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Lamentations 2:15

15. All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?

15. Plauserunt super te manibus suis (id est, comploserunt manus suas) omnes transcuntes per viam, sibilarunt, et moverunt caput suum super filia Jerusalem, An haec urbs de qua dixcrunt, perfecta decore, gaudium totius terrae?


The Prophet here reminds the Jews of the miseries by which they had been already in an extreme measure afflicted, so that these words seem redundant and somewhat unkind; for unseasonable is reproof when one lies down, as it were, worn out with evils. As this was the condition of the people, the Prophet ought not to have made more bitter their grief. But we have already referred to the reason for this, even because the Jews, though they mourned and were extremely sorrowful in their calamities, did not yet consider whence their evils came. It was therefore necessary that they should be more and more awakened; for it is but of little profit for any one to suffer evils, except he has regard to God’s judgment. We hence perceive the design of the Prophet, why he so much at large speaks of the miseries which were seen by all, and could not escape the notice of the Jews, who were almost overwhelmed with them; for it was not enough for them to feel their miseries, except they also considered the cause of them.

He then says, All who have passed by clapped their hands and hissed and moved the head, either in token of mockery, or of abhorrence, which is more probable. He then says, that they moved or shook the head at the daughter of Jerusalem, 165165     Jeremiah relates what had taken place, the verbs being in the past tense. Our version is not correct in rendering the verbs in the present tense. The old versions follow the Hebrew. — Ed. Is this the city of which they said, It is perfect in beauty, and the joy of the whole earth? I know not why some render כלילת, calibat, a crown; it comes, as it is well known, from כלל calal, which means fullness, or anything solid. He then says, that Jerusalem had been perfect in beauty, because God had adorned it with singular gifts; he had especially favored it with the incomparable honor of being called by his name. Hence Jerusalem was in a manner the earthly palace of God, that is, on account of the Temple; and further, it was there that the doctrine of salvation was to be found; and remarkable was this promise,

“From Sion shall go forth the law,
and rite word of God from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3.)

God had also promised to Ezekiel, that this city would be the fountain and origin of salvation to the whole world. (Ezekiel 47:1-12.) As, then, Jerusalem had been adorned with so remarkable gifts, the Prophet introduces here strangers, who ask, “Could it be that a city so celebrated for beauty had become a desolation?”

He calls it also the joy of the whole earth; for God had poured there his gifts so liberally, that it was a cause of joy to all. For we delight in beautiful things; and wherever God’s gifts appear, we ought to have our hearts filled with joy. Some give a more refined explanation — that Jerusalem had been the joy of the whole earth, because men have no peace except God be propitious to them; and there God had deposited the testimony and pledge of his favor: and thus Jerusalem made glad the whole world, because it invited all nations to God. This, at the first view, is plausible; but it seems to me more refined than solid. I am, therefore, content with this simple view, that Jerusalem was the joy of the whole earth, because God had designed that his favor should appear there, which might justly excite the whole world to rejoice. 166166     The words may be rendered, “the joy of the whole land,” i.e., the land of Israel; which was strictly true. — Ed. It afterwards follows, —

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