CHAPTER (ELEGY) 2
1. How--The title of the collection repeated here, and in
covered . . . with a cloud--that is, with the darkness of ignominy.
cast down from heaven unto . . . earth--
dashed down from the highest prosperity to the lowest misery.
beauty of Israel--the beautiful temple
(Ps 29:2; 74:7; 96:9,
Isa 60:7; 64:11).
his footstool--the ark (compare
with Ps 99:5; 132:7).
They once had gloried more in the ark than in the God whose symbol it
was; they now feel it was but His "footstool," yet that it had been a
great glory to them that God deigned to use it as such.
2. polluted--by delivering it into the hands of the profane foe.
"profaned . . . crown."
3. horn--worn in the East as an ornament on the forehead, and an
emblem of power and majesty
drawn back . . . fight hand--
God has withdrawn the help which He before gave them. Not as HENDERSON, "He has turned back his (Israel's)
stood with . . . right hand--He took His stand so as to use His right
hand as an adversary.
HENDERSON makes the image to be that of an archer
steadying his right hand to take aim. Not only did He withdraw His help, but also took arms against Israel.
all . . . pleasant to . . . eye--
All that were conspicuous for youth, beauty, and rank.
in . . . tabernacle--the dwellings of Jerusalem.
5. an enemy--
mourning and lamentation--There is a play of similar sounds in the
original, "sorrow and sadness," to heighten the effect
6. tabernacle--rather, "He hath violently taken away His hedge (the hedge of the place sacred to Him,
Ps 80:12; 89:40;
as that of a garden" [MAURER]. CALVIN supports English Version, "His tabernacle
(that is, temple) as (one would take away the temporary cottage or
booth) of a garden."
accords with this
places of . . . assembly--the temple and synagogues
(Ps 74:7, 8).
7. they . . . made a noise in . . . house of
. . . Lord, as in . . . feast--The foe's shout
of triumph in the captured temple bore a resemblance (but oh, how sad a
contrast as to the occasion of it!) to the joyous thanksgivings
we used to offer in the same place at our "solemn feasts" (compare
8. stretched . . . a line--The Easterns used a measuring-line not
merely in building, but in destroying edifices
implying here the unsparing rigidness with which He would exact
9. Her gates cannot oppose the entrance of the foe into the city, for
they are sunk under a mass of rubbish and earth.
broken . . . bars--
her king . . . among . . . Gentiles--
law . . . no more--
The civil and religious laws were one under the theocracy. "All the
legal ordinances (prophetical as well as priestly) of the theocracy,
are no more"
(Job 2:12, 13).
The "elders," by their example, would draw the others to violent grief.
the virgins--who usually are so anxious to set off their personal
appearances to advantage.
11. liver is poured, &c.--that is, as the liver was thought to be the
seat of the passions, "all my feelings are poured out and prostrated
for," &c. The "liver," is here put for the bile ("gall,"
in a bladder on the surface of the liver, copiously discharged when the
passions are agitated.
swoon--through faintness from the effects of hunger.
12. as the wounded--famine being as deadly as the sword
soul . . . poured . . . into . . .
mothers bosom--Instinctively turning to their mother's bosom, but
finding no milk there, they breathe out their life as it were
"into her bosom."
13. What thing shall I take to witness--What can I bring forward as
a witness, or instance, to prove that others have sustained as grievous
ills as thou? I cannot console thee as mourners are often consoled by
showing that thy lot is only what others, too, suffer. The "sea" affords
the only suitable emblem of thy woes, by its boundless extent and depth
14. Thy prophets--not God's
vain . . . for thee--to gratify thy appetite, not for
truth, but for false things.
not discovered thine iniquity--in opposition to God's command to the
Literally, "They have not taken off (the veil) which was on
thine iniquity, so as to set it before thee."
burdens--Their prophecies were soothing and flattering; but the result
of them was heavy calamities to the people, worse than even what the
prophecies of Jeremiah, which they in derision called "burdens,"
threatened. Hence he terms their pretended prophecies "false burdens,"
which proved to the Jews "causes of their banishment"
15. clap . . . hands--in derision
(Job 27:23; 34:37).
wag . . . head--
perfection of beauty . . . joy of . . . earth--
(Ps 48:2; 50:2).
The Jews' enemies quote their very words in scorn.
16, 17. For the transposition of Hebrew letters (Pe and
La 2:16, 17)
in the order of verses, see
opened . . . mouth--as ravening, roaring wild beasts
(Job 16:9, 10;
Herein Jerusalem was a type of Messiah.
gnash . . . teeth--in vindictive malice.
we have seen it--
17. Lord--Let not the foe exult as if it was their doing. It was
"the Lord" who thus fulfilled the threats uttered by His prophets for
the guilt of Judea
De 28:36-48, 53;
Personified. "Their heart," that is, the Jews'; while their
heart is lifted up to the Lord in prayer, their speech is addressed to
the "wall" (the part being put for the whole city).
let tears, &c.--
The wall is called on to weep for its own ruin and that of the city.
Compare the similar personification
apple--the pupil of the eye
19. cry . . . in . . . night--
beginning of . . . watches--that is, the first of the three equal
divisions (four hours each) into which the ancient Jews divided the
night; namely, from sunset to ten o'clock. The second was called "the
from ten till two o'clock. The third, "the morning watch," from two to
Afterwards, under the Romans, they had four watches
for . . . thy . . . children--that God, if He will not spare thee,
may at least preserve "thy young children."
top of . . . street--
20. women eat . . . fruit--as threatened
De 28:53, 56, 57;
children . . . span long--or else, "children whom they carry in
their arms" [MAURER].
22. Thou hast called as in . . . solemn day
. . . terrors--Thou hast summoned my enemies against me
from all quarters, just as multitudes used to be convened to Jerusalem,
on the solemn feast days. The objects, for which the enemies and the
festal multitude respectively met, formed a sad contrast. Compare
"called an assembly against me."