Look not upon me
Meaning not with scorn and disdain because of her meanness; nor as prying into her infirmities to expose her; nor with joy at her trials and afflictions; neither of these can be supposed in the daughters of Jerusalem addressed by her: but rather, not look on her as amazed at her sufferings, as though some strange thing had befallen her; not at her blackness only, on one account or another, lest they should be stumbled; but at her beauty also; because I [am] black;
or "blackish" somewhat black F1, but not so black as might be thought, or as she was represented: the radicals of the word being doubled, some understand it as diminishing; but rather it increases the signification; see ( Psalms 14:2 ) ( Proverbs 8:31 ) ; and so it may be rendered "very black" F2, exceeding black; and this she repeats for the sake of an opportunity of giving the reason of it, as follows; because the sun hath looked upon me;
and had burnt her, and made her black; which effect the sun has on persons in some countries, and especially on such who are much abroad in the fields, and employed in rural services F3; as she was, being a keeper of vineyards, as in this verse, and of flocks of sheep, as in the following. This may be understood of the sun of persecution that had beat upon her, and had left such impressions on her, and had made her in this hue, and which she bore patiently; nor was she ashamed of it; nor should she be upbraided with it, nor slighted on account of it, see ( Matthew 13:6 Matthew 13:21 ) ; my mother's children were angry with me;
by whom may be meant carnal professors, members of the same society, externally children of the same mother, pretend to godliness, but are enemies to it: these were "angry" with the church for holding and defending the pure doctrines of the Gospel; for keeping the ordinances as they were delivered; and for faithful reproofs and admonitions to them and others, for their disagreeable walk: and these grieved the church, and made her go mourning, and in black; and more blackened her character and reputation than anything else whatever: though it may be understood of any carnal men, who descend from mother Eve, or spring from mother earth, angry with the church and her members preciseness in religion; and particularly violent persecutors of her, who yet would be thought to be religious, may be intended; they made me the keeper of the vineyards;
this is another thing that added to her blackness, lying abroad in the fields to keep the "vineyards" of others, by which may be meant false churches, as true ones are sometimes signified by them; and her compliance with their corrupt worship and ordinances, which was not voluntary, but forced; they made me, obliged her, and this increased her blackness; as also what follows; [but] mine own vineyard have I not kept;
which made her blacker still; her church state, or the spiritual affairs of her own, her duty and business incumbent on her F4, were sadly neglected by her: and this sin of hers she does not pretend to extenuate by the usage of her mother's children; but ingenuously confesses the fault was her own, to neglect her own vineyard and keep others, which was greatly prejudicial to her, and was resented by Christ; upon which it seems he departed from her, since she was at a loss to know where he was, as appears from the following words. With the Romans, neglect of fields, trees, and vineyards, came under the notice of the censors, and was not to go unpunished F5.
F1 (trxrxv) "paululum denigrata", Pagninus, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; so Ainsworth and Aben Ezra.
F2 "Valde fusca", Bochart; "prorsus vel valde, et teta nigra", Marckius, Michaelis.
F3 "Perusta solibus pernicis uxor", Horat. Epod. Ode 2. v. 41, 42. (aliokauston) Theocrit. Idyll. 10. v. 27.
F4 So Horace calls his own works "Vineta", Epist. l. 2. Ep. 1. v. 220.
F5 A. Gell. Noct. Attic. l. 4. c. 12.