The Prophet Speaks:
א (Alef)#sn Chapters 1-4 are arranged in alphabetic-acrostic structures; the acrostic pattern does not appear in chapter 5. Each of the 22 verses in chapters 1, 2 and 4 begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, while the acrostic appears in triplicate in the 66 verses in chapter 3. The acrostic pattern does not appear in chapter 5, but its influence is felt in that it has 22 verses, the same as the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. For further study on Hebrew acrostics, see W. M. Soll, “Babylonian and Biblical Acrostics,” Bib 69 (1988): 305-23; D. N. Freedman, “Acrostic Poems in the Hebrew Bible: Alphabetic and Otherwise,” CBQ 48 (1986): 408-31; B. Johnson, “Form and Message in Lamentations,” ZAW 97 (1985): 58-73; K. C. Hanson, “Alphabetic Acrostics: A Form Critical Study,” Ph.D. diss., Claremont Graduate School, 1984; S. Bergler, “Threni V – Nur ein alphabetisierendes Lied? Versuch einer Deutung,” VT 27 (1977): 304-22; E. M. Schramm, “Poetic Patterning in Biblical Hebrew,” Michigan Oriental Studies in Honor of George S. Cameron, 175-78; D. N. Freedman, “Acrostics and Metrics in Hebrew Poetry,” HTR 65 (1972): 367-92; N. K. Gottwald, “The Acrostic Form,” Studies in the Book of Lamentations, 23-32; P. A. Munch, “Die alphabetische Akrostichie in der judischen Psalmendicthung,” ZDMG 90 (1936): 703-10; M. Löhr, “Alphabetische und alphabetisierende Lieder im AT,” ZAW 25 (1905): 173-98.
1#tc The LXX and Vulgate (dependent on the LXX) include a preface that is lacking in the MT: “And it came to pass after Israel had been taken captive and Jerusalem had been laid waste, Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented this lament over Jerusalem, and said….” Scholars generally view the preface in the LXX and Vulgate as a later addition, though the style is Hebrew rather than Greek. Alas!#tn The adverb אֵיכָה (’ekhah) is used as an exclamation of lament or desperation: “How!” (BDB 32 s.v.) or “Alas!” (HALOT 40 s.v. 1.e). It is often the first word in laments (Isa 1:21; Jer 48:17; Lam 1:1; 2:1; 4:1, 2). Like the less emphatic exclamation אֵיךְ (’ekh, “Alas!”) (2 Sam 1:19; Isa 14:4, 12; Ezek 26:17), it is used in contexts of lament and mourning.sn The term אֵיכָה (’ekhah, “Alas!”) and counterpart אֵיךְ (’ekh, “Alas!”) are normally uttered in contexts of mourning as exclamations of lament over a deceased person (2 Sam 1:19; Isa 14:4, 12). The prophets borrow this term from its normal Sitz im Leben in the funeral lament and rhetorically place it in the context of announcements or descriptions of God’s judgment (Isa 1:21; Jer 48:17; Ezek 26:17; Lam 1:1; 2:1; 4:1, 2). This creates a personification of the city/nation which is either in danger of imminent “death” or already has “died” as a result of the Lord’s judgment. The city once full of people#tn Heb “great of people.” The construct רַבָּתִי עָם (rabbati ’am, “great of people”) is an idiom for large population: “full of people, populous” (BDB 912-13 s.v. I רַב; HALOT 1172 s.v. 7.a). The hireq-campaginis ending on רַבָּתִי (rabbati), from the adjective רַב (rav, “great”), is a remnant of the old genitive-construct case (GKC 253 §90.l). By contrast to the first half of the line, it is understood that she was full of people formerly. רַבָּתִי עָם (rabbati ’am) may also be construed as a title.sn Two thirds of Lamentations is comprised of enjambed lines rather than Hebrew poetry’s more frequent couplets of parallel phrasing. This serves a rhetorical effect not necessarily apparent if translated in the word order of English prose. Together with the alphabetic acrostic form, these pull the reader/hearer along through the various juxtaposed pictures of horror and grief. For further study on the import of these stylistic features to the function of Lamentations see F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Lamentations (IBC), 12-20; idem, “The Enjambing Line in Lamentations: A Taxonomy (Part 1),” ZAW 113/2 (2001): 219-39; idem, “The Effects of Enjambment in Lamentations,” ZAW 113/5 (2001): 1-16. However, for the sake of English style and clarity, the translation does not necessarily reflect the Hebrew style and word order.
now sits all alone!#tn The noun בָּדָד (badad, “isolation, alone”) functions as adverbial accusative of state. After verbs of dwelling, it pictures someone sitting apart, which may be linked to dwelling securely, especially of a city or people (Num 23:9; Deut 33:28; Jer 49:31; Ps 4:8 [HT 9]), or to isolation (Lev 13:46; Jer 15:17; 3:28). Applied to personified Jerusalem, it contrasts a possible connotation of dwelling securely, instead stating that Lady Jerusalem is abandoned and connoting that the city is deserted.
The prominent#tn Heb “great.” The adjective רַב (rav, “great”) is used in reference to a position of prominence, leadership (Ps 48:3; Dan 11:3, 5) or strength (Isa 53:12; 63:1; 2 Chr 14:10) (BDB 913 s.v. 2.b; HALOT 1172 s.v. 6). The hireq-campaginis ending on רַבָּתִי (rabbati) from the adjective רַב (rav, “great”) is a remnant of the old genitive-construct case (GKC 253 §90.l). This adjective is the same word mentioned at the beginning of the verse in the phrase “full of people.” These may also be construed as epithets. lady among the nations
has become a widow!#tn The kaf (כּ) prefixed to אַלְמָנָה (’almanah, “widow”) expresses identity (“has become a widow”) rather than comparison (“has become like a widow”) (see HALOT 453 s.v. 1; BDB 454 s.v. כְּ 1.d). The construction emphasizes the class of widowhood.
The princess#tn The noun שָׂרָתִי (sarati, “princess”) is in construct with the following noun. The hireq-campaginis ending on שָׂרָתִי (sarati) is a remnant of the old genitive-construct case (GKC 253 §90.l).sn Judah was organized into administrative districts or provinces under the rule of provincial governors (שָׂרִים, sarim) (1 Kgs 20:14, 17, 19). The feminine term שָׂרָה (sarah, “princess, provincial governess”) is a wordplay alluding to this political background: personified Jerusalem had ruled over the Judean provinces. who once ruled the provinces#tn Heb “princess among the provinces.” The noun מְדִינָה (mÿdinah) is an Aramaic loanword which refers to an administrative district or province in the empire (e.g., Ezek 19:8; Dan 8:2) (BDB 193 s.v. 2; HALOT 549 s.v.).
has become#tn Following the verb הָיָה (hayah, “to be”), the preposition ל (lamed) designates a transition into a new state or condition: “to become” (BDB 512 s.v. לְ 4.a; e.g., Gen 2:7; 1 Sam 9:16; 15:1). a forced laborer!#tn The noun מַס (mas) means “forced labor, corveé slave, conscripted worker.” It refers to a subjugated population, subject to forced labor and/or heavy taxes (Gen 49:15; Exod 1:11; Deut 20:11; Josh 16:10; 17:13; Judg 1:28, 30, 33, 35; 1 Kgs 5:28; 9:15, 21; 12:18; 2 Chr 10:18; Isa 31:8; Lam 1:1).
