2:1 He did not remember His Footstool on His day of wrath
To explain the metaphor of the “footstool” referred to in this verse, many commentaries point to other places in the Bible where the Beit Hamikdash is referred to as God’s footstool (see, e.g., Psalms 132:7). This image expresses the notion that while Hashem’s essence is incomprehensible to man, as He resides, as it were, in another realm, His presence can be felt in the Beit Hamikdash. There, we catch a glimpse of God’s metaphorical “feet.” Even in the absence of the Beit Hamikdash, the Bible tells us that God’s presence can be felt most closely in the Land of Israel, “a land which Hashem your God looks after, on which Hashem your God always keeps His eyes, from year’s beginning to year’s end.” (Deuteronomy 11:12).1 comment
4 He bent His bow like an enemy, Poised His right hand like a foe; He slew all who delighted the eye. He poured out His wrath like fire In the Tent of Fair Tzion.
ד דָּרַךְ קַשְׁתּוֹ כְּאוֹיֵב נִצָּב יְמִינוֹ כְּצָר וַיַּהֲרֹג כֹּל מַחֲמַדֵּי־עָיִן בְּאֹהֶל בַּת־צִיּוֹן שָׁפַךְ כָּאֵשׁ חֲמָתוֹ׃
ו וַיַּחְמֹס כַּגַּן שֻׂכּוֹ שִׁחֵת מוֹעֲדוֹ שִׁכַּח יְהֹוָה בְּצִיּוֹן מוֹעֵד וְשַׁבָּת וַיִּנְאַץ בְּזַעַם־אַפּוֹ מֶלֶךְ וְכֹהֵן׃
The destruction of the Beit Hamikdash led to a drastic reduction of holiness in the world. This verse emphasizes the tragedy inherent in the elimination of the observance of Shabbat in the Beit Hamikdash due to the destruction. The famous Jewish author Achad Ha’am once remarked: “More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” Indeed, in many ways, the tranquility and spiritual rejuvenation which Shabbat offers have proven invaluable to the Jew’s ability to persevere in the face of so much oppression. Many of the Jewish people’s worst enemies were aware of the power of the Shabbat, and thus sought to eradicate it from Jewish life. For example, Antiochus Epiphanes, the villain of the Hanukkah story, prohibited Shabbat observance, as did many subsequent oppressors. Despite the myriad attempts to erase the Sabbath from Jewish consciousness, it has remained a central and defining feature of Jewish life until this very day.2 comments
7 Hashem has rejected His mizbayach, Disdained His Sanctuary. He has handed over to the foe The walls of its citadels; They raised a shout in the House of Hashem As on a festival day.
ז זָנַח אֲדֹנָי מִזְבְּחוֹ נִאֵר מִקְדָּשׁוֹ הִסְגִּיר בְּיַד־אוֹיֵב חוֹמֹת אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ קוֹל נָתְנוּ בְּבֵית־יְהֹוָה כְּיוֹם מוֹעֵד׃
8 Hashem resolved to destroy The wall of Fair Tzion; He measured with a line, refrained not From bringing destruction. He has made wall and rampart to mourn, Together they languish.
ח חָשַׁב יְהֹוָה לְהַשְׁחִית חוֹמַת בַּת־צִיּוֹן נָטָה קָו לֹא־הֵשִׁיב יָדוֹ מִבַּלֵּעַ וַיַּאֲבֶל־חֵל וְחוֹמָה יַחְדָּו אֻמְלָלוּ׃
9 Her gates have sunk into the ground, He has smashed her bars to bits; Her king and her leaders are in exile, Instruction is no more; Her neviim, too, receive No vision from Hashem.
ט טָבְעוּ בָאָרֶץ שְׁעָרֶיהָ אִבַּד וְשִׁבַּר בְּרִיחֶיהָ מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם אֵין תּוֹרָה גַּם־נְבִיאֶיהָ לֹא־מָצְאוּ חָזוֹן מֵיְהֹוָה׃
י יֵשְׁבוּ לָאָרֶץ יִדְּמוּ זִקְנֵי בַת־צִיּוֹן הֶעֱלוּ עָפָר עַל־רֹאשָׁם חָגְרוּ שַׂקִּים הוֹרִידוּ לָאָרֶץ רֹאשָׁן בְּתוּלֹת יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם׃
11 My eyes are spent with tears, My heart is in tumult, My being melts away Over the ruin of my poor people, As babes and sucklings languish In the squares of the city.
12 They keep asking their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” As they languish like battle-wounded In the squares of the town, As their life runs out In their mothers’ bosoms.
