Lamentations 4:13
For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,
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(13) That have shed the blood of the just . . .—The words point to incidents like the death of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada (2Chronicles 24:21); the “innocent blood” shed by Manasseh (2Kings 21:16); the attempts on Jeremiah’s own life (Jeremiah 26:7); possibly to some unrecorded atrocities during the siege on the part of the priests and false prophets, who looked on the true prophets as traitors (Jeremiah 26:23).

Lamentations 4:13. For the sins of her prophets, &c. — That is, of the false prophets, to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem chiefly hearkened; and the iniquities of her priests — Who bore rule by their means, Jeremiah 5:31; and instead of discountenancing and reproving sin in the people, as was their indispensable duty, were themselves guilty of many flagrant acts of injustice, oppression, and violence; insomuch that, as is here attested, they even shed the blood of the just in the midst of Jerusalem, the holy city; that is, the blood of God’s prophets, and of those that adhered to them. The priests and false prophets were then the ringleaders in persecution, as in Christ’s time the chief priests and scribes were the men that incensed the people against him, who otherwise would have persisted in their hosannas. This was the sin which the Lord would not pardon, (2 Kings 24:4,) and which, above all others, brought utter destruction upon that city. Not that the people were innocent; no, while the prophets prophesied falsely, and the priests abused the power which their own office and the doctrine of these prophets gave them, the people loved to have it so, and it was, partly at least, to please many of them that the prophets and priests acted as they did. But the blame is chiefly laid upon them who should have taught the people better, should have reproved and admonished them, and told them what would be the end of such conduct: of the hands, therefore, of those watchmen who did not give them warning was their blood required. Indeed, the ecclesiastical men were the chief cause of both the first and last destruction of Jerusalem. And so they are of the destruction of most other places that come to ruin through their neglect of their duty, or their encouraging others in their wicked courses; which shows us both how great a blessing to a people a godly, conscientious ministry is, and how great an evil a ministry is which is otherwise.

4:13-20 Nothing ripens a people more for ruin, nor fills the measure faster, than the sins of priests and prophets. The king himself cannot escape, for Divine vengeance pursues him. Our anointed King alone is the life of our souls; we may safely live under his shadow, and rejoice in Him in the midst of our enemies, for He is the true God and eternal life.The blood of the just - Jeremiah 26:7-24 exhibits priests and prophets as the prime movers in an attempt to silence the word of God by putting Jeremiah to death. Compare the margin reference to Matthew. 13. prophets—the false prophets (Jer 23:11, 21). Supply the sense thus: "For the sins … these calamities have befallen her."

shed the blood of the just—(Mt 23:31, 37). This received its full fulfilment in the slaying of Messiah and the Jews' consequent dispersion (Jas 5:6).


Not for their sins alone who were the false prophets and Baal’s priests, but for their sins in an eminent degree; they were the ringleaders, either encouraging the people to the wickednesses they committed, or not restraining them, and denouncing the wrath of God against them. So though they were the corrupt magistrates that had shed the innocent blood, yet the priests and prophets became guilty of it, either encouraging the magistrates to it, or soothing them up in their bloody courses, or by burning the children that were burnt in the valley of Hinnom. The ecclesiastical men were a great cause of the first and last destruction of Jerusalem, and so they are of most other places that come to ruin, through their neglect of their duty, or encouraging others in their wicked courses; which both showeth us how great a blessing to a people a godly, conscientious ministry is, and how great a plague and curse a ministry is which is otherwise. See Jeremiah 5:31 23:21.

For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests,.... Aben Ezra interprets this of the prophets of Baal, and the priests of the high places; but though false prophets and wicked priests are meant, yet such as were among the Jews, made choice of and approved of by them: see 2 Chronicles 36:14; not that the people were faultless, but these were the principals, who by their examples led on and encouraged the common people in sin:

that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her; not the blood of innocent children, sacrificed to them by Moloch; but of good men in general, whom they persecuted and slew; and of the true prophets of the Lord in particular, whose blood they shed; and was the sin that brought on the destruction of their city by the Romans, as well as of that by the Chaldeans; see Matthew 23:35.

For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of {g} her,

(g) He means that these things are come to pass therefore, contrary to all men's expectations.

13. the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests] Cp. Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10; Jeremiah 23:11 f.

