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Lamentations 2:3

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.

3. Confregit in excandescentia irae suae omne cornu Israelis: retraxit (vel, redire fecit) retrorsum dexteram suam a facie inimici, et exarsit in Jacob tanquam ignis, flamma devoravit in circuitu.

 

Jeremiah expresses the same thing in various ways; but all that he says tends to shew that it was an evidence of God’s extreme vengeance, when the people, the city, and the Temple, were destroyed. But it ought to be observed, that God is here represented as the author of that calamity: the Prophet would have otherwise lamented in vain over the ruin of his own country; but as in all adversities he acknowledged the hand of God, he afterwards added, that God had a just reason why he was so grievously displeased with his own people.

He then says, that every horn had been broken by God. 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. But the whole clause must be noticed, that God had broken every horn of Israel in the indignation of his wrath. The Prophet intimates that God had not been angry with his people as though he had been offended by slight transgressions, but that the measure of his wrath had been unusual, even because the impiety of the people had so burst forth, that the offense given to God could not have been slight. Then, by indignation of wrath the Prophet does not mean an excess, as though God had through a violent impulse rushed forth to take vengeance; but he rather intimates that the people had become so wicked, that it did not behoove God to punish in an ordinary way an impiety so inveterate.

He then adds, that God had withdrawn, his right hand from before the enemy, and that at the same time he had burned like a fire, the flame of which had devoured all around. The Prophet here refers to two things; the first is, that though God had been accustomed to help his people, and to oppose their enemies, as they had experienced his aid in the greatest dangers, yet now his people were forsaken and left destitute of all hope. The first clause, then, declares, that God would not be the deliverer of his people as formerly, because they had forsaken him. But he speaks figuratively, that God had drawn back his right hand; and God’s right hand means his protection, as it is well known. But the Prophet’s meaning is by no means obscure, even that there was hereafter no hope that God would meet the enemies of his people, and thus preserve them in safety, for he had drawn back his hand. 149149     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 adversary.” See Psalm 74:11Ed. But there is a second thing added, even that God’s hand burned like fire. Now it was in itself a grievous thing that the people had been so rejected by God, that no help could be expected from him; but it was still a harder thing, that he went forth armed to destroy his people. And the metaphor of fire ought to be noticed; for had he said that God’s right hand was against his people, the expression would not have been so forcible; but when he compared God’s right hand to fire which burned, and whose flame consumed all Israel, it was a much more dreadful thing. 150150     The last clause may be literally rendered thus, —
   And he burned in Jacob as fire,
the flame devoured around.

    — Ed

Moreover, by these words the Israelites were reminded that they were not to lament their calamities in an ordinary way, but ought, on the contrary, to have seriously considered the cause of all their evils, even the provoking of God’s wrath against themselves; and not only so, but that God was angry with them in an unusual degree, and yet justly, so that they had no reason to complain. It follows, —


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