Lamentations 2:19
Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) In the beginning of the watchesi.e., of each watch, so that the lamentation was continued throughout the night.

Lift up thy hands.—The wall is still addressed in its character as a mourner, beholding the children dying of hunger and lifting up her hands as in despairing supplication for them.

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.In - (or at) the beginning of the watches "At the beginning of each night-watch" means all the night through. The Hebrews divided the night into three watches. 19. cry … in … night—(Ps 119:147).

beginning of … watches—that is, the first of the three equal divisions (four hours each) into which the ancient Jews divided the night; namely, from sunset to ten o'clock. The second was called "the middle watch" (Jud 7:19), from ten till two o'clock. The third, "the morning watch," from two to sunrise (Ex 14:24; 1Sa 11:11). Afterwards, under the Romans, they had four watches (Mt 14:25; Lu 12:38).

for … thy … children—that God, if He will not spare thee, may at least preserve "thy young children."

top of … street—(Isa 51:20; Na 3:10).

Resh.

The prophet calls upon the Jews not to be slothful in this their very evil day, but to rise up from their beds, and either at the beginning of the four watches, or at the beginning of each watch, at all times in the night, to betake themselves to God by prayer, and that not in a cold, lazy manner, but so as to pour out their hearts with their words; and he moveth them to it, as for their own sake, so for the sake of their young children, who every where were starved to death.

Arise, cry out in the night,.... That is, O daughter of Zion, or congregation of Israel, as the Targum; who are addressed and called upon by the prophet to arise from their beds, and shake off their sleep, and sloth, and stupidity, and cry to God in the night season; and be earnest and importunate with him for help and assistance. Aben Ezra rightly observes, that the word used signifies a lifting up of the voice both in singing and in lamentation; here it is used in the latter sense; and denotes great vehemency and earnestness in crying unto God, arising from deep distress and sorrow, which prevents sleep:

in the beginning of the watches; either at the first of them; so Broughton renders it, "at the first watch"; which began at the time of going to bed: or at the beginning of each of them; for with the ancient Jews there were three of them; in later times four: or in the beginning of the morning watch, as the Targum; very early in the morning, before sun rising; as they are called upon to pray late at night, so betimes in the mottling:

pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord; use the utmost freedom with him; tell him, in the fullest manner, thy whole case, fit thy complaints; unbosom thyself to him; keep nothing from him; speak out freely all lily soul needs; do all this publicly, and in the most affectionate way and manner, thy soul melted in floods of tears, under a sense of sin, and pressing evils for it. The Targum is,

"pour out as water the perverseness of thine heart, and return by repentance, and pray in the house of the congregation (or synagogue) before the face of the Lord:''

lift up thine hands towards him; in prayer, as the Targum adds; for this is a prayer gesture, as in Lamentations 3:41;

for the life of thy young children that faint for hunger in the top of every street; pray for them, that they might have food and sustenance, to preserve them alive; who, for want of it, were ready to swoon and die the public streets; in the top of them, where they met, and where was the greatest concourse of people, and yet none able to relieve them.

Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the LORD: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. The v. consists of four lines. Ewald and Budde (followed by Löhr) conclude independently that the last is a gloss suggested by Lamentations 2:12.

at the beginning of the watches] i.e. of each watch. In New Testament times the Jews had adopted the Roman division of the night into four watches of three hours each (see Matthew 14:25; Mark 13:35). Up to that time the division was threefold, each consisting of four hours. Cp. Exodus 14:24; Psalm 63:6, etc. The watchman’s cry would rouse the sleeper to realise afresh the miseries of the situation.

Pour out thine heart like water] Cp. Lamentations 2:11.

Lift up thy hands] in supplication.

Verse 19. - In the beginning of the watches. This would seem to be most naturally explained as referring to the first watch of the night. When most are wrapped in their first and sweetest sleep, the daughter of Zion is to "arise and cry." Others explain, "at the beginning of each of the night watches;" i.e. all the night through. Previously to the Roman times, the Jews had divided the night into three watches (comp. Judges 3:19). Pour out thine heart like water; i.e. give free course to thy complaint, shedding tears meanwhile. The expression is parallel partly to phrases like "I am poured out like water" (Psalm 22:14), partly to "Pour out your heart before him" (Psalm 62:8). In the top of every street; rather, at every street corner (and so Lamentations 4:1). Lamentations 2:19רנן (prop. to raise a whining cry, but commonly "to shout for joy") here means to weep aloud, lament. לראשׁ אשׁמרות, at the beginning of the night-watches (cf. Judges 7:19); not "in the first night-watch" (Kalkschmidt, following Bochart and Ngelsbach), but at the beginning of each night-watch, i.e., throughout the night; cf. Psalm 63:7. "Pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord," i.e., utter the sorrow of thine heart in tears to the Lord. The uplifting of the hands is a gesture indicative of prayer and entreaty (cf. Psalm 28:2; Psalm 63:5, etc.), not "of the deepest distress" (Thenius). על־נפשׁ does not mean pro vita parvulorum tuorum, that God may at least preserve them (Rosenmller, Gerlach), but "on account of the soul of thy children," which is more distinctly stated, in the following relative sentence, to mean that they have breathed out their soul through hunger. On this matter, cf. Lamentations 2:11 and the exposition of that verse. Ewald has placed the last member of the verse within parentheses, as an interpolation, on the ground that a fourth member offends against the law observed in these verses; on the other hand, Thenius is of opinion that the words do not form a member of the verse by themselves, but are a mere prolongation of the third, "because the conclusion of the prophet's address, begun in Lamentations 2:19, was certainly intended to be a complete finish." But the deviation from the rule is not thereby accounted for. Inasmuch as the words are essential to the expression of the thought, we must simply acknowledge the irregularity, and not arbitrarily cast suspicion on the genuineness of the words.
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