Lamentations 5:7
Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities.
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(7) We have borne their iniquities.—The words seem at first parallel to the proverb of the “sour grapes” in Jeremiah 31:29; Ezekiel 18:2. Here, however, it is followed in Lamentations 5:16 by a confession of personal guilt, and the complaint is simply that the former generation of offenders had passed away without the punishment which now fell upon their descendants, who thus had to bear, as it were, a double penalty.

Lamentations 5:7-10. Our fathers have sinned, and are not — Death hath secured our fathers from these evils, though they had sinned; but the punishment they escaped, we suffer in the most grievous degree: see note on Jeremiah 31:29. The expression, is not, or, are not, is often used of those who are departed out of this world, Genesis 42:13. Servants have ruled over us — Servants to the great men among the Chaldeans, and other strangers, are become our masters, Nehemiah 5:15. We gat our bread with the peril of our lives, &c. — It was at the hazard of our lives that we brought in the grain out of the fields, on account of the robbers who infested the country. Blaney thinks that the prophet refers here to the incursions of the Arabian free-booters, who, he supposes, might not be improperly styled, the sword of the wilderness, to whose depredations the people, on account of their weak and helpless state, were continually exposed, while they followed their necessary business. Our skin was black like an oven — Famine and other hardships changed the very colour of our countenances.5:1-16 Is any afflicted? Let him pray; and let him in prayer pour out his complaint to God. The people of God do so here; they complain not of evils feared, but of evils felt. If penitent and patient under what we suffer for the sins of our fathers, we may expect that He who punishes, will return in mercy to us. They acknowledge, Woe unto us that we have sinned! All our woes are owing to our own sin and folly. Though our sins and God's just displeasure cause our sufferings, we may hope in his pardoning mercy, his sanctifying grace, and his kind providence. But the sins of a man's whole life will be punished with vengeance at last, unless he obtains an interest in Him who bare our sins in his own body on the tree.And are not; and we ... - Or, they are not; "we have borne their iniquities." Our fathers who began this national apostasy died before the hour of punishment. 7. (Jer 31:29).

borne their iniquities—that is, the punishment of them. The accumulated sins of our fathers from age to age, as well as our own, are visited on us. They say this as a plea why God should pity them (compare Eze 18:2, &c.).

We must not understand this in the same sense as Ezekiel 18:2, where God reflecteth upon them for using a proverb to this sense. It is the prophet who here speaketh, and in the name of the godly Jews, who would not excuse themselves as if they suffered merely for their forefathers’ sins. But the prophet confesseth and bewaileth that God had punished their iniquities and the iniquities of their forefathers together; and it was better with their forefathers who had sinned, and were dead and gone, than with them, upon whom the punishment of their iniquity did abide, and was like so to do a long time. Our fathers have sinned, and are not,.... In the world, as the Targum adds; they were in being, but not on earth; they were departed from hence, and gone into another world; and so were free from the miseries and calamities their children were attended with, and therefore more happy:

and we have borne their iniquities; the punishment of them, or chastisement for them: this is not said by way of complaint, much less as charging God with injustice, in punishing them for their fathers' sins, or to excuse theirs; for they were ready to own that they had consented to them, and were guilty of the same; but to obtain mercy and pity at the hands of God.

Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne {d} their iniquities.

(d) As our fathers have been punished for their sins: so we that are guilty of the same sins are punished.

7. we have borne their iniquities] See on Jeremiah 31:29. The children, who, however, it must be acknowledged (see Lamentations 5:16) shared the guilt of preceding generations, have to bear the penalty escaped by their forbears.Verse 7. - We have borne their iniquities. The fathers died before the iniquity was fully ripe for punishment, and their descendants have the feeling that the accumulated sins of the nation are visited upon them. This view of national troubles is very clearly endorsed by one important class of passages (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Jeremiah 32:18). The objection to it is forcibly expressed by Job (Job 21:19), "God [it is said] layeth up his iniquity for his children: [but] let him requite it to himself, that he may feel it!" Hence Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:30) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:1, etc.) insist on the truth that every man is punished for his own sins. Of course the two views of punishment are reconcilable. The Jews were not only punished, according to Jeremiah 16:11, 12, for their fathers' sins, but for their own still more flagrant offences. Supplication and statement regarding the distress. The quest made in Lamentations 5:1 refers to the oppression depicted in what follows. The words, "Remember, O Lord, what hath happened (i.e., befallen) us," are more fully explained in the second member, "Look and behold our disgrace." It is quite arbitrary in Thenius to refer the first member to the past, the second to the present, described in what follows, Lamentations 5:12-16. The Qeri הבּיטה is an unnecessary alteration, after Lamentations 1:11; Lamentations 3:63. - With Lamentations 5:2 begins the description of the disgrace that has befallen them. This consists, first of all, in the fact that their inheritance has become the possession of strangers. Rosenm׬ller rightly explains נחלה to mean, terra quae tuo nobis dono quandam est concessa. נחפך is used of the transference of the property to others, as in Isaiah 60:5. Many expositors would refer בּתּינוּ to the houses in Jerusalem which the Chaldeans had not destroyed, on the ground that it is stated, in 2 Kings 25:9 and Jeremiah 52:13, that the Chaldeans destroyed none but large houses. There is no foundation, however, for this restriction; moreover, it is opposed by the parallel נחלתנוּ. Just as by נחלה we are to understand, not merely the possession of Jerusalem, but of the whole country, so also בּתּינוּ are the dwelling-houses of the country in towns and villages; in this case, the question whether any houses still remained standing in Jerusalem does not demand consideration at all. Ngelsbach is wrong in his remark that נחלה and בּתּים respectively mean immovable and portable property, for houses are certainly not moveable property.
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