And toward her young one that cometh out from between her
Or her secundine, "her afterbirth", as in the margin of our Bibles; so the Targum of Jonathan and Aben Ezra interpret it. The latter describes it,
``the place of the fetus, while it abides in the womb of its mother;''the membrane in which the child is wrapped; and it is suggested that, as nauseous as that is, the delicate woman should eat it, and then the newborn child that was wrapped in it; so Jarchi interprets it, little children; though it seems to be distinguished from the children she bears or brings forth in the next clause:
and towards her children which she shall bear;
that is, have an evil eye towards them, to eat them as follows:
for she shall eat them for want of all [things] secretly in the siege
and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates;
that is, eat her children, being reduced to the utmost extremity, being in want of all things, having nothing at all to abate her sharp hunger; which, and nothing else, could incline her, and prevail upon her to do an action so monstrously horrid: and which she would do in the most private and secret manner; both lest others should partake with her, as well as being conscious of the foulness and blackness of the crime, that would not by any means bear the light; and all this owing to the closeness of the siege, and the unspeakable distress they should be in through it. For the illustration of this, take the following story as related by Josephus F6;
``a woman, whose name was Mary, that lived beyond Jordan, illustrious for her descent and riches fled with the multitude to Jerusalem when besieged carrying with her her substance, and what food she could get that were left to her by the spoilers; where being pressed with famine, she took her sucking child, killed it boiled it, and ate half of it, and then laid up the rest, and covered it; and when the seditious party entered the house, they smelt it, and demanded her food, threatening to kill her if she did not deliver it; which when she brought forth, declaring what she had done, they were struck with horror; to whom she said, this is my son, and this my own deed; eat, for I have eaten; be not more tender or softer than a woman, and more sympathizing or more pitiful than a mother.''All the ideas that this prophecy of Moses conveys are to be met with in this account; as of a woman well bred and delicate, reduced to the utmost distress, and wanting all the necessaries of life, killing her tender infant, a sucking babe, eating it secretly, and laying up the rest covered for another time. If Moses had lived to have known the fact committed, as Josephus did, he could not have expressed it well in stronger and clearer terms than he has done. This is a most amazing instance of a prophecy delivered out two thousand years or more before the fact was done, and of the exact accomplishment of it; and if the observation of a learned critic F7 can be established, that the first word of this verse should be (hlvbw) , and so be rendered, "and she shall boil that which cometh out from between her feet, even her children which she shall bear", the fulfilment of the prophecy will appear still more exact, both at the siege of Samaria, ( 2 Kings 6:20 ) ; and of Jerusalem, as in the above relation of Josephus.
F6 De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 3. sect. 4.
F7 Dr. Kennicot's State of the Hebrew Text, Dissert. 1. p. 421.