Lecture Fourteenth


Lamentations 4:1

1. How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.

1. Quomodo obscuratum est aurum! Mutatum est aurum bonum! Effusi sunt (vel, projecti) lapides sanctuarii in capite omnium platearum.


Here Jeremiah, following the order of the alphabet the fourth time, 1 deplores the ruin of the city, and the destruction of the priesthood and of the kingdom. For they are mistaken who think that the death of Josiah is here lamented; for there are here many things, which we shall see as we proceed, which do not suit that event. There is no doubt but that this mournful song refers to the destruction of the Temple and city; but when Josiah was killed, the enemy had not come to the city, and the stones of the Temple were not then east forth into the streets and the public roads. There are also other things which we shall see, which did not then happen. It follows then that here is described the terrible vengeance of God, which we have had already to consider.

He begins by expressing his astonishment, How obscured is the gold! and the precious gold! for Mtk, catam, is properly the best gold, though the word good, bwjh ethub, is added to it. We may hence conclude that it generally denotes gold only. He mentions, then, gold twice, but they are two different words in Hebrew, bhz, zaeb, and Mtk catam. 2 Now he speaks figuratively in the former part of the verse; but there is no doubt but that by the gold, and the finest gold, as it :is rendered, he means the splendor of the Temple; for God had designed the Temple to be built, as it is well known, in a very magnificent manner. Hence he calls what was ornamental in the Temple gold.

He then speaks without a figure, and says, that the stones were thrown here and there in all directions. Some, indeed, think that these words refer to the sacred vessels, of which there was a large quantity, we know, in the Temple. But this opinion is not probable, for the Prophet does not complain that the gold was taken away, but that it was obscured, and changed. It is then, no doubt, a metaphorical expression. But he afterwards explains himself when he says that the stones of the sanctuary were cast forth here and there along all the streets. It was indeed a sad spectacle; for God had consecrated that temple to himself, that he might dwell in it. When therefore the stones of the sanctuary were thus disgracefully scattered, it must have grievously wounded the minds of all the godly; for they saw that God's name was thus exposed to reproaches. Nor is there a doubt but that the Chaldeans vomited forth many reproaches against God when they thus scattered the stones of the temple. It hence appears, that the Prophet did not without reason exclaim, How has this happened! for such a sight must have justly astonished all the godly, seeing as they did the degradation of the temple connected with a reproach to God himself. It follows, --

1 Here, as in the two first chapters, the verses only begin alphabetically, but instead of having three or six lines, they have only two or four. -- Ed.

2 . This chapter, like the two first chapters, begins with the word hkya, "How this!" and the verbs are in the future tense, used for the present. --

How is this! tarnished is gold,
Changed is fine gold, the best:
Cast forth are the sacred stones
At the head of every street.
-- Ed.


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