Lamentations 5:5
Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
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(5) Our necks are under persecution.—Better, were under pursuit: i.e., the enemies were pressing close on them, always, as in our English phrase, at their very heels.

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.Our necks ... - i. e. we were pursued so actively that our enemies seemed to be leaning over our necks ready to seize us.

We labor - We were wearied, "there was no rest for us:" being chased incessantly.

5. Literally, "On our necks we are persecuted"; that is, Men tread on our necks (Ps 66:12; Isa 51:23; compare Jos 10:24). The extremest oppression. The foe not merely galled the Jews face, back, and sides, but their neck. A just retribution, as they had been stiff in neck against the yoke of God (2Ch 30:8, Margin; Ne 9:29; Isa 48:4). As the generality of prisoners of war are made slaves, and put to hard and incessant labour, so in probability the most of the Jews were at first at least.

Our necks are under persecution,.... A yoke of hard servitude and bondage was put upon their necks, as Jarchi interprets it; which they were forced to submit unto: or, "upon our necks we are pursued" (s); or, "suffer persecution": which Aben Ezra explains thus, in connection with the Lamentations 5:4; if we carry water or wood upon our necks, the enemy pursues us; that is, to take it away from us. The Targum relates a fable here, that when Nebuchadnezzar saw the ungodly rulers of the children of Israel, who went empty, he ordered to sow up the books of the law, and make bags or wallets of them, and fill them with the stones on the banks of the Euphrates, and loaded them on their necks:

we labour, and have no rest; night nor day, nor even on sabbath days; obliged to work continually till they were weary; and, when they were, were not allowed time to rest themselves, like their forefathers in Egypt.

(s) "super colla nostra persecutionem passi sumus", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin; "vel patimur", Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.
5. Our pursuers are upon our necks] The expression is a strange one, as applied to those remaining in the land. Since in the original the consonants of “upon” are identical with those for “yoke,” we may either substitute the latter for the former (so Ball), rendering the yoke of our neck, and altering “our pursuers” to they made heavy, or, with this latter change consider that both words (“yoke” and “upon”) were originally in the Heb. text, The yoke on our neck they have made heavy. This latter rendering is mentioned by Löhr, and favoured by Pe.

Verse 5. - Our necks are under persecution. Persecution is here compared to a yoke. But this rendering and explanation hardly suit the phrase, which rather means, "We are pursued close upon our necks." The harassing conduct of the Babylonian conquerors is compared to the pursuit of a foe fast gaining upon a fugitive. Lamentations 5:5"On our necks we are persecuted," i.e., our persecutors are at our necks, - are always close behind us, to drive or hunt us on. It is inadmissible to supply any specific mention of the yoke (imposito collo gravi servitutis jugo, Raschi, Rosenmller, Vaihinger, etc.); and we must utterly reject the proposal to connect "our neck" with Lamentations 5:4 (lxx, Syriac, J. D. Michaelis), inasmuch as the symmetry of the verses is thereby destroyed, nor is any suitable meaning obtained. "We are jaded: no rest is granted us." הוּנח is Hophal of הניח, to give rest to. The Qeri ולא instead of לא is quite as unnecessary as in the case of אין, Lamentations 5:3, and אינם and אנחנוּ in Lamentations 5:7. The meaning of the verse is not, "we are driven over neck and head," according to which the subject treated of would be the merciless treatment of the prisoners, through their being driven on (Ngelsbach); still less is it meant to be stated that the company to which the writer of the poem belonged was always tracked out, and hunted about in the waste places where they wished to hide themselves (Thenius). Neither of these interpretations suits the preceding and succeeding context. Nor does the mention of being "persecuted on the neck" necessarily involve a pursuit of fugitives: it merely indicates incessant oppression on the side of the enemy, partly through continually being goaded on to hard labour, partly through annoyances of different kinds, by which the victors made their supremacy and their pride felt by the vanquished nation. In רדף there is contained neither the notion of tracking fugitives nor that of driving on prisoners.
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