Lamentations 3:16
He has also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he has covered me with ashes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) He hath also broken my teeth.—The metaphor of food is continued. The mourner eats bread that is gritty, as if made of sand instead of flour. (Comp. Proverbs 20:17.) Here, again, we are reminded of Dante (Parad. xvii. 58), when he speaks of the bitterness of the bread which comes as the grudging gift of strangers.

3:1-20 The prophet relates the more gloomy and discouraging part of his experience, and how he found support and relief. In the time of his trial the Lord had become terrible to him. It was an affliction that was misery itself; for sin makes the cup of affliction a bitter cup. The struggle between unbelief and faith is often very severe. But the weakest believer is wrong, if he thinks that his strength and hope are perished from the Lord.Broken my teeth with gravel stones - His bread was so filled with grit that in eating it his teeth were broken.16-18. gravel—referring to the grit that often mixes with bread baked in ashes, as is the custom of baking in the East (Pr 20:17). We fare as hardly as those who eat such bread. The same allusion is in "Covered me with ashes," namely, as bread. These are but more metaphorical expressions, signifying the unpleasant difficult condition into which God had brought this people. They were like men that lived upon gritty bread, more fit to break their teeth than to nourish them; they were in the state of mourners, and no ordinary mourners, who were wont to throw ashes on their heads, they were all over covered with ashes. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones,.... With gritty bread, such as is made of corn ground with new millstones, the grit of which mixes with the flour; or with stony bread, as Seneca (n) calls a benefit troublesome to others; with bread that has little stones mixed with it, by eating of which the teeth are broken, as Jarchi observes: the phrase signifies afflictions and troubles, which are very grievous and disagreeable, like gravel in the mouth, as sin in its effects often proves, Proverbs 20:17;

he hath covered me with ashes; as mourners used to be; the word rendered "covered" is only used in this place. Aben Ezra renders it, "he hath defiled me"; and Jarchi and Ben Melech, from the Misnah, "he hath pressed me", without measure; see Luke 6:38; and so the Targum,

"he hath humbled me:''

but the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it, "he hath fed me with ashes"; which version is defended by Castel (o) and Noldius (p), and best agrees with the preceding clause; the sense is the same with Psalm 102:9.

(n) "Pane lapidoso", Seneca De Beneficiis, l. 7. (o) Lexic. Polyglott, col. 1791. (p) Concordant. Ebr. Part. p. 168. No. 763.

He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. broken my teeth with gravel stones] The metaphor from food is continued. The prophet is like one whose teeth are worn away by the continued action of grit mixed with his bread. Cp. Proverbs 20:17.Verse 16. - He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones; i.e. he hath (unnatural as it may seem in Israel's Father) given me stones instead of bread (comp. Matthew 7:9). The Jewish rabbi commonly called Rashi thinks that a historical fact is preserved in these words, and that the Jewish exiles were really obliged to eat bread mixed with grit, because they had to bake in pits dug in the ground. So too many later commentators, e.g. Grotius, who compares a passage of Seneca ('De Benefie.,' 2:7), "Beneficium superbe datum simile est pani lapidoso." He hath covered me with ashes; rather, he hath pressed me down into ashes. A figurative expression for great humiliation. So in the Talmud the Jewish nation is described as "pressed down into ashes" ('Bereshith Rabba,' 75). Not merely, however, has God cut off every way of escape for him who here utters the complaint, but He pursues him in every possible way, that He may utterly destroy him. On the figure of a bear lying in wait, cf. Hosea 13:8; Amos 5:19. It is more usual to find enemies compared to lions in ambush; cf. Psalm 10:19; Psalm 17:12. The last-named passage seems to have been present to the writer's mind. The prophets frequently compare enemies to lions, e.g., Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44. - In Lamentations 3:11 the figure of the lion is discontinued; for cowreer דּרכי cannot be said of a beast. The verb here is not to be derived from סרר, to be refractory, but is the Pilel of סוּר, to go aside, deviate, make to draw back. To "make ways turn aside" may signify to make a person lose the right road, but not to drag back from the road (Thenius); it rather means to mislead, or even facere ut deficiant viae, to take away the road, so that one cannot escape. פּשּׁח is ἅπ. λεγ. in Hebrew; in Aramean it means to cut or tear in pieces: cf. [the Targum on] 1 Samuel 15:33, "Samuel פּשּׁח Agag," hewed him in pieces; and on Psalm 7:3, where the word is used for the Heb. פּרק, to tear in pieces (of a lion); here it signifies to tear away (limbs from the body, boughs from trees). This meaning is required by the context; for the following expression, שׂמני שׁומם, does not lead us to think of tearing in pieces, lacerating, but discerpere, plucking or pulling to pieces. For שׁומם, see on Lamentations 1:13, Lamentations 1:16.
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