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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Lamentations 2

 

 

Verse 1

Lamentations 2:1 How 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 his footstool in the day of his anger!

Ver. 1. How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion witha cloud!] Heb., With a thick cloud: nothing like that bright cloud wherein he appeared to his people, as a token of his grace, at the dedication of the temple. [1 Kings 8:10] How comes it about, and what may be the reason for it? Oh in what a wonderful manner and by what strange means hath the Lord now clouded and covered his people (whom he had established as Mount Zion) with blackest calamities and confusions, taking all the lustre of happiness and of hope from her, and that in his anger, and again in the day of his anger!

Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?

And cast down from heaven to earth,] i.e., From the highest pitch of felicity to the lowest plight of misery. This was afterwards indeed Caperuaum’s case; but when Micah the Morashite prophesied in the times of Jeremiah that "Zion should be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem laid on heaps," [Micah 3:12 Jeremiah 26:18] it seemed a paradox, and very few believed them. Christ’s disciples also had a conceit that the temple and the world must needs have one and the same period, which occasioned that mixed discourse made by our Saviour. [Matthew 24:1-3] But God’s gracious presence is not tied to a place. The ark, God’s footstool (as here it is called) was transportative till settled in Zion; so is the Church militant in continual motion, till it come to triumph in heaven; and those that with Capernaum are lifted up to heaven in the abundance of means, may be brought down to hell for an instance of divine vengeance.

And remembered not his footstool.] The temple, and therein the ark, to teach them that he was not wholly there included, neither ought now to be sought and worshipped anywhere but above. Sursum corda.


Verse 2

Lamentations 2:2 The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and hath not pitied: he hath thrown down in his wrath the strong holds of the daughter of Judah; he hath brought [them] down to the ground: he hath polluted the kingdom and the princes thereof.

Ver. 2. The Lord hath swallowed up all the habitations of Jadah.] Kατεποντισε, (a) as the sea swalloweth up a ship; as an earthquake swalloweth up whole townships; as fire swalloweth up fuel, or as Moses’ serpent swallowed up the sorcerers’ serpents.

And hath not pitied.] This was worse than all the rest. [Isaiah 47:6]

He hath thrown down.] Not shaken them only, and so left them standing, but utterly subverted them, and that in great displeasure, Deo irritato, et irato. God set on the Chaldees, and was the author, not of their evil will, but of their work.

He hath brought them down to the ground.] Though for their height they seemed to threaten heaven.

He hath polluted the kingdom and the priests.] Which were held holy and inviolable. Profanavit regnum coeli, say some Rabbis here, He hath profaned the kingdom of heaven; for so they accounted the commonwealth of Israel, which Josephus calleth Yεοκρατειαν, a God government. But now God had disprivileged them, and cast them off as a thing of naught.


Verse 3

Lamentations 2:3 He 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 fire, [which] devoureth round about.

Ver. 3. He hath cut off in his anger all the horn of Israel,] i.e., All the strength and beauty, the royal majesty especially. [Psalms 89:24; Psalms 132:17]

He hath drawn back his right hand.] Wherewith he was wont to shelter them and to fight for them. Or, Israel’s right hand - scil., by disabling them; for it is God that strengtheneth and weakeneth the arm of either party. [Ezekiel 30:24]

And he burned against Jacob.] Or, In Jacob - i.e., He declareth his displeasure among his people as clearly as a flame of fire that is easily discerned.


Verse 4

Lamentations 2:4 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 in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.

Ver. 4. He hath bent his bow like an enemy.] He doth not only help the enemies, but himself fighteth against us with his own bare hand. He hath bent his bow, id est, vim suam ultricem, saith Origen; that is, his avenging force. So the poet feigneth that Apollo shot his deadly shafts into the camp of the Grecians.

He stood with his right hand.] Heb., He was set. Vulgate, Firmavit dextram suam; he held his right hand steadily, that he might hit what he shot at.

In the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion.] In Jerusalem, that was sweetly situated, as a tabernacle pitched in a pleasant plain, but now a field of blood.

He hath poured out his wrath like fire,] i.e., Abundantly and most vehemently, perinde ac Aetna, Hecla, &c.


Verse 5

Lamentations 2:5 The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation.

