And say, what [is] thy mother?
&c.] That is, say so to the then reigning prince, Zedekiah, what is thy mother like? to what is she to be compared? by whom is meant, not the royal family of David only, or Jerusalem the metropolis of the nation, but the whole body of the people; and so the Targum interprets it of the congregation of Israel. The answer to the question is, a lioness;
she is like to one, not for her strength and glory, but for her cruelty and rapine; for her want of humanity, mercy, and justice: she lay down among lions;
that is, kings, as the Targum interprets it Heathen princes, the kings of the nations about them, as of Egypt and Babylon, ( Jeremiah 50:17 ) ; so called for their despotic and arbitrary power, tyranny, and cruelty: now this lioness, the people of the Jews, lay down among them, joined with them in leagues and marriages, and learned their manners, and became of the same temper and disposition: she nourisheth her whelps among young lions;
princes, as the Targum explains it; either the princes of Judah, who were become like young lions, fierce and cruel; or the princes of other nations, among whom the children of the royal family were brought up; or, however, they were trained up in the principles of such, even of arbitrary and despotic power, and were taught to oppress their subjects, and not execute justice and mercy among them.