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Lamentations 4:16

16. The anger of the LORD hath divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.

16. Facies Jehovae divisit (vel, dissipavit) eos; non adjiciet ad respiciendum eos; faciem sacerdotum non reveriti sunt (vel honore persequuti,) et senum non fuerunt miserti.

 

He explains himself by saying, that they had been scattered from the face of Jehovah. He had said, that they had fled into foreign lands, and that they believed their exile to be perpetual; he now assigns the reason that God had thus banished them. But he had promised by Moses, that though they were dispersed through the four quarters of the world, he would yet be propitious to them, so as to gather them when dispersed, as it is said in the Psalms, “He will gather the dispersed of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 30:4; Psalm 147:2.) And we know that the time of exile had been prefixed; for the Prophet had often testified that God would at length become a deliverer to his people, so as to stretch forth again his hand, and draw them forth from Chaldea as he did from Egypt: how then does he say, that they had been scattered from the face of Jehovah, and then, that they had been so rejected, that he would not favor them hereafter with his paternal countenance? the obvious answer is this, that the Prophet here regards only the extremely dispersed state of the people. For though the promise of God as to their return was certain and clear, yet, when any one cast his eyes on the state of things at that time, he could have hoped no such thing; for the desolation, the ground of despair, was immense: no name had remained for the people, the priesthood had been extinguished, the royal dignity had been degraded, the city also and the Temple had been completely overthrown. As, then, there was nothing remaining as to the nation and the place, and also as to God’s worship, how could they do otherwise than despond?

Then the Prophet, viewing the desolation, says, that nothing else could be concluded, but that the Jews would be perpetually exiles, and that all the ways were closed up, to prevent them to return to their country, and also that the eyes of God were shut, so as never to look on them. We now, then, perceive what he means by saying, that they were scattered from the face of Jehovah, so that he should no longer look on them. And this mode of speaking is often found in Scripture; for, on the one hand, it; sets before us the wrath of God, which brings death; and then on the other, it sustains us, or when we are fallen it raises us up, by setting before us the favor of God even in death itself.

The Prophet, then, considers now no other thing than the dreadful calamity which was sufficient to sink the minds of all into the lowest abyss of despair.

He then adds, that they respected not the face of the priests, and shewed no pity to the elders. Some think that the reason is given why God had so severely punished the people, even because they had despised the aged and the priests; but this is a forced view. I, then, have no doubt but that the Prophet here intimates, that the Jews had been treated reproachfully, so that there had been no account made of the aged, and no respect shewn to the priests. It is, indeed, true, that Daniel was held in great repute; but he speaks here of the priests who had impiously despised all sound doctrine; and he speaks of the aged who were in authority when the kingdom was yet standing. He then says that they had been, as it were, trodden under feet. He hence concludes, that, all hope of restoration was taken away from the Jews, if they only considered their extreme calamity. He afterwards adds, —

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