The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5

Lamentations 2

Lam 2:1

Lam 2: Significant theme: "The LORD has done this." A fuller recognition of God's hand in all the sufferings of Judah. The righteous remnant lament the fate of Zion (Lam 2:13,14), but never cease to call upon God to remember His people (Lam 2:18-20).

Vv 1-9: The destruction of every form of worship in Israel.

COVERED... WITH THE CLOUD OF HIS ANGER: Cp Lam 3:44. The "cloud" was Babylon (Joe 2:2; cp Eze 38:16). Clouds obscure the light of "sun" and "stars" of "heavens", ie Jewish ruling bodies (as Eze 32:7,8; cp Jer 31:35-37; 33:22).

HURLED DOWN... FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH: Judah loses her place of preeminence (cp Lam 1:1; Isa 14:12; Jer 51:53; Mat 11:23; Luk 10:18).

THE SPLENDOR OF ISRAEL: The temple esp: Psa 29:2; 74:7; 96:9; Isa 60:7; 64:11; Eze 24:21. The center of Jewish national and religious life; the sanctuary, the retreat, the resting place of the true ruler. Secondly, those people who should have been precious stones and pillars in God's spiritual temple (1Pe 2; Heb 3:6), but who were discarded as of no value (ie 2Sa 1:19).

HIS FOOTSTOOL: The place where God's "feet" rest: ie Jerusalem (Zec 14:4). Also, the ark of the covenant (1Ch 28:2; Psa 99:5; 132:7), called the "glory of Israel" (Psa 78:60,61; Eze 43:7; Isa 60:13). This ark, placed by Solomon in the Most Holy (1Ki 8:1-9), disappeared from history when Nebuchadnezzar defiled and burned the temple. The presence, and favor, of God, at one time, is no guarantee of its permanence (cp Rom 11:21)!

Lam 2:2

DWELLINGS: "Habitations" (AV), "pastures" (Roth). Ref to the open plains and hills, the dwellings of shepherds of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar's invasion and depredations were not confined to the city (Jer 52:16).

STRONGHOLDS: Cp Jer 5:10. But Judah's strongholds were more than walls and towers of stones. The "strongholds" of the flesh, which men trust in rather than in god, are pride and stubbornness and the wisdom of men. God established Jeremiah "over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy" (Jer 1:10), ie "every high thing that exalts itself against God" (2Co 10:5). The walls of Judah sym the real opposition to God, found in the minds of the men of Judah: pride and self-will.

BROUGHT... DOWN TO THE GROUND IN DISHONOR: Why did God do this? Why did He profane His crown (Psa 89:39)? Judah was responsible; she had first of all profaned herself, and her iniquity would now "have an end" (Eze 21:25,27).

Lam 2:3

HORN: Sym strength (Lam 2:17; 1Sa 2:1; Psa 92:10; 112:9).

WITHDRAWN HIS RIGHT HAND...: God's right hand or might had been holding back Babylon; but now He released her.

A FLAMING FIRE: Cp Num 21:6. God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29), bringing fiery judgments upon wicked (Mal 4:1; 2Th 1:8).

THAT CONSUMES EVERYTHING AROUND IT: But does not totally consume Israel (Exo 3:2; Jer 31:11).

Lam 2:4

Vv 4-7: God is the enemy of Israel (cp Amo 3:6).

TENT: Ohel, or tabernacle (AV), a temporary dwelling, a modest structure.

Lam 2:5

LAMENTATION: "Groaning" or "sorrow". Nsw as in title of book.

Lam 2:6

DWELLING: "Sok", a booth, ie at Feast of Tabernacles (Isa 1:8; Lev 23:39).

LIKE A GARDEN: Israel as a garden of God: Psa 80; Isa 5. Now Israel is seen as a mere hut, isolated and besieged in the midst of a desolate vineyard (Isa 3:26). The ease with which a disciplined army might destroy a garden (or a hut in a garden). Titus with his Roman army so destroyed Gethsemane in the siege of Jerusalem.

HIS PLACE OF MEETING: "Moed": Ref to the temple and the synagogues (Psa 74:7,8).

Lam 2:7

THEY HAVE RAISED A SHOUT: Instead of the exalted tones of trumpet and cymbal, there is the discordant clanging of weapons and armor. Instead of sweet voices singing forth glorious praise, there are strident cries of brutish warriors!

APPOINTED FEAST: "Moed": sw Lam 1:15.

