In Threnos Jeremiae expositio
Commentary on the Lamentations of Jeremiah
Prooemium S. Thomae
Prologue of St. Thomas
Ecce manus missa est ad me, in qua erat liber involutus. Et expandit illum coram me; qui erat scriptus intus et foris: et scriptae erant in eo lamentationes et carmen, et vae.
Behold, a hand was sent to me, wherein was a book wrapped up. And he spread it before me, and it was written within and without: and there were written in it lamentations, and canticles, and woe.
Ex verbis istis quatuor possunt accipi circa praesens opus Lamentationum Jeremiae, scilicet auctor, modus, utilitas et materia.
From these words, four things can be learned about the present work of the Lamentations of Jeremiah; namely, its author, method, usefulness, and subject matter.
In auctore designatur benignitas: unde dicit: ecce manus missa est. Haec manus sapientia Dei est, qua omnia facta sunt, sicut dicitur in Psal. 103: omnia in sapientia fecisti.
In the author there is indicated benignity, whence it says: behold, a hand was sent. This hand is the wisdom of God, by which all things were made: you have made all things in wisdom (Ps 103:24).
Ipsa est quae intellectum aperit ad videndum. Ezech. 40: facta est super me manus Domini, et adduxit me illuc in visionibus Dei.
It is she who opens the mind to see. The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he led me thither in the visions of God (Ezek 40:1–2).
Ipsa est quae linguam expedit ad loquendum. Jerem. 1: misit manum suam, et tetigit os meum, et dixit Dominus ad me: ecce dedi verba mea in ore tuo.
She is the one who sets free the tongue to speak. The Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth: and the Lord said to me: behold I have given my words in your mouth (Jer 1:9).
Ipsa est quae manum dirigit ad scribendum. Dan. 5: apparuerunt digiti quasi hominis scribentis: qui sunt prophetae, et alii doctores in quibus sapientiae dona dividimus, ut totum quod homo tradendo divinam sapientiam, exterius agit ministerio, ipsa interius perficiat auctoritate. Isa. 26: omnia opera nostra operatus est in nobis. 2 Corinth. 3: non quod sufficientes simus cogitare aliquid ex nobis, tamquam ex nobis, sed sufficientia nostra ex Deo est.
She is the one who directs the hand to write. There appeared fingers, as it were, of a man, writing (Dan 5:5): these are those of the prophets and other doctors to whom we attribute different gifts of wisdom, so that all that man does in transmitting divine wisdom externally, she herself perfects by her authority. For you have wrought all our works for us (Isa 26:12). Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor 3:5).
Haec quidem sapientia tam alta est, ut dum nos in infimo sumus, nihil ab ipsa possemus accipere, nisi nobis mitteretur. Et ideo benignitas auctoris designatur in missione manus. Rom. 11: O altitudo divitiarum sapientiae, et scientiae Dei!
This wisdom is so exalted, such that while we are sick ourselves, we are able to receive nothing from her unless it be sent to us. And that is why the goodness of the author is represented in the outstretching of a hand. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! (Rom 11:33).
Mittitur quasi nobis proposita tripliciter.
This wisdom is sent to us in three ways.
In rerum creatione, ex quibus perpenditur. Rom. 1: invisibilia Dei per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta conspiciuntur. Sap. 13: a magnitudine speciei, et creaturae, poterit horum Creator videri.
In the creation of things from which we can examine it. The invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made (Rom 1:20). By the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen (Wis 13:5).
Mittitur etiam interna inspiratione. Sap. 7: per nationes in animas sanctas se transfert, amicos Dei, et prophetas ipsa constituit.
She is also sent by an internal inspiration. Through nations she conveys herself into holy souls, making them the friends of God and prophets (Wis 7:27).
Missa est eminentissime in Incarnatione, quando coram oculis corporalibus, invisibilis sapientia apparuit. Sap. 9: mitte illam de caelis sanctis tuis, et a sede magnitudinis tuae, ut mecum sit, et mecum laboret, ut sciam quid acceptum sit coram te omni tempore.
She was sent most eminently in the Incarnation where invisible wisdom appeared before bodily eyes. Send her out of your holy heaven, and from the throne of your majesty, that she may be with me, and may labor with me, that I may know what is acceptable with you for all time (Wis 9:10).
In modo ostenditur difficultas; unde sequitur: in qua erat liber involutus.
In the method is shown the difficulty; whence it follows: wherein was a book wrapped up.
Est idem iste liber involutus ornatu verborum: unde et metrice descriptus, et rethoricis est ornamentis coloratus. Prover. 15: lingua sapientum ornat scientiam.
It is this same book wrapped up in an ornament of words: that is why it is written in verses and colored with rhetorical ornaments. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge (Prov 15:2).
Est etiam involutus profunditate mysteriorum. 1 Corinth. 13: Spiritus enim loquitur mysteria. Et apostolis dicitur in persona omnium qui Sacras Scripturas ediderunt: vobis datum est nosse mysterium regni Dei. Matth. 13.
Likewise, it is wrapped up in the depth of mysteries. Yet by the Spirit he speaks mysteries (1 Cor 14:2). And as it is said by the apostles to all persons who have consumed the Sacred Scripture: to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Matt 13:11).
Est etiam involutus varietate similitudinum, sicut et ceteri prophetarum libri. Proverb. 1: animadvertet parabolam et interpretationem, verba sapientum, et aenigmata eorum. Oseae 12: ego visiones multiplicavi, et in manibus prophetarum assimilatus sum.
It also is wrapped up in a variety of similitudes, just as all other books of the prophets. He shall understand a parable, and the interpretation, the words of the wise, and their mysterious sayings (Prov 1:6). I have multiplied visions, and I have used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets (Hos 12:10).