2 She weeps bitterly at night;
tears stream down her cheeks.#tn Heb “her tears are on her cheek.”
She has no one to comfort her
among all her lovers.#tn Heb “lovers.” The term “lovers” is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis), comparing Jerusalem’s false gods and foreign political alliances to sexually immoral lovers. Hosea uses similar imagery (Hos 2:5, 7, 10, 13). It may also function as a double entendre, first evoking a disconcerting picture of a funeral where the widow has no loved ones present to comfort her. God also does not appear to be present to comfort Jerusalem and will later be called her enemy. The imagery in Lamentations frequently capitalizes on changing the reader’s expectations midstream.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
3 Judah#tn Heb “Judah.” The term “Judah” is a synecdoche of nation (= Judah) for the inhabitants of the nation (= people). has departed into exile
under#tn There is a debate over the function of the preposition מִן (min): (1) temporal sense: “after” (HALOT 598 s.v. 2.c; BDB 581 s.v. 4.b) (e.g., Gen 4:3; 38:24; Josh 23:1; Judg 11:4; 14:8; Isa 24:22; Ezek 38:8; Hos 6:2) is adopted by one translation: “After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile” (NIV). (2) causal sense: “because” (HALOT 598 s.v. 6; BDB 580 s.v. 2.f) (e.g., Isa 5:13) is adopted by many English versions: “Judah has gone into exile because of misery and harsh oppression/servitude” (cf. KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NJPS). (3) instrumentality: “by, through” (BDB 579 s.v. 2.e): “Judah has gone into exile under affliction, and under harsh servitude” (NASB). The issue here is whether this verse states that Judah went into exile after suffering a long period of trouble and toil, or that Judah went into exile because of the misery and affliction that the populace suffered under the hands of the Babylonians. For fuller treatment of this difficult syntactical problem, see D. R. Hillers, Lamentations (AB), 6-7. affliction and harsh oppression.#tn Heb “great servitude.” The noun עֲבֹדָה (’avodah, “servitude”) refers to the enforced labor and suffering inflicted upon conquered peoples who are subjugated into slavery (Exod 1:14; 2:23; 5:9, 11; 6:9; Deut 26:6; 1 Kgs 12:4; 1 Chr 26:30; 2 Chr 10:4; 12:8; Isa 14:3; Lam 1:3).
She#tn The antecedent of “she” is “Judah,” which functions as a synecdoche of nation (= Judah) for the inhabitants of the nation (= people). Thus, “she” (= Judah) is tantamount to “they” (= former inhabitants of Judah). lives among the nations;
she has found no resting place.
All who pursued her overtook her
in#tn The preposition בִּין (bin) is used in reference to a location: “between” (BDB 107 s.v. 1). The phrase בִּין הַמְּצָרִים (bin hammÿtsarim, “between the narrow places”) is unparalleled elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures; however, this line is paraphrased in “The Thanksgiving Psalm” from Qumran (Hodayoth = 1QH v 29) which adds the phrase “so I could not get away.” Following the interpretation of this line at Qumran, it describes a futile attempt to flee from the enemies in narrow straits which thwarted a successful escape. narrow straits.#tn Heb “distresses.” The noun מֵצַר (metsar, “distress”) occurs only here and in Ps 118:5 (NIV, “anguish”). Here, the plural form מְצָרִים (mÿtsarim, lit., “distresses”) is an example of the plural of intensity: “intense distress.” The phrase בִּין הַמְּצָרִים (bin hammÿtsarim, “between the narrow places”) is unparalleled elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures; however, this line is paraphrased in “The Thanksgiving Psalm” from Qumran (Hodayoth = 1QH v 29) which adds the phrase “so I could not get away.” Following the interpretation of this line at Qumran, it describes a futile attempt to flee from the enemies in narrow straits which thwarted a successful escape.
4 The roads to Zion#tn Heb “roads of Zion.” The noun צִיּוֹן (tsiyyon, Zion) is a genitive of direction (termination) following the construct noun, meaning “roads to Zion.”sn The noun דַּרְכֵי (darkhe, “roads”) is normally masculine in gender, but here it is feminine (e.g., Exod 18:20) (BDB 202 s.v.) as indicated by the following feminine adjective אֲבֵּלּוֹת (’avelot, “mourning”). This rare feminine usage is probably due to the personification of Jerusalem as a bereaved woman throughout chap. 1. mourn#tn The adjective אֲבֵּלּוֹת (’avelot, “mourning”) functions as a predicate of state.sn The term אָבַּלּ (’aval, “mourn”) refers to the mourning rites for the dead or to those mourning the deceased (Gen 37:35; Job 29:25; Ps 35:14; Jer 16:7; Esth 6:12; Sir 7:34; 48:24). The prophets often use it figuratively to personify Jerusalem as a mourner, lamenting her deceased and exiled citizens (Isa 57:18; 61:2, 3) (BDB 5 s.v.; HALOT 7 s.v.).
because no one#tn Heb “from lack of.” The construction מִבְּלִי (mibbÿli) is composed of the preposition מִן (min) functioning in a causal sense (BDB 580 s.v. מִן 2.f) and the adverb of negation בְּלִי (bÿli) to denote the negative cause: “from want of” or “without” (HALOT 133 s.v. בְּלִי 4; BDB 115 s.v. בְּלִי 2.c) (Num 14:16; Deut 9:28; 28:55; Eccl 3:11; Isa 5:13; Jer 2:15; 9:11; Hos 4:6; Ezek 34:5). travels to the festivals.#tn Heb “those coming of feast.” The construct chain בָּאֵי מוֹעֵד (ba’e mo’ed) consists of (1) the substantival plural construct participle בָּאֵי (ba’e, “those who come”) and (2) the collective singular genitive of purpose מוֹעֵד (mo’ed, “for the feasts”).
All her city gates#tc The MT reads שְׁעָרֶיהָ (shÿ’areha, “her gates”). The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the text to the participle שֹׁעֲרֶיהָ (sho’areha, “her gate-keepers”) from שֹׁעֵר (sho’er, “porter”; BDB 1045 s.v. שֹׁעֵר). The revocalization creates tight parallelism: “her gate-keepers”//“her priests,” but ruins the chiasm: (A) her gate-keepers, (B) her priests, (B’) her virgins, (A’) the city itself. are deserted;#tn The verb שָׁמֵם (shamem) normally means “to be desolated; to be appalled,” but when used in reference to land, it means “deserted” (Isa 49:8; Ezek 33:28; 35:12, 15; 36:4) (BDB 1030 s.v. 1).
her priests groan.#tn Heb “groan” or “sigh.” The verb אָנַח (’anakh) is an expression of grief (Prov 29:2; Isa 24:7; Lam 1:4, 8; Ezek 9:4; 21:11). BDB 58 s.v. 1 suggests that it means “sigh” but HALOT 70-71 s.v. prefers “groan” here.
