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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Lamentations Chapter 2


lam 2:0

This poem Lam. 2 also divides itself like Lam. 1 into two nearly equal portions; in Lam 2:1-10, the prophet describes the punishment which has fallen upon Zion; Lam 2:11-22 are a lamentation and a prayer.

Lamentations 2:1

lam 2:1

How ... - Or, "How" doth "אדני 'ădonāy cover." He hath east down etc. By God's footstool seems to be meant the ark. See Psa 99:5 note.

Lamentations 2:2

lam 2:2

Habitations - The dwellings of the shepherds in the pastures Jer 49:19. These are described as swallowed up by an earthquake, while the storm itself throws down the fortified cities of Judah.

Polluted - i. e. profaned it, made common or unclean what before was holy.

Lamentations 2:3

lam 2:3

Since the horn is the symbol of power, the cutting off of every horn means the depriving Israel of all power of resistance. The drawing back of God's right hand signifies the withdrawal of that special Providence which used to protect the chosen people.

And he burned ... - Or, "and" he kindled a fire in Jacob: as the active enemy of "Jacob," Himself applying the torch.

Lamentations 2:4

lam 2:4

He stood with his right hand ... - i. e. that right hand so often stretched out to help now grasped a weapon ready for Judah's destruction.

Were pleasant - Or, was "pleasant." Put full stop after "eye." Begin the third distich thus:

In the tabernacle - (or, tent) of the daughter of Zion.

Lamentations 2:5

lam 2:5

Literally, אדני 'ădonāy has become "as an enemy."

Lamentations 2:6

lam 2:6

tabernacle - Or, covert Jer 25:38, i. e. such a tent of boughs as was put up at the Feast of Tabernacles. The words mean, "the Lord hath (as) violently destroyed His booth. as a man might tear down a shed in "a garden."" Compare Isa 1:8.

His places of the assembly - Or, "His great festivals" (Lam 1:15 note). It is the Word rendered "solemn feasts" in the next clause, and rightly joined there with "sabbaths," the weekly, as the other were the annual festivals. It is no longer אדני 'ădonāy, but the Lord (Yahweh) who lets them pass into oblivion. He had once instituted them for His own honor, now He lets them lie forgotten.

Hath despised ... - Or, "hath rejected" king and priest. With the destruction of the city the royal authority fell: with the ruined temple and the cessation of the festivals the functions of the priest ceased.

Lamentations 2:7

lam 2:7

sanctuary - The holy of holies; "the walls of her palaces" are those of the sacred buildings.

Lamentations 2:8

lam 2:8

A line - Compare Isa 34:11. The destruction is systematic and thorough.

Lamentations 2:9

lam 2:9

Her gates are sunk into the ground - So completely destroyed, that one might suppose they had been swallowed up in an abyss.

Her king - The prophet's lamentation, occupied before chiefly with the buildings of the city and temple, now turns to the people, beginning with their temporal rulers.

The law is no more - The Jewish Law, the Torah, came to an end when it no longer had a local habitation. Its enactments were essentially those not of a universal religion, but of a national religion, and the restoration of the nation with a material temple was indispensable to its continued existence. It was only when elevated to be a universal religion, by being made spiritual, that it could do without ark, temple, and a separate people.

Her prophets also find ... - With the Torah, the special gift of prophecy also ceased, since both were unique to the theocracy; but it was not until the establishment of Christianity that they were finally merged in higher developments of grace.

Lamentations 2:11

lam 2:11

Troubled - See the margin reference note.

Liver - As the heart was regarded by the Jews as the seat of the intellect, so the liver (or bowels) was supposed to be the seat of the emotions. The pouring out of the liver upon the ground meant that feelings had entirely given way under the acuteness of sorrow, and he could no longer restrain them.

Lamentations 2:12

lam 2:12

They say - Or, "They keep saying:" it was an oft-repeated cry, even while expiring upon their mother's bosom.

Lamentations 2:13

lam 2:13

Equal - i. e. "compare." Zion's breach, i. e. her destruction, is measureless, like the ocean.

Lamentations 2:14

lam 2:14

Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee - The Septuagint and Vulgate give the true meaning, "stupidity" (see Jer 23:13 note).

To turn away thy captivity - The right sense is, "They have not disclosed to thee thy sins, that so thou mightest repent, and I might have turned away thy captivity."

Burdens - Applied contemptuously to predictions which proved "false" or "empty," i. e. failed of accomplishment. On the deduction to be drawn from this, see Jer 28:9.

Causes of banishment - The result of the teaching of the false prophets would be that God would "drive out" the Jews from their land.

Some render the words "false ... banishment" by "oracles of falsehood and seduction."

Lamentations 2:15

lam 2:15

Compare the scene round the cross of the Redeemer Mat 27:39.

Lamentations 2:16

lam 2:16

Seen it - Omit "it." The intensity of the enemy's exultation is shown by the heaping up of unconnected words. We have found what we sought, have seen what we looked for.

Lamentations 2:17

lam 2:17

That which he had devised - Or, what he purposed. Zion's ruin was the fulfillment of God's determination, of which they had been forwarned from the days of old (see the margin reference).

Fulfilled - Or, finished.

Lamentations 2:18

lam 2:18

Their heart - That of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The prophet bids the wall, as the representative of the people who had dwelt secure under its protection, shed floods of tears on their behalf. Broken up by the enemy, it could be their guardian no longer, but by its ruins it might still cry unto the Lord in their behalf.

A river - Or, a brook or torrent.

Rest - Properly, the torpor and numbness which follows upon excessive grief.

Apple of thine eye - See Psa 17:8 note.

Lamentations 2:19

lam 2:19

In - (or at) the beginning of the watches "At the beginning of each night-watch" means all the night through. The Hebrews divided the night into three watches.

Lamentations 2:20

lam 2:20

The sense is: "See, Yahweh, and look! whom hast Thou treated thus? Shall women eat their fruit - children whom they must still carry?" the swaddled child being one still needing to be nursed and borne in their arms.

Lamentations 2:21

lam 2:21

Omit "them" and "and," which weaken the intensity of the passage.

Lamentations 2:22

lam 2:22

Thou hast called as in a solemn day - i. e. "Thou" callest "like a feast day," i. e. like the proclaiming of a festival.

My terrors round about - The prophet's watch-word (Jer 6:25 note). God now proclaims what Jeremiah had so often called out before, "Magor-missabib." On every side were conquering Chaldaeans.

Next: Lamentations Chapter 3