Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 1:20 - 1:20

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 1:20 - 1:20


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Since neither comfort nor advice is to be found with men, Jerusalem makes her complaint of need to God the Lord. "See, Jahveh, that I am distressed. My bowels glow." חֳמַרְמָרוּ, the passive enhancing form, from חָמַר, is found, besides, only in Lam 2:11, where the clause before us is repeated, and in Job 16:16, where it is used of the countenance, and can only mean to be glowing red; it is scarcely legitimate to derive it from חמר, Arab. h[mr, to be made red, and must rather be referred to Arab. chmr, to ferment, rise into froth; for even in Psa 55:9 חָמַר does not mean to be red, but to rise into froth. מֵעַיִם, "bowels," are the nobler portions of the internal organs of the body, the seat of the affections; cf. Delitzsch's Biblical Psychology (Clark's translation), p. 314ff. "My heart has turned within me" is an expression used in Hos 11:8 to designate the feeling of compassion; but here it indicates the most severe internal pain, which becomes thus agonizing through the consciousness of its being deserved on account of resistance to God. מָרֹו for מָרֹה, like בָּכֹו ekil, Jer 22:10; Jer 30:19, etc. Both forms occur together in other verbs also; cf. Olshausen, Gram. §245, h [Ewald, §238, e; Gesen., §75, Rem. 2]. But the judgment also is fearful; for "without (מִחוּץ, foris, i.e., in the streets and the open country) the sword renders childless," through the slaughter of the troops; "within (בַּבַּיִת, in the houses) כַּמָּוֶת, like death." It is difficult to account for the use of כְּ; for neither the כ of comparison nor the so-called כveritatis affords a suitable meaning; and the transposition of the words into sicut mors intus (Rosenmüller, after Löwe and Wolfsohn) is an arbitrary change. Death, mentioned in connection with the sword, does not mean death in general, but special forms of death through maladies and plagues, as in Jer 15:2; Jer 18:21, not merely the fever of hunger, Jer 14:18; on the other hand, cf. Eze 7:15, "the sword without, pestilence and hunger within." But the difficulty connected with כַּמָּוֶת is not thereby removed. The verb שִׁכֵּל belongs to both clauses; but "the sword" cannot also be the subject of the second clause, of which the nominative must be כַּמָּוֶת, "all that is like death," i.e., everything besides the sword that kills, all other causes of death, - pestilences, famine, etc. כְּ is used as in כְּמַרְאֶה, Dan 10:18. That this is the meaning is shown by a comparison of the present passage with Deu 32:25, which must have been before the writer's mind, so that he took the words of the first clause, viz., "without, the sword bereaves," almost as they stood, but changed וּמֵחֲדָרִים into בַּבַּיִת כַּמָּוֶת, - thus preferring "what is like death," instead of "terror," to describe the cause of destruction. Calvin long ago hit the sense in his paraphrase multae mortes, and the accompanying explanation: utitur nota similitudinis, quasi diceret: nihil domi occurrere nisi mortale (more correctly mortiferum). Much light is thrown on the expression by the parallel adduced by Kalkschmidt from Aeneid, ii. 368, 369: crudelis ubique Luctus, ubique pavor, et plurima mortis imago.

From speaking of friends, a transition is made in Lam 1:21 to enemies. Regarding the explanation of Rosenmüller, audiverunt quidem amici mei, a me implorati Lam 1:19, quod gemens ego...imo sunt omnes hostes mei, Thenius observes that it introduces too much. This remark is still more applicable to his own interpretation: "People (certainly) hear how I sigh, (yet) I have no comforter." The antithesis introduced by the insertion of "yet" destroys the simplicity of arrangement among the clauses, although C. B. Michaelis and Gerlach also explain the passage in the same manner. The subject of the words, "they have heard," in the first clause, is not the friends who are said in Lam 1:19 to have been called upon for help, nor those designated in the second clause of Lam 1:21 as "all mine enemies," but persons unnamed, who are only characterized in the second clause as enemies, because they rejoice over the calamity which they have heard of as having befallen Jerusalem. The first clause forms the medium of transition from the faithless friends (Lam 1:19) to the open enemies (Lam 1:21); hence the subject is left undefined, so that one may think of friends and enemies. The foes rejoice that God has brought the evil on her. The words 'הֵבֵאתָ וגו, which follow, cannot also be dependent on כִּי ("that Thou hast brought the day which Thou hast announced"), inasmuch as the last clause, "and they shall be like me," does not harmonize with them. Indeed, Nägelsbach and Gerlach, who assume that this is the connection of the clause "Thou hast brought," etc., take 'וְיִהְיוּ כ adversatively: "but they shall be like me." If, however, "they shall be," etc., were intended to form an antithesis to "all mine enemies have heard," etc., the former clause would be introduced by וְהֵם. The mere change of tense is insufficient to prove the point. It must further be borne in mind, that in such a case there would be introduced by the words "and they shall be," etc., a new series of ideas, the second great division of the prayer; but this is opposed by the arrangement of the clauses. The second portion of the prayer cannot be attached to the end of the verse. The new series of thoughts begins rather with "Thou hast brought," which the Syriac has rendered by the imperative, venire fac. Similarly Luther translates: "then (therefore) let the day come." C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Pareau, etc., also take the words optatively, referring to the Arabic idiom, according to which a wish is expressed in a vivid manner by the perfect. This optative use of the perfect certainly cannot be shown to exist in the Hebrew; but perhaps it may be employed to mark what is viewed as certain to follow, in which case the Germans use the present. The use of the perfect shows that the occurrence expected is regarded as so certain to happen, that it is represented as if it had already taken place. The perfects in Lam 3:56-61 are taken in this sense by nearly all expositors. Similarly we take the clause now before us to mean, "Thou bringest on the day which Thou hast proclaimed (announced)," i.e., the day of judgment on the nations, Jer 25, "so that they become like me," i.e., so that the foes who rejoice over my misfortune suffer the same fate as myself. "The day [which] Thou hast proclaimed" has been to specifically rendered in the Vulgate, adduxisti diem consolationis, probably with a reference of the proclamation to Isa 40:2. - After this expression of certainty regarding the coming of a day of punishment for her enemies, there follows, Lam 1:22, the request that all the evil they have done to Jerusalem may come before the face of God, in order that He may punish it (cf. Psa 109:15 with Lam 1:14), - do to them as He has done to Jerusalem, because of her transgressions. The clause which assigns the reason ("for many are my sighs," etc.) does not refer to that which immediately precedes; for neither the request that retribution should be taken, nor the confession of guilt ("for all my transgressions"), can be accounted fore by pointing to the deep misery of Jerusalem, inasmuch as her sighing and sickness are not brought on her by her enemies, but are the result of the sufferings ordained by God regarding her. The words contain the ground of the request that God would look on the misery (Lam 1:20), and show to the wretched one the compassion which men refuse her. לִבִּי is exactly the same expression as that in Jer 8:18; cf. also Isa 1:5. The reason thus given for making the entreaty forms an abrupt termination, and with these words the sound of lamentation dies away.