Verse 22. "But thou hast utterly rejected us" - It appears as if thou hadst sealed our final reprobation, because thou showest against us exceeding great wrath. But convert us, O Lord, onto thee, and we shall be converted.
We are now greatly humbled, feel our sin, and see our folly: once more restore us, and we shall never again forsake thee! He heard the prayer; and at the end of seventy years they were restored to their own land.
This last verse is well rendered in the first printed edition of our Bible, 15x25: - Renue our daies as in olde tyme, for thou hast now banished us longe ynough, and bene sore displeased at us.
My old MS. Bible is not less nervous: Newe thou our dais as fro the begynnyng: bot castand aweie thou put us out: thou wrathedist ugein us hugely .
Dr. Blayney translates, "For surely thou hast cast us off altogether:" and adds, " yk ki ought certainly to be rendered as causal; God's having rejected his people, and expressed great indignation against them, being the cause and ground of the preceding application, in which they pray to be restored to his favour, and the enjoyment of their ancient privileges." Pareau thinks no good sense can be made of this place unless we translate interrogatively, as in Jer. xiv. xix. - "Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? Hath thy soul loathed Sion?" On this ground he translates here, An enim prorsus nos rejecisses? Nobis iratus esses usque adeo? "Hast thou indeed utterly cast us off? Wilt thou be angry with us for ever?" Wilt thou extend thy wrath against us so as to show us no more mercy? This agrees well with the state and feelings of the complainants.
Number of verses in this Book, 154.
Middle verse, chap. iii. 34.
In one of my oldest MSS., the twenty-first verse is repeated at the conclusion of the twenty-second verse. In another, yet older, there is only the first word of it, wnbyh hashibenu, Convert us! Having given in the preceding preface and notes what I judge necessary to explain the principal difficulties in this very fine and affecting poem, very fitly termed THE LAMENTATIONS, as it justly stands at the head of every composition of the kind, I shall add but a few words, and these shall be by way of recapitulation chiefly.
The Hebrews were accustomed to make lamentations or mourning songs upon the death of great men, princes, and heroes, who had distinguished themselves in arms; and upon any occasion or public miseries and calamities. Calmet thinks they had collections of these sorts of Lamentations: and refers in proof to 2 Chronicles xxxv. 25: "And Jer. lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations, to this day; and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the Lamentations." From this verse it is evident, that Jeremiah had composed a funeral elegy on Josiah: but, from the complexion of this Book, it is most evident that it was not composed on the death of Josiah, but upon the desolations of Jerusalem, &c., as has already been noted. His lamentation for Josiah is therefore lost. It appears also, that on particular occasions, perhaps anniversaries, these lamentations were sung by men and women singers, who performed their several parts; for these were all alternate or responsive songs. And it is very likely, that this book was sung in the same way; the men commencing with a aleph, the women responding with b beth and so on. Several of this sort of songs are still extant. We have those which David composed on the death of his son Absalom, and on the death of his friend Jonathan. And we have those made by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, on the desolation of Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, and Babylon. See Isa. xiv. 4, 5; 15.; 16.; Jer. vii. 29; ix. 10; xlviii. 32; Ezek. xix. 1; xxviii. 11; xxxii. 2; Jer. ix. 17. Besides these, we have fragments of others in different places; and references to some, which are now finally lost.
In the two first chapters of this book, the prophet describes, principally, the calamities of the siege of Jerusalem.
In the third, he deplores the persecutions which he himself had suffered; though he may in this be personifying the city and state; many of his own sufferings being illustrative of the calamities that fell generally upon the city and people at large.
The fourth chapter is employed chiefly on the ruin and desolation of the city and temple; and upon the misfortunes of Zedekiah, of whom he speaks in a most respectful, tender, and affecting manner:- "The anointed of Jehovah, the breadth of our nostrils, was taken in their toils, Under whose shadow we said, We shall live among the nations." At the end he speaks of the cruelty of the Edomites, who had insulted Jerusalem in her miseries, and contributed to its demolition. These he threatens with the wrath of God.
The fifth chapter is a kind of form of prayer for the Jews, in their dispersions and captivity. In the conclusion of it, he speaks of their fallen royalty; attributes all their calamities to their rebellion and wickedness; and acknowledges that there can be no end to their misery, but in their restoration to the Divine favour.
This last chapter was probably written some considerable time after the rest: for it supposes the temple to be so deserted, that the foxes walked undisturbed among its ruins, and that the people were already in captivity.
The poem is a monument of the people's iniquity and rebellion; of the displeasure and judgment of GOD against them; and of the piety, eloquence, and incomparable ability of the poet.