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Lamentation Of The Poet Over The Destruction Of Zion: [the Destruction Described And Attributed To Jehovah.—W. H. H.]
[“The first song expresses sorrow over the disgrace of the city: the second describes the terrors of the destruction of the city and Temple” (Gerlach, Intr, p. 5), and connects them with the vengeance of God. In the first song, the city is the conspicuous object, and Zion and the holy places appear as accessories to her former honor and her present disgrace. In the second song, God’s personal agency in the calamities described is the controlling idea (see Lamentations 2:1-9; Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 2:20-22), and the Temple or Zion, as the place of His habitation, is the prominent object, while the city appears only as the locality or scene of Zion’s former glory and the present cause of her deepest distress. The first words in each suggest the theme of each:—“How doth the city sit solitary! How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His wrath!”1—The chapter is composed of two sections: 1.Lamentations 2:1-10, a description of the judgment which the Lord had inflicted; 2.Lamentations 2:12-22; Lamentations 2:12-22 lamentations over this judgment. The similarity of the general structure of Song of Song of Solomon 1:2, their division into two almost equal parts, the first chiefly descriptive, the second more strictly composed of lamentations, is an evidence that they were written by one author, and help to compose one complete and symmetrical poem.—W. H. H.]
א Lamentations 2:1. How doth the Lord cover with a cloud, in His anger,
The daughter of Zion!
He, from Heaven, hath cast down to the ground
The glory of Israel,
He remembered not His footstool.
In the day of His anger.
ב Lamentations 2:2. The Lord swallowed up and spared not
All the habitations of Jacob:
He demolished in His wrath
The strongholds of the daughter of Judah:
He cast down to the ground—He polluted
The kingdom and its princes.
ג Lamentations 2:3. He broke in hot anger
Every horn of Israel.
He turned back His right hand
Before the enemy.
And He set Jacob on fire—
As a flame of fire devoureth round about.
ד Lamentations 2:4. He bent His bow as an enemy:
He stood—with His right hand as an adversary—
All the delights of the eye.
In the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion
He poured out, as fire, His fury.
ה Lamentations 2:5. The Lord became as an enemy:
He swallowed up Israel;
He swallowed up all her palaces;
He destroyed all His strongholds:
And increased in the daughter of Judah
Mourning and lamentation.
ו Lamentations 2:6. And He laid waste as a garden His tabernacle:
He abolished His appointed solemnities:
Jehovah caused to be forgotten in Zion
Appointed solemnities and Sabbath days:
And rejected in His furious anger
King and Priest.
ז Lamentations 2:7. The Lord cast away with disdain His altar,
He abhorred His Sanctuary.
He gave up into the enemy’s hand
The walls of her palaces.
They shouted in Jehovah’s house
As on a day of appointed solemnity.
ח Lamentations 2:8. Jehovah purposed
To destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion.
He stretched out a line:
He withdrew not His hand from devouring.
Then He caused rampart and wall to mourn;
They languished together.
ט Lamentations 2:9. Her gates have sunk into the ground:
He destroyed and broke her bars.
Her King and her Princes among the Gentiles—
There is no law!
Her Prophets also
Find no vision from Jehovah!
י Lamentations 2:10. The elders of the daughter of Zion
Sit on the ground,—they are silent,—
They throw up dust upon their heads,
They put on sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem
Bow their heads to the ground.
In this song, as in the preceding one, the alphabetical construction interferes with the succession of the several steps and parts of the great drama in their regular order; yet, on close examination, some regard to the arrangement of events, with reference to their nature and occurrence, is observable. There is given, first of all, a comprehensive survey of the whole work of destruction, Lamentations 2:1-2. Then follows a brief recital of the events of the war, from its beginning to the capture of the city, Lamentations 2:3-4. Then is described the complete destruction of the Temple, the houses and the walls, by Nebuzaradan, four weeks after the capture of the city (see Jeremiah 52:13-14), Lamentations 2:5-9 a. Thus far only the material objects of the destruction are spoken of. What follows relates the sufferings of the persons who were involved in the catastrophe. From Lamentations 2:9 b we learn the fate of the King, Princes and Prophets; in Lamentations 2:10 we see the elders and the virgins lamenting; in Lamentations 2:11 the Poet describes his own sufferings, etc. [Naegelsbach does not recognize the very obvious division of this chapter into two parts. Gerlach makes three sections, Lamentations 2:1-22.—The first part naturally divides itself into two equal sections: Lamentations 2:1-5 contain a general description of the punishment of Zion; Lamentations 2:6-10 relate particularly to the destruction of Zion itself.—W. H. H.]
[In an alphabetical poem, where attention is directed to the initial letters, it may not be without significance that in Song of Song of Solomon 1:2, the initials of the first three words are similar, spelling איב, that may mean hated, despised, or an enemy. In [illegible] initials of the first four words of i. we have איבה, enmity.—W. H. H.]
1How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not 2his footstool in the day of his anger! The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied; he hath thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah: he hath brought them down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:1.—יָעִיב. From the verbal stem,עוּב, from which is עָב, a cloud, only this single form occurs, and this is ἅπ. λεγ. [בְּאַפּוֹ. Gerlach: “not with wrath (Ewald), but in His wrath, as similar expressions at the close of this ver. and in Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:6; Lamentations 2:21-22, show.”—אֲדֹנָי. See Intr. Aäd. Rem. p. 32.]—הִשׁלִיךְ—Only used in Hiph. and Hoph.; frequent in Jeremiah 7:15; Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 9:18; Jeremiah 41:9, etc.—אֶרֶץ. Accusative of place, in answer to the question, Whither? 1 Samuel 25:23; 1 Kings 1:31; Isaiah 49:23; Amos 9:9; Obadiah 1:3; Psalms 147:15; my Gr., § 70, b. Jeremiah uses אֶרֶץ as accusative after verbs of going and coming very frequently, Jeremiah 37:12; Jeremiah 40:12; Jeremiah 42:14; Jeremiah 43:7, etc.—תִּפְאָרָה ּתִּפְאֶרֶת, a corresponding word, is very frequent, with Jeremiah 48:17; Jeremiah 13:11; Jeremiah 13:18; Jeremiah 33:9.—זָכַר, in same sense, Jeremiah 31:20; Jeremiah 15:15. מֲדוֹם, not found in Jer.—Jeremiah never says יוֹם אַף. The only place in which he connects אַף with the idea of a particular time, he says בְּעֵת אַפְּך, Jeremiah 18:23. The expression is found in Lam. only here and Lamentations 2:21-22.
Lamentations 2:2.—בִּלַּע. Jeremiah uses only Kal, and that only once, Jeremiah 51:34. Piel in this chapter five times, Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:5, bis, 8, 16, nowhere else in Lam.—[אֲדֹנָי. See Intr. Add. Rem. p. 32]—לֹא חָמַל. [K’ri,וְלֹא. “The asyndeton is much used in this species of verse at the half pause.” Blayney.] Jeremiah uses the word חָמַל, Jeremiah 13:14; Jeremiah 15:5; Jeremiah 21:7; Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 51:3. But to express the thought, which לֹא חָמַל here represents, Jeremiah uses וְלֹא נִחַם, Jeremiah 20:16. [With all deference, the thought in Jeremiah 20:16 is only analogous to the thought here, which is exactly expressed in the passages first cited. This is not to be overlooked In considering the peculiarities of Jeremiah’s style and language.—W. H. H.]—נְאוֹת יַֽעֲקֹב occurs only here. [Blayney translates נְאוֹת pleasant places, following the Sept., πάντα τὰ ὡραῖα, and the Latin, omnia speciosa. Douay: all that was beautiful in Jacob. Though נָאָה is used in this sense in the Piel, there is no clear case where the noun has this sense; it designates either dwellings, Psalms 74:20; Psalms 83:13, or pasture-grounds regarded as the dwellings of shepherds and their flocks, Amos 1:2; Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 25:37; Psalms 23:2; Psalms 65:13. Fuerst translates it here unprotected, open cities, opposite of walled and fortified places.—W. H. H.]—הָרַם Jeremiah uses frequently, Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 31:28, etc.—He uses עֶבְרָה only twice, Jeremiah 7:29; Jeremiah 48:30.—מִבְצְרֵי בֵת־יְהוּדָה. See Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 5:17.—חִלֵּל, Piel, occurs in Jeremiah 16:18; Jeremiah 31:5; Jeremiah 34:16; comp. Isaiah 43:28.—מַמְלָכָה וְשָׂרֶֽיהָ. Sept. has βασιλέα αὐτῆς. They must have read מַלְכָּהּ as in Lamentations 2:9. The Syriac and Arabic read so also. Yet the authority of the Septuagint is much too precarious to change the reading of the text, which is also found in the Vulg. and Chal. Besides, it is much easier to explain how מַלְכָּהּ, at the time in sight at Lamentations 2:9, could originate from סַפְלָכָה, than it would be to account for the reverse. מַמְלָכָה in connection with שְׂרֶיהָ (the suffix of which refers to the former) and with reference to נָאוֹת and סִבְצָרִים, is without doubt to be taken in the sense of royalty=kingship, regia potestas. Jeremiah uses the word in this sense, Jeremiah 27:1; Jeremiah 28:1. [Fuerst: dominion, reign, kingdom.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:1. How—see Lamentations 1:1—hath the Lord covered—doth the Lord cover—the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger. The Poet has evidently the image of a thunder-storm in his mind. The wrath of Jehovah envelops Zion in a cloud, out of which the destroying lightning (see next clause) descends upon her. [Wordsworth: “The Lord hath poured out His fury on Zion, as in a tempest, and has dashed down her beauty as with lightning, and has not spared the Ark of His Sanctuary.” Gerlach:in his wrath. “The frequent repetition of this expression (see at the close of Lamentations 2:3; Lamentations 2:6; Lamentations 2:21-22) shows that this chapter is especially intended to exhibit the fury of the wrath of God against Jerusalem; as in the first chapter the repetition of the formula, indicating the absence of help and comfort, corresponds to the description of the extreme distress described in that chapter.”] The expression daughter of Zion occurs Lamentations 1:6, and Jeremiah 4:31; Jeremiah 6:2; Jeremiah 6:23.—And cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel. To understand this it is necessary to determine first of all to whom the words from heaven refer. At the first glance they seem to refer to the object of the verb cast down. In that case the beauty of Israel would be in Heaven and from Heaven hurled down to the earth. But in what sense was the beauty of Israel in Heaven? To answer this, we must first know what is meant by the beauty or glory of Israel. The word in the original תִּפְאֶרֶת, by itself, could indicate the Temple which the Israelites called בֵּית תִּפְאַרְתֵּנוּ [lit., house of our glory; E. V., our beautiful house], Isaiah 54:10; comp. Isaiah 60:7; Isaiah 63:15; or, the ark of the covenant, in reference to which the daughter-in-law of Eli gave to her child the name of Ichabod, which is thus interpreted (1 Samuel 4:21-22), “And she named the child Ichabod, [Marg.: where is the glory? or, there is no glory], saying, The glory is departed from Israel (because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband): and she said, The glory is departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken.” See Psalms 78:61. The word תִּפְאֶרֶת is, however, in itself too abstract and general, and there is too little in the context to fix its definition, to allow us to say with confidence that it denotes in the concrete any particular object. We are obliged, therefore, to acquiesce in its general sense, and to understand by it the glory of Israel in general, especially all that distinguishes Israel as the chosen people before all peoples. All this is truly, by the destruction of the Theocracy, cast down to the ground. Should we now refer from Heaven to the object of the verb cast down, then we must take it figuratively, as expressing the height of the glory or beauty of Israel, which is thus denoted as towering up to Heaven. But Heaven שָׁמַיִם is never used in this figurative sense in the Old Testament. The places which are cited as proving such a use of the word (Genesis 11:4; Job 20:6; Isaiah 14:12; Dan 4:8; 2 Chronicles 28:9; comp. Genesis 4:10) are entirely irrelevant. In the New Testament only Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15 (“and thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto Heaven,” etc.) afford possible analogies for such a figurative use of this phrase. Therefore I believe (with Dathe, Kalkar and others) that from Heaven is to be referred to the subject of the verb cast down:the Lord from Heaven casts down the glory of Israel to the ground. This also suits admirably the idea expressed in the verb in the first clause, יָעִיב = to cover with a cloud, under which the image of a thunder-storm is suggested. From the Heavens the Lord, by a stroke of lightning, casts down the glory of Israel. From Heaven,מִשָּׁמַיִם. is often used in this sense. Jos 10:11; 2 Samuel 22:14; Genesis 19:24; Exodus 16:4, etc.—And remembered not His footstool in the day of His anger. The ark of the covenant is explicitly called the footstool of Jehovah in 1 Chronicles 28:2, where David says, “I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord and for the footstool of our God” [and for the footstool. “The conjunction and is exegetical, and the same with that is.” So says Joseph Mede in his article on Psalms 132:7, “We will go into His tabernacle, we will worship at (towards,Mede) His footstool.”—W. H. H.]. The ark of the covenant may be so called, because He, who is enthroned upon the cherubim (2 Samuel 6:2; Psalms 80:2; Psalms 99:1) [see also 1 Samuel 4:4, which Mede translates sitteth upon the cherubims.—W. H. H.], has the cover of the ark of the covenant [the mercy-seat] at His feet, wherefore it is also said, that the Lord speaks מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶתfrom above the mercy-seat,Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89. Therefore, without doubt, the ark of the covenant is to be understood as the footstool, towards which worship is said to be directed in Psalms 99:5; Psalms 132:7. [Alexander: on Psalms 99:5. “Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and prostrate yourselves to His footstool.—Bow down. (or prostrate) yourselves, as an act of worship. Not at His footstool, as the were place of worship, but to it, as the object, this name being constantly given to the ark, 1 Chronicles 28:2; Lamentations 2:1; Psalms 132:7; Isaiah 60:13. Even in Isaiah 66:1, there is allusion to the ordinary usage of the terms. The ark is here represented as the object of worship, just as Zion is in Isaiah 45:14, both being put for the God who was present in them.” Calvin: “The design of the Prophet is to show to the people how much God’s wrath had been kindled, when He spared not even His own sanctuary. For he takes this principle as granted, that God is never without reason angry, and never exceeds the due measure of punishment. As, then, God’s wrath was so great that He destroyed His own Temple, it was a token of dreadful wrath. * * He (the prophet) could not have better expressed to the people the heinousness of their sins, than by laying before them this fact, that God remembered not His footstool in the day of His anger.”]—The three members of the verse are so related to each other, that the first exhibits Zion as completely enveloped as it were in a thunder cloud, the second represents the glory of Israel as destroyed by the lightning, the third dwells especially on the fact, that the Lord had not so much as spared the holiest of holy things, the ark of the covenant.
[יָעִיב. Naegelsbach translates it verdunkelt;Gerlach,umwölkt;Hugh Broughton,beclouded.—Owen, in a note to his translation of Calvin, observes that this verb is clearly in the future tense, and proposes to translate it, “Why should the Lord in His wrath becloud the daughter of Zion?” “Then follows,” he says, “a description of what had happened to Zion, He hath cast from Heaven,” etc.Scott seems to take the same view of the expostulatory character of the sentence, when he says, the prophet “inquires, with mingled surprise and regret, how the Lord, the Author of her afflictions, could be induced thus to distress her?” But it is better to take the verb in the sense of the present, How doth the Lord cover, etc., as Blayney, Boothroyd, Naegelsbach and Gerlach. The Poet “assumes an ideal point of vision prior to” the actual occurrence of the event, “and so regards it as future.” Yet while he speaks, the thing is done: and the description is completed in the past tense. The future as thus used in Hebrew, is best translated by the present in English. See Green’sGr., § 263, 5. “The intermingling of different tenses in relation to the same subject, which is so frequent in poetry, foreign as it may be to our modes of thought, does not justify the conclusion that they are used promiscuously or without regard to their distinctive signification” (Ib. note “a.”). If we accept Naegelsbach’s idea of the thunder-cloud and the lightning, the use of the future in the first verb is very forcible. The Poet sees the cloud gathering, and while he looks, the lightning has flashed and the work of destruction is complete.—Aben-Ezra, according to Rosenmueller, see also Calvin, explains the word to mean lifted up to the clouds. God exalted the daughter of Zion to the clouds, “in His wrath,” that He might cast her down from a greater height. “For when one wishes to break in pieces an earthen vessel, he not only casts it on the ground, but he raises it up, that it may be thrown down with greater force” (Calvin). We need some evidence better than this ingenious argument that the word can have this meaning.—The Chald. and Syr., Gesenius in his Thes.,Maurer and J. D. Michaelis translate the word sprevit, contumelia vel opprobrio affecit, dishonored, disgraced, finding for this sense an analogy in the Arabic. The principal argument for this is, that he who is thrown down from Heaven is not surrounded with clouds. We answer 1. According to Naegelsbach above, “from Heaven” refers to the subject and not to the object of the verb “cast down.” 2. The figure of the thunder-cloud implies rather that the cloud covered the doomed City and Temple, and not that they were lifted up into the clouds. 3. There are two subjects expressed, as well as two verbs. Not the daughter of Zion, but the glory of Israel is cast down to the ground.—Gerlach gives a poetical explanation to the first two clauses, “Jerusalem is compared to a star, that once shone brightly, but was first clouded over and then thrown to the earth:” and seems to imagine an allusion to Isaiah 14:12. But his beautiful star shines only in his fancy, and not in the text.
Lamentations 2:2. The Lord hath swallowed up.—The Poet has in mind the idea of a yawning abyss. See Exodus 15:12; Numbers 16:30-32; Numbers 26:10; Deuteronomy 11:6; Psalms 106:17. [All the English versions translate the verb swallowed up, except Henderson (destroyed) and the Douay (The Lord hath cast down headlong, from Vulgate, precipitavit). Yet it seems manifest, from the use of the same word in Lamentations 2:5; Lamentations 2:8; Lamentations 2:16 (see also Habakkuk 1:13; Isaiah 25:7-8; Isaiah 49:19; 2 Samuel 20:19), that the word is used merely to signify utter destruction, without intending to suggest, even in a figurative sense, the exact method of destruction, as by such “a yawning abyss” as is referred to in passages cited by Naegelsbach. Gerlach has destroyed, vertilgt,Calvin also, perdidit.—W. H. H.]—All the habitations of Jacob. The word rendered habitations includes the ideas of dwellings and pasture-grounds. It indicates the places where the Nomadic spread his tent and allowed his flock to graze. Hence the frequent phrase נְאוֹת מִדְבָּר [lit. dwellings of pasture-land], Psalms 65:13; Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 23:10; Joel 1:19-20; Joel 2:22. And hath not pitied. See Lamentations 2:17; Lamentations 2:21; Lamentations 3:43. And spared not. [So the Sept. and Vulg. E. V. pitied, is most in accordance with the use of the word: yet the idea of sparing, in the exercise of mercy, is suggested by the order of the words in the original, The Lord swallowed up and spared not all the habitations of Jacob. So Calvin, Broughton, Gerlach.—W. H. H.]—He hath thrown down—demolished, in His wrath the strongholds of the daughter of Judah.The strongholds of Judah stand in antithesis to the habitations of Jacob; not only the open unprotected places, where the people dwelt among their pasture and grazing lands, but also the fortified cities were visited with destruction.—The daughter of Judah, see Lamentations 1:15; Lamentations 2:5. The expression is very suitable, since only Judah still had any strongholds. See Jeremiah 34:7.—He hath brought them down to the ground: He hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof.He cast down to the ground, He polluted the kingdom and its princes. The expression הִגִיעַ לָאָרֶץ, to bring down to the ground, is used very explicitly of fortified places in Isaiah 25:12; Isaiah 26:5, comp. Ezekiel 13:14. Yet to refer it here to what precedes, results in a troublesome asyndeton. Then, too, the structure of the verse would be irregular, for the second idea and clause of the verse would have three lines or members, and the third only one. Finally, there is an idea in bringing down to the ground [or made to touch the ground; margin, E. V.], akin to that of pollution, which immediately follows. For majesty is polluted by being brought into contact with common dust. Compare Psalms 89:40, חִלַּלְתָּ לָאָרֶץ נִזְרוֹ, “Thou hast profaned his crown, by casting it to the ground.” [In favor of Naegelsbach’s construction Isaiah 1:0. the absence of the conjunction. 2. The prevailing meaning of the verb נָגַע followed by לְ, to touch, to come in contact with. 3. The natural division of the verse. 4. The excellent sense. This construction is adopted by Rosenmueller, Ewald, Neumann, Blayney and Noyes. The only objections to it are 1, the application of the phrase brought down to the ground, in Isaiah, to the razing of fortified places; and 2, which is a stronger objection, the Masoretic punctuation.—W. H. H.]
3He hath cut off in his fierce anger all the horn of Israel: he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy, and he burned against Jacob like a flaming 4fire which devoureth round about. He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye it the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:3.—גָּדַע. Only the Niph. is found in Jeremiah 48:25; Jeremiah 50:23.—חָֽרִי אַף, not in Jeremiah.—לֶהָבָה, Jeremiah 48:45.—אָֽכְלָה סָבִיב, see Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 46:14; Jeremiah 50:32. Jeremiah always employs as the object of אָכַל in this sense, סְבִיבִים or סְבִיבוֹת.