Verse 13. - For the sins of her prophets, etc. Instead of connecting this verse by a comma with the following, we should rather view it as a unit in itself, and understand at the beginning, "All this hath happened" The sins of the prophets and priests are mentioned together by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 23:11), as well as by Isaiah (Isaiah 28:7). But we are nowhere else told that the spiritual leaders of the people, in these closing years of the Jewish state, were guilty of shedding innocent blood, unless this is to be inferred from the incident related in Jeremiah 26:7, etc. Lamentations 4:13This judgment of wrath is a consequence of the sins of the prophets and priests (Lamentations 4:12-16), as well as of their vain trust on the help of man (Lamentations 4:17-20). Lamentations 4:12. The capture of Jerusalem by enemies (an event which none in all the world thought possible) has been brought on through the sins of the prophets and priests. The words, "the kings of the earth...did not believe that an enemy would come in at the gates of Jerusalem," are well explained by C. B. Michaelis, thus: reputando fortitudinem urbis, quae munitissima erat, tum defensorem ejus Jehovam, qui ab hostibus, ad internecionem caesis, urbem aliquoties, mirifice liberaverat, e.g., 2 Reg. 19:34. The words certainly form a somewhat overdrawn expression of deep subjective conviction; but they cannot properly be called a hyperbole, because the remark of Ngelsbach, that Jerusalem had been taken more than once before Nebuchadnezzar (1 Kings 14:26; 2 Kings 14:13.; 2 Chronicles 33:11; 2 Kings 23:33.), seems incorrect. For the occasions upon which Jerusalem was taken by Shishak and by Joash king of Israel (1 Kings 14 and 2 Kings 14) belong to those earlier times when Jerusalem was far from being so strongly fortified as it afterwards became, in the times of Uzziah, Jotham, and Manasseh (2 Chronicles 26:9; 2 Chronicles 27:3; 2 Chronicles 33:14). In 2 Chronicles 33:11, on the other hand, there is nothing said of Jerusalem being taken; and the capture by Pharaoh-Necho does not call for consideration, in so far as it forms the beginning of the catastrophe, whose commencement was thought impossible. Ewald wrongly connects Lamentations 4:13 with Lamentations 4:12 into one sentence, thus: "that an enemy would enter the gates of Jerusalem because of the sins of her prophets," etc. The meaning of these verses is thereby not merely weakened, but also misrepresented; and there is ascribed to the kings and inhabitants of the world an opinion regarding the internal evils of Jerusalem, which they neither pronounced nor could have pronounced.

Lamentations 4:12-14

Lamentations 4:12 contains an exclamation over the incredible event that has happened, and Lamentations 4:13 assigns the cause of it: the mediating and combining thought, "this incredible thing has happened," suggests itself. It has taken place on account of the sins of her prophets and priests, who have shed the blood of righteous men in Jerusalem. A historic proof of this is furnished in Jeremiah 26:7., where priests and prophets indicted Jeremiah on a capital charge, because he had announced that Jerusalem and the temple would suffer the fate of Shiloh; from this, Ngelsbach rightly concludes that, in any case, the burden of the guilt of the martyr-blood that was shed falls on the priests and prophets. Besides this, cf. the denunciations of the conduct of the priests and prophets in Jeremiah 6:13-15; Jeremiah 23:11; Jeremiah 27:10; Ezekiel 22:25. - In Lamentations 4:14, Lamentations 4:15, there is described the fate of these priests and prophets, but in such a way that Jeremiah has, throughout, mainly the priests before his mind. We may then, without further hesitation, think of the priests as the subject of נעוּ, inasmuch as they are mentioned last. Kalkschmidt wrongly combines Lamentations 4:13 and Lamentations 4:14, thus: "because of the sins of the prophets...they wander about," etc.; in this way, the Israelites would be the subject to נעוּ, and in Lamentations 4:14 the calamitas ex sacerdotum prophetarumque sceleribus profecta would be described. This, however, is contradicted, not merely by the undeniable retrospection of the expression, "they have polluted themselves with blood" (Lamentations 4:14), to the shedding of blood mentioned in Lamentations 4:13, but also by the whole contents of Lamentations 4:14, especially the impossibility of touching their clothes, which does not well apply to the people of Israel (Judah), but only to the priests defiled with blood. Utterly erroneous is the opinion of Pareau, Ewald, and Thenius, that in Lamentations 4:14-16 there is "presented a fragment from the history of the last siege of Jerusalem," - a rupture among the besieged, headed by the most eminent of the priests and prophets, who, filled with frenzy and passion against their fellow-citizens, because they would not believe in the speedy return of the exiles, became furious, and caused their opponents to be murdered. Regarding this, there is neither anything historical known, nor is there any trace of it to be discovered in these verses. The words, "prophets and priests hesitated (or wavered) like blind men on the streets, soiled with blood, so that none could touch their clothes," merely state that these men, smitten of God in consequence of their blood-guiltiness, wandered up and down in the streets of the city, going about like blind men. This description has been imitated from such passages as Deuteronomy 28:28., Jeremiah 23:12; Isaiah 29:9, where the people, and especially their leaders, are threatened, as a punishment, with blind and helpless staggering; but it is not to be referred to the time of the last siege of Jerusalem. עורים does not mean caedium perpetrandarum insatiabili cupiditate occaecati (Rosenmller), nor "as if intoxicated with blood that has been shed" (Ngelsbach), but as if struck with blindness by God, so that they could no longer walk with firm and steady step. "They are defiled with blood" is a reminiscence from Isaiah 59:3. As to the form נגאל, compounded of the Niphal and Pual, cf. Ewald, 132, b, and Delitzsch on Isaiah, l.c. בּלא יוּכלוּ, without one being able, i.e., so that one could not. As to the construction of יכול with a finite verb following, instead of the infinitive with ל, cf. Ewald, 285, c, c, and Gesenius, 142, 3, b.

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