Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Our skin was black . . .-Better, fiery red, and for “terrible famine,” the fever-blast of famine. The words paint the hot fever of hunger rather than the livid paleness of exhaustion.Psalm 11:6; or, "burning winds" (u); such as are frequent in Africa and Asia; to which the famine is compared that was in Jerusalem, at the siege of it, both by the Chaldeans and Romans; and as an oven, furnace, or chimney becomes black by the smoke of the fire burnt in it, or under it; so the skins of the Jews became black through these burning winds and storms, or burnings of famine; see Lamentations 4:8. So Jarchi says the word has the signification of "burning"; for famine as it were burns up the bodies of men when most vehement. Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. The feverishness and wasting brought on by hunger is meant.
black] or as mg. hot.Verse 10. - Was black like an oven. The translation is misleading; there is no real parallel to Lamentations 4:8. Render, gloweth. It is the feverish glow produced by gnawing hunger which is meant. The terrible famine; rather, the burning heat of hunger. Hariri, the humoristic author of the cycle of stories in rhymed Arabic prose and verse, called 'Makamat,' puts into the mouth of his ne'er do well Abu Seid very similar words to describe a famished man -
"Dess Eingeweide brennend nach Erquickung sehrein,
Der nichts gegessen seit zwei Tagen oder drein."
(Ruckert's adaptation, third Makama.) Lamentations 5:5) under severe oppression and persecution. Water and wood are mentioned in Lamentations 5:4 as the greatest necessities of life, without which it is impossible to exist. Both of these they must buy for themselves, because the country, with its waters and forests, is in the possession of the enemy. The emphasis lies on "our water...our wood." What they formerly had, as their own property, for nothing, they must now purchase. We must reject the historical interpretations of the words, and their application to the distress of the besieged (Michaelis); or to the exiles who complained of the dearness of water and wood in Egypt (Ewald); or to those who fled before the Chaldeans, and lived in waste places (Thenius); or to the multitudes of those taken prisoner after the capture of Jerusalem, who were so closely watched that they could not go where they liked to get water and wood, but were obliged to go to their keepers for permission, and pay dearly for their services (Ngelsbach). The purchase of water and wood can scarcely be taken literally, but must be understood as signifying that the people had to pay heavy duties for the use of the water and the wood which the country afforded.
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