Her virgins grieve;#tc The MT reads נּוּגוֹת (nugot, “are grieved”), Niphal participle feminine plural from יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”). The LXX ἀγόμεναι (agomenai) reflects נָהוּגוֹת (nahugot, “are led away”), Qal passive participle feminine plural from נָהַג (nahag, “to lead away into exile”), also reflected in Aquila and Symmachus. The MT reading is an unusual form (see translator’s note below) and best explains the origin of the LXX which is a more common root. It would be difficult to explain the origin of the MT reading if the LXX reflects the original. Therefore, the MT is probably the original reading.tn Heb “are grieved” or “are worried.” The unusual form נּוּגוֹת (nugot) is probably best explained as Niphal feminine plural participle (with dissimilated nun [ן]) from יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”). The similarly formed Niphal participle masculine plural construct נוּגֵי (nuge) appears in Zeph 3:18 (GKC 421 §130.a). The Niphal of יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”) appears only twice, both in contexts of sorrow: “to grieve, sorrow” (Lam 1:4; Zeph 3:18).
she is in bitter anguish!#tn Heb “and she is bitter to herself,” that is, “sick inside” (2 Kgs 4:27)
5 Her foes subjugated her;#tn Heb “her foes became [her] head” (הָיוּ צָרֶיהָ לְרֹאשׁ, hayu tsareha lÿro’sh) or more idiomatically “have come out on top.” This is a Semitic idiom for domination or subjugation, with “head” as a metaphor for leader.
her enemies are at ease.#tn The nuance expressed in the LXX is that her enemies prosper (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT).
For the Lord afflicted her
because of her many acts of rebellion.#tn Heb “because of her many rebellions.” The plural פְּשָׁעֶיהָ (pÿsha’eha, “her rebellions”) is an example of the plural of repeated action or characteristic behavior (see IBHS 121 §7.4.2c). The 3rd person feminine singular suffix (“her”) probably functions as a subjective genitive: “her rebellions” = “she has rebelled.”
Her children went away
captive#tn The singular noun שְׁבִי (shÿvi) is a collective singular, meaning “captives, prisoners.” It functions as an adverbial accusative of state: “[they] went away as captives.” before the enemy.
6 All of Daughter Zion’s#tn Heb “the daughter of Zion.” This phrase is used as an epithet for the city. “Daughter” may seem extraneous in English but consciously joins the various epithets and metaphors of Jerusalem as a woman, a device used to evoke sympathy from the reader. splendor#tn Heb “all her splendor.” The 3rd person feminine singular pronominal suffix (“her”) functions as a subjective genitive: “everything in which she gloried.” The noun הָדָר (hadar, “splendor”) is used of personal and impersonal referents in whom Israel gloried: Ephraim (Deut 33:17), Jerusalem (Isa 5:14), Carmel (Isa 35:2). The context focuses on the exile of Zion’s children (1:5c) and leaders (1:6bc). The departure of the children and leaders of Jerusalem going away into exile suggested to the writer the departure of the glory of Israel.
has departed.#tn Heb “It has gone out from the daughter of Zion, all her splendor.”
Her leaders became like deer;
they found no pasture,
so they were too exhausted to escape#tn Heb “they fled with no strength” (וַיֵּלְכוּ בְלֹא־כֹחַ, vayelÿkhu bÿlo’-khoakh).
from the hunter.#tn Heb “the pursuer” or “chaser.” The term רָדַף (“to chase, pursue”) here refers to a hunter (e.g., 1 Sam 26:20). It is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) of military enemies who “hunt down” those who flee for their lives (e.g., Gen 14:15; Lev 26:7, 36; Judg 4:22; Ps 7:6; 69:27; 83:16; 143:3; Isa 17:13; Lam 5:5; Amos 1:11).
7 Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. remembers,#sn As elsewhere in chap. 1, Jerusalem is personified as remembering the catastrophic days of 587 b.c. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and exiled its inhabitants. Like one of its dispossessed inhabitants, Jerusalem is pictured as becoming impoverished and homeless.
when#tn Heb “the days of her poverty and her homelessness,” or “the days of her affliction and wandering.” The plural construct יְמֵי (yÿme, “days of”) functions in the general sense “the time of” or “when,” envisioning the time period in which this occurred. The principal question is whether the phrase is a direct object or an adverb. If a direct object, she remembers either the season when the process happened or she remembers, i.e. reflects on, her current season of life. An adverbial sense, “during” or “throughout” normally occurs with כֹּל (kol, “all”) in the phrase “all the days of…” but may also occur without כֹּל (kol) in poetry as in Job 10:20. The adverbial sense would be translated “during her poor homeless days.” Treating “days” adverbially makes better sense with line 7b, whereas treating “days” as a direct object makes better sense with line 7c. she became a poor homeless person,#tn The 3rd person feminine singular suffixes on the terms עָנְיָהּ וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (’onyah umÿrudeha, “her poverty and her homelessness,” or “the days of her affliction and wandering”) function as subjective genitives: “she became impoverished and homeless.” The plural noun וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (umÿrudeha, lit. “her homelessnesses”) is an example of the plural of intensity. The two nouns עָנְיָהּ וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (’onyah umÿrudeha, lit., “her poverty and her homelessness”) form a nominal hendiadys in which one noun functions adjectivally and the other retains its full nominal sense: “her impoverished homelessness” or “homeless poor” (GKC 397-98 §124.e). The nearly identical phrase עֲנִיִּים מְרוּדִים (’aniyyim mÿrudim, “homeless poor”) is used in Isa 58:7 (see GKC 226 §83.c), suggesting this was a Hebrew idiom. Jerusalem is personified as one of its inhabitants who became impoverished and homeless when the city was destroyed.
all her treasures
that she owned in days of old.#tc The BHS editors suggest that the second bicola in 1:7 is a late addition and should be deleted. Apart from the four sets of bicola here in 1:7 and again in 2:19, every stanza in chapters 1-4 consists of three sets of bicola. Commentators usually suggest dropping line b or line c. Depending on the meaning of “days” in line a (see note on “when” earlier in the verse) either line makes sense. The four lines would make sense as two bicola if “days of” in line 7a is understood adverbially and 7b as the direct object completing the sentence. Lines 7c-d would begin with a temporal modifier and the rest of the couplet describe conditions that were true at that time.
When her people fell into an enemy’s grip,#tn Heb “into the hand of.” In such phrases “hand” represents power or authority.
none of her allies came to her rescue.#tn Heb “and there was no helper for her.” This phrase is used idiomatically in OT to describe the plight of a city whose allies refuse to help ward off a powerful attacker. The nominal participle עוֹזֵר II (’oser) refers elsewhere to military warriors (1 Chr 12:1, 18, 22; 2 Chr 20:23; 26:7; 28:23; 26:15; Ps 28:7; 46:6; Ezek 12:14; 30:8; 32:21; Dan 11:34) and the related noun refers to military allies upon whom an attacked city calls for help (Lachish Letters 19:1).
