Verse 1 א
"Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; behold, and see our disgrace."
Here in Chapter 5, the prophet, after many lamentations, addressed himself for a remedy by prayer. So, he first exposes the people's misery, second, he seeks mercy. As expressed in Verse 19: "But thou, O Lord, dost reign for ever; thy throne endures to all generations."
The first idea (the people's misery) has two aspects. First, the people's misery, in itself is exposed, second, the people's goods that were lost. As said in Verse 14: "The old men have quit the city gate, the young men their music."
Around the first (misery in itself) are two notations. First, in Verse 1 is aroused attention: "Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;". That is, be attentive to our misery itself. And, as said in Chapter 3:19: "Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall!"
So, Verse 1 says: "Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us."Which states, as if, hold in attention. Then: "behold": with such attention fix your consideration,"and see our disgrace!"
Verse 2 ב
"Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to aliens."
Verse 2 considers the people's affliction. First, in general, second by going down to particular persons. As expressed in Verse 11: "Women are ravished in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah."
As to the people's affliction in general are two ideas. First is excluded those things by which ~ople are sustained against miseries. Namely, as to their possessions, passed over to enemies control. As Verse 2 states: "Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to aliens." Also, as Chapter 1:10 says: "The enemy has stretched out his hands over all her precious things." And, Jeremiah 6:12 states: "Their houses shall be turned over to others, their fields and wives together."
Verse 3 ג
"We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows,"
Regarding divine protection Verse 3 declares: "We have become orphans, fatherless;". That is, we are destitute of divine direction, like to a paternal consolation. And: " our mothers are like widows." Since definite security is called for. As the prophet Isaiah asserts: "Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and, has not compassion on their fatherless and widows, for everyone is godless and' 'an evil doer, and every mouth speaks folly." (Is : 9:17).
Verse 4 ד
"We must pay for the water we drink, the wood we get must be bought."
Here particular miseries are viewed which the people suffer. As stated: "We must pay for the water we drink," Namely, because of the people's slavery, and due to their affliction. As Verse 9 records: "We get our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness."
As to the people's slavery are two further notions. First is the slavery in itself, and then its exaggeration. As said in Verse 7: "Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities."
On the people's slavery in itself are two more ideas. One regards the people's slavery as they suffered loss of possessions. As Verse 4 declares: "We must pay for the water we drink, the wood we get must be bought." And as Deuteronomy 2:6 repeats: "and you shall also buy water of them for money, that you may drink."
Verse 5 ה
"With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven; we are weary, are are given no rest."
Then is considered slavery as first forced upon their own person. As said: "~ith a yoke on our necks we are hard driven; we are weary, we are given no rest." Which proclaims, as if: pressure is upon our necks in a manner we wish not since such pressure binds our neck. Deuteronomy 28:65 is applicable: "and among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot."
Verse 6 ו
"We have' given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria, to get bread enough."
Now, the people's slavery is personal and voluntary, because impelled by no means, people sell themselves to others in slavery. Or, at least for a time, as Verse 6 states: "We have given the hand to Egypt,and to Assyria, to get bread enough." That is, subjugating themselves to them. As I Samuel 2:5 claims: "Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger."
Again: Verse 6: "We have given the hand to Egypt, and to Assyria, to get bread enough". That is, by demanding aid. As Jeremiah 2:18 says: "And now what do you gain by going to Egypt, to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drin~c the waters of the Euphrates?"
Verse 7 ז
"Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities."
Here the people's slavery is exaggerated. So, first are viewed the conditions of those enslaved, as they are being punished for the sins of others. As said: "Our fathers sinned, and are no more, and we bear their iniquities." Since our fathers have died: "we bear their iniquities", while sustaining their punishments.
On the contrary, the prophet Ezekiel claims: "The word of the Lord came to me again: 'What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel,"The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge"? (Ezek 18:1-2). Solutions can then be declared. As in Exodus 20:5: "for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation." And Deuteronomy 32:41 asserts: "I will take vengeance on my adversaries, and will requite those who hate me."
Verse 8 ח
"Slaves rule' over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand."
The people's slavery is also exaggerated by the conditions of those enslaving, or dominating. As Verse 8 says: "Slaves rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand." Namely, just as the Moabites and the Idumaeans, and other neighbors, by whom they were first dominated.
As Proverbs reminds us: "Under three things the earth trembles; under four it can not bear up: A slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food; an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maid when she succeeds her mistress." (Prov: 30:21-22-23).
Verse 9 ט
"We eat our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the wilderness."
