Lamentations 2

CHAPTER II

The prophet shows the dire effects of the Divine anger in the

miseries brought on his country; the unparalleled calamities of

which he charges, on a great measure, on the false prophets,

1-14.

In thus desperate condition, the astonishment and by-word of

all who see her, Jerusalem is directed to sue earnestly for

mercy and pardon, 15-22.

NOTES ON CHAP. II

Verse 1. How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a

cloud] The women in the eastern countries wear veils, and often

very costly ones. Here, Zion is represented as being veiled by the

hand of God's judgment. And what is the veil? A dark cloud, by

which she is entirely obscured.

Instead of Adonai, lord, twenty-four of Dr. Kennicott's

MSS., and some of the most ancient of my own, read Yehovah,

LORD, as in La 2:2.

The beauty of Israel] His Temple.

His footstool] The ark of the covenant, often so called. The

rendering of my old MS. Bible is curious:-And record not of his

litil steging-stole of his feet, in the dai of his woodnesse. To

be wood signifies, in our ancient language, to be mad.

Verse 2. The Lord hath swallowed up] It is a strange figure when

thus applied: but Jehovah is here represented as having swallowed

down Jerusalem and all the cities and fortifications in the land:

that is, he has permitted them to be destroyed. See La 1:5.

Verse 3. The horn of Israel] His power and strength. It is a

metaphor taken from cattle, whose principal strength lies in their

horns.

Hath drawn back his right hand] He did not support us when our

enemies came against us.

Verse 4. He hath bent his bow-he stood with his right hand] This

is the attitude of the archer. He first bends his bow; then sets

his arrow upon the string; and, lastly, placing his right hand on

the lower end of the arrow, in connexion with the string, takes

his aim, and prepares to let fly.

Verse 6. As if it were of a garden] "As it were the garden of

his own hedging."-Blayney.

The Lord hath caused the solemn feasts] By delivering us up into

the hands of the enemy our religious worship is not only

suspended, but all Divine ordinances are destroyed.

Verse 7. They have made a noise in the house of the Lord]

Instead of the silver trumpets of the sanctuary, nothing but the

sounds of warlike instruments are to be heard.

Verse 8. He hath stretched out a line] The line of devastation;

marking what was to be pulled down and demolished.

Verse 9. Her gates are sunk into the ground] The consequence of

their being long thrown down and neglected. From this it appears

that the captivity had already lasted a considerable time.

Her king and her princes are among the Gentiles] Zedekiah and

many of the princes were then prisoners in Babylon, another proof

that the captivity had endured some time, unless all this be

spoken prophetically, of what should be done.

Verse 10. Sit upon the ground] See Clarke on La 1:1.

Keep silence] No words can express their sorrows: small griefs

are eloquent, great ones dumb.

Verse 11. Swoon in the streets of the city.] Through the excess

of the famine.

Verse 12. When their soul was poured out into their mothers'

bosom.] When, in endeavouring to draw nourishment from the breasts

of their exhausted mothers, they breathed their last in their

bosoms! How dreadfully afflicting was this!

Verse 13. What thing shall I take] Or, rather, as Dr. Blayney,

"What shall I urge to thee?" How shall I comfort thee?

Thy breach is great like the sea] Thou hast a flood of

afflictions, a sea of troubles, an ocean of miseries.

Verse 14. They have not discovered thine iniquity] They did not

reprove for sin, they flattered them in their transgressions; and

instead of turning away thy captivity, by turning thee from thy

sins, they have pretended visions of good in thy favour, and false

burdens for thy enemies.

Verse 15. The perfection of beauty] This probably only applied

to the temple. Jerusalem never was a fine or splendid city; but

the temple was most assuredly the most splendid building in the

world.

Verse 16. This is the day that we looked for] Jerusalem was the

envy of the surrounding nations: they longed for its destruction,

and rejoiced when it took place.

Verse 17. The Lord hath done that] This and the sixteenth verse

should be interchanged, to follow the order of the letters in the

Hebrew alphabet; as the sixteenth has phe for its acrostic

letter, and the seventeenth has ain, which should precede the

other in the order of the alphabet.

Verse 18. O wall of the daughter of Zion] chomath

bath tsiyon, wall of the daughter of Zion. These words are

probably those of the passengers, who appear to be affected by the

desolations of the land; and they address the people, and urge

them to plead with God day and night for their restoration. But

what is the meaning of wall of the daughter of Zion? I answer I do

not know. It is certainly harsh to say "O wall of the daughter of

Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night." Zion's ways

may lament, and her streets mourn; but how the walls can be said

to weep is not so easy to be understood, because there is no

parallel for it. One of my most ancient MSS. omits the three

words; and in it the text stands thus: "Their heart cried unto the

Lord, Let tears run down like a river day and night; give thyself

no rest," &c.

Let not the apple of thine eye cease.] bath ayin means

either the pupil of the eye, or the tears. Tears are the produce

of the eye, and are here elegantly termed the daughter of the eye.

Let not thy tears cease. But with what propriety can we say to the

apple or pupil of the eye, Do not cease! Tears are most

certainly meant.

Verse 19. Arise, cry out in the night] This seems to refer to

Jerusalem besieged. Ye who keep the night watches, pour out your

hearts before the Lord, instead of calling the time of night, &c.;

or, when you call it, send up a fervent prayer to God for the

safety and relief of the place.

Verse 20. Consider to whom thou hast done this] Perhaps the best

sense of this difficult verse is this: "Thou art our Father, we

are thy children; wilt thou destroy thy own offspring? Was it ever

heard that a mother devoured her own child, a helpless infant of a

span long?" That it was foretold that there should be such

distress in the siege,-that mothers should be obliged to eat their

own children, is evident enough from Le 26:29; De 28:53, 56, 57;

but the former view of the subject seems the most natural and is

best supported by the context. The priest and the prophet are

slain; the young and old lie on the ground in the streets; the

virgins and young men are fallen by the sword. "THOU hast slain

them in the day of thine anger; THOU hast killed, and not pitied."

See La 4:10.

Verse 22. Thou hast called as in a solemn day] It is by thy

influence alone that so many enemies are called together at one

time; and they have so hemmed us in that none could escape, and

none remained unslain or uncaptivated, Perhaps the figure is the

collecting of the people in Jerusalem on one of the solemn annual

festivals. God has called terrors together to feast on Jerusalem,

similar to the convocation of the people from all parts of the

land to one of those annual festivals. The indiscriminate

slaughter of young and old, priest and prophet, all ranks and

conditions, may be illustrated by the following verses from Lucan,

which appear as if a translation of the nineteenth, twentieth, and

twenty-first verses of this chapter:-

Nobilitas cum plebe perit; lateque vagatur

Ensis, et a nullo revocatum est pectore ferrum.

Stat cruor in Templis; multaque rubentia caede

Lubrica saxa madent. Nulli sua profuit aetas.

Non senes extremum piguit vergentibus annis

Praecipitasse diem; nec primo in limine vitae,

Infanti miseri nascentia rumpere fata.

Pharsal. lib. ii., 101.

"With what a slide devouring slaughter passed,

And swept promiscuous orders in her haste;

O'er noble and plebeian ranged the sword,

Nor pity nor remorse one pause afford!

The sliding streets with blood were clotted o'er,

And sacred temples stood in pools of gore.

The ruthless steel, impatient of delay,

Forbade the sire to linger out his day:

It struck the bending father to the earth,

And cropped the wailing infant at its birth."

ROWE.

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