Her enemies#tn Heb “the adversaries” (צָרִים, tsarim). The 3rd person feminine singular pronoun “her” is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and good English style. gloated over#tn The verb רָאָה (ra’ah, “to look”) has a broad range of meanings, including “to feast the eyes upon” and “to look down on” or “to gloat over” fallen enemies with exultation and triumph (e.g., Judg 16:27; Pss 22:18; 112:8; 118:7; Ezek 28:17; Mic 7:10; Obad 12, 13). This nuance is clarified by the synonymous parallelism between רָאוּהָ (ra’uha, “they gloated over her”) in the A-line and שָׂחֲקוּ עַל־מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ (sakhaqu ’al-mishbatteha, “they mocked at her downfall”) in the B-line. her;
they sneered#tn Heb “laughed” or “sneered.” The verb שָׂחַק (sakhaq, “to laugh”) is often used in reference to contempt and derision (e.g., Job 30:1; Pss 37:13; 52:8; 59:9; Lam 1:7). at her downfall.#tc The MT reads מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ (mishbatteha, “her annihilation”) from the noun מִשְׁבָּת (mishbat, “cessation, annihilation”), which is derived from the root שָׁבַת (shavat, “to cease”). The LXX mistakenly connected this with the root יָשַׁב (yashav, “to dwell”), reading μετοικεσίᾳ αὐτῆς (metoikesia auth") which reflects שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “her dwelling”). The MT is favored on the basis of internal evidence: (1) The MT is the more difficult reading, being a hapax legomenon, (2) the LXX is guilty of simply misunderstanding the root and wrongly vocalizing the consonantal text, and (3) the LXX does not make good sense contextually, while the MT does.tn Heb “her cessation” or “her annihilation.”
8 Jerusalem committed terrible sin;#tc The MT reads חֵטְא (khet’, “sin”), but the BHS editors suggest the vocalization חָטֹא (khato’, “sin”), Qal infinitive absolute.
therefore she became an object of scorn.#tn Heb “she has become an object of head-nodding” (לְנִידָה הָיָתָה, lÿniydah hayatah). This reflects the ancient Near Eastern custom of shaking the head in scorn (e.g., Jer 18:16; Ps 44:15 [HT 14]), hence the translation “object of scorn.” There is debate whether נִידָה (nidah) means (1) “object of head-shaking” from נוּד (nud, “to shake,” BDB 626-27 s.v. נוּד); (2) “unclean thing” from נָדַה (nadah, “to be impure”); or (3) “wanderer” from נָדַד (nadad, “to wander,” BDB 622 s.v. I נָדַד). The LXX and Rashi connected it to נָדַד (nadad, “to wander”); however, several important early Greek recensions (Aquila and Symmachus) and Syriac translated it as “unclean thing.” The modern English versions are split: (1) “unclean thing” (NASB); “unclean” (NIV); (2) “a mockery” (NRSV).
All who admired#sn The Piel participle of כָּבֵד (kaved) is infrequent and usually translated formulaically as those who honor someone. The feminine nuance may be best represented as “her admirers have despised her.” her have despised her#tn The verb הִזִּילוּהָ (hizziluha) is generally understood as a rare form of Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural + 3rd person feminine singular suffix from I זָלַל (zalal, “to despise”): “they despise her.” This follows the I nun (ן) pattern with daghesh (dot) in zayin (ז) rather than the expected geminate pattern הִזִילּוּהָ (hizilluha) with daghesh in lamed (ל) (GKC 178-79 §67.l).
because they have seen her nakedness.#sn The expression have seen her nakedness is a common metaphor to describe the plunder and looting of a city by a conquering army, probably drawn on the ignominious and heinous custom of raping the women of a conquered city as well.
She groans aloud#tn Heb “groan” or “sigh.” The verb אָנַח (’anakh, appearing only in Niphal) means “sigh” (BDB 58 s.v. 1) or “groan” (HALOT 70-71 s.v.) as an expression of grief (Prov 29:2; Isa 24:7; Lam 1:4, 8; Ezek 9:4; 21:11). The word גַּם (gam) is usually a particle meaning “also,” but has been shown from Ugaritic to have the meaning “aloud.” See T. McDaniel, “Philological Studies in Lamentations, I-II,” Bib 49 (1968): 31-32.
and turns away in shame.#tn Heb “and turns backward.”
9 Her menstrual flow#tn Heb “uncleanness.” The noun טֻמְאָה (tum’ah, “uncleanness”) refers in general to the state of ritual uncleanness and specifically to (1) sexual uncleanness (Num 5:19); (2) filthy mass (Ezek 24:11; 2 Chr 29:16); (3) ritual uncleanness (Lev 16:16, 19; Ezek 22:15; 24:13; 36:25, 29; 39:24; Zech 13:2); (4) menstrual uncleanness (Lev 15:25, 26, 30; 18:19; Ezek 36:17); (5) polluted meat (Judg 13:7, 14). Here, Jerusalem is personified as a woman whose menstrual uncleanness has soiled even her own clothes; this is a picture of the consequences of the sin of Jerusalem: uncleanness = her sin, and soiling her own clothes = consequences of sin. The poet may also be mixing metaphors allowing various images (of shame) to circulate in the hearer’s mind, including rape and public exposure. By not again mentioning sin directly (a topic relatively infrequent in this book), the poet lays a general acknowledgment of sin in 1:8 alongside an exceptionally vivid picture of the horrific circumstances which have come to be. It is no simplistic explanation that sin merits such inhumane treatment. Instead 1:9 insists that no matter the legal implications of being guilty, the Lord should be motivated to aid Jerusalem (and therefore her people) because her obscene reality is so revolting. has soiled#tn Heb “her uncleanness is in her skirts.” her clothing;#tn Heb “her skirts.” This term is a synecdoche of specific (skirts) for general (clothing).
she did not consider#tn The basic meaning of זָכַר (zakhar) is “to remember, call to mind” (HALOT 270 s.v. I זכר). Although it is often used in reference to recollection of past events or consideration of present situations, it also may mean “to consider, think about” the future outcome of conduct (e.g., Isa 47:7) (BDB 270 s.v. 5). The same term is used is 7a. the consequences of her sin.#tn Heb “she did not consider her end.” The noun אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) here refers to an outcome or the consequences of an action; in light of 1:8 here it is the consequence of sin or immoral behavior (Num 23:10; 24:20; Deut 32:20, 29; Job 8:7; Pss 37:37; 73:17; Prov 14:12; 23:32; 25:8; Eccl 7:8; Isa 46:10; 47:7; Jer 5:31; 17:11; Dan 12:8).
Her demise#tc The MT reads וַתֵּרֶד (vattered) vav (ו) consecutive + Qal preterite 3rd person feminine singular from יָרַד (yarad, “to go down”). Symmachus καὶ κατήχθη (kai kathcqh, “and she was brought down”) and Vulgate deposita est use passive forms which might reflect וַתּוּרַד (vatturad, vav consecutive + Pual preterite 3rd person feminine singular from from יָרַד [yarad, “to go down”]). External evidence favors the MT (supported by all other ancient versions and medieval Hebrew mss); none of the other ancient versions preserve/reflect a passive form. Symmachus is known to have departed from a wooden literal translation (characteristic of Aquila) in favor of smooth and elegant Greek style. The second edition of the Latin Vulgate drew on Symmachus; thus, it is not an independent witness to the passive reading, but merely a secondary witness reflecting Symmachus. The MT is undoubtedly the original reading. tn Heb “and she came down in an astonishing way” or “and she was brought down in an astonishing way.” was astonishing,#tn The noun פֶּלֶא (pele’) means not only “miracle, wonder” (BDB 810 s.v.) but “something unusual, astonishing” (HALOT 928 s.v.). The plural פְּלָאִים (pÿla’im, lit., “astonishments”) is an example of the plural of intensity: “very astonishing.” The noun functions as an adverbial accusative of manner; the nature of her descent shocks and astounds. Rendering פְּלָאִים וַתֵּרֶד (vattered pÿla’im) as “she has come down marvelously” (cf. BDB 810 s.v. 1 and KJV, ASV) is hardly appropriate; it is better to nuance it “in an astonishing way” (HALOT 928 s.v. 3) or simply “was astonishing.”
and there was no one to comfort her.
