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Lamentations 5:6

6. We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.

6. AEgyptiis dedimus manum Assyriis, ut saturemur panibus.

 

He speaks here of the mendicity of the people, that they sought bread from every quarter. To give the hand, is explained in three ways: some say that it means humbly to ask; others, to make an agreement; and others, to extend it in token of misery, as he who cannot ask for help, intimates his wants by extending his hand. But the Prophet seems simply to mean that the people were so distressed by want, that they begged bread. I then take the expression, to give the hand, as meaning that they asked bread, as beggars usually do.

He now says that they gave or extended the hand both to the Egyptians and to the Assyrians, which was a most unworthy and disgraceful thing; for the Egyptians had been their most troublesome enemies, and the Assyrians afterwards followed their example. At that time, indeed, the Egyptians pretended to be the friends of the chosen people, and made a treaty with them; but the Jews were held in contempt by them as they deserved, for they had prostituted as it were themselves like harlots. As, then, they had been despised by the Egyptians, it was a disgrace and reproach the most bitter, when they were compelled to beg bread in Egypt, and then in Assyria; for this might have been turned to the bitterest taunts.

We now, then, perceive the meaning of the Prophet; even this reward also God justly rendered to them. He had promised them a fruitful land, in which he was ready to support them to the full. How often is mention made by Moses of corn, wine, and oil; and why? in order that God might shew that that land exceeded every other in fertility. It was, then, an evidence of an extreme curse when the people were compelled to beg bread here and there, while yet the abundance of all things ought to have been sufficient to supply even aliens,

“Thou shalt lend to others, but thou shalt not borrow.” (Deuteronomy 15:6.)

They then who ought to have fed others by their plenty, were so reduced that their want forced them to undergo this disgrace, to beg bread of the Egyptians and Assyrians. It follows, —

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