Lamentations 4:14
They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.
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(14) They have wandered . . .—Literally, reeled. The blindness, i.e., either that of the insatiable lust of blood, or of hopeless despair, or both. (Comp. Deuteronomy 28:28; Jeremiah 23:12; Isaiah 29:10.) The horror of the picture is heightened by the fact that the very garments of the priests were so dripping with blood that men shrank from touching them.

Lamentations 4:14-16. They have wandered as blind men in the streets — They strayed from the paths of righteousness, and were blind to every thing that was good, but to do evil they were quick-sighted; they have polluted themselves with blood — The blood of the saints and servants of the Lord; so that men could not touch their garments — But they would be legally polluted; and there were so many of them, that a man could not walk in the streets but he must touch some of them. They cried unto them, Depart ye: it is unclean — Or, ye polluted, depart, &c. “When they fled to save their lives, they could find no safe retreat, but every body shunned and avoided them as polluted; and used the same words to express their abhorrence of this defilement of such persons, whose office it was to cleanse and purify others, as the lepers were by the law obliged to pronounce upon themselves, and cry, Unclean, unclean: see Leviticus 13:45. The bloody garments of the priests called to remembrance the innocent blood which had been shed by their means, (Lamentations 4:13,) when people saw their sin thus retaliated upon them.” — Lowth. They said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there — Even the heathen themselves looked upon them as polluted persons, unworthy of living in Judea, or attending on the worship of God in his temple. And they concluded that such impious wretches would never be restored to their native country, but would continue always vagabonds. The anger of the Lord hath divided them — “God, in his just displeasure, hath scattered and dispersed them into foreign countries, where no respect will be given to their characters.” This seems to be the language of their enemies, triumphing over them, as discerning that their God was provoked with them, and would have no more regard to them. And therefore these heathen no more respected the persons of their priests or elders, but considered them as peculiarly guilty, and deserving of their abhorrence and execration.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.They have wandered - God's ministers, consecrated to His service, wandered through the city blinded by the insatiable lust of slaughter. It was a pollution to touch their garments. 14. blind—with mental aberration.

polluted … with blood—both with blood of one another mutually shed (for example, Jer 2:34), and with their blood shed by the enemy [Glassius].

not touch … garments—as being defiled with blood (Nu 19:16).


A variety of interpreters hath made this text much more difficult than it is. Certainly nothing can appear more reasonable than to interpret the pronoun in the front of the verse relatively, and to fetch the antecedent from the former verse. They, that is, the prophets and the priests, wandered up and down the streets like blind men, being spiritually blind, polluting themselves with blood, either the blood of the children which they slew, or the just men mentioned Lamentations 4:13, the slaughter of whom they either encouraged, or at least did not discourage; so as one could not touch a prophet or a priest but he must be legally polluted, and there were so many of them, that men could not walk in the streets but that he must touch some of them. Some thinking the discourse of the priests done with interpret they of the blind men in the city who could not walk up and down the streets without touching the bodies of some that were slain. Others interpret the words of the common people, who, during the siege, could no more avoid touching bodies slain, and so polluting themselves with blood, than blind men could; so as they abhorred to touch their own garments. The first sense to me seemeth most natural and easy. They have wandered as blind men in the streets,.... That is, the false prophets and wicked priests; and may be understood either literally, that when the city was taken, and they fled, they were like blind men, and knew not which way to go to make their escape, but wandered from place to place, and could find no way out; or spiritually, though they pretended to great light and knowledge, yet were as blind men, surrounded with the darkness of ignorance and error, and were blind leaders of the blind:

they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments; or, "could not but touch it with their garments" (c); or, "might not" (d); it was not lawful for them to do it: the sense is either, that, which way soever these men took to make their escape, they found so many dead carcasses in the streets, and such a profusion of blood by them, that they could not but touch it with their garments; or being besmeared with it, were so defiled, that others might not touch them, even their garments; or these men had defiled themselves with the shedding of the blood of righteous persons; so that they were odious to men, and they shunned them as they would do anything that by the law rendered them in a ceremonious sense unclean, and therefore said as follows:

(c) "quem non possunt, quin tangent vestimentis suis", "Junius & Tremellius. (d) "Tangebant eum (nempe sanguinem) vestibus eorum quem non potuerunt", i.e. "jure", Gataker.

They have wandered as blind men {h} in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that {i} men could not touch their garments.

(h) Some refer this to the blind men who as they went, stumbled on the blood, of which the city was full.

(i) Meaning the heathen who came to destroy them could not abide them.

14. They] these prophets and priests.

wander, etc.] in perplexity and helplessness, stamped with the mark of Cain.Verse 14. - They; i.e. the prophets and priests. Wandered as blind men. The leaders of the people are blinded by ignorance, for they know not the only true way of averting calamity, and by passion, for they have not that "eye" of the soul (Matthew 6:22, 23) which alone enables a man to see the good and the right course for himself individually, The" wandering," or, rather, "staggering" (comp. Psalm 107:27, Authorized Version), however, may also refer to the panic stricken condition of those self. deceived deceivers when overtaken by God's punishment; comp. "wine of reeling" (Authorized Version, "astonishment"), Psalm 60:3; also the prophecies in Deuteronomy 28:28, 29; Jeremiah 23:12. The doubt is whether "have wandered" refers to some period before the final catastrophe, or to the consternation produced by that awful surprise. The latter view seems the more probable. They have polluted themselves, etc. Their acts of violence have been continued to the very end of their term of power. Their garments are still stained with blood when the summons to depart into exile reaches them. 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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