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Lamentations 5:12

12. Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured

12. Principes manu sua fuerunt suspensi, facies senum non fuerunt in honore (non fuerunt honoratae, ad verbum)


The beginning of the verse may be explained in two ways. All render thus, “The princes have been slain by their hand,” that is, of their enemies. But I wonder how it never occurred to them, that it was far more grievous, that they were slain by their own hand. I certainly do not doubt but that the Prophet says here, that some of the princes had laid violent hands on themselves. For it would be a frigid expression, that the princes were hung by the hand of enemies; but if we read, that the princes were hung by their own hand, this would be far more atrocious, as we have before seen that even women, excelling in humanity, devoured their own offspring. So he says now that princes were hung, not by enemies, for it was a common thing for the conquered to be slain by their enemies, and be also hung by way of reproach; but the Prophet, as it appears to me, meant to express something more atrocious, even that the miserable princes were constrained to lay violent hands on themselves. 233233     The most obvious meaning of the words is, that princes were hung or suspended by the hand, and not by the neck. Such a punishment is not recorded as having been then practiced; but it may have been a barbarity resorted to by the Chaldeans. This seems to be the meaning conveyed by the versions and the Targ.,

   Princes were by their hand hung up,
The persons of the aged were not honored.

    — Ed.

He adds, that the faces of the aged were not honored; which is also a thing not natural; for we know that some honor is always rendered to old age, and that time of life is commonly regarded with reverence. When, therefore, no respect is shown to the aged, the greatest barbarity must necessarily prevail. It is the same, then, as though the Prophet had said that the people had been so disgracefully treated, that their enemies had not even spared the aged. We also now understand why he adds this, for it would have otherwise appeared incredible, that the princes hung themselves by their own hand. But he here intimates that there was no escape for them, except they in despair sought death for themselves, because all humanity had disappeared. It follows, —

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