Ver. 5. The Lord was an enemy.] This the secure and foolish people would not be drawn to believe, till now they felt it; therefore it is so reiterated.

He hath swallowed up Israel, he hath destroyed, &c.] This he had said before, [Lamentations 2:2] but in cases of this kind people love to say the same things over and over. Redundanti copia exponit quae antea dixerat.

And hath increased … mourning and lamentation.] Heb., Lamentation and lamentation - q.d., this is all he hath left us. And this she speaketh mourning, but not murmuring: Non litem intendit Deo, sed confessionem edit.


Verse 6

Lamentations 2:6 And 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 anger the king and the priest.

Ver. 6. And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle.] Redit ad deplorandam religionem: nothing grieves a good soul so much as the loss of religious opportunities. Old Eli’s heart was broken before his neck at the news of the ark taken.

As if it were of a garden.] As if it were some cottage or hovel set up for a short time in a garden for the repose of the gardener. [Isaiah 1:8]

He hath destroyed his places of the assembly.] Whence we were wont to hope for help in answer to our prayers. There it was that he formerly "brake the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle." [Psalms 76:3] {See Trapp on "Psalms 76:3"} Hence [2 Chronicles 4:9] the great court of the temple, where the people used to pray, is called Gnazarah; that is, help and defence.

The king and the priest.] Zedekiah and Seraiah, and with them the kingdom and the priesthood.

Haec iam pro vill, sub pedibusque iacent.


Verse 7

Lamentations 2:7 The Lord hath 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.

Ver. 7. The Lord hath cast off his altar.] She goeth over it again, as the main matter of her grief, that she was bereft of the outward exercises of religion. His altar God had cast into a corner, as that which was an eyesore to him; his sanctuary he abhorred or dissolved, &c. Longe fecit, procul removit a se quasi rem odiosam, sibi ingratam et molestam.

They have made a noise in the house of the Lord.] Where God was wont to be praised with heart and voice, now the enemies reboate and roar out Io triumphe, Io Paean, Victoria, All is our own.


Verse 8

Lamentations 2:8 The 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 he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.

Ver. 8. The Lord hath purposed to destroy.] Non casu, non subito, non temere, sed maturo el destinato decreto. God’s providence (which is nothing else but the carrying on of his decree) extendeth to smallest matters, much more to the subversion of states and cities.

He that stretched out a line,] scil., Of destruction, or a levelling line. See 2 Kings 21:13, Isaiah 34:11. Jerusalem was built by line, and so it was destroyed by him who doeth all things in number, weight, and measure.


Verse 9

Lamentations 2:9 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.

Ver. 9. Her gates are sunk into the ground.] So they seem to be, because laid on the ground, and covered with rubbish. The Rabbis fable, that the gates sank indeed into the ground, that they might not come into the enemy’s power, because the ark had once passed through them; and when the priests that carried it sang, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates," &c., they opened of their own accord.

The law is no more,] scil., Read, or regarded. Inter arma silent leges, The noise of wars drowns the voice of laws.

Her prophets also find no vision from the Lord.] See Psalms 74:9. {See Trapp on "Psalms 74:9"} Jeremiah was alone, and haply thought, when he saw all ruined, that he should prophesy no more. Ezekiel and Daniel were far remote. This was no small affliction that is here complained of. How woe begone was sinful Saul, when in his distress he could have no answer from God either by Urim or vision, &c., but had the devil to preach his funeral!


Verse 10

Lamentations 2:10 The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, [and] keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.

Ver. 10. The elders of the daughters of Zion.] Who sat once aloft passing sentence, and held themselves, haply, too high to be told their duties by a poor prophet.

Sit upon the ground.] After the manner of mourners.

And keep silence.] Who were wont to be the oracles of the country.

They have cast dust upon their heads.] Those white heads of theirs, which they had stained with foul practices.

They have girded themselves with sackcloth.] Heb., Sacks, instead of silks.

The virgins of Jerusalem.] Who were wont to walk haughtily, and with outstretched necks. [Isaiah 3:16]

Hang down their heads to the ground.] As if they were ashamed of themselves, and had small joy of their beauty and former bravery.


Verse 11

Lamentations 2:11 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 the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.

