Lamentations 1:1

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!

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people!.... These are the words of Jeremiah; so the Targum introduces them,

"Jeremiah the prophet and high priest said;''

and began thus, "how"; not inquiring the reasons of this distress and ruin; but as amazed and astonished at it; and commiserating the sad case of the city of Jerusalem, which a little time ago was exceeding populous; had thousands of inhabitants in it; besides those that came from other parts to see it, or trade with it: and especially when the king of Babylon had invaded the land, which drove vast numbers to Jerusalem for safety; and which was the case afterwards when besieged by the Romans; at which time, as Josephus {f} relates, there were eleven hundred thousand persons; and very probably a like number was in it before the destruction of it by the Chaldeans, who all perished through famine, pestilence, and the sword; or were carried captive; or made their escape; so that the city, as was foretold it should, came to be without any inhabitant; and therefore is represented as "sitting", which is the posture of mourners; and as "solitary", or "alone" {g}, like a menstruous woman in her separation, to which it is compared, Lamentations 1:17; or as a leper removed from the society of men; so the Targum,

"as a man that has the plague of leprosy on his flesh, that dwells alone;''

or rather as a woman deprived of her husband and children; as follows:

how is she become as a widow! her king, that was her head and husband, being taken from her, and carried captive; and God, who was the husband also of the Jewish people, having departed from them, and so left in a state of widowhood. Jarchi {h} observes, that it is not said a widow simply, but as a widow, because her husband would return again; and therefore only during this state of captivity she was like one; but Broughton takes the "caph" not to be a note of similitude, but of reality; and renders it, "she is become a very widow". Vespasian, when he had conquered Judea, struck a medal, on one side of which was a woman sitting under a palm tree in a plaintive and pensive posture, with this inscription, "Judea Capta", as Grotius observes:

she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! that ruled over many nations, having subdued them, and to whom they paid tribute, as the Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, and Edomites, in the times of David and Solomon; but since obliged to pay tribute herself, first to Pharaohnecho, king of Egypt; then to the king of Babylon in the times of Jehoiakim; and last of all in the times of Zedekiah; so the Targum,

"she that was great among the people, and ruled over the provinces that paid tribute to her, returns to be depressed; and after this to give tribute to them.''

{f} De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 3.
{g} ddb "sola", V. L. Montanus.
{h} E Talmud Bab. Sanhedrin. fol. 104. 1. & Taanith, fol. 20. 1.