3. fatherless--Our whole land is full of orphans [CALVIN]. Or, "we are fatherless," being abandoned by Thee our "Father" (Jer 3:19), [GROTIUS].
4. water for money--The Jews were compelled to pay the enemy for the
water of their own cisterns after the overthrow of Jerusalem; or rather,
it refers to their sojourn in Babylon; they had to pay tax for access to
the rivers and fountains. Thus, "our" means the water which we need, the
commonest necessary of life.
our wood--In Judea each one could get wood without pay; in Babylon, "our wood," the wood we need, must be paid for.
5. Literally, "On our necks we are persecuted"; that is, Men tread on our necks (Ps 66:12; Isa 51:23; compare Jos 10:24). The extremest oppression. The foe not merely galled the Jews face, back, and sides, but their neck. A just retribution, as they had been stiff in neck against the yoke of God (2Ch 30:8, Margin; Ne 9:29; Isa 48:4).
8. Servants . . . ruled . . . us--Servants under the Chaldean governors ruled the Jews (Ne 5:15). Israel, once a "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6), is become like Canaan, "a servant of servants," according to the curse (Ge 9:25). The Chaldeans were designed to be "servants" of Shem, being descended from Ham (Ge 9:26). Now through the Jews' sin, their positions are reversed.
9. We gat our bread with . . . peril--that is, those of us left in
the city after its capture by the Chaldeans.
because of . . . sword of . . . wilderness--because of the liability to attack by the robber Arabs of the wilderness, through which the Jews had to pass to get "bread" from Egypt (compare La 5:6).
10. As an oven is scorched with too much fire, so our skin with the hot blast of famine (Margin, rightly, "storms," like the hot simoom). Hunger dries up the pores so that the skin becomes like as if it were scorched by the sun (Job 30:30; Ps 119:83).
11. So in just retribution Babylon itself should fare in the end. Jerusalem shall for the last time suffer these woes before her final restoration (Zec 14:2).
13. young men . . . grind--The work of the lowest female slave
was laid on young men
children fell under . . . wood--Mere children had to bear burdens of wood so heavy that they sank beneath them.
14. Aged men in the East meet in the open space round the gate to decide judicial trials and to hold social converse (Job 29:7, 8).
18. foxes--They frequent desolate places where they can freely and fearlessly roam.
19. (Ps 102:12). The perpetuity of God's rule over human affairs, however He may seem to let His people be oppressed for a time, is their ground of hope of restoration.
20. for ever--that is, for "so long a time."
21. (Ps 80:3; Jer 31:18). "Restore us to favor with Thee, and so we shall be restored to our old position" [GROTIUS]. Jeremiah is not speaking of spiritual conversion, but of that outward turning whereby God receives men into His fatherly favor, manifested in bestowing prosperity [CALVIN]. Still, as Israel is a type of the Church, temporal goods typify spiritual blessings; and so the sinner may use this prayer for God to convert him.