"and after thine iniquity is fulfilled, O congregation of Zion, and thou shalt be delivered by the hands of the Messiah, and of Elias the high priest;''
he will no more carry thee away into captivity; he, the enemy; or the Lord, as the Targum: that is, thou shall no more be carried captive: this seems to confirm the above observation, that this chapter is a prophecy of what would be, as well as a narrative of what had been; and includes the destruction both of the first and second temple, and of the Jews both by the Chaldeans and Romans; for it is certain, that, after their deliverance from the captivity of Babylon, they have been carried captive, and are now in captivity;
he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; punish the Edomites for their sins, as is elsewhere threatened, Jeremiah 49:7, Amos 1:11; which was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument; and may have some respect to the destruction of the Romans, when the Jews shall be converted, and return to their own land. The Targum, in the king of Spain's Bible, is,
"and at that time I will visit thine iniquity, O wicked Rome, which art built in Italy, and full of multitudes of the children of Edom; and the Persians shall come and oppress thee, and make thee desolate;''
and so the copy used by Munster:
he will discover thy sins; by the punishment of them; as, when God pardons sins, he is said to cover them; so, when he punishes for them, he discovers them; see Jeremiah 49:10.
INTRODUCTION TO Lamentations 5
In this chapter are reckoned up the various calamities and distresses of the Jews in Babylon, which the Lord is desired to remember and consider, Lamentations 5:1; their great concern for the desolation of the temple in particular is expressed, Lamentations 5:17; and the chapter is concluded with a prayer that God would show favour to them, and turn them to him, and renew their prosperity as of old, though he had rejected them, and been wroth with them, Lamentations 5:19.
"remember, O Lord, what was decreed should be unto us;''
and what he had long threatened should come upon them; and which they had reason to fear would come, though they put away the evil day far from them; but now it was come, and it lay heavy upon them; and therefore they desire it might be taken off:
consider, and behold our reproach: cast upon them by their enemies; and the rather the Lord is entreated to look upon and consider that, since his name was concerned in it, and it was for his sake, and because of the true religion they professed; also the disgrace they were in, being carried into a foreign country for their sins; and so were in contempt by all the nations around.
our houses to aliens; which they had built or purchased, or their fathers had left them, were now inhabited by those of another country.
our mothers are as widows; either really so, their husbands being dead; or were as if they had no husbands, they not being able to provide for them, protect and deferred them. The Targum adds,
"whose husbands are gone to the cities of the sea, and it is doubtful whether they are alive.''
Some understand this politically, of their cities being desolate and defenceless.
our wood is sold unto us; or, "comes to us by a price" (r); and a dear one; in their own land they could have wood out of the forest, for cutting down and bringing home; but now they were forced to give a large price for it.
(r) "in pretio venerunt", Pagninus, Montanus; "caro nobis pretio veniunt", Michaelis.
we labour, and have no rest; night nor day, nor even on sabbath days; obliged to work continually till they were weary; and, when they were, were not allowed time to rest themselves, like their forefathers in Egypt.
(s) "super colla nostra persecutionem passi sumus", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin; "vel patimur", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread; among whom many of the captives were dispersed; since from hence they are said to be returned, as well as from Egypt, Isaiah 11:16.
and we have borne their iniquities; the punishment of them, or chastisement for them: this is not said by way of complaint, much less as charging God with injustice, in punishing them for their fathers' sins, or to excuse theirs; for they were ready to own that they had consented to them, and were guilty of the same; but to obtain mercy and pity at the hands of God.
"the sons of Ham, who were given to be servants to the sons of Shem, they have ruled over us;''
referring to the prophecy of Noah, Genesis 9:26; or such as had been tributary to the Jews, as the Edomites; so Aben Ezra; the Babylon, an, are meant; and not the nobles and principal inhabitants only, but even their servants, had power and authority over the Jews and they were at their beck and command; which made their servitude the more disagreeable and intolerable:
there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand; out of the hand of these servants.
because of the sword of the wilderness: or, "of the plain" (t); because of the, word of the Chaldean army, which lay in the plain about Jerusalem into whose hand there was danger of falling, and of being cut to pieces.
(t) "propter gladium in deserto, sive plano", Gataker.
