Lamentations 2:13
What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?
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(13) What thing shall I take to witness . . .—Practically the question is the same as that which follows, and implies that there was no parallel to the sufferings of Zion in the history of the past. Had there been, and had it been surmounted, it might have been cited in evidence, and some consolation might have been derived from it. As it was there was no such parallel, no such witness. Her “breach,” i.e., her ruin, was illimitable as the ocean, and therefore irremediable.

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.Equal - i. e. "compare." Zion's breach, i. e. her destruction, is measureless, like the ocean. 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 (La 1:12; Da 9:12).


The sum of this verse is, that the miserable condition of the people was both incomparable and incurable. There was no people whose miserable condition was in any degree parallel to the misery of the Jews. It is some comfort to persons in misery to consider that others are and have been, as miserable as they, but the prophet had not this topic from whence to fetch an argument of comfort to the Jews; there were none to whom he could liken them, nor was there any present cure for them; their breach was like a sea-breach, where the waters come in with such a torrent, that while the tide abates there is no making any bank of defence against them.

What thing shall I take to witness for thee?.... What argument can be made use of? what proof or evidence can be given? what witnesses can be called to convince thee, and make it a clear case to time, that ever any people or nation was in such distress and calamity, what with sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity, as thou art?

what thing shall I liken thee to, O daughter of Jerusalem? what kingdom or nation ever suffered the like? no example can be given, no instance that comes up to it; not the Egyptians, when the ten plagues were inflicted on them; not the Canaanites, when conquered and drove out by Joshua; not the Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, and Syrians, when subdued by David; or any other people:

what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for this is one way that friends comfort the afflicted, by telling them that such an one's case was as bad, and worse, than theirs; and therefore bid them be of good heart; bear their affliction patiently; before long it will be over; but nothing of this kind could be said here; no, nor any hope given it would be otherwise; they could not say their case was like others, or that it was not desperate:

for thy breach is great like the sea; as large and as wide as that: Zion's troubles were a sea of trouble; her afflictions as numerous and as boisterous as the waves of the sea; and as salt, as disagreeable, and as intolerable, as the waters of it: or her breach was great, like the breach of the sea; when it overflows its banks, or breaks through its bounds, there is no stopping it, but it grows wider and wider:

who can heal thee? it was not in the power of man, in her own power, or of her allies, to recover her out of the hands of the enemy; to restore her civil or church state; her wound was incurable; none but God could be her physician. The Targum is,

"for thy breach is great as the greatness of the breach of the waves of the sea in the time of its tempest; and who is the physician that can heal thee of thy infirmity?''

{i} What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?

(i) Meaning that her calamity was so evident that it needed no witnesses.

13. shall I testify unto thee] or, as mg. take to witness for thee. If the MT. be right, we can only explain it as meaning, Of what shall I assure thee? But it is better, specially in view of the parallel clause, to read with an inconsiderable change in the original (’e‘ĕrôk for ’ă‘îdçk), for “testify” compare.

great like the sea] without measure.

who can heal thee?] Cp. Jeremiah 30:12 f.

Verse 13. - What thing shall I take to witness for thee? rather, What shall I testify unto thee? The nature, of the testifying may be gathered from the following words. It would be a comfort to Zion to know that her misfortune was not unparalleled: solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum. The expression is odd, however, and, comparing Isaiah 40:18, A. Krochmal has suggested, What shall I compare? The correction is easy. Equal; i.e. compare (comp. Isaiah 46:5) Lamentations 2:13Against such terrible misery, human power can give neither comfort nor help. "What shall I testify to you?" the Kethib אעודך is a mistake in transcription for אעידך (Qeri), because עוּד is not commonly used in the Kal. העיד, to bear witness, is mostly construed with בּ, against or for any one, but also with acc., 1 Kings 21:10, 1 Kings 21:13, in malam, and Job 29:11, in bonam partem. Here it is used in the latter sense: "give testimony to thee" for the purpose of instruction and comfort, - not of a calamity that has happened elsewhere, as Calvin and Thenius explain, though against the construction of the verb with the accus.; still less "to make one swear" (Gesenius, Ewald). That the prophetic witness is meant here in the sense of encouragement by instruction, warning, and comfort, is evident from the mention of the testimony of the false prophets in Lamentations 2:14. "What shall I compare to thee?" i.e., what kind of misfortune shall I mention as similar to yours? This is required by the principle derived from experience: solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum. ואנחמך, "that I may comfort thee." The reason assigned, viz., "for thy destruction is great, like the sea" (i.e., immense), follows the answer, understood though not expressed, "I can compare nothing to thee." The answer to the last question, "Who can heal thee?" (רפא with ל) is, "no man;" cf. Jeremiah 30:12. Reasons are assigned for this in Lamentations 2:14-16.
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