The Conditions During the Siege
Verse 1 – How the gold has become dim! How changed the fine gold! The stones of the sanctuary are scattered at the head of every street.
Verse 2 – The precious sons of Zion, valuable as fine gold, how they are regarded as clay pots, the work of the hands of the potter.
The nation was supposed to be as fine gold before God, but was now smeared with sin and were regarded as clay jars, like pieces of broken pottery.
Verse 3 – Even the jackals present their beasts to nurse their young; but the daughter of my people has become cruel, like ostriches in the wilderness.
Verse 4 – The tongue of the infant clings to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the young children ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them.
Verse 5 – Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; those who were brought up in scarlet embrace ash heaps.
Those who had been raised on delicacies and clothed in purple now had to go hungry and huddle in garbage heaps. You talk about stubborn! They would rather watch their children starve to death than repent and turn back to God.
Verse 6 – The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, with no hand to help her!
Greater revelation from God brought greater responsibility and a greater sense of guilt of wrongdoing. Sodom was destroyed because of its great wickedness (Genesis 18:20-19:29). God said Judah’s sin was greater than Sodom.
Verse 7 – Her Nazirites were brighter than snow and whiter than milk; they were more ruddy in body than rubies, like sapphire in their appearance.
Nazirites, signify separated ones, who either in respect of birth, education, estate, or place of magistracy, were distinguished from the rest of the people.
Verse 8 – Now their appearance is blacker that soot; they go unrecognized in the streets; their skin clings to their bones, it has become dry as wood.
Verse 9 – Those slain by the sword are better off than those who die of hunger; for these pine away, stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.
Starvation is a slow and agonizing death.
Verse 10 – The hands of the compassionate woman have cooked their own children; they became food for them in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
What these people did when they began to starve, is too horrible to even imagine.
Verse 11 – The Lord has fulfilled His fury, He has poured out His fierce anger. He kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured its foundations.
Verse 12 – The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem –
Verse 13 – Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, who shed in her midst the blood of the just.
Verse 14 – They wandered blind in the streets; they have defiled themselves with blood, so that no one would touch their garments.
Verse 15 – They cried out to them, “Go away, unclean! Go away, go away, do not touch us!” When they fled and wandered, those among the nations said, “They shall no longer dwell here.”
To be unclean meant to be defiled, not fit to enter the temple or to worship before God. The priests and the prophets did evil and led the nation into sin and caused their ultimate downfall.
Verse 16 – The face of the Lord scattered them; He no longer regards them. The people do not respect the priests nor show favor to the elders.
Verse 17 – Still our eyes failed us, watching vainly for our help; in our watching we watched for a nation that could not save us.
Judah had asked Egypt to help them fight the Babylonian army, but Egypt gave them false hope. They had started to help, but then retreated. Jeremiah had warned Judah not to ask Egypt for help, but rely on God.
Verse 18 – They tracked our steps so that we could not walk in our streets. Our end was near; our days was over, for our end had come.
Verse 19 – Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the heavens. They pursued us on the mountains and lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
Verse 20 – The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was caught in their pits, of whom we said, “Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.”
Although King Zedekiah was called “The Lord’s anointed,” he had little spiritual depth and leadership power. Instead of listening to Jeremiah and putting his faith in God, his trust was in the false prophets. The people followed the king’s example.
Verse 21 – Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz! The cup shall also pass over to you and you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.
Verse 22 – The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; He will no longer send you into captivity. He will punish your iniquity, O daughter of Edom; He will uncover your sins!
Edom had actively aided Babylon in the siege of Jerusalem. As a reward, Nebuchadnezzar gave the outlying lands of Judah to Edom. Edom would be judged for the treachery against her brothers.