(u) "horrorum famis", Montanus; "terrores, vel tremores", Vatablus; "procellas famis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "exustiones", Pagninus, Calvin; "adustiones famis", Stockius, p. 281.
and the maids in the cities of Judah; in all parts of the country, where the Chaldean army ravaged, there they ravished the maids. The Targum is,
"the women that were married to men in Zion were humbled by strangers; (the Targum in the king of Spain's Bible is, by the Romans;) and virgins in the cities of Judah by the Chaldeans;''
suggesting that this account has reference to both destructions of the city, and the concomitants and consequences thereof.
(w) Sept. "humiliaverunt", V. L. Munster.
the faces of elders were not honoured; no reverence or respect were shown to elders in age or office, or on account of either; but were treated with rudeness and contempt.
"the young men carried the millstones;''
and so Jarchi, they put millstones upon their shoulders, and burdens so as to weary them. Ben Melech, from their Rabbins, relates, that there were no millstones in Babylon; wherefore the Chaldeans put them upon the young men of Israel, to carry them thither. The Vulgate Latin version is,
"they abused the young men in an unchaste manner;''
suggesting something obscene intended by grinding; see Job 31:10; but the context will not admit of such a sense:
and the children fell under the wood; such loads of wood were laid upon them, that they could not bear them, but fell under them. Aben Ezra understands it of moving the wood of the mill, of turning the wooden handle of it; or the wooden post, the rider or runner, by which the upper millstone was turned: this their strength was not equal to, and so failed. The Targum interprets it of a wooden gibbet, or gallows; some wooden engine seems to be had in view, used as a punishment, which was put upon their necks, something like a pillory; which they were not able to stand up under, but fell.
(x) "juvenes farinam portaverunt"; so some in Gataker; "juvenes molam tulerunt", Cocceius; "juvenes ad molendum portant", Junius & Tremellius.
the young men from their music; vocal and instrumental; the latter is more particularly specified, though both may be intended; neither were any more heard; their harps were hung upon the willows on the banks of Euphrates, which ran through the city of Babylon, Psalm 137:1.
our dance is turned into mourning; which also was used at their solemn feasts, as well as at their common diversions, Judges 21:21; but now no more of that; but, instead of it, mourning at the calamities they were oppressed with; and at the remembrance of mercies and privileges, civil and religious, they were deprived of.
woe unto us that we have sinned! which had brought all these evils upon them: this is not to be considered as an imprecation or denunciation of misery; but as a commiseration of their case; calling upon others to it, and particularly God himself, to have mercy upon them; for, alas for them! they had sinned, and justly deserved what was come upon them; and therefore throw themselves at the feet of mercy, and implore divine compassion.
(a) "cecidit corona capitis nostri", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
"for this house of the sanctuary, which is desolate, our heart is weak:''
for these things our eyes are dim; or "darkened" (b) almost blinded with weeping; can scarcely see out of them; or as persons in a swoon; for dimness of sight usually attends faintness of spirit.
(b) "contenebrati sunt", V. L. "obtenebrati", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Cocceius.
the foxes walk upon it: as they do in desolate places, shunning the company of men; but here they walked in common, and as freely as in the woods and deserts: this was fulfilled in the destruction of the second temple, as well as the first. R. Akiba (c) and his companions were walking together; they saw a fox come out of the holy of holies; they wept, but he laughed or rejoiced; they wept, that in the place where the stranger that drew near should die, now foxes walked upon it; he laughed or rejoiced, because, as this prophecy was fulfilled, so would others that predicted good things.
(c) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 24. 1. 2.
thy throne from generation to generation; though his throne on earth, in Jerusalem, in the temple, was thrown down, yet his throne in heaven remained unshaken; there he sits, and reigns, and rules, and overrules all things here below to his own glory and the good of his people; and this is the saints' comfort in the worst of times, that Zion's King reigns; he has reigned, and will reign, throughout all generations. The Targum is,
"the house of thine habitation in the high heavens; the throne of thy glory to the generations of generations?''
and forsake us so long time? or, "to length of days" (d)? so long as the seventy years' captivity; which to be forsaken of God, or to seem to be forsaken of him, was with them a long time.
(d) "in longitudinem dierum", Pagninus, Montanus.
renew our days as of old; for good, as the Targum adds. The request is, that their good days might be renewed; that they might enjoy the same peace and prosperity, and all good things in their own land, as they had done in days and years past: first they pray for repentance; then restoration.