Lamentations 5:10
Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
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(10) 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.

5:1-16 Is any afflicted? Let him pray; and let him in prayer pour out his complaint to God. The people of God do so here; they complain not of evils feared, but of evils felt. If penitent and patient under what we suffer for the sins of our fathers, we may expect that He who punishes, will return in mercy to us. They acknowledge, Woe unto us that we have sinned! All our woes are owing to our own sin and folly. Though our sins and God's just displeasure cause our sufferings, we may hope in his pardoning mercy, his sanctifying grace, and his kind providence. But the sins of a man's whole life will be punished with vengeance at last, unless he obtains an interest in Him who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.Our skin ... - Or, is fiery red like an oven because of the fever-blast "of famine." 10. As an oven is scorched with too much fire, so our skin with the hot blast of famine (Margin, rightly, "storms," like the hot simoom). Hunger dries up the pores so that the skin becomes like as if it were scorched by the sun (Job 30:30; Ps 119:83). The want of bread caused leanness, and paleness, and ill colours in their faces. Our skin was black like an oven, because of the terrible famine. Or "terrors and horrors of famine"; which are very dreadful and distressing: or, "the storms of famine"; see 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.

(u) "horrorum famis", Montanus; "terrores, vel tremores", Vatablus; "procellas famis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "exustiones", Pagninus, Calvin; "adustiones famis", Stockius, p. 281.

Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.
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.) And not merely are the inhabitants of Judah without land and property, and deprived of all protection, like orphans and widows; they are also living in penury and want, and (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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