Lamentations 2:15
All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?
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(15) All that pass by.—The triumphant exultation of the enemies of Zion came to add bitterness to her sorrows. They reminded her of what she had been in the past, and contrasted it with her present desolation.

The perfection of beauty . . .—Like phrases are used of Zion in Psalm 48:2; Psalm 50:2; of Tyre in Ezekiel 27:3. Now that beauty was turned into squalor and desolation.

Lamentations 2:15. All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss, &c. — These were gestures of derision, whereby the enemies of the Jews expressed a satisfaction in their calamities; saying, Is this the city that men call The Perfection of beauty — Or, perfect in beauty, as Blaney renders כל לת יפי; The Joy of the whole earth — Such was the light in which the Jews had viewed Jerusalem, and such was the language in which they had been wont to speak of it. And it was at least a pardonable partiality in them, which led them to pass these encomiums upon it, and to suppose that all strangers would be equally delighted with its beauty as they themselves were. It was the metropolis of their nation, and the city their God had chosen to put his name there. There was his magnificent temple, and there the symbols of his divine presence, and the administration of the ordinances of his worship. Thither the whole nation resorted, according to his appointment, to celebrate their solemn feasts: and there those feasts were observed with all the magnificence of religious joy. It is no wonder, therefore, that they esteemed it the perfection of beauty, and a place in which the whole earth ought to delight.

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.Compare the scene round the cross of the Redeemer Matthew 27:39. 15. clap … hands—in derision (Job 27:23; 34:37).

wag … head—(2Ki 19:21; Ps 44:14).

perfection of beauty … joy of … earth—(Ps 48:2; 50:2). The Jews' enemies quote their very words in scorn.


This was according to God’s threatenings, 1 Kings 9:8 Jeremiah 18:16 19:8. God had poured out all his blessings upon this people, whatsoever might adorn them, or make them happy, so as all people blessed the Jewish nation; but now the case was so altered, that all people scoffed at them, and hissed, and admired at the change which God had made.

All that pass by clap their hands at thee,.... Travellers that passed by, and saw Jerusalem in ruins, clapped their hands at it, by way of rejoicing, as well pleased at the sight. This must be understood, not of the inhabitants of the land, but of strangers, who had no good will to it; though they seem to be distinguished from their implacable enemies in Lamentations 2:16,

they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem; by way of scorn and derision; hereby expressing their contempt of her, and the pleasure and satisfaction they took in seeing her in this condition:

saying, is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty,

the joy of the whole earth? a complete city, a most beautiful one for its situation; for its fortifications by nature and art; for its spacious buildings, palaces, and towers; and especially for the magnificent temple in it, and the residence of the God of heaven there, and that pompous worship of him there performed; on account of all which, and the abundant blessings of goodness bestowed upon the inhabitants, they had reason to rejoice more than all the men of the world besides; as well as they contributed many ways to the good and happiness of all nations; this is what had been said by themselves, Psalm 48:2; and had even been owned by others; by the forefathers of those very persons that now insult over it. So the Targum,

"is this the city which our fathers that were of old said? &c.''

nor do they by these words deny, but rather own, that it had been what was said of it; but now the case was otherwise; instead of being a perfect beauty, it was a perfect heap of rubbish; instead of being the joy of the whole earth, it was the offscouring of all things.

All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?
15. They hiss and wag their head] expressions denoting amazement mixed with contempt. Cp. Jeremiah 18:16; 2 Kings 19:21; Job 27:23; Psalm 22:7; Zephaniah 2:15.

that men called] These words (as Löhr, following J. D. Michaelis, points out) should for metrical reasons be omitted.

The perfection of beauty, the joy etc.] Cp. for both phrases Psalm 48:2, and for the former one Psalm 50:2 and (of Tyre) Ezekiel 27:3; Ezekiel 28:13. They were possibly current phrases used by Psalmists and this writer independently.

Verse 15. - Clap... hiss... wag their heads. Gestures of malicious joy (Job 27:23) or contempt (Jeremiah 19:8; Psalm 22:7). The perfection of beauty; literally, the perfect in beauty. The same phrase is used in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:3; 28:12) of Tyro, and a similar one in Psalm 1:2 of Zion. Lamentations 2:15Strangers and enemies have, for the misfortune of Jerusalem, only expressions of scorn and delight over her loss. "Those who pass by the way" are strangers who travel past Jerusalem. To clap the hands together is not here a gesture betokening anger and disinclination (Numbers 24:10), but of delight over the injury of others, as in Job 27:23. שׂרק, to hiss, is an expression of scorn; see on Jeremiah 19:8. The same is true as regards the shaking of the head; cf. Psalm 22:8; Psalm 109:25, etc.: the expression for this, in Jeremiah 18:16, is הניד בּראשׁ. The exclamation, "Is this the city which they call 'perfect in beauty'?" is an expression of scornful astonishment. כּלילת יפי is substantially the same as מכלל יפי, Psalm 50:2, where the expression is applied to Zion; in Ezekiel 27:3 the same is said of Tyre. That Jeremiah had Psalm 50:2 in his mind is shown by the apposition, "a joy of the whole earth," which is taken from Psalm 48:3.
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