Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 1:12 - 1:12

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 1:12 - 1:12


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The lamentation of the city. - Lam 1:12. The first words, לֹוא אֲלֵיכֶם, are difficult to explain. The lxx have οἱ πρὸς ὑμᾶςLanguage:English}; but the reading ought certainly to be οἴ π. ὑ.. The Vulgate is, o vos omnes; the Chaldee, adjuro vos omnes. They all seem to have taken לֹוא as an exclamation. Hence Le Clerc and others would read לוּא; but in this case one would require to supply a verb: thus, Le Clerc renders utinam adspiciatis, or, "O that my cry might reach you!" But these insertions are very suspicious. The same holds true of the explanation offered by J. D. Michaelis in his edition of Lowth on Hebrew Poetry, Lect. xxii.: non vobis, transeuntes in via, haec acclamo (viz., the closing words of Lam 1:11): this is decidedly opposed by the mere fact that passers-by certainly could not regard a call addressed to Jahveh as applying to them. Without supplying something or other, the words, as they stand, remain incomprehensible. Nägelsbach would connect them with what follows: "[Look] not to yourselves...but look and see...." But the antithesis, "Look not upon yourselves, but look on me (or on my sorrow)," has no proper meaning. If we compare the kindred thought presented in Lam 1:18, "Hear, all ye peoples, and behold my sorrow," then לֹוא seems to express an idea corresponding to שִׁמְעוּ נָא. But we obtain this result only if we take the words as a question, as if לֹוא = הֲלֹוא, though not in the sense of an asseveration (which would be unsuitable here, for which reason also הֲלֹוא is not used); the question is shown to be such merely by the tone, as in Exo 8:22; 2Sa 23:5. Thus, we might render the sense with Gerlach: Does not (my sighing - or, more generally, my misery - come) to you? The Syriac, Lowth, Ewald, Thenius, and Vaihinger have taken the words as a question; Ewald, following Pro 8:4, would supply אֶקְרָא. But such an insertion gives a rendering which is both harsh and unjustifiable, although it lies at the foundation of Luther's "I say unto you." Hence we prefer Gerlach's explanation, and accordingly give the free rendering, "Do ye not observe, sc. what has befallen me, - or, my misery?" The words are, in any case, intended to prepare the way for, and thereby render more impressive, the summons addressed to all those passing by to look on and consider her sorrow. עֹולַל is passive (Poal): "which is done to me." Since הֹוגָה has no object, the second אֲשֶׁר does not permit of being taken as parallel with the first, though the Chaldee, Rosenmüller, Kalkschmidt, and others have so regarded it, and translate: "with which Jahveh hath afflicted me." With Ewald, Thenius, Gerlach, etc., we must refer it to לִי: "me whom Jahveh hath afflicted." The expression, "on the day of the burning of His anger," is pretty often found in Jeremiah; see Jer 4:8, Jer 4:26; Jer 25:37, etc.

