Lamentations 3:16
He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
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(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.
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). Lamentations 3:16"He fills me with bitternesses" is a reminiscence from Job 9:18, only ממרורים being exchanged for מרורים. Of these two forms, the first occurs only in Job, l.c.; the latter denotes, in Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11, "bitter herbs," but here "bitternesses." The reality (viz., bitter sorrow) is what Jeremiah threatens the people with in Jeremiah 9:14; Jeremiah 23:15. The figure employed in Lamentations 3:16 is still stronger. "He made my teeth be ground down on gravel." חצץ means a gravel stone, gravel, Proverbs 20:17. גּרס (which occurs only in Psalm 119:20 as well as here, and is allied to גּרשׂ, from which comes גּרשׂ, something crushed, Leviticus 2:14, Leviticus 2:16) signifies to be ground down, and in Hiphil to grind down, not to cause to grind; hence בּחצץ cannot be taken as a second object, "He made my teeth grind gravel" (Ewald); but the words simply mean, "He ground my teeth on the gravel," i.e., He made them grind away on the gravel. As regards the application of the words, we cannot follow the older expositors in thinking of bread mixed with stones, but must view the giving of stones for bread as referring to cruel treatment. The lxx have rendered הכפּישׁני by ἐψώμισέν με σποδόν, the Vulgate by cibavit me cinere. This translation has not been lexically established, but is a mere conjecture from Psalm 102:10. The ἁπ λεγ. ̔́̔̀נבך̓̀צ is allied with ,כּבשׁsubigere, and means in Rabbinic, deprimere; cf. Buxtorf, Lex. Rabb. s.v. Similarly, the Chaldee had previously explained the words to mean humiliavit ( )כּנעme in cinere; and Raschi, כפה inclinavit s. subegit me. Luther follows these in his rendering, "He rolls me in the ashes," which is a figure signifying the deepest disgrace and humiliation, or a hyperbolical expression for sprinkling with ashes (Ezekiel 27:30), as a token of descent into the depths of sorrow.
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