Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 3:53 - 3:53

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 3:53 - 3:53

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צָֽמְתוּ is here used transitively in Kal, as the Piel is elsewhere, Psa 119:139, and the Pilpel, Psa 88:17. צָֽמְתוּ בַבֹּור, "they were destroying (cutting off) my life down into the pit," is a pregnant construction, and must be understood de conatu: "they sought to destroy my life when they hurled me down into the pit, and cast stones on me," i.e., not "they covered the pit with a stone" (Pareau, De Wette, Neumann). The verb יָדָה construed with בְּ does not take this meaning, for יָדָה merely signifies to cast, e.g., lots (Jos 4:3, etc.), arrows (Jer 50:14), or to throw down = destroy, annihilate, Zec 2:4; and בִּי does not mean "in the pit in which I was," but "upon (or against) me." The sing. אֶבֶן is to be understood in accordance with the expression רָגַם אֶבֶן, to cast stones = stone (1Ki 12:18; Lev 20:2, Lev 20:27). As to וַיַּדּוּ for וַיְיַדּוּ, see on וַיַּגֶּה in Lam 3:33. "Waters flowed over my head" is a figurative expression, denoting such misery and distress as endanger life; cf. Psa 59:2-3, Psa 59:15., Psa 124:4., Psa 42:8. 'I said (thought), I am cut off (from God's eyes or hand)," Psa 31:23; Psa 88:6, is a reminiscence from these Psalms, and does not essentially differ from "cut off out of the land of the living," Isa 43:8. For, that we must thereby think of death, or sinking down into Sheol, is shown by מִבֹּור תַּחִתִּיֹּות, Lam 3:55. The complaint in these verses (52-54) is regarded by some expositors as a description of the personal sufferings of Jeremiah; and the casting into the pit is referred to the incident mentioned in Jer 38:6. Such is the view, for instance, taken by Vaihinger and Nägelsbach, who point for proof to these considerations especially: (1) That the Chaldeans certainly could not, without good cause (Lam 3:53), be understood as the "enemies;" (2) that Jeremiah could not represent the people, speaking as if they were righteous and innocent; and (3) that the writer already speaks of his deliverance from their power, and contents himself with merely calling down on them the vengeance of God (Lam 3:55-66). But not one of these reasons is decisive. For, in the first place, the contents of Lam 3:52 do not harmonize with the known hostility which Jeremiah had to endure from his personal enemies. That is to say, there is nothing mentioned or known of his enemies having stoned him, or having covered him over with a stone, after they had cast him into the miry pit (Jer 38:6.), The figurative character of the whole account thus shows itself in the very fact that the separate portions of it are taken from reminiscences of passages in the Psalms, whose figurative character is universally acknowledged. Moreover, in the expression אֹיְבַי חִנָּם, even when we understand thereby the Chaldeans, it is not at all implied that he who complains of these enemies considers himself righteous and innocent, but simply that he has not given them any good ground for their hostile conduct towards him. And the assertion, that the writer is already speaking of his deliverance from their power, rests on the erroneous notion that, in Lam 3:55-66, he is treating of past events; whereas, the interchange of the perfects with imperatives of itself shows that the deliverance of which he there speaks is not an accomplished or bygone fact, but rather the object of that assured faith which contemplates the non-existent as existent. Lastly, the contrast between personal suffering ad the suffering of the people, on which the whole reasoning rests, is quite beside the mark. Moreover, if we take the lamentations to be merely symbolical, then the sufferings and persecutions of which the prophet here complains are not those of the people generally, but of the godly Israelites, on whom they were inflicted when the kingdom was destroyed, not merely by the Chaldeans, but also by their godless fellow-countrymen. Hence we cannot, of course, say that Jeremiah here speaks from personal experience; however, he complains not merely of the persecutions that befall him personally, but also of the sufferings that had come on him and all godly ones. The same remark applies to the conclusion of this lamentation, - the prayer, Lam 3:55-66, in which he entreats the Lord for deliverance, and in the spirit of faith views this deliverance as already accomplished.