Lamentations 2:18
Their heart cried unto the Lord, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Their heart.—The possessive pronoun does not refer to any immediate antecedent, but points, with a wild abruptness, to the mourners of Zion. Yet more boldly their cry is an appeal to the “wall” of Zion (comp. Lamentations 2:8, and Isaiah 14:31), to take up its lamentation, as though it were a human mourner.

Like a river.—Better, like a torrent.

The apple of thine eye.—Literally, “the daughter,” as in the English phrase, the “pupil” of the eye.

Lamentations 2:18-19. Their heart cried unto the Lord — “The same,” says Blaney, “are the speakers here who are said to have made the foregoing remarks concerning the distressed condition of Jerusalem, namely, the passengers, (Lamentations 2:15,) whose hearts, being deeply affected with what they saw, urged them to break forth into the following passionate exclamation, addressed to the daughter of Zion.” O wall of the daughter of Zion — The Vulgate reads the verse, Clamavit cor eorum ad Dominum, super muros filiæ Sion, Deduc quasi torrentem lacrymas per diem et noctem; non des requiem tibi, neque taceat pupilla occuli tui: “Their heart hath cried unto the Lord concerning the walls of the daughter of Zion, Cause thy tears to descend, like a torrent, night and day; give thyself no rest, nor let the apple of thine eye be silent.” As the wall and rampart are said to lament, (Lamentations 2:8,) because their ruins were objects of lamentation; so here the ruined wall, including the ruined city and its inhabitants, is called upon, by a beautiful prosopopœia, to mourn and weep over the desolations of that place which God had chosen for his peculiar residence, and to entreat him to take compassion on its miseries. The original expression, rendered the apple of thine eye, is literally the daughter of thine eye; by which Blaney thinks is meant, not the pupil, but the tear, which, he says, may, with great propriety and elegance, be termed the daughter of the eye from which it issues. Arise, cry out in the night — Do not cease thy prayers and supplications even in the night season. In the beginning of the watches — The Jews divided the night, first into three, and in after ages into four watches: see Jdg 7:19; Matthew 14:25. Pour out thy heart like water before the Lord — Offer up thy earnest prayers with tears to the throne of grace; and send up thy very soul, and thy most devout affections along with them: see Psalm 62:8; 1 Samuel 7:6. Lift up thy hands for the life of thy young children — That they at least may be spared; (see Lamentations 2:11;) that faint in the top of every street — See the margin. The expression seems to mean the same as in every street.

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.Their heart - That of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The prophet bids the wall, as the representative of the people who had dwelt secure under its protection, shed floods of tears on their behalf. Broken up by the enemy, it could be their guardian no longer, but by its ruins it might still cry unto the Lord in their behalf.

A river - Or, a brook or torrent.

Rest - Properly, the torpor and numbness which follows upon excessive grief.

Apple of thine eye - See Psalm 17:8 note.

18. wall—(La 2:8). Personified. "Their heart," that is, the Jews'; while their heart is lifted up to the Lord in prayer, their speech is addressed to the "wall" (the part being put for the whole city).

let tears, &c.—(Jer 14:17). The wall is called on to weep for its own ruin and that of the city. Compare the similar personification (La 1:4).

apple—the pupil of the eye (Ps 17:8).

Koph.

They cried unto God seriously, though not sincerely; from their heart, though not with their whole heart; either by the wall, or upon the wall, or (which is judged most probable) by occasion of the breaches made in the wall. Upon this he turns his discourse to the wall itself, and calls to it, or to those that were upon it, or near it, incessantly to mourn.

Let not the apple of thine eye cease; in the Hebrew it is, let not the daughter of thine eye cease. We call it the apple; the Latins, the pupil, or babe, of the eye.

Their heart cried unto the Lord,.... Either the heart of their enemies, as Aben Ezra; which cried against the Lord, and blasphemed him; or rather the heart of the Jews in their distress, when they saw the walls of the city breaking down, they cried unto the Lord for help and protection, whether sincerely or not; no doubt some did; and all were desirous of preservation:

O wall of the daughter of Zion! this seems to be an address of the prophet to the people of Jerusalem carried captive, which was now without houses and inhabitants, only a broken wall standing, some remains and ruins of that; which is mentioned to excite their sorrow and lamentation:

let tears run down like a river, day and night; incessantly, for the destruction and desolation made:

give thyself no rest; or intermission; but weep continually:

let not the apple of thine eye cease; from pouring out tears; or from weeping, as the Targum; or let it not "be silent" (b), or asleep; but be open and employed in beholding the miseries of the nation, and in deploring them.

(b) "non taceat", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "ne sileat", Calvin, Michaelis.