Lamentations 2:4.—דָּרַךְ קֶשֶׁת, Jeremiah 9:2; Jeremiah 46:9; Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 51:3.—There is no sufficient reason for questioning the pointing of נִצָּב as Part. Niph. It is in apposition with דָּרַךְ נִצָּב is used of God’s coming in judgment in Isaiah 3:13; Psalms 82:1. Its close connection by וְ with the next verb should not be unobserved. He stood or set Himself—His right hand as an adversary—and slew, etc.—W. H. H.] Jeremiah never uses the Niph. נִצָּב, only the Hiph., Jeremiah 5:26; Jeremiah 31:21, and Hithp., Jeremiah 46:4; Jeremiah 46:14.—The verb הָרַג (see Lamentations 2:20-21; Lamentations 3:43), is scarcely current with Jeremiah. He uses only the Part. (Jeremiah 31:21) and Inf. Kal. (Jeremiah 15:3). [Lowth, Prelim. Dissert, on Isaiah, and Blayney supply after this verb כָל נַעַר, every youth, from the Chaldee Paraphrase, to supply an apparent defect in metre.—W. H. H.]—The expression אֹהֶל בַּת צ֯ occurs only here.—[The recurrence in Jeremiah of the figures of bending the bow and of pouring out fury as liquid fire (see Jeremiah 4:4; Jeremiah 7:20; Jeremiah 21:12; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:6) may be regarded as evidences of authorship.—W. H. H.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:3-4. When it is here said that the Lord had broken the horn of Israel, then that He had deprived him of his right hand, then that He had kindled a fire in Jacob, and as an enemy had assaulted him, it is evident that a climax is intended. There is described first the deprivation of the power of resistance, then the deprivation of help, then the progress to positive hostility. Thenius sees in Lamentations 2:3-4 a full statement of all the incidents of the war, from the capture of the frontier fortresses to the taking of the city by storm. He understands, therefore, by the horn of Israel, “those places of defence which were prominent, like horns, consequently frontier fortresses;” hath drawn back his right hand, etc. describes the retreat of the Jewish armies to the capital; he burned against Jacob, etc., the effusion of the hostile troops over the land of which they were to become masters; he hath bent his bow, etc., the institution of siege; he stood with his right hand, etc., and slew, etc., the assault and storming of the city; he poured out his fury like fire, the capture of the city. Some of this hits the true sense, but not all. That horn should indicate the frontier fortresses, is artificial. It is to be considered, too, that the phrase is כֹל קֶרֶן, all the horn [it may mean, however, every horn: the absence of the article makes this sense most probable.—W. H. H.] To draw back the bow would not indicate the first attack of the city, for that attack was not made with arrows only. To stand with the right hand as an adversary does not mean to begin to fight with the right hand, and does not therefore describe an exclusively hand to hand fight. Certainly, as already remarked, the description advances from merely negative to directly positive hostility, but the latter is described, not by the successive steps of the siege, but according to the various and—as far as practicable—simultaneous events of the achievement, wherein the most impressive event, representing, of course, the end, is placed last of all.
Lamentations 2:3. He hath cut off—He broke—in his fierce anger—in hot anger. See Exodus 11:8; Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 7:4; 1 Samuel 20:34; 2 Chronicles 25:10. [The pronoun his supplied in E. V. is unnecessary, and weakens the sense. There is a rhetorical climax in the words—anger,אַף, Lamentations 2:1; wrath,עֶבְרָה, Lamentations 2:2; and heat of anger, or hot, fierce, furious anger, חֳוִי־אַף, Lamentations 2:3.—W. H. H.]—All the horn of Israel—Every horn of Israel. See Jeremiah 48:25; Ps. 75:11. According to constant usage, the horn is a symbol of power; see Psalms 18:3; Psalms 75:5-6, etc. [Calvin: “We know that by horn is meant strength as well as excellency or dignity; and I am disposed to include both here, though the word breaking seems rather to refer to strength or power.” Noyes: “every horn, i.e., all her means of defence.”]—He hath drawn back—He bent back—his right hand from before the enemy. Does the pronominal suffix his, in יְמִינוֹ, his hand, refer to Jehovah, or to Israel? Grammatically either is possible, and the sense in either case is substantially the same. The answer must depend on which interpretation best agrees with the usage of speech. The expression in full, as it is here, is found nowhere else in the Old Testament. It is worthy of remark that Jeremiah never uses יָמִין = right hand, in a figurative sense. The word occurs in his book only once, Jeremiah 22:24, and then in its literal sense. The only places that can be adduced as parallel to this place are, on the one side, Psalms 74:11 (with reference, perhaps, to the expression נְטוּיָה זְרוֹעַ—a stretched-out arm,Exodus 6:6, and elsewhere), and on the other side, Psalms 44:11; Psalms 89:43-44; comp. Isaiah 41:13. Whilst the first named passage distinctly expresses the thought that Jehovah draws back His hand, and that His right hand, the other passages declare that the Lord let the people or the edge of the sword fall back from before their enemy. It seems to me that in our passage the word אָחוֹר, back, backward, standing in connection with סִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב, before the enemy, decides for the latter meaning. For in Psalms 74:11 it is merely תָשִׁיב יָֽדְךָ, thou withdrawest thy hand. Here the אָחוֹר, backward, must change the sense. Drawing back the hand is merely the opposite of stretching it out (זְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה) and an act of volition consistent with the possession of strength. But falling back before the enemy is a symptom of weakness, which could not be asserted of the hand of Jehovah. As it is said elsewhere that Jehovah strengthens the right hand (Isaiah 41:13), or elevates it (Psalms 89:43), so it can be said that He lets it fall back (as if it had become weak), and this falling back of the right hand is the same, as is elsewhere explained, as a falling back of the person generally (Psalms 44:11), or of the sword (held by the right hand, Psalms 89:44). [Owen (in a note on Calvin): “Gataker, Henry, Blayney, and Henderson, consider the right hand as that of Israel—that God drew back or restrained the right hand of Israel, so that he had no power to face his enemies. But Scott agrees with Calvin; and favorable to the same view are the early versions, except the Syr., for they render the pronoun his own, suam; the Targ. also takes the same view. Had the word been hand, it might have been applied to Israel; but it is the right hand, which commonly means protection, or rather God’s power, as put forth to defend His people and to resist enemies. This is farther confirmed by what is said in the following verse, that God stood with His right hand as an enemy. See Psalms 74:11.” Gataker’s argument, in Assembly’s Annotations, on the other side, is very strongly put, and agrees in its main points with Naegelsbach’s. Yet, for the following reasons, it seems necessary to stand by the versions and interpreters that refer the pronoun to God. 1. The pronoun usually belongs to the subject of the verb where its personal object, is not specified. By adhering to this rule, we would often escape uncertainty and confusion. 2. After such an introduction as in Lamentations 2:1, How hath the Lord done all this, and the subsequent use of His with reference to God (Lamentations 2:1, His anger, twice, His footstool; Lamentations 2:2, His wrath; Lamentations 2:4, His bow, His right hand, His fury, etc.), it certainly seems arbitrary and violent in this instance to refer it to another subject. 3. It is awkward, to say the least, to make his right hand in Lamentations 2:3 mean one thing, and in Lamentations 2:4 another. 4. Throughout this whole passage, Lamentations 2:1-10, the people of Israel are represented as passive objects of Divine wrath, and no allusion is made to the slightest activity on their part in resisting the instruments of wrath, as would be done here if his refers to Israel. 5. This makes excellent sense, and preserves the continuity of the thought, verging as usual towards a climax. God breaks off the horn of Israel, that they can no longer oppose their enemies; He bends back His own right hand, and thus withdraws His own opposition to those enemies; and while Israel lies thus helpless in themselves and deprived of God’s help, He pours down upon them the fiery fury of His own wrath, and becomes Himself like an enemy fighting against them. The bending back of His hand may be intended to express God’s resistance to His own merciful impulses towards His own people. He forcibly bends back the hand He had already stretched out in Israel’s behalf.—W. H. H.]—And he burned against Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about—And He set Jacob on fire, as a flame of fire which devours round about [i.e., He, as a flame of fire which consumes all around it, set Jacob on fire]. בָּעַר with בְּ of the object is so often used in the signification of setting on fire, then of consuming by fire (Numbers 11:1; Numbers 11:3; Isaiah 30:33; Isaiah 42:25; Isaiah 43:2; Jeremiah 44:6; Job 1:16; Psalms 106:18), that we may take it here unhesitatingly in the same sense. This, indeed, is the only admissible sense. For should we take in, Jacob,בֲּיֽעֲֹקב, in a local sense, we must still understand יִבְעֵר of the kindling of the fire, in which sense only is the Piel used (comp. Exodus 35:3; Jeremiah 7:18; Ezekiel 21:4). Then, too, we see the force of the particle of comparison, כְאֵשׁ, like a flame. Evidently the meaning is that the Lord had become to Jacob as a flaming fire. He had become so by kindling the consuming fire of war in the land. See Deuteronomy 32:22.
Lamentations 2:4. He hath bent His bow like an enemy. The Lord attacks Israel with all kinds of weapons: and so with the bow. Comp. Psalms 7:13; Deuteronomy 32:23. [Calvin: “Stating a part for the whole, he includes in the bow every other weapon.” Kitto: “The Hebraism for bow is like that for bread. As the latter includes all food, so does the former include all weapons.” (Daily Bib. lll., Vol. 3, p. 295.)—He stood with His right hand as an adversary. He stood at his right hand as an adversary. We cannot take his right hand as the subject of the verb (נִצָּב)—erecta est manus ejus instar hostis (Kalkar) [His right hand stood erect like an adversary,Blayney]—for neither does the verb mean to be erected, raised up, nor does its gender allow this construction. I think it also incorrect to take his right hand as the accusative of the instrument, as Thenius, Vaihinger and others do. For to stand with the right hand as an adversary is an unusually odd expression, with no example to sustain it. Ewald would give to the verb נִצָּב the meaning of taking aim at something. [So Henderson:He hath steadied His right hand like an adversary. “The point of the comparison here is obviously that of the care taken by the archer to obtain a steady aim.”] Ewald appeals to Psalms 11:3, but the phraseology in that place is entirely different. I think that passages like Psalms 109:6; Zechariah 3:1 illustrate this. In those places the enemy is represented as standing at the right hand. As it is said elsewhere that the friend and helper stands at the right hand, in order to support and strengthen the right hand (Psalms 16:8; Psalms 73:23; Psalms 109:31; Psalms 110:5; Psalms 121:5; Isaiah 41:13), so it is also said that the enemy places himself at the right hand, in order, by hemming it in and weakening it, to overcome its resistance. That יְמִינוֹ, his right hand, has to be taken as an accusative of place, is no objection (see my Gr., § 70, c;Exodus 33:8), though elsewhere a preposition is used (see the places above referred to, Psalms 109:6; Zechariah 3:1 and Psalms 45:10). [The ingenious reference of his right hand to Israel is peculiar to our author: though Chaldæus, as quoted by Rosenmueller, adopts a similar construction, but with reference to the enemies of Israel:—“He has placed Himself at the right hand of Nebuchadnezzar, in order to assist him.” Besides the absence of the preposition which this interpretation would seem to require, a very strong objection to it is the sudden change of person. For the principal reasons for supposing the right hand in Lamentations 2:3 refers to God, because God is the subject of the preceding clause, and no other person is specified, we believe the right hand in Lamentations 2:4 also refers to God; if his bow means God’s bow, and not Israel’s, then his right hand would naturally mean God’s, and not Israel’s, or Nebuchadnezzar’s, or any other person’s. It is not necessary, however, to violate grammar by giving to the Niphal participle an active or perfect sense, as Ewald and others have done. We can translate literally thus: He stood, or was standing, or set Himself—His right hand as an adversary. The ellipsis is characteristic of Hebrew poetry, and may be supplied by quoad, as to, or exegetically with, as in our version: He stood with His right hand as an adversary. Wordsworth: “The Prophet first has a general view of the awful form of the Almighty, and then beholds His Right Hand putting itself forth as an enemy against Sion.’ ” Rosenmueller: “He has placed Himself as regards His right hand, as if with it He would hurl at me a javelin.” See Gerlach also.—W. H. H.]—And slew all that were pleasant to the eye—And destroyed all that charms or delights the eye. The delights of the eye (see Lamentations 1:7; Lamentations 1:10-11) are evidently those in whom the eyes of parents take the greatest delight, the virgins and the young men,Lamentations 1:18. [Calvin:He slew all the chosen men. It is better to take the verb הָרַג, to kill, slay, metaphorically, as in Psalms 78:47, for destroy (Henderson).—W. H. H.]—In the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion. If the daughter of Zion is the body of the inhabitants of Zion, then the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion is the dwelling-place of those inhabitants, i.e., the city. [These words are connected with what follows, not with the preceding clause: In the tabernacle of the daughter of Sion poured He out like fire His fury. So Blayney, Gerlach, Naegelsbach. Calvin prefers it. The Masoretic punctuation requires it.—W. H. M.]—He poured out His fury like fire. The figurative idea of the outpouring of wrath, conceived of as liquid fire, is found elsewhere in Lamentations 4:11; Hos. v: 10: Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 42:18; comp. Jeremiah 14:16. That the Poet would indicate the capture and destruction of the city, is clear.
5The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces; he hath destroyed his strongholds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:5.—אַרְמוֹן, in Lam. only here and Lamentations 2:7. Often in Jeremiah 6:5; Jeremiah 9:20, etc.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
According to Jeremiah 52:13-14 (see also 6, 12), four weeks after the capture, Nebuzaradan had burned ‘the house of Jehovah, the house of the king, all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great house,’ and destroyed the walls. To these facts Lamentations 2:5-9 a seem to refer, though they relate only to the destruction of the palaces, the holy places and the walls. [The particular description of destruction of holy places begins at Lamentations 2:6.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:5. The Lord was as an enemy.The Lord became as an enemy. This is specified, first of all, as the cause of these calamities. As an enemy, see Lamentations 2:4, and כְּאַלְמָנָהas a widow, Lamentations 1:1.—He hath swallowed up (see Lamentations 2:2) Israel, He bath swallowed up all her palaces; He bath destroyed his strongholds.Israel, on the one part, and the palace and strongholds, on the other, are to each other as the people and the city. Palaces here, as remarked, seem to correspond to “the king’s house” and “all the houses of the great men,” or “every great house,” כָּל־בֵּית הַגָדוֹל in Jeremiah 52:13. Strongholds, see Lamentations 2:2.—He hath destroyed his strongholds, is a quotation from Jeremiah 48:18. Commentators differ with respect to the suffixes in אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ, her palaces, and מִבְצָרָיו, his strongholds. Some think the feminine suffix her refers to the daughter of Zion, Lamentations 2:4, the masculine suffix his to Israel. Others think that Israel itself may be conceived of, at one time as the name of the country, at another as the name of the city. [This is the opinion of Gerlach, who refers to a very similar instance in Hosea 8:14, where the feminine suffix is attached to the same word as here, אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ, her palaces, and where, as here the masculine would be expected.—W. H. H.] J. D. Michaelis would read אַרְמְנוֹת יָהּ, palaces ofJehovah.Thenius conjectures that -ֶיהָ, her, has been changed into ־ָיו, his, by the omission of a stroke of the pen. But all the commentators, so far as I see, have overlooked the fact that the last words are a quotation. In this way we easily explain the masculine suffix, which not only disagrees with her palaces, but violates the rule by which, every where else in the Lamentations, Zion is conceived of as a female person. The word is either a very old scribal error for מִבְצָרָֽיִךְ, thy strongholds (yet the Sept. has τὰ ὀχορώματα αὐτοῦ), or the Poet has chosen the suffix that best preserved the similarity of sound with the original text. He could do this in virtue of the greater freedom which prevails in the Hebrew with respect to denoting the gender. See my Gr., § 60, 4. As in Ezekiel 23:36-49, where Aholah and Aholibah are spoken of, the suffixes are constantly changed (see especially 2:46); so here also possibly, the suffixes are changed even after a masculine or feminine idea floated before the mind of the Poet. [The mere recurrence of two not very remarkable words in succession, can hardly be regarded as a quotation. But unfortunately there is in the present instance a dissimilarly which is very prejudicial to the idea of a quotation. Here we read שִׁחֵת מִבְצָרָיו; in Jeremiah 48:18 it is שׁחֵת מִבְצָרָֽיִךְ, and our author is obliged to suppose a possible scribal error, or to invent an auricular theory of quotation. It seems necessary here to adopt the opinion of those who, according to Rosenmueller, refer the masculine suffix to God and the feminine to the daughter of Zion. He swallowed up all her palaces, He destroyed His own strongholds. This is not to be discarded as a mere conjecture where every other mode of interpretation is purely conjectural. It is recommended by the arguments adduced for the explanation of his in Lamentations 2:3. It avoids the difficulty of supposing that pronouns of different genders refer to the same person. The her refers to the ideal person Israel, the daughter of Jerusalem. Her palaces are the habitations of the people. His own strongholds are the defences of Zion which is His habitation. Grammar and Rhetoric both commend this explanation.—W. H. H.]—And hath increased or multiplied in the daughter of Judah, see Lamentations 1:15, mourning and lamentation. The last words in the original are a beautiful paronomasia, borrowed from Isaiah 29:2, תַּֽאֲנִיָה וַֽאֲנִיָה. [Henderson: “Sorrow and sadness.” Vitringa:Mœror ac mæstitia.Gerlach:Betrübniss und Trobsal.Naegelsbach:Æchzen und Krächzen], See תֹּהוּ וָבֹהוּGen 1:2; שׁוֹאָה וּמְשֹׁאָה, Job 30:10; שְׁמַמָה וּמְשַׁמָּה, Ezekiel 35:3.
6And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden; he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised, in the indignation of his 7anger, the king and the priest. The Lord has cast off his altar, he hath abhorred his sanctuary, he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the Lord, as in the day of a solemn feast.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:6.—The verb חָמַם is found in Jeremiah 22:3; Jeremiah 13:22.—שׂךְ for סֹךְ, see Crit. note below.—The definite article in כַּגַך is in accordance with recognized philological usage. See my Gr., § 71, 4 a. Drechsler, Is., Vol. 2., p. 203 n. [The definite article was used in comparisons because “the Hebrew commonly conceived of the whole class of objects of which he spoke.” See Green’s Gr., § 245, 5 d.—W. H. H.]—מוֹעֵד, the first time is used of festival place (see Psalms 74:8; comp. 1 Samuel 20:35), and then of the festival itself (see Lamentations 1:4). [See Crit. note below.]—שִׁכַח. This Piel form is found only here. It must be taken in the accusative sense.—שַׁבָּת occurs in Jeremiah only in Jeremiah 17:21-27, where the profanation of the Sabbath is referred to.—נָאַץ, in Lamentations only here; in Jeremiah 14:21; Jeremiah 23:17; Jeremiah 33:24.—זַעַם, in Lamentations only here; in Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 15:17; Jeremiah 50:25.
