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Lamentations 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— How is the gold become dim! [how] is the most pure gold changed! The stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the head of every street.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— 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.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— How dark the gold has become, [How] the pure gold has changed! The sacred stones are poured out At the corner of every street.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— How is the gold become dim! [how] is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the head of every street.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— How is the gold become dim! the most pure gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary poured out at the top of all the streets!
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— How is dimmed the gold! changed the most fine gold! Poured out are the stones of the sanctuary, at the top of all the streets.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— How is the gold become dim, Changed the best—the pure gold? Poured out are stones of the sanctuary At the head of all out-places.
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Aleph. How is the gold become dim, the finest colour is changed, the stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of every street?
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— How is the gold become dimme! [how] is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuarie are powred out in the top of euery streete.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— ALEPH. How will the gold be tarnished, [and] the fine silver changed! the sacred stones have been poured forth at the top of all the streets.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— 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.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
How x349
(0349) Complement
Prolonged from H0335; how? or how!; also where.
is the gold 2091
{2091} Prime
From an unused root meaning to shimmer; gold; figuratively something gold colored (that is, yellow), as oil, a clear sky.
become dim! 6004
{6004} Prime
A primitive root; to associate; by implication to overshadow (by huddling together).
<8714> Grammar
Stem - Hophal (See H8825)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 178
[how] is the most 2896
{2896} Prime
From H2895; good (as an adjective) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masculine and the feminine, the singular and the plural (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adverb (well).
fine gold 3800
{3800} Prime
From H3799; properly something carved out, that is, ore; hence gold (pure as originally mined).
changed! 8132
{8132} Prime
A primitive root; to alter.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
the stones 68
{0068} Prime
From the root of H1129 through the meaning, to build; a stone.
of the sanctuary 6944
{6944} Prime
From H6942; a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity.
are poured out 8210
{8210} Prime
A primitive root; to spill forth (blood, a libation, liquid metal; or even a solid, that is, to mound up); also (figuratively) to expend (life, soul, complaint, money, etc.); intensively to sprawl out.
<8691> Grammar
Stem - Hithpael (See H8819)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 533
in the top 7218
{7218} Prime
From an unused root apparently meaning to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether literally or figuratively (in many applications, of place, time, rank, etc.).
of every x3605
(3605) Complement
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
street. 2351
{2351} Prime
(Both forms feminine in the plural); from an unused root meaning to sever; properly separate by a wall, that is, outside, outdoors.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Lamentations 4:1

_ _ Lamentations 4:1-22. The sad capture of Jerusalem, the hope of restoration, and the retribution awaiting Idumea for joining Babylon against Judea.


_ _ gold — the splendid adornment of the temple [Calvin] (Lamentations 1:10; 1 Kings 6:22; Jeremiah 52:19); or, the principal men of Judea [Grotius] (Lamentations 4:2).

_ _ stones of ... sanctuary — the gems on the breastplate of the high priest; or, metaphorically, the priests and Levites.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Lamentations 4:1-12

_ _ The elegy in this chapter begins with a lamentation of the very sad and doleful change which the judgments of God had made in Jerusalem. The city that was formerly as gold, as the most fine gold, so rich and splendid, the perfection of beauty and the joy of the whole earth, has become dim, and is changed, has lost its lustre, lost its value, is not what it was; it has become dross. Alas! what an alteration is here!

_ _ I. The temple was laid waste, which was the glory of Jerusalem and its protection. it is given up into the hands of the enemy. And some understand the gold spoken of (Lamentations 4:1) to be the gold of the temple, the fine gold with which it was overlaid (1 Kings 6:22); when the temple was burned the gold of it was smoked and sullied, as if it had been of little value. it was thrown among the rubbish; it was changed, converted to common uses and made nothing of. The stones of the sanctuary, which were curiously wrought, were thrown down by the Chaldeans, when they demolished it, or were brought down by the force of the fire, and were poured out, and thrown about in the top of every street; they lay mingled without distinction among the common ruins. When the God of the sanctuary was by sin provoked to withdraw no wonder that the stones of the sanctuary were thus profaned.

_ _ II. The princes and priests, who were in a special manner the sons of Zion, were trampled upon and abused, Lamentations 4:2. Both the house of God and the house of David were in Zion. The sons of both those houses were upon this account precious, that they were heirs to the privileges of those two covenants of priesthood and royalty. They were comparable to fine gold. Israel was more rich in them than in treasures of gold and silver. But now they are esteemed as earthen pitchers; they are broken as earthen pitchers, thrown by as vessels in which there is no pleasure. They have grown poor, and are brought into captivity, and thereby are rendered mean and despicable, and every one treads upon them and insults over them. Note, The contempt put upon God's people ought to be matter of lamentation to us.

