CHAPTER (ELEGY) 2
1. How—The title of the collection
repeated here, and in La 4:1.
covered … with a cloud—that is,
with the darkness of ignominy.
cast down from heaven unto …
dashed down from the highest prosperity to the lowest misery.
beauty of Israel—the beautiful temple
(Ps 29:2; 74:7; 96:9, Margin; Isa 60:7;
his footstool—the ark (compare 1Ch
28:2, with Ps 99:5; 132:7).
They once had gloried more in the ark than in the God whose symbol it
was; they now feel it was but His "footstool," yet that it had been a
great glory to them that God deigned to use it as such.
2. polluted—by delivering it into the
hands of the profane foe. Compare Ps 89:39, "profaned … crown."
3. horn—worn in the East as an ornament
on the forehead, and an emblem of power and majesty (1Sa 2:10; Ps
132:17; see on Jer 48:25).
drawn back … fight hand—(Ps 74:11). God has withdrawn the help which
He before gave them. Not as Henderson,
"He has turned back his (Israel's) right hand" (Ps 89:43).
4. (Isa 63:10).
stood with … right hand—He took
His stand so as to use His right hand as an adversary. Henderson makes the image to be that of an archer
steadying his right hand to take aim. Not only did He
withdraw His help, but also took arms against Israel.
all … pleasant to …
All that were conspicuous for youth, beauty, and rank.
in … tabernacle—the dwellings of
5. an enemy—(Jer 30:14).
mourning and lamentation—There is a
play of similar sounds in the original, "sorrow and sadness," to
heighten the effect (Job 30:3,
Hebrew; Eze 35:3,
6. tabernacle—rather, "He hath violently
taken away His hedge (the hedge of the place sacred to Him,
Ps 80:12; 89:40; Isa 5:5), as that of a garden" [Maurer]. Calvin
supports English Version, "His tabernacle (that is, temple) as
(one would take away the temporary cottage or booth) of a garden."
Isa 1:8 accords with this (Job 27:18).
places of … assembly—the temple
and synagogues (Ps 74:7, 8).
solemn feasts—(La 1:4).
7. they … made a noise in … house of
… Lord, as in … feast—The foe's shout of triumph
in the captured temple bore a resemblance (but oh, how sad a contrast
as to the occasion of it!) to the joyous thanksgivings we used
to offer in the same place at our "solemn feasts" (compare La 2:22).
8. stretched … a line—The Easterns
used a measuring-line not merely in building, but in destroying
edifices (2Ki 21:13; Isa 34:11); implying here the unsparing rigidness
with which He would exact punishment.
9. Her gates cannot oppose the entrance of the
foe into the city, for they are sunk under a mass of rubbish and
broken … bars—(Jer 51:30).
her king … among …
law … no more—(2Ch 15:3). The civil and religious laws were one
under the theocracy. "All the legal ordinances (prophetical as well as
priestly) of the theocracy, are no more" (Ps 74:9; Eze
10. (Job 2:12, 13). The "elders," by their example, would
draw the others to violent grief.
the virgins—who usually are so anxious
to set off their personal appearances to advantage.
11. liver is poured, &c.—that is, as
the liver was thought to be the seat of the passions, "all my feelings
are poured out and prostrated for," &c. The "liver," is here put
for the bile ("gall," Job 16:13;
"bowels," Ps 22:14) in
a bladder on the surface of the liver, copiously discharged when the
passions are agitated.
swoon—through faintness from the
effects of hunger.
12. as the wounded—famine being as
deadly as the sword (Jer 52:6).
soul … poured … into … mothers
bosom—Instinctively turning to their mother's bosom, but
finding no milk there, they breathe out their life as it were
"into her bosom."
13. What thing shall I take to
witness—What can I bring forward as a witness, or instance,
to prove that others have sustained as grievous ills as thou? I cannot
console thee as mourners are often consoled by showing that thy lot is
only what others, too, suffer. The "sea" affords the only suitable
emblem of thy woes, by its boundless extent and depth (La 1:12; Da
14. Thy prophets—not God's (Jer 23:26).
vain … for thee—to gratify thy
appetite, not for truth, but for false things.
not discovered thine iniquity—in
opposition to God's command to the true prophets (Isa 58:1). Literally, "They have not taken
off (the veil) which was on thine iniquity, so as to set it
burdens—Their prophecies were soothing
and flattering; but the result of them was heavy calamities to
the people, worse than even what the prophecies of Jeremiah, which they
in derision called "burdens," threatened. Hence he terms their
pretended prophecies "false burdens," which proved to the Jews "causes
of their banishment" [Calvin].
15. clap … hands—in derision
wag … head—(2Ki 19:21; Ps
perfection of beauty … joy of …
earth—(Ps 48:2; 50:2). The Jews' enemies quote their very
words in scorn.
16, 17. For the transposition of Hebrew
letters (Pe and Ain, La 2:16, 17) in the order of verses, see Introduction.
opened … mouth—as ravening,
roaring wild beasts (Job 16:9, 10; Ps 22:13). Herein Jerusalem was a type of
gnash … teeth—in vindictive
we have seen it—(Ps 35:21).
17. Lord—Let not the foe exult as if it
was their doing. It was "the Lord" who thus fulfilled the
threats uttered by His prophets for the guilt of Judea (Le 26:16-25; De 28:36-48, 53; Jer 19:9).
18. wall—(La 2:8). Personified. "Their heart,"
that is, the Jews'; while their heart is lifted up to the Lord in
prayer, their speech is addressed to the "wall" (the part being put for
the whole city).
let tears, &c.—(Jer 14:17). The wall is called on to weep for its
own ruin and that of the city. Compare the similar personification
apple—the pupil of the eye (Ps 17:8).
19. cry … in … night—(Ps 119:147).
beginning of … watches—that is,
the first of the three equal divisions (four hours each) into
which the ancient Jews divided the night; namely, from sunset to ten
o'clock. The second was called "the middle watch" (Jud 7:19), from ten till two o'clock. The third,
"the morning watch," from two to sunrise (Ex 14:24; 1Sa
11:11). Afterwards, under the
Romans, they had four watches (Mt 14:25; Lu 12:38).
for … thy … children—that
God, if He will not spare thee, may at least preserve "thy young
top of … street—(Isa 51:20; Na
20. women eat … fruit—as
threatened (Le 26:29; De 28:53, 56, 57; Jer
children … span long—or else,
"children whom they carry in their arms" [Maurer].
21. (2Ch 36:17).
22. Thou hast called as in … solemn day
… terrors—Thou hast summoned my enemies against me from
all quarters, just as multitudes used to be convened to Jerusalem, on
the solemn feast days. The objects, for which the enemies and the
festal multitude respectively met, formed a sad contrast. Compare La 1:15: "called an assembly against