Lamentations 4:6
For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.
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(6) The punishment of the iniquity.—Better, The iniquity of the daughter of my people was greater than the sin of Sodom. The words in both cases point to guilt rather than its penalty, though, as the context shows, the greatness of the former is inferred from that of the latter. The point of comparison was that Sodom was not doomed to a protracted misery, like that which had been the lot of Jerusalem.

No hands stayed on her . . .—Literally, no hands went round about her: i.e., her destruction was the direct work of God, and not of human agents, with their more merciless tortures. (Comp. 2Samuel 24:14.) The main thought may be noticed as reproduced in Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:24.

Lamentations 4:6. For the punishment, &c., is greater than the punishment of Sodom — The fate of Sodom was less deplorable than that of Jerusalem; for Sodom was destroyed in an instant; but Jerusalem endured a long siege, and suffered all the miseries of famine, sickness, and hostile arms. In Sodom all were destroyed together, and none left to mourn in bitterness of soul the sad loss of their dearest friends; in Jerusalem many survived to mourn the deplorable fate of their friends and country, and to suffer the ignominy and miseries of captivity. The original of the last clause, ידים לא חלו בה, is rendered by the LXX., και ουκ επονεσαν εν αυτη

χειρας, they did not cause hands to labour, or be weary, in her: and by Blaney, nor were hands weakened in her.

4:1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.Rather, "For" the iniquity "of the daughter of my people was greater than" the sin "of Sodom." The prophet deduces this conclusion from the greatness of Judah's misery (compare Jeremiah 30:11; see also Luke 13:1-5).

No hands stayed on her - Or, "no hands were round about her." Sodom's sufferings in dying were brief: there were no starving children, no mothers cooking their offspring for food.

6. greater than … Sodom—(Mt 11:23). No prophets had been sent to Sodom, as there had been to Judea; therefore the punishment of the latter was heavier than that of the former.

overthrown … in a moment—whereas the Jews had to endure the protracted and manifold hardships of a siege.

no hands stayed on her—No hostile force, as the Chaldeans in the case of Jerusalem, continually pressed on her before her overthrow. Jeremiah thus shows the greater severity of Jerusalem's punishment than that of Sodom.


The word translated

punishment signifies also iniquity, as was said in the notes on Lamentations 3:39. The sins of the Jews are compared to the sins of Sodom, Isaiah 3:9 Ezekiel 16:46,48,49; hence their rulers are called rulers of Sodom, Isaiah 1:10; either their sins were specifically the same (as they were) as to many sins, Ezekiel 16:49, or they were of an equal magnitude and provocative nature. The prophet here complains that they were punished like Sodom, Amos 4:11; yea, and their punishment was greater, because more lingering and gradual, whereas Sodom was overthrown in a moment, and that by no human hands that abode upon her, causing her a continued torment, as there did upon the Jews. David said, It is better to fall into the immediate hand of God than into the hands of men.

For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people,.... In the long siege of their city, and the evils that attended it, especially the sore famine:

is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom; which was destroyed at once by fire from heaven: or it may be rendered, "the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom" (p); though the men of Sodom were great sinners, the Jews were greater, their sins being more aggravated; to this agrees the Targum, which renders the word "sin", and paraphrases the words following thus,

"and there dwelt not in her prophets to prophesy unto her, and turn her by repentance;''

as the Jews had, and therefore their sin was the greater; both senses are true, and the one is the foundation of the other; but the first seems best to agree with what follows:

that was overthrown as in a moment; by a shower of fire from heaven, which consumed it at once; whereas the destruction of Jerusalem was a lingering one, through a long and tedious siege; the inhabitants were gradually wasted and consumed by famine, pestilence, and sword, and so their punishment greater than Sodom's:

and no hand stayed on her; that is, on Sodom; the hand of God was immediately upon her, and dispatched her at once, but not the hands of men; as the hands of the Chaldeans were upon the Jews, afflicting and distressing them a long time, which made their ease the worse.

(p) ldgyw "et ingens fuit iniquitas--prae peccato", Montanus; "et major extitit pravitas--prae peccato", Cocceius. So V. L.

For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands stayed on her.
6. the iniquity—the sin] rather than as mg. and A.V. the punishment of the iniquity—the punishment of the sin. There is no assertion in this part of the v. as to the comparative amount of punishment, but from the admitted fact that the sufferings of Jerusalem exceeded those of Sodom, it is inferred that the sin must have been in like proportion. Sodom perished in a moment, there were no prolonged sufferings, such as are brought about or directly administered by the hand of man.

were laid upon her] The words are susceptible of various interpretations: no hands raged (whirled) about her (Ewald), too swiftly, even for men to wring their hands (Löhr). The verb is used of a tempest in Jeremiah 23:19; Jeremiah 30:23. The mg. here suggests fell, comparing 2 Samuel 3:29.

Verse 6. - The punishment of the iniquity... the punishment of the sin. This is a possible rendering (see Genesis 4:13; Zechariah 14:19), but the renderings, "the iniquity," "the sin? are preferable, and yield a finer meaning, viz. that the punishment having been so severe, the guilt must have been in proportion. And no hands stayed on her. To make the picture of sudden destruction more vivid, the poet alludes to the ordinary circumstances of the capture of a city, the "hands" of a fierce soldiery ever "whirling" a destroying sword. Comp. "the swinging of the hand of Jehovah Sabaoth, which he swingeth against it" (Isaiah 19:16). Lamentations 4:6The greatness of their guilt is seen in this misery. The ו consecutive joined with יגדּל here marks the result, so far as this manifests itself: "thus the offence (guilt) of the daughter of my people has become greater than the sin of Sodom." Most expositors take עון and הטּאת dna here in the sense of punishment; but this meaning has not been established. The words simply mean "offence" and "sin," sometimes including their consequences, but nowhere do they mean unceremonious castigation. But when Thenius is of opinion that the context demands the meaning "punishment" (not "sin"), he has inconsiderately omitted the ו consec., and taken a wrong view of the context. הפך is the usual word employed in connection with the destruction of Sodom; cf. Genesis 19:21, Genesis 19:25; Deuteronomy 29:22, etc. 'ולא חלוּ וגו is translated by Thenius, et non torquebatur in ea manus, i.e., without any one wringing his hands. However, חוּל (to go in a circle) means to writhe with pain, but does not agree with ידים, to wring the hands. In Hosea 11:6 חוּל is used of the sword, which "circles" in the cities, i.e., cuts and kills all round in them. In like manner it is here used of the hands that went round in Sodom for the purpose of overthrowing (destroying) the city. Ngelsbach wrongly derives חלוּ from חלה, to become slack, powerless. The words, "no hands went round (were at work) in her," serve to explain the meaning of כּמו רגע, "as in a moment," without any need for the hands of men being engaged in it. By this additional remark, not merely is greater prominence given to the sudden destruction of Sodom by the hand of God; but it is also pointed out how far Jerusalem, in comparison with that judgment of God, suffers a greater punishment for her greater sins: for her destruction by the hand of man brings her more enduring torments. "Sodom's suffering at death was brief; for there were no children dying of hunger, no mothers who boiled their children" (Ngelsbach). Sodom was spared this heartrending misery, inasmuch as it was destroyed by the hand of God in an instant.
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