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. Lamentations 5:6The 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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