Howl, ye shepherds, and cry
The Targum is,
``howl, ye kings, and cry;''
and the rulers and governors of the nations before threatened with destruction are meant; who are here called upon to lamentation and mourning for the ruin and loss of their kingdoms; though Calvin thinks that this is an apostrophe to the Jewish nation, and the rulers of it. It is no uncommon thing in Scripture to call kings and civil magistrates shepherds; see ( Jeremiah 23:1 Jeremiah 23:2
) ( Zechariah 10:3
) ( 11:3
) ; and wallow yourselves [in the ashes], ye principal of the flock
or "roll yourselves [in dust]", as a token of mourning; as being in the utmost distress, and incapable of helping themselves, and redressing the grievances of their people; and therefore lie down and tumble about as in the greatest anxiety and trouble, the Targum is,
``cover your heads with ashes, ye mighty of the people;''
meaning those who were in the highest posts of honour and profit; the chief as to authority and power, riches and wealth; for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished
the time is come when they who were the fat of the flock, and were nourished up for slaughter, should be slain. The allusion to shepherds and sheep is still kept up; and such who should escape that, should be scattered up and down the world, as a flock of sheep is by the wolf, or any other beast of prey, when some are seized and devoured, and others dispersed; and this was not the case of the Jews only, but of other nations in their turn; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel
a vessel of worth and value, and so desirable; as vessels of glass, of gems, or of earth, as of Venice glass, of alabaster, of China; which when they fall and are broken, become useless, and are irreparable; signifying hereby, that their desirableness and excellency would not secure them from destruction, and that their ruin would be irretrievable.