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Lamentations 2 Study Notes

2:1-22 God’s anger is mentioned elsewhere in Lamentations (1:12; 3:1,43,66; 4:11; 5:22), but the theme is especially common in this section. The first ten verses of chap. 2 contain forty descriptions of God’s anger and judgment. This chapter is an alphabetic acrostic where each verse begins with a successive letter of the twenty-two-letter Hebrew alphabet.

2:1 The phrase Israel’s glory must mean that the temple of God has been destroyed. His footstool usually refers to the ark of the covenant, but this can hardly be the meaning here since Jr 3:16 may suggest that the ark was absent even before the destruction of the temple.

2:2 The land has been devastated and laid waste.

2:3 God’s work is described both actively (He has cut off every horn of Israel, meaning all strength and power) and passively (he has withdrawn his right hand). The destruction of Jerusalem was as much a work of God as it was an accomplishment of Babylon.

2:4-5 God is declared to be a divine warrior who has strung his bow, raised his right hand, and swallowed up Israel as he poured out his wrath like fire on Daughter Zion.

2:6 As an enemy, God has destroyed his place of meeting, the temple, despising king and priest in his fierce anger.

2:7 God rejected and repudiated not only the temple with its altar and sanctuary, but also the walls of her palaces. The royal palace, state buildings, the temple—God judged every aspect of Jerusalem. The enemy, not Hebrew worshipers, raised shouts in the house of the Lord.

2:8-9 The ramparts and walls grieve as God measures them for destruction. Their ruin leaves Jerusalem defenseless, with the result that her king and leaders live among the nations after they are hauled off in exile. Another sign of God’s judgment is that he gives them no more instruction or vision from the Lord.

2:10 The elders and the young women sat silently on the ground, clothed in sackcloth with dust on their heads. These were symbols of extreme distress and mourning.

2:11-12 Jeremiah allows us to see and hear his responses to what has happened as infants and nursing babies faint in the streets and in the arms of their mothers.

tsar

Hebrew pronunciation [TSAR]
CSB translation adversary, foe, enemy
Uses in Lamentations 9
Uses in the OT 69
Focus passage Lamentations 2:4,17

This root in other languages denotes “enemy,” “hostility,” “opposition,” and “damage.” Tsar occurs most often in poetry and eighteen times as a synonym for ’oyeb, the most common word for “enemy” (Est 7:6). Tsar signifies foe (Dt 32:27), adversary (Nm 10:9), or enemy (Gn 14:20). It derives from and appears with the verb tsarar (26x), which means attack (Nm 10:9), harass (Nm 33:55), or oppress (Am 5:12). Tsarar most often functions as a participle indicating foe (Ex 23:22), adversary (Ps 7:6), enemy (Ps 6:7), or one who attacks (Ps 143:12). The participle appears with the related verb tsur (4x), which implies being a foe (Ex 23:22) or hostile (Est 8:11) and showing hostility (Dt 2:9). Tsarah, a feminine form of tsar, denotes a second wife who is a rival in a bigamous marriage (1Sm 1:6).

2:13 Words fail Jeremiah as he struggles to make sense of what has happened. It is as catastrophic as a churning sea.

2:14 Jeremiah had warned that the false prophets’ words were empty and deceptive (Jr 23:18-22; cp. Ezk 13:10-16).

2:15-16 The pagan nations not only clap their hands at Judah and shake their heads, but as an ultimate insult, they hiss and gnash their teeth at Jerusalem. The city that had been known as the perfection of beauty (Ps 50:2) and the joy of the whole earth (Ps 48:2) was now an object of ridicule.

2:17 Despite the enemy’s gloating over Judah, the destruction was not ultimately due to their power and cunning. This destruction was by God’s decree.

2:18 In a personification, the Wall of Daughter Zion is called upon to let its tears flow day and night as long as the ruins remain.

2:19 Judah is to call on the name of the Lord with her heart poured out like water, starting with the first watch—from sunset until 10:00 p.m.

2:20-22 Jeremiah had taught the people, both young and old (v. 21), how to express repentance to God in prayer (see Jr 14:17-19).

2:20 Should women eat their own children? This is how desperate conditions became during the siege of Jerusalem. People fought over whose child should be eaten next (4:10; see Jr 19:9; Ezk 5:10).

2:22 The phrase those who terrorize me on every side may also be rendered “terrors on every side.” This jeer was hurled at Jeremiah repeatedly during his ministry (Jr 6:25; 20:3,10; 46:5; 49:29).

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