Lam 2:8

A MEASURING LINE: A measured period of chastisement (ie in Rev 11:1), which ended in 70 years (Jer 25:11,12), was resumed in AD 70, and will end forever when the times of the Gentiles are finally and conclusively fulfilled (Luk 21:24), ie when the set time to favor Zion is come (Psa 102:13). The figure of a measuring line, to discover defects in the building: Amo 7:7-9; 2Ki 21:13; Isa 28:13,17; 34:11.

Lam 2:9

Prophet, priest, and king: all fell (Lam 4:12-16).

SUNK INTO THE GROUND: A vivid picture for complete dissolution.

BARS: Sw is used often in the description of the tabernacle: Exo 26 and Exo 36.

THE LAW IS NO MORE: Reduced to a hollow shell by the speculations of the priests and people, weakened by the growth of paganism. See Eze 7:26,27; Hos 3:4. Jeremiah sees that the Jewish law has, in essence, come to an end now that it has no physical habitation; same argument later in Hebrews. The imminent destruction of the Jewish temple and the dissolution of the Jewish nation was God's way of declaring the Law no longer valid.

HER PROPHETS NO LONGER FIND VISIONS: The false prophets, like Hananiah (Jer 29:2-4), who opposed Jeremiah. Cp Psa 74:9; Eze 13:3,4,9.

Lam 2:10

Vv 10-14: The terrible ravages of war: famine, pestilence, sword, exile.

SIT ON THE GROUND: See Lam 1:1 and Isa 3:2. Mourning and deep distress, despondence, as Job's friends (Job 2:13).

IN SILENCE: No words being adequate to express their sorrow.

DUST UPON THEIR HEADS: Jos 7:6; 1Sa 4:12; 2Sa 13:19; Neh 9:1; Job 2:12. An enactment of the original curse: Gen 3:19.

Lam 2:11

Cp Lam 2:19,20; 4:3,4,9,10.

MY EYES FAIL FROM WEEPING: So Jeremiah wept for the destruction of his people and their life in that terrible time when the king of Babylon took the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah wept for the people that had no hope and no future.

In these last days there are still many people in the same situation as those Jeremiah wept for. Some have not heard the gospel message and have no hope for that reason. Others, like most of the people in Jerusalem, have heard it but have chosen to ignore it and to turn their backs on the only one who could give them any hope at all. Do we weep for those people -- especially for those who once knew Christ, but have turned and rejected him? They have no hope and, like the people of Jerusalem, are staring death in the face unless they repent. Let us show the same compassion to them as Jeremiah showed to his people -- let us warn them and weep for them.

HEART: Lit, "liver" = seat of emotions (cp Job 16:13); source of bile or bitterness (mara: Rth 1:20). A bitter feeling evoked by the destruction of God's people (Lam 3:5n; Psa 62:8).

Lam 2:12

Seeking nourishment from the dry breasts of their exhausted mothers, they silently breathe out their lives. See Mat 24:22: "except those days.."

Lam 2:13

WITH WHAT CAN I COMPARE YOU?: Cp Christ's question: Luk 13:20: "What shall I cp the kingdom of God to?". "Where sin abounds, grace much more abounds" (Rom 5:20).

DAUGHTER OF JERUSALEM: A phrase used almost exclusively in the context of deliverance from the enemy (2Ki 19:21; Isa 37:22; Lam 2:13,15; Mic 4:8; Zeph 3:14; Zech 9:9).

YOUR WOUND IS AS DEEP AS THE SEA: Cp 2Sa 5:20; Jer 14:17. Lit, "breach", as ref to great "gulf", the gulf between God and Israel, caused by Israel's sins (Isa 59:2).

THE SEA: Sig vast extent and depth.

WHO CAN HEAL YOU?: Seemingly hopeless, but... "I will heal you" (Jer 30:12,17). The central theme of Lamentations: "For the LORD will not cut off forever..." (Lam 3:31,32). To ask such a question is to answer it. Through the long ages there has been only one answer; there can be only one answer. But poor deluded man will continue to try everything else first. He will seek out every "physician" -- only to find his condition worse (Mar 5:26) -- before he will think to turn to the One who can truly heal. Then, if he is wise, he will turn his back on the wreckage of all his past hopes: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Joh 6:68).

Lam 2:14

YOUR PROPHETS: Not God's prophets. Men like Hananiah (Jer 29) were "prophets of the deceit of their own heart" (Jer 23:26) who preached "smooth things" (Isa 30:10) and "inventions" (Ecc 7:29), and who caused the people to err (Isa 9:15,16). Also, the common people were to blame, because they followed these men without censure or resistance, and thus they believed lies (2Th 2:11,12).

