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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Lamentations 3:16

 

 

He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust.

Adam Clarke Commentary

He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones - What a figure to express disgust, pain, and the consequent incapacity of taking food for the support of life; a man, instead of bread, being obliged to eat small pebbles till all his teeth are broken to pieces by endeavoring to grind them. One can scarcely read this description without feeling the toothache. The next figure is not less expressive.

He hath covered me with ashes - באפר הכפישני hichphishani beepher, "he hath plunged me into the dust." To be thrown into a mass or bed of perfect dust, where the eyes are blinded by it, the ears stopped, and the mouth and lungs filled at the very first attempt to respire after having been thrown into it - what a horrible idea of suffocation and drowning! One can scarcely read this without feeling a suppression of breath, or a stricture upon the lungs! Did ever man paint sorrow like this man?


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/lamentations-3.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones,.... With gritty bread, such as is made of corn ground with new millstones, the grit of which mixes with the flour; or with stony bread, as SenecaF14"Pane lapidoso", Seneca De Beneficiis, l. 7. calls a benefit troublesome to others; with bread that has little stones mixed with it, by eating of which the teeth are broken, as Jarchi observes: the phrase signifies afflictions and troubles, which are very grievous and disagreeable, like gravel in the mouth, as sin in its effects often proves, Proverbs 20:17;

he hath covered me with ashes; as mourners used to be; the word rendered "covered" is only used in this place. Aben Ezra renders it, "he hath defiled me"; and Jarchi and Ben Melech, from the Misnah, "he hath pressed me", without measure; see Luke 6:38; and so the Targum,

"he hath humbled me:'

but the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it, "he hath fed me with ashes"; which version is defended by CastelF15Lexic. Polyglott, col. 1791. and NoldiusF16Concordant. Ebr. Part. p. 168. No. 763. , and best agrees with the preceding clause; the sense is the same with Psalm 102:9.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/lamentations-3.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.

Ashes — Mourners were wont to throw ashes on their heads.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/lamentations-3.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Many renderings are given of these words’ there is, however, no over-statement here; for, as it has been often said, the grief of the people under such a mass of evils could not be sufficiently expressed. The Prophet, no doubt, extended here his hand to the weak, who would have otherwise lain down as dead; for under such evils the ruin of the whole nation, the fall of the city, and the destruction of the temple, it could not be but such thoughts as these must have occurred. Now, as to any one unacquainted with such a trial, he would soon succumb, had no remedy been presented to him. The Prophet then dictates for all the godly such complaints as they might, so to speak, pour forth confidently and freely into the bosom of God.

We hence see that here is even expressed whatever might occur to the minds of God’s children, so that they might not hesitate in their straits to direct their prayers to God, and freely confess whatever they suffered in their souls. For shame closes up the door of access; and thus it happens; that we make a clamor as though God were far away from us; hence impatience breaks out almost to a rage. But when an access to God is opened to us, and we dare to confess what burdens our minds, this, as I have said, is the best way for obtaining relief and comfort. We must then understand the design of the Prophet, that he suggests words to the faithful, that they might freely cast their cares and sorrows on God, and thus find some alleviation.

For this reason, he says that his teeth had been broken by a little stone or pebble. (178) The same expression, if I mistake not, is found in Job. It is a metaphor taken from those who press stones instead of bread under their teeth; for when grit lies hid in bread, it hurts the teeth. Then inward and hidden griefs are said to be like small stones, which break or shatter the teeth. For the Prophet does not speak here of large stones, but on the contrary he speaks of pebbles or small stones, which deceive men, for they lie hid either in bread or in meat, or in any other kind of food. As, then, the teeth are hurt by pressing them, so the Prophet says that his sorrows were most bitter, as that part, as it is well known, is very tender; and when any injury is done to the teeth, the pain spreads instantly almost through the whole body. This is the reason why he says that his teeth were broken.

Then he adds, that he was covered with dust, or that he was lying down or dragged along in the dust. The expression is taken from those who are drawn by way of reproach along the ground, as a carcass is, or some filthy thing which we abhor. (179) Thus the Prophet complains that there was nothing short of extreme evils. He adds, —

And he hath worn out with grit my teeth.

