Lamentations 5:1
Remember, O LORD, what is come on us: consider, and behold our reproach.
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(1) Remember, O Lord.—The fact that the number of verses is, as in Lamentations 1, 2, 4, the same as that of the Hebrew alphabet suggests the inference that this chapter also, though not actually alphabetic, was intended to have been so, and that we have the last of the five elegies in a half-finished state. It would seem as if Jeremiah first wrote freely what was in his mind, and then set to work as an artist to bring it under the alphabetic scheme. This chapter, it may be stated, has more the character of a prayer than any other, and the prayer begins with recapitulating the woes of Judah as a ground for the compassion of Jehovah.

Lamentations 5:1-6. Consider, and behold our reproach — Which we suffer from the heathen nations. Our inheritance is turned to strangers — Namely, to the Babylonians and others, to whom our lands are given. We are orphans and fatherless — All the chief men being carried away to Babylon, lest they should make any fresh attempts to shake off the Babylonish yoke, all that were left in Judea were poor people, destitute of almost every thing. We have drunk our water for money, &c. — When our country was in our own possession, we had free use of water and wood, both which we are now forced to buy. Our necks are under persecution — We are become slaves to our enemies, who make us labour incessantly. We have given the hand to the Egyptians, &c. — We have been obliged to stretch out our hands to the Egyptians and Assyrians for bread to support us. Whether the expression here used implies their begging it of them, or buying it with money, is not quite plain.5:1-16 Is any afflicted? Let him pray; and let him in prayer pour out his complaint to God. The people of God do so here; they complain not of evils feared, but of evils felt. If penitent and patient under what we suffer for the sins of our fathers, we may expect that He who punishes, will return in mercy to us. They acknowledge, Woe unto us that we have sinned! All our woes are owing to our own sin and folly. Though our sins and God's just displeasure cause our sufferings, we may hope in his pardoning mercy, his sanctifying grace, and his kind providence. But the sins of a man's whole life will be punished with vengeance at last, unless he obtains an interest in Him who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.What is come upon us - literally, "what" has happened "to us:" our national disgrace. CHAPTER (ELEGY) 5

La 5:1-22. Epiphonema, or a Closing Recapitulation of the Calamities Treated in the Previous Elegies.

1. (Ps 89:50, 51).A humble prayer, presenting to the Lord their great misery, Lamentations 5:1-15, confessing their sins, Lamentations 5:16-18, imploring deliverance, Lamentations 5:19-22.

It hath been before observed, that it is very frequent in Scripture to express those acts which are reasonably consequent to the exercise of our exterior or interior senses, by terms which signify the exercise of those senses. That which the prophet here prayeth for is God’s freeing the Jews from those calamities which oppressed them; this he prayeth for under the notion of God’s remembering them, and beholding their reproach.

Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us,.... This chapter is called, in some Greek copies, and in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions, "the prayer of Jeremiah". Cocceius interprets the whole of the state of the Christian church after the last destruction of Jerusalem; and of what happened to the disciples of Christ in the first times of the Gospel; and of what Christians have endured under antichrist down to the present times: but it is best to understand it of the Jews in Babylon; representing their sorrowful case, as represented by the prophet; entreating that the Lord would remember the affliction they were under, and deliver them out of it, that which he had determined should come upon them. So the Targum,

"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.

Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: {a} consider, and behold our reproach.

(a) This prayer as is thought, was made when some of the people were carried away captive, others such as the poorest remained, and some went into Egypt and other places for comfort, though it seems that the prophet foreseeing their miseries to come, thus prayed.

