3. Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude; she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.
3. Migravit (tanquam in exilium) Jehudah prae magnitudine servitutis; ipsa sedet in gentibus, (ad verbum, sedens in gentibus,) non invenit requiem, (vel, in praesenti tempore, non invenit;) omnes apprehensores ejus apprehenderunt eam inter angustias.
Interpreters apply this, but in my view improperly, to the captivity of the people; on the contrary, the Prophet means that the Jews had been scattered and sought refuges when oppressed, as they were often, by the tyranny of their enemies, and then by degrees he advances to their exile; for he could not have said all things at the same time. Let, then, the order in which he speaks be observed: before he bewails their exile, he says that Judah had been scattered; for many, fleeing the cruelty of enemies, went into voluntary exile. We have before seen that many concealed themselves with the Moabites; nor is there a doubt but that many went into Egypt: in short, there was no country in which some of the Jews were not fugitives.
The real meaning, then, of the Prophet here is, that the Jews had migrated, that is, had left their own country and fled to other countries, because they were subjected to miseries and cruel servitude.
Some take the words in a passive sense, even that Judah migrated, because they had inhumanly oppressed their servants. But I suspect what has led them astray, they thought that exile is meant here; and then one mistake produces another; for it would have been absurd to say, that the Jews had migrated into exile on account of affliction, and had migrated willingly; for we know that they were violently driven by the Chaldeans. They did not, then, willingly migrate. When these two things could not be connected, they thought that the cruelty of the Jews is what is referred to, which they had exercised towards their own brethren. But the migration of which the Prophet speaks is improperly applied, as I have said, to the captivity; but on the contrary, he means those who had removed into different parts of the world, because this was more tolerable than their condition in their own country. And we hence learn how severely they had been harassed by the Chaldeans, for they had willingly fled away, though, as we know, exile is hard. We then conclude that it was a barbarous and a violent oppression, since the Prophet says, that the Jews thus went into exile of their own accord, and sought hiding-places either in Egypt or in the land of Moab, or among other neighboring nations. 1
He afterwards adds another evil, that they never found rest; and lastly, that they had been taken by their enemies between straits, so that no escape was possible. It must have been a sad condition for the people to live in a foreign land; for we know that such a precarious life differs but little from death; and there were no contiguous nations by whom the Jews were not hated. When they then fled to such people, it was no small evil. But when they had nowhere a quiet abode, the indignity was still greater, and this is what the Prophet now refers to. But when we flee and tremblingly turn here and there, it is one of the greatest of evils to fall into the hands of enemies, and to be taken by them when we are enclosed as it were between two walls, or in a narrow passage, as some explain the word. It follows, --
1 Blayney and Horsley agree in this view; but Gataker, Henry, and Henderson take the previous view, that is, that Judah went to exile on account of the oppression they practiced, and the multiplied servitude they exacted, especially the servitude or slavery to which servants were subjected, as recorded in Jeremiah 34. What confirms this view is the word "Judah," which, as it implies the greater part, could not be applied to the comparatively few who voluntarily migrated.
3. Removed is Judah for oppression and for much servitude;
She dwells among nations without finding rest;
All her pursuers seized her in the straits.
The Targum paraphrases "oppression" by mentioning orphans and widows, and "servitude," by referring to what servants were subjected to, as related in Jeremiah 34. These were sins for which the Jews had often been threatened with banishment. "Pursuers" rather than "persecutors;" and to be "seized in (or, between) the straits," is, as Lowth says, a metaphor taken from hunters, who drive the game to narrow places, from which there is no escape.
Houbiqant proposes to connect "oppression and servitude" with the following words, and not with the preceding, --
Removed is Judah; for oppression and for much servitude,
She dwells among the nations without finding rest. -- Ed.
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