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Lamentations 5:10

10. Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine.

10. Pelles nostrae quasi clibanus nigredinem contraxerunt ob exustiones famis.


Some read, “for tremors;” literally, “from the face of tremors.” Jerome renders it, “tempests,” but the word “burnings” is the most suitable; for he says that their skins were darkened, and he compares them to an oven. This metaphor often occurs in Scripture,

“Though ye have been as among pots in the smoke, and deformed by blackness, yet your wings shall shine.” (Psalm 68:14.)

God says that his people had contracted blackness, as though they had touched smoky pots, because they had been burnt as it were by many afflictions; for when we pine away in our evils, filthiness itself deforms us. But here he compares to an oven (which is the same thing) their skins or skin. He then says that the skin of every one was so wrinkled and darkened by blackness, that it was like an oven which is black through constant fire and smoke. The Prophet or whoever was the author of the 119th Psalm, uses another comparison, that he was like a bottle or a bladder, contracted by the smoke, and had wrinkles together with blackness. 231231     The word זלעפות, occurs in Psalm 11:6, and in the singular number in Psalm 119: 53. The versions and the Targ. render it differently in the three places, for it is not found anywhere else. In Psalm 119:53, it is rendered “horror” in our version, and this meaning suits the passage in Psalm 11:6, and also this passage, —
   Our skins, like an oven they became black,
Because of the horrors of famine (or, horrible famine.)

   The word for “skins” is in the plural number according to several copies, and the verb requires it to be so. — Ed.

The meaning is, that there was a degrading deformity in the people, for they were so famished that no moisture remained in them; and when moisture fails, then paleness and decay follow; and then from paleness a greater deformity and blackness, of which the Prophet now speaks. Hence I have said, that the word “burnings” is the most proper. For, if we say tempests or storms, a tempest does not certainly darken the skin; and if we render it tremors or tremblings, this would be far remote; but if we adopt the word burnings, the whole passage will appear consistent; and we know, that as food as it were irrigates the life of man, so famine burns it up, as Scripture speaks also elsewhere. It follows, —

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