Lamentations 2:11
Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
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(11) My liver is poured upon the earth . . .—The phrase is not found elsewhere, but admits of an easy explanation. The “liver,” like the “heart” and the “bowels,” is thought of as the centre of all intense emotions, both of joy or sorrow (Proverbs 7:23). As such it is represented as giving way without restraint (comp. Lamentations 2:19), under the pressure of the horror caused by the calamities which the next words paint, by the starving children who fainted for hunger in the streets of the city.

2:10-22 Causes for lamentation are described. Multitudes perished by famine. Even little children were slain by their mother's hands, and eaten, according to the threatening, De 28:53. Multitudes fell by the sword. Their false prophets deceived them. And their neighbours laughed at them. It is a great sin to jest at others' miseries, and adds much affliction to the afflicted. Their enemies triumphed over them. The enemies of the church are apt to take its shocks for its ruins; but they will find themselves deceived. Calls to lamentation are given; and comforts for the cure of these lamentations are sought. Prayer is a salve for every sore, even the sorest; a remedy for every malady, even the most grievous. Our business in prayer is to refer our case to the Lord, and leave it with him. His will be done. Let us fear God, and walk humbly before him, and take heed lest we fall.Troubled - See the margin reference note.

Liver - As the heart was regarded by the Jews as the seat of the intellect, so the liver (or bowels) was supposed to be the seat of the emotions. The pouring out of the liver upon the ground meant that feelings had entirely given way under the acuteness of sorrow, and he could no longer restrain them.

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," Job 16:13; "bowels," Ps 22:14) in a bladder on the surface of the liver, copiously discharged when the passions are agitated.

swoon—through faintness from the effects of hunger.


This whole verse is but expressive of the prophet’s great affliction for the miseries come upon the Jews: he wept himself almost blind, his passion had disturbed his bodily humours, that his bowels were troubled; his gall lying under his liver, upon this disturbance was vomited up: they are all no more than expressions of very great affliction and sorrow.

For the destination of the daughter of my people; for the miseries befallen the Jews: he had mourned for their sins before, and for their plagues too which he had in prospect, Jeremiah 9:1; he now mourns for them as being come upon them: which mourning considered only as for their miseries, spake no more than the prophet’s good nature and love to his country; but considered as the indication of God’s wrath and displeasure, was also a godly sorrow.

Because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city; the children and sucklings fainted and swooned, either for want of water, or bread, or milk in their mothers’ or nurses’ breasts during the famine, occasioned by the long siege of the city. This appears in the next verse.

Mine eyes do fail with tears,.... According to Aben Ezra, everyone of the elders before mentioned said this; but rather they are the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, who had wept his eyes dry, or rather blind, on account of the calamities of his people; though he himself obtained liberty and enlargement by means thereof:

my bowels are troubled; all his inward parts were distressed:

my liver is poured upon the earth; his gall bladder, which lay at the bottom of his liver, broke, and he cast it up, and poured it on the earth; see Job 16:13; and all this was

for the destruction of the daughter of my people; or, the "breach" of them (t); their civil and church state being destroyed and broke to shivers; and for the ruin of the several families of them: particularly

because the children and sucklings swoon in the streets of the city; through famine, for want of bread, with those that could eat it; and for want of the milk of their mothers and nurses, who being starved themselves could not give it; and hence the poor infants fainted and swooned away; which was a dismal sight, and heart melting to the prophet.

(t) "propter contritionem", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; "propter confractionem", Piscator; "propter fractionem", Cocceius.

Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
11. my bowels are troubled] See on ch. Lamentations 1:20.

My liver is poured upon the earth] The liver seems to have been looked upon, as were the rest of the vitals, as the seat of the emotions, and hence the expression in the text merely denotes strong and painful excitement. Cp. pouring out the heart, Lamentations 2:19, Psalm 62:8; cp. Job 16:13.

destruction] mg. breach. See on Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 17:18.

11–17. Lament over Zion’s exposure to the mockery of her enemies.

Verse 11. - My bowels are troubled (see on Lamentations 1:20). My liver is poured upon the earth. A violent emotion being supposed to occasion a copious discharge of bile. The daughter of my people. A poetic expression for Zion or Judah. Lamentations 2:11The impotence of human comfort, and the mockery of enemies. Lamentations 2:11. The misery that has befallen the people is so fearful, that sorrow over it wears out one's life. "Mine eyes pine away because of tears," is the complaint of the prophet, not merely for himself personally, but in the name of all the godly ones. "Mine eyes pine" is the expression used in Psalm 69:4. On חמרמרוּ מעי, cf. Lamentations 1:20. The expression, "my liver is poured out on the earth," occurs nowhere else, and is variously explained. That the liver is fons sanguinis, and thus the seat of the animal life (Rosenmller, Thenius), cannot be made out from Proverbs 7:23. This passage rather forms a proof that among the Hebrews, according to a view widely prevalent in ancient times, the liver was considered the seat of sensual desire and lust (cf. Delitzsch's Bib. Psychology, Clark's translation, p. 316). But this view is insufficient as an explanation of the passage now before us. Besides, there are no proofs to show that "liver" is used for "heart," or even for "gall," although Job 16:13 is unwarrantably adduced in support of this position. A closely related expression, certainly, is found in Job 30:16; Psalm 42:5, where the soul is said to be poured out; but the liver is different from נפשׁ, the principle of the corporeal life. If the liver was called כּבד because, according to Galen, de usu partium, vi. 17 (in Gesen. Thes. p. 655), omnium viscerum et densissimum et gravissimum est, then it may be regarded, instead of מעים, as the chief bodily organ through which not merely lust, but also pain, is felt; and the pouring out of the liver on the earth may thus mean that the inner man is dissolved in pain and sorrow, - perishes, as it were, through pain. For it is evident from the context, and universally admitted, that it is the effect of pain in consuming the bodily organs that is here meant to be expressed. שׁבר בּת עמּי is a genuine Jeremianic expression (cf. Jeremiah 6:14; Jeremiah 8:11, Jeremiah 8:21, etc.), which again occurs in Lamentations 2:13, Lamentations 3:47-48, and Lamentations 4:10. In what follows, some harrowing details are given regarding the destruction of the daughter of Zion. בּעטף for בּהעטף, while (or because) children and sucklings were pining away on the streets of the city. This figure of heartrending misery is further carried out in Lamentations 2:12, for the purpose of vividly setting forth the terrible distress. Gerlach is wrong in thinking that the writer brings forward such sad scenes as would be likely to present themselves in the period immediately after the destruction of the city. For, the fact that, in Lamentations 2:10, the eye of the mourner is directed to the present, is far from being a proof that Lamentations 2:11 and Lamentations 2:12 also treat of the present; and the imperfect יאמרוּ, Lamentations 2:12, is not parallel in time with ישׁבוּ, Lamentations 2:12, but designates the repetition of the action in past time. "The children say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine?" i.e., Give us bread and wine, or, Where can we eat and drink? Corn and must (as in Jeremiah 31:12, etc.) are mentioned as the usual means of nourishment of the Israelites. דּגן, "corn," is used poetically for bread (cf. Psalm 78:24), - not pounded or roasted grain, which was used without further preparation (Thenius), and which is called קלי, Leviticus 23:14; 1 Samuel 17:17; 2 Samuel 17:28. The sucklings poured out their soul, i.e., breathed out their life, into the bosom of their mothers, i.e., hugging their mothers, although these could not give them nourishment; cf. Lamentations 4:4.
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