Lamentations 1:22
Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.
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(22) Let all their wickedness . . .—The prayer for a righteous retribution, the first natural prayer of the outraged, reminds us of Psalms 69, 109, 137, yet more strongly of the language of the prophet himself in Jeremiah 18:21-23. It is something more than a prayer for revenge, and rests on the underlying thought that righteousness requires the punishment. By some critics, it may be noted, Psalms 69, 109 have, on the strength of this parallelism, been ascribed to Jeremiah

1:12-22 Jerusalem, sitting dejected on the ground, calls on those that passed by, to consider whether her example did not concern them. Her outward sufferings were great, but her inward sufferings were harder to bear, through the sense of guilt. Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ. Does he not from the cross speak to every one of us? Does he not say, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Let all our sorrows lead us to the cross of Christ, lead us to mark his example, and cheerfully to follow him.They have heard ... - Or, "They heard that I sigh," that I have "no comforter."

Thou wilt bring the day ... - literally, thou hast brought "the day thou hast proclaimed, and they shall be like unto me." The day of Judah's punishment was the proof that the nations now triumphing over Jerusalem's fall would certainly be visited.

22. Such prayers against foes are lawful, if the foe be an enemy of God, and if our concern be not for our own personal feeling, but for the glory of God and the welfare of His people.

come before thee—so Re 16:19, "Babylon came in remembrance before God" (compare Ps 109:15).

This verse is another prophetical curse or imprecation, several of which we meet with in holy writ, Psalm 109:6-9 137:8 Jeremiah 11:20 18:23, and in many other texts; which would incline us to think that our Saviour’s precept, Matthew 5:44, to pray for those that persecute us, backed by his own example, Luke 23:34, and Stephen’s; Acts 7:60, is either to be interpreted of praying for the forgiveness of their sins, (we ought to desire the eternal condemnation of none,) or to be restrained to such as are our personal enemies, not the common enemies of the church of God. Our Saviour’s precept most certainly is not to be so interpreted, but that we may lawfully pray for such evils to the implacable enemies of the church and people of God, as may restrain and weaken their hands, and put them out of a capacity of wasting the Lord’s heritage: we are only obliged by it to wish well to their souls, and to desire no evil against them out of private revenge or malice, but only out of love to God, and zeal for his glory; but for their outward prosperity in their courses of enmity we ought no more to pray than against their eternal salvation; for this were to beg of God to encourage his enemies in their enmity against him. And though Jeremiah were a greater prophet than any of us can pretend to be, and had revelations of particular future contingencies which we have not; yet every one may prophesy a ruin to the enemies of God’s church and people, and such as rejoice in their ruin; God never using a rod against his people which he doth not at last burn, nor ever countenacing inhumanity in any, but much less when it is rooted in a malice against himself, and his interest in the world.

Let all their wickedness come before thee,.... The Targum adds,

"in the day of the great judgment;''

but it seems to refer to present time, at least to the time fixed by the Lord for their ruin; and which the church imprecates, not from a spirit of revenge, but from a holy zeal for the glory of God; desiring that the wickedness of her enemies might be remembered by the Lord, so as to punish them in righteous judgment for the same:

and do unto them as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions; she owns that what was done to her was for her sins, and therefore could not charge God with injustice; only she desires the same might be done to her enemies, who were equally guilty: some render it, "glean them" (q); or rather, "gather them as a vintage"; or as grapes are gathered: "as thou hast gathered me"; as thou hast took me, and cast me into the winepress of thy wrath, and there hast trodden and squeezed me; see Lamentations 1:15; so do unto them:

for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint; her sighs were many because of her afflictions, and her heart faint because of her sighing.

(q) , Sept. "vindemia", V. L. Vatablus.

{t} Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do to them, as thou hast done to me for all my transgressions: for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint.

(t) Of desiring vengeance against the enemy, See Geneva Jer 11:20 and See Geneva Jer 18:21

22. For my sighs are many] The connexion is, I have had my punishment. Do thou then proceed to inflict upon them their share. For the sentiment, as contrasted with N.T. teaching, cp. Jeremiah 18:20 ff.

Verse 22. - For my sighs are many. This is not mentioned as the reason why God should punish Jerusalem's enemies; we ought rather to understand, either from ver. 20, "Behold, my distress;" or simply, "Deliver me."

