Lamentations 5:9
We got our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness.
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(9) The sword of the wilderness.—Another element of suffering is hinted at. Those who were left in the land were attacked, as they gathered in their scanty harvest, by the nomad tribes of the wilderness. Amalekites, Midianites, and others. (Comp. Jeremiah 40:14.)

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.We gat - Or, We get "our bread at the peril of our lives." This verse apparently refers to those who were left in the land, and who in gathering in such fruits as remained, were exposed to incursions of the Bedouin, here called "the sword of the desert." 9. We gat our bread with … peril—that is, those of us left in the city after its capture by the Chaldeans.

because of … sword of … wilderness—because of the liability to attack by the robber Arabs of the wilderness, through which the Jews had to pass to get "bread" from Egypt (compare La 5:6).

The enemies lay encamped in all the plains, so as they could stir out no way but the sword of the Chaldeans was upon them, and what victuals they got they adventured their lives for, during the time of the siege. We gat our bread with the peril of our lives,.... This seems to refer to the time of the siege when they privately went out of the city to get in some provision, but went in danger of their lives:

because of the sword of the wilderness: or, "of the plain" (t); because of the, word of the Chaldean army, which lay in the plain about Jerusalem into whose hand there was danger of falling, and of being cut to pieces.

(t) "propter gladium in deserto, sive plano", Gataker.

We procured our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword {e} of the wilderness.

(e) Because of the enemy that came from the wilderness and would not suffer us to go and seek our necessary food.

9. We get our bread] The reference is to the bands of wild Arabs (Bedaween), who plundered them as they ventured from the shelter of the city to reap the harvest or to tend the cattle or sheep of their masters.

the sword of the wilderness] a unique expression in O.T. For the sense see last note. A suggestion, involving only changes of vocalisation and of one consonant (ûmiddeber instead of hammidbar), is to read for “of the wilderness” and because of pestilence. Cp. Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 27:13; Jeremiah 34:17 (Stade, ZATW, xv. p. 285). But pestilence has no proper place in this context. Enc. Bibl. (2700) suggests Arabian for “sword” (‘ărâb for ḥereb).Verse 9. - We gat our bread; rather, we get our bread. The allusion in the following words is perhaps to murderous attacks of Bedawins (as we should call the Ishmaelites) on the Jews who attempted to gather in the scanty harvest. Lamentations 5:3 is very variously interpreted by modern expositors. Ewald and Vaihinger understand "father" as meaning the king, while Thenius refers it specially to Zedekiah; the "mothers," according to Ewald and Vaihinger, are the cities of Judah, while Thenius thinks they are the women of Zedekiah's harem. But to call the women of the royal harem "mothers" of the nation, would be as unexampled as the attribution of the title to the cities of Judah. The second clause, "our mothers are like widows," contains a simile: they are not really widows, but like widows, because they have lost the protection which the mother of a family has in her husband. In like manner, the first clause also is to be understood as a comparison. "We are fatherless orphans," i.e., we are like such, as the Chaldee has paraphrased it. Accordingly, C. B. Michaelis, Pareau, Rosenmller, Kalkschmidt, and Gerlach have rightly explained the words as referring to the custom of the Hebrews: hominies omni modo derelictos omnibusque praesidiis destitutos, pupillos et viduas dicere; cf. Psalm 94:6; Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27.
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