Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 2:11 - 2:22

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Lamentations 2:11 - 2:22

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Vanity of Human Consolation Together with a Plea for Help

v. 11. Mine eyes do fail with tears,
being spent, worn out, with weeping, my bowels are troubled, his heart being most deeply affected, my liver is poured upon the earth, that is,—since the liver was considered the seat of the passions,—all my feelings are dissolved with pain, for the destruction of the daughter of my people, because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city, the fainting away of these innocent victims of the calamity being the very climax of its severity.

v. 12. They say to their mothers,
as they are tortured with the pangs of hunger, Where is corn and wine? anything to eat, when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, faint with weakness for lack of food, when their soul was poured out into their mothers' bosom, breathing out their lives while lying on their mothers' laps, the latter being compelled to look on in helpless misery.

v. 13. What thing shall I take to witness for thee?
to bring some measure of comfort from the experience of others. What thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? in making some comparison which would tend to arouse her drooping spirits. What shall I equal to thee that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? Any attempt of this kind is bound to fail in this instance, since no real comparison can be made. For thy breach is great like the sea, immeasurably boundless in extent and depth; who can heal thee? As the conditions are, Jerusalem can expect neither comfort nor healing from her prophets.

v. 14. Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee,
namely, the false prophets, to whom the people of Jerusalem listened, much against Jeremiah's advice; and they have not discovered thine iniquity, pointing out the real cause of all this misery, to turn away thy captivity, namely, by leading the people to repentance, but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment, that is, the contents of their prophecies, while apparently directed against the enemies, are such as to bring ruin upon Judah.

v. 15. All that pass by clap their hands at thee,
in scorn and mockery; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, in expressing the derision which they felt, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth? It is a question of scornful wonderment, denying Jerusalem's right ever to have borne such designations. To this behavior of strangers is added the mocking triumph of enemies.

v. 16. All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee,
in a gesture of mockery and derision; they hiss and gnash the teeth, as an expression of satisfied rage, of vindictive malice. They say, We have swallowed her up, thus effecting a complete destruction; certainly this is the day that we looked for, which they had so eagerly awaited; we have found, we have seen it, and they feel a corresponding satisfaction and pleasure. But the destruction of Jerusalem was not a chance happening, nor was it alone the culmination of men's hateful plans.

v. 17. The Lord hath done that which He had devised,
what He had resolved upon; He hath fulfilled His word that He had commanded in the days of old, for the holiness of the Lord demands the punishment of every act of rebellion against His holy Law; He hath thrown down and hath not pitied, carrying out His threat with merciless severity; and He hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee; He hath set up the horn of thine adversaries, so that they were given power, authority, and victory.

v. 18. Their heart,
that of the Jews suffering such great afflictions, cried unto the Lord, even while they addressed the fortifications of their city, O wall of the daughter of Zion, the city with all its inhabitants, let tears run down like a river day and night, in the intensity of grief over the present conditions; give thyself no rest, no surcease from sorrow; let not the apple of thine eye cease, in desisting from shedding tears.

v. 19. Arise, cry out in the night,
throughout all the watches of the night; in the beginning of the watches, with the desire and strength for weeping renewed again and again, pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord, the very heart dissolving in tears, as it were, in the excess of the sorrow caused by the great calamity; lift up thy hands toward Him, in a gesture of fervent supplication, for the life of thy young children that faint for hunger in the top, at the head, of every street.

v. 20. Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom Thou hast done this,
so the prayer of the city's inhabitants now arises. Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long? in revolting cannibalism caused by excessive hunger. Cf Lev_26:29; 'Deu_28:53; Jer_19:9. Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the Sanctuary of the Lord? The one was against God's moral order governing the universe, the other conflicted with His covenant and the worship connected with it.

v. 21. The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets,
being slaughtered without mercy; my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword, neither age nor sex being spared. Thou hast slain them in the day of Thine anger; Thou hast killed and not pitied.

v. 22. Thou hast called as in a solemn day,
as for a festival prepared for the enemies, my terrors round about, from every direction, so that Jerusalem was surrounded by them, so that in the day of the Lord's anger none escaped nor remained, all being involved in the common ruin; those that I have swaddled and brought up, with the fondest love of a parent, hath mine enemy consumed. Fortunate is the person who, when experiencing the Lord's punishment, cried out thus in true repentance!