Lamentations 1:22Since neither comfort nor advice is to be found with men, Jerusalem makes her complaint of need to God the Lord. "See, Jahveh, that I am distressed. My bowels glow." חמרמרוּ, the passive enhancing form, from חמר, is found, besides, only in Lamentations 2:11, where the clause before us is repeated, and in Job 16:16, where it is used of the countenance, and can only mean to be glowing red; it is scarcely legitimate to derive it from חמר, Arab. h[mr, to be made red, and must rather be referred to Arab. chmr, to ferment, rise into froth; for even in Psalm 55:9 חמר does not mean to be red, but to rise into froth. מעים, "bowels," are the nobler portions of the internal organs of the body, the seat of the affections; cf. Delitzsch's Biblical Psychology (Clark's translation), p. 314ff. "My heart has turned within me" is an expression used in Hosea 11:8 to designate the feeling of compassion; but here it indicates the most severe internal pain, which becomes thus agonizing through the consciousness of its being deserved on account of resistance to God. מרו for מרה, like בּכו ekil, Jeremiah 22:10; Jeremiah 30:19, etc. Both forms occur together in other verbs also; cf. Olshausen, Gram. 245, h [Ewald, 238, e; Gesen., 75, Rem. 2]. But the judgment also is fearful; for "without (מחוּץ, foris, i.e., in the streets and the open country) the sword renders childless," through the slaughter of the troops; "within (בּבּית, in the houses) כּמּות, like death." It is difficult to account for the use of כּ; for neither the כ of comparison nor the so-called כveritatis affords a suitable meaning; and the transposition of the words into sicut mors intus (Rosenm׬ller, after Lצwe and Wolfsohn) is an arbitrary change. Death, mentioned in connection with the sword, does not mean death in general, but special forms of death through maladies and plagues, as in Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 18:21, not merely the fever of hunger, Jeremiah 14:18; on the other hand, cf. Ezekiel 7:15, "the sword without, pestilence and hunger within." But the difficulty connected with כּמּות is not thereby removed. The verb שׁכּל belongs to both clauses; but "the sword" cannot also be the subject of the second clause, of which the nominative must be כּמּות, "all that is like death," i.e., everything besides the sword that kills, all other causes of death, - pestilences, famine, etc. כּ is used as in כּמראה, Daniel 10:18. That this is the meaning is shown by a comparison of the present passage with Deuteronomy 32:25, which must have been before the writer's mind, so that he took the words of the first clause, viz., "without, the sword bereaves," almost as they stood, but changed וּמחדרים into בּבּית כּמּות, - thus preferring "what is like death," instead of "terror," to describe the cause of destruction. Calvin long ago hit the sense in his paraphrase multae mortes, and the accompanying explanation: utitur nota similitudinis, quasi diceret: nihil domi occurrere nisi mortale (more correctly mortiferum). Much light is thrown on the expression by the parallel adduced by Kalkschmidt from Aeneid, ii. 368, 369: crudelis ubique Luctus, ubique pavor, et plurima mortis imago.

From speaking of friends, a transition is made in Lamentations 1:21 to enemies. Regarding the explanation of Rosenmller, audiverunt quidem amici mei, a me implorati Lamentations 1:19, quod gemens ego...imo sunt omnes hostes mei, Thenius observes that it introduces too much. This remark is still more applicable to his own interpretation: "People (certainly) hear how I sigh, (yet) I have no comforter." The antithesis introduced by the insertion of "yet" destroys the simplicity of arrangement among the clauses, although C. B. Michaelis and Gerlach also explain the passage in the same manner. The subject of the words, "they have heard," in the first clause, is not the friends who are said in Lamentations 1:19 to have been called upon for help, nor those designated in the second clause of Lamentations 1:21 as "all mine enemies," but persons unnamed, who are only characterized in the second clause as enemies, because they rejoice over the calamity which they have heard of as having befallen Jerusalem. The first clause forms the medium of transition from the faithless friends (Lamentations 1:19) to the open enemies (Lamentations 1:21); hence the subject is left undefined, so that one may think of friends and enemies. The foes rejoice that God has brought the evil on her. The words 'הבאת וגו, which follow, cannot also be dependent on כּי ("that Thou hast brought the day which Thou hast announced"), inasmuch as the last clause, "and they shall be like me," does not harmonize with them. Indeed, Ngelsbach and Gerlach, who assume that this is the connection of the clause "Thou hast brought," etc., take 'ויהיוּ כ adversatively: "but they shall be like me." If, however, "they shall be," etc., were intended to form an antithesis to "all mine enemies have heard," etc., the former clause would be introduced by והם. The mere change of tense is insufficient to prove the point. It must further be borne in mind, that in such a case there would be introduced by the words "and they shall be," etc., a new series of ideas, the second great division of the prayer; but this is opposed by the arrangement of the clauses. The second portion of the prayer cannot be attached to the end of the verse. The new series of thoughts begins rather with "Thou hast brought," which the Syriac has rendered by the imperative, venire fac. Similarly Luther translates: "then (therefore) let the day come." C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Pareau, etc., also take the words optatively, referring to the Arabic idiom, according to which a wish is expressed in a vivid manner by the perfect. This optative use of the perfect certainly cannot be shown to exist in the Hebrew; but perhaps it may be employed to mark what is viewed as certain to follow, in which case the Germans use the present. The use of the perfect shows that the occurrence expected is regarded as so certain to happen, that it is represented as if it had already taken place. The perfects in Lamentations 3:56-61 are taken in this sense by nearly all expositors. Similarly we take the clause now before us to mean, "Thou bringest on the day which Thou hast proclaimed (announced)," i.e., the day of judgment on the nations, Jeremiah 25, "so that they become like me," i.e., so that the foes who rejoice over my misfortune suffer the same fate as myself. "The day [which] Thou hast proclaimed" has been to specifically rendered in the Vulgate, adduxisti diem consolationis, probably with a reference of the proclamation to Isaiah 40:2. - After this expression of certainty regarding the coming of a day of punishment for her enemies, there follows, Lamentations 1:22, the request that all the evil they have done to Jerusalem may come before the face of God, in order that He may punish it (cf. Psalm 109:15 with Lamentations 1:14), - do to them as He has done to Jerusalem, because of her transgressions. The clause which assigns the reason ("for many are my sighs," etc.) does not refer to that which immediately precedes; for neither the request that retribution should be taken, nor the confession of guilt ("for all my transgressions"), can be accounted fore by pointing to the deep misery of Jerusalem, inasmuch as her sighing and sickness are not brought on her by her enemies, but are the result of the sufferings ordained by God regarding her. The words contain the ground of the request that God would look on the misery (Lamentations 1:20), and show to the wretched one the compassion which men refuse her. לבּי is exactly the same expression as that in Jeremiah 8:18; cf. also Isaiah 1:5. The reason thus given for making the entreaty forms an abrupt termination, and with these words the sound of lamentation dies away.

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