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.
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(18) They hunt our steps.—Better, They lie in wait. The words probably point to the posts occupied here and there near the wide places of the city, which led people to avoid them through fear of being attacked. The only cry possible at such a time was that “all was over.”

Lamentations 4:18-20. They hunt our steps that we cannot go in our streets — The Chaldeans, employed in the siege, are so close upon us, that we cannot stir a foot, nor look out at our doors, nor walk safely in the streets. Our end is near — The end of our church and state; we are just at the brink of the ruin of both. Nay, our days are fulfilled, our end is come — We are utterly undone; a fatal, final period is put to all our comforts; the days of our prosperity are fulfilled, they are numbered and finished. Our persecutors are swifter than the eagles — God has brought upon us that judgment which he threatened by Moses, of bringing a nation against us as swift as the eagle flieth, Deuteronomy 28:49. Such were the horsemen of the Chaldean army. We could nowhere escape them, neither by fleeing to the mountains, nor by hiding ourselves in the valleys. The wilderness is in other places put for the lower, or pasture grounds. The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, &c. — Our king, who was the very life of us; was taken in their pits — In those toils his enemies had laid for him. Some have supposed that the prophet speaks this of Josiah, but it seems more probable that Zedekiah is meant, and his being taken prisoner and led into captivity is here alluded to. Of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen — As long as he was safe, we had some hopes of being protected, and of preserving some face of government, although we were carried away into a foreign country. The protection a king affords his subjects is often, in Scripture, compared to the shelter of a great tree, which is a covert against storms and tempests: see Ezekiel 17:23; Ezekiel 31:6; Daniel 4:12.

4:13-20 Nothing ripens a people more for ruin, nor fills the measure faster, than the sins of priests and prophets. The king himself cannot escape, for Divine vengeance pursues him. Our anointed King alone is the life of our souls; we may safely live under his shadow, and rejoice in Him in the midst of our enemies, for He is the true God and eternal life.Or, They hunted "our steps that we could not go out into the streets. To hunt" means here to lie in ambush, and catch by snares; and the streets are literally "the wide places," especially at the gates. Toward the end of the siege the towers erected by the enemy would command these places.18. They—the Chaldeans.

cannot go—without danger.


The Chaldeans employed in the siege are so close upon us, that we cannot stir a foot about our businesses, nor look out at our doors, nor walk safely in the streets; we are ruined, there is an end of our civil state; our period is come, and the time of our prosperity is elapsed.

They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets,.... The Chaldeans, from their forts and batteries, as they could see, they watched the people as they came out of their houses, and walked about the streets, and shot their arrows at them; so that they were obliged to keep within doors, and not stir out, which they could not do without great danger:

our end is near, for our days are fulfilled; for our end is come; either the end of their lives, the days, months, and years appointed for them being fulfilled; or the end of their commonwealth, the end of their civil and church state, at least as they thought; the time appointed for their destruction was not only near at hand, but was actually come; it was all over with them.

They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come.
18. They hunt our steps] This expresses the danger which existed in the “streets” (lit. broad places, and therefore exposed) from the towers which were gradually advanced nearer to the walls by the besiegers. Eastern streets are too narrow to expose their occupants to the weapons of a besieging force.

