Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Lamentations 1:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

How doth the city sit solitary - Sitting down, with the elbow on the knee, and the head supported by the hand, without any company, unless an oppressor near, - all these were signs of mourning and distress. The coin struck by Vespasian on the capture of Jerusalem, on the obverse of which there is a palm-tree, the emblem of Judea, and under it a woman, the emblem of Jerusalem, sitting, leaning as before described, with the legend Judea capta, illustrates this expression as well as that in Isaiah 47:1. See the note on Isaiah 3:26; (note), where the subject is farther explained.

Become as a widow - Having lost her king. Cities are commonly described as the mothers of their inhabitants, the kings as husbands, and the princes as children. When therefore they are bereaved of these, they are represented as widows, and childless.

The Hindoo widow, as well as the Jewish, is considered the most destitute and wretched of all human beings. She has her hair cut short, throws off all ornaments, eats the coarsest food, fasts often, and is all but an outcast in the family of her late husband.

Is she become tributary! - Having no longer the political form of a nation; and the remnant that is left paying tribute to a foreign and heathen conqueror.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

In these two verses is the same sad image as appears in the well-known medal of Titus, struck to celebrate his triumph over Jerusalem. A woman sits weeping beneath a palm-tree, and below is the legend “Judaea capta.”

Translate Lamentations 1:1:

How sitteth solitary the city that was full of people:

She is become as a widow that was great among the nations:

A princess among provinces she is become a vassal.

Tributary - In the sense of personal labor Joshua 16:10.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The prophet sometimes speaks in his own person; at other times Jerusalem, as a distressed female, is the speaker, or some of the Jews. The description shows the miseries of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem became a captive and a slave, by reason of the greatness of her sins; and had no rest from suffering. If we allow sin, our greatest adversary, to have dominion over us, justly will other enemies also be suffered to have dominion. The people endured the extremities of famine and distress. In this sad condition Jerusalem acknowledged her sin, and entreated the Lord to look upon her case. This is the only way to make ourselves easy under our burdens; for it is the just anger of the Lord for man's transgressions, that has filled the earth with sorrows, lamentations, sickness, and death.
Ellen G. White
Prophets and Kings, 461-2

The sorrow of the prophet over the utter perversity of those who would have been the spiritual light of the world, his sorrow over the fate of Zion and of the people carried captive to Babylon, is revealed in the lamentations he has left on record as a memorial of the folly of turning from the counsels of Jehovah to human wisdom. Amid the ruin wrought, Jeremiah could still declare, “It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed;” and his constant prayer was, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Lamentations 3:22, 40. While Judah was still a kingdom among the nations, he had inquired of his God, “Hast Thou utterly rejected Judah? hath Thy soul loathed Zion?” and he had made bold to plead, “Do not abhor us, for Thy name's sake.” Jeremiah 14:19, 21. The prophet's absolute faith in God's eternal purpose to bring order out of confusion, and to demonstrate to the nations of earth and to the entire universe His attributes of justice and love, now led him to plead confidently in behalf of those who might turn from evil to righteousness. PK 461.1

But now Zion was utterly destroyed; the people of God were in their captivity. Overwhelmed with grief, the prophet exclaimed: “How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. PK 461.2

“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. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.” PK 462.1

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