Lamentations 2:7. זָעַח, three times in Lamentations 2:7; Lamentations 3:17; Lamentations 3:31, never in Jeremiah.—אֲדֹנִי, see Lamentations 1:14 [Introd. Add. Rem. p. 32].—נִאֵר. This verb is found only here and in Psalms 89:40. [Blayney. renders it as Niph., His sanctuary is accursed, but conjectures from Sept., ἀπετίναξεν, the true reading may be &א נִעֵר substituted for ע, He hath shaken off His Sanctuary. As the meaning could only be conjectured from the ancient versions (see Alexander, Psalms 89:40), it is not improbable that the Sept. gave it the sense of נָעַר. So Broughton, cast off, and Calvin, repulit vel rejecit procul ab animo suo. The fundamental signification of the verb is to reject, to repudiate. Fuerst gives the Piel sense, to cast down entirely, to repudiate, to reject. This agrees with the accepted translation of Psalms 89:40. The sense of abhor, derived from a cognate Arabic root, would suit that place, as well as this; and is more agreeable to the corresponding word in the first clause, זָנַח, if the fundamental idea of זָנַח is to be foul, to stink, as Gesenius says, though Fuerst, with good reason, denies this. The idea of abhorring or of rejecting with disdain or disgust, is given to both these verbs by Naegelsbach and Gerlach. Naegelsbach translates, The Lord rejected with disdain His altar, He abhorred His sanctuary, and Gerlach just reverses the expressions, The Lord abhorred His altar, He rejected with disdain His sanctuary.—W. H. H.]—מקְדָּשׁ, See Lamentations 1:10; Lamentations 2:20, twice in Jeremiah 17:12; Jeremiah 51:51.—הִסְגִּיר, see 1 Samuel 23:20; Psalms 31:9, is not found in Jeremiah. The only part of the verb he uses is the Pual, and that only once, Jeremiah 13:19. [Naegelsbach translates this verb “verschloss,” shut up, see marg., E. V. He makes no remark upon its meaning. Fuerst regards םָגַר to surround, enclose, Hiph. to shut up, and סָגַר to flow out, Hiph. to deliver up, as entirely distinct verbs, and says that “all attempts to unite their meanings must be regarded at failures.”—W. H. H.]—אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ. The connection requires us to understand this of the sanctuary, although no place can be cited in which אַרְמוֹן is used of the Temple; for Jeremiah 30:18, to which some appeal, is to be explained otherwise: See notes on that place. J. D. Michaelis would read, אַרְמְנוֹת יָהּ, palace of Jehovah.—קוֹל נָֽתְנוּ, see Jeremiah 22:20.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[Lamentations 2:6-10 describe particularly the destruction of the holy places. Here God claims a special property. Everything is His. The emphatic use of the pronoun, shows that it is also significant in Lamentations 2:5, his strongholds as distinguished from her palaces.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:6. And He hath violently taken away His tabernacle (marg., hedge) as if it were of a garden.And He laid waste as a garden His tabernacle. The meaning of the verb is to use violence, to offer violence. To do violence to a garden is to lay it waste. The laying waste of a garden has these peculiarities; it is easily done, it is in some sense a crime against nature, and for that reason a garden laid waste is a revolting as well as a sad spectacle.—But what is the meaning of the word שׂךְ, translated tabernacle (marg., hedge)? That it stands for סֹךְ, cannot be doubted סֹךְ constantly denotes that sort of (hütte) hut, cot, bower, that is made of wicker-work [or plaited twigs, boughs], also lairs of beasts similarly constructed, Jeremiah 25:38; Psalms 10:9. [J. A. Alexander: “The Hebrew word is commonly applied to any temporary shed or booth, composed of leaves and branches.” But, according to Fuerst, the word is derived from סַךְ=to protect, and means properly, “the covering, protecting, screening thing (not a thing woven together out of branches) hence a covering, hat, tent; a covert, lair.”—W. H. H.] Then it denotes a house generally, and especially the holy tabernacle, Jehovah’s house, Psalms 76:3; as does also סֻכַּה, Psalms 18:12; Job 36:29 : comp. סִכּוּת; Amos 5:26.—If now it is said, that the Lord hath done violence to His tabernacle as to a garden, the tertium comparationis, the point of the comparison, consists in the facility with which the end is accomplished and in the contrast between the proper condition of things and that which the laying waste has produced. As easily as one might root up plants, fell trees and plough the ground, has the Lord overthrown the firm walls of His sanctuary; and as sad and incomprehensible as the appearance of a devastated pleasure garden is the spectacle of the sanctuary in ruins. The comparison is the more apt, because the city of God, with her joyous fountains, springing from the dwelling-place of the Most High (Psalms 46:5; comp. Psalms 84:1-4), could with truth be called גַך־יְהוֹהַ, Jehovah’s garden (Isaiah 51:3), παράδεισος εὐλογίας, a Paradise of glory (Sir 40:27). [On the whole, our English Version seems best to express the true sense of this difficult passage, “and He hath violently taken away His tabernacle as if it were of a garden,” i.e., as if it were but such a cottage in the garden as vinedressers were accustomed to build till the vintage was past. So Calvin. This interpretation involves a play on the word שׂךְ, as properly meaning a garden house, and also denoting Gods tabernacle.—W. H. H.]—He hath destroyed His places of the assembly.He destroyed His place of assembly (Festort). [So Henderson. Noyes:place of congregation.Blayney:His congregation. It is better (see note below), to translate, He abolished His appointed services, or solemnities.—W. H. H.]—The Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion.Jehovah exterminated [caused to be forgotten] in Zion festival [appointed times of Divine service] and Sabbath.—The result of the destruction of the place for holding festivals is, that the festivals themselves can no longer be celebrated and are forgotten. By Zion, not Mount Zion, but the holy city generally is meant [on the contrary, in the strictest sense the holy places are intended.—W. H. H.].—And hath despised, in the indignation of His anger, the king and the priest.And rejected [so Fuerst also] in the fury of His wrath King and Priest. Since the festivals are no longer celebrated, those persons who were appointed to officiate in them, are by their omission removed from active service. That the kings belonged to this class of persons is evident, because they were, not only God’s representatives to the people, but also intercessors with God in behalf of the people. “The Israelitish king (especially in the persons of David and Solomon) bore a certain priestly character, in that the king at the head of the people and in their name worshipped God and, on the other hand, brought back to the people the Divine blessing (2 Samuel 6:17-18; 1Ki 3:4; 1 Kings 8:14-15, etc.; 1 Kings 8:55-56, etc.; 1 Kings 8:62-63, etc.; 1 Kings 9:25; 1 Chronicles 29:10-11, etc.;2 Chronicles 1:6; comp. Ezekiel 46:1-12).” Oehler in Herz.,Real-Enc. VIII., pp. 12, 13.
שׂךְ. That this word stands for סֹךְ is evident, because, 1. שׂ and ם frequently are interchanged, especially in the later language (see סוּג and שׂוּג, 2 Samuel 1:22, פָּדַס and &רָפַס פָּרַשׂ and רָפַשׂ, Ges.Thes., p. 931. Ewald, § 50 a). 2. We find in Exodus 33:22 the verbal form שׂכֹּתִי for סַכֹּתִי, and in Isaiah 5:0:5מְשׂוּכָּה for מְסוּכָם, Micah 7:4. Micah 7:3. Since שָׂכַךְ and מְשׂוּכָּח occur only in the places cited, and שׂךְ is found only here, it would appear that these forms are not so much indications of an independent root שֵׂכַךְ, as merely different ways of writing סָכַךְ. [When Gerlach says that סֹךְ never means hütte, a cot, tent, or tabernacle, he overlooks Psalms 76:3, where it undoubtedly describes the holy Temple as God’s tabernacle house or dwelling-place. To his argument that שׂךְ would be an unsuitable designation of the Temple, because if it means a house at all, it can only mean such a house as a cot or bower made of twisted branches of trees, it may be replied; 1. the Temple might be so called in allusion to the ancient tabernacle which was temporary and movable; 2. שׂךְ may be derived from שָׂכַךְ in the generic sense of enclosing, and not in the particular sense of enclosing with a hedge or fence, as שׂוּךְ to weave. Indeed Gerlach seems to give up the very point for which he so ably contends, that שׂךְ cannot mean a house, when he gives it here the sense of an enclosure (Gehege) and applies it to the whole sacred enclosure, including of course the Temple. Henderson, also, translates the word His inclosure.—W. H. H.] The Sept. translates καὶ διεπέτασεν ὡς ἄμπελον τὸ σκήνωμα αὐτοῦ [He tore up as if it had been a vine His tabernacle]. It would seem that Job 15:33 was in the mind of the translator, where it is said, יַחְמוֹם כַּגֶפֶך בִּסֵרוֹ [He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, E. V. Ewald accepts (in his 3d ed.) the Sept. translation, and supposes כַּגֶפֶן, instead of כַּגַּן, to be the true reading. To this Gerlach objects—1. That חָמַס cannot mean to tear up, to pull out; 2. The conjecture that כַּגֶפֶן may have existed in the text is unnecessary, since the Sept. translator may have interpreted גַן as a vineyard and translated it by ἄμπελος=a vine, as כֶּרֶם is translated by the Sept. in Leviticus 25:3-4.—W. H. H.] The explanation of Pareau, Rosenmueller and Kalkar,et violenter abripuit sicut sepem horti sepem suam [Noyes:He hath violently torn away His hedge, like the hedge of a garden], according to which כַּגַן would be taken for כְּשׂךְ גַן, is not grammatically allowable, since such an omission of the governing word, after the particle of comparison, could only occur where the context necessarily required the word to be supplied,—as, for example, when it is said, Isaiah 63:2, בְּגָדֶיךָ כְדֵֹךְ בְּגַת [“thy garments like the garments of him that treadeth in the winevat”], we supply the idea of בִּגְדֵי before דֹּרֵךְ, because the garments could not be compared to the person of the man treading the wine-press. So Genesis 18:11 and other passages which might be adduced here, are to be explained. See my Gr., § 65, 3, note 103, 2. But in our passage there is no necessity for supplying שׂךְ before גַן, because the laying waste of the house can very well be compared to devastation of a garden. The explanation of Thenius, “He injured that which was, in respect to His house (שֻׂכּוֹ, standing in an entirely subordinate relation), the garden, by which is meant the Temple courts,” is altogether too artificial. If the courts could be called the garden of the Temple, for which, however, Thenius adduces no evidence, why did not the Prophet at once call it simply גַּן שֻׂכּוֹ [Gerlach: “The translation of Thenius,He injured as the garden of His tabernacle, i.e., that which was the garden with respect to His Tabernacle, speaking analogically (whereby the two courts surrounding the Temple-edifice and connected by terraces, would be designated, which might be poetically regarded as the garden belonging to the Palace of the King of Israel), requires גַּן to be taken in the construct case in spite of the article—an anomaly, for the justification of which (see Ewald, § 290, d;Gesenius, § 108, 2, n) something more is demanded than the remark, ‘שֻׂכּוֹ stands in an entirely subordinate relation,’ for in point of fact it absolutely determines the meaning of גַּן”=the garden of His tabernacle.—סוֹעֵד. This word occurs six times in Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:15; Lamentations 2:6, bis, Lamentations 2:7; Lamentations 2:22. Our translators render it in five different ways, and in this verse, where it occurs twice, in two different senses. In Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 2:6 they call it the solemn feasts; in Lamentations 1:15, an assembly; in Lamentations 2:6, places of the assembly; and the phrase כְּיוֹם סוֹעֵד, they translate in Lamentations 2:7, as in the day of a solemn feast, and in Lamentations 2:22, as in a solemn day. That the word could have such variety of meaning in such close connection is improbable. The word is derived from יָעַד, to appoint. It means something fixed, determined upon, appointed. It is used in the sense of a set time, an appointed place, a time or place appointed for meeting together, especially for purposes of religious worship, and hence the regularly appointed and observed ordinances or services of worship. As connected with the assembling of the congregation for worship, it is not unlikely that the word acquired some ambiguity in its use, like our English word church, referring sometimes to time or place of service, sometimes to the people engaged in the service, and sometimes to the service itself. But we can always trace in the use of the Hebrew word its original signification of a set or appointed time, place or service: and never, perhaps, has it the simple unqualified meaning of an assembly, a congregation, a festive occasion. There is no necessity of ascribing to it so many significations in the Lamentations, and two entirely different meanings in two successive lines of this one verse. In Lamentations 1:15 it may have its primitive meaning of a set time. In Lamentations 2:7; Lamentations 2:22 the phrase יוֹם סוֹעֵד may mean a day appointed, fixed upon, predetermined, for any especial occasion. In the other three places, where it occurs, it refers to the services appointed to be celebrated in the Temple. The reference is probably to the daily services of sacrifice, praise and prayer. The cessation of the annual feasts and greater festivals, which were of infrequent occurrence, would not be so remarkable as the abrupt and entire cessation of morning and evening prayer which had been observed, without intermission, for nearly five hundred years, or ever since the Temple was first consecrated.—There is, therefore, no real difference in the use of this word in the Prophecies of Jeremiah and in the Lamentations.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:7. The Lord hath cast off—The Lord rejected with disdain—His altar,—He hath abhorred—He abhorred—His sanctuary. The altar and sanctuary are recognized as the central points and chief places of Divine worship. By this it is obvious that מִקְדָּשׁ, sanctuary, here must signify, not in its widest sense the Temple generally, which has been already sufficiently indicated by שׂךְ, tabernacle, and מֹעֵד, place of assembly, Lamentations 2:6, but in its narrower sense the sanctutuary proper, the Temple which contained the Holy place and Holy of Holies. This sense best corresponds with סִזְבֵח [an altar, in the widest sense, or place where offerings are made.—W. H. H.], for not the altar alone, but the holy place and the holy of holies were places of offering (Exodus 30:1-10).—He hath given up—He gave up—into the hand of her enemy the walls of her palaces. The connection requires us to understand by the walls of her palaces the walls of the sanctuary. [The altar is treated with contempt, the holy places are defiled, the edifice itself is given into the power of the enemy, and where we once heard the voices of a worshipping people, is heard now the wild clamor of heathen idolators.—W. H. H.]—They have made a noise—they shouted, or raised a cry or clamor—in the house of the LORD—in the house of Jehovah—as in the day of a solemn feast [lit., like a day—a time appointed, which can only refer to some regularly appointed festival of the church, and is here to be so translated, though we might render in conformity with Lamentations 2:6 and Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:15, a day of appointed religious services, with reference, however, to the great festivals of the church.—W. H. H.]. A clamor, loud as a festival jubilee, but of a different origin, and character, is heard in the temple. It is a festival for their enemies, not for Israel (Lamentations 1:15). At this feast Israel is the victim sacrificed. [ Wordsworth: “a noise, a cry of jubilee. There is a contrast between the former shout, of festal joy of worshippers in the Temple, and the cry of exultation of the Chaldeans, ‘Down with it! Down with it to the ground!’ ” Gerlach: “קוֹל (cry) is not to be understood, with Pareau and Rosenmueller, of the war-cry, but of the shouts of joy and triumph on the part of the enemy, as the comparison with the jubilee-festival shows (see Isaiah 30:29).” See crit. note, Lamentations 2:6.]
8The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore 9he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:8.—הִשְׁחִית, often in Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 36:29, etc.; in Lam. only here.—קָו. Jeremiah 31:39, K’ri.—Kal of אָבַל in Jeremiah 12:11; Jeremiah 14:2; Jeremiah 23:10; Hiph. only in Ezekiel 31:15 and here.—חֵל, not in Jer.—אֻמְלַל is used in a precisely similar way in Jeremiah 14:2.
Lamentations 2:9.—אִבִּד, Piel, in Lam, only here, in Jer. often, Jeremiah 12:17; Jeremiah 15:7; Jeremiah 23:1; Jeremiah 51:55.—שִׁבַּר, in Lam. only here and Lamentations 3:4, in Jeremiah 43:13, comp. Jeremiah 5:30.—בְּרִיחַ, Jeremiah 49:31; Jeremiah 51:30.—חָזוֹן, Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:16.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:8. The LORD hath purposed—Jehovah purposed—to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion. As has been remarked, we are explicitly informed, Jeremiah 52:13-14; 2 Kings 25:9-10, that four weeks after the capture of the city, Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the Temple, the houses and the city walls. Of the destruction of the walls the passages cited speak with special emphasis (Jeremiah 52:14 and 2 Kings 25:10), “and all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.”—He hath stretched out a line—He stretched out the measuring-line. The architect employs the measuring line in order to build correctly. Jehovah applies it in order to level the wall to the ground in the most literal manner. This figure substantially occurs in Amos 7:7-9; the expression first occurs in Isaiah 34:11; 2 Kings 21:13 and Job 38:5 [see Zechariah 1:16. Gerlach: “The use of the measuring line denotes that the destruction of the building will be executed with the same rigorous precision with which an architect carries out his preconceived plan. Michaelis’ explanation is too artificial; ‘a line, as it were, designated the extent of the destruction, that the devastating punishment might be proportionate to the guilt.’ ” J. A. Alexander: on Isaiah 34:11. “The sense of the metaphor may be, either that God has laid this work out for Himself and will perform it (Barnes), or that in destroying He will act with equity and justice (Gill), or that even in destroying He will proceed deliberately and by rule (Knobel), which last sense is well expressed in Rosenmueller’s paraphrase, ad mensuram vastabitur, ad regulam depopulabitur,” it is laid waste by measure, it is depopulated by rule. While the idea of the thoroughness and completeness of the work of destruction, as indicated by Gerlach, suits better here than any of the other explanations suggested above, and is undoubtedly included in the meaning of the words, yet the main thought is, that God Himself predetermined the extent of the destruction; Jehovah purposed it and Hestretched out a line to mark its beginning and its end. Human instruments were both incited and restrained by Him. It was a line stretched out, not after, but before the destruction, not to show its extent, but to define its limits, “designed to point out what was to be destroyed” (Owen).—W. H. H.]—He hath not withdrawn His hand from destroying (marg., swallowing up). He withdrew,or averted not, His hand, see Lamentations 2:3, from devouring, destroying, swallowing up, see Lamentations 2:2. [What He had designed, He executed. He withdrew not His hand till the full measure of destruction indicated by the line was complete.—W. H. H.].—Therefore He made—Then made He—the rampart and the wall to lament—rampart and wall mourn. The two words, rampart and wall, are united as here in Isaiah 26:1. “Rampart,” חֵל (see 2 Samuel 20:15; Obadiah 1:20) is the pomœrium, the circumvallation, or the smaller wall in front of the chief wall. [Fuerst: “The outermost fence of fortifications, the glacis, the (outermost) rampart around the city walls, pomœrium,προτείχισμα, antemurale.” In 2 Samuel 20:15 it is rendered in E. V. by “trench.” In Obadiah 1:20, not expressed in E. V., it means, according to Fuerst,a province.—.W. H. H.]—They languished together. A prosopopœia, as in the preceding expression, “He made rampart and wall mourn,” and in Lamentations 1:4. Comp. Lamentations 2:18-19.
