Lamentations 2:4
He has bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.
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(4) He stood with his right hand . . .—The point of the phrase is that the “right hand,” the natural symbol of divine power, which had been of old stretched forth to protect, was now seen shooting the arrows and wielding the sword of vengeance.

Slew all that were pleasant . . .—Better, “Destroyed ail that was pleasant,” the destruction including not only warriors and youths, but everything dear and precious.

The tabernacle . . .—Not the Temple, but the city itself as the habitation of the people, who are collectively represented as “the daughter of Zion.”

2:1-9 A sad representation is here made of the state of God's church, of Jacob and Israel; but the notice seems mostly to refer to the hand of the Lord in their calamities. Yet God is not an enemy to his people, when he is angry with them and corrects them. And gates and bars stand in no stead when God withdraws his protection. It is just with God to cast down those by judgments, who debase themselves by sin; and to deprive those of the benefit and comfort of sabbaths and ordinances, who have not duly valued nor observed them. What should they do with Bibles, who make no improvement of them? Those who misuse God's prophets, justly lose them. It becomes necessary, though painful, to turn the thoughts of the afflicted to the hand of God lifted up against them, and to their sins as the source of their miseries.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.

4. (Isa 63:10).

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—(Eze 24:25). All that were conspicuous for youth, beauty, and rank.

in … tabernacle—the dwellings of Jerusalem.


That is, God (whom by their sins they had provoked and made their enemy) behaved himself as an enemy, bending his bow, and stretching out his right hand, and slew their young men and maidens, who were pleasant to look upon; and had brought judgments upon them like fire, which devours without any discrimination. He hath bent his bow like an enemy,.... God sometimes appears as if he was an enemy to his people, when he is not, by his conduct and behaviour; by the dispensations of his providence they take him to be so, as Job did, Job 16:9; he bends his bow, or treads it, for the bending or stretching the bow was done by the foot; and as the Targum,

"and threw his arrows at me:''

he stood with his right hand as an adversary; with arrows in it, to put into his bow or with his sword drawn, as an adversary does. The Targum is,

"he stood at the right hand of Nebuchadnezzar and helped him, when he distressed his people Israel:''

and slew all that were pleasant to the eye; princes and priests, husbands and wives, parents and children, young men and maids; desirable to their friends and relations, and to the commonwealth:

in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion he poured out his fury like fire; that is, either in the temple, or in the city of Jerusalem, or both, which were burnt with fire, as the effect of divine wrath and fury; and which itself is comparable to fire; like a burning lamp of fire, as the Targum; or rather like a burning furnace or mountain; see Nahum 1:6.

He {f} hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.

(f) Showing that there is no remedy but destruction where God is the enemy.

4. Jehovah is likened to an archer (cp. Job 16:13), aiming His bow with deadly effect against the goodliest of the people. The metre is incomplete, a part of the third line having apparently been lost. We should (with Löhr) read as the second line, “And hath slain … daughter of Zion.”

with his right hand] that which has hitherto been the symbol of His help.Verse 4. - The beginning of the verse seems slightly out of order (see the Septuagint). And slew all that were pleasant, etc. The correct rendering is, And slew all that was pleasant to the eye: in the tent of the daughter of Zion he poured out his fury like fire. The Authorized Version (following the Targum) seems to have thought that the youth of the population alone was intended. But, though Ewald also adopts this view, it seems to limit unduly the meaning of the poet. By "tent" we should probably understand "dwelling," as Jeremiah 4:5, and often; Isaiah 16:5, "the tent of David;" Psalm 78:67, "the tent of Joseph." Since neither comfort nor advice is to be found with men, Jerusalem makes her complaint of need to God the Lord. "See, Jahveh, that I am distressed. My bowels glow." חמרמרוּ, the passive enhancing form, from חמר, is found, besides, only in Lamentations 2:11, where the clause before us is repeated, and in Job 16:16, where it is used of the countenance, and can only mean to be glowing red; it is scarcely legitimate to derive it from חמר, Arab. h[mr, to be made red, and must rather be referred to Arab. chmr, to ferment, rise into froth; for even in Psalm 55:9 חמר does not mean to be red, but to rise into froth. מעים, "bowels," are the nobler portions of the internal organs of the body, the seat of the affections; cf. Delitzsch's Biblical Psychology (Clark's translation), p. 314ff. "My heart has turned within me" is an expression used in Hosea 11:8 to designate the feeling of compassion; but here it indicates the most severe internal pain, which becomes thus agonizing through the consciousness of its being deserved on account of resistance to God. מרו for מרה, like בּכו ekil, Jeremiah 22:10; Jeremiah 30:19, etc. Both forms occur together in other verbs also; cf. Olshausen, Gram. 245, h [Ewald, 238, e; Gesen., 75, Rem. 2]. But the judgment also is fearful; for "without (מחוּץ, foris, i.e., in the streets and the open country) the sword renders childless," through the slaughter of the troops; "within (בּבּית, in the houses) כּמּות, like death." It is difficult to account for the use of כּ; for neither the כ of comparison nor the so-called כveritatis affords a suitable meaning; and the transposition of the words into sicut mors intus (Rosenm׬ller, after Lצwe and Wolfsohn) is an arbitrary change. Death, mentioned in connection with the sword, does not mean death in general, but special forms of death through maladies and plagues, as in Jeremiah 15:2; Jeremiah 18:21, not merely the fever of hunger, Jeremiah 14:18; on the other hand, cf. Ezekiel 7:15, "the sword without, pestilence and hunger within." But the difficulty connected with כּמּות is not thereby removed. The verb שׁכּל belongs to both clauses; but "the sword" cannot also be the subject of the second clause, of which the nominative must be כּמּות, "all that is like death," i.e., everything besides the sword that kills, all other causes of death, - pestilences, famine, etc. כּ is used as in כּמראה, Daniel 10:18. That this is the meaning is shown by a comparison of the present passage with Deuteronomy 32:25, which must have been before the writer's mind, so that he took the words of the first clause, viz., "without, the sword bereaves," almost as they stood, but changed וּמחדרים into בּבּית כּמּות, - thus preferring "what is like death," instead of "terror," to describe the cause of destruction. Calvin long ago hit the sense in his paraphrase multae mortes, and the accompanying explanation: utitur nota similitudinis, quasi diceret: nihil domi occurrere nisi mortale (more correctly mortiferum). Much light is thrown on the expression by the parallel adduced by Kalkschmidt from Aeneid, ii. 368, 369: crudelis ubique Luctus, ubique pavor, et plurima mortis imago.