WORTHLESS... DID NOT EXPOSE YOUR SIN: By textual emendation, may sig "whitewash" (as Eze 13:10-16; cp Eze 22:28): false prophets of "peace" (Jer 23:17) being compared with dishonest builders who whitewashed rickety walls. They promised life and blessing to the wicked (Eze 13:22) and failed to declare the whole counsel of God (Act 20:26,27). They SHOULD have cried aloud and spared not... (Isa 58:1).

False, lying, prophets had always been a problem in Israel. Before the time of the Assyrian invasion Micah had warned of them (Mic 3:5). At the time of the Babylonian captivity they were still a problem (Jer 5:31; 6:13; 14:13,14; 23:11-27; Zeph 3:4). And even after being take captive Judah had not learned (Lam 2:14; Eze 13:3). Amidst the doom of captivity the prophet speaks of a time of restoration (Jer 29:14), and he returns to the theme here, even after the desolation of Jerusalem.

Lam 2:15

Vv 15,16: The scorn, anger, and exultation of Jerusalem's enemies and conquerors: Lam 1:12n.

CLAP... HANDS: Contempt (Job 27:23).

SCOFF... SHAKE THEIR HEADS: As the Jews did to Jesus at his death (Mat 27:39; Mar 15:29).

THE DAUGHTER OF JERUSALEM: A phrase used almost exclusively in the context of deliverance from the enemy (2Ki 19:21; Isa 37:22; Lam 2:13,15; Mic 4:8; Zeph 3:14; Zech 9:9).

PERFECTION OF BEAUTY, THE JOY OF THE WHOLE EARTH: Quoting Psa 50:2 and Psa 48:2; cp Zec 14:10; Psa 68:15,16; Isa 23:7. As always, God's enemies see only the present. They cannot comprehend the vast changes to be made in the future... the exaltation of Mt Zion and Jerusalem in Millennium (Isa 2:2-4; 24:23).

Lam 2:16

OPEN THEIR MOUTHS WIDE: As roaring and ravening beasts (Job 16:9,10; Psa 22:13).

WE HAVE SWALLOWED HER UP: A false boast: Lam 2:8n. Reveals their ignorance of God's purpose: Mic 4:11-13; Zep 2:8,9.

Lam 2:17

THE ENEMY GLOAT OVER YOU: Cp Psa 38:16; 89:42.

HORN: Lam 2:3n.

Lam 2:18

"Cry aloud to the Lord, the WALL of the daughter of Zion" (Gottwald), allusion to Zec 2:5.

LET YOUR TEARS FLOW LIKE A RIVER: "Nahal", a torrent, or mountain stream, rushing down its rugged gorge.

GIVE YOURSELF NO RELIEF: "Pray for peace of Jerusalem" (Psa 122:6,7; cp Isa 62:6,7).

YOUR EYES NO REST: Lit, "the daughter of thine eye", that which the eye gives birth to, ie tears. Same expression in Psa 17:8.

Lam 2:19

ARISE, CRY OUT IN THE NIGHT: The "night" is time of mourning, because darkness is upon the nations, and God's plan is obscured (Lam 1:2n).

AS THE WATCHES OF THE NIGHT BEGIN: The Jewish tradition was 3 watches of 4 hrs each (Jdg 7:19); the Roman, 4 watches of 3 hrs each (Mat 14:25; Mar 13:35).

LIFT UP YOUR HANDS: Common posture of prayer (Psa 28:2; 134:2; 141:2; 1Ti 2:8). Also, "lift up heart with hands" in Lam 3:41.

Lam 2:20

"You only have I known..." (Amo 3:2).

Unimaginable horrors (Lam 4:10; Jer 19:9).

Lam 2:21

Cp 2Ch 36:17.

Lam 2:22

A FEAST DAY: See Lam 1:15n.

TERRORS ON EVERY SIDE: "Magor-missabib" (Jer 6:25; 20:3,10; 46:5; 49:29). (NT) The "feast day" was Passover, and the guests were bulls and lions and fierce dogs (Psa 22:12,13), Christ's "terrors" on every side, snarling and tearing and devouring the Passover "lamb".

THOSE I CARED FOR AND REARED: "Swaddled and brought up" (AV). Swaddling clothes were bandages tightly wrapped around a newborn, apparently to keep it quiet and to encourage the growth of straight limbs (Job 38:9; Eze 16:4; Luk 2:7,12). For this reason Jeremiah was commanded to take no wife "in this place" (Jer 16:2-4; cp Luk 23:39,40).

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