Lamentations 2:21
The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.
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(21) The young and the old . . .—The thoughts of the mourner turn from the massacre in the sanctuary to the slaughter which did its dread work in every corner of the city.

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.Omit "them" and "and," which weaken the intensity of the passage. 21. (2Ch 36:17).


None of what sex or age soever are spared: though the hands of the Chaldeans have done this, yet they have been set on and assisted by thee, and have been but the executioners of thy wrath and displeasure.

The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets,.... Young men and old men, virgins and aged women; these promiscuously lay on the ground in the public streets, fainting and dying for want of food; or lay killed there by the sword of the enemy; the Chaldeans sparing neither age nor sex. The Targum interprets it of their sleeping on the ground,

"young men slept on the ground in the villages, and old men who used to lie on pillows of fine wool, and on beds of ivory;''

but the former sense is confirmed by what follows:

my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; by the sword of the Chaldeans, when they entered the city:

thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger: thou hast killed,

and not pitied; the Chaldeans were only instruments; it was the Lord's doing; it was according to his will; it was what he had purposed and decreed; what he had solemnly declared and threatened; and now in his providence brought about, for the sins of the Jews, by which he was provoked to anger; and so gave them up into the hands of their enemies, to slay them without mercy; and which is here owned; the church takes notice of the hand of God in all this.

The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied.
Lamentations 2:21In Lamentations 2:20 follows the prayer which the city has been commanded to make. The prayer sets before the mind of the Lord the terrible misery under which Jerusalem suffers. The question, "To whom hast Thou acted thus?" does not mean, "What innocent and godly ones are being sacrificed?" (Thenius), but "to what nation?" - not a heathen one, but the people of thy choice, to whom all Thy blessed promises have been given (Ngelsbach). This is clear from the reasons given in the question, in which the murder of the priests and prophets in the sanctuary of the Lord is brought forward. But first there is mentioned a case of inhuman conduct, prompted by necessity, viz., that women, in the extreme destitution of hunger, have been constrained to eat the fruit of their body, their beloved children. אם...אם does not, in this case, introduce a disjunctive question, but merely an indirect question in two parts. In view of such inhuman cruelties and such desecration of His sanctuary, God cannot remain inactive. The meaning of the question is not: estne hoc unquam fando auditum, quod apud nos factum est, or, quod matres fame eo adactae fuerint, ut suos faetus comederent (C. B. Michaelis, Rosenmller). For in this case, not the imperfect, but the perfect, would be used. It is merely asked whether something could happen in a certain way, while it is implied that it has actually occurred already. פּרים has the masc. instead of the fem. suffix, as pretty frequently happens. The fruit of their bodies is meant, as the lxx have rightly rendered; but there is no reason for making this the ground of alterations in the text. The expression "their fruit," indefinite in itself, is immediately rendered definite by עללי טפּחים. The last word is a verbal noun from טפּח (Lamentations 2:22), which again is a denominative from טפח, and means to bear on the hands, to care for tenderly. Both words occur only in this passage. The Israelites, moreover, had been threatened with this inhuman outrage as the most extreme form of divine chastisement, Leviticus 26:26; Deuteronomy 28:56; cf. Jeremiah 19:9. While this abomination is opposed to the moral order of the world instituted by God, the other case (the murder of the priests and prophets in the sanctuary) is a violation of the covenant-order which the Lord had given His people. Neither of these arrangements can God consent to abolish. Therein is implicitly contained the request that He would put an end to the misery into which His people have fallen. This request, however, is not expressly stated; there is merely complaint made to God regarding the terrible misery. From the massacre in the temple, the lamentation passes to the bloodshed on the streets of the city, in which neither age nor sex was spared; cf. Jeremiah 6:11. חוּצות is a local accus., "through the streets," along the streets.
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