From speaking of friends, a transition is made in Lamentations 1:21 to enemies. Regarding the explanation of Rosenmller, audiverunt quidem amici mei, a me implorati Lamentations 1:19, quod gemens ego...imo sunt omnes hostes mei, Thenius observes that it introduces too much. This remark is still more applicable to his own interpretation: "People (certainly) hear how I sigh, (yet) I have no comforter." The antithesis introduced by the insertion of "yet" destroys the simplicity of arrangement among the clauses, although C. B. Michaelis and Gerlach also explain the passage in the same manner. The subject of the words, "they have heard," in the first clause, is not the friends who are said in Lamentations 1:19 to have been called upon for help, nor those designated in the second clause of Lamentations 1:21 as "all mine enemies," but persons unnamed, who are only characterized in the second clause as enemies, because they rejoice over the calamity which they have heard of as having befallen Jerusalem. The first clause forms the medium of transition from the faithless friends (Lamentations 1:19) to the open enemies (Lamentations 1:21); hence the subject is left undefined, so that one may think of friends and enemies. The foes rejoice that God has brought the evil on her. The words 'הבאת וגו, which follow, cannot also be dependent on כּי ("that Thou hast brought the day which Thou hast announced"), inasmuch as the last clause, "and they shall be like me," does not harmonize with them. Indeed, Ngelsbach and Gerlach, who assume that this is the connection of the clause "Thou hast brought," etc., take 'ויהיוּ כ adversatively: "but they shall be like me." If, however, "they shall be," etc., were intended to form an antithesis to "all mine enemies have heard," etc., the former clause would be introduced by והם. The mere change of tense is insufficient to prove the point. It must further be borne in mind, that in such a case there would be introduced by the words "and they shall be," etc., a new series of ideas, the second great division of the prayer; but this is opposed by the arrangement of the clauses. The second portion of the prayer cannot be attached to the end of the verse. The new series of thoughts begins rather with "Thou hast brought," which the Syriac has rendered by the imperative, venire fac. Similarly Luther translates: "then (therefore) let the day come." C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Pareau, etc., also take the words optatively, referring to the Arabic idiom, according to which a wish is expressed in a vivid manner by the perfect. This optative use of the perfect certainly cannot be shown to exist in the Hebrew; but perhaps it may be employed to mark what is viewed as certain to follow, in which case the Germans use the present. The use of the perfect shows that the occurrence expected is regarded as so certain to happen, that it is represented as if it had already taken place. The perfects in Lamentations 3:56-61 are taken in this sense by nearly all expositors. Similarly we take the clause now before us to mean, "Thou bringest on the day which Thou hast proclaimed (announced)," i.e., the day of judgment on the nations, Jeremiah 25, "so that they become like me," i.e., so that the foes who rejoice over my misfortune suffer the same fate as myself. "The day [which] Thou hast proclaimed" has been to specifically rendered in the Vulgate, adduxisti diem consolationis, probably with a reference of the proclamation to Isaiah 40:2. - After this expression of certainty regarding the coming of a day of punishment for her enemies, there follows, Lamentations 1:22, the request that all the evil they have done to Jerusalem may come before the face of God, in order that He may punish it (cf. Psalm 109:15 with Lamentations 1:14), - do to them as He has done to Jerusalem, because of her transgressions. The clause which assigns the reason ("for many are my sighs," etc.) does not refer to that which immediately precedes; for neither the request that retribution should be taken, nor the confession of guilt ("for all my transgressions"), can be accounted fore by pointing to the deep misery of Jerusalem, inasmuch as her sighing and sickness are not brought on her by her enemies, but are the result of the sufferings ordained by God regarding her. The words contain the ground of the request that God would look on the misery (Lamentations 1:20), and show to the wretched one the compassion which men refuse her. לבּי is exactly the same expression as that in Jeremiah 8:18; cf. also Isaiah 1:5. The reason thus given for making the entreaty forms an abrupt termination, and with these words the sound of lamentation dies away.

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