Lamentations 2:8
The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together.
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(8) He hath stretched out a line.—The phrase implies (See Notes on 2Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11; Amos 7:7) the systematic thoroughness of the work of destruction.

He made the rampart.—Even the very stones of the walls of Zion are thought of as “crying out” and wailing over their own downfall. (Comp. Habakkuk 2:11; Luke 19:40.)

Lamentations 2:8-9. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of Zion — The word wall is here to be taken in a metaphorical sense, for the strength and security of the city. He hath stretched out a line, &c. — Called emphatically, Isaiah 34:11, קו תהו, the line of confusion or devastation, being designed to mark out the extent of what was to be pulled down. For the instruments designed for building are in some places applied to destroying, because men sometimes mark out those buildings they intend to demolish. Thus, 2 Kings 21:13, God says, I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: see likewise Amos 7:7-8. Therefore he made the rampart, &c., to lament — Made their walls and ramparts feeble, ready to shake like a man under some languishing distemper, who had no strength left. Her gates are sunk into the ground, &c. — The gates of Jerusalem are destroyed and covered over with rubbish, and the bolts of the gates are broken. Her king and her princes are among the Gentiles — Zedekiah and the nobles of Judah, who were not slain, are in a state of miserable captivity. The law is no more — It is no longer read and expounded; the priests and the Levites, whose office it is to instruct the people, being dispersed among the heathen; and that part of the law which respects the public worship of God, being rendered impracticable by the temple’s being destroyed. Her prophets also find no vision from the Lord — The prophets are either dead, or in a state of captivity, and these latter are not favoured with divine revelations as they were wont to be, and so cannot resolve the doubts of those who come to them for advice.

2:1-9 A sad representation is here made of the state of God's church, of Jacob and Israel; but the notice seems mostly to refer to the hand of the Lord in their calamities. Yet God is not an enemy to his people, when he is angry with them and corrects them. And gates and bars stand in no stead when God withdraws his protection. It is just with God to cast down those by judgments, who debase themselves by sin; and to deprive those of the benefit and comfort of sabbaths and ordinances, who have not duly valued nor observed them. What should they do with Bibles, who make no improvement of them? Those who misuse God's prophets, justly lose them. It becomes necessary, though painful, to turn the thoughts of the afflicted to the hand of God lifted up against them, and to their sins as the source of their miseries.A line - Compare Isaiah 34:11. The destruction is systematic and thorough. 8. stretched … a line—The Easterns used a measuring-line not merely in building, but in destroying edifices (2Ki 21:13; Isa 34:11); implying here the unsparing rigidness with which He would exact punishment.


The term

wall in this verse seemeth to be taken in a metaphorical sense, for the strength and security of the Jews (the strength and security of a place lying much in ifs walls).

He hath stretched out a line: artificers use with lines not only to mark out places for building, but also for destruction, to direct them what to cut off; such a line is here meant.

He hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying; God had gone on in destroying them: and had made their walls and ramparts feeble, and to shake like a man under some languishing distemper, that had no strength left.

The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion,.... Either the wall of the city, as Aben Ezra; or the wall that encompassed the temple, and all the outward courts of it, as Dr. Lightfoot (s) thinks; this the Lord had determined to destroy, and according to his purposes did destroy it, or suffer it to be demolished; and so all were laid open for the enemy to enter:

he hath stretched out a line; a line of destruction, to mark out how far the destruction should go, and bow much should be laid in ruins; all being as exactly done, according to the purpose and counsel of God, as if it was done by line and rule; see Isaiah 34:11;

he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying; till he made a full end of the city and temple, as he first designed:

therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament: the "chel" and the wall; all that space between the courts of the temple and the wall that surrounded it was called the "chel"; and so the Targum, the circumference or enclosure; and these were laid waste together, and so said to lament: according to others they were two walls, a wall the son of a wall, as Jarchi interprets it; an outward and an inward wall, one higher than another; a low wall over against a high wall; which was as a rampart or bulwark, for the strength and support of it:

they languished together; or fell together, as persons in a fit faint away and full to the ground.

(s) Prospect of the Temple, c. 17. p. 1089.

The LORD hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart {h} and the wall to lament; they languished together.

(h) This is a figurative speech as that was, when he said the ways lamented, La 1:4 meaning that this sorrow was so great that the insensible things had their part of it.

8. stretched out the line] i.e. marked for destruction. Cp. 2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:2; Amos 7:7 ff.

destroying] lit. as mg. swallowing up.

they languish together] For the personification of rampart and wall cp. Lamentations 2:18 and Jeremiah 14:2.

8, 9. The walls were broken down and the gates removed (2 Kings 25:10; Jeremiah 52:14) to preclude rebellion. Cp. Ezra 4:12 ff.

Verse 8. - He hath stretched out a line. It is the "line of desolation" mentioned in Isaiah (Isaiah 34:11; comp. Amos 7:7; 2 Kings 21:13). Such is the unsparing rigour of Jehovah's judgments. Lamentations 2:8The 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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