Lamentations 5:13
They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood.
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(13) They took . . .—Better, Young men bear the mill: i.e., were not only set to grind the handmill, which was itself the work of a menial slave, commonly of women, but were made to carry the mill itself, probably as they marched along with the Chaldæan armies on their way to Babylon. (Comp. Isaiah 47:2.) So in like manner the next clause describes the sufferings of the striplings, who were made to carry the wood which was used as fuel or other purposes, and who literally “fell” (or staggered) under their burdens.

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.They took the young men to grind - Or, "The young men" have borne the mill, a menial and laborious task usually performed by slaves (compare Isaiah 47:2).

The children fell under the wood - Or, lads have stumbled under burdens of wood. By lads are meant youths up to the age of military service; another form of menial labor.

13. young men … grind—The work of the lowest female slave was laid on young men (Jud 16:21; Job 31:10).

children fell under … wood—Mere children had to bear burdens of wood so heavy that they sank beneath them.

Their base, servile condition is expressed by the labour they were put to, which was either grinding in the mill, (an ordinary employment of slaves in those countries,) or carrying millstones; and the younger children in carrying great burdens of wood, under which they fell, as being not able to stand under the burdens laid upon them.

They took the young men to grind,.... In the mill, which was laborious service; and which persons were sometimes put to, by way of punishment; and was the punishment of servants; see Judges 16:21. Some render it, "the young men bore the grist" (x); carried the corn, the meal ground, from place to place. The Targum is,

"the young men carried the millstones;''

and so Jarchi, they put millstones upon their shoulders, and burdens so as to weary them. Ben Melech, from their Rabbins, relates, that there were no millstones in Babylon; wherefore the Chaldeans put them upon the young men of Israel, to carry them thither. The Vulgate Latin version is,

"they abused the young men in an unchaste manner;''

suggesting something obscene intended by grinding; see Job 31:10; but the context will not admit of such a sense:

and the children fell under the wood; such loads of wood were laid upon them, that they could not bear them, but fell under them. Aben Ezra understands it of moving the wood of the mill, of turning the wooden handle of it; or the wooden post, the rider or runner, by which the upper millstone was turned: this their strength was not equal to, and so failed. The Targum interprets it of a wooden gibbet, or gallows; some wooden engine seems to be had in view, used as a punishment, which was put upon their necks, something like a pillory; which they were not able to stand up under, but fell.

(x) "juvenes farinam portaverunt"; so some in Gataker; "juvenes molam tulerunt", Cocceius; "juvenes ad molendum portant", Junius & Tremellius.

They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under {g} the wood.

(g) Their slavery was so great, that they were not able to abide it.

13. Tenderness of age did not secure against the most oppressive and menial of labours.

Verse 13. - They took the young men to grind; rather, the young men have borne the mill. The lower millstone seems to have been specially hard, and therefore heavy (see Job 41:24), and to carry it about must have required a more severe exertion even than the constant turning of the mill handle. Dr. Thomson "cannot recall an instance in which men were grinding at the mill" ('The Land and the Book,' edit. 1881, p. 108), and both Exodus 11:5 and Matthew 24:41 presuppose that it was women's work. The conquered Jewish youths, however, share the fate of Samson -

"Eyeless, in Gaza, at the mill with slaves."

(Samson Agonistes,' 41.) Eyeless, indeed, they may some of them have been, as putting out the eyes was a common Oriental punishment (comp. Jeremiah 39:7). The children. This is, perhaps, too strong. The Hebrew na'ar is applicable, not only to children, but to youths at the age for marriage (Genesis 34:19) or war (1 Kings 20:15). The wood; not the wooden handle of the mill, but the wood required for fuel. Lamentations 5:13Youths and boys are forced to engage in heavy servile work. טחון נשׂאוּ does not mean "they take them for the mill," ad molendum sumpserunt (Ewald, Rosenmller). Apart from the consideration that there is no ground for it in the language employed, such a view of the words does not accord with the parallelism. נשׂא, construed with a simple infinitive or accusative (without ל), does not mean "to take for something." טחון is a substantive, "the mill." "To bear (carry) the mill" signifies to work at and with the mill. We must think of the hand-mill, which was found in every household, and which could thus be carried from one place to another. Grinding was the work of salves; see on Judges 16:21. The carrying of the mill (not merely of the upper millstone) is mentioned as the heaviest portion of the work in grinding. "Boys stagger (fall down) on the wood laid on them to be carried," i.e., under the burden of it. כּשׁל with בּ means to stumble on something; here בּ denotes the cause of the stumbling; cf. Jeremiah 6:21; Leviticus 26:37. It is arbitrary to understand עץ as meaning the wooden handle of the mill (Aben Ezra, and Bochart in Hieroz. i. 157, ed. Rosenmller); the same must also be said regarding the opinion of Thenius and Ngelsbach, who refer the words to the dragging of the hand-mills, and of the wood necessary for baking bread for the comfort of the soldiers, on the march of the captives to Babylon.
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