Lamentations 5:6
We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.
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(6) We have given the hand.—The recognised phrase for submission (Jeremiah 1:15). “Assyria,” as in Jeremiah 2:18; Ezra 6:22, stands for “Babylon.” The people had been forced by sheer pressure of hunger to submit to one or other of these princes. “Egypt” refers, probably, to the fugitives who had sought a home in that country (Jeremiah 42:14).

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."To give the hand" means to submit oneself. Absolutely it was Babylon that had just destroyed their national existence, but Jeremiah means that all feelings of patriotism were crushed, and the sole care that remained was the desire for personal preservation. To secure this the people would readily have submitted to the yoke either of Egypt or Assyria, the great powers from which in their past history they had so often suffered. 6. given … hand to—in token of submission (see on [1015]Jer 50:15).

to … Egyptians—at the death of Josiah (2Ch 36:3, 4).

Assyrians—that is, the Chaldeans who occupied the empire which Assyria had held. So Jer 2:18.

to be satisfied with bread—(De 28:48).

The ten tribes were all carried captives into Assyria, many of the kingdom of Judah, as we have heard, fled into Egypt after the taking of Jerusalem.

Giving the hand may either signify working with their hands, and labouring for them; or yielding up themselves to their power, or lifting up the hands as supplicants to them, or striking hands and making covenants with them, or lending them their hand, to help them, and all to get any thing to live upon. We have given our hand to the Egyptians,.... Either by way of supplication, to beg bread of them; or by way of covenant and agreement; or to testify subjection to them, in order to be supplied with food: many of the Jews went into Egypt upon the taking of the city, Jeremiah 43:5;

and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread; among whom many of the captives were dispersed; since from hence they are said to be returned, as well as from Egypt, Isaiah 11:16.

We have given the {c} hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.

(c) We are joined in league and amity with them, or have submitted ourselves to them.

6. Not only are they subject to privations at home, but they have been driven by them into servitude abroad. Hosea 7:11 also combines Egypt and Assyria. The distance of the latter has caused it to be suspected here. Ball, with some slight changes in MT., eliminates both the proper names, and renders, To adversaries we submitted, Saying we shall be satisfied with bread. He also transposes this with Lamentations 5:5.

the Assyrians] As the traditional foes of Israel, their name survives in this passage, although their Empire had been succeeded by that of Babylon. Cp. Ezra 6:22 for this use of the word Assyria even in Persian times. For “we have given the hand” see mg. of Jeremiah 50:15.Verse 6. - We have given the hand, etc. Starvation awaits the Jews unless they submit to one or the other of their hereditary foes. Some escape to Egypt and "give the hand" (i.e. surrender, Jeremiah 1:15) to the lords of the fertile Nile valley; others acquiesce in the fate of the majority, and sue for the alms of the Babylonians. However, it is not yet all over with Israel. Let the enemy triumph; the guilt of the daughter of Zion will come to an end, and then the guilt of the daughter of Edom will be punished. With this "Messianic hope," as Ewald rightly characterizes the contents of these verses, the lamentation resolves itself into joyous faith and hope regarding the future of Israel. There is no external sign to mark the transition from the depths of lamentation over the hopeless condition of Judah, to new and hopeful confidence, just as in the Psalms there is frequently a sudden change from the deepest lamentation to joyful confidence of final victory. But these transitions have their origin in the firm conviction that Israel has most assuredly been chosen as the nation with whom the Lord has made His covenant, which He cannot break. This truth has already been clearly and distinctly expressed in the threatenings and promises of the law, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, and is reiterated by all the prophets. The Lord will assuredly visit His ever-rebellious people with the heaviest punishments, until they come to acknowledge their sin and repent of their apostasy; but He will afterwards again take pity on the penitent remnant, gather them from among the heathen, and fulfil all His promises to them. The words "exult and rejoice" are ironical, and signify: "Rejoice as much as you please; you will not, for all that, escape the punishment for your sins." "The daughter of Edom," i.e., the people of Edom, is named as the representative of the enemies of God's people, on account of their implacable hatred against Israel; see on Jeremiah 49:7. From the designation, "dwelling in the land of Uz," it does not follow that the Edomite had at that time spread themselves widely over their original territory; for the land of Uz, according to Jeremiah 25:20, lay on the confines of Idumea. As to the form יושׁבתּי, see on Jeremiah 10:17. גּם עליך, "towards thee also (sc., as now to Judah) shall the cup pass." On this figure, cf. Jeremiah 25:15. התערה, to make oneself naked, or to become naked in consequence of drunkenness (Genesis 9:22), is a figurative expression indicative of the disgrace that will befall Edom; cf. Lamentations 1:8; Nahum 3:5. תּם עונך, "Thy guilt is ended." The perfect is prophetic. The guilt is ended when it is atoned for; the punishment for it has reached its end, or grace begins. That this will take place in the Messianic times (as was pointed out long ago in the Chaldee paraphrase, et liberaberis per manum Messiae), is not indeed implied in the word תּם, but it is a necessary product of the Messianic hope of Israel; cf, for instance, Jeremiah 50:20. To this it cannot be objected (with Gerlach), that it is inadmissible to transfer into the Messianic time also the punishment of Edom threatened in the second member: for, according to the prophetic mode of viewing things, the judgment on the heathen world falls, as a matter of course, in the Messianic age; and to refer the words to the chastisement of the Edomites by Nebuchadnezzar is against the context of both verses. "To reveal (discover) sins" means to punish them; for God uncovers the sins in order to punish them, quemadmodum Deus peccata tegere dicitur, cum eorum paenam remittit (Rosenmller); cf. Psalm 32:1, Psalm 32:5; Psalm 85:3, etc.
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