Their heart cried unto the LORD, O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a river day and night: give thyself no rest; let not the apple of thine eye cease.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18. “Their” has no antecedent, and the beginning of the v. is evidently corrupt in its harsh combination of assertion and exhortation, although the corruption, supported as it is by LXX and Syr. (so Vulg.), must be of long standing. The best emendation seems to be that of Ewald, who has the imperative Cry (ẓa‘ăḳi) for “cried” (ẓâ‘aḳ). We may continue with thy heart, or by a more drastic change, with thy voice. In any case “Zion” will end the first of the three lines. For the personification of “wall” see on Lamentations 2:8. While this application of metaphor goes far beyond Western habits of thought, we must yet recognise the power of the memories clinging to old walls, e.g. in Chester, in Venice, etc. See Adeney, op. cit. p. 172.

apple] pupil. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8.

Verse 18. - Their heart cried unto the Lord, etc. "Their heart" can only mean "the heart of the people of Jerusalem." For the expression, comp. Psalm 84:2, "My heart and my flesh cry aloud to the living God." To avoid the rather startling prosopopoeia in the next clause, Thenius supposes a corruption in the group of letters rendered "wall," and attaches the corrected word to the first clause, rendering thus: "Their heart crieth unto the Lord in vain; O daughter of Zion, let tears run down," etc. Another resource, which also involves an emendation, is that of Ewald, "Cry with all thy heart, O wall of the daughter of Zion." O wall, etc. The prosepopoeia is surprising, but is only a degree more striking than that of ver. 8 and Lamentations 1:4. In Isaiah 14:31 we find an equally strong one, "Howl, O gate." Most probably, however, there is something wrong in the text; the following verses seem to refer to the daughter of Zion. Bickell reads thus: "Cry aloud unto the Lord, O virgin daughter of Zion." Like a river; rather, like a torrent. Give thyself no rest. The word rendered "rest" means properly the stiffness produced by cold. Lamentations 2:18When it is seen that the Lord has appointed the terrible calamity, the people are driven to pray for mercy. Hence Lamentations 2:18 follows, yet not at once with the summons to prayer, but with the assertion of the fact that this actually takes place: "their heart cries out unto the Lord;" and it is not till after this that there follows the summons to entreat Him incessantly with tears. The perfect צעק represents the crying as already begun, and reaching on to the present (cf. Ewald, 135, b), for which we use the present in German [and in English]. That the suffix in "their heart" does not point to the enemies mentioned at the close of Lamentations 2:17, but to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, is indubitably evident from what is substantially stated in the clause, viz., that crying to the Lord merely indicates the crying to God for help in distress. There is no sufficient reason for Ewald's change of צעק ל into צעקי לבּך, "outcries of thine heart," i.e., let the cry of thine heart sound forth; still less ground is there for the conjecture of Thenius, that לבּם should be changed into חנּם, because this is opposed to the following summons to implore help: other more unnatural changes in the text it were needless to mention. The following clauses, "O wall of the daughter of Zion," etc., do not state how her heart has cried and still cries to the Lord, but bid her constantly go on imploring. Several expositors have taken objection to the direct address, "O wall of the daughter of Zion," and have sought to remove the difficulty by making conjectures. Hence, e.g., Thenius still holds that there is good ground for the objection, saying that there is a wide difference between the poetic expression, "the wall mourns" (Lamentations 2:8), and the summons, "O wall, let tears run down." This difference cannot be denied, yet such personification is not without analogy. A similar summons is found in Isaiah 14:31 : "Howl, O gate" (porta). It is self-evident that it is not the wall simply as such that is considered, but everything besides connected with it, so that the wall is named instead of the city with its inhabitants, just as in Isaiah 14:31 gate and city are synonymous. Hence, also, all the faculties of those residing within the wall (eyes, heart, hands) may be ascribed to it, inasmuch as the idea of the wall easily and naturally glides over into that of the daughter of Zion. The expression, "Let tears run down like a stream," is a hyperbole used to indicate the exceeding greatness of the grief. "By day and night" is intensified by the clauses which follow: "give not," i.e., grant not. פּוּגת לך , "torpidity (stagnation) to thyself." The noun פּוּגה is ἅπ. λεγ., like הפוּגה, Lamentations 3:49; the verb פּוּג, however, occurs in Genesis 25:26 and Psalm 77:3, where it is used of the torpidity of the vital spirits, stagnation of the heart. The expression in the text is a poetic one for פּוּגתך: "do not permit thy numbness," i.e., let not thy flood of tears dry up; cf. Ewald, 289, b. בּת עין is the eyeball, not the tears (Pareau); cf. Psalm 17:8. תּדּם comes from דּמם, to be still, as in Jeremiah 47:6. On the thought here presented, cf. Jeremiah 14:17.
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