Lamentations 2:15
All that pass by clap their hands at you; 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. The lament over the destruction of the kingdom concludes, in Lamentations 2:8, Lamentations 2:9, by mentioning that the walls of Jerusalem are destroyed; with this the Chaldeans ended the work of demolition. The expression חשׁב יהוה represents this as the execution of a divine decree, - a turn which forms an appropriate introduction to the close of the work of destruction. "Raschi makes the following remark concerning this: a longo inde tempore, in animum induxerat, hanc urbem vastare secundum illud quod Jeremiah 32:31 dixit. This intention He has now carried out. The words, "He stretched out the measuring-line," are more exactly determined by what follows, "He withdrew not His hand from destroying;" this shows the extent to which the destruction was carried out. The measuring-line was drawn out for the purpose of determining the situation and direction of buildings (Job 38:5; Zechariah 1:15); but Jahveh applies it also for the purpose of pulling down buildings (2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11; Amos 7:7), in order to indicate that He carried out the destruction with the same precision as that of the builder in finishing his work. The rampart and the wall sorrow over this. חל (from חוּל) is the rampart, i.e., the low wall with the ditch, surrounding the fortress outside the city wall; cf. 2 Samuel 20:15; Isaiah 26:1. The gates of the daughter of Zion (i.e., of Jerusalem) are sunk into the earth, i.e., have been completely buried under rubbish by the demolition, as if they had sunk into the ground. The subject to אבּד ושׁבּר is Jahveh. The bars of the daughter of Zion are those with which the city gates were closed, for the protection of the inhabitants. With the destruction of Jerusalem the kingdom of God is destroyed. King and princes are among the heathen, - carried away into exile. It must, indeed, be allowed that אין תּורה is connected by the accents with what precedes; and Gerlach defends the construction, "they are among the heathen without law,", - not only agreeing with Kalkschmidt in taking אין תּורה as a designation of the גּוים as ethnici, - -ad gentes, quibus divina nulla erat revelatio, - but also with Luther, who translates: "her king and her princes are among the heathen, because they cannot administer the law," or generally, have it not. But, on the other hand, the accents merely indicate the stichometrical arrangement, not the relation of the words according to their sense; and the remark, "that Lamentations 2:9 sets forth the fate of the persons who stood to the city in the relation of helpers and counsellors or comforters (her king, her prophets), of whose help (counsel, or comfort) the city was deprived, as well as of the external means of defending her" (first member), proves nothing at all, for the simple reason that the priests also belonged to the number of the helpers, counsellors, and comforters of the city; hence, if this were the meaning, and the two halves of the verse were meant to stand in this relation, then the priests would certainly have been mentioned also. The second half of the verse is not connected with the first in the manner supposed by Gerlach; but, from the whole preceding description of the way in which the divine wrath has been manifested against Jerusalem, it draws this conclusion: "Judah has lost its king and its princes, who have been carried away among the heathen: it has also lost the law and prophecy." "Law" and "vision" are mentioned as both media of divine revelation. the law is the summary of the rule of life given by God to His people: this exists no more for Judah, because, with the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, the divinely appointed constitution of Israel was abolished and destroyed. Prophecy was the constant witness to the presence of God among His people; by this means the Lord sought to conduct Israel to the object of their election and calling, and to fit them for becoming a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. The perf. מצאוּ is not a preterite, but the expression of an accomplished fact. The prophets of the daughter of Zion no longer obtain any vision or revelation from Jahveh: the revelation of God by prophets has ceased for Zion. The words imply that there are still prophets, and merely affirm that they do not receive any revelation from God. This is not opposed to the fact that Jeremiah, some months after the destruction of Jerusalem, again received a revelation; cf. Jeremiah 42:4 with Lamentations 2:7. The meaning of the complaint is simply that Jahveh no longer owns His people, no longer gives them a token of His gracious presence, just as it is said in Psalm 74:9, "There is no more any prophet." But it is not thereby declared that prophecy has altogether and for ever been silenced, but merely that, when Jerusalem was destroyed, Israel received no prophetic communication, - that God the Lord did not then send them a message to comfort and sustain them. The revelation which Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:7) received regarding the determination of the people who sought to flee to Egypt, has no connection with this at all, for it does not contain a word as to the future destiny of Jerusalem. Hence it cannot be inferred, with Thenius, from the words now before us, that the present poem was composed before that revelation given in Jeremiah 42:7.; nor yet, with Ngelsbach, that the writer had here before his mind the condition of the great mass of the people who had been carried away into exile. Neither, indeed, were the people in exile without prophetic communications; for, even so early as six years before the overthrow of Jerusalem, God had raised up to the exiles a prophet in the person of Ezekiel.
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