Lamentations 5:12
Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honored.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Princes are hanged . . .—The words point to the shameless exposure of the bodies of the dead. (Comp. the treatment of Saul and his sons in 1Samuel 31:10-12.) This was the common practice of the Assyrian kings (Records of the Past, i. 38). Neither age nor dignity (both are implied in the word “elders”) was any safeguard against atrocities, either in life or death.

Lamentations 5:12-16. Princes are hanged up by their hand — By the hand of their enemies. They took the young men to grind — To grind at the mill was the common employment of slaves, Exodus 11:5. The children fell under the wood — They made children turn the handle of the mill till they fell down through weariness: so some explain it with relation to the former part of the verse. But the expression may be understood of making them carry such heavy burdens of wood that they fainted under the load. The elders have ceased from the gate — The elders no more sit in the gates of the cities, to administer justice to every one, and keep things in order. The young men from their music — Those songs of mirth and joy which used to be heard in our nation are heard no longer. The joy of our heart is ceased — Since the enemy came in upon us like a flood, we have been strangers to all comfort. Our dance is turned into mourning — Instead of leaping for joy, as formerly, we sink and lie down in sorrow. This may refer especially to the joy of their solemn feasts: this was now turned into mourning, which was doubled on their festival days, in remembrance of their former delights and comforts. The crown is fallen from our head — At their feasts, at their marriages, and other seasons of festivity, they used to crown themselves with flowers. The prophet most probably alludes to this custom, as we may gather from the preceding verses. The general meaning is, “All our glory is at an end, together with the advantages of being thy people, and enjoying thy presence, by which we were distinguished from the rest of the world.” — Lowth.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.Laid the yoke - The yoke in the Bible is an emblem of slavery or bondage Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48; of afflictions and crosses Lamentations 3:27; of punishment for sin Lamentations 1:14; of God's commandments Matthew 11:29-30. Here it refers to the bondage and affliction which they experienced in Babylon.

Lamentations 5:12After the princes had been put to death their bodies were hung up by the hand to expose them to public contumely. Old age, again, no more availed to shield men from shameful treatment than the high rank of the princes. Such treatment of conquered enemies was not uncommon in ancient warfare.

12. hanged … by their hand—a piece of wanton cruelty invented by the Chaldeans. Grotius translates, "Princes were hung by the hand of the enemy"; hanging was a usual mode of execution (Ge 40:19).

elders—officials (La 4:16).

Most probably by the enemies’ hands, though some would have it by their hands, intimating a more sharp and lingering death. Hanging was an ancient way in the Eastern countries of putting malefactors to death, Genesis 40:19. Princes are hanged up by their hand,.... According to some, as Aben Ezra observes, by the hand of the servants before mentioned; however, by the hand of the Chaldeans or Babylonians; see Jeremiah 52:10. Some understand it of their own hands, as if they laid violent hands upon themselves, not being able to bear the hardships and disgrace they were subjected to but I should rather think this is to be understood of hanging them, not by the neck, but by the hand, could any instance be given of such a kind of punishment so early used, and by this people; which has been in other nations, and in more modern times:

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.

Princes were hung up by {f} their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured.

(f) That is, by the enemies hand.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. The reference may either be to impalement after death, or to torture in order, as Pe. suggests, to obtain information as to hidden treasure. Both death by crucifixion and subsequent impalement were regarded with the utmost abhorrence by the Jews. For the former see Deuteronomy 21:23.Verse 12. - Princes are hanged up by their hand; i.e. by the hand of the enemy. Impalement after death was a common punishment with the Assyrians and Babylonians. Thus Sennacherib says that, after capturing rebellious Ekron, he hung the bodies of the chief men on stakes all round the city ('Records of the Past,' 1:38). Benomi gives a picture of such an impalement from one of the plates in Botta's great work ('Nineveh and its Palaces,' p. 192). The meaning of נתן is more exactly defined by the superadded לשׂבּע לחם, which belongs to both members of the verse. "In order to satisfy ourselves with bread (so as to prolong our lives), we give the hand to Egypt, to Assyria." מצרים and אשּׁוּר are local accusatives. To give the hand is a sign of submission or subjection; see on Jeremiah 50:15. Pareau has correctly given the meaning thus: si victum nobis comparare velimus, vel Judaea nobis relinquenda est atque Aegyptii sunt agnoscendi domini, vel si hic manemus, Chaldaeis victoribus nos subjiciamus necesse est; quocunque nos vertamus, nihil superest nisi tristissima servitus. This complaint shows, moreover, that it is those in Judea who are speaking. נתנּוּ, "we give the hand," shows that the assumption of Thenius, - that the writer here brings to remembrance the fate of two other companies of his fellow-countrymen who were not carried away into exile, - -is an arbitrary insertion. Asshur, as the name of the great Asiatic empire, stands for Babylon, as in Ezra 6:22, cf. Jeremiah 2:18.
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