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Lamentations 4:22

22. The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.

22. Completa est iniquitas tua, filia Sion; non adjiciet ad te in exilium trahendam; visitavit iniquitatem filiae Edom, et discooperuit super peccatum tuum (hoc est, nudavit peccatum tuum.)

 

This verse, in my judgment, is incorrectly explained; and the Jews have toiled much, for there seems to be a kind of inconsistency, since it is certain that they were afterwards scattered into exile, not only once, but several times. Hence they interpret this place of the second dispersion by Titus, under the authority of his father Vespasian. They then say that the iniquity of the people was then completed, for after that exile no change has followed. Otherwise they do not think that this prediction of the Prophet accords with the reality or the event; for, as I have said, they have been driven into all lands. They had been, indeed, before fugitives, as Moses had declared concerning them. For we know that Jews dwelt in Greece and in Macedonia; we know that many of the cities of Italy were full of this people, until by the edict of Claudius Caesar they were expelled from Italy; for he thought that Italy was infected by them, and he drove them afar off, as though they were contagious. But the Jews lay hold on these refinements to no purpose for the Prophet simply meant to say, that such would be, the punishment of the people, that it would not be necessary then to repeat it.

When, therefore, he says that their iniquity, or the punishment of their iniquity, was completed, he intimates that God had dealt so severely with them, that there was nothing short of extreme rigor: and this mode of speaking occurs elsewhere. To the same purpose is what immediately follows: The enemy, or God, which is the same, will no more add to draw thee into exile, — why? for what need was there of a second exile when the whole land had been reduced to solitude? since also the poor who had been left in the land had at length gone into Egypt, whence they were brought again into Chaldea; but they were, at the time, fugitives from the Holy Land. Then the Prophet means, that God’s judgment was, in all its parts, completed, that nothing short of extreme calamity had happened to the Jews.

It afterwards follows in the second clause, He will visit, which is, indeed, in the past tense, he hath visited, but he speaks of what was future. According to the usual manner of the prophets, in order to confirm the prediction, he speaks of the event as already past, He has visited the iniquity of the daughter of Edom; so that thy wickedness has been uncovered. The meaning will be clearer if we add the particles of comparison, “As thy punishment, daughter of Sion, has been completed; so thine iniquity, daughter of Edom, shall be visited;” or if we render the words thus, by way of concession, “The punishment of thine iniquity, daughter of Sion, has indeed been completed; but thy sin, daughter of Edom, shall be uncovered.” 222222     The word “iniquity” is used in this verse in two senses. This we discover by the two verbs which are used. To complete “iniquity” can here mean no other thing than to complete the punishment due to it; and that punishment was exile, as the following words shew. But to “visit” iniquity clearly means to punish it. —
   Completed has been thine iniquity, daughter of Sion;
He will not again remove thee:
He has visited thine iniquity, daughter of Edom;
Having been removed for thy sins,
or, — He has removed thee for thy sins.

   Though all the early versions and the Targ. agree in rendering the last verb in the sense of discovering or uncovering, yet the other meaning, which it often has, and even in the second line of this verse, is more suitable to this place. Removal or migration had been the punishment of the Jews: the same was to be the punishment of Edom. In this sense is the word rendered by Blayney and Henderson. The past time in the latter clause is evidently used for the future, according to the usual manner of the Prophets, “He will visit,” etc., “he will remove, etc.Ed.

We, in short, see that the reason is explained why the Prophet, in the last verse, alleviated, with comfort, the sorrow of the people, that though the Jews were very miserable, it would yet be nothing better with Edom, when the time of visitation came. And in saying that the punishment of iniquity was completed, he refers not to their sin, but says that they had been thus chastised, as it seemed good to God to execute all his rigor towards them; and nearly the same manner of speaking is found in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah. Then the Prophet does not deny but that the Jews might at a future time become exiles; but he says that their transmigration now was complete, so that it was not necessary that Nebuchadnezzar should again denude the land of its inhabitants: this had been done, as it were, by a sudden whirlwind; for by one sweep they had been snatched away. The land, indeed, was before made desolate, but when Nebuchadnezzar took possession of the city, he only left behind the dregs of the people. And he did this on purpose that he might have there some people as tributaries. Then that transmigration was complete.

But the Prophet means not here, that God would not afterwards banish and scatter the Jews as they deserved. There is then no inconsistency, that the Jews afterwards became fugitives and wanderers through the whole world, and that yet the enemy would not again draw them into captivity, for he speaks here only of the Chaldeans: and this was said, because Jeremiah wished to compare the Jews with the Idumeans, and to shew, that though the Idumeans insolently exulted over them, yet their own calamity was nigh, which would wholly overwhelm them, as the case had previously been with the Jews. There is no time now to begin with the prayer of Jeremiah: I must therefore defer it till the next Lecture.


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