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Lamentations Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Lamentations 4:1 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.

Lamentations 4:2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

Lamentations 4:3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.

sea monsters. The Hebrew word here translated “sea monsters” is tannin, also translated “whales,” and “serpents,” but most commonly “dragons” in the King James Version. Modern versions sometimes render it by “jackals” or “wolves” or “crocodiles.” This confusion is because the tannin, whatever they were, are now extinct. In the sixteenth century and earlier, however, accounts of dragons were still so widely known and reliable that scholarly Bible translators saw no problem in identifying the tannin as “dragons.” They knew that the Biblical accounts correlated realistically with the many similar records in early and medieval literature. Since the first dinosaur bones were discovered less than two centuries ago, the biblical accounts have been found to correlate with information paleontologists have provided about dinosaurs from reconstructing the many fossils of these once-abundant animals. However, the particular tannin in this verse seems to be a mammal, whereas most dragons seem to have been dinosaur-like reptiles. Possibly at least one kind of dragon/dinosaur was similar to the platypus, which has features of both reptiles (laying eggs) and mammals (suckling its young). Perhaps tannin, was understood as a generic term, applied to any large monster animal.

Paleontology has also revealed a number of exotic animals called mammal-like reptiles; many of these also were large and grotesque. In any case, dragons were real animals—probably dinosaurs or mammal-like reptiles or both—which did not become extinct until relatively modern times.

Lamentations 4:4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the young children ask bread, and no man breaketh it unto them.

Lamentations 4:5 They that did feed delicately are desolate in the streets: they that were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.

Lamentations 4:6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.

Lamentations 4:7 Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire:

Her Nazarites. See Numbers 6:1-21, with footnote on Numbers 6:2.

Lamentations 4:8 Their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.

Lamentations 4:9 They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger: for these pine away, stricken through for want of the fruits of the field.

Lamentations 4:10 The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children: they were their meat in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

sodden their own children. That is, “boiled” their own children. See also Lamentations 2:20. This almost unthinkable result of the long siege and terrible hunger, driving even mothers to cannibalism, was actually another fulfillment of prophecy (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9), as well as a commentary on the utter degradation to which long-continued rebellion against God can lead.

Lamentations 4:11 The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.

Lamentations 4:12 The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates of Jerusalem.

would not have believed. Even God's chosen nation was allowed to be defeated and exiled—not just those nations that are openly opposed to God and His Word. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). America, the most privileged nation in history, urgently needs to return to God before God's judgment falls on her as well.

the adversary and the enemy. The reference to those “two” invaders of Jerusalem may imply that Satan (whose name means “Adversary”) was in the lead of the Babylonian armies as they desecrated God's holy city.

Lamentations 4:13 For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,

Lamentations 4:14 They have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments.

Lamentations 4:15 They cried unto them, Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when they fled away and wandered, they said among the heathen, They shall no more sojourn there.

Lamentations 4:16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.

Lamentations 4:17 As for us, our eyes as yet failed for our vain help: in our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save us.

watched for a nation. Judah's leaders had ignored Jeremiah's warnings, hoping to the end that the Egyptians would somehow come to their aid against the Babylonians.

Lamentations 4:18 They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.

Lamentations 4:19 Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven: they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the wilderness.

Lamentations 4:20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.

the anointed of the Lord. This anointed one is the promised Messiah, under whose “shadow” they could still live even while in exile from Judah and Jerusalem. He had been taken captive with them, as it were, and thus could still serve even as “the breath of their nostrils.” This is the last of twelve references to God's “shadow” as protecting His people. See note on Psalm 17:8.

Lamentations 4:21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup also shall pass through unto thee: thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.

land of Uz. Uz was the land of the patriarch Job (Job 1:1), and this verse seems to confirm that it was the region that later was taken over by the Horites and eventually the Edomites (Genesis 36:20-21).

Lamentations 4:22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.