Verse 18. - They hunt our steps, etc. Realistic attempts to explain this line have not been wanting, but seem unsuccessful. The Chaldeans were either within the city or without. If within, they would not need literally to "hunt the steps" of the Jews; if without, they had not war engines adequate to shooting the inhabitants at some distance. Probably the expressions are metaphorical; they are similar to those used in Lamentations 3:52, immediately after which we meet with such a purely poetical phrase as, "They have cut off my life in the pit [Authorized Version, 'dungeon'], and cast a stone upon me" (see note on Lamentations 3:52-56). Lamentations 4:18In order to show convincingly how vain it is to expect help from man, Jeremiah, in Lamentations 4:18-20, reminds his readers of the events immediately preceding the capture of the city, which have proved that nobody - not even the king himself - could avoid falling into the hands of the Chaldeans. Gerlach has correctly given the sense of these verses thus: "They still cling to their hopes, and are nevertheless completely in the power of the enemy, from whom they cannot escape. All their movements are closely watched; it is impossible for any one to deceive himself any longer: it is all over with the nation, now that all attempts at flight have failed (Lamentations 4:19), and that the king, 'the life's breath' of the nation, has fallen into the hands of the enemy." Gerlach and Ngelsbach have already very properly set aside the strange and fanciful idea of Ewald, that in Lamentations 4:18 it is still Egypt that is regarded, and that the subject treated of is, - how Egypt, merely through fear of the Chaldeans, had at that time publicly forbidden the fugitives to go to Palestine for purposes of grace and traffic. These same writers have also refuted the arbitrary interpretation put upon 'צדוּ צעדינוּ by Thenius and Vaihinger, who imagine there is a reference to towers used in a siege, from which the besiegers could not merely perceive all that was going on within the city, but also shoot at persons who showed themselves in exposed places. In reply to this, Ngelsbach appropriately remarks that we must not judge of the siege-material of the ancients by the range of cannon. Moreover, צוּד does not mean to spy out, but to search out, pursue; and the figure is taken from the chase. The idea is simply this: The enemy (the Chaldeans) watch us in our every step, so that we can no longer move freely about. Our end is near, yea, it is already come; cf. Ezekiel 7:2-6. A proof of this is given in the capture of King Zedekiah, after he had fled in the night, Lamentations 4:19. For an elucidation of the matters contained in these verses, cf. Jeremiah 39:4., Jeremiah 52:7. The comparison of the enemy to eagles is taken from Deuteronomy 28:49, whence Jeremiah has already derived Lamentations 4:13 and Lamentations 48:40. דּלק, prop. to burn, metaph. to pursue hotly, is here (poet.) construed with acc., but elsewhere with אחרי; cf. Genesis 31:36; 1 Samuel 17:53. "On the hills and in the wilderness," i.e., on every side, even in inaccessible places. "In the wilderness" alludes to the capture of Zedekiah; cf. Jeremiah 39:5. "The breath of our nostrils" is an expression founded on Genesis 2:7, and signifying "our life's breath." Such is the designation given to the king, - not Zedekiah in special, whose capture is here spoken of, because he ex initio magnam de se spem concitaverat, fore ut post tristia Jojakimi et Jechoniae fata pacatior res publica esset (Aben Ezra, Michaelis, Vaihinger), but the theocratic king, as the anointed of the Lord, and as the one who was the bearer of God's promise, 2 Samuel 7. In elucidation of the figurative expression, Pareau has appropriately reminded is of Seneca's words (Clement. i.:4): ille (princeps) est spiritus vitalis, quem haec tot millia (civium) trahunt. "What the breath is, in relation to the life and stability of the body, such is the king in relation to the life and stability of the nation" (Gerlach). "Of whom we said (thought), Under his shadow (i.e., protection and covering) we shall live among the nations." It is not implied in these words, as Ngelsbach thinks, that "they hoped to fall in with a friendly heathen nation, and there, clustering around their king, as their protector and the pledge of a better future, spend their days in freedom, if no more," but merely that, under the protection of their king, they hoped to live even among the heathen, i.e., to be able to continue their existence, and to prosper as a nation. For, so long as there remained to them the king whom God had given, together with the promises attached to the kingdom, they might cherish the hope that the Lord would still fulfil to them these promises also. But this hope seemed to be destroyed when the king was taken prisoner, deprived of sight, and carried away to Babylon into captivity. The words "taken in their pits" are figurative, and derived from the capture of wild animals. שׁחית as in Psalm 107:20. On the figure of the shadow, cf. Judges 9:15; Ezekiel 31:17.
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