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Lamentations 5:5

5. Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest.

5. Super colla nostra (vel, cervicibus nostris) persecutionem passi sumus; laboravimus non requies nobis.

 

Here he says that the people were oppressed with a grievous bondage. It is, indeed, a metaphorical expression when he says, that people suffered persecution on their necks. Enemies may sometimes be troublesome to us, either before our face, or behind our backs, or by our sides; but when they so domineer as to ride on our necks, in this kind of insult there is extreme degradation. Hence the Prophet here complains of the servile and even disgraceful oppression of the people when he says, that the Jews suffered persecution on their necks.

The meaning is, that the enemies so domineered at the, it pleasure, that the Jews dared not to raise up their heads. They were, indeed, worthy of this reward — for we know that they had an iron neck; for when God would have them to bear his yoke, they were wholly unbending; nay, they were like untameable wild beasts. As, then, their hardness had been so great, God rendered to them a just reward for their pride and obstinacy, when their enemies laid such a burden on their necks. 225225     Not one of the versions or the Targ., though they all differ, gives a satisfactory rendering of this clause. Some take, “on our neck we have been pursued,” as meaning, We have been closely pursued. So Gataker. Others, as Lowth and Henderson, regarding על a noun, signifying a yoke, give a construction of this kind, “With the yoke on our neck we have been pursued” or persecuted, according to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 28:48. The former seems the best, —
   On our neck (closely) have we been pursued,
We labored and had no rest.

   Then comes in what they did when thus pursued by their enemies, —

   To Egypt gave we the hand,
To Assyria, to be satisfied with bread.

   To give the hand, in this case, was to put it forth as suppliants to ask help. This seems to refer to a, time previous to their exile. — Ed.

But the Prophet sets forth here this indignity, that he might turn God to mercy; that is, that the Chaldeans thus oppressed as they pleased the chosen people.

He adds, that they labored and had no rest. He intimates by these words that there were no limits nor end to their miseries and troubles; for the phrase in Hebrew is, We have labored and there was no rest. It often happens that when one is pressed down with evils for a short time, a relaxation comes. But the Prophet. says that there was no end to the miseries of the people. Then to labor without rest is the same as to be pressed down with incessant afflictions, from which there is no outlet. Their obstinacy was worthy also of this reward, for they had fought against God, not for a few months or years only, but for many years. We know how long the Prophet called them without any success. Here, however, he seeks favor with God, by saying that the people were miserable without limits or end.


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