She cried, “Look,#tn The words “she cried” do not appear in the Hebrew. They are added to indicate that personified Jerusalem is speaking. O Lord, on my#tc The MT reads עָנְיִי (’onyi, “my affliction”) as reflected in all the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) and the medieval Hebrew mss. The Bohairic version and Ambrosius, however, read “her affliction,” which led the BHS editors to suggest a Vorlage of עָנְיָהּ (’onyah, “her affliction”). External evidence strongly favors the MT reading. The 3rd person feminine singular textual variant probably arose out of an attempt to harmonize this form with all the other 3rd person feminine singular forms in 1:1-11a. The MT is undoubtedly the original reading. affliction
because my#tn Heb “an enemy.” While it is understood that the enemy is Jerusalem’s, not using the pronoun in Hebrew leaves room to imply to God that the enemy is not only Jerusalem’s but also God’s. enemy boasts!”
10 An enemy grabbed#tn Heb “stretched out his hand.” The war imagery is of seizure of property; the anthropomorphic element pictures rape. This is an idiom that describes greedy actions (BDB 831 s.v. פָרַשׂ), meaning “to seize” (HALOT 976 s.v. 2).
all her valuables.#tc The Kethib is written מַחֲמוֹדֵּיהֶם (makhamodehem, “her desired things”); the Qere and many medieval Hebrew mss read מַחֲמַדֵּיהֶם (makhamaddehem, “her desirable things”). The Qere reading should be adopted.tn Heb “all her desirable things.” The noun מַחְמָד (makhmad, “desirable thing”) refers to valuable possessions, such as gold and silver which people desire (e.g., Ezra 8:27). This probably refers, not to the valuable possessions of Jerusalem in general, but to the sacred objects in the temple in particular, as suggested by the rest of the verse. For the anthropomorphic image compare Song 5:16.
Indeed she watched in horror#tn Heb “she watched” or “she saw.” The verb רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”) has a broad range of meanings, including “to see” a spectacle causing grief (Gen 21:16; 44:34; Num 11:15; 2 Kgs 22:20; 2 Chr 34:28; Esth 8:6) or abhorrence (Isa 66:24). The words “in horror” are added to “she watched” to bring out this nuance. as Gentiles#sn The syntax of the sentence is interrupted by the insertion of the following sentence, “they invaded…,” then continued with “whom…” The disruption of the syntax is a structural device intended to help convey the shock of the situation.
invaded her holy temple#tn Heb “her sanctuary.” The term מִקְדָּשָׁהּ (miqdashah, “her sanctuary”) refers to the temple. Anthropomorphically, translating as “her sacred place” would also allow for the rape imagery. –
those whom you#sn Lam 1-2 has two speaking voices: a third person voice reporting the horrific reality of Jerusalem’s suffering and Jerusalem’s voice. See W. F. Lanahan, “The Speaking Voice in the Book of Lamentations” JBL 93 (1974): 41-49. The reporting voice has been addressing the listener, referring to the Lord in the third person. Here he switches to a second person address to God, also changing the wording of the following command to second person. The revulsion of the Reporter is so great that he is moved to address God directly. had commanded:
“They must not enter#tn Heb “enter.” The Hebrew term בּוֹא (bo’) is also a sexual metaphor. your assembly place.”#tn The noun קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”) does not refer here to the collective group of people assembled to worship the Lord, but to the place of their assembly: the temple. This is an example of a synecdoche of the people contained (= assembly) for the container (= temple). The intent is to make the violation feel more personal than someone walking into a building.sn This is a quotation from Deut 23:3, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.” Jeremiah applies this prohibition against Ammonites and Moabites to the Babylonians who ransacked and destroyed the temple in 587/586 b.c. This hermeneutical move may be explained on the basis of synecdoche of species (= Ammonites and Moabites) for general (= unconverted Gentiles as a whole). On a different note, the prohibition forbidding Ammonites and Moabites from entering the “assembly” (קָהָל, qahal, Deut 23:2-8) did not disallow Gentile proselytes from converting to Yahwism or from living within the community (= assembled body) of Israel. For example, Ruth the Moabitess abandoned the worship of Moabite gods and embraced Yahweh, then was welcomed into the community of Bethlehem in Judah (Ruth 1:15-22) and even incorporated into the lineage leading to King David (Ruth 4:18-22). This Deuteronomic law did not disallow such genuine conversions of repentant faith toward Yahweh, nor their incorporation into the life of the Israelite community. Nor did it discourage Gentiles from offering sacrifices to the Lord (Num 15:15-16). Rather, it prohibited Gentiles from entering into the tabernacle/temple (= place of assembly) of Israel. This is clear from the reaction of the post-exilic community when it realized that Deut 23:3-5 had been violated by Tobiah the Ammonite who had been given living quarters in the temple precincts (Neh 13:1-9). This is also reflected in the days of the Second Temple when Gentile proselytes were allowed to enter the “court of the Gentiles” in Herod’s temple, but were forbidden further access into the inner temple precincts.
11 All her people groaned
as they searched for a morsel of bread.#tn Heb “bread.” In light of its parallelism with אֹכֶל (’okhel, “food”) in the following line, it is possible that לֶחֶם (lekhem, “bread”) is used in its broader sense of food or nourishment.
They exchanged#tn Heb “they sell.” their valuables#tn Heb “their desirable things.” The noun מַחְמָד (makhmad, “desirable thing”) refers to valuable possessions, such as gold and silver which people desire (e.g., Ezra 8:27).
for#tn The preposition ב (bet) denotes the purchase price paid for an object (BDB 90 s.v. בְּ III.3; HALOT 105 s.v. בְּ 17) (e.g., Gen 23:9; 29:18, 20; 30:16; Lev 25:37; Deut 21:14; 2 Sam 24:24). just enough food
to stay alive.#tn The noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) functions as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life) (e.g., Gen 44:30; Exod 21:23; 2 Sam 14:7; Jon 1:14). When used with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the Hiphil הָשִׁיב (hashiv) of שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, return”) may mean “to restore a person’s vitality,” that is, to keep a person alive (Lam 1:14, 19).
“Look, O Lord! Consider#sn The dagesh lene in כּי (ki) following the vowel ending the verb וְהַבִּיטָה (vÿhabbitah, “consider”) indicates a dramatic pause between calling for the Lord’s attention and stating the allegation to be seen and considered.
that I have become worthless!”
12 Is it nothing to you,#tc The Heb לוֹא אֲלֵיכֶם (lo’ ’alekhem, “not to you”) is awkward and often considered corrupt but there is no textual evidence yet adduced to certify a more original reading. all you who pass by on the road?#tn The line as it stands is imbalanced, such that the reference to the passersby may belong here or as a vocative with the following verb translated “look.”
Look and see!
Is there any pain like mine?