Ver. 11. Mine eyes do fail with tears.] Those fountains (as the Hebrew word signifieth) are even drawn dry. I have wept till I can weep no more, as David did; or I have wept myself blind, as Faustus the son of Vortigern (once king of England) is said to have done.

My bowels are troubled.] Heb., Bemudded. See Lamentations 1:20.

My liver is poured upon the earth.] I have well nigh vomited up my gall. {as Job 16:13}

For the destruction.] Heb., The breach even to shivers, as young trees or ships are broken by tempests.

Because the children and sucklings swoon in the streets.] Miserabile etiam hostibus spectaculum; a rueful sight.


Verse 12

Lamentations 2:12 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.

Ver. 12. They say to their mothers.] Lege et luge. Gather and mourne.

Tu quibus ista leges incertum est, Lector, ocellis:

Ipse quidem siccis scribere vix potui. ”

As oft as I read the Lamentations of Jeremiah, saith Gregory Nazianzen, {a} my voice faileth me, and I am overwhelmed with tears. The misery of that poor people cometh under my view, as it were, and my heart is therewith very much affected and afflicted.

Where is corn and wine.] Frumentum dicunt, non panem. They say grain not bread. Grain they would have been glad of, though unground, saith one; wine they ask for, and not water, which noteth an ill custom in their mothers to drink wine, and to give it their little ones; but by grain and wine here may be meant necessary food, to keep them alive.

When their soul was poured out into the mother’s bosom.] As it were giving them their lives again, seeing they yielded them no food to preserve them alive.


Verse 13

Lamentations 2:13 What 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?

Ver. 13. What thing shall I take to witness for thee?] q.d., Thou art such a mirror of God’s heavy judgments, that I know not whence to borrow arguments, nor where to find examples for thy comfort, so matchless is thy misery. It exceedeth that of the Egyptians under Moses, of the Canaanites under Joshua, of the Philistines under David, of the Hebrews under Eli, &c. It is even imparallel and inexpressible. I have but one simile to set it forth by, and it is this,

Thy breach is great, like the sea.] As far as the sea exceedeth the rivers, so doth thy calamity exceed that of other nations.

Who can heal thee?] None but an almighty Physician. Surely, in man’s judgment, thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous. [Jeremiah 30:12]


Verse 14

Lamentations 2:14 Thy 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.

Ver. 14. Thy prophets.] Thine, and not mine; for thou art miserable by thine own election, accessary to thine own ruin.

Have seen vain and foolish things for thee.] Visions of vanity, sapless and savourless stuff; the fruit, or rather froth, of their own fancies. [Jeremiah 23:9-14]

And they have not discovered thine iniquity.] Conviction maketh way for conversion, and so preventeth utter subversion.

But have seen for thee false burdens,] viz., Against Babylon, in confidence whereof thou hast been hardened and heartened in thy sinful practices, to thine utter undoing.

And causes of banishment,] scil., Eventually, and as it hath proved.


Verse 15

Lamentations 2:15 All 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 beauty, The joy of the whole earth?

Ver. 15. All that pass by thee clap.] See Lamentations 1:17.

Is this the city?] God’s palace upon earth, the porch of paradise, &c., as they said of Jezebel when she lay torn with dogs, Is this that Jezebel?

O quantum haec Niobe, Niobe mutatur ab ills?


Verse 16

Lamentations 2:16 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].

Ver. 16. All thine enemies opened their mouths against thee.] They speak largely and freely to thy dishonour, the very banks of blasphemy being broken down, as it were.

We have swallowed her up.] But shall find her to be hard meat, such as they shall digest in hell. See Lamentations 2:2; Lamentations 2:5.

Certainly this is the day that we look for.] Pray we that the Papists may never see here their longlooked for day, as they have long called it.


Verse 17

Lamentations 2:17 The 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.

Ver. 17. The Lord hath done that which he hath devised.] Or, Performed what he purposed. See Lamentations 2:8.

He hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded.] That is, his threats annexed to his commands, and of as great authority as they.

In the days of old.] And not two or three days only since. God’s menaces are ancient and infallible, not uttered in terrorem only; neither is his forbearance any acquittance.

And he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee.] Still the prophet calleth off this distressed people from the jeers and insolencies of their enemies, whom they too much looked upon, to the just judgment of God, who turned those dogs loose upon them, to bark at them and to bait them, in the manner said before.


