.Consider to whom thou hast done this; that is, not to heathen, who never owned thee, nor were called by thy name, but to thine own people, called thy portion and thine heritage; let thy former relation to us, and our former acknowledgments of thee, prevail with thee. Wilt thou suffer, or should such a thing be, as for women to satisfy their hunger with the fruit of their own bodies, and that when they are very young? And shall thy ministers be slain, and that in thy sanctuary? Any human blood polluted it; shall not the blood of those that were the ministers of God be judged a pollution and profanation of it?
shall the women eat their fruit; their children, the fruit of their womb, as the Targum; their newborn babes, that hung at their breasts, and were carried in their arms; it seems they did, as was threatened they should, Leviticus 26:29; and so they did at the siege of Samaria, and at the siege of Jerusalem, both by the Chaldeans and the Romans:
and children of a span long? or of a hand's breadth; the breadth of the palms of the hand, denoting very little ones: or "children handled", or "swaddled with the hands" (c); of their parents, who are used to stroke the limbs of their babes, to bring them to; and keep them in right form and shape, and swaddle them with swaddling bands in a proper manner; see Lamentations 2:22; and so the Targum,
"desirable children, who are wrapped in fine linen.''
Jarchi (d) interprets it of Doeg Ben Joseph, whom his mother slew, and ate:
shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? as very probably some were, who fled thither for safety when the city was broken up; but were not spared by the merciless Chaldeans, who had no regard to their office and character; nor is it any wonder they should not, when the Jews themselves slew Zechariah, a priest and prophet, between the porch and the altar; of whom the Targum here makes mention; and to whom Jarchi applies these words.
(c) "parvulos qui educantur", Pagninus; "parvulos educationum", Montanus; "educationis", Calvin; "infantes palmationum, sive tractationis palmarum", Michaelis; "pueros palmis tractatos", Cocceius. (d) E Talmud Bab. Yoma, fol. 38. 2.Behold, O LORD, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. Here begins the prayer made in response to the prophet’s exhortation. The questions are rhetorical and mean (although the verbs are in the future), Wilt thou look with unconcern at the things which have been done? For the state of things (foretold Jeremiah 19:9; Deuteronomy 28:53) cp. 2 Kings 6:25-30.
behold, to whom thou hast done thus] viz. Thy chosen ones of old.
that are dandled in the hands] The thought of maternal tenderness in the forms in which it would ordinarily be displayed towards children of that age heightens the effect of the picture.Verse 20. - To whom thou hast done this; viz. to Israel, the chosen people. And children; rather, (even) children. The children are the "fruit" referred to. Comp. the warnings in Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:56; and especially Jeremiah 19:9; also the historical incident in 2 Kings 6:28, 29. Of a span long; rather, borne in the hands. The word is derived from the verb renders to swaddle" in ver. 22 (see note). Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 5:12; Jeremiah 6:13., Jeremiah 8:10; Jeremiah 14:14., Jeremiah 23:17, Jeremiah 23:32; Jeremiah 27:10, Jeremiah 27:15. They prophesied vanity, - peace when there was no peace, - and תפל, "absurdity," equals תּפלה, Jeremiah 23:13. They did not expose the sin and guilt of the people with the view of their amendment and improvement, and thereby removing the misery into which they had fallen by their sin; nor did they endeavour to restore the people to their right relation towards the Lord, upon which their welfare depended, or to avert their being driven into exile. On השׁיב שׁבוּת, cf. Jeremiah 32:44. The meaning of this expression, as there unfolded, applies also to the passage now before us; and the translation, captivitatem avertere (Michaelis, Ngelsbach), or to "ward off thy captivity" (Luther, Thenius), is neither capable of vindication nor required by the context. Instead of healing the injuries of the people by discovering their sins, they have seen (prophesied) for them משׂאות, "burdens," i.e., utterances of threatening import (not effata; see on Jeremiah 23:33), which contained שׁוא, "emptiness," and מדּוּחים, "rejection." The combination of "emptiness" with "burdens" does not prevent the latter word from being applied to threatening oracles; for the threats of the false prophets did not refer to Judah, but were directed against the enemies of Israel. For instance, that they might promise the people speedy deliverance from exile, they placed the downfall of the Chaldean power in immediate prospect; cf. Jeremiah 28:2-4, Jeremiah 28:11. מדּוּחים, is ἅπ. λεγ. as a noun, and is also dependent on "burdens" (cf. Ewald, 289, c): it signifies ejection from the land, not "persecution" (Rosenmller, Gesenius, Ewald, etc.), for Jeremiah uses נדח (in Niph. and Hiph.) always in the sense of rejection, expulsion from the country; and the word has here an unmistakeable reference to Jeremiah 27:10, Jeremiah 27:15 : "They prophesy lies to you, that they may eject you from your country."
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