Ed


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/lamentations-3.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Lamentations 3:16 He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.

Ver. 16. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones.] Comminuit scrupis dentes meos - i.e., With gritty bread. See Proverbs 20:17.

He hath covered me with ashes.] The Greek and Latin have it, He hath fed me with ashes, which was worse than that bread made most of sawdust, wherewith they fed the martyrs in the Marian times.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/lamentations-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Lamentations 3:16. He hath—broken my teeth He hath broken my teeth as a gravel-stone. He hath fed me with dust. Houbigant. In this and the preceding verse the prophet aggravates the calamities of his people by such expressions as imply that misery and affliction are poured without measure upon the sons of Jacob. Possibly he alludes to his personal afflictions. See Jeremiah 37; Jeremiah 38.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/lamentations-3.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

These are but more metaphorical expressions, signifying the unpleasant difficult condition into which God had brought this people. They were like men that lived upon gritty bread, more fit to break their teeth than to nourish them; they were in the state of mourners, and no ordinary mourners, who were wont to throw ashes on their heads, they were all over covered with ashes.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/lamentations-3.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16. Broken my teeth with gravel stones — Either mixed with bread, or rather, as Keil prefers, stones given instead of bread.

He hath covered me with ashes — Literally, hath pressed me down in ashes. The Septuagint Version renders it, he hath given me ashes to eat.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/lamentations-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jeremiah felt like his teeth were broken and that God had given him stones to eat instead of bread.

". . . the teeth have become broken and ground down because God has given His people stones to eat as punishment for venerating the images of Baal." [Note: Harrison, Jeremiah and . . ., p224.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/lamentations-3.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

One. Hebrew, "against a stone." My bread is full of them, Psalm ci. 10. (Calmet) --- He describes his afflictions, as if his teeth had been broken. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/lamentations-3.html. 1859.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(16) He hath also broken my teeth.—The metaphor of food is continued. The mourner eats bread that is gritty, as if made of sand instead of flour. (Comp. Proverbs 20:17.) Here, again, we are reminded of Dante (Parad. xvii. 58), when he speaks of the bitterness of the bread which comes as the grudging gift of strangers.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/lamentations-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.
broken
Job 4:10; Psalms 3:7; 58:6
gravel
Proverbs 20:17; Matthew 7:9; Luke 11:11
he hath
Psalms 102:9
covered me with ashes
or, rolled me in the ashes.
Job 2:8; Jeremiah 6:26; Jonah 3:6

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/lamentations-3.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes."— Lamentations 3:16.

The figure would seem to represent the prophet as eating and drinking sorrow. Distress is his daily food. In the metaphor of the text the prophet has seized bread in the extremity of his hunger, and lo, when he comes to eat it he finds that his mouth is full of gravel stones. This is disappointment, this is mortification, this is fatal to faith. Who knows how far God can go in the infliction of punishment? We think we have tasted all the bitter ness of death, when we are suddenly taught that as yet we have not begun to know how terrible can be the judgments of God. The wise man has told us that "Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel." How forgetful we are of that "afterwards"! Experience of this kind has not been unknown. "Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his mouth: yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him. He hath swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again: God shall cast them out of his belly. He shall suck the poison of asps: the viper"s tongue shall slay him." Gehazi supposed that he had enriched himself, but he knew not that the heart of Elisha had gone out after him in his felonious errand. Gehazi began as a hypocrite, and ended as a leper. By every metaphor that is graphic, and expressive of real torment, God has endeavoured to show us that the wages of sin is death. Take out of all these metaphors what we may, we still leave behind the essential truth that the way of transgressors is hard, and that no man can fight against God and prevail: his hands shall be enfeebled, his skin shall be filled with leprosy, his eyes shall be blinded, his teeth shall be broken with gravel stones; he shall be stripped of his purple and fine linen, and be clothed with the raiment of ashes.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Lamentations 3:16". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/lamentations-3.html. 1885-95.

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