Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 3:43 - 3:43

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 3:43 - 3:43

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God has not pardoned, but positively punished, the people for their misdeeds. "Thou hast covered with anger," Lam 3:43, corresponds to "Thou hast covered with a cloud," Lam 3:44; hence "Thou hast covered" is plainly used both times in the same meaning, in spite of the fact that לָךְ is wanting in Lam 3:43. סָכַךְ means to "cover," here to "make a cover." "Thou didst make a cover with anger," i.e., Thou didst hide Thyself in wrath; there is no necessity for taking סָכַךְ as in itself reflexive. This mode of viewing it agrees also with what follows. The objection of J. D. Michaelis, qui se obtegit non persequitur alios, ut statim additur, which Böttcher and Thenius have repeated, does not hold good in every respect, but chiefly applies to material covering. And the explanation of Thenius, "Thou hast covered us with wrath, and persecuted us," is shown to be wrong by the fact that סָכַךְ signifies to cover for protection, concealment, etc., but not to cover in the sense of heaping upon, pouring upon (as Luther translates it); nor, again, can the word be taken here in a sense different from that assigned to it in Lam 3:44. "The covering of wrath, which the Lord draws around Him, conceals under it the lightnings of His wrath, which are spoken of immediately afterwards" (Nägelsbach). The anger vents itself in the persecution of the people, in killing them unsparingly. For, that these two are connected, is shown not merely in Lam 3:66, but still more plainly by the threatening in Jer 29:18 : "I will pursue them with sword, and famine, and pestilence, and give them for maltreatment to all the kingdoms of the earth." On "Thou hast slain, Thou hast not spared," cf. Lam 2:21. In Lam 3:44, לָךְ is further appended to סַכֹּותָה: "Thou makest a cover with clouds for Thyself," round about Thee, so that no prayer can penetrate to Thee; cf. Psa 55:2. These words form the expression of the painful conclusion drawn by God's people from their experience, that God answered no cry for help that came to Him, i.e., granted no help. Israel was thereby given up, in a defenceless state, to the foe, so that they could treat them like dirt and abuse them. סְחִי (from סָחָה, Eze 26:4), found only here as a noun, signifies "sweepings;" and מָאֹוס is a noun, "disesteem, aversion." The words of Lam 3:45, indeed, imply the dispersion of Israel among the nations, but are not to be limited to the maltreatment of the Jews in exile; moreover, they rather apply to the conduct of their foes when Judah was conquered and Jerusalem destroyed. Such treatment, especially the rejection, is further depicted in Lam 3:46. The verse is almost a verbatim repetition of Lam 2:16, and is quite in the style of Jeremiah as regards the reproduction of particular thoughts; while Thenius, from the repetition, is inclined to infer that chs. 2 and 3 had different authors: cf. Gerlach on the other side. The very next verse might have been sufficient to keep Thenius from such a precipitate conclusion, inasmuch as it contains expressions and figures that are still more clearly peculiar to Jeremiah. On פַּחַד וָפַחַת, cf. Jer 48:43; הַשֶׁבֶר is also one of the favourite expressions of the prophet. hashee't is certainly ἅπ. λεγ., but reminds one of בְּנֵי , Num 24:17, for which in Jer 48:45 there stands בְּנֵי שָׁאֹון. It comes from שָׁאָה, to make a noise, roar, fall into ruins with a loud noise, i.e., be laid waste (cf. Isa 6:11); and, as Raschi has already observed, it has the same meaning as שְׁאִיָּה, "devastation," Isa 24:12. It is incorrect to derive the word from the Hiphil of נָשָׁא (J. D. Michaelis and Ewald), according to which it ought to mean "disappointment," for the הַ does not form an essential portion of the word, but is the article, as וְהַשֶׁבֶר shows. Still more erroneous are the renderings ἔπαρσις (lxx, from נָשָׂא) and vaticinatio (Jerome, who has confounded הַשֵּׁאת with מַשָּׂא).

Over this terrible calamity, rivers of tears must be shed, until the Lord looks down from heaven on it, Lam 3:48-51. The prophet once more utters this complaint in the first person, because he who has risked his life in his endeavour to keep the people in the service of God must feel the deepest sympathy for them in their misfortunes. "Rivers of water" is stronger than "water," Lam 1:16, and "tears like a stream," Lam 2:18; but the mode of expression is in the main like that in those passages, and used again in Psa 119:136, but in a different connection. The second member of the verse is the same as in Lam 2:11.