Lamentations 2:9. [In Lamentations 2:1-8 the Lord executing His wrath has been constantly before us. Now the work is done: and in Lamentations 2:9-10, we are afforded a brief glance at the results, after the catastrophe was over.—W. H. H.] The first part of this verse may be taken as a continuation and conclusion of the foregoing description; or as merely a recapitulation, by way of transition to what follows. If the latter is correct, then the gates are to be regarded as a part of the walls, and with the walls sunken into the ground. But, since the gates constituted the most important part of the walls, and were in fact the very centres of public life (see their use as Forums,Deuteronomy 21:19; Rth 4:1; 2 Samuel 19:9; 1 Kings 22:10) and were moreover the keys to the city, we may regard them as representative of the city itself, and so understand the first part of Lamentations 2:9, as a comprehensive conclusion of the preceding description.—Her gates are sunk into the ground. The sense of the verb by itself (טָבַע is not to sink down, but to sink into), as well as the prefix בְּ, shows that בָּאָרֶץ is not to the earth, but into the earth. The ruined gates sink into the earth, and on account of the accumulation of ruins are buried beneath the level of the ground. [Assem. Annot. “The Jewish Doctors upon the place, out of their Talmudists, tell us strange stories of the gates of Jerusalem sinking down into the ground, that they might not come into the enemies’ power, because they were the work of David’s hands: and some of ours run as wildly wide another way, expounding it of the Priests and Judges that were wont to sit in the gates, see Lamentations 5:14. I conceive no more to be meant than that the gates were thrown down to the ground, and lying along there (such of them and such parts of them as had escaped the fire, Lamentations 1:4; Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 2:3; Nehemiah 2:13; Nehemiah 2:17), were buried in the rubbish when the walls were demolished. See Nehemiah 2:13-14; Nehemiah 4:10.” Gerlach: “This is said of the gates because they were so completely destroyed (Pareau, Thenius,buried under rubbish), that no more trace could be seen of them than if they had sunk into the ground, not because (as Michaelis says) the gates overthrown by the enemy sunk into ditches dug under them.”]—He hath destroyed and broken.—He destroyed and broke in pieces [literally and phonetically shivered,שִׁבַּר]—her bars [the bars that, secured the gates, see Psalms 107:16,—W. H. H.].—Her King and her Princesare among the Gentiles,the heathen. From this point the discourse relates to persons instead of things. If the king and princes were already among the heathen, then the transportation into exile had already taken place.—The law is no more—there is no law, (Kein Gesetz ist mehr vorhanden). תוֹרָה, law, may denote by itself the whole law, a particular part of the law, or the law as a rule of conduct, considered, however, subjectively with respect to the theory, i.e., as the matter of instrouction (institution, doctrina is in fact the fundamental meaning of the word). Add to this that אֵין תּוֹרָה, there is no law, may grammatically refer to the whole preceding sentence (“there they cannot practise the law,” Luther) [the King and Princes are among the Gentiles, where they cannot, observe the law]; or merely to בַּגּוֹיִם, among the Gentiles (“who have no divine revelation,” Kalkar), [“among the Gentiles” who are “without law ,” which would be a correct, translation of the Hebrew. Hugh Broughton gives this sense and refers to Romans 2:14, “Her King and her Princes are among the heathen that have no law.”—W. H. H.]; or it may be taken as an independent proposition. If we compare such passages as Jeremiah 18:18 (לֹא־תֹאבַד תּוֹרָה מִכֹּהֵן, “the law shall not perish from the priest”), Ezekiel 7:26 (וְתוֹרָה תֹּאבַד מִכֹּהֵן, “but the law shall perish from the priest”), Malachi 2:7 (וְתוֹרָה יְבַקְשׁוּ מִפִּיהוּ, “and they should seek the law at his mouth”), we would incline to the opinion that תּוֹרָה, law, refers only to instruction out of the law and administration of the law by the priests. But why then are not the priests named? And have not the kings and princes, as judges and guardians of the legal order (Deuteronomy 17:8-20), their share in the administration of law? I believe, therefore, that while אֵין תּוֹרָה, there is no law, is to be taken, as an independent proposition, it is to be understood in the widest sense, as indicating that there was no longer any sort of administration (whether priestly or kingly) of the law. [Gerlach adopts the translation Her king and her princes are among the heathen without law, with Luther’s explanation, referring the words without law to the whole preceding part of the sentence, “Her king and her princes are among the heathen where they cannot observe the law, or enjoy it.” A strong objection to this is that it transfers our thoughts and sympathies from the deplorable condition of Jerusalem, which is here the subject, of description, to the personal condition of her king and princes in a far distant land. Besides, the very structure of the sentence leads us to expect something directly relating to the daughter of Zion. When we are told that her king and her princes are among the heathen, we are prepared to hear of some evil resulting to her from their absence. What that evil result is, we are in fact informed if we understand the Poet to mean, that on account of the absence of “her king and her princes,” she is deprived of “the law.” This agrees substantially with Naegelsbach’s interpretation, but he has erred in making two wholly independent sentences of what is really only one, though consisting of two poetical parts as the rhythmical structure requires. The correct translation is—Her king and her princes among the heathen—there is no law. This is recommended by the two arguments which Gerlach very forcibly urges in favor of his rendering. 1. It is in accordance with the Hebrew accents, which Naegelsbach entirely ignores and violates, and which connect the words without law, or there is no law with what precedes. 2. “This explanation, agreeing with the accents, is further recommended by the fact that the two last members of verse 9 describe the fate of those persons, standing to the city in the relation of Helpers and Counsellors or Comforters (her king and her prophets), of whose help and counsel, or comfort, the city had been deprived, even as (according to the first member of Lamentations 2:9) she had been deprived of the external means of protection. It is the deprivation of all these, formerly the medium of divine help, that the Poet mourns (see Hosea 3:4; Hosea 13:10; Isaiah 3:2),” Gerlach. Another argument for the translation suggested is, that it renders a verb in the first part of the sentence unnecessary, or helps us at least readily to suply it. If we make two wholly independent sentences, as Naegelsbach does, then there is not in the whole book a similar instance of the omission of a verb: and, indeed, it is somewhat conjectural what verb ought to be supplied; the simple fact, that the king and princes are among the Gentiles, is not of itself and necessarily an evil, we must add to this another idea that they are exiled, or imprisoned, or disgraced, or suffering, or dying among the Gentiles. If, on the other hand, we read the two clauses as intimately connected and interdependent, as the accents imply, then the proper verb in the first clause, if indeed any verb is necessary, is suggested by the last clause, and the construction is not wholly unparalleled in the book. Her king and her princes among the nations—there is no law, plainly means (Because), her king and her princes (are) among the nations—there is (for her) no law. So in Lamentations 1:2. And her tears on her cheek, there is no comforter to her from all her lovers, means undoub edly, and her tears (are) on her check (because) there is no comforter,” etc. In both cases the two clauses are related as cause and effect, and in both the use of the Hebrew אֵין, which contains in itself the verb “to be,” prevents what would be the case otherwise and what would be an anomaly in this book, the occurrence of a whole sentence without a single verb expressed. In the other instances in this book, in which our English translators have thought it necessary to supply the verb to be, its omission in the original is highly poetical and very expressive I. 4. “And she is in bitterness,” (וְהִיא מַר־לָהּ), lit. and she—bitterness to her, and Lamentations 1:20, “for I am in distress,” כִּי־צַר־לִי, lit. for trouble to me, are Hebrew idioms quite synonymous with the old English forms “woe’s her,” “woe’s me!” In Lamentations 1:22, “for my sighs are many, and my heart is faint,” lit. for many my sighs, to my heart sickness, the omission of the verb, while it does not mar the sense, intensifies the expression, when these words are read in their close connection with the preceding prayer. So in our text, the absence of the verb is due to the broken, rapid, vehement style of the poetry of passion; Her king and her princes among the heathen—there is no law. But if we take the first clause as a complete and separate statement of the mere fact that her king and her princes are among heathen, the omission of the verb must be regarded as a blemish and a carelessness of which the writer of the Lamentations is no where else guilty.—The meaning of law, according to this interpretation is obvious. The law of the land, which was the law of God as especially revealed for the government of the Jewish theocracy, is no longer observed and administered, for its guardians and administrators, the king and the princes are in exile. All “legal observances” were swept away (Henderson.). The law, moral, ceremonial and judicial, as regarded its administration in Judea, “was no more” (Owen.).—W. H. H.]—Her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.Also her prophets receive no longer vision [revelation from God, divine communication] from Jehovah. These words have been taken as evidence that, the Poet, in the whole of the foregoing description, had in mind only the condition of the Israelites remaining in the land. But if Jeremiah received an answer to the question which he put to the Lord ten days after he asked it (Jeremiah 42:4; Jeremiah 42:7), then it could not be said that the prophets could receive no vision from the Lord. I believe, there, fore that the Poet here had in mind the great body of the people who had been carried into exile. Those who, with their king, princes and priests, were “among the heathen,” and on that account “without law,” were the ones who were also without prophets. [Not the people as such, whether in exile, or remaining in Judea, but the ideal person of “the daughter of Zion” (see Lamentations 2:1; Lamentations 2:4; Lamentations 2:8; Lamentations 2:10) is the subject of this description. That her gates were sunken into the ground and her bars broken into pieces, localizes the scene depicted in Jerusalem. It is, further, her king and her princes who are “among the heathen,” so that she is left “without law.” In strict reference to this mystical personage, representing the genius of the theocratic people mourning amid the ruins of Jerusalem, it is now added “also her prophets find no vision from Jehovah.” To suppose the Poet in the first clause of the verse to speak of Jerusalem, and in the two following clauses of the people in exile, is to cause an abrupt transition from one subject to another subversive of all unity of construction, and to cover with a cloud of rhetorical confusion, in addition to the cloud of Divine anger, the unique and beautiful conception of the daughter of Zion sitting solitary and forlorn, weeping, helpless and comfortless, amidst the ruins of the theocratic city. If, as Naegelsbach argues, it could not be said that the people remaining in the land were without “vision from Jehovah,” because Jeremiah received an answer to his question as related in Jeremiah 42:4-7, much less may it be affirmed that the exiles were without “vision from Jehovah,” since at that very time Ezekiel was exercising his prophetical office in Babylonia. In point of fact, however, the time of which the Poet speaks is subsequent to the period referred to in Jeremiah 42:4-7 : a time, not only succeeding the destruction of the city and the transportation of the mass of the people to Babylonia, but posterior to the flight of the fugitives to Egypt, carrying the Prophet with them, as is evident especially from Lamentations 4:17-20; Lamentations 5:6; Lamentations 5:9. At this time, doubtless, Jeremiah himself in Egypt, and Ezekiel and perhaps Daniel in Babylonia, and not improbably other prophets, whose names have not come down to us, were speaking to the people as moved by the Holy Ghost. How then could it be said that the prophets of the daughter of Zion found no vision from Jehovah, since whatever was spoken by a prophet of God, whether in Jerusalem or at any distance from it, was, according to our theocratic idea, intended for the whole church, however its members might be scattered? The answer is that her prophets found no vision from Jehovah which had for its object her deliverance from her present sorrows. Her material defences were broken down, her natural guardians and the administrators of her laws were in captivity, and her prophets had no word from the Lord for her relief, her help, her comfort. Indeed the words of her prophets at this time, as these very Lamentations show, while not without intimations of a future deliverance, destroyed every vestige of hope of any immediate interposition of God in her behalf. Jeremiah delivered no encouraging prophecies to the Jews after the city was destroyed. There is nothing in Ezekiel of an encouraging character, after this event was fully consummated, if we except the obscure visions relating to a remote future in the last chapters of his book. Daniel delivered no prophecy containing any promise of temporal blessing to the Jews, till towards the very close of the captivity. As Scott remarks, “There seems to have been at this period a very peculiar suspension of that information and encouragement, which the prophets had for many ages been employed to communicate to the people. Except Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, no prophet is mentioned from the beginning to the end of the captivity, when Haggai and Zechariah were raised up. This chasm was an evident token of divine displeasure, and must have been a very sensible aggravation of the suffering endured by the pious remnant.”
10The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up the dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:10.—יֵשְׁבוּ לָאָרֶץ. See בָֽדְֽרוּ לארץ, Jeremiah 14:2 [they lie mourning on the ground].—The form יִדְּמוֹ (see Olsh., § 143, d, 265 c) is not without analogies in Jeremiah, for he says נִדְּמָה, Jeremiah 8:14; תִּדְמֶינָה, Jeremiah 14:17 [Fuerst makes thou word Niph., Davidson, Kal.]—עָפָּר does not occur in Jeremiah [nor any equivalent for it.—W. H. H.].—חָֽגְרוּ שַׂקִּים, see Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 49:3.—הוֹרִיד, Jeremiah 49:16; Jeremiah 51:40.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:10. To the dignitaries of the Theocracy there belonged two classes, in whose sorrow the grief of the people found its most eloquent expression,—these were the elders and the virgins. See Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:18-19. [These are now introduced as mourning over the devastated Zion, the absence of the law and of prophetical vision.—W. H. H.]—The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground and keep silence [lit. They sit on the ground, they keep silent, elders of daughter Zion]. The elders, formerly called together to give counsel, now are silent without any counsel to give. [They are speechless, not only counselless. They have no words even for sorrow. “Small griefs are eloquent,—great ones dumb” (Clarke.)—W. H. H.]—They have cast up dust upon their heads—they sprinkle dust on their head. [Lit., They cast up, or throw up dust upon their head.] See Joshua 7:6; Job 2:12; Ezekiel 27:30.—They have girded themselves with sackcloth—they gird on [or put on] sackcloth [or sacks]—The virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground—The virgins of Jerusalem sink to the earth their head. The virgins also, who were wont to be called officially to act as the mouth-piece of the people, when the feeling of general joy was to be expressed, now are dumb and hang down their heads to the ground.
כ Lamentations 2:11. Mine eyes failed with tears,
My bowels were troubled,
My liver was poured on the ground,
For the ruin of the daughter of my people,—
Because child and suckling fainted away
In the streets of the city!
ל Lamentations 2:12. To their mothers they say—
Where is corn and wine?—
Whilst they fainted as the wounded
In the streets of the city,—
Whilst they poured out their soul
Into their mothers’ bosom.
מ Lamentations 2:13. What can I testify to thee?
What liken to thee, thou daughter of Jerusalem?
What compare to thee,
That I may comfort thee, daughter of Zion?
For great as the sea is thy ruin!
Who can heal thee?
נ Lamentations 2:14. Thy prophets predicted for thee
Falsehood and delusion,
And uncovered not thy guilt
To avert thy captivity.
But then they predicted for thee
False burdens and expulsions!
ם Lamentations 2:15. All that passed by the way
Clapped their hands at thee;
They hissed and wagged their head
At the daughter of Jerusalem.
Is this the city of which they used to say—
Perfect in beauty,—Joy of the whole earth?
פ Lamentations 2:16. All thine enemies
Gaped at thee with their mouth,
They hissed and gnashed the teeth;
They said,—We have utterly destroyed—
Yea, this is the day we have looked for—
We have found [it]—we have seen [it]!
ע Lamentations 2:17. Jehovah did what He purposed:
He fulfilled His word
That He commanded in the days of old.
He demolished and pitied not.
He made the enemy joyful over thee;
He exalted the horn of thine adversaries:
צ Lamentations 2:18. Their heart cried out unto the Lord.
O wall of the daughter of Zion,
Let tears run down like a river
Day and night,
Give thyself no rest,
Let not the daughter of thine eye cease.
ק Lamentations 2:19. Arise—cry in the night—
In the beginning of the night watches;
Pour out thy heart like water
Before the face of Jehovah:
Lift up thy hands to Him, for the life of thy young children,
That faint for hunger, at the head of every street.
ר Lamentations 2:20. See, Jehovah, and look!
To whom hast Thou done this?
Should women eat their fruit—
Children whom they have nursed?
Should Priest and Prophet
Be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?
שׁ Lamentations 2:21. The boy and the old man
Lay on the ground in the streets.
My virgins and my young men
Fell by the sword.
Thou hast killed—in the day of Thy wrath—
Hast slain—hast not pitied!
ת Lamentations 2:22. Thou callest together, as on an appointed day of solemnity,
My terrors from round about.
And there was not, in the day of Jehovah’s wrath,
One that escaped or was exempt.
Those I have nursed and brought up—
My enemy consumed them.
[These verses, strictly speaking, constitute the lamentation, for which the preceding description has prepared the way and furnished the theme.—W. H. H.] In Lamentations 2:11 the Poet describes his own suffering, especially as produced by the terrible fate of the starving children and their mothers, Lamentations 2:12. In Lamentations 2:13-14 the Poet seeks to inform us of the extent, and, at the same time, of the moral cause, of their misfortunes. In Lamentations 2:15-16 he describes the malicious rejoicings of their enemies. In Lamentations 2:17 he draws attention to the fact that the great catastrophe was simply the punishment of disobedience, which God had long determined upon and predicted. Lamentations 2:18-19 are an exhortation to a prayer of wailing, addressed to the personified wall of Jerusalem [Zion]. To this exhortation Lamentations 2:20-22 are the response. So this chapter closes, like ch:1., with a sort of prayer, which, however, is not a direct prayer, but only upbraids God by asking how He could have permitted such horrible and outrageous crimes!
11 Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and 12 the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mothers’ bosom.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:11.—כָּלוּ עֵֽינֵיהֶם, in Jeremiah 14:6.—The plural דְּמָעוֹת, only here and Psalms 80:6. Jer. uses only the Sing., Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17; Jeremiah 31:16.—[The Niph. נִשְׁפַךְ cannot have active sense, which Naegelsbach gives it, nor is this necessary to his interpretation of the passage.—W. H. H.]—כָּבֵר, the liver (never in Jer.), see Exodus 29:13; Exodus 29:22; Leviticus 3:4, etc., so called because omnium viscerum et gravissimum et densissimum est (Galen, de usu partium, 6, 7, in Ges. Thes., p. 656). [Sept. translates it ἡ δόξα μοῦ, my glory. But the undoubted use of the word as meaning the liver, and its connection here with eyes and bowels, are conclusive.—W. H. H.]—שֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִּי, is entirely Jeremiac, Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 8:21. Again in Lamentations 3:48; Lamentations 4:10.
Verb עָטַף, three times in this chap. Lamentations 2:11-12; Lamentations 2:19; never in Jer.—עוֹלֵל רְוֹנֵק. Comp. Jeremiah 44:7.—רְחֹכ and קִריָה, not unusual in Jeremiah 5:1; Jeremiah 9:20; Jeremiah 49:25.
Lamentations 2:12.—The Hithp. הִשְתַּפֵךְ, besides here, only in Lamentations 4:1 and Job 30:16.—חֵיק, Jeremiah 32:18.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
In Lamentations 2:11-12 the Poet proceeds to describe his own grief. Lamentations 2:11. Mine eyes do fail with tears—mine eyes have become dim in consequence of tears [mine eyes failed with tears; Old English, were spent,Broughton. The eyes are represented as exhausted, worn out, by weeping.—W. H. H.]. See Jeremiah 14:6; Lamentations 4:17; Psalms 69:4; Psalms 119:82; Psalms 119:123.—My bowels are troubled—my bowels are tumultuously moved. See Lamentations 1:20. He depicts his sorrowful emotions by showing how his eyes and bowels have become affected by them. [Bowels, here as elsewhere, are used in a sense entirely figurative. His eyes, literally, wept. But the poet never intended to indicate the literal movement of his bowels as an evidence of his grief. The bowels, according to Hebrew habits of thought and expression, were the seat of mental emotions, especially of a painful nature. His tears kept pace with his agony of mind. A correct translation would be, my soul was greatly moved. See notes on Lamentations 1:20. The verbs in this verse are preterites, and ought to be so rendered—W. H. H.]—My liver is poured out upon the earth—my liver has fallen out to the earth [lit., was poured out on the ground]. The pouring out of the liver cannot be understood as if it were emptied of its fluid contents, for it has no such contents. Nor can we say that, properly speaking, the flowing out of the bile, caused by compression of the liver, is intended. So Fuerst, who explains this text by Job 16:13. For in that case, the bile should be designated as being poured out. Rather, the Poet would say, that the liver itself falls out from him, as it were; as we say that a man’s heart falls out from him [that he loses heart?]. The liver is thus evidently regarded as the seat of emotions, the reverse of those which at that time controlled the Poet. The liver is described as the seat of pleasure and courage (see Delitzsch,Psychologie, IV., § 13, p. 228, 1st ed.; p. 268, 2d ed.). The falling out of the liver, then, denotes the loss of all joyousness and courage; and is conceived of, it would seem, as the consequence and climax of the fermentation of the viscera in general, described in what precedes. The whole phrase is peculiar to this passage. [The physiological explanations of many commentators (see Blayney, Henderson) require us to regard the Poet as suffering from bilious diarrhœa. The Hebrews (probably not so well versed in physiology as the commentators imagine) identified the physical life with the substance of the soul, and associated mental activity with the organs and functions of physical vitality, locating/ intellectual action in the head and heart, and purely emotional in the heart and lower viscera, as the liver and the bowels. Remembering this, we may dismiss the unpleasant suggestions of the movement of the bowels and ejection of bile from the liver, in the literal sense, and, escaping the painful presumptions of colic and jaundice, allow our Poet to express the anguish of his soul in the metaphorical language of his race. The liver is here regarded, says Noyes, as the seat of feeling, and its being poured out on the ground, remarks Gerlach, is explained by such analogous expressions as Psalms 42:5, I pour out my soul;Job 30:16, My soul is poured out. “Here, as with regard to many other of the bodily organs as mentioned in Scripture, there is not only a literal sense capable of universal interpretation, but a metaphorical import that cannot be communicated by any literal version, unless when the same metaphorical signification happens to exist also in the language into which the translation is made. Dr. J. M. Good touches on this subject in the Preface to his Translation of the Song of Songs, and is disposed to contend that such allusions, in order to convey their real signification, should be rendered, not literally, but equivalently; and we so far agree with him as to think that the force and delicacy of many passages must be necessarily impaired and their true meaning lost, when the name merely is given, in a language where that name does not involve the same metaphorical idea. * * * Among ourselves the spleen is supposed to be the region of disappointment and melancholy. But were a Jew to be told, in his own tongue, that the inimitable Cowper had long labored under the spleen, be would be ignorant of the meaning of his interpreter; and, when at last informed of it, might justly tell him that, although he had literally rendered the words, he had by no means conveyed the idea” (The Pictorial Bible).—W. H. H.]—For the destruction—on account of the ruin—of the daughter of my people, because the children and the sucklings swoon (marg., faint) in the streets of the city. [Lit., in the languishing or fainting of child and sucking-babe in the streets of the city.] The Poet’s grief was caused by the ruin of his people in general, but especially by the frightful sufferings of the poor children, which he represents as the very acme of the calamity.
Lamentations 2:12. The Poet describes, in a manner graphic and true to nature, what he had said in a general way (Lamentations 2:11) of the wasting away of the children. The strokes of his pencil are few in number, but suffice to place before our eyes an exact picture of those heart-rending scenes.——They say to their mothers—To their mothers they said. The imperfect (יֹאמְרוּ) is used to indicate an act in the past often repeated. Comp. my Gr., § 87, f. For it is evident the Poet describes a past condition of things, namely, that ensuing on the capture of the city. At that time, when neither the famished city (see Jeremiah 52:6), nor the conqueror, who had no time then to think of it, furnished the means of subsistence, the famine must have been at its highest stage. [The word, which is future in form, should undoubtedly be translated by our present. So E. V., Calvin, Broughton, Blayney, Henderson, Gerlach. It is an instance of the future used, as our present is, in graphic descriptions. See Lamentations 2:1, יָעִיב, covers. To their mothers they say.—W. H. H.]—Where is corn and wine?Corn (דָּגָן) which usually occurs in connection with grapes (תִּירוֹשׁ, see Jeremiah 31:12), here denotes, neither baked bread alone, as most commentators think, nor only roasted corn, parched corn, as Thenius would have it. For the hungry children longed only for food in general [not for a particular kind of food]. Corn, here, is to be taken, therefore, in the general sense, which לֶחֶם, bread, formerly had, a meaning which the word seems to have in Psalms 78:24 also, where the manna is called corn of heaven,דְּגַן־שַּׁמַיִם. The Poet does not say, but every one feels, how this question, which they could not answer, must have cut into the hearts of those mothers.—When they swooned—whilst they fainted [lit., in fainting]. The prefix בְּ, in, here has a temporal sense: they said so whilst they were wasting away. [So in the last clause. In breathing out their soul, i. e., they said so, whilst they were dying. Cranmer’sBible gives a free translation, but admirably expresses the sense of the whole verse. “Even when they spake to their mothers: where is meat and drink? For while they so said, they fell down in the streets of the city, like as they had been wounded and some died in their mothers’ bosom.”—W. H. H.].—As the wounded in the streets of the city. Although not wounded, yet they died a painful death as the wounded do. [The idea rather is, not necessarily that they died, all of them at least; but, overcome with weakness and suffering, many of them fell suddenly in the streets as if wounded, whilst others died in their mothers’ bosom.—W. H. H.]—When their soul was poured out—whilst breathing out their soul—[lit. in breathing out]. The soul pours itself forth, whilst the breath streams out. It is also the same as expirare,—into their mothers’ bosom—in the lap of their mothers.Thenius would understand the bosom. But the mothers are regarded as sitting on the ground, and the children lying in their laps. [Bosom is better. There were children of all ages among those alluded to. Some old enough to seek for food themselves and fall down in the streets of the city. Some able to ask in words for food and drink. Others sucklings, Lamentations 2:11, and these doubtless are especially meant as breathing out their soul in their mothers’ bosom while vainly seeking nourishment at the breast.—W. H. H.] Thenius rightly draws attention to the Hithpael forms of the verbs in the second and third clauses (הִֽתְעַטְּפָם and חִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ). These indicate how the children struggled, and how intense the conditions of their wasting away and expiring were.
