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Lamentations: Chapter 2

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How the Lord in his anger has humiliated a Meaning of Heb uncertain daughter Zion! He has thrown down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.


The Lord has destroyed without mercy all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of daughter Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers.


He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn his right hand from them in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around.


He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; he has killed all in whom we took pride in the tent of daughter Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire.


The Lord has become like an enemy; he has destroyed Israel. He has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds, and multiplied in daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.


He has broken down his booth like a garden, he has destroyed his tabernacle; the LORD has abolished in Zion festival and sabbath, and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest.


The Lord has scorned his altar, disowned his sanctuary; he has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; a clamor was raised in the house of the LORD as on a day of festival.


The LORD determined to lay in ruins the wall of daughter Zion; he stretched the line; he did not withhold his hand from destroying; he caused rampart and wall to lament; they languish together.


Her gates have sunk into the ground; he has ruined and broken her bars; her king and princes are among the nations; guidance is no more, and her prophets obtain no vision from the LORD.


The elders of daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have thrown dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the young girls of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.


My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out on the ground because of the destruction of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city.


They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers’ bosom.


What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you?


Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen oracles for you that are false and misleading.


All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at daughter Jerusalem; “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?”


All your enemies open their mouths against you; they hiss, they gnash their teeth, they cry: “We have devoured her! Ah, this is the day we longed for; at last we have seen it!”


The LORD has done what he purposed, he has carried out his threat; as he ordained long ago, he has demolished without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you, and exalted the might of your foes.


Cry aloud a Meaning of Heb uncertain to the Lord! O wall of daughter Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!


Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street.


Look, O LORD, and consider! To whom have you done this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have borne? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?


The young and the old are lying on the ground in the streets; my young women and my young men have fallen by the sword; in the day of your anger you have killed them, slaughtering without mercy.


You invited my enemies from all around as if for a day of festival; and on the day of the anger of the LORD no one escaped or survived; those whom I bore and reared my enemy has destroyed.


a Meaning of Heb uncertain

a Meaning of Heb uncertain

Text Commentary view alone

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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