The Lord#tn Heb “He.” The personal pronoun “he” and the personal name “the Lord,” both appearing in this verse, are transposed in the translation for the sake of readability. In the Hebrew text, “He” appears in the A-line and “the Lord” appears in the B-line – good Hebrew poetic style, but awkward English style. has afflicted me,#tn Heb “which was afflicted on me.” The Polal of עָלַל (’alal) gives the passive voice of the Polel. The Polel of the verb עָלַל (’alal) occurs ten times in the Bible, appearing in agricultural passages for gleaning or some other harvest activity and also in military passages. Jer 6:9 plays on this by comparing an attack to gleaning. The relationship between the meaning in the two types of contexts is unclear, but the very neutral rendering “to treat” in some dictionaries and translations misses the nuance appropriate to the military setting. Indeed it is not at all feasible in a passage like Judges 20:45 where “they treated them on the highway” would make no sense but “they mowed them down on the highway” would fit the context. Accordingly the verb is sometimes rendered “treat” or “deal severely,” as HALOT 834 s.v. poel.3 suggests for Lam 3:51, although simply suggesting “to deal with” in Lam 1:22 and 2:20. A more injurious nuance is given to the translation here and in 1:22; 2:20 and 3:51.
he#sn The delay in naming the Lord as cause is dramatic. The natural assumption upon hearing the passive verb in the previous line, “it was dealt severely,” might well be the pillaging army, but instead the Lord is named as the tormentor. has inflicted it on me
when#tn Heb “in the day of.” The construction בְּיוֹם (bÿyom, “in the day of”) is a common Hebrew idiom, meaning “when” or “on the occasion of” (e.g., Gen 2:4; Lev 7:35; Num 3:1; Deut 4:15; 2 Sam 22:1; Pss 18:1; 138:3; Zech 8:9). he burned with anger.#tn Heb “on the day of burning anger.”
13 He sent down fire#tn Heb “He sent fire from on high.” Normally God sends fire from heaven. The idiom מִמָּרוֹם (mimmarom, “from on high”) can still suggest the location but as an idiom may focus on the quality of the referent. For example, “to speak from on high” means “to presume to speak as if from heaven” = arrogantly (Ps 73:8); “they fight against me from on high” = proudly (Ps 56:3) (BDB 928-29 s.v. מָרוֹם). As a potential locative, מִמָּרוֹם (mimmarom, “from on high”) designates God as the agent; idiomatically the same term paints him as pitiless.
into my bones, and it overcame#tc The MT reads וַיִּרְדֶּנָּה (vayyirdennah, “it prevailed against them”), representing a vav (ו) consecutive + Qal preterite 3rd person masculine singular + 3rd person feminine plural suffix from רָדָה (radah, “to prevail”). The LXX κατήγαγεν αὐτό (kathgagen auto, “it descended”) reflects an alternate vocalization tradition of וַיֹּרִדֶנָּה (vayyoridennah, “it descended against them”), representing a vav (ו) consecutive + Hiphil preterite 3rd person masculine singular + 3rd person feminine plural suffix from יָרָד (yarad, “to go down”), or הֹרִידָהּ (horidah, “it descended against her”), a Hiphil perfect ms + 3rd person feminine singular suffix from from יָרָד (yarad, “to go down”). Internal evidence favors the MT. The origin of the LXX vocalization can be explained by the influence of the preceding line, “He sent down fire from on high.” them.
He spread out a trapper’s net#tn Heb “net.” The term “trapper’s” is supplied in the translation as a clarification. for my feet;
he made me turn back.
He has made me desolate;
I am faint all day long.
14 My sins are bound around my neck like a yoke;#tc The consonantal text נשקד על פּשעי (nsqd ’l ps’y) is vocalized by the MT as נִשְׂקַד עֹל פְּשָׁעַי (nisqad ’ol pÿsha’ay, “my transgression is bound by a yoke”); but the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) and many medieval Hebrew mss vocalize the text as נִשְׁקַד עַל פְּשָׁעַי (nishqad ’al pÿsha’ay, “watch is kept upon my transgression”). There are two textual deviations: (1) the MT vocalizes the verb as נִשְׂקַד (nisqad, Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׂקַד [saqad, “to bind”]), while the alternate tradition vocalizes it as נִשְׁקַד (nishqad, Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׁקַד [shaqad, “to keep watch”]); and (2) the MT vocalizes על (’l) as the noun עֹל (’ol, “yoke”), while the ancient versions and medieval Hebrew mss vocalize it as the preposition עַל (’al, “upon”). External evidence favors the alternate vocalization: all the early versions (LXX, Targum, Vulgate, Peshitta) and many medieval Hebrew mss versus the relatively late MT vocalization tradition. However, internal evidence favors the MT vocalization: (1) The MT verb שָׂקַד (saqar, “to bind”) is a hapax legomenon (BDB 974 s.v. שָׂקַד) which might have been easily confused for the more common verb שָׂקַד (saqar, “to keep watch”) which is well attested elsewhere (Job 21:32; Pss 102:8; 127:1; Prov 8:34; Isa 29:20; Jer 1:12; 5:6; 31:28; 44:27; Ezr 8:29; Dan 9:14) (BDB 1052 s.v. שָׂקַד Qal.2). (2) The syntax of the MT is somewhat awkward, which might have influenced a scribe toward the alternate vocalization. (3) The presence of the noun עֻלּוֹ (’ullo, “his yoke”) in the following line supports the presence of the same term in this line. (4) Thematic continuity of 1:14 favors the MT: throughout the verse, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are continually compared to yoked animals who are sold into the hands of cruel task-masters. The alternate vocalization intrudes into an otherwise unified stanza. In summary, despite strong external evidence in favor of the alternate vocalization tradition, even stronger internal evidence favors the MT.tn Heb “my transgressions are bound with a yoke.”
they are fastened together by his hand.
He has placed his yoke#tc The MT reads עָלוּ (’alu, “they went up”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”). However, several important recensions of the LXX reflect an alternate vocalization tradition: Lucian and Symmachus both reflect a Vorlage of עֻלּוֹ (’ullo, “his yoke”), the noun עֹל (’ol, “yoke”) + 3rd person masculine singular suffix. The Lucianic recension was aimed at bringing the LXX into closer conformity to the Hebrew; therefore, this is an important textual witness. Internal evidence favors the readings of Lucian and Symmachus as well: the entire stanza focuses on the repeated theme of the “yoke” of the Lord. The MT reading is obscure in meaning, and the 3rd person common plural form violates the syntactical flow: “[my sins] are lashed together by his hand; they have gone up upon my neck, he has weakened my strength; the Lord has handed me over ….” On the other hand, the Lucian/Symmachus reflects contextual congruence: “My sins are bound around my neck like a yoke, they are lashed together by his hand; his yoke is upon my neck, he has weakened my strength; he has handed me over to those whom I am powerless to resist.” on my neck;#tn Heb “his yoke is upon my neck.”
he has sapped my strength.#tn Heb “he has caused my strength to stumble.” The phrase הִכְשִׁיל כֹּחִי (hikhshil kokhi, “He has made my strength stumble”) is an idiom that means “to weaken, make feeble.”
The Lord#tc Here the MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”), the perpetual Qere reading for יהוה (YHWH, “Yahweh”), but a multitude of Hebrew mss read consonantal יהוה (YHWH, traditionally translated “the Lord”). has handed me over#tn Heb “The Lord has given me into the hands of.”
to those whom I cannot resist.
