Matthew 24:19

And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that nurse a child in those days!
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Cornelius a Lapide

AD 1637
But woe to them that are with child, &c. Because the burden of their children would hinder their flight, so that they would be taken and slain by the savage Roman soldiers, together with their little ones. So S. Chrysostom and others. Theophylact adds that there is a further allusion to the severity of the famine, by reason of which some women were constrained to devour their infants in the siege of Jerusalem. As Josephus testifies (Bell78), Christ declares the fearfulness of the vengeance and destruction of Jerusalem, that even women with child and infants would not be spared, as is customary in the siege and capture of other cities. But pray ye, &c. In winter: because flight is difficult, on account of the cold, snow, rain, and tempests. For this reason flight is then impossible to the sick and aged. Or, if attempted, it ends in death. On the Sabbath: because then it was not lawful for the Jews to walk more than about700 paces, as I have shown in Acts 1:12. You will say that the S...

Epiphanius the Latin

AD 403
The holy reading continues: “Woe to those who are with child and to those who are nursing in those days.” This means woe to those who have conceived suffering and begotten iniquity by neglecting the faith. For just as a pregnant woman in flight has no rest but only pain and tribulation, so also sinners and disbelievers in the Christian faith will have nothing but grief when the day of judgment comes upon them. The holy Gospel next says, “Pray that your flight not fall in the winter or on the sabbath, for there will be a tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world.” These two times, winter and the sabbath, represent two races of people: the Gentiles and the Jews. Just as everything is fruitless, desolate and dead in the winter, so also are the Gentiles. The Lord is hereby warning us therefore not to be found as the Gentiles: desolate, dead and without the fruit of good works on the day of judgment or in the time of persecution. The sabbath … is a day reserved entire...

Hilary of Poitiers

AD 368
One must not believe that the Lord was drawing our attention to the burden of pregnant women when he said, “Woe to those who are with child.” Instead, he wanted to demonstrate the heavy weight of souls filled with sins, a weight which prevents them from escaping the storm of wrath stored up for them, whether they are on the roof or in the field. Suffering naturally accompanies pregnancy, and no one is born into the world without his entire body being shaken by the experience. Souls therefore who are found in a similar condition will continue in their suffering and burdens. “Woe also to those who are nursing.” The weaned infant is no less unfit for flight than is the one who is still nursing. But if the difference in age and status between those who are nursing and those who are weaned is of no importance, how are we to understand “Woe also to those who are nursing”? This warning is meant to show the infirmity of souls who were being taught to know God as though they were being nursed. ...

John Chrysostom

AD 407
He first mourns for the one weighed down by the burden of pregnancy, who cannot flee easily, who is less mobile. Then he mourns for “those who are nursing.” They are bound by ties of sympathy for their children. Yet they cannot protect those who nurse. Who can escape these bonds of natural affection? By comparison, parting with money is nothing. How could the pregnant woman become mobile? How could she that nurses be able to overlook that which she had borne? The Gospel of Matthew, Homily

John Chrysostom

AD 407
to the one because of their greater inertness, and because they cannot flee easily, being weighed down by the burden of their pregnancy; to the other, because they are held by the tie of feeling for their children, and cannot save their sucklings. For money it is a light thing to despise, and an easy thing to provide, and clothes; but the bonds of nature how could any one escape? How could the pregnant woman become active? How could she that gives suck be able to overlook that which she had borne?

Theophylact of Ochrid

AD 1107
Those who are with child will not be able to flee, weighed down as they are by the burden of their womb. Those who give suck, because of their compassion for their children, will not be able to leave them, nor to carry them and survive together, and so they will not escape the wrath that will be. Christ is also implying the eating of children, for Josephus speaks of a woman who, on account of the starvation during the siege, cooked her child and ate it.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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