13What thing shall I take to witness for thee? What thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea; who can heal thee? 14Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee; and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity; but have seen for thee false burdens, and causes of banishment.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:13.—The K’tib אֲעִודֵךְ is certainly wrong, since עוּד is never used in Kal. We must read, therefore, according to the K’ri אֲעִידֵךְ. The meaning of הֵעִיד is to give testimony, bear witness. The person whom the testimony concerns is usually indicated by בְּ. Yet there are three places where the accusative in the form of a suffix stands in the place of בְּ. Of the witnesses who were brought forward against Naboth, it is said, 1 Kings 21:10, וִֽיעִדֻהוּ, and in Lamentations 2:13, וַיְעִדֻהוּ. In Job 29:11 it is said, and here in a good sense (bonam partem) וְעַיִן רָאֲהָה וַתְּעִידֵנִי. According to these and other analogies, which are placed together in my Gr., § 78, we may take the suffix here as denoting the remoter object in the dative case. [So Sept.: Τί μαρτυρήσω σοι. Calvin: Quid contestabor tibi. Boothroyd: What shall I testify to thee? The words have been variously rendered. Cranmer’s Bible: What shall I say of thee? Bish. Bible.: “What shall I say unto thee?” Broughton: What testimony shall I bring for thee? Blayney: What shall I urge to thee? Henderson: What shall I take to witness? carelessly overlooking the suffix. Noyes: How shall I address thee?]—The Piel דִּמָּה is comparare, conferre, to compare one thing with another. See Isaiah 46:5; Isaiah 40:18; Isaiah 25:0; Song Song of Solomon 1:9. Only the Kal occurs in Jeremiah 6:2.—The Hiphil הִשְׁוָה, which occurs only here and Isaiah 46:5, has the same signification, no form of the verb שָׁוָה is found in Jeremiah.—הַבַּת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם. In the Lamentations only here and Lamentations 5:15, never in Jeremiah. [The definite article hero is emphatic, and is well rendered by Naegelsbach, “thou daughter of Jerusalem.”—W. H. H.]—וַֽאֲנַֽחֲמֵךְ. The Piel נִחַם in Jeremiah 16:7; Jeremiah 31:13. [The force of וְ here is to express the end or design, that I might comfort thee. Calvin].—בְּתוּלַת בַּת־י׳, see Lamentations 1:15.—כִּי־גָדוֹל כַּיםָ. The expression is found only here: yet comp. Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 50:42.—שֶׁבֶר. Very frequent in Jeremiah, see Lamentations 2:11.—רָפָא, Jeremiah uses frequently, Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 17:14, etc., but never in construction with לְ.—[The future form of the verbs, which Naegelsbach renders as simple presents, express an optative sense, what may, can or shall I testify, etc.—W. H. H.]
Verb חָזָה Jeremiah never uses.—גִלָה, which Jeremiah uses not infrequently, Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 33:6; Jeremiah 49:10, is construed with עַל only here and Lamentations 4:22. The significance of this construction is, the disclosing of a matter before concealed. [The phrase is elliptical; they had not removed that which covered their iniquity as a veil (Calvin, Gerlach, Rosenmueller, etc.). Blayney: “For עַל the Syr., seems to have preserved the true reading לָךְ.” Besides the lack of authority for this emendation of the text, the recurrence of this verb with עַל in Lamentations 4:22, seems conclusive.—W. H. H.]—עַוֹן Jeremiah often uses Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 3:13; Jeremiah 13:22, etc—The singular מַשָּׂא, in sense of effatum, is found in Jeremiah only in the familiar passage Jeremiah 23:33-40, where he forbids the use of this expression. The plural occurs only here.—שָׁוִא in Jeremiah only in the adverbial expression לַשָּׁוְא, Jeremiah 2:30; Jeremiah 4:30; Jeremiah 6:23; Jeremiah 18:15; Lamjer 46:11; whilst in Ezekiel we find הֲזוֹן שָׁוְא, Ezekiel 12:24; מַֽהֲזִהִ שָׁוְא, Ezekiel 13:17; קְסָם־שָׁוְא, Ezekiel 21:28.—מַדּוּחִים is ἄπ. λεγ.; הִדִּיחַ means detrusit, Psalms 5:11, expulit, Jeremiah 13:3; Jeremiah 23:3; Jeremiah 23:8; Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 29:18, etc., dispulit, disjecit, Jeremiah 23:2; Jeremiah 1:17, but also abduxit, Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 13:11, seduxit, Deuteronomy 13:14; 2 Chronicles 21:11; Proverbs 7:21. [Owen: “There seems to be a mistake in this word of a ד for a ר, two letters very similar; for the Targ. the Syr. and the Arab., must have so read the word, as they render it in the sense of what is deceptive, fallacious, or imaginary. It is in the last rendered phantasms. The word occurs in Jeremiah 22:14, and is applied to chambers through which air or wind passed freely. It may be rendered here winds or airy things. Such was the character of their prophecies. This is far more suitable to the passage than expulsions or rejections, as given by the Sept. and Vulg.” As the verb נָדַח sometimes, though rarely, has the sense of misleading, seducing, may not the idea of fallacious have been derived from מַדּוּחִים? There is no necessity, however, for imposing such a meaning upon it here.—W. H. H.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
In these two closely connected verses, the Poet expresses the thought that the true prophets cannot repair the injury the bad prophets have caused. He greatly desires to comfort Zion, by way of prophetical testimony in her behalf, and by way of comparison to her advantage with other sufferers. But it is impossible: for immeasurable and irretrievable injury has been done by the false testimony of her prophets.
Lamentations 2:13. What thing shall I take to witness for thee?What testify I to thee? [What can I testify to thee?—W. H. H.] The Poet means prophetical testimony (see תְּעוּדָה, testimony,Isaiah 8:16), and that in the sense of instruction, warning, correction, (see Jeremiah 6:10), not in the sense of comforting by promises. See below, next clause of this verse, on the words that I may comfort thee. [While the word signifies prophetical testimony, to bear witness in behalf of God, it may signify divine testimony either for or against a person, and here the former is intimated both by the construction (see critical note below), and by the following words that I may comfort thee. Besides the Prophet was actually testifying against the people in the name and by the Spirit of God. But He received no favorable message in their behalf. There is an allusion to Lamentations 2:9, “her prophets also find no vision from Jehovah.”—W. H. H.] What thing shall I liken to thee—What liken to thee,—O thou daughter of Jerusalem? What shall I equal to thee—what compare to thee,—that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? It is a comfort for the unfortunate to know that others have endured equal suffering. This comfort cannot be given to Zion. The idea of comforting can be referred to all three of the preceding verbs, although to testifyהֵעִיד, never means prophesying in order to comfort and make happy, but has always the sense of warning, correction: yet even warning, correction and instruction may be a comfort. [Where this Hebrew verb occurs in the sense of warning or protest it is always connected with its object by the significant preposition בְּ or עַל. Here the word may be taken simply in the sense of bearing witness, in which sense it is favorably used (even in Hiphil) in Job 29:11, see also Malachi 2:14. The meaning is, What can I, as a prophet of God and in the name of God, testify for God in thy behalf, in order to comfort thee? Wordsworth: “What prophetic testimony shall I utter in God’s name, in order to console thee? I have no message of comfort for thee; and thy misery is so great, that I can find no likeness or parallel to it, wherewith to assuage thy sorrow.”—W. H. H.]—For thy breach is great like the sea—for great as the sea is thy ruin, or injury;who can heal thee? That is to say, Zion’s hurt is immeasurable, and incurable. [Blayney: “The breach or wound, which Jerusalem had received, is by an hyperbole said to be great, deep or wide, like the sea, which is, as it were, a breach made in the earth.” Henderson: “He cannot find any object to put in parallel with the lamentable condition of Jerusalem. The only exception is the sea, which, on account of its vast dimensions, alone furnished a fit emblem of the magnitude of the devastation effected by the Chaldeans.” Assem. Ann.: “Such a breach, as not some small river, but the sea is wont to make, when it hath rent asunder and got thorow the sea-walls, that before kept it out; such as cannot be made up again. See Jeremiah 51:42; Ezekiel 26:3; Job 30:14.” Calmet:Un océan de maux, un déluge de douleurs, une mer d’affliction, A sea of miseries, a flood of troubles, an ocean of sorrow.]
Lamentations 2:14. Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee.Thy prophets foretold to thee deceit and white-wash. [Thy prophets prophesied to thee falsehood and delusion. The last word (תָפֵל) has been variously translated, though Naegelsbach alone can claim the unique and parabolical idea expressed by white-wash. This meaning is suggested by the use of the word in Ezekiel 13:10-15; Ezekiel 22:28, rendered in our version untempered mortar. Whether Ezekiel meant white-wash, or not, which is doubtful, the word can have no such meaning here. To daub a wall with white-wash is feasible. To prophesy white-wash is impossible. The Hebrew word (תָפֵל) seems to have suggested the idea of something viscous, sticky, slimy; hence applied to lime, mortar, as by Ezekiel; or to the white of an egg (Job 6:6), from which comes the idea of insipidity, want of savor, which is the sense adopted in our text by Broughton:The prophets have looked out for thee things vain and which have lost the saltness, and by Calvin,insulsitatum, vel insipidum, tastelessness or insipidity; this sense easily suggests the idea of folly, in which sense the word in our text is rendered by most of the versions; Sept.:ἀφροσύνην; Vulg.:stulta;Luther:thörichte Gesichte; E. V.: foolish things. The word as thus used would imply more than mere absurdity, which is the sense Blayney and Boothroyd give it. It means a folly that is chargeable with guilt, in which sense the cognate word תִפְלָה is used in Job 1:22 (see Barnes’ Notes), Job 24:12 : a folly especially that is deceptive, that does not fulfil the expectations it excites, in which sense the same word תִפְלָה is applied to false prophets in Jeremiah 23:13.—We have not in English a word that will express both these ideas,—delusive folly or foolish delusions. Gerlach uses the word Blend-werk, false-show, delusion, but acknowledges that it expresses only the effect, and not the contemptible character of what the prophets did. The word stuff, adopted by Henderson, “thy prophets see for thee vanity and stuff,” is hardly equivalent to the Hebrew word. He borrowed it from Gataker, who says, “They took upon them to be seers, but saw not what they should see, and told what they saw not, nothing but vain and frivolous stuff, the froth of their own fancies, Jeremiah 23:16; Jeremiah 23:26; Jeremiah 27:14-15.”—W. H. H.] The expression חָזה שָׁוְא [saw vain things; E. V., prophesied falsehood], is found five times in Ezekiel and only in Ezekiel 13:6-7; Ezekiel 13:23; 21:34 [E. V. Ezekiel 21:29], Ezekiel 22:28. The expression תָפֵל [E. V., here, foolish things, in Ezek., untempered mortar], is also Ezekiel’s, for it is used by him emphatically four times, in the same chapter that contains the phrase (חָזָה שָׁוְא) just referred to, Ezekiel 13:10-11; Ezekiel 13:14-15; and it is used again by him, and that, too, in immediate connection with the same phrase (חָזָה שָׁוְא) in Ezekiel 22:28. The thirteenth chapter of Ezekiel is directed against the false prophets. Ezekiel in that denunciatory discourse has before his eyes what Jeremiah had said relative to the same subject (chap. 23). Now in Jeremiah 23:13 occurs the expression תִּפְלָה, in the prophets of Samaria I sawתִּפְלָֹה [E. V., folly, marg., an unsavory, or an absurd thing]. תָּפֵל [the word in our text] never occurs in Jeremiah. Besides here, it occurs only in Ezekiel at the places above cited, and in Job 6:6. For its meaning see the thorough discussion of Haevernick in his Comm. on Ezekiel. The whole passage in which Ezekiel uses the expression תָּפֵל in the sense of white-wash, and to which Ezekiel 22:28 afterwards refers, bears throughout the peculiar characteristics of Ezekiel’s metaphorical style. We cannot, therefore, doubt that Ezekiel 13:0 was written earlier than our chapter: and also that the words from נְבִיאַיִךְ to תָּפֵל originated from the above cited places of Ezekiel. See the Introduction, § 3. [The inference contained in the Introduction and implied here, that if this is a quotation from Ezekiel, Jeremiah could not be the author of the Lamentations, is entirely gratuitous. The thirteenth chapter of Ezekiel must have been written before the final destruction of Jerusalem; “about five years” before “Jerusalem was taken and destroyed,” according to Wordsworth. Even if the prophecy of Ezekiel had been nearly or quite contemporaneous with the destruction of Jerusalem, it is a mere assumption, incapable of proof, that Jeremiah could not have possessed a copy of that prophecy, even if we are obliged to believe that he wrote these lamentations immediately after the destruction of the city. With the close intercourse that must have subsisted at the time between Babylonia and Palestine, with an invading army constantly flowing in and meeting detachments guarding captives and spoils going out, and with the lively sympathy that must have existed between Ezekiel and Jeremiah, and between the pious Jews in exile and the pious Jews in Judea, it would be neither impossible nor unlikely that the utterances of those prophets should be interchanged as rapidly as they were committed to writing.—In point of fact, however, it is by no means clear that this passage is a quotation from Ezekiel. As to the first expression, it is composed of two words only, both in frequent use in the earlier Scriptures and in the prophets who preceded Jeremiah. And as to the second, it is used in a connection entirely different from that in which it occurs in Ezekiel, and very obviously in a different sense. How prophesying תָּפֵל could be suggested by daubing a wall with תַּפֵל, it is difficult to see. How the word can mean the same thing in both places, is also beyond the power of ordinary perception. There would be as much propriety in giving the word the meaning of white-wash or mortar in Job 6:6 as here. This is no more a quotation from Ezekiel, than Ezekiel’s use of the word is a quotation from Job.—W. H. H.]—And they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity—And uncovered not thy guilt, to turn thy captivity [i. e., to prevent it, or avert it. So the Syr. translates it.] The expression, turn thy captivity, founded on Deuteronomy 30:3, is frequent in Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 32:44; Jeremiah 33:7, etc.), and with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 29:14, etc.). But in the connection in which it here occurs, it does not mean, as it does in the places referred to, vertere captivitatem, i. e.,reducere captivos [turn the captivity, i. e., bring back the captives], but can only mean avertere captivitatem [avert, or prevent the captivity]. By open exhortations to repentance, the prophets would have averted the captivity (see Ezekiel 22:30-31). The words are connected with what precedes. [Assem. Ann.: “They laid not thy sins before thee, to bring thee to repentance, whereby thy present miseries might have been prevented,Jeremiah 6:13-14; Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 23:17; Jeremiah 23:22.” Gerlach and others understand this to mean that, after the captivity was a fact, the prophets had not led the people to a repentance that would have delivered them from it, see Psalms 14:7; Job 42:10; Jeremiah 30:18. But this sense would not be pertinent here. Our text looks back to one of the original causes of the present misery. What her prophets might have done to prevent it, they cannot now do, even if by doing it they could terminate that misery; for now her prophets can find no vision from Jehovah, Lamentations 2:9. If they had exercised their power aright when they possessed it, the captivity would have been averted. This is the idea now in the Poet’s mind.—W. H. H.]—But have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment—And they foretold to thee sayings of deceit and of seduction. [But then they saw for thee burdens of falsehood and expulsions.—W. H. H.] The connecting thought is, And so prophesied they, etc.—False burdens—oracles of deceit,סַשְֹׂאוֹת שָׁוְא, are declarations of delusory purport, which result not felicitously, but ruinously.—Causes of banishment,seductions,סַדּוּחִים, can signify, ambiguously indeed, either seductions or banishments. Both predicates may refer to the discourses of the false prophets. Luther makes the last feature only conspicuous. “But they have preached to thee wantonly, in that they have preached thee out of the land.” Thenius rightly draws attention to the fact that Jeremiah 27:10; Jeremiah 27:15, in a passage where he warns of the false prophets, expresses emphatically and exactly the same thought which is contained in our verse, “Hearken not ye to your prophets * * * for they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out (וְהִדַּחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם, comp. Lamentations 2:15, לְמַעַן הַדִּיחִי אֶתְכֶם), and ye should perish.” It is therefore very possible that the Poet, by the choice of this word, seemingly invented ad hoc for his present purpose, would give us to understand that he had in view not only the declarations of Ezekiel, but also those of Jeremiah pertaining to this matter. Thus the verb נָדַח [from which the Hebrew noun is derived] is, as seen from the examples adduced, especially current with Jeremiah. It is found in this prophet nineteen times, elsewhere in the old Testament thirty-four times, ten of which are in Deuteronomy. But that it may be used here ambiguously, its connection with שָׁוְא indicates. [There are three objections to the translation of Naegelsbach. 1. It makes the last clause of the verse a mere repetition of the first clause. 2. It is very doubtful if the last word, rendered seduction (Noyes,seductions), can have that meaning. Wordsworth gives its literal meaning as drivings away, and explains it consistently with the general idea adopted by our author, “the prophecies of thy false prophets, to which thou didst hearken, instead of listening to God, have banished thee, and driven thee away from thy home.” 3. The word rendered by Naegelsbach, Wordsworth, Noyes and others, prophecies, and in E. V. burdens, cannot mean any prophecy, without reference to its subject or character, but designates a prophecy of a threatening or minatory nature. The correct translation then is, But they saw for thee burdens of vanity and expulsions or banishments. But how could this be true of the false prophets? Hengstenberg (on Zechariah 1:9) understands the vain burdens and exiles or dispersions, which the false prophets predicted as referring to the enemy. “The false prophets endeavor to make themselves beloved by the people, by predicting a great calamity, which should come upon their powerful oppressors.” (So also Diodati.) The objection to this is that it does not naturally follow the second clause of the verse, and is, after all, only a repetition of the first clause. Henderson takes the word burdens as meaning the causes of punishments, as our version has rendered the last word causes of banishment. “The false prophets, in their attempts to account for the captivity, invented any one but the true one,—the apostacy of the Jews.” This preserves the logical connection between the three clauses of the verse, but is philologically untenable, for the idea of causes of punishment is not suggested by the words used. The probable explanation is suggested by the use of the future with וְconversive, which, while it makes the verb a preterite, suggests a time posterior to that to which the preceding preterites referred. Her prophets having predicted vain and foolish things, and failed to bring the people to repentance, and so save them from captivity, then at last, after the captivity occurred, themselves predicted for her burdens of misfortune and of banishments. Those very prophets who once prophesied so many things full of flattery, overwhelmed and panic-stricken in the hour of calamity, see nothing but evil for the daughter of Zion, and were loudest in their predictions of punishments and misfortunes. This would agree with the interpretation already given to the words in Lamentations 2:9. Her prophets also find no vision from Jehovah, i.e., no vision of good, of bless in they have only visions of evils, prophetical burdens full of apprehensions and fears. Another explanation suggests itself from the double meaning of the verb to see,חָזָה, which may mean merely to see, or to see by prophetical inspiration. It may be taken in the former sense, with a satirical purpose. These prophets did see prophetically, or pretended to do so, visions from God that were vain and delusory, but they afterwards actually saw in course of fulfilment the burdens of misfortune and banishment pronounced by Jeremiah and formerly derided by them. The use of the word שָׁוְא, if it necessarily means false (though it may possibly mean simply misfortune, see Job 7:3; Isaiah 30:28; Hosea 12:12), would be a valid objection to the last interpretation, but not to the other, for in that case the burdens were false burdens, suggested by their own excited and terrified imaginations. The force of the future with ו conversive, following verbs in the preterite, may be expressed here thus, but then, i. e., after the captivity, they saw false burdens and expulsions.—W. H. H.]
The thought is entirely Jeremiac. See Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 14:13-15; Jeremiah 27:14-16, etc. In Lamentations it occurs only once again, Lamentations 4:13.—[מַשָּׂא. After all that has been asserted to the contrary, the evidence from its derivation and use is, that this word means simply a burden, and, as applied to prophecies, an announcement of punishment or vengeance imposed on its object as a burden. The verb נָשָׂא never means to pronounce, except in a figurative sense, as if the voice were lifted up in loud outcries or shouting: and its derivative סַשָּׂה is not used in a single instance where it can only mean a simple declaration or announcement, or where we cannot trace at least a figurative allusion to something that is borne or carried as a burden. It is used twenty-four times of a literal material burden (Numbers 4:15; Numbers 4:19; Numbers 4:24; Numbers 4:27 twice, Numbers 4:49; Numbers 4:49; 2 Kings 5:17; 2 Kings 8:9; 2Ch 17:11; 2 Chronicles 20:25; 2 Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 13:15; Nehemiah 13:19; Isaiah 22:25; Isaiah 30:6; Isaiah 46:1-2; Jeremiah 17:21-22; Jeremiah 17:24; Jeremiah 17:27); ten times of a literal mental burden or care (Numbers 11:11; Numbers 11:17; Deu 1:12; 2 Samuel 15:33; 2 Samuel 19:36; 2Ki 9:25; 2 Chronicles 24:27; Job 7:20; Psalms 38:5; Ezekiel 24:25); twice where it seems to refer to usury laid as a burden on the unfortunate (Nehemiah 5:7; Nehemiah 5:10), once for punishment as a burden (Hosea 8:10), twenty-four times with reference to prophecies that may fairly be regarded as of a minatory character, laying burdens on their objects (Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 14:28; Isaiah 15:1; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 21:1; Isaiah 21:11; Isaiah 21:13; Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 23:1; Jeremiah 23:33 twice,34, 36 twice,38thrice;Ezekiel 12:10; Nahum 1:1 Habakkuk 1:1; Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 12:1; Malachi 1:1), three times where it is translated by E. V. song, and in the margin carriage, where the idea of the care of religious services involves the idea of a burden (1 Chronicles 15:22 twice, 1 Chronicles 15:27), and twice where it may mean a solemn charge laid as a burden on those to whom it is given (Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1) A careful examination of these passages, the only ones except our text where the word occurs, will strongly confirm the opinion that מַשָּׂה never means simply effatum, a declaration, an ordinary oracle or prophecy, but always one implying a burden of evil foretold or imprecated.—W. H. H.]
