Her gates are sunk into the ground; he has destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Her gates . . .—The picture of ruin is completed. The gates are broken, and hidden by heaps of rubbish as if they had been buried in the earth; they cannot be closed, for the bars are gone. King and princes are captives to the Chaldæans. The Law was practically repealed, for the conditions of its observance were absent, and prophecy had become a thing of the past. The outward desolation was but the shadow of that of the nation’s spiritual life.
Her king - The prophet's lamentation, occupied before chiefly with the buildings of the city and temple, now turns to the people, beginning with their temporal rulers.
The law is no more - The Jewish Law, the Torah, came to an end when it no longer had a local habitation. Its enactments were essentially those not of a universal religion, but of a national religion, and the restoration of the nation with a material temple was indispensable to its continued existence. It was only when elevated to be a universal religion, by being made spiritual, that it could do without ark, temple, and a separate people.
Her prophets also find ... - With the Torah, the special gift of prophecy also ceased, since both were unique to the theocracy; but it was not until the establishment of Christianity that they were finally merged in higher developments of grace.
broken … bars—(Jer 51:30).
her king … among … Gentiles—(De 28:36).
law … no more—(2Ch 15:3). 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" (Ps 74:9; Eze 7:26).
Jod.Her gates are sunk into the ground; that is, the gates of Jerusalem are destroyed and covered over with rubbish.
He hath destroyed and broken her bars; the bolts of the gates are broken.
Her king and her princes are among the Gentiles; Zedekiah and the nobles of Judah that were not slain were in miserable captivity.
The law is no more; the law was no more read and opened, nor was there any more sacrifices offered according to the prescript of it, nor any solemn feasts kept according to the direction of it.
Her prophets also find no vision from the Lord; they had but very few prophets amongst them from this time to the time of the gospel, and very few of those at this time alive had any revelations from God; we read only of this prophet, Ezekiel, Daniel, and three after the captivity, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
"her gates sunk into the earth, because they sacrificed a hog, and brought of the blood of it to them:''
he hath destroyed and broken her bars; with which the gates were bolted and barred, that so the enemy might enter; it was God that did it, or suffered it to be done, or it would not have been in the power of the enemy:
her king and her princes are among the Gentiles; Zedekiah, and the princes that were not slain by the king of Babylon, were carried captive thither; and there they lived, even among Heathens that knew not God, and despised his worship:
the law is no more; the book of the law was burnt in the temple, and the tables of it carried away with the ark, or destroyed; and though, no doubt, there were copies of the law preserved, yet it was not read nor expounded; nor was worship performed according to the direction of it; nor could it be in a strange land. Mr. Broughton joins this with the preceding clause, as descriptive of the Heathens: "her king and her princes are among Heathen that have no law"; see Romans 2:12;
her prophets also find no vision from the Lord; there was none but Jeremiah left in the land, and none but Ezekiel and Daniel in the captivity; prophets were very rare at this time, as they were afterwards; for we hear of no more after the captivity, till the coming of the Messiah, but Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; so that there was very little open vision; the word of the Lord was precious or scarce; there was a famine of hearing it, 1 Samuel 3:1.Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. Her gates, etc.] The Targ. preserves a tradition that the enemy slew a pig and sprinkled the blood over them.
destroyed and broken] One of the verbs must be struck out for the sake of metre.