Verse 18

Lamentations 2:18 Their 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 eye cease.

Ver. 18. Their herd cried unto the Lord,] i.e., They cried seriously at least, if not sincerely. Some think it was not a cry of the spirit for grace, but only of the flesh, for ease and freedom from affliction; wherefore the prophet in the next words turneth to the walls of Jerusalem, which were now broken down, bidding them weep, since the people would not. And surely the stony walls of men’s houses, standing with bells of water on their faces before foul weather, shall witness against such hard hearts as relent not, and so prevent not the terrible tempest of God’s wrath for their iniquities. There are those who render and sense the text thus: "Their heart crieth against the Lord," - i.e., The adversaries set their whole power to devise blasphemy against God; let the Church therefore pray in hope to be heard, and to speed the better for the other’s insolence. These by wall understand the people within the wall. Others, O mure, qui nunc es mera ruina; O poor shattered wall; or, O city, which art now nothing but bare walls, without housing and inhabitants.


Verse 19

Lamentations 2:19 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.

Ver. 19. Arise, cry in the night.] A fit time for meditation and prayer, as we read of David, [Psalms 119:55; Psalms 119:148] and of the Son of David. [Luke 21:37]

In the beginning of the watches.]. When others are in their first - which is their deepest and sweetest - sleep, break thyself of thy rest, that thou mayest give God no rest. [Isaiah 62:6-7] Omnibus signis et modis miseriam tuam expone Domino; bestir thee every way, all is but little enough.

Pour out thine heart like water.] That is, saith Sanchez, Weep till thou hast wept thy very heart out, if it were possible. Or as others, Pour out thine heart to God in humble and ingenuous confession and supplication; but then pour it forth as water (whereof every drop will come out), and not as oil, whereof some will still stick to the sides of the vessel. Tundens pectus et non effundens vitia, ea consolidat, saith Augustine. He who pretendeth to repent, and yet parteth not with his sins, doth but increase them.

Lift up thine hands toward him.] But with thy heart. [Lamentations 3:41]

For the life of thy young children.] See on Lamentations 2:11-12.


Verse 20

Lamentations 2:20 Behold, 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 slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?

Ver. 20. Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this.] Even to thine own inheritances, who suffer harder and heavier things commonly than any others. And why? Ingentia beneficia, ingentia flagitia, ingentia supplicia; their offences are increased, their punishments are aggravated by their obligations.

Shall the women eat their fruit, children of a span long?] That they did so in the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldees, it appeareth by this question. In the famine of Samaria, under Joram, they did likewise; [2 Kings 6:28-29] as also at the last destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; (a) and at the siege of Sancerra, in France, A.D. 1572. See the sad effects of sin, and shun it, if but for the ill consequents of it.

Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord?] It seems they were so - but who they were we read not - although God had cautioned, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." Priests were slaughtered, where they used to slaughter beasts for sacrifices; but it may be they were nothing better than Thomas Becket, the devil’s martyr, here, and Adam Benton, that butcherly archbishop in Scotland, who, when himself was butchered, cried out, Kill me not, for I am a priest. (b)


Verse 21

Lamentations 2:21 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 [them] in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, [and] not pitied.

Ver. 21. The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets.] Oh, the woe of war! oh, the bloody work that the sword maketh wheresoever it is in commission! Well may it be called "an evil, an only evil," by an antonomasy. (a) [Isaiah 45:7]


Verse 22

Lamentations 2:22 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.

Ver. 22. Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors,] i.e., My terrible enemies the Chaldees, being called in by thee their generalissimo, came on as cheerfully as if they had come to a solemn feast or some merry meeting, and not to a siege and to a bloody war, which they cannot but know to be utrinque triste, such as both sides usually suffer by.

Those that I have swaddled and brought up.] Singula haec verba ponderanda sunt; singula enim ingens habent pathos. Here every word is very ponderous and pathetic; indeed, this whole book is so, which is the reason that there is no great coherence in some places thereof to be discovered. For as he that is under some grievous affliction, without observing of order, now cries, now prays, now laments, now complains, &c.; so doth the prophet here, in the name of the Church, pour forth himself tumultuously in a flood such words as his grief ministered unto him; and grief is no methodical speaker.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Lamentations 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/lamentations-2.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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