For want and famine [they were] solitary
The Targum interprets it, without children; but then this cannot be understood of the fathers; rather through famine and want they were reduced to the utmost extremity, and were as destitute of food as a rock, or hard flint, from whence nothing is to be had, as the word signifies, see ( Job 3:7 ) ;
fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and
to search and try what they could get there for their sustenance and relief, fleeing through fear of being taken up for some crimes committed, or through shame, on account of their miserable condition, not caring to be seen by men, and therefore fled into the wilderness to get what they could there: but since men in want and famine usually make to cities, and places of resort, where provision may be expected; this may be interpreted not of their flying into the wilderness, though of their being there, perhaps banished thither, see ( Job 30:5 ) ; but of their "gnawing" F17, or biting the dry and barren wilderness, and what they could find there; where having short commons, and hunger bitten, they bit close; which, though extremely desolate, they were glad to feed upon what they could light on there; such miserable beggarly creatures were they: and with this agrees what follows.
F17 (hyu Myqreh) "qui rodebant in solitudine", V. L. "rodentes siccitatem", Schultens.