Declare ye [it] not at Gath
A city of the Philistines, put for all the rest: the phrase is borrowed from ( 2 Samuel 1:20 ) ; where the reason is given, and holds good here as there; and the sense is, not that the destruction of Israel, or the invasion of Judea, or the besieging of Jerusalem, could be hid from the Philistines; but that it was a thing desirable, was it possible, since it would be matter of rejoicing to them, and that would be an aggravation of the distress of Israel and Judah: weep ye not at all;
that is, before the Philistines, or such like enemies, lest they should laugh and scoff at you; though they had reason to weep, and did and ought to weep in secret; yet, as much as in them lay, it would be right to forbear it openly, because of the insults and reproach of the enemy. The learned Reland F6 suspects that it should be read, "weep not in Acco": which was another city in Palestine, to the north from the enemy, as Gath was to the south; and observes, that there is a like play on words F7 in the words, as in the places after mentioned. Acco is the same with Ptolemais, ( Acts 21:7 ) ; (See Gill on Acts 21:7). It had this name from Ptolemy Lagus king of Egypt, who enlarged it, and called it after his own name; but Mr, Maundrell F8 observes,
``now, since it hath been in the possession of the Turks, it has, according to the example of many other cities in Turkey, cast off its Greek, and recovered some semblance of its old Hebrew name again, being called Acca, or Acra. As to its situation (he says) it enjoys all possible advantages, both of sea and land; on its north and east sides it is compassed with a spacious and fertile plain; on the west it is washed by the Mediterranean sea; and on the south by a large bay, extending from the city as far as Mount Carmel;''in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust;
as mourners used to do, sit in the dust, or cover their heads with it, or wallow in it; this is allowed to be done privately, in houses or in towns distinct from the Philistines, as Aphrah or Ophrah was, which was in the tribe of Benjamin, ( Joshua 18:23 ) ; called here "Aphrah", to make it better agree with "Aphar", dust, to which the allusion is: and it may be rendered, "in the house of dust roll thyself in the dust"; having respect to the condition houses would be in at this time, mere heaps of dust and rubbish, so that they would find enough easily to roll themselves in. Here is a double reading; the "Keri", or marginal reading, which the Masora directs to, and we follow, is, "roll thyself": but the "Cetib", or writing, is, "I have rolled myself" F9; and so are the words of the prophet, who before says he wailed and howled, and went stripped and naked; here he says, as a further token of his sorrow, that he rolled himself in dust, and as an example for Israel to do the like. This place was a village in the times of Jerom F11 and was called Effrem; it was five miles from Bethel to the east.
F6 Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 534, 535.
F7 (wkbt la wkb) .
F8 Journey from Aleppo p. 54.
F9 (yvlpth) "volutavi me", De Dieu.
F11 De locis Hebr. fol. 88. H.