יב לְאִמֹּתָם יֹאמְרוּ אַיֵּה דָּגָן וָיָיִן בְּהִתְעַטְּפָם כֶּחָלָל בִּרְחֹבוֹת עִיר בְּהִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ נַפְשָׁם אֶל־חֵיק אִמֹּתָם׃
יג מָה־אֲעִידֵךְ מָה אֲדַמֶּה־לָּךְ הַבַּת יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם מָה אַשְׁוֶה־לָּךְ וַאֲנַחֲמֵךְ בְּתוּלַת בַּת־צִיּוֹן כִּי־גָדוֹל כַּיָּם שִׁבְרֵךְ מִי יִרְפָּא־לָךְ׃
14 Your seers prophesied to you Delusion and folly. They did not expose your iniquity So as to restore your fortunes, But prophesied to you oracles Of delusion and deception.
יד נְבִיאַיִךְ חָזוּ לָךְ שָׁוְא וְתָפֵל וְלֹא־גִלּוּ עַל־עֲוׂנֵךְ לְהָשִׁיב שביתך [שְׁבוּתֵךְ] וַיֶּחֱזוּ לָךְ מַשְׂאוֹת שָׁוְא וּמַדּוּחִים׃
15 All who pass your way Clap their hands at you; They hiss and wag their head At Fair Yerushalayim: “Is this the city that was called Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth?”
sa-f’-KU a-LA-yikh ka-PA-yim kol O-v’-ray DE-rekh sha-r’-KU va-ya-NI-u ro-SHAM al BAT y’-ru-sha-LA-im ha-ZOT ha-EER she-yo-m’-RU k’-lee-LAT YO-fee ma-SOS l-khol ha-A-retz
טו סָפְקוּ עָלַיִךְ כַּפַּיִם כָּל־עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיָּנִעוּ רֹאשָׁם עַל־בַּת יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם הֲזֹאת הָעִיר שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ כְּלִילַת יֹפִי מָשׂוֹשׂ לְכָל־הָאָרֶץ׃
2:15 Is this the city that was called Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth?
This verse demonstrates the grandeur that once was Jerusalem. However, it is peculiar that in the hands of Babylon and of numerous subsequent conquerors, the city of Yerushalayim and the entire Land of Israel lay almost completely in ruins. In his notes on Sefer Vayikra (26:32), the Ramban explains that Eretz Yisrael has a supernatural quality to it. While under foreign occupation, the land is little more than a barren desert. However, when it is under the sovereignty of the People of Israel, the land comes to life, flourishes, and yields great produce. Indeed, for nearly two millennia, as the land switched hands numerous times between various foreign occupiers, including Romans, Arabs, Turks and others, the land lay desolate. Amazingly, the modern rebirth of the Jewish homeland has brought with it an astounding development of the land, to the point where once again the Jewish people can claim a flourishing country. In agriculture, technology, and culture, contemporary Israel ranks among the most advanced countries of the world. Indeed, Jerusalem itself has returned to a point where visitors once again remark that the city is “Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth.”Comment
16 All your enemies Jeer at you; They hiss and gnash their teeth, And cry: “We’ve ruined her! Ah, this is the day we hoped for; We have lived to see it!”
טז פָּצוּ עָלַיִךְ פִּיהֶם כָּל־אוֹיְבַיִךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיַּחַרְקוּ־שֵׁן אָמְרוּ בִּלָּעְנוּ אַךְ זֶה הַיּוֹם שֶׁקִּוִּינֻהוּ מָצָאנוּ רָאִינוּ׃
17 Hashem has done what He purposed, Has carried out the decree That He ordained long ago; He has torn down without pity. He has let the foe rejoice over you, Has exalted the might of your enemies.
יז עָשָׂה יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר זָמָם בִּצַּע אֶמְרָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מִימֵי־קֶדֶם הָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל וַיְשַׂמַּח עָלַיִךְ אוֹיֵב הֵרִים קֶרֶן צָרָיִךְ׃
18 Their heart cried out to Hashem. O wall of Fair Tzion, Shed tears like a torrent Day and night! Give yourself no respite, Your eyes no rest.
19 Arise, cry out in the night At the beginning of the watches, Pour out your heart like water In the presence of Hashem! Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your infants, Who faint for hunger At every street corner.
יט קוּמִי רֹנִּי בליל [בַלַּיְלָה] לְרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֲדֹנָי שְׂאִי אֵלָיו כַּפַּיִךְ עַל־נֶפֶשׁ עוֹלָלַיִךְ הָעֲטוּפִים בְּרָעָב בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת׃
21 Prostrate in the streets lie Both young and old. My maidens and youths Are fallen by the sword; You slew them on Your day of wrath, You slaughtered without pity.
כא שָׁכְבוּ לָאָרֶץ חוּצוֹת נַעַר וְזָקֵן בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי נָפְלוּ בֶחָרֶב הָרַגְתָּ בְּיוֹם אַפֶּךָ טָבַחְתָּ לֹא חָמָלְתָּ׃
22 You summoned, as on a festival, My neighbors from roundabout. On the day of the wrath of Hashem, None survived or escaped; Those whom I bore and reared My foe has consumed.