Lam 1:13-14

In Lam 1:13-15, the misfortunes that have befallen Jerusalem are enumerated in a series of images. "Out from the height (i.e., down from heaven) hath He sent fire into my bones;" וַיִּרְדֶּנָּהּ is rendered by Luther, "and let it have the mastery" (Ger. und dasselbige walten lassen). Thenius explains this as being correct, and accordingly seeks to point the word וַיַּרְדֶּנָּהּ, while Ewald takes רָדָה to be cognate with רָתַח, and translates it "made them red-hot;" and Rosenmüller, following N. G. Schröder, attributes to רָדָה, from the Arabic, the meaning collisit, percussit lapide. All these explanations are not only far-fetched and incapable of lexical vindication, but also unnecessary. The change of vowels, so as to make it the Hiphil, is opposed by the fact that רָדָה, in the Hiphil, does not mean to cause to manage, rule, but to read down, subdue (Isa 41:2). In Kal, it means to tread, tread down, and rule, as in Jer 5:31, where Gesenius and Deitrich erroneously assume the meaning of "striding, going," and accordingly render this passage, "it stalks through them." The lexically substantiated meaning, "subdue, rule, govern, (or, more generally,) overpower," is quite sufficient for the present passage, since רָדָה is construed not merely with בְּ, but also with the accusative: the subject is אֵשׁ, which is also construed as a masc. in Jer 48:45; and the suffix ־ֶנָּה may either be taken as a neuter, or referred to "my bones," without compelling us to explain it as meaning unumquodque os (Rosenmüller, etc.). The bones are regarded as bodily organs in which the pain is most felt, and are not to be explained away allegorically to mean urbes meas munitas (Chaldee). While fire from above penetrated the bones, God from beneath placed nets for the feet which thus were caught. On this figure, cf. Jer 50:24; Hos 7:12, etc. The consequence of this was that "He turned me back," ita ut progredi pedemque extricare non possem, sed capta detinerer (C. B. Michaelis), - not, "he threw me down backwards," i.e., made me fall heavily (Thenius). "He hath made me desolate" (שֹׁומֵמָה), - not obstupescentem, perturbatam, desperatam (Rosenmüller); the same word is applied to Tamar, 2Sa 13:20, as one whose happiness in life has been destroyed. "The whole day (i.e., constantly, uninterruptedly) sick," or ill. The city is regarded as a person whose happiness in life has been destroyed, and whose health has been broken. This miserable condition is represented in Lam 1:14, under another figure, as a yoke laid by God on this people for their sins. נִשְׂקַד, ἅπ. λεγ., is explained by Kimchi as נקשׁר או נתחבר, compactum vel colligatum, according to which שָׂקַד would be allied to עָקַד. This explanation suits the context; on the other hand, neither the interpretation based on the Talmudic סָקַד, punxit, stimulavit, which is given by Raschi and Aben Ezra, nor the interpretations of the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate, which are founded on the reading נִשְׁקַד, harmonize with עֹל, which must be retained, as is shown by the words עָלוּ עַל־צַוָּארִי. Ewald supposes that שָׂקַד was the technical expression for the harnessing on of the yoke. "The yoke of my transgressions" (not "of my chastisements," as Gesenius, Rosenmüller, and Ewald think) means the yoke formed of the sins. The notion of punishment is not contained in פְּשָׁעַי, but in the imposition of the yoke upon the neck, by which the misdeeds of sinful Jerusalem are laid on her, as a heavy, depressing burden which she must bear. These sins become interwoven or intertwine themselves (יִשְׂתָּֽרְגוּ), after the manner of intertwined vine-tendrils (שָׂרִיגִים, Gen 40:10; cf. remarks on Job 40:17), as the Chaldee paraphrase well shows; and, through this interweaving, form the yoke that has come on the neck of the sinful city. Veluti ex contortis funibus aut complicatis lignis jugum quoddam construitur, ita h. l. praevaricationis tanquam materia insupportabilis jugi considerantur (C. B. Michaelis). עָלָה is used of the imposition of the yoke, as in Num 19:2; 1Sa 6:7. The effect of the imposition of this yoke is: "it hath made my strength to stumble (fail)." Pareau, Thenius, Vaihinger, and Nägelsbach assume God as the subject of the verb הִכְשִׁיל; but this neither accords with the current of the description, nor with the emphatic mention of the subject אֲדֹנָי in the clause succeeding this. Inasmuch as, in the first member of the verse, God is not the subject, but the address takes a passive turn, it is only the leading word עֹל that can be the subject of הִכְשִׁיל: the yoke of sins which, twined together, have come on the neck, has made the strength stumble, i.e., broken it. This effect of the yoke of sins is stated, in the last member, in simple and unfigurative speech: "the Lord hath given me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand," i.e., before whom I cannot maintain my ground. On the construction בִּידֵי לֹא אוּכַל, cf. Ewald, §333, b; Gesenius, §116, 3. קוּם is here viewed in the sense of standing fast, maintaining ground, as in Psa 18:39; and, construed with the accusative, it signifies, to withstand any one; its meaning is not surgere, which Thenius, following the Vulgate, would prefer: the construction here requires the active meaning of the verb.

