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Lamentations 5:22

22. But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us.

22. Nisi (vel, sed, vel, quod si) rejiciendo rejecisti nos excanduisti contra nos valde.

 

The two words כי אם, ki am, are differently explained: some render them, “but if,” or “certainly if,” and thus separate the verse into two parts, “Surely if thou hast rejected us, thou art very angry;” but this is a forced meaning, not intended, as I think, by the Prophet. And these seem to have been compelled by necessity to pervert the Prophet’s words; because it appears hard simply to declare that the people had been wholly rejected by God. As, then, this harshness offended them, they contrived this comment, “If thou hast rejected us, thou art very angry.” But as I have said, this exposition I do not approve of, because it is a very forced one; and the greater part of interpreters follow what I stated in the first place, for they take כי אם, ki am, adversatively. The two particles are often connected together, and rendered, “though” or although, — “Though thou hast rejected us:” and hence the last verse has been repeated.

For the Jews labor under this superstition, that when a book ends with a hard and severe sentence, or one containing a dreadful threatening, grating to the ears, in order to avoid the sad omen, they repeat the last verse but one. So they do at the end of Isaiah, and at the end of Malachi. As Isaiah says, “It shall be a horror (or abomination) to all flesh;” they therefore repeat the previous verse. So in Malachi; as he says, “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse — חרם, cherem,” they think that as he pronounces there an anathema, it is a sort of charm that may absorb this curse, to have the previous verse repeated after it. There is, then, no doubt but that they took this passage in the same sense, “Though thou hast rejected us,” etc.

If this explanation be approved, we must hold that the Prophet here exceeded due limits, as also the faithful, in their prayers, do not always so restrain themselves, but that some heat bubbles up; for we see how David, in the Psalms, too often shewed this kind of feeling; and it is hence evident, that his mind was not always sufficiently calm. We must then say, that the Prophet was impelled by a turbulent feeling when he uttered these words.

But כי אם, ki am, may also be rendered, “Unless,” or except’ and it is singular that no one has perceived this, though it be not an unsuitable meaning, “Except it may be thou rejecting hast rejected us, and hast become very angry with us,” or above measure angry; for עד מאד, od mad in Hebrew, means the same as above measure (supra modum) in Latin. Though the Prophet seems to speak doubtingly, by laying down t, his condition, there is vet no doubt but that he struggled against all unbelief, when he said, Except it may be; for he reasons from what is impossible, “Turn thou us to thee and we shall be turned, renew our days as formerly; except it may be thou hast rejected us:” but this was impossible. Then, as I have said, the Prophet here strengthens himself by setting up a shield against all the assaults of temptations when he says, Except it may be thou hast rejected us 240240     The particles, כי אם, seem to have the meaning of “except,” as in Genesis 32:26, “except thou bless me.” But the exposition is too refined. The usual meaning of the particles is, but in truth, for surely, when indeed. See 1 Samuel 21:5; Proverbs 23:18; Exodus 22:23. They are rendered here, “for,” by the Sept., Syr., and Arab; “but,” by the Vulg., and “although,” by the Targ. The version of Blayney and Henderson is, “For surely.” The Prophet assigns a reason for his petition in the preceding verse; as though he had said, “I ask for restoration to thy favor and to our land, because thou hast clearly manifested thy rejection of us, and thy displeasure towards us.”
   For surely rejecting thou hast rejected us,
Thou hast been wroth with us exceedingly,

   or, more literally,

   Thou hast foamed against us exceedingly.

   The first line here corresponds with the latter part of the previous verse, “Restore us to our land, and renew the ancient days,” — “Thou hast wholly rejected us.” He speaks of things as they were then. Then the last line in this verse bears a relation to the first part of the preceding verse, “Restore us to thy favor,” — “Thou hast been exceedingly displeased with us.” Thus, for displeasure he asked favor, and for repudiation, a restoration. — Ed.

    

But it cannot be that God will reject his people, and be so angry with them, as never to be reconciled. We hence see that the Prophet does not simply set down the condition, as though he said, “O God, if thou art to be perpetually angry with us, and wilt never be reconciled, it is there all over with our salvation; but if thou wilt be reconciled to us, we shall then entertain good hope.” No, the Prophet did not thus keep his own mind and the minds of others in suspense, but had a sure confidence as to God’s favor; for it cannot be that God will ever forsake those whom he has chosen, as Paul also shews in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.

As it has so seemed good to the brethren, I will begin tomorrow the explanation of Ezekiel.


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