1. This final poem, although its vv. are equal in number with the letters of the Heb. alphabet, yet does not, like its predecessors, adhere to any rule as to the initial letters. “Rhyme takes the place of the alphabetical structure, the poem having not less than 45 words ending in the sound u. Cp. Psalms 124” (Dummelow). Like ch. 4, as against ch. 3, each v. is made up of two, not three, members. Neither is it written in the Ḳinah rhythm. For the question of its date see Intr., p. 326. The poet (Lamentations 5:1) calls upon Jehovah to regard the ignominy which has befallen His people, describes (Lamentations 5:2-4) the misery which exists in the land, and (Lamentations 5:5-6) the persecutions inflicted on them from without. He tells (Lamentations 5:7-10) of the privations endured by his people, and (Lamentations 5:11-14) of the indignities perpetrated at and after the capture of the city, and, as the last element in the picture (Lamentations 5:15-18), the universal and hopeless depression. The description terminates (Lamentations 5:19-22) in an appeal for Jehovah’s help, grounded upon the thought of His abiding omnipotence.Verses 1-18. - INSULT UPON INSULT HAS BEEN HEAPED UPON JERUSALEM. In spite of these facts, which show that God has poured out His fury on us, and that our prophets and priests have been smitten by God for their sins, we still wait, vainly relying on the help of man. In this way, Lamentations 4:17 is attached to what precedes, - not merely to Lamentations 4:16, but also the series of thoughts developed in Lamentations 4:12-16, viz., that in the capture of Jerusalem (which nobody thought possible) there is plainly made known the judgment of God upon the sins of His people and their leaders. It is with special emphasis that עודינה stands at the beginning of the verse: "still do our eyes continue to waste away." The form עודינה (Kethib), in place of which the Qeri subtitles עודינוּ, is abnormal, since עוד does not take plural forms of the suffix in any other instance, and ־נה does not occur elsewhere as a noun-suffix. The form is evidently copied from תּכלינה, and must be third fem. pl., as distinguished from the singular suffix עודנּה, 1 Kings 1:22. The Qeri עודינוּ, which is preferred by Michaelis, Pareau, Rosenmller, and Thenius, has for its basis the idea "we still were;" this is shown by the translation ἔτι ὄντων ἡμῶν of the lxx, and cum adhuc subsisteremus of Jerome. But this view of the word, like most of the Qeris, is a useless attempt at explanation; for עודינוּ alone cannot have the meaning attributed to it. and the supplements proposed, in statu priori, or "in the city," are but arbitrary insertions into the text. The combination עודינוּ תּכלינה, which is a rare one, evidently means, "our eyes are still pining (consuming) away," so that the imperfect is used with the meaning of the participle; cf. Ewald, 306, c, Rem. 2. The combination of כלה with אל is pregnant: "they consume away (while looking out) for our help;" cf. Deuteronomy 28:28; Psalm 69:4. הבל is not an exclamation, "in vain!" (Thenius), but stands in apposition to "our help;" thus, "for our help, a help of vanity," i.e., for a vain help; cf. Ewald, 287, c. The vain help is more distinctly specified in the second member of the verse, as a looking out for a nation that will not help. צפיּה does not mean "the watch-tower" (Chald., Syr., etc.), - because "on the watch-tower" would require to be expressed by על; cf. Isaiah 21:8; 2 Chronicles 20:24, - but "watching." By the "nation that does not help," expositors, following Jeremiah 37:7, think that Egypt is intended. But the words must by no means be referred to the event there described, inasmuch as we should then be obliged to take the verbs as preterites-a course which would not accord with the interchange of the imperfect (תּכלינה) with the perfect (צפּינוּ). A strange confusion would also arise, such as is made out by Vaihinger: for we would find the prophet placing his readers, in Lamentations 4:14, in the time of the siege of Jerusalem; then, in Lamentations 4:15, into the conquered city; and in Lamentations 4:17 and Lamentations 4:18, back once more into the beleaguered city, which we again, in Lamentations 4:19, see conquered (Gerlach). According to Lamentations 4:18-20, Judah is completely in the power of the Chaldeans; hence the subject treated of in Lamentations 4:17 is the looking out for the assistance of some nation, after the enemy had already taken Jerusalem and laid it in ashes. What the prophet denounces, then, is that help is still looked for from a nation which nevertheless will not help. In this, perhaps, he may have had Egypt before his mind; for, that the Jews, even after the destruction of Jerusalem, still looked for deliverance or help from Egypt, may be inferred partly from the fact that those who were left in the country fled thither for refuge, and partly from Ezekiel 29:16. Only, the words are not to be restricted merely to this.
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