Lamentations 5:14
The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick.
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(14) Have ceased from the gate.—The gate in an Eastern city was the natural place of meeting for the elder citizens as for counsel and judgment (Ruth 4:1; Joshua 20:4), and also for social converse (Job 29:7; Proverbs 31:23). The “music” of this verse and the “dancing” of the next point to a like interruption of the social joys of the young.

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.The gate - The gate was the place for public gatherings, for conversation, and the music of stringed instruments. 14. Aged men in the East meet in the open space round the gate to decide judicial trials and to hold social converse (Job 29:7, 8). Our grave men were wont to sit and execute judgment in the gates, but now there is no such thing. Our young men were wont to play on music, and to have their merry meetings, but they are also ceased.

The elders have ceased from the gate,.... Of the sanhedrim, or court of judicature, as the Targum; from the gate of the city, where they used to sit and try causes; but now there was nothing of this kind done:

the young men from their music; vocal and instrumental; the latter is more particularly specified, though both may be intended; neither were any more heard; their harps were hung upon the willows on the banks of Euphrates, which ran through the city of Babylon, Psalm 137:1.

The elders have ceased from the {h} gate, the young men from their music.

(h) There were no more laws nor form of commonwealth.

14. from the gate] the place of social enjoyment and conversation, answering to our clubs and other places of entertainment. See on Jeremiah 14:2.

Verse 14. - From the gate. The place where the elders, technically so called, assembled for legal proceedings, and where the citizens in general met together for social concourse (comp. Genesis 19:1; Ruth 4:11; Psalm 69:12; Amos 5:12, 15; Daniel 2:49). From their music (comp. Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9). Lamentations 5:14Youths 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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