15 He rounded up#tn The verb סָלַה (salah) occurs only twice in OT; once in Qal (Ps 119:118) and once here in Piel. It is possibly a by-form of סָלַל (salal, “to heap up”). It may also be related to Aramaic סלא (sl’) meaning “to throw away” and Assyrian salu/shalu meaning “to hurl (away)” (AHw 1152) or “to kick up dust, shoot (arrows), reject, throw away?” (CAD 17:272). With people as its object shalu is used of people casting away their children, specifically meaning selling them on the market. The LXX translates סָלַה (salah) as ἐξῆρεν (exhren, “to remove, lead away”). Thus God is either (1) heaping them up (dead) in the city square, (2) putting them up for sale in the city square, or (3) leading them out of the city (into exile or to deprive it of defenders prior to attack). The English “round up” could accommodate any of these and is also a cattle term, which fits well with the use of the word “bulls” (see following note). all my mighty ones;#tn Heb “bulls.” Metaphorically, bulls may refer to mighty ones, leaders or warriors. F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp (Lamentations [IBC], 69) insightfully suggests that the Samek stanza presents an overarching dissonance by using terms associated with a celebratory feast (bulls, assembly, and a winepress) in sentences where God is abusing the normally expected celebrants, i.e. the “leaders” are the sacrifice.
The Lord#tc The MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”) here rather than יהוה (YHWH, “the Lord”); this occurs again a second time later in this verse. See the tc note at 1:14. did this#tn The verb is elided and understood from the preceding colon. Naming “my Lord” as the subject of the verb late, as it were, emphasizes the irony of the action taken by a person in this position. in#tc The MT reads the preposition בּ (bet, “in”) prefixed to קִרְבִּי (qirbi, “my midst”): בְּקִרְבִּי (bÿkirbi, “in my midst”); however, the LXX reads ἐκ μέσου μου (ek mesou mou) which may reflect a Vorlage of the preposition מִן (min, “from”): מִקִּרְבִּי (miqqirbi, “from my midst”). The LXX may have chosen ἐκ to accommodate understanding סִלָּה (sillah) as ἐξῆρεν (exhren, “to remove, lead away”). The textual deviation may have been caused by an unusual orthographic confusion.tn Or “out of my midst.” See the preceding tc note. my midst.
He summoned an assembly#tn Heb “an assembly.” The noun מוֹעֵד (mo’ed, “assembly”) is normally used in reference to the annual religious festive assemblies of Israel (Ezek 45:17; Hos 9:5; Zeph 3:18; Zech 8:19), though a number of English versions take this “assembly” to refer to the invading army which attacks the city (e.g., NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT). against me
to shatter my young men.
The Lord has stomped like grapes#tn Heb “a winepress he has stomped.” The noun גַּת (gat, “winepress”) functions as an adverbial accusative of location: “in a winepress.” The translation reflects the synecdoche that is involved – one stomps the grapes that are in the winepress, not the winepress itself.
the virgin daughter, Judah.#sn The expression the virgin daughter, Judah is used as an epithet, i.e. Virgin Judah or Maiden Judah, further reinforcing the feminine anthrpomorphism.
16 I weep because of these things;
my eyes#tc The MT and several medieval Hebrew mss read עֵינִי עֵינִי (’eni, ’eni, “my eye, my eye”). However, the second עֵינִי (’eni) does not appear in several other medieval Hebrew mss, or in Old Greek, Syriac Peshitta or Latin Vulgate.tn Heb “My eye, my eye.” The Hebrew text repeats the term for literary emphasis to stress the emotional distress of personified Jerusalem. flow with tears.#tn Heb “with water.” The noun מַּיִם (mayim, “water”) functions as an adverbial accusative of manner or impersonal instrument. The term מַּיִם (mayim, “water”) is a metonymy of material (= water) for the thing formed (= tears).
For there is no one in sight who can comfort me#tn Heb “For a comforter is far from me.”
or encourage me.#tn The phrase מֵשִׁיב נַפְשִׁי (meshiv nafshi, “one who could cause my soul to return”) is a Hebrew idiom that means “one who could encourage me.” The noun נַפְשִׁי (nafshi) refers to the whole person (e.g., Gen 27:4, 25; 49:6; Lev 26:11, 30; Num 23:10; Judg 5:21; 16:30; Isa 1:14; Lam 3:24). When used with the noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) the Hiphil הָשִׁיב (hashiv) of שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, return”) means “to encourage, refresh, cheer” a person emotionally (Ruth 4:15; Pss 19:8; 23:3; Prov 25:13; Lam 1:11, 16, 19).
My children#tn Heb “my sons.” The term “my sons” (בַנַי, banay) is a figurative description (hypocatastasis) of the former inhabitants of Jerusalem/Judah personified as the Lady Jerusalem’s children. Jerusalem mourns (and views) their devastation like a mother would her children. are desolated#tn The verb שָׁמֵם (shamem) means “to be desolated.” The verb is used used in reference to land destroyed in battle and left “deserted” (Isa 49:8; Ezek 33:28; 35:12, 15; 36:4). When used in reference to persons, it describes the aftermath of a physical attack, such as rape (2 Sam 13:20) or military overthrow of a city (Isa 54:1; Lam 1:13, 16; 3:11).
because an enemy has prevailed.
The Prophet Speaks:
17 Zion spread out her hands,
but there is no one to comfort her.
The Lord has issued a decree against Jacob;
his neighbors#tn Heb “his neighbors,” which refers to the surrounding nations. have become his enemies.
Jerusalem has become
like filthy garbage#tn The noun II נִדָּה (niddah, “unclean thing”) has three basic categories of meaning: (1) biological uncleanness: menstruation of a woman (Lev 12:2, 5; 15:19-33 [9x]; Num 19:9, 13, 20; 31:23; Ezek 18:6; 22:10; 36:17); (2) ceremonial uncleanness: moral impurity and idolatry (Lev 20:21; 2 Chr 29:5; Ezra 9:11; Zech 13:1); and (3) physical uncleanness: filthy garbage (Lam 1:17; Ezek 7:19, 20). in their midst.#tc The MT reads בֵּינֵיהֶם (bÿnehem, “in them” = “in their midst”). The BHS editors suggest that this is a textual corruption for בְּעֵינֵיהֶם (be’enehem, “in their eyes” = “in their view”). The ע (ayin) might have dropped out due to orthographic confusion.tn Or “in their eyes.” See the preceding tc note.
18 The Lord is right to judge me!#tn Heb “The Lord himself is right.” The phrase “to judge me” is not in the Hebrew, but is added in the translation to clarify the expression.
Yes, I rebelled against his commands.#tn Heb “His mouth.” The term “mouth” (פֶּה, peh) is a metonymy of instrument (= mouth) for the product (= words). The term פֶּה (peh) often stands for spoken words (Ps 49:14; Eccl 10:3; Isa 29:13), declaration (Gen 41:40; Exod 38:21; Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; Ezra 1:1) and commands of God (Exod 17:1; Num 14:41; 22:18; Josh 15:13; 1 Sam 15:24; 1 Chr 12:24; Prov 8:29; Isa 34:16; 62:2). When the verb מָרָה (marah, “to rebel”) is used with the accusative direct object פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) to connote disobedience to God’s commandments (Num 20:24; 1 Sam 12:14, 15; 1 Kgs 13:21) (BDB 805 s.v. פֶּה 2.c).
Please listen, all you nations,#tc The Kethib is written עַמִּים (’ammim, “peoples”), but the Qere, followed by many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions (LXX and Aramaic Targum), read הָעַמִּים (ha’ammim, “O peoples”). The Qere is probably the original reading. tn Heb “O peoples.” Here Jerusalem addresses the peoples of the surrounding nations (note the use of “neighbors” in the preceding verse).
and look at my suffering!
