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.
Against such terrible misery, human power can give neither comfort nor help. "What shall I testify to you?" the Kethib אעודך is a mistake in transcription for אעידך (Qeri), because עוּד is not commonly used in the Kal. העיד, to bear witness, is mostly construed with בּ, against or for any one, but also with acc., 1 Kings 21:10
, 1 Kings 21:13
, in malam, and Job 29:11
, in bonam partem. Here it is used in the latter sense: "give testimony to thee" for the purpose of instruction and comfort, - not of a calamity that has happened elsewhere, as Calvin and Thenius explain, though against the construction of the verb with the accus.; still less "to make one swear" (Gesenius, Ewald). That the prophetic witness is meant here in the sense of encouragement by instruction, warning, and comfort, is evident from the mention of the testimony of the false prophets in Lamentations 2:14
. "What shall I compare to thee?" i.e., what kind of misfortune shall I mention as similar to yours? This is required by the principle derived from experience: solamen miseris socios habuisse malorum. ואנחמך, "that I may comfort thee." The reason assigned, viz., "for thy destruction is great, like the sea" (i.e., immense), follows the answer, understood though not expressed, "I can compare nothing to thee." The answer to the last question, "Who can heal thee?" (רפא with ל) is, "no man;" cf. Jeremiah 30:12
. Reasons are assigned for this in Lamentations 2:14-16