Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the
porch and the altar
Not the altar of incense which stood in the holy place; but the altar of burnt offering, where the priests used to stand and do service; but now having nothing to do of that kind, they are called upon to weep and pray between that and the porch of the temple; where they might be seen and heard by the people in the outward court which the porch led into: this is thought by some to be the same situation with that between the temple and the altar, ( Matthew 23:35 ) ; and let them say, spare thy people, O Lord;
they are directed to plead, not in a way of justice, but mercy; that though it might be just with God to destroy these people, who were called by his name; yet it is entreated that he would not, but in mercy spare them, and not cut them off in his sore displeasure, which the present judgment threatened them with: there seems to be an argument for mercy suggested, in the relation these people stood in to God, they are "thy people", whom thou hast chosen, and who are called by thy name; though this was also an aggravation of their sin; and the same may be observed in what follows: and give not thine heritage to reproach:
the people whom he had chosen for his inheritance, and the land of Canaan he had given to them for an inheritance; both which would be given to reproach if such a famine should ensue that they must be obliged to go into other countries for food: that the Heathen should rule over them;
as they would, should they be forced to leave their own country, and settle in theirs for the sake of food: or "to be a proverb", or "byword, among the Heathen", as Jarchi. This clause Jerom thinks opens the mystery, and explains who are meant by the mighty nation under the name of locusts, the enemies of the Jews; though this does not necessarily follow, take the words in either sense, as explained: it seems indeed very likely, that though the locusts may be understood literally, yet may be considered as an emblem of the Assyrian or Chaldean army, as we have all along observed; and, as the same ancient writer observes, when we read of the locusts, we should think of the Chaldeans, in which thought we may be confirmed by this clause: wherefore should they say among the people, where [is] their God?
they boast of as their Creator and Benefactor, their Protector and Defender, that gave them a land flowing with milk and honey, and abounding with all blessings? what is become of that? and where is he now? which the Gentiles would say in a reproaching blaspheming way, should they be reduced to famine by the locusts, or fall into the hands of their enemies; than which kind of reproach and blasphemy there is nothing more cutting to religious minds: see ( Psalms 42:10 ) ( Micah 7:10 ) ; and this, as well as the former is used as an argument with God for mercy. The Targum is,
``where are they that are redeemed by the Word of your God?''