Lam 1:15

In Lam 1:15 this thought is further carried out. סִלָּה and סָלָה, "to lift up," is only used in poetry; in Psa 119:118 it takes the Aramaic meaning vilipendere, as if in reference to things that can be lifted easily; here it means tollere, to lift up, take away (lxx ἐξῇρε, Vulgate abstulit), tear away forcibly, just as both meanings are combined in נָשָׂא: it does not mean to outweigh, or raise with a jerk, - the warriors being regarded as weighty things, that speedily were raised when the Chaldean power was thrown into the scale (Thenius, and Böttcher in his Aehrenl. S. 94). This meaning is not confirmed for the Piel by Job 28:16, Job 28:19. קָתָא מֹועֵד does not mean to summon an assembly, i.e., the multitude of foes (Raschi, Rosenmüller, Gesenius, Neumann), but to proclaim a festival (cf. Lam 2:22), because in Lam 1:4 and Lam 2:6 (cf. Lev 23:4) מֹועֵד denotes the feast-day, and in Lam 1:21 קָתָא יֹום }12:1 means to proclaim a day. עָלַי means "against me;" for those invited to the feast are the nations that God has invited to destroy the youths, i.e., the young troops of Jerusalem. These celebrate a feast like that of the vintage, at which Jahveh treads the wine-press for the daughter of Judah, because her young men are cut off like clusters of grapes (Jer 6:9), and thrown into the wine-press (Joe 3:13). The last judgment also is set forth under this figure, Isa 63:2.; Rev 14:19., Rev 19:15. לִבְּתוּלַת יְהוּדָה, "to (for) the virgin of Judah;" her young men are regarded as a mass of grapes, whose life-sap (blood) is trodden out in the wine-press. As to the expression 'בְּתוּלַת בַּת י, see on Jer 14:17. "The addition of the word 'virgin' brings out the contrast between this fate, brought on through the enemy, at God's command, and the peculiar privilege of Judah as the people of God, in being free from the attacks of enemies" (Gerlach).

Lam 1:16

Lam 1:16 concludes this series of thoughts, since the address returns to the idea presented in Lam 1:12, and the unprecedented sorrow (Lam 1:12) gives vent to itself in tears. "Because of these things" refers to the painful realities mentioned in Lam 1:13-15, which Jerusalem has experienced. The form בֹּוכִיָּה is like the feminine form פֹּרִיָּה in Psa 128:3; Isa 17:6; cf. Ges. §75, Rem. 5. The repetition of "my eye" gives greater emphasis, and is quite in the style of Jeremiah; cf. Jer 4:19; Jer 6:14 (Jer 8:11), Jer 22:29; Jer 23:25; the second עֵינִי is not to be expunged (Pareau and Thenius), although it is not found in the lxx, Vulgate, Arabic, and some codices. On יֹרְדָה , cf. Jer 9:17; Jer 13:17; Jer 14:17. In these passages stands דִמְעָה, but here מַיִם, as the stronger expression: the eye flows like water, as if it were running to the ground in water. Gesenius, in his Thesaurus, appositely cites the German "sich die Augen aus dem Kopfe weinen" with which the English corresponds: "to weep one's eyes out of his head". Still stronger is the expression in Lam 3:48. But the sorrow becomes thus grievous, because the weeping one has none to comfort her; friends who could comfort her have faithlessly forsaken her (cf. Lam 1:2, Lam 1:9), and her sons are שֹׁומְמִים, i.e., destroyed, not "astonished" (Jer 18:16; Jer 19:8), but, as in Lam 1:13, made desolate, i.e., made so unhappy that they cannot bring their mother comfort in her misery. On מֵשִׁיב , cf. Lam 1:11. "Because the enemy hath become strong," i.e., prevailed (גָּבַר as in Jer 9:2).