15All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of 16beauty, The joy of the whole earth? All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:15.—סָֽפְקוּ וגו׳. Numbers 24:10; Job 27:23. See Jeremiah 31:19 (Ezekiel 21:17); Ezekiel 48:26.—Jer. nowhere uses the expression שָׁרַק רֹאשׁ. He says instead הֵנִיד בְּרֹאשׁ, Jeremiah 18:16, comp. Psalms 44:15.—The שׁ, relativum, which is used here, and in Lamentations 2:16, evidently because words from the common colloquial dialect are quoted, occurs in Lam. only in these two verses and in Lamentations 4:19; Lamentations 5:18, and not at all in Jer. The Pron. rel. must be regarded as in the accusative of the nearer relation (in reference to whom they said it, see my Gr., § 70, c. f.), since אָמַר never directly means to call (see Isaiah 5:20; Isaiah 8:12; Ecclesiastes 2:2). The Imperfect here indicates repetition in past times; see on יֹאמְרוּ, Lamentations 2:12.—כְּלִילַת. This word-form and its variations are frequent in Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 16:14; Ezekiel 23:12; Ezekiel 38:4; Ezekiel 27:24); Jeremiah never uses them. See Psalms 1:2, מִכְלַל יֹפִי is mentioned as going out of Zion.—Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:25) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 24:25) use מָשׂוֹשׂ by itself, each only once.
Lamentations 2:16.—With reference to the transposition of the initial letters ע and פ in chaps, 2, 3, 4, see the Intr.—Jeremiah never uses פָצָה: in Ez. it is found once, Lamentations 2:8.—שָֽׁרְקוּ. See Lamentations 2:15.—The verb חָרַק occurs only in Job 16:9; Psalms 37:12; Psalms 35:16; Psalms 112:10, and is used only of grinding the teeth, gnashing with the teeth.—בִּלָעְנוּ, Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:5; Lamentations 2:8.—Jer. often uses the Piel קִוָּה, Jeremiah 8:15 (Jeremiah 14:19); Jeremiah 13:16; Jeremiah 14:22 : it is not found in Ezekiel.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
In these verses the Poet depicts the scornful triumph of heathen and inimical nations over the ruin of Jerusalem. [Scott: “The idolaters took the words out of the mouth of the Jews, and derided them for glorying in their holy city and its peculiar protection and privileges. The combination of scorn, enmity, rage and exultation, which the conquerors and spectators manifested, when gratified by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, are set before the reader with peculiar pathos and energy. The whole scene is presented to his view as in some exquisitely finished historical painting: and the insulting multitudes, who surrounded the Redeemer’s cross, can hardly be forgotten on the occasion.”]
Lamentations 2:15. All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head—They clap their hands over thee all who pass by the way. They hiss and shake their head. [All that passed by the way clapped their hands at thee, they hissed and wagged their head.Owen: “Jeremiah relates what had taken place, the verbs being in the past tense. Our version is not correct in rendering the verbs in the present tense. The old versions follow the Hebrew.”—W. H. H.] Some (Otto, Thenius) interpret this verse as the expression, not of mockery, but of amazement. They say not all who passed by would have mocked. That may be. But the number who would not was certainly decreasingly small. For by the עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ, passers of the way, we must understand travellers and strangers. The Israelites were no longer in that empty land, and if there were some, yet to them the destruction of the city was only too well known. But clapping the hands is a gesture especially of surprise. Besides, it is further said, that they hiss. The Hebrew verb שָׁרֵק signifies, it is true, primarily to whistle, and does not always express scorn and mockery (see Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18). שָׁרִק׀ with לְ, Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18; Zechariah 10:8, does not express scorn and mockery, but with עַל it always does, 1 Kings 9:8; Job 27:23; Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 1:13; Ezekiel 27:36; Zephaniah 2:15. We whistle to a person to call his attention, but to whistle at or over a person implies derision.—W. H. H.] But the connection here decidedly favors the sense of ‘scornful hissing.’ For שָׁרַק, to hiss, must be taken in the same sense in which it is immediately used in the next verse, which is closely connected with this verse. There it undoubtedly has this sense. Add to this, that the shaking of the head is always an expression of scornful wonderment; Psalms 22:8; Psalms 109:25; Job 16:4; Isaiah 37:22 (2 Kings 19:21).—At the daughter of Jerusalem. See Lamentations 2:13 [Mark the distinction between thee in the first clause, and the daughter of Jerusalem in the second clause. In the first chapter the city itself is prominent and foremost, and Zion appears as an accessory to her past grandeur, once her crowning glory, but now in ruins, the cause of her deepest disgrace and anguish. In this chapter the relations of the two are reversed. Zion here stands forth in ideal personification as the conspicuous figure, and the city, the daughter of Jerusalem, once her chief honor and her joy, is now the chiefest cause of her shame and grief.—W. H. H.]—Saying, Is this the city that men call—Is that the city of which it used to be said.—The perfection of beauty—Perfect in beauty. The expression is borrowed from Ezekiel 27:3, where the prophet so calls the city of Tyre, and Ezekiel 28:12, where he indicates the king of Tyre as “perfect in beauty.”—The joy of the whole earth. This expression is used of Zion in Psalms 48:3. [Alexander: “It is called the joy of the whole earth, as a source of spiritual blessing to all nations:”] See Isaiah 24:11. Jerusalem is called the joy of the whole earth, and not merely of the whole land [i.e., the land of Israel (Owen)], as is evident, because that which is perfect in beauty must be all this, and because all the strangers and travellers passing by it are represented as moved at first with astonishment. Joy at her beauty can be reconciled with envy and hatred of her inhabitants.
Lamentations 2:16. This verse enters into very close connection with the preceding one. It treats of the same malicious rejoicings of the enemies over the downfall of Jerusalem. But it proceeds farther in its statements, for while in Lamentations 2:15 only the passers-by, in Lamentations 2:16 all her enemies are represented as rejoicing and exulting.—All thine enemies opened their mouth against thee.All thine enemies gape their mouth at thee [lit., All of thy enemies opened at thee wide their mouth]. The gaping, or distorting of the mouth, in be hoof of scornful laughter, is indicated again in Lamentations 3:46, where these words are almost verbally repeated, and with the expressions here used in Psalms 22:14.—They hiss [lit., they hissed] see Lamentations 2:15—and gnash [lit., gnashed] the teeth. As this is elsewhere an expression of suppressed rage, so here it is an expression of satisfied rage. See Psalms 35:16; Psalms 35:21; Psalms 35:25.—They say [lit., said], we have swallowed her up—we have devoured [i.e., completely destroyed]. Not only those enemies who had personally taken an active part in the destruction of Jerusalem, are intended, but all had a share in what some actually achieved,—so far, at least, that all could say, “We have destroyed.”—Certainly this is the day that we looked for—Yea, this is the day we have expected. It is evident that the restriction involves an assertion; if only this day (as the day of total destruction), and no other, could afford satisfaction to the enemies, then certainly that day afforded satisfaction in the highest degree. See Jeremiah 10:19.—We have found, we have seen it.—Finding,מָצָאנוּ, is the antithesis to seeking, striving. Seeing,רָאִינוּ, which involves the idea of certainty on the ground of seeing with the bodily eyes (see Psalms 4:7; Psalms 85:8), is the antithesis to merely wishing and hoping. The heaping together of words arranged asyndetically [we have looked for, we have found, we have seen,—the original can hardly fail to remind us of the famous Veni, vidi, vici] portrays the intensity and the completeness of their satisfaction.
17The Lord hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee: he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:17.—עָשָׂה אֲשֶׁר זָמָם. See Deuteronomy 19:19.—The verb בָּצַע, in Jer. only in Kal and in the connection בּוֹצֵעַ בֶּצַע, Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10. In the sense of absolvere, filling up, it is found Isaiah 10:12; Zechariah 4:9.—אֶמְרָה is found no where else in the Old Testament. The form אִמְרָה, once very frequent, especially in Ps. cxix., is found neither in Jer. nor Ez.—Piel צִוּחָ Jer. uses very frequently.—מִימֵי קֶדֶם, see Lamentations 1:7.—Piel שִׂמֵּח, twice in Jer.; in Lam. only here.—חֵרִים קֶרֶן. This expression is not found in Jer.; he only once uses the word קֶרֶן, see on Lamentations 2:3.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:17. [In Lamentations 2:17 the direct address to Zion is resumed, and is continued through Lamentations 2:18-19.—W. H. H.] The ruin of Zion, as above described, was not a fortuitous event. God had for a long time foreseen and decreed it as eventually inevitable. Hence the historical catastrophe is nothing else than a realization of a divine purpose. It was, then, God Himself who destroyed the holy city and afforded to her enemies the rejoicings of which Lamentations 2:15-16 speak. To those verses this verse refers throughout.—The Lord hath done that which he had devisedJehovah accomplished what He had decreed. See Jeremiah 51:12, “for Jehovah hath both devised and done that which He spake.” Zechariah 1:6 expands the same thought by the emphatic expression of the middle term, “Like as Jehovah of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath He dealt with us.” [Henderson: “However the enemies of the Jews might tauntingly exult in their destruction of the Jewish metropolis, that disastrous event was ultimately to be referred to the purpose of Jehovah to punish its inhabitants for their sins”]—He hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old. The Lord had, in very ancient times, when He founded the Theocracy, commanded His servants to warn His people that in case of disobedience they would have to suffer the punishment of destruction. See Leviticus 26:14-39; Deuteronomy 28:15-68. [Scott: “This reference to the ancient predictions against Israel for their sins, is of great importance; both as it shows that these prophecies were then extant and well known among the Jews, and that they were understood by the pious remnant exactly as we now explain them.”—Blayney, followed by Boothroyd, divides the verse thus: Jehovah hath accomplished that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word; what he constituted in days of old, he hath destroyed and not spared; and says, “To this construction we are determined by the metre. The sense is good, and perfectly adapted to the place, and corresponds nearly with what is expressed Jeremiah 44:4.” All this is true. But, on the whole, the Hebrew accents rather favor the common division, the metre does not demand the change, and the repetition of the pronoun אֲשֶׁר directly before its governing verb has a poetical and rhythmical effect, according to the common division, not to be overlooked.—W. H. H.]—He hath thrown down—He demolished, or destroyed.—And hath not pitied—And pitied not. See Lamentations 2:2.—And he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee—He made the enemy joyful over thee. [Calvin:exhilarated their enemies.]—He hath set up the horn of thine adversaries—He exalted the horn of thine oppressors. This expression is purely poetical. See in particular 1 Samuel 2:10; Ps. 75:11; Psalms 92:11; Psalms 148:14; 1 Chronicles 25:5.
18Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine 19eye cease. Arise, cry out in the night; in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord; lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:18.—חוֹמַת. Boermal would altogether erase this word. Houbigant reads: אֲדוֹנַי אֶל־בְּתוּלַת בַּת צ׳. Herder: חַמּוֹת [or חַמֹתָ], i.e., exardesce [fervido zelo corripere. So Blayney: Their heart cried out, before Jehovah with fervency, O, etc.]. Dathe, after the Syriac: אֶל־אֲדוֹנַי חוֹמוֹת בַּת צ׳. J. D. Michaelis: אַדְנֵי for אֲדוֹנַי, i.e., clamat cor eorum ob fundamenta murorum. Tu filia Zion descendere fac, etc. Thenius would read חַנָּם instead of חוֹמַת. Ewald, in his later editions, reads צַֽעֲקִי לִבֵּךְ. He compares Psalms 72:2, and translates, indefatigably cry to Jehovah, O wall of the daughter of Zion! The reading חוֹמַת, however, is confirmed by the Sept. For this translates, Ἐβοήσε καρδία αὐτῶν προς κύριον: Τείχη Ειὼν καταγάγετε ὡς χειμάῤῥονς δάκρυα etc. Jerome does not change the text, but he translates. Clamavit cor eurum ad Dominum super muros filiæ Zion.—The verb פָּוַּג in the sense torpidum, languidum esse, Niph. examinatum, enervatum esse, Genesis 45:26; Habakkuk 1:4; Psalms 77:3; Psalms 38:9. The substantive פּוּנָה occurs only here: הֲפוּגָה Lamentations 3:49. The construction פּוּגָת לָךְ is a very strong, perhaps the strongest, example of the use of the construct case for the mere purpose of the external connection of words. See Ew., § 287, d, 2; 289, b. דָּמַם is used here in the general sense of cessare. See Joshua 10:12-13; Jeremiah 47:6.
Lamentations 2:19.—קוּמִי. See Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 13:4; Jeremiah 13:6; Jeremiah 18:2.—רֹנִי. See Jeremiah 31:7; Proverbs 1:20.—בַלַּיְלָ. See Lamentations 1:2.—לְרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת, an expression only found here.—נֹכַה פְּנֵי. See Jeremiah 17:16.—[אֲדֹנָי. Henderson: “Instead of Adonai forty of Kennicott’s, and forty-eight of De Rossi’s MSS., together with seven more of his originally, and the Hagiographa printed at Naples, read Jehovah. The Venetian Greek version has τοῦ ὀντωτοῦ. On these authorities I have not scrupled to follow this reading in the translation.” Blayney, Boothroyd, Noyes, adopt this reading.—W. H. H.]—שְׂאִי פַפַּיךְ, not in Jeremiah.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Lamentations 2:18. Their heart cried unto the Lord—The first words of Lamentations 2:18 have given the commentators great trouble. Various readings have been invented. I believe that neither a different reading, nor an artful construction is necessary. Only we must not regard the words, Their hearts cried unto the Lord, as an independent sentence (Lueckenbuesser, Thenius) thrown in by the way. Rather, these words constitute the introduction and means of transition to all that follows down to the end of the chapter. First of all, let it be observed, from the second clause of Lamentations 2:18, the Poet lets Zion herself speak with reference to what he had been saying in Lamentations 2:13-17. This change in the method of recital he precedes with the brief word of introduction above indicated. But what he now puts into the mouth of Zion, as an outpouring of the heart to Jehovah, he divides into two parts. First of all, in Lamentations 2:18 b,Lamentations 2:19, they to whom the pronoun their (the suffix in לִבָּם, their heart) refers address the wall and summon it to prayer. In Lamentations 2:20-22 the prayer itself follows, which accordingly must be regarded as the prayer of the wall of Zion. They of whom it is said, Their heart cries unto the Lord, are evidently particular individuals. But these persons would not appear before God in their individual capacities, but rather seek the mediation (der idealen Gesammtheit) of the whole church, regarded in its ideal or mystical unity. Thus the cry of their heart comes to God through the mouth (der Gesammtheit) of the united people [theocratically and by personification regarded as a unit]. Thus it is explained why the words, Their heart cried unto the Lord, are not immediately followed by words addressed to God, but by an appeal to the wall of Zion, which by answering this appeal brings before the Lord that which filled their heart, as mentioned in Lamentations 2:18 a. That those individuals should thus seek the mediation of the whole church (Gesammtheit) is very natural. For not the individual Israelite, but Israel is the universally historic reservoir and organ of the redeeming grace of God. With Israel is the covenant of grace made, and only as covenant members of Israel have individuals any claim on covenant grace. Now, therefore, as in the Psalms (Psalms 135:19; Psalms 147:12; Psalms 149:1-3, etc.) the congregation is often summoned to offer praise and thanks to the Lord, so here it is summoned to make its complaint to the Lord. If this is done here in a very peculiar fashion, by summoning to prayer the wall of Zion as if it were the symbol of the theocratic unity (der Gesammtheit), yet this is justified by the historical circumstances out of which our Song originated. Zion stood as long as the walls held together. But as soon as these were broken through, Zion was lost (see Jeremiah 52:7, וַתִּבָּקַע הָעִרthen the city was broken up). Is it surprising that an Israelite, who had experienced the siege and capture of Jerusalem, should take the wall for all that it enclosed? This trope is, on the whole, no more bold, than where elsewhere the frontiers are taken for the country they bound, the house for its inhabitants, the purse for its contents. The pre-eminent importance of the wall may be clearly perceived from the fact that in Nehemiah’s time everything depended on its restoration. See Nehemiah 6:15-16; Nehemiah 12:27-43; comp. Psalms 122:3. If the wall of the daughter of Zion is thus taken for the daughter of Zion herself, it should not surprise us that the same activities are attributed to the wall which belong properly to the daughter of Zion, and that it is exhorted to weep and to pray for its children. Mourning and exhaustion have already been attributed to it in Lamentations 2:8 above, and in Lamentations 1:4 the ways of Zion are represented as mourning. Further, Isaiah 3:26; Isaiah 14:31 have been correctly referred to, where the predicates of mourning, lamenting and howling are imputed to the gates. [The first words of the verse must refer to the enemies who are the subject of the preceding verse. There is no other nominative expressed to which the pronoun their (the suffix in לִבָּם) can belong. To refer it back to the passer-by in Lamentations 2:15, as Blayney does, is unnecessary and unnatural. To suppose that it refers to the pious Jews is to suppose an abrupt ungrammatical, and awkward transition, to which there is no parallel in the Lamentations. The pronominal suffixes in these Songs are employed with singular accuracy. If we keep in mind the proper meaning of the verb rendered cried, which is to cry out, to vociferate (Deuteronomy 22:24; Deuteronomy 22:27; Isaiah 42:2), we readily see the connection. Even these heathen enemies recognized the hand of God in the destruction of Jerusalem, and their heart expressed this conviction in loud outcries and shouts addressed to the Lord,—Adonai the Lord of the heathen, as well as of Israel. This may throw additional light on the words in Lamentations 2:7, “They have made a noise in the house of Jehovah, as in the day of a solemn feast.” (It is not impossible that the choice of a proper initial word may have led to this continued reference to the heathen.) After the word Lord there ought to be a full stop. This is indicated in the Hebrew by the accent Aathnah, which rarely occurs so near the beginning of a verse. What follows is not what the enemies cried, nor indeed can it be, for the Hebrew word so translated is intransitive. Whenever that word, צָעַק is followed by anything spoken or said, the verb אָמַר, to say, is introduced, Exodus 5:8, they cry, saying: Exodus 5:15, Exodus 17:4; Numbers 12:13; 2 Kings 4:1; 2 Kings 6:26, cried—saying:1Ki 20:39; 2 Kings 4:40; 2 Kings 6:5, cried—and said. The only seeming exception to this construction, 2 Kings 2:12, where Elisha cried, My father, my father! etc., is due, probably, to the broken disconnected ejaculations of the prophet, that could hardly be proceded by the verb אָמַר, as if he had said something with deliberation. It must be observed, too, that they were only ejaculations, outcries that he uttered, and the verb is not followed by אֶל as it is here. But here, where אֶל is used, a long and connected address, like this to the walls of Zion, could not be the object of the verb צָעַק, to cry. Had the prophet intended to tell us what the enemies said to God, he would have followed the word צָעַק, they cried with the usual phrase and said. We must take therefore the following touching address to the walls, as the words of the Prophet. We thus avoid the exceeding awkwardness of introducing a long address to the walls of the city with the singular announcement that they cried to the Lord, when there is not, according to Naegelsbach, a single word actually addressed to the Lord, for the prayer in verses 20–22 is the prayer of Zion. We moreover dispense with the necessity of the laborious distinction between the individual members of the church and the mystical unity of the untranslatable Gesammtheit. We have here an eloquent poetical address by the prophet to the ruined walls, which by personification and synecdoche represent the afflicted daughter of Zion.—Wordsworth: “O wall of the daughter of Zion. The Prophet appeals to the wall of Jerusalem, as that which once encircled her with defence, but now lies prostrate, and which, being reduced to ruin, was the fittest representative of the city in her desolate condition. He gives a voice to the stones of the wall, and makes them weep for her sorrow. We need not be surprised by such a prosopopœia as this, any more than by his exclamation, O earth, earth, earth (Jeremiah 22:29), or by the language of Habakkuk 2:11; The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam shall answer it; or by our Lord’s words (Luke 19:40), If these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out.” Comp. Gerlach, p. 75.—W. H. H.]—Let tears run down like a river day and night. The expression, precisely as it is here, is found no where else. For similar expressions, see Lamentations 3:48; Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17.—Give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease [or leave off, i.e., shedding tears (Noyes)]. The daughter of thine eye. This expression is found elsewhere only in Psalms 17:8. בַּת, daughter, is here apparently an abbreviation of בָּבַת, entrance, door, gate,Zechariah 2:12. The pupil is the door, the opening of the eye, because in it lies the power of sight. See FuerstLex.,Gesen.Thes., p. 841. Delitzsch on Psalms 17:8. [Assem. Ann.: “That which we call the ball, or apple of the eye, from the spherical figure of it, that the Hebrews call the daughter of the eye, either as the dearest and tenderest part of it, Deuteronomy 32:10; Proverbs 7:2, or from the figures that seem to appear in it, whence also it is termed by the Greeks the damsel, by the Latins the babe of the eye.” See Deuteronomy 32:10; Proverbs 7:2, and Alexander on Psalms 17:8. Blayney understands the tear as so called “with great propriety and elegance;” but this is supported by no evidence, and is rendered improbable by analogous terms applied to the pupil of the eye, by Hebrews, Greeks and Romans, as indicated above.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:19. Arise,Rise up.—[Gerlach: “Up.” Owen: “The meaning as stated by Gataker, is, Rise from thy bed; for she is exhorted to cry in the night. The Hebrew word is familiar and precious to us as the same our Saviour uttered, Mark 5:41. “Talitha cumi,”κοῦμι, קוּםִי.—W. H. H.]—Cry out in the night, in, or atthe beginning of the watches. The Hebrews divided the night into three watches [“the first, commencing at sunset and extending to what corresponded to our ten o’clock; the second, from ten till two in the morning; and the third from that time till sun rise” (Henderson)]: the middle one was called הָֽאַשְׁמֹרֶת הַתִּיכוֹנָה, the middle watch,Judges 7:19; the last אַשְׁמֹרֻת הַבּקֶר, morning watch,Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 11:11. Since in Judges 7:19 the beginning of the middle watch is called רֹאשׁ א׳ התּ׳ [lit., head of middle watch], so רֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת [lit., head of night watches], the beginning of the night watches generally, would be the time of the first watch. See Winer,R. W. B., s. v., Nachtwachen. [The opinion that this was the name of the first watch, seems to rest entirely on its use here. Yet there is much reason to doubt if it has here that sense. To rise in the first watch of the night, which began before ordinary bed-time, is not very suggestive of sleepless grief and anxiety. The passage in Judges favors Gerlach’s conjecture, that the expression denotes the beginning of each successive watch in the night. He refers to the similar use of רֹאשׁ, head, beginning, in this same verse, and quotes the remark of Michaelis, that רֹאשׁ חוּצות means, not the first of all the open-places, but the beginning or head of every one of them. So רֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת means not the first of the night watches, but the beginning of each successively. At every watch, or as often as you hear the watchman announce the hour, cry out to God in prayer.—W. H. H.] The preposition used here in Hebrew, לְ, means towards or about that time (see Genesis 3:8; Genesis 8:11). The sense is, About the time, when formerly every one resigned himself to his first sleep, the one here addressed should rise up to painful mourning.—Pour out thine heart like water. This seems to denote, first of all, the melting, dissolving of the heart by grief (see Psalms 22:15; Psalms 58:8; comp. 1 Samuel 7:6), and then, the open unreserved outpouring of the heart (see Psalms 62:9; Psalms 42:5; Psalms 102:1).—Before the face of the Lord [Jehovah, see Textual note above].—Lift up thy hands toward him.Lift up to him thy hands. See Psalms 63:5; Psalms 119:48. [Calvin: “The elevation of the hands, in this place and others, means the same thing as prayer; and it has been usual in all ages to raise up the hands to Heaven, and the expression often occurs in the Psalms (Psalms 28:2; Psalms 134:2); and when Paul bids prayers to be made every where, he says, ‘I would have men to raise up pure hands without contention’ (1 Timothy 2:8)”]—For the life of thy young children, lit., for the souls of, etc. As is seen by the words following (that have fainted, etc.), the object of holding up the hands is, not to save the children (Rosenmueller), but to mourn over their loss. See at Lamentations 2:11-12. Besides, the children are designated, also, as in the verses just named, not as the only, but as a principal object of lamentation. See Lamentations 2:20-22. [Gerlach: “To raise the hands is, according to the fixed use of words, the same thing as to pray, Lamentations 3:41; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 63:5; Psalms 134:2 (see 1 Timothy 2:8), and therefore cannot be understood, with Thenius, as a gesture of the deepest distress. If he would confirm this opinion by the fact, that according to the whole train of thought their fate is already determined and can only be mourned over, and therefore an exhortation to pray for the life of the languishing ones would no longer be in place; then we answer, that in that case no prayer in behalf of the city would any longer be proper, for its fate was fulfilled; yet it would be proper for those who are found surviving in great want, as in fact a prayer immediately follows on the thought of this calamity in Lamentations 1:11, Lam 20: See, Jehovah, how I am distressed. And, further, עַל־נֶפֶשׁ [for the soul] does not indicate the already ended life (Thenius, De Wette), for which נֶפֶשׁ (the life principle) would be a singular expression, and, further still, it would be inconsistent with the descriptions given in Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 4:4-5, where not the death of those who have fainted, but the distress of those still living, rends the hearts of their mothers.” Gerlach’s opinion is confirmed by the words to Him,אֵלָיו, lift up thy hands to him, i.e., to God in prayer.—W. H. H.]—That faint for hunger in the top [lit., at the head] of every street—Who have fainted for hunger at the opening of every street. See Lamentations 4:1; Isaiah 51:20; Nahum 3:10. That the wall, in the poet’s conception, strictly and only represents Zion, is plainly evident from this, that the Israelitish children are designated as the children of the wall. This could be done with the more propriety from the fact that the wall had a certain motherly character. Did it not embrace the people with its arms? Did it not truly, in a certain mother-like manner, bear them on its bosom? [Wordsworth: “The wall, which girdled Jerusalem, is regarded as a mother, which nurses the inhabitants, her offspring, in her bosom; and she laments for the children which lie at the end of the streets, extending from one side of the city to the other.”]
20Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this. Shall the women eat their fruit and children of a span long? shall the priest and the prophet be 21slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword: thou hast slain 22them in the day of thy anger; thou hast killed and not pitied. Thou hast called, as in a solemn day, my terrors round about; so that in the day of the Lord’s anger none escaped nor remained: those that I have swaddled and brought up hath mine enemy consumed.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lamentations 2:20.—עוֹלֵל. See Lamentations 1:12; Lamentations 3:25.—[אִם. Henderson: “אִם is twice used in this verse with the force of a demonstrative interjection.” He translates, Behold! women eat their fruit, infants of a span long; Behold! priest and prophet are slain, etc. This is manifestly wrong. In the very few instances in which אִם has the force of an interjection, it retains a conditional sense, and never introduces an unqualified affirmation, or statement of an unquestioned matter of fact (see Hosea 12:12; Job 17:13; Job 17:16; Proverbs 3:34; Jeremiah 31:20). Besides, the future form of the verbs requires here a conditional or potential sense.—W. H. H.]—הָרַג. See Lamentations 2:4. [Henderson: “The nominative to יֵהָרַג is כֹחֵן and נָבִיא taken singly.” The German enables Naegelsbach to preserve the Hebrew construction, Soll erwütrget werden Priester und Prophet?—W. H. H.]—מִקְדָּשׁ. See Lamentations 2:7.
Lamentations 2:21.—שָׁכְבּוּ. Jeremiah uses שָׁכַב only once, נִשְׁכְּבָה Lamentations 3:25; but we find K’ri (decidedly arbitrary) in Lamentations 3:2, שֻׁכַּבְתְּ—לָאָרֶץ. See Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:10-11.—חוּצוּת. Acc. loc. See my Gr., §70, α, β. [“The accusative is used after verbs of rest, in answer to the question where?” Naegels. Gr.]—נַעַר וְזָקֵן. See Jeremiah 51:22.—טָבַחְתָּ. See Jeremiah 11:19; Jeremiah 25:34; Jeremiah 51:40. The expression seems to involve an antithesis to טִפֻּחִים, Lamentations 2:20.
Lamentations 2:22.—תִּקְרָא. The imperfect, when compared with the preceding and following perfects, seems to be due entirely to the necessities of the acrostic. [Perhaps, the future here, as in Lamentations 2:20, has a conditional or potential sense. So Owen, who connects it with the words, See, O Jehovah, and consider. In this case the וְ following would have the sense of for; or as in E. V.: so that. Shouldst Thou call together, as on a festival, all my terrors from round about! For there was not, etc. Blayney, in his emendation of the text, overlooks the necessity of a תּ initial.—כְיוֹם מוֹעֵד. See Lamentations 2:6.—W. H. H.]—רִבִּיתִי. Piel not in Jeremiah, nor does he use the verb in this sense. See Ezekiel 19:2.—כִּלָּם. See Jeremiah 5:3; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 14:12; Jeremiah 49:37, etc. [Blayney (followed by Boothroyd) takes this word for כֹל with suffix, and translates: Those whom I had fostered and made to grow were all of them my enemies. The pointing, כִּלָּם not כֻלָּם, the Versions, and the sense, are all against this.—W. H. H.]
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The opinion of Chr. B. Michaelis (which Rosenmueller seems to adopt), that the following prayer is set forth by the prophet himself, as a form of prayer (instar formularis), in behalf of the daughter of Zion, who is exhorted to pray in Lamentations 2:18-19, hardly needs refutation. That the wall of Zion, i.e., Zion herself, utters the prayer in Lamentations 2:20-22, is evident, both from the exhortation to prayer in Lamentations 2:18-19, and from the substantial agreement of Lamentations 2:20-22 with what Lamentations 2:18-19 had indicated as the subject matter of this prayer of lamentation.
Lamentations 2:20. Behold, O LORD, and consider—See, O Jehovah, and look. This exact formula occurs Lamentations 1:11. The prayer in Lamentations 1:20-22 (comp. Lamentations 1:9) also begins with See, Jehovah.—To whom thou hast done this. [As the pronoun is interrogative, that form should be preserved: to whom hast Thou done thus? The question thus interposed between the appeal to God to look, and the description of what He will see if He look, is very forcible and does not mar the sense as the ordinary construction does, but makes it more apparent.—W. H. H.] The Lord had done this, not to a heathen nation, but to the people of His own choice, to whom all the promises of His blessing were given (comp. Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 20:17-18; Genesis 26:3-4; Genesis 28:14, etc.).—Shall the women eat their fruit and children of a span long?—Should women eat their fruit, the children whom they nursed? This is a single indirect question, although it is contained in two members. אִם, if [literally translated, the question is, if—shall eat women their fruit, etc.] is dependent on רְאֵה, see [see ifthis is so, or should be so]. The sense of the question, moreover, is not, whether it had ever been heard of that mothers had been driven by hunger to eat their own offspring? (Rosenmueller), for then the perfect tense ought to have been used. But what is asked is, whether that thing, speaking in a general way, may be supposable, possible, or right; and to express this the imperfect must be used. The explanation of Thenius, “Had they then been obliged to eat, etc., i.e., Had Thy judgments gone so far, that, etc.,” is not sufficiently grammatical. What is asked is, whether this thing, generally speaking, would be allowed to happen? The answer to this question would involve another, whether it had been suffered to happen at that time? But the latter question is not directly contained in the words used.—The crime here mentioned is clearly designated as a punishment to the rebellious people; Deuteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9. See 2 Kings 6:28-29; Lamentations 4:10.—Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord—Should priest and prophet be slain, etc. [Assem. Ann.: “Should God endure to see His own house polluted with the blood of His own priests and such as bore the name at least of His prophets.”]
פִּרְיָם, their fruit. The masculine suffix has induced most interpreters unnecessarily to change the reading. [As the Sept. has καρπὸν κοιλίας αὐτῶν, and Chal. and Arab, similar readings, it has been conjectured that the original text was פְּרִי בֶּטֶן, of which the בּ changed into ם is all that remains in the present text. Blayney suggests פְּרִי רַחַם. Owen has an original device of his own to meet this presumed difficulty. He says, “Fruit, in the sense of offspring, is applied to men as well as to women. We may take the final mem in נָשִּׁים as a pronoun, their wives; the same are meant as in verse 18, their voice [heart?], i.e., the citizens of Jerusalem. Thus the construction will be quite grammatical. Should their own wives eat their offspring.” That would mean their wives ate, not their own, but their husbands’ children. This would furnish preachers with a text against polygamy, or the cruelty of step-mothers! Henderson is satisfied with a magisterial appeal to euphony: “The masculine suffix is adopted instead of the feminine, to agree in form with נָשִׁים preceding.”—W. H. H.] It is not even necessary, with Chr. B. Michaelis, to keep in mind mothers and fathers. The masculine, as the more comprehensive and higher sex, includes the feminine too. See my Gr., § 60, 5; Jeremiah 9:19; Jeremiah 44:19; Jeremiah 44:25; Genesis 31:9; Exodus 1:21, etc.—טִפֻּחִים occurs only here. It is the abstract of the verb טִפַּח, which is found only in Lamentations 2:22 below. The latter (different from טפֵּח, Isaiah 48:13) is a denominative from טֶפִח, palma, the hand-breadth, palm of the hand, and seemingly signifies palmis gestare (the Latins say ulnis gestare). Kimchi, Vitringa, Kalkar would unders and the expression of the smoothing of the limbs, as of the swaddling clothes and bands, with the palm of the hand. [With E. V., children of a span long, agree Vulg.:parvulos ad mensuram palmæ;Luther: die jüngsten Kindlein einer Spanne lang; Broughton:infants that may be spanned, and Henderson:infants of a span long. The idea of children carried in the hands is adopted by Blayney:children of palms, i.e., “little ones dandled on the hands;” Rosenmueller:infantes quos suis manibus tractant;Gerlach: die Kinder, die man auf Händen trägt; and Noyes:children borne in the arms. The marginal reading in E. V., children swaddled with their hands, is thus explained in Assem. Ann.: “Because the verb means to mete or to stretch out aught with the hand, as Isaiah 48:13. Hence both the Chaldee Paraphrast and the Rabbins here expound it the children of swaddlings; the children whose limbs the mothers were wont to stretch out and stroke, as if they were meting or measuring them with their hands, to fashion them and make them grow straight and proportionable; and to the same purpose also to make them up with swathing bands; for this word ariseth from a root frequent in the Talmudists, for a wrapper of linen, wherewith to wrap up aught; as also, for a veil, or apron, or the like, in Scripture, Ruth 3:15; Isaiah 3:22; and this interpretation receiveth further strength from what followeth here, Lamentations 2:22.” Calvin translates parvulos educationis, whichOwen translates, infants while nursed, the children of nursings, or nurturings (educationum). Boothroyd:their little nurslings. The Sept.; those sucking the breasts. After examining these various translations and interpretations, it is obvious that Naegelsbach has expressed the true meaning of the word, whatever is its fundamental primitive idea,—the children whom they nursed,—taking the last word in its most comprehensive sense.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:21. The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets—Boy and old man lie on the ground in the streets. [So Gerlach. Blayney, Noyes:The boy and the old man.Henderson:Boys and old men.—The verb is preterite, and ought to be so translated. He is describing what was then past. The boy and the old man lay on the ground.Blayney:have lien.—W. H. H.]—My virgins and my young men. See Lamentations 1:4; Lamentations 1:18; Lamentations 2:10; Lamentations 5:11.—Are—have—fallen by the sword. See Jeremiah 19:7; Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 39:18. [Blayney imagines the metre needs improving, and translates, My virgins and my young men are fallen; with the sword hast thou slain them, in utter disregard of the accents, besides the necessity of supplying a pronoun not expressed.—W. H. H.]—Thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed and not pitied—Thou hast killed in the day of thy anger (see Lamentations 2:2); hast slain and not pitied (Lamentations 2:2). [The asyndetical construction, as in Lamentations 2:16, is vehement and forcible. Thou hast killed, hast slain, hast not pitied. To supply the conjunction and or personal pronoun them weakens the sentence.—W. H. H.]
Lamentations 2:22. Thou hast called—Thou callest together—as in a solemn day—as on a feast-day. See Lamentations 2:6.—My terrors round about [lit., from round about, from every direction, so that they were surrounded by them. So Broughton. Calvin: “Here he uses a most appropriate metaphor, to show that the people had been brought to the narrowest straits; for he says that terrorshad on every side surrounded them, as when a solemn assembly is called. They sounded the trumpets when a festival was at hand, that all might come up to the Temple. As, then, many companies were wont to come to Jerusalem on feast-days—for when the trumpets were sounded all were called—so the Prophet says that terrors had been sent from every part to straiten the miserable people.” Owen: “My terrors mean my terrifiers, according to the Vulg., the abstract for the concrete.”—W. H. H.]—So that in the day of the LORD’S anger none escaped or remained—And there was not on the day of Jehovah’s wrath an escaped one or a survivor. [The two words rendered escaped and remained seem to express the same idea; namely, to escape. As there were multitudes who survived the slaughter and still remained on earth, we cannot translate the second word by either of these terms, unless we regard them as merely hyperbolical. Probably the meaning is that none entirely escaped the effects of God’s wrath, and we may translate thus, there was not one that escaped or was exempt. This is consistent with the meaning of the verb from which the noun is derived (שָׂרַד, elabi, to escape, to get clear, i.e., of condemnation or punishment), and is confirmed apparently by Jeremiah 42:17, “they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape,” i.e., shall escape or be wholly exempt (comp. Jeremiah 44:14),—“from the evil that I will bring upon them.” We may understand the phrase in our text as elliptical for the fuller expression as we find it in Jeremiah 44:14, remain or escape from the evils,שָרִיד וּפָלִיט מִפְּנֵי הָֽרָעָה. We may translate the sentence impersonally, there was not that escaped or was exempt. The wrath of the Lord descended on all things and all persons. The city and Zion, the walls and the gates, the sanctuary, palaces and houses, and all the inhabitants, without regard to age, sex or condition, were involved in a common ruin.—W. H. H.]—Those that I have swaddled—Those I have carried or nursed, see Lamentations 2:20—and brought up, hath mine enemy consumed—my enemy destroyed them. It is evident that the prayer is a prayer of lamentation, and with respect to its object responds to the exhortation contained in Lamentations 2:19 by giving the first place to the principal subject of that verse, without restricting itself to that subject, which is, besides, rather intimated than expressed.
מְגוּרִים, terrors, every where else means shelter, place of accommodation, dwelling, commoratio, peregrinatio (Genesis 17:8; Genesis 28:4; Genesis 36:7; Genesis 37:1; Exodus 6:4, etc.), granary (Sing. מָגוּר, Psalms 55:16). None of these meanings suits here. It is better therefore to derive it from מָגוֹר, terrifying, which occurs frequently in Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3-4; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 46:5; Jeremiah 49:29. [Gerlach: “This word is certainly a designation of the enemy (Vulg.: qui terrent me), but is not to be restricted to them, see Lamentations 1:20, since the formula so frequent in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:25; (Jeremiah 20:4; Jeremiah 20:10; (Jeremiah 46:5; (Jeremiah 49:29) is a general expression for a position threatened on all sides with dangers and the terror prevailing therein.”—Ewald, according to Gerlach, takes the word in its more common signification and insists that it relates to the same persons named in the second and last clauses of the verse. “The word denotes my villagers round about, and the inhabitants of the defenceless country towns and villages are intended, who were related to the chief protecting city as farmers, גֵרִים (Sept. παροικίαι). Thus the whole verse plainly alludes to a great event, in the days of the siege. All the inhabitants of the country rushed into the principal city (as happened similarly under Titus) as if a great feast as of old were to be held in this city,—but alas! it would be in the end for them, at the final capture, the great festivity of murder.” This makes excellent sense of the whole verse, and is recommended by preserving the same subject throughout the three clauses of the verse,—which cannot be said of Blayney’s translation, Thou hast convoked, as on a set day, such as were strangers to me round about, which gives us a new theme in each clause. But, as Gerlach remarks, the analogy of Lamentations 1:15, the fact that the authority of the Sept. is weakened by its evident mistranslation of the formula in the prophetical book—fear on every side, and the difficulty of supposing that the flight of the country people to the city could be designated as a summons from the Lord, should confirm us in the usual translation of this passage.—W. H. H.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1.Lamentations 2:1. “Olim erat regnum Israelitarum in sublimi, jam sub limo.” Förster.
2.Lamentations 2:1. “When Jeremiah says throughout, the Lord has done it, disregarding what Babel did, he would teach us, when injury is inflicted upon us by the world and men, that we should regard, not the instruments, who could not injure the least hair of our heads, but God, who does and ordains it (Lamentations 3:37 : Amos 3:6; Isaiah 45:7; Sir 11:14), that He (1) is impelled to it by our sins, and (2) that He prepares His punishments in Heaven, before they are inflicted on transgressors. This serves to make ns patient. Example: Job says not, The Devil, the Chaldeans, the Arabians, did this, but God has done it.” Cramer, according to Eg. Hunnius, Ser. I., Lamentations 2:0, p. 45.—[Lamentations 2:1, etc. How hath Jehovah, etc. “The grief is not so much that such and such things are done, as that God has done them; this, this is their wormwood and gall.” “To those who know how to value God’s favor, nothing appears more dreadful than His anger; corrections in love are easily borne, but rebukes in wrath wound deep.” Matt. Henry.]
3.Lamentations 2:1. “Bellarmine is not wise in attempting to establish the worship of images from this text, and especially from Psalms 99:5 (Lib. II., de cultu imaginum, cap. 12). For the Psalmist would not have the pious worship the temple of the Lord, or the ark of the covenant, or mercy-seat.… Therefore, in Hebrew it is not said, Worship His footstool, but Worship at [or toward] His footstool. Augustine understands this as said with reference to the human nature of Christ, in which the Logos is adorned with Divine worship (λατρείᾳ). But this interpretation rather strengthens than weakens the argument of the Jesuit.” Förster.
