Thy years.--The best years of thy life.
Unto the cruel.--That is the temptress herself, or her hangers-on and associates, whose sole idea is plunder.
"lest thine heart has respect to other gods, to give them the glory of thine honour and praise;''
and so understands it not of corporeal but of spiritual adultery or idolatry: the Septuagint and Arabic versions are, "thy life"; which agrees with what follows;
and thy years unto the cruel; youthful years, the flower of age, consumed by the cruel lust of uncleanness, which preys upon and wastes both body and substance, and cuts them off in the prime of days; and deprives of years which otherwise, according to the course of nature, and in all probability, might be arrived unto: so harlots, in Plautus (o), are said to sup the blood of men, and to deprive of goods, light, honour, and friends (p). And the harlot herself may be here meant; who, when she has got what she can, has no pity on the man she has ruined, and even will not stick to take away his life upon occasion; as well as is the cause and means of the damnation of his soul: or the jealous husband of the adulterous woman, who will not spare the adulterer when taken by him; or her brethren, her relations and friends; or her other gallants and co-rivals, who, when they have opportunity, will avenge themselves; or the civil magistrate, who executes judgment without mercy on such delinquents, this being a sin punished with death. Jarchi interprets the "cruel" of the prince of hell, the devil; and so the Midrash of the angel of death. The character well agrees with the antichristian beast, the whore of Rome; who, by her sorceries and fornications, has destroyed millions of souls.
(o) Bacchides, Acts 3. Sc. 1. v. 5. & Sc. 3. v. 67. (p) Truculentus, Acts 2. Sc. 7. v. 20.