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Lamentations 2:11

11. Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.

11. Defecerunt in lachrymis oculi mei, conturbata sunt viscera mea, effusum est ad terram jecur meum, propter contritionem filiae populi mei, dum evanuit parvalus et sugens Ubera in compitis urbis.


The Prophet himself now speaks, and says that his eyes were consumed with tears, while weeping on account of the calamities of the people: even in the deepest grief tears at length dry up; but when there is no end of weeping, the sorrow, which as it were never ripens, must necessarily be very bitter. Jeremiah then expresses now the vehemence of his grief when he says that his eyes failed through shedding tears. He said in Jeremiah 9, “Who will give me eyes for fountains?” that is, who will make my eyes to turn into fountains, that they may continually flow? and this he said, because he saw how dreadful a vengeance of God impended over the obstinate. But now, when he sees accomplished what he had dreaded, he says, that his eyes were consumed with weeping.

To the same purpose is what he adds, that his bowels were disturbed. It is the same verb as we have seen before, חמרמרו, chemermeru; which some render “bound,” as we also said then. I know not why one expositor has changed what he had elsewhere said rightly; he puts here, “swollen have my bowels.” But I see no reason why the verb should be taken here in a different sense, for it immediately follows, my liver is poured forth on the ground. He may, indeed, have included other parts of the intestines by stating a part for the whole. The word here properly means the liver, as when Solomon says,

“He hath pierced my liver.” (Proverbs 7:23.)

But Jeremiah, in short, shews that all his faculties were so seized with grief, that no part was exempt. He then says that his liver was poured forth, but in the same sense in which he said that his bowels were disturbed. They are indeed hyperbolical expressions; but as to the meaning, Jeremiah simply expresses his feelings; for there is no doubt but that he was incredibly anxious and sorrowful on account of so great a calamity; for he not only lamented the adversity in no ordinary way, but he also considered how wicked was that obstinacy in which the people had hardened themselves for almost fifty years; for he had spent himself in vain, not for a short time, but for nearly fifty years he never ceased to speak to them. He then, no doubt, thought within himself what the people had deserved, so that he had no common dread of God’s vengeance. This, then, was the reason why he said that his bowels were disturbed and his liver poured forth. 158158     The verbs here are all in the past tense, and the versions so render them. Our version is wrong, as well as that of Blayney and Henderson, in rendering them in the present tense; for the Prophet is describing how he felt when he witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, —

   11. Consume with tears did my eyes, agitated were my bowels,
Poured out on the ground was my liver, for the breach of the daughter of my people, When faint did the child and the suckling in the streets of the city.

    — Ed.
He, however, mentions the cause of his sorrow, even the breach or destruction of the daughter of his people; and he mentions one thing in particular, because the little one and he who sucked the breasts vanished away in the streets of the city; for so I render the verb עתף, otheph, which properly means to cover; but its secondary meaning is to vanish away, as we shall again presently see. It was, indeed, a miserable sight, when not only men and women were everywhere slain, but when, through famine, little children also fainted. We, indeed, know that infants move our pity, for the tears of a child in hunger penetrate into our inmost souls. When, therefore, little children and those who hung on their mothers’ breasts, cried through the streets of the city, it must have touched the most iron hearts. It was then not without reason that Jeremiah referred to this in particular, that little children and sucklings vanished away, not in a deserted and barren land, but in the very streets of the city. It follows, —

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