My young women and men
have gone into exile.
19 I called for my lovers,#sn The term “lovers” is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis), comparing Jerusalem’s false gods and political alliance with Assyria to a woman’s immoral lovers. The prophet Hosea uses similar imagery (Hos 2:5, 7, 10, 13).
but they had deceived me.
My priests and my elders
perished in the city.
Truly they had#tn Here the conjunction כּי (ki) functions in (1) a temporal sense in reference to a past event, following a perfect: “when” (BDB 473 s.v. 2.a; cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or (2) a concessive sense, following a perfect: “although” (Pss 21:12; 119:83; Mic 7:8; Nah 1:10; cf. BDB 473 s.v. 2.c.β) or (3) with an intensive force, introducing a statement with emphasis: “surely, certainly” (BDB 472 s.v. 1.e). The present translation follows the third option. searched for food
to#tn The vav (ו) prefixed to וַיָשִׁיבוּ (vayashivu) introduces a purpose clause: “they sought food for themselves, in order to keep themselves alive.” keep themselves#tn The noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) functions as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life) (e.g., Gen 44:30; Exod 21:23; 2 Sam 14:7; Jon 1:14). When used with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the Hiphil הָשִׁיב (hashiv) of שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, return”) may mean “to preserve a person’s life,” that is, to keep a person alive (Lam 1:14, 19). alive.#tc The LXX adds καὶ οὐχ εὗρον (kai ouc Jeuron, “but they did not find it”). This is probably an explanatory scribal gloss, indicated to explicate what appeared to be ambiguous. The LXX often adds explanatory glosses in many OT books.
20 Look, O Lord! I am distressed;#tn Heb “because I have distress” (כִּי־צַר־לִי, ki-tsar-li).
my stomach is in knots!#tn Heb “my bowels burn” or “my bowels are in a ferment.” The verb חֳמַרְמָרוּ (khamarmaru) is an unusual form and derived from a debated root: Poalal perfect 3rd person common plural from III חָמַר (khamar, “to be red,” HALOT 330 s.v. III חמר) or Pe`al`al perfect 3rd person common plural from I חָמַר (khamar, “to ferment, boil up,” BDB 330 s.v. I חָמַר). The Poalal stem of this verb occurs only three times in OT: with פָּנִים (panim, “face,” Job 16:16) and מֵעִים (me’im, “bowels,” Lam 1:20; 2:11). The phrase מֵעַי חֳמַרְמָרוּ (me’ay khamarmaru) means “my bowels burned” (HALOT 330 s.v.) or “my bowels are in a ferment,” as a euphemism for lower-intestinal bowel problems (BDB 330 s.v.). This phrase also occurs in later rabbinic literature (m. Sanhedrin 7:2). The present translation, “my stomach is in knots,” is not a literal equivalent to this Hebrew idiom; however, it is an attempt to approximate the equivalent English idiom.
My heart is pounding#tn The participle נֶהְפַּךְ (nehpakh), Niphal participle masculine singular הָפַךְ (hafakh, “to turn over”) functions verbally, referring to progressive present-time action (from the speaker’s viewpoint). The verb הָפַךְ (hafakh) is used here to describe emotional distress (e.g., Ezek 4:8). inside me.
Yes, I was terribly rebellious!#tn Heb “because I was very rebellious.” The Hebrew uses an emphatic construction in which the root מָרַה (marah, “to rebel”) is repeated: מָרוֹ מָרִיתִי (maro mariti), Qal infinitive absolute from מָרָה (marah) followed by Qal perfect 1st person common singular from מָרָה (marah). When an infinitive absolute is used with a finite verb of the same root, it affirms the verbal idea (e.g., Gen 2:17; 18:10; 22:17; 31:15; 46:4; Num 16:13; 23:11; Judg 4:9; 15:13; 20:39; 1 Sam 2:30; 9:6; 2 Sam 24:24; Isa 6:9; Ezek 16:4). See IBHS 585-86 §35.3.1f.
Out in the street the sword bereaves a mother of her children;#tn Heb “in the street the sword bereaves.” The words “a mother of her children” are supplied in the translation as a clarification.
Inside the house death is present.#tn Heb “in the house it is like death.”
21 They have heard#tc The MT reads שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u, “They heard”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). The LXX ἀκούσατε (akousate) reflects the vocalization שִׁמְעוּ (shim’u, “Hear!”), Qal imperative 2nd person masculine plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). Internal evidence favors the MT. Elsewhere in Lamentations, personified Jerusalem urges God with singular imperatives (“Look! See!”); however, nowhere else is a plural imperative used. In fact, the Qal perfect 3rd person common plural form שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u, “They hear”) appears in the following line. The referent of שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u) is the enemy who has destroyed Jerusalem and now mocks her when they hear her laments. The MT vocalization is undoubtedly original. Most English versions follow the MT: “They hear” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, CEV); but several follow the LXX and revocalize the text as an imperative: “Hear!” (RSV, NRSV, TEV). that I groan,
yet there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
they are glad that you#tn “You” here and in the following line refers to the Lord. have brought it about.#tn Heb “that You have done it.”
Bring about#tn The verb הֵבֵאתָ (heve’ta) Hiphil perfect 2nd person masculine singular from בּוֹא (bo’, “to bring” in the Hiphil) probably functions, not as a simple past-time perfect, but as a precative perfect, an unusual volitional nuance similar to the imperative of request. The precative is used in reference to situations the speaker prays for and expects to be realized; it is a prayer or request of confidence (e.g., 2 Sam 7:29; Job 21:16; 22:18; Pss 3:8; 4:2; 7:7; 22:22; 31:5-6; 71:3; Lam 1:21). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. This volitional precative nuance is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta which translates this verb using an imperative. Most English versions adopt the precative nuance: “Bring on the day you have announced” (NRSV), “Oh, that Thou wouldst bring the day which Thou hast proclaimed” (NASB), “May you bring the day you have announced” (NIV), “Bring the day you promised” (TEV), “Oh, bring on them what befell me!” (NJPS), “Hurry and punish them, as you have promised” (CEV). A few English versions adopt a prophetic perfect future-time nuance: “thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called” (KJV, NKJV, ASV). the day of judgment#tn The term יוֹם (yom, “day”) is often used as a metonymy of association, standing for the event associated with that particular time period: judgment (e.g., Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9; Jer 46:10; Lam 2:22; Ezek 13:5; 30:3; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad 15; Zeph 1:7, 14; Zech 14:1; Mal 3:23) (BDB 399 s.v. 3). that you promised#tn Heb “proclaimed.”
so that#tn Heb “and.” Following a volitive use of the perfect, the vav (ו) prefixed to וְיִהְיוּ (vÿyihyu, “and let it be!”) introduces a purpose/result clause in a dependent volitive construction: “so that they may be like me!” they may end up#tn Heb “that they be like me.” like me!
22 Let all their wickedness come before you;
afflict#tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12. them
just as you have afflicted#tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12. me#tn The parallel statements “afflict them” and “just as you have afflicted me” in the translation mirror the Hebrew wordplay between עוֹלֵל לָמוֹ (’olel lamo, “May you deal with them”) and עוֹלַלְתָּ לִי (’olalta li, “you dealt with me”).
because