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). "Thou hast heard my voice" expresses the full assurance of faith from which the request comes: "Cover not Thine ear from my sighing." רוחה, "breathing out again;" in Ezekiel 8:11, mitigation of oppression, yet not here respiratio, relaxatio (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, etc.), - since the asyndetic לשׁועתי does not accord with such an interpretation, - but a relieving of oneself by means of deeply-drawn sighs, as in Job 32:20; hence "sighing," as Luther has already rendered it, following the Vulgate: ne avertas aurem tuum a singultu meo (Thenius, Gerlach, etc.). - In Lamentations 3:57 and Lamentations 3:58, the writer still more fully expresses his confidence that the Lord will accept him. "Thou art near on the day when I call on Thee" is a sentence found in Psalm 145:18, and uttered as the experience of all believers. "Thou sayest, Fear not," i.e., Thou assurest me of Thine assistance; cf. Jeremiah 1:8, Jeremiah 1:17, etc. "Thou dost conduct the causes (Ger. Streitsachen) of my soul" (ריבי נפשׁי), i.e., not merely "my lawsuits," but causas quae vitam et salutem meam concernunt (C. B. Michaelis). This is shown by the parallel member, "Thou redeemest my life," sc. from the destruction which threatens it; cf. Lamentations 3:53., Psalm 103:4. With this is connected the request in Lamentations 3:59, "Thou dost certainly see my oppression" (עוּתה from עוּת, to bend, oppress), the oppression which I suffer; "judge my cause," i.e., help me in my cause, cf. Jeremiah 5:28. The suppliant bases this request, Lamentations 3:60-62, on the recollection that God, as the Omniscient One, knows the plans and intentions of his opponents. "Thou seest all their plans for revenge." נקמה is not here the outcome of revenge, but the thought of revenge cherished in the heart; it does not, however, mean desire of revenge, or revengeful disposition, but simply the thinking and meditating on revenge, which certainly has the spirit of revenge for its basis, but is not identical with this. Their thoughts are the plans of vengeance. ,ליdat. incomm., "to my hurt;" the reading עלי of some codices is simply a correction after Lamentations 3:61. This revenge they express in reproaches and invectives. שׂפתי, "lips," for utterances of the lips; and קמי as in Psalm 18:40, Psalm 18:49 equals קמים עלי, Psalm 4:3, etc. שׂפתי קמי corresponds to חרפּתם, and חגיונם to מחשׁבתם, Lamentations 3:61; and the whole of Lamentations 3:62 still depends on "Thou hearest," without any need for supplying היוּ, as Rosenmller does. Thenius and Ngelsbach would combine Lamentations 3:62 with 63, and make the former dependent on הבּיטה; but this is unsuitable, nor do they consider that utterances or words are not seen (הבּיט), but heard (שׁמע). With this proposed combination there falls to the ground the further remark of Thenius, that "by lips, devising, sitting, rising up, are meant the conversation and consultation of the enemies one with another." Sitting and rising up have nothing in common with speaking about any subject, but merely form a circumlocution for action generally: cf. Psalm 139:2; Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19; Isaiah 37:28. The form מנגּינה for נגינה occurs nowhere else: Ewald considers it a form that has been lengthened for the purpose of designating a mocking song - "Sing-song." This supposition has at least more to recommend it than the ingenious but worthless idea of Bttcher, that מנגּינה is contracted from מה־נגינה, "what a stringed instrument am I to them;" but it also is improbable. מנגּינה is the subject of the נגינה, as words formed with מ often express merely the subject of the idea contained in a noun or verb; cf. Ewald, 160, b, 3. After this statement of the hostile treatment which the speaker has to suffer, there follows the renewed and further extended request that God may reward the foes according to their deeds. תּשׁיב, "Thou shalt return," is a confident expression of the request that God would do this; hence the optative תּתּן follows in Lamentations 3:65. In Lamentations 3:64 is condensed the substance of what is contained in Psalm 28:4. מגנּת לב, covering (veil) of the heart, - an expression analogous to the κάλυμμα ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν, 2 Corinthians 3:15, - is not obduration, or hardening, but blinding of the heart, which casts into destruction; but it can scarcely signify "madness" (Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychology, Clark's translation), since the Arabic majannat, insania, furor, has probably received this meaning from jinn, genius, daemon; cf. Gesenius, Thes. s. v., and Rosenmller, ad h. l. "Thy curse to them!" is not to be viewed as dependent on "give," but to be explained in accordance with Psalm 3:9, "Thy blessing [be] upon Thy people!" - thus, "May Thy curse be their portion!" The curse of God is followed by destruction. "Destroy them from under Jahveh's heaven!" i.e., not merely ut non sint amplius sub caelis (C. B. Michaelis), because יהוה is not considered in this latter rendering. The heaven of Jahveh is the whole world, over which Jahveh's authority extends; the meaning therefore is, "Exterminate them wholly from the sphere of Thy dominion in the world," or, Thy kingdom.
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