Here is viewed the affliction of hunger. First is shown the people's want; "at the peril of our lives", That is, at a danger to our soul, to our very life. Also, while fleeing into the desert from the face of the sword of Babylon. Or, because, due to loading themselves with foods, they exposed themselves to dangers. As a result, their enemies pursuing them into the desert, would make them flee. As Isaiah 21:14 records: "to the thirsty bring water, meet the fugitive with bread, O inhabitants of the land of Tema."
Verse 10 י
"Our skin is hot as an oven with the burning heat of famine."
Then is considered in Verse 10 the effects of famine. As stated: "our skin is hot as an oven." That is, dried up by hunger. And: "with the burning heat of famine." As if being obsessed, and fleeing the famine, the people suffered a long time. Like the prophet Hosea 7:6 says: "For like an oven their hearts burn with intrigue." And Job: 19:20: "My bones cleave to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Verse 11 כ
"Women are ravished in Zion, virgins in the towns of Judah."
Here special persons are viewed. For instance, women ravished in Zion by men corrupting women. As Deuteronomy 28:30 records: "You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her." And further on: '"Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all the day." (Deuteronomy 28:32).
Verse 12 ל
"Princes are hung up by their hands; no respect is shown to the elders." That is, as if upon a hook, so as displaying their riches. As Deuteronomy 28: 4950 states: "The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you do not understand, a nation of stern countenance, who shall not regard the person of the old or show favor to the young."
Verse 13 מ
"Young men are compelled to grind at the mill; and boys stagger under loads of wood."
Thirdly, as to the youth: "Young men are compelled to grind at the mill; and boys stagger under loads of wood." The prophet Joel 3:3 declares: "And have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it."
Verse 14 נ
"The old men have quit the city gate, the young men their music."
Here misery is considered in relation to the people's lost possessions. First, as persons' offices as stated: "The old men have quit the city gate." Namely, exercising their office at the city gate.
Then: "the young men their music": That is, as exercising their office as leaders in chorusing. As I Maccabees 2:9 refers: Her babes have been killed in her streets, her youths by the sword of the foe."
Verse 15 ס
"The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning."
Here reference is made to the exercise of joy: "The joy of our hearts has ceased, our dincing has been turned to mourning." As the propher Amos states: "I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations." (Amos: 8:10).
Verse 16 ע
"The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!"
Here is indicated the glory of di~nities. First, the glory of a king. As stated: "The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!" As Job 19:9 records: "He has stripped from me my glory, and taken the crown from my head."
Second, is the glory of the temple. Here sadness is placed upon it.
Verse 17 פ
"For this our heart has become sick, for these things our eyes have grown dim." That is, due to a multitude of tears. For, as the prophet Jeremiah 8:18 declares: "My grief is beyond healing, my heart is sick within me."
Verse 18 צ
"For Mount Zion which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it."
Here is indeed cause for sadness: "For Mount Zion which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it." That is, where the temple is. And: "jackals prowl over it." As if they were residing in remote desert places. Thus, the prophet Micah reports: "Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height." (Micah: 3:12).
Verse 19 ק
"But thou, O Lord, dost reign forever; thy throne endures to all generations."
Here a person is inclined to beseech the Lord. First is acknowledged the eternity of the divine being, or substance. As said: "But thou, O Lord, dost reign forever." Then is expressed the duration of the divine royal glory: "thy throne endures to all generations." Thus, Psalm 102(101):12 states: "But thou, O Lord, art enthroned forever; thy name endures to all generations."
Verse 20 ר
"Why dost thou forget us forever, why dost thou so long forsake us?"
Then, there is a wondered indigration. As said: "Why dost thou forget us forever, why dost thou so long forsake us?" Just as the prophet Isaiah 49:15 exclains: "Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?"
Verse 21 ש
"Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored. Renew our days as of old."
Thirdly, a prayer is prolonged. As stated: "Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored! Renew our days as of old!" And as the prophet Jeremiah elsewhere proclaims: "bring me back that I may be restored, for thou art the Lord my God." (Jer: 31:18).
On the contrary, the prophet Zechariah 1:3 proclaims: "Therefore say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you."
Yet, it must be said that each proclamation is true, due to the fact that a preparation of one's will is demanded for deeds of merits, and for an infusion of divine grace.
Then: "Renew our days as of old!" Thus Job 29:2 exclaims: "Oh, that I were as in the months of old, as in the days when God watched over me."
Verse 22 ת
"Or hast thou utterly rejected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?"
Finally, is considered the need for praying. As stated: "Or hast thou utterly rejected us? Art thou exceedingly angry with us?" And as Jeremiah elsewhere states: "Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? Does thy soul loath Zion? Why hast thou smitten us so that there is no healing for us?" (Jer: l4;l9).
Home > Lamentations > St. Thomas Aquinas on Lamentations > Chapter 2 > Chapter 3 > Chapter 4 >