_ _ III. Little children were starved for want of bread and water, Lamentations 4:3, Lamentations 4:4. The nursing-mothers, having no meat for themselves, had no milk for the babes at their breast, so that, though in disposition they were really compassionate, yet in fact they seemed to be cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness, that leave their eggs in the dust (Job 39:14, Job 39:15); having no food for their children, they were forced to neglect them and do what they could to forget them, because it was a pain to them to think of them when they had nothing for them; in this they were worse than the seals, or sea-monsters, or whales (as some render it), for they drew out the breast, and gave suck to their young, which the daughter of my people will not do. Children cannot shift for themselves as grown people can; and therefore it was the more painful to see the tongue of the sucking-child cleave to the roof of his mouth for thirst, because there was not a drop of water to moisten it; and to hear the young children, that could but just speak, ask bread of their parents, who had none to give them, no, nor any friend that could supply them. As doleful as our thoughts are of this case, so thankful should our thoughts be of the great plenty we enjoy, and the food convenient we have for ourselves and for our children, and for those of our own house.

_ _ IV. Persons of good rank were reduced to extreme poverty, Lamentations 4:5. Those who were well-born and well bred, and had been accustomed to the best, both for food and clothing, who had fed delicately, had every thing that was curious and nice (they call it eating well, whereas those only eat well who eat to the glory of God), and fared sumptuously every day; they had not only been advanced to the scarlet, but from their beginning were brought up in scarlet, and were never acquainted with any thing mean or ordinary. They were brought up upon scarlet (so the word is); their foot-cloths, and the carpets they walked on, were scarlet, yet these, being stripped of all by the war, are desolate in the streets, have not a house to put their head in, nor a bed to lie on, nor clothes to cover them, nor fire to warm them. They embrace dunghills; on them they were glad to lie to get a little rest, and perhaps raked in the dunghills for something to eat, as the prodigal son who would fain have filled his belly with the husks. Note, Those who live in the greatest pomp and plenty know not what straits they may be reduced to before they die; as sometimes the needy are raised out of the dunghill. Those who were full have hired out themselves for bread, 1 Samuel 2:5. It is therefore the wisdom of those who have abundance not to use themselves too nicely, for then hardships, when they come, will be doubly hard, Deuteronomy 28:56.

_ _ V. Persons who were eminent for dignity, nay, perhaps for sanctity, shared with others in the common calamity, Lamentations 4:7, Lamentations 4:8. Her Nazarites are extremely charged. Some understand it only of her honourable ones, the young gentlemen, who were very clean, and neat, and well-dressed, washed and perfumed; but I see not why we may not understand it of those devout people among them who separated themselves to the Lord by the Nazarites' vow, Num. 6. 2. That there were such among them in the most degenerate times appears from Amos 2:11, I raised up of your young men for Nazarites. These Nazarites, though they were not to cut their hair, yet by reason of their temperate diet, their frequent washings, and especially the pleasure they had in devoting themselves to God and conversing with him, which made their faces to shine as Moses's, were purer than snow and whiter than milk; drinking no wine nor strong drink, they had a more healthful complexion and cheerful countenance than those who regaled themselves daily with the blood of the grape, as Daniel and his fellows with pulse and water. Or it may denote the great respect and veneration which all good people had for them; though perhaps to the eye they had no form nor comeliness, yet, being separated to the Lord, they were valued as if they had been more ruddy than rubies and their polishing had been of sapphire. But now their visage is marred (as is said of Christ, Isaiah 52:14); it is blacker than a coal; they look miserably, partly through hunger and partly through grief and perplexity. They are not known in the streets; those who respected them now take no notice of them, and those who had been intimately acquainted with them now scarcely knew them, their countenance was so altered by the miseries that attended the long siege. Their skin cleaves to their bones, their flesh being quite consumed and wasted away; it is withered; it has become like a stick, as dry and hard as a piece of wood. Note, It is a thing to be much lamented that even those who are separated to God are yet, when desolating judgments are abroad, often involved with others in the common calamity.

