This chapter contains two beautiful examples of the parabolic kind of writing; the one lamenting the sad catastrophe of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, 1-9, and the other describing the desolation and captivity of the whole people, 10-14. In the first parable, the lioness is Jerusalem. The first of the young lions is Jehoahaz, deposed by the king of Egypt; and the second lion is Jehoiakim, whose rebellion drew on himself the vengeance of the king of Babylon. In the second parable the vine is the Jewish nation, which long prospered, its land being fertile, its princes powerful, and its people flourishing; but the judgments of God, in consequence of their guilt, had now destroyed a great part of the people, and doomed the rest to captivity.
NOTES ON CHAP. XIX
Verse 1. Moreover take thou up a lamentation] Declare what is the great subject of sorrow in Israel. Compose a funeral dirge. Show the melancholy fate of the kings who proceeded from Josiah. The prophet deplores the misfortune of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim, under the figure of two lion whelps, which were taken by hunters, and confined in cages. Next he shows the desolation of Jerusalem under Zedekiah, which he compares to a beautiful vine pulled up by the roots, withered, and at last burned. Calmet justly observes, that the style of this song is beautiful, and the allegory well supported throughout.
2And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions.
2 Verse 2. What is thy mother? A lioness] Judea may here be the mother; the lioness, Jerusalem. Her lying down among lions, her having confederacy with the neighbouring kings; for lion here means king.
4The nations also heard of him; he was taken in their pit, and they brought him with chains unto the land of Egypt.
4 Verse 4. The nations also heard of him] The king of Egypt, whose subjects were of divers nations, marched against Jerusalem, took Jehoahaz prisoner, and brought him to Egypt. Thus-
He was taken in their pit] Here is an allusion to those trap-pits digged in forests, into which the wild beasts fall, when the huntsmen, surrounding a given portion of the forest, drive the beasts in; by degrees narrowing the inclosure, till the animals come to the place where the pits are, which, being lightly covered over with branches and turf, are not perceived, and the beasts tread on them and fall in. Jehoahaz reigned only three months before he was dethroned by the king of Egypt, against whom it is apparent some craft was used, here signified by the pit, into which he fell.
9And they put him in ward in chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon: they brought him into holds, that his voice should no more be heard upon the mountains of Israel.c
9 Verse 9. That his voice should no more be heard] He continued in prison many years, till the reign of Evil-merodach, who set him at liberty, but never suffered him to return to the mountains of Israel. "The unhappy fate of these princes, mentioned , is a just subject of lamentation."-Newcome.
10 ¶ Thy mother is like a vine in thy blood, planted by the waters: she was fruitful and full of branches by reason of many waters.d
10 Verse 10. Thy mother (Jerusalem) is like a vine in thy blood] Of this expression I know not what to make. Some think the meaning is "A vine planted by the waters to produce the blood of the grape." See . Others, for bedamecha, in thy blood, would read berimmon, in or at a pomegranate; like a vine planted by or beside a pomegranate-tree, by which it was to be supported. And so the Septuagint and Arabic appear to have read. Calmet reads carmecha, thy vineyard, instead of bedamecha, in thy blood. Here is no change but a resh for a daleth. This reading is supported by one of Kennicott's and one of De Rossi's MSS.: "Thy mother is like a vine in thy vineyard, planted by the waters." Though this is rather an unusual construction yet it seems the best emendation. Of the textual reading no sense can be made. There is a corruption somewhere.
11And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bare rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.
11 Verse 11. She had strong rods] Zedekiah, and his many sons.
Her stature was exalted] Zedekiah grew proud of his numerous offspring and prosperity; and although he copied the example of Jehoiakim, yet he thought he might safely rebel against the king of Babylon.
14And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod to be a sceptre to rule. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation.
14 Verse 14. Fire is gone out] A vindictive and murderous disposition has taken hold-
Of a rod of her branches] Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, who was of the blood-royal of Judah-
Hath devoured her fruit] Hath assassinated Gedaliah, slain many people, and carried off others into the country of the Ammonites. But he was pursued by Jonathan, the son of Kareah, who slew many of his adherents, and delivered much of the people.
She hath no strong rod] None of the blood-royal of Judah left. And from that time not one of her own royal race ever sat upon the throne of Israel.
This is a lamentation] This is a most lamentable business.
And shall be for a lamentation.] These predictions shall be so punctually fulfilled, and the catastrophe shall be so complete, that it shall ever remain as a lamentation; as this state of Jerusalem shall never be restored. Even to the present day this, to a Jew, is a subject of mourning.