Et hoc signatum est per tria involumenta quibus vasa sanctuarii involvebantur, Num. 4.
And this is signified through three wrappings with which the sacred vessels were wrapped (Num 4:7–8).
Per velum enim quod diversis coloribus, et pulchra varietate erat distinctum, ut dicitur Exod. 26, significatur diversitas similitudinum.
For by the veil, which was colored diversely and was distinguished by its beautiful variation (Exod 26:1), is signified the diversity of similitudes.
Per pelles, et pallium hyacinthini coloris, significantur caelestia mysteria, quibus quasi impraegnatus est liber iste.
By the skin and the hyacinth-colored coat, is signified the celestial mysteries with which this book is impregnated.
Per pallium purpureum significatur ornatus verborum. Haec enim involutio Spiritus Sancti explicatur a sacris expositoribus: quia Sacrae Scripturae eodem Spiritu sunt expositae quo sunt editae, sicut dicit Augustinus.
By the purple coat is signified the ornaments of words. For this wrapping up of the Holy Spirit is explained by the sacred expositors, through whom Sacred Scripture was explained by the same Spirit by which it was produced, as Augustine says.
Et ideo sequitur: expandit illum coram me.
Thus it follows: he spread it before me.
Deus enim aperit Scripturarum verba: unde dicitur Luc. ult.: aperuit illis sensum ut intelligerent Scripturas.
For God opens the words of Scripture; whence it says in Luke: he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).
Revelat occulta mysteria. Dan. 2: vere Deus noster Deus deorum, et Dominus regum, revelans mysteria.
He reveals hidden mysteries. Verily your God is the God of gods, and Lord of kings, and a revealer of hidden things (Dan 2:47).
Explicat similitudinem. Ps. 17: prae fulgore in conspectu ejus nubes transierunt.
He explains similitudes. At the brightness that was before him the clouds passed (Ps 17:13).
In multiplicitate etiam ostenditur utilitas; unde sequitur: qui erat scriptus intus et foris, utrobique enim sapientiam scriptam continet: scilicet in cortice litteralis sensus, et in abditis sententialis intelligentiae, ut sit verum quod dicitur Joan. 10: ingredietur et egredietur et pascua inveniet.
In the multiplicity is also shown its usefulness; whence it follows: it was written within and without, for on both sides it contained written wisdom, namely, the literal sense on the scroll and the sense of understanding in the hidden part, so that as it may be truly said: he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures (John 10:9).
In materia ostenditur diversitas: unde sequitur: et erant scriptae in eo lamentationes, et carmen et vae.
In its subject matter, there is shown diversity; whence it follows: and there were written in it lamentations, and canticles, and woe.
Deplorat Josiae necem; et quantum ad hoc continet lamentationes. 2 Paral. 35: universus Juda et Jerusalem luxerunt eum, Jeremias maxime, cujus omnes cantores, et cantatrices usque in praesentem diem lamentationes super Josiam replicant.
The book mourns the death of Josiah, and in regard to this, it contains lamentations. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him, particularly Jeremiah: whose lamentations for Josiah all the singing men and singing women repeat unto this day (2 Chron 35:24).
Deplorat populi conculcationem; et quantum ad hoc continet carmen. Ezech. 32: fili hominis cane carmen lugubre super multitudine.
It mourns over the people trampled, and in regard to this, it contains canticles. Son of man, sing a mournful canticle for the multitude (Ezek 32:18).
Deplorat etiam Jerusalem et totius civitatis vastationem; et quantum ad hoc continet vae. Jer. 4: vae nobis, quia vastati sumus.
It also mourns the devastation of Jerusalem and the whole civilization, and in regard to this, it contains woe. Woe unto us, for we are laid waste (Jer 4:13).
Vel possunt haec tria ad triplicem sensum referri, quo liber iste in Glossis exponitur:
Or these three can refer to a threefold sense in which this book is explained in the Glosses.
ut vae referatur ad sensum typicum, tropologicum vel moralem, quo deplorat peccati servitutem. Infra ult.: cecidit corona capitis nostri: vae nobis, quia peccavimus.
Woe refers to the figurative sense, tropological or moral, by which he weeps over the slavery of sin. The crown is fallen from our head: woe to us, because we have sinned (Lam 5:16).
Carmen refertur ad sensum mysticum, quo deplorat Ecclesiae viduitatem. Psal. 39: immisit in os meum canticum novum, carmen Deo nostro.
Canticles refers to the mystical sense, by which he weeps over the widowhood of the Church. And he put a new canticle into my mouth, a song to our God (Ps 39:4).
Lamentationes, quantum ad sensum historicum, quo deplorat Judaeorum captivitatem. Jerem. 9: vox lamentationis audita est de Sion: quomodo vastati sumus, et confusi vehementer?
Lamentations refers to the historical sense, by which he laments the captivity of the Jews. A voice of lamentations is heard out of Zion: how are we wasted and greatly confounded? (Jer 9:19).
Et ab hoc liber iste denominatur, unde alio nomine dicitur Threni, quod in Graeco sonat lamentationem: quamvis a quibusdam dicuntur Treni, quasi Terni, quia quasi ternis versibus sub una littera procedit in principio libri: unde tribus ordinibus litterarum variatur. Primo sub una littera tres clausulas usque ad tertium capitulum, ubi tribus clausulis singulis eamdem litteram praeponit. In quarto capitulo duas clausulas sub eadem littera concludit.
And it is from this that the book takes its name, for by some it is called “Threni,” which in Greek means “lamentation”; although there are some who say “Treni,” as if to say, “Terni,” because in the beginning of the book, the verses proceed by threes under a single letter, and whence it varies by three orders of letters. At first, there are three clauses under one letter until the third chapter, where the same letter is put in front of three distinct clauses. In the fourth chapter, two clauses are included under each letter.