_ _ VI. Jerusalem came down slowly, and died a lingering death; for the famine contributed more to her destruction than any other judgment whatsoever. Upon this account the destruction of Jerusalem was greater than that of Sodom (Lamentations 4:6), for that was overthrown in a moment; one shower of fire and brimstone dispatched it; no hand staid on her; she did not endure any long siege, as Jerusalem has done; she fell immediately into the hands of the Lord, who strikes home at a blow, and did not fall into the hands of man, who, being weak, is long in doing execution, Judges 8:21. Jerusalem is kept many months upon the rack, in pain and misery, and dies by inches, dies so as to feel herself die. And, when the iniquity of Jerusalem is more aggravated than that of Sodom, no wonder that the punishment of it is so. Sodom never had the means of grace the Jerusalem had, the oracles of God and his prophets, and therefore the condemnation of Jerusalem will be more intolerable than that of Sodom, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 11:24. The extremity of the famine is here set forth by two frightful instances of it: — 1. The tedious deaths that it was the cause of (Lamentations 4:9); many were slain with hunger, were famished to death, their stores being spent, and the public stores so nearly spent that they could not have any relief out of them. They were stricken through, for want of the fruits of the field; those who were starved were as sure to die as if they had been stabbed and stricken through; only their case was much more miserable. Those who are slain with the sword are soon put out of their pain; in a moment they go down to the grave, Job 21:13. They have not the terror of seeing death make its advances towards them, and scarcely feel it when the blow is given; it is but one sharp struggle, and the work is done. And, if we be ready for another world, we need not be afraid of a short passage to it; the quicker the better. But those who die by famine pine away; hunger preys upon their spirits and wastes them gradually; nay, and it frets their spirits, and fills them with vexation, and is as great a torture to the mind as to the body. There are bands in their death, Psalms 73:4. 2. The barbarous murders that it was the occasion of (Lamentations 4:10): The hands of the pitiful women have first slain and then sodden their own children. This was lamented before (Lamentations 2:20); and it was a thing to be greatly lamented that any should be so wicked as to do it and that they should be brought to such extremities as to be tempted to it. But this horrid effect of long sieges had been threatened in general (Leviticus 26:29, Deuteronomy 28:53), and particularly against Jerusalem in the siege of the Chaldeans, Jeremiah 19:9; Ezekiel 5:10. The case was sad enough that they had not wherewithal to feed their children and make meat for them (Lamentations 4:4), but much worse that they could find in their hearts to feed upon their children and make meat of them. I know not whether to make it an instance of the power of necessity or of the power of iniquity; but, as the Gentile idolaters were justly given up to vile affections (Romans 1:26), so these Jewish idolaters, and the women particularly, who had made cakes to the queen of heaven and taught their children to do so too, were stripped of natural affection and that to their own children. Being thus left to dishonour their own nature was a righteous judgment upon them for the dishonour they had done to God.

_ _ VII. Jerusalem comes down utterly and wonderfully. 1. The destruction of Jerusalem is a complete destruction (Lamentations 4:11): The Lord has accomplished his fury; he has made thorough work of it, has executed all that he purposed in wrath against Jerusalem, and has remitted no part of the sentence. He has poured out the full vials of his fierce anger, poured them out to the bottom, even the dregs of them. He has kindled a fire in Zion, which has not only consumed the houses, and levelled them with the ground, but, beyond what other fires do, has devoured the foundations thereof, as if they were to be no more built upon. 2. It is an amazing destruction, Lamentations 4:12. It was a surprise to the kings of the earth, who are acquainted with, and inquisitive about, the state of their neighbours; nay, it was so to all the inhabitants of the world who knew Jerusalem, or had ever heard or read of it; they could not have believed that the adversary and enemy would ever enter into the gates of Jerusalem; for, (1.) They knew that Jerusalem was strongly fortified, not only by walls and bulwarks, but by the numbers and strength of its inhabitants; the strong hold of Zion was thought to be impregnable. (2.) They knew that it was the city of the great King, where the Lord of the whole earth had in a more peculiar manner his residence; it was the holy city, and therefore they thought that it was so much under the divine protection that it would be in vain for any of its enemies to make an attack upon it. (3.) They knew that many an attempt made upon it had been baffled, witness that of Sennacherib. They were therefore amazed when they heard of the Chaldeans making themselves masters of it, and concluded that it was certainly by an immediate hand of God that Jerusalem was given up to them; it was by a commission from him that the enemy broke through and entered the gates of Jerusalem.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Lamentations 4:1

The top — Are scattered in the head of every street.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Lamentations 4:1

How is the (a) gold become dim! [how] is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out at the head of every street.

(a) By the gold he means the princes, as by the stones he understands the priests.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
How is the gold:

2 Kings 25:9-10 And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great [man's] house burnt he with fire. ... And all the army of the Chaldees, that [were with] the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.
Isaiah 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Ezekiel 7:19-22 They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity. ... My face will I turn also from them, and they shall pollute my secret [place]: for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it.

the stones:

Lamentations 2:19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
Jeremiah 52:13 And burned the house of the LORD, and the king's house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great [men], burned he with fire:
Matthew 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Mark 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Luke 21:5-6 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, ... [As for] these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
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2K 25:9. Is 1:21; 14:12. Jr 52:13. Lm 2:19. Ezk 7:19. Mt 24:2. Mk 13:2. Lk 21:5.

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