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 middle of her,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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).

Nun.

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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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. The second strophe. - Lamentations 4:7, Lamentations 4:8. The picture of the misery that has befallen the princes. נזירים, princes, prop. separati, here non voto (Nazarites) sed dignitate, as Nolde appropriately remarks; see on Genesis 49:26. זכך is used, Job 15:15; Job 25:5, of the brightness of the heaven and the stars; here it is used of female beauty. Thenius would refer "pure (or bright) as snow and milk" to the white clothing, "because the Orientals have not milk-white faces." But the second member irrefragably shows that the reference is to bodily form; and for the very reason adduced by Thenius, a comparatively whiter skin than is commonly met with is esteemed more beautiful. So also does Sol 5:10, "My friend is white and red," show the high esteem in which beauty was held (Gerlach). אדם, to be reddish. עצם, "bone," for the body (pars pro toto). פּנינים, not (white) pearls, but (red) corals. "The white and the red are to be understood as mixed, and shading into one another, as our popular poetry speaks of cheeks which 'like milk and purple shine' " (Delitzsch on Job 28:18, Clark's translation). "Sapphire their form" (גּזרה, prop. cut, taille, of the shape of the body). The point of the comparison is not the colour, but the luminosity, of this precious stone. Once on a time the princes glittered so; but (Lamentations 4:8) now their form is dark as blackness, i.e., every trace of beauty and splendour has vanished. Through hunger and want their appearance is so disfigured, that they are no longer recognised in the streets (חוּצות, in contrast with "at home," in their own neighbourhood). "The skin sticks to the bones," so emaciated are they; cf. Psalm 102:4; Job 19:20. צפד, ἅπ. λεγ., to adhere firmly. The skin has become dry (יבשׁ) like wood.
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