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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Lamentations

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2.1–8 : The Lord battles against Jerusalem.

The first eight verses focus on the Divine Warrior's battle against Jerusalem.

1 :

Splendor of Israel, another common epithet of personified cities (cf. Lam 2.15c; Isa 13.19; 22.2; 23.7; Jer 48.2; Ezek 26.17; Nah 2.8a ). His footstool, i.e., the ark of the covenant (Ps 99.5; 132.7; 1 Chr 28.2 ), by extension the Temple (Isa 60.13 ). Day of his anger (see 1.12n. ) forms an inclusio with 2.22b .

3 :

Right hand, divine protection (Ex 15.6,12; Isa 41.10; Ps 48.10; 89.13; 98.1; Job 40.14 ).

4 :

In the space of four couplets, the LORD is labeled an enemy three times ( 2.4a, b; 5a ). Tent, archaism for the Temple.

6 :

Booth, both a temporary shelter (Job 27.18; Jon 4.5 ) and the Temple (Ps 27.5 ). Like a garden, better, “as in a garden” (cf. Isa 1.8 ); the destroyed Temple is a dilapidated and abandoned harvest booth.

7 :

A clamor, both the boisterous enemy celebrating as they loot, and the LORD's clamor of judgment (see 2 Sam 22.14; Joel 2.11; Am 1.2; Ps 18.13; 46.6 ).

8 :

He stretched the line, i.e., “he measured with a measuring‐line” (2 Kings 21.13; Isa 34.11; Zech 1.16; Job 38.5 ), as in a building project (Jer 31.39; Zech 1.16 ). Demolition also requires planning and measurement (see 2 Kings 24.13; Isa 34.11 ). He did not withhold his hand (Ex 15.12; Isa 5.25; Ezek 6.14; Zeph 1.4 ) parallels 2.3b . The image harshly answers the earlier petition when “Zion stretches out her hands” ( 1.17a ).

9–10 :

A transition between the presentation of the Lord's assault on Jerusalem (vv. 1–8 ) and reaction to this assault, from the poet (vv. 11–19 ) and then from Zion (vv. 20–22 ).

9 :

Her gates have sunk into the ground, either the battered doors lying in the dirt, or the ruined gate‐towers (Jer 14.2 ). Among the nations, in exile.

2.11–19 : Reactions to the suffering.

The section moves from initial reaction to the horrors (vv. 11–12 ), to a statement of inability to assuage the hurt (v. 13 ), to a survey of other potential consolers (vv. 14–16 ), and finally to the improbable and ironic conclusion that Zion must turn to the LORD, the author of her suffering (v. 17 ), for consolation (vv. 18–19 ).

11 :

The poet's words echo those of Zion in 1.20 . My people, lit. “Daughter of My People,” another of the city's epithets (cf. 3.48; 4.3,6,10 ). Streets, better, “plazas” or “squares,” broad open places near gates (Judg 19.15; Esth 4.6; 6.9; 2 Chr 32.6 ).

12 :

The lives of innocent victims are poured out on their mothers’ bosom where they should find succor (Ruth 4.16; cf. Ps 22.9; Job 3.12 ) and security (1 Kings 3.20 ).

15 :

Clap … hiss … wag, gestures of derision and contempt. Perfection of beauty (see Ezek 16.14; 27.3; Ps 50.2 ); joy of all the earth, see Jer 51.41; Ps 48.2 .

17 :

The language intentionally alludes to 2.1–8 .

18 :

Aloud (lit. “heartily, from the heart,” one of the centers of the emotions), cf. 1.20b; 2.19b .

19 :

Watches, the night was divided into three watches (Ex 14.24; 1 Sam 11.11; Song 3.1–3; 5.7 ).

2.20–22 : Zion's address

is more accusation than petition.

20 :

To whom have you done this? is not a question but a declaration. Offspring (lit. “fruit,” see Gen 30.2; Deut 7.13 ), sharpening the reference to cannibalism (cf. Deut 28.53–57 ).

21 :

Day of your anger … slaughtering, the sacrificial victims on the Day of the Lord are usually enemies (Isa 34.6; Jer 12.3; Ezek 39.17 ), though here, as in Zeph 1.7–8 , they are Judah and Jerusalem.

22 :

You invited … as if for a day of festival, further play on the image of sacrifice.

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