Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 2:20 - 2:20

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Lamentations 2:20 - 2:20


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In Lam 2:20 follows the prayer which the city has been commanded to make. The prayer sets before the mind of the Lord the terrible misery under which Jerusalem suffers. The question, "To whom hast Thou acted thus?" does not mean, "What innocent and godly ones are being sacrificed?" (Thenius), but "to what nation?" - not a heathen one, but the people of thy choice, to whom all Thy blessed promises have been given (Nägelsbach). This is clear from the reasons given in the question, in which the murder of the priests and prophets in the sanctuary of the Lord is brought forward. But first there is mentioned a case of inhuman conduct, prompted by necessity, viz., that women, in the extreme destitution of hunger, have been constrained to eat the fruit of their body, their beloved children. אִם...אִם does not, in this case, introduce a disjunctive question, but merely an indirect question in two parts. In view of such inhuman cruelties and such desecration of His sanctuary, God cannot remain inactive. The meaning of the question is not: estne hoc unquam fando auditum, quod apud nos factum est, or, quod matres fame eo adactae fuerint, ut suos faetus comederent (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmüller). For in this case, not the imperfect, but the perfect, would be used. It is merely asked whether something could happen in a certain way, while it is implied that it has actually occurred already. פִּרְיָם has the masc. instead of the fem. suffix, as pretty frequently happens. The fruit of their bodies is meant, as the lxx have rightly rendered; but there is no reason for making this the ground of alterations in the text. The expression "their fruit," indefinite in itself, is immediately rendered definite by עֹלְלֵי טִפֻּחִים. The last word is a verbal noun from טִפַּח (Lam 2:22), which again is a denominative from טֶפַח, and means to bear on the hands, to care for tenderly. Both words occur only in this passage. The Israelites, moreover, had been threatened with this inhuman outrage as the most extreme form of divine chastisement, Lev 26:26; Deu 28:56; cf. Jer 19:9. While this abomination is opposed to the moral order of the world instituted by God, the other case (the murder of the priests and prophets in the sanctuary) is a violation of the covenant-order which the Lord had given His people. Neither of these arrangements can God consent to abolish. Therein is implicitly contained the request that He would put an end to the misery into which His people have fallen. This request, however, is not expressly stated; there is merely complaint made to God regarding the terrible misery. From the massacre in the temple, the lamentation passes to the bloodshed on the streets of the city, in which neither age nor sex was spared; cf. Jer 6:11. חוּצֹות is a local accus., "through the streets," along the streets.