Lamentations 5:22
But you have utterly rejected us; you are very wroth against us.
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(22) But thou hast . . .—The Authorised version represents the mourner as falling back from the hopeful prayer into the depths of despair. For “but” we should, however, read unless. The hypothesis of utter rejection is just stated as the only thing that could prevent renewal and restoration, and it is stated as per impossible; God has not rejected, and therefore He will renew.

It may be noted that in Synagogue use, and in many MSS., Lamentations 5:21 is repeated after Lamentations 5:22, so that the book may not end with words of so terrible a significance. The same practice obtained in the case of the last verse of Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, and Malachi.

5:17-22 The people of God express deep concern for the ruins of the temple, more than for any other of their calamities. But whatever changes there are on earth, God is still the same, and remains for ever wise and holy, just and good; with Him there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. They earnestly pray to God for mercy and grace; Turn us to thee, O Lord. God never leaves any till they first leave him; if he turns them to him in a way of duty, no doubt he will quickly return to them in a way of mercy. If God by his grace renew our hearts, he will by his favour renew our days. Troubles may cause our hearts to be faint, and our eyes to be dim, but the way to the mercy-seat of our reconciled God is open. Let us, in all our trials, put our whole trust and confidence in his mercy; let us confess our sins, and pour out our hearts before him. Let us watch against repinings and despondency; for we surely know, that it shall be well in the end with all that trust in, fear, love, and serve the Lord. Are not the Lord's judgments in the earth the same as in Jeremiah's days? Let Zion then be remembered by us in our prayers, and her welfare be sought above every earthly joy. Spare, Lord, spare thy people, and give not thine heritage to reproach, for the heathen to rule over them.Literally, "Unless thou hast utterly rejected us," unless "thou art very wroth against us." This is stated as a virtual impossibility. God's anger can be but temporary Psalm 30:5, and therefore the very supposition is an indirect expression of hope.

This verse speaks of the possibility of an utter rejection through God's wrath. Therefore, to remove so painful a thought, and to make the book more suited for public reading, Lamentations 5:21 is repeated in many manuscripts intended for use in the synagogue. The same rule is observed in the synagogue with the two last verses of Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, and Malachi.

22. Rather, "Unless haply Thou hast utterly rejected us, and art beyond measure wroth against us," that is, Unless Thou art implacable, which is impossible, hear our prayer [Calvin]. Or, as Margin, "For wouldest Thou utterly reject us?" &c.—No; that cannot be. The Jews, in this book, and in Isaiah and Malachi, to avoid the ill-omen of a mournful closing sentence, repeat the verse immediately preceding the last [Calvin]. Our translators have here so rendered the particle yk that the words seem to express some diffidence in the prophet of God’s mercy in restoring the people to their former state, some expressions of which nature we find falling from the most eminent servants of God in an hour of great temptation; but where such a sense is not necessary, it is hard to put it upon a text. Some therefore expound Ma yb in this place by But if. Others translate them, Although thou hast, &c. Mr. Calvin preferreth the translation of them by Nisi, Unless thou hast utterly rejected us, and thinks that by this expression the prophet confirmeth himself against temptations of diffidence, because it was impossible God should utterly cast off his people, Romans 11:2. Others read it interrogatively, Hast thou utterly rejected us? which doth not suppose that the prophet believed he had, though his present providence showed him very angry with them. But thou hast utterly rejected us,.... That looks as if they had no hope, and were in despair of having their petitions granted; since God had entirely rejected them from being his people, and would never more have mercy on them; but the words may be rendered, "though thou hast in rejecting rejected us" (e); or else, "unless thou hast utterly rejected us" (f); or rather by an interrogation, "for wilt thou utterly reject", or "despise us?" (g) surely thou wilt not; such is thy grace and goodness:

thou art very wroth against us; thou hast been, and still continuest to be: or, "wilt thou be exceeding wroth against us?" (h) or continue thy wrath to extremity, and for ever? thou wait not; it is not consistent with, thy mercy and grace, truth and faithfulness; and so it is an argument of faith in prayer, and not an expression of despondency; though the Jews, because they would not have the book end in what is sorrowful and distressing, repeat the foregoing verse; and the like method they take at the end of Ecclesiastes, and the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi, as Jarchi observes.

(e) "quamvis detestatione detestatus es nos", Targ. (f) "Nisi forte repudiando repudiasti nos", Calvin. (g) "Nam an omnino sperneres nos?" Junius & Tremellius. (h) "effervesceres contra nos admodum?" Junius & Tremellius.

But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.
22. But, etc.] better as mg., Unless thou … and art, etc. The whole sentence is an hypothesis not to be accepted as fact. God’s anger cannot last for ever, and thus there is yet hope.

Although the Book does in fact close with the language of hope, that is so little apparent on the first reading that in the synagogues Lamentations 5:21 was repeated at the end, that its words might thus be the last to fall upon the ear. A similar expedient is used in the case of Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Malachi. See note on Jeremiah 52:34.Verse 22. - But; rather, unless. The poet wishes to suggest that the idea seems to him inconsistent with the covenant relationship of Jehovah towards Israel. May we not compare a striking passage in Isaiah which should probably be rendered thus: "A wife of one's youth, can she be rejected? saith thy God" (Isaiah 54:6)? Both passages express, in a most delicate way, the incredulity of the writers with regard to the absolute rejection of Israel. And thus this melancholy Book of Lamentations concludes with a hope, "faint, yet pursuing," of the final realization of the promises to Israel. The interpretation adopted admits of no reasonable doubt, in spite of the fact that ancient doctors of the synagogue thought otherwise when they established the custom of repeating ver. 21 after ver. 22 had been read, in order to soften the supposed gloomy impression of ver. 22.

Under the pressure of such circumstances, all public meetings and amusements have ceased. "The elders cease from the fate." The gate was the place of assembly for the people, not merely for deliberating upon public affairs (Ruth 4:15; Joshua 20:4), but also "for social entertainment (since there were no refreshment-rooms, coffeehouses, and public baths, such as are now to be found in the East), or even for quiet enjoyment in looking at the motley multitude of passers-by; Genesis 19:1; 1 Samuel 4:18; 1 Samuel 9:18; Job 29:7" (Winer's Bibl. R.W.B. s.v. Thor). That the gate is here to be regarded as a place of entertainment and amusement, is shown by the parallel member, "young men cease from their instrumental music;" cf. Lamentations 1:4. On Lamentations 5:15, cf. Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 16:9, and Jeremiah 31:13; Psalm 30:12. Lastly, in Lamentations 5:16, the writer sums up the whole of the misery in the complaint, "The crown of our head is fallen! woe unto us, for we have sinned," i.e., we suffer the punishment for our sins. "The fallen crown can only be a figurative expression for the honourable position of the people in its entirety, but which is now lost." Such is the view which Ewald rightly takes; on the other hand, the interpretation of Thenius, that "the 'crown of our head' is nothing else than Zion, together with its palaces, placed on Jerusalem, as it were on the head [of the country], and adorning it," deserves mention simply as a curious specimen of exegetical fancy. Ngelsbach has gone too far in restricting the figurative expression to the crown of Jerusalem, which consists in her being mistress among the nations, a princess among the regions of the earth (Lamentations 1:1), the perfection of beauty, and the joy of the whole earth (Lamentations 2:15); for "our crown" is not equivalent to Jerusalem, or a crown on the head of Jerusalem.
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