Her king … from the Lord] We should (correcting the Mass. punctuation) read the latter part of the second line as an independent clause, “the law is not.” Three classes are spoken of, all of whom circumstances exclude from their proper functions, (i) the king and princes are in exile, (ii) so are the priests, (iii) the prophets in captivity have no message. Cp. Psalm 74:9, Ezekiel 7:26 f. We must therefore (correcting the Mass. punctuation) read the latter part of the second line, there is no priestly direction. See on Jeremiah 18:18.Verse 9. - Are sunk into the ground; i.e. are broken down and buried in the dust. The Law is no more. The observance of the Law being rendered impossible by the destruction of the temple. Comp. this and the next clause with Ezekiel 7:26. Lamentations 2:3 and Lamentations 2:4, the writer describes the hostile conduct of the Lord towards Israel, by which the kingdom of Judah was destroyed. Thenius utterly mistakes the poetic character of the description given, and evidently finds in it the several events that occurred up to the taking of the city, all mentioned in their natural order; according to this, the perfects would require to be translated as preterites. But this view can be made out only by giving an arbitrary meaning to the several figures used; e.g., it is alleged that "every horn" means the frontier fortresses, that the expression "before the enemy" refers to the time when the latter turned his face against Jerusalem, and so on. The three members of Lamentations 2:3 contain a climax: deprivation of the power to resist; the withdrawal of aid; the necessary consequence of which was the burning like a flame of fire. "To cut down the horn" means to take away offensive and defensive power; see on Jeremiah 48:25. "Every horn" is not the same as "all horns," but means all that was a horn of Israel (Gerlach). This included not merely the fortresses of Judah, but every means of defence and offence belonging to the kingdom, including men fit for war, who are neither to be excluded nor (with Le Clerc) to be all that is understood by "every horn." In the expression ימינו...השׁיב, the suffix, as in קשׁתּו, Lamentations 2:4, refers to Jahveh, because the suffix joined to יד always points back to the subject of the verb השׁיב; cf. Psalm 74:11. God drew back His hand before the enemy, i.e., He withdrew from the people His assistance in the struggle against the enemy. Such is the meaning given long ago by the Chaldee: nec auxiliatus est populo suo coram hoste. ויּבער בּיעקב does not mean "He consumed Jacob;" but He burned (i.e., made a conflagration) in Jacob; for, in every passage in which בּער is construed with בּ, it does not mean to "burn something," but to burn in or among, or to kindle a fire (cf. Job 1:16, where the burning up is only expressed by ותּאכלם, Numbers 11:3; Psalm 106:18), or to set something on fire, Isaiah 42:25. The burning represents devastation; hence the comparison of יבער with "like fire of flame ( equals flaming, brightly blazing fire, cf. Isaiah 4:5; Psalm 105:32) that devours round about." The subject of יבער is Jahveh, not ira Jovae (Rosenmller), or להבה (Neumann), or the enemy (Gerlach). The transition from the perfect with ו consec. does not cause any change of the subject; this is shown by Lamentations 2:4 and Lamentations 2:5, where also the second clause is connected with the first by means of ו consec. But the statement of Gerlach - that if Jahveh and not the enemy be the subject, then the consecutive sentence (the burning among Jacob as the result of the withdrawal of Jahveh's hand before the enemy) would be inexplicable - gives no evidence of its truth. The kindling or making of the fire in Jacob is, of course, represented as a result of what is previously stated, yet not as the consequence merely of the withdrawal of his hand, but also of the cutting off of every horn. In both of these ways, God has kindled in Jacob a fire which grows into a destructive conflagration. - In Lamentations 2:4 the idea is still further developed: God not merely delivered up His people to the enemy, leaving them defenceless and helpless, but also came forward Himself to fight against them as an enemy. He bent His bow like a warrior, showing Himself, in reference to His claims, as an adversary or oppressor. The specification "His right hand" is added, not so much for the purpose of defining more exactly the activity of the right hand (using it to shoot the arrows or wield the sword; cf. Deuteronomy 32:41., Psalm 7:13.), as rather with the view of expressing more precisely the hostile attitude of God, since the right hand of God is at other times represented as the instrument of help. The expression "and He slew," which follows, does not require us to think of a sword in the right hand of God, since we can also kill with arrows. God slew as an enemy; He destroyed everything that was precious in men's sight, i.e., to merely omnes homines aetate, specie, dignitate conspicuos (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller, Thenius); for, in Psalm 78:47, חרג is also used with reference to the effect of hail on the vine; and the arrows shot from the bow are merely named by synecdoche, and by way of specification, as instruments of war for destruction. Still less can מחמדּי־עין signify omnia ea templi ornamenta, quibus merito gloriabatur populus (Kalkschmidt), since it is not till Lamentations 2:6. that the temple is spoken of. "The word is to be taken in its widest generality, which is indicated by 'all;' accordingly, it comprehends everything that can be looked upon as dear," including children (cf. Ezekiel 24:25) and the sanctuary, though all these do not exhaust the meaning of the word (Gerlach). Upon the tent of the daughter of Zion He poured out His fury in fire. The daughter of Zion means the inhabitants of Jerusalem: her tent is not the temple (Kalkschmidt, Ewald), which is never called the tent of the daughter of Zion, but only that of Jahveh (1 Kings 2:28, etc.); but her house, i.e., the city as a collection of dwellings. The figure of the outpouring of wrath is often used, not only in Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 10:25; Jeremiah 42:18, etc., but also in Hosea 5:10; Zephaniah 3:8; Psalm 69:25; Psalm 76:6, etc.
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