Besides this disgrace, famine also comes on her. All her people, i.e., the whole of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, sigh after bread, and part with their jewels for food, merely to prolong their life. The participles נֶֽאֱנָחִים, מְכַקְשִׁים, are not to be translated by preterites; they express a permanent condition of things, and the words are not to be restricted in their reference to the famine during the siege of the city (Jer 37:21; Jer 38:9; Jer 52:6). Even after it was reduced, the want of provisions may have continued; so that the inhabitants of the city, starved into a surrender, delivered up their most valuable things to those who plundered them, for victuals to be obtained from these enemies. Yet it is not correct to refer the words to the present sad condition of those who were left behind, as distinguished from their condition during the siege and immediately after the taking of the city (Gerlach). This cannot be inferred from the participles. The use of these is fully accounted for by the fact that the writer sets forth, as present, the whole of the misery that came on Jerusalem during the siege, and which did not immediately cease with the capture of the city; he describes it as a state of matters that still continues. As to מַחֲמוּדֵיהֶם, see on Lam 1:7. הָשִׁיב נֶפֶשׁ, "to bring back the soul," the life, i.e., by giving food to revive one who is nearly fainting, to keep in his life (= הֵשִׁיב רוּחַ); cf. Rth 4:15; 1Sa 30:12, and in a spiritual sense, Psa 19:8; Psa 23:3. In the third member of the verse, the sigh which is uttered as a prayer (Lam 1:9) is repeated in an intensified form; and the way is thus prepared for the transition to the lamentation and suppliant request of Jerusalem, which forms the second half of the poem.