4.Lamentations 2:1. “If men themselves are not worthy, He rejects all their ceremonies. He inquires nothing about stone houses with their splendor, nothing about the external form of the church, but He will prepare for Himself the souls of individuals in the fire for all eternity.” Diedrich.
5.Lamentations 2:2. “The Abbot Rupert, in his commentary on the books of Kings (B. V., Lam 14) understands the fall of Jezebel out of the window (2 Kings 9:33),—as well as the passage before us, which is expressed in the Vulgate thus, “the Lord hath cast down headlong … all that was beautiful in Jacob,”—as a prophecy of the vengeance which Israel has incurred, for the shedding of the blood of Christ; and he then says, ‘That fall has been heard of throughout the whole world. Lo! that synagogue which slew Christ, where is it? Truly, whatever seems to remain may be compared to what the dogs left of Jezebel’s body.’ ” Ghisler., p. 70.
6. Lamentations 2:2. “Paschasius Radbertus observes on this passage, that kingdom, king, priest, Temple, stronghold, etc., may be nothing else than ‘as it were, some great prophet or prophecy’ contained in earthen vessels. ‘But now that Christ has come, since the various predictions concerning Him, which were contained in those Vessels, have been fulfilled, they have all been cast down and broken, destroyed and scattered, polluted and profaned, that all the mystical and unutterable secrets which were concealed in them should be made apparent to the whole world, being revealed more clearly than light.’ ” Ghisler.
7. Lamentations 2:2. He hath polluted, etc. “This is, truly, the result, of the profanation of the Divine name and majesty, which was at times extremely common even among the chief men; and this result is in accordance with the rule of divine justice in Wis 11:17—Wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished.” Förster. “The secret of their strength was taken away from the people in the persons of their princes, as Samson lost his strength when he had violated his vow.” Diedrich.—[Lamentations 2:2. Prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that as Thou settest before us at this day those ancient examples by which we perceive with what heavy punishments Thou didst chastise those whom Thou hadst adopted,—O grant, that we may learn to regard Thee, and carefully to examine our whole life, and duly consider how indulgently Thou hast preserved us to this day, so that we may ever patiently bear Thy chastisements, and with a humble and sincere heart flee to Thy mercy, until Thou be pleased to raise up Thy Church from that miserable state in which it now lies, and so to restore it, that Thy name may, through Thine only-begotten Son, be glorified throughout the whole world. Amen.” Calvin.]
8. Lamentations 2:3. “This consideration can and ought to check pride and arrogance, and prevent us from fiercely erecting our horns, being mindful of that notorious saying:
Cornua qui faciunt, ne cornua ferre recusent
And from Zechariah 1:18-21 we learn, that the Lord can easily raise up smiths to break the horns of those who are fierce and insolent.” Förster.
9. Lamentations 2:5. “God has made Christ a horn of salvation to His church, that it should receive from His fulness grace, blessing, strength and power. Whoever will not make use of Christ for this purpose, his carnal ability will soon go to wreck and ruin. Luke 1:69.” Starke.
10. Lamentations 2:5. “When Judea denied the mystery of our Lord’s incarnation, which the Gentiles believed, the princes of Judea fell into contempt, and these Gentiles, who had been oppressed while guilty of unbelief, were elevated into the liberty of the true faith. But Jeremiah, foreseeing long before it happened this fall of the Israelites, says, The Lord has become as if He were an enemy, He has overthrown Israel, He has overthrown all his walls, He has overthrown His defences.” Greg. Papa, Lib. XI., Moral. Cap. 10, quoted by Ghisler., p. 76.
11.Lamentations 2:5. תָּֽאֲנִיָּה וַֽאֲנִיָה. “The Vulgate version has, humiliatam et humiliationem [one humbled and humiliation]. Avenarius interprets invectum et invectionem [attack and assault by sea] and explains it as relating to naval conflicts and the various methods of assaulting an enemy: since both words are from anah, which properly signifies to be carried in ships.” Förster. [Note.—Förster either misquoted the Vulgate, or intended only to give the sense, in his understanding of it. The Vulgate is humiliatum et humiliatam; which the Douay translates “and hath multiplied in the daughter of Judea the afflicted, both men and women.” The Vulg. is a translation of the Sept.: καὶ ἐπλήθυνεν τῆ θυγατρὶ ̓Ιούδα ταπεινούμενον καὶ τεταπεινωμένην.—W. H. H.]
12.Lamentations 2:4-5. “Here a distinction between the evil of crime and the evil of punishment is to be observed. God is not the efficient cause of the evil of crime. The opinion of Peter Martyr, in his Commentary on the first chapter of Romans, is, therefore, impious and horrible,—‘I cannot deny that God is in every way the cause of sin.’ God is, however, the chief cause of the evil of punishment, being just Judge and the avenger of crimes. In this sense the inimical acts of the Babylonians are here attributed directly to Him.” Förster.
13.Lamentations 2:6-7. “The Lord, who never suffers Himself to be forgotten ‘causes our solemn feasts and the Sabbaths of our rest to be forgotten,’ not because the rites of our religion do not please Him, but because the former tabernacle of God or the temple of the Holy Ghost in us is profaned, and there is now no place in which those rites may be so offered as to please God.” Paschas. Radbertus by Ghisler., p. 79.
14.Lamentations 2:6-7. “The Romanists, therefore, err when they pretend that Rome is the fixed and immovable seat of the church. For although the Catholic and universal church cannot cease to exist (Matthew 16:18), yet that particular churches have perished and can perish, experience testifies, yea Rome herself testifies by an example in her own history. … What is here related of the temple at Jerusalem, that it should assuredly be demolished and overthrown, has happened to temples of Christ at the hands of the Turks. It is a fact also especially memorable, that on the 29th day of May, in the year 1453, the Turks having assembled and taken Constantinople, the temple of Sophia, esteemed so sacred, was turned into a horse-stable. And this is what was long ago written in Psalms 78:59-64, and also Psalms 83:13-14.” Förster.—[Lamentations 2:7. “Had he only spoken of the city, of the lands, of the palaces, of the vineyards, and, in short, of all their possessions, it would have been a much lighter matter; but when he says that God had counted as nothing all their sacred things,—the altar, the Temple, the ark of the covenant, and festive days,—when, therefore, he says, that God had not only disregarded, but had also cast away from Him these things, which yet especially availed to conciliate His favor, the people must have hence perceived, except they were beyond measure stupid, how grievously they had provoked God’s wrath against themselves; for this was the same as though heaven and earth were blended together. Had there been an upsetting of all things, had the sun left its place and sunk into darkness, had the earth heaved upwards, the confusion would have hardly been more dreadful, than when God put forth thus His hand against the sanctuary, the altar, the festal days, and all their sacred things. But we must refer to the reason why this was done, even because the Temple had been long polluted by the iniquities of the people, and because all sacred things had been wickedly and disgracefully profaned. We now, then, understand why the Prophet enlarged so much on a subject in itself sufficiently plain.” Calvin.]
15.Lamentations 2:7. “Wherewith one sins, therewith is he punished (Wis 11:17). But because the most heinous sins had been perpetrated at the altar and Divine worship, so now at the altar the severe chastisement is inflicted, that they must be deprived of it.” Cramer.—[Lamentations 2:7. They have made a noise in the house of Jehovah—“Why did He grant so much license to these profane enemies? even because the Jews themselves had previously polluted the Temple, so that He abhorred all their solemn assemblies, as also He declares by Isaiah, that He detested their festivals, Sabbaths and new moons (Lamentations 1:13-14). But it was a shocking change, when enemies entered the place which God had consecrated for Himself, and there insolently boasted, and uttered base and wicked calumnies against God! But the sadder the spectacle, the more detestable appeared the impiety of the people, which had been the cause of so great evils. * * * That the Chaldeans polluted the Temple, that they trod under foot all sacred things, all this the Prophet shows was to be ascribed to the Jews themselves, who had, through their own conduct, opened the Temple to the Chaldeans and exposed all sacred things to their will and pleasure.” Calvin.]
16. Lamentations 2:9. “God is careful to punish contempt of His word by taking away that word. The curse which they chose, that is come to them; the blessing they did not choose, that is far from them, Psalms 109:17.” Cramer.
17. Lamentations 2:1-10. “Although God, properly speaking, allows Himself to repent of nothing, and His gifts and callings admit of no change (Romans 11:20), yet it is evident from this passage, that He is bound to no particular people, especially if that people prove to be godless and unthankful towards Him. He had chosen the people of Israel for His own peculiar people, Jerusalem for His dwelling, where He had, as it were His fire and His hearth (Isaiah 31:9), and had lifted it up to Heaven; but when it became ungrateful and disobedient, He considered not all this, but cast down to the earth all the glory of Israel, laid waste His own tabernacle, destroyed His dwelling, overthrew His altar. For God is not only merciful and kind, but also an angry and just Judge, who will not let iniquity go unpunished, and makes His chastisements the more severe in proportion to the kindness He has shown to a people, when they are ungrateful and godless. This should be a solemn warning to us.” Würtemb. Summ. [“Even those doctrines, ordinances and regulations, which are most exactly scriptural, when scrupulously retained by men destitute of the Spirit of God, are but a lifeless carcass of religion: and when made a cloak for iniquity, God abhors them. So that, in the day of His wrath for national wickedness, He will despise temples and palaces, kings and priests, establishments and forms of every kind.” Scott.]
18. Lamentations 2:10. They have cast up dust upon their heads, etc. Luctus pro luxu. Förster.
19. Lamentations 2:11. “Effusion of the liver is carnal mortification.” Bonaventura, quoted by Ghisler., p. 91.
20. Lamentations 2:13. “When God punishes His people on account of their sins, He punishes them more severely than He does other peoples. It may be said of Him, The dearer the child, the harder the rod.” Osiandri Bible in Starke. [“When we wish to alleviate grief, we are wont to bring examples which have some likeness to the case before us. For when any one seeks to comfort one in illness, he will say, ‘Thou art not the first nor the last, thou hast many like thee; why shouldest thou so much torment thyself; for this is a condition almost common to mortals.’ * * The Prophet, then, means that comforts commonly administered to those in misery, would be of no benefit, because the calamity of Jerusalem exceeded all other examples; as though he had said, ‘No such thing has ever happened in the world; God had never before thundered so tremendously against any people.’ * * Great as the sea is thy breach; that is, ‘Thy calamity is the deepest abyss. I cannot then find any in the whole world whom I can compare to thee, for thy calamity exceeds all calamities; nor is there anything like it that can be set before thee, so that thou art become a memorable example for all ages.’ But when we hear the Prophet speaking thus, we ought to remember that we have succeeded in the place of the ancient people. As then, God had formerly punished with so much severity the sins of His chosen people, we ought to beware lest we in the present day provoke Him to an extremity by our perverseness, for He remains ever like Himself.” Calvin.]
21.Lamentations 2:14. “Preachers, so soothing, are smooth-preachers and dumb dogs, who bring great and irreparable injury to a whole country, for the sun shall go down over such prophets and the day shall be dark over them (Micah 3:6). And although they may receive for a long time good-will and favor, money and encouragement from men, yet they lose, together with their Bearers who delight in such accommodating ministers, all their from the living God; Galatians 1:10, James 4:4.” Cramer according to Eg. Hunnius, Ser. 3, Lamentations 2:0. p. 64. [“They had wilfully drunk sweet poison.” Calvin.—Prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that though Thou chastisest us as we deserve, we may yet never have the light of truth extinguished among us, but may ever see, even in darkness, at least some sparks, which may enable us to behold Thy paternal goodness and mercy, so that we may be especially humbled under Thy mighty hand, and that being really prostrate through a deep feeling of repentance, we may raise our hopes to Heaven, and never doubt that Thou wilt at length be reconciled to us when we seek Thee in Thine only-begotten Son. Amen.” Calvin.]
22.Lamentations 2:15-16. “He who suffers an injury, need not mind mockery. It is the Devil’s special delight to make a mock of the church and of all the pious, so that the godless are known by their great Ahs and Ohs (Wis 5:3)! Let not, however, ridicule cause us to waver, but let us remain firm and faithful to God. For blessed are ye when men, for My sake, revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you (Matthew 5:11). For God can easily and speedily take away again such reproach and put to silence the triumphing of the wicked, and apply to them the song—Mine eyes will see that they shall be trodden down as the mire of the streets (Micah 7:10).” Cramer quoted by Eg. Hunnius, Ser. 4, Lamentations 2:0, p. 73).
23.Lamentations 2:14-16. “This is, in truth, the root of the calamity, that the prophets in the service of the people had preached in accordance with carnal pleasures; they had not disclosed but concealed the misdeeds of the people, and thus had preached the people out of their country, and into captivity. How then was this? Had they invented new precepts? made another catechism? So, nothing at all of this sort! But it sufficed for the purpose of destruction, that they mistook the Gospel, and exercised no control over the people in conformity therewith, but instead of that practised a false policy. Now the enemies of Jerusalem and of God’s people mock and imagine that all the glorious promises of the Word of God of a kingdom of grace among men have come to naught. They imagine that they have now made it evident by their power, that the mystery of God’s grace and election is naught. Poor fools! They know not that God is in all this; they know nothing of that God, who suffers with us and for us, and leads us through suffering to glory.” Diedrich.
24.Lamentations 2:17. “When we experience God’s judgment and chastisements on account of our sins, we ought always to look back (1) on our sins, (2) on God’s frequent warnings of punishment, (3) on His unchangeable faithfulness, and (4) on His great power and His right hand which can change all things, Psalms 77:11; Daniel 9:8; Psalms 51:5.” Cramer, quoted by Eg. Hunnius, Ser. 4, Ch. II., pp. 74 ff.—[Lamentations 2:17. He hath fulfilled His word that He had commanded in the days of old.—“Had the Prophet touched only on the secret counsel of God, the Jews might have been in doubt as to what it was. And certainly as our minds cannot penetrate into that deep abyss, in vain would he have spoken of the hidden judgments of God. It was, therefore, necessary to come down to the doctrine, by which God, as far as it is expedient, manifests to us what would otherwise be not only hidden, but also incomprehensible; for were we to inquire into God’s judgments, we would sink into the deep. But when we direct our minds to what God has taught us, we find that He reveals to us whatever is necessary to be known; and though even by His word, we cannot perfectly know His hidden judgments, yet we may know them in part, and as I have said, as far as it is expedient for us.… Let us then hold to this rule, even to seek from the Law and the Prophets, and the Gospel, whatever we desire to know concerning the secret judgments of God; for were we to turn aside, even in the smallest degree, from what is taught us, the immensity of God’s glory would immediately swallow up all our thoughts; and experience sufficiently teaches us, that nothing is more dangerous and even fatal than to allow ourselves more liberty in this respect than what behooves us. Let us then learn to bridle all curiosity when we speak of God’s secret judgments, and instantly to direct our minds to the word itself, that they may be in a manner inclosed therein.” Calvin.]
25.Lamentations 2:18. “In this exhortation, the requisites of true and ardent prayer are shown. (1) The first of these is the cry of the heart to God, by which devoutness, or the earnest and ardent desire of the heart is denoted. For, as Cyprian says, in his 12th Sermon on the Lord’s Prayer, God hears not the voice, but the heart. And it is commonly said, When the heart does not pray, then the tongue labors in vain. (2) Tears, i. e., by metonomy, true penitence, of which tears are signs, as appears in the case of the sinful woman (Luke 7:38), and of Peter (Luke 22:62). And well-known is that saying of the orthodox Father, The tears of sinners are angels’ bread and angels’ wine.” Förster.
26. Lamentations 2:18-22. “Here we have a lesson,—when, to whom, and how, we ought to pray. We should pray always and not faint, as Christ teaches us by a parable (Luke 18:0), but especially when there is a great and immediate necessity, as Jeremiah did here, and David, The anguish of my heart is great, O bring me, Lord, out of my distresses (Psalms 25:17). To this Lord the prophet Jeremiah here points the people. God Himself calls us to come to Him only, and says, Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me (Psalms 50:15). Not alone should your mouth pray, but, says Jeremiah, let your heart cry to God. For the Lord is near to those who call upon Him, to those who call upon Him with earnestness (Psalms 145:18). We should present before Him circumstantially our necessity and solicitudes, with tears and sighs, as Jeremiah here directs. For although God well knows beforehand what distresses us and what we need, before we tell Him (Matthew 6:8), yet the recital of our pressing necessity serves to make us more earnest in prayer; for God will have those who pray, such as those who worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).” Würt. Summarien.
27. Lamentations 2:19. Arise, cry out in the night.—“The prayer of night—how readily it rises to God the only Judge, and to the Holy Angel who undertakes to present it before the Heavenly altar! How grateful and bright, colored with the blush of humility! How serene and placid, disturbed by no clamor or bustle! And last of all, how pure and sincere, sprinkled with no dust of earthly care, incited by no praise or flattery of beholders!” Bernard, Serm. 86 on the Canticles, in Ghisler., p. 108.
28. Lamentations 2:20. Behold, O Jehovah, and consider.—“It is most proper, when any one is overwhelmed with affliction, that he keep it not entirely to himself, but disclose it to such persons as may come to his relief in the way either of help or of comfort. But to no one can we better and more advantageously lament our distresses and solicitudes, than to our dear God, for He is our confidence, a strong tower from our enemies (Psalms 61:4).” Cramer quoted by Eg. Hunnius, Ser. 4, Lamentations 2:0, p. 78.—[Prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that as Thy Church at this day is oppressed with many evils, we may learn to raise up not only our eyes and our hands to Thee, but also our hearts, and that we may so fix our attention on Thee as to look for salvation from Thee alone; and that though despair may overwhelm us on earth, yet the hope of Thy goodness may ever shine on us from Heaven, and that, relying on the Mediator whom Thou hast given us, we may not hesitate to cry continually to Thee, until we really find by experience that our prayers have not been in vain, when Thou, pitying Thy church, hast extended Thy hand, and given us cause to rejoice, and hast turned our mourning into joy, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” Calvin.]
29. Lamentations 2:21. The young and the old.—“When general judgments proceed from God, the old and the young must suffer together: the old, because they have not rightly educated the young: the young, because they have imitated the wickedness of the old.” Cramer.
30. [Lamentations 2:19-22. “Comforts for the cure of these lamentations are here sought for and prescribed. The two most common topics, that their case is neither singular nor desperate, are here tried, but laid by, because they would not hold. No wisdom or power of man can repair the desolations of such a broken, shattered state. It is to no purpose, therefore, to administer these common cordials; therefore, the method of cure prescribed is, to refer her to God, that by penitent prayer she may commit her case to Him, and be instant, and constant in her supplications, Lamentations 2:19. ‘Arise out of thy despondency, cry out in the night, watch unto prayer; be importunate with God for mercy, be free and full, be sincere and serious; open thy mind, spread thy case before the Lord; lift up thine hands towards Him in holy desire and expectations; beg for the life of thy young children. Take with you words, take with you these words, Lamentations 2:20. Prayer is a remedy for every malady, even the most grievous. And our business in prayer is not to prescribe, but to subscribe to the wisdom and will of God; Lord, behold and consider, and Thy will be done.” Henry.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1.Lamentations 2:1-10. As a warning against a proud confident of security, our text can be used for a sermon on this theme.—The judgment on the members of the old covenant is a solemn warning for the members of the new covenant. 1. The judgment. 1. Who judges? The Lord. 2. How does He judge? With rigorous righteousness. 3. Why does He judge? Because His wrath has been provoked by sins. II. The warning. 1. They were the natural branches; we engrafted ones (Romans 11:24). They had for their part only the revelation of the law; we the revelation of grace. 2. From this it follows that we have to expect a similar judgment, not only with the same, but assuredly with greater certainty.
2.Lamentations 2:9. The blessing of a well ordered political and ecclesiastical condition of affairs. I. What belongs to such order? 1. That the civil magistracy administer the law. 2. That the teachers of God’s word rightly divide it. II. What are the salutary fruits thereof? 1. In a temporal point of view, Order, Right and Righteousness, peace and general prosperity. 2. In a spiritual point of view, Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will from God to men.
3.Lamentations 2:11-12. These verses could be preached upon in a time of severe famine. I. Describe the actual condition of things. The distress: 1, of the children; 2, of the parents. II. Exhort to lively sympathy and the actual manifestation of pity.
4.Lamentations 2:13-14. The hurt of the daughter of Zion. 1. Wherein it consists. 2. Its causes. 3. Its cure.
5.Lamentations 2:13-14. The immense responsibility of the office of the preacher. 1. To whom are the preachers responsible (and whose word have they therefore to publish)? 2. What blessings may they be the authors of by a constant consideration of this responsibility? 3. What injury may they do by not considering the same?
6. Lamentations 2:15-16. Warning against malicious joy in the misfortunes of others. We understand this in a double sense; whilst we (1), warn against such conduct as may make one a subject of the malicious joy of others; (2), we warn against malicious exultation over the misfortunes of others.
7. Lamentations 2:16-17. The impressive sermon which is contained in great calamities. I. These warn us; 1, against the pride which goes before a fall; 2, against malicious joy over the fall of our neighbor. II. They instruct us, 1, to consider the warnings of the Lord; 2, to recognize plainly His hand in the blows which befall men.
8. Lamentations 2:18-22. The prayer of the distressed. 1. It comes out of the heart. 2. It is the expression of deep pain. 3. It is not satisfied with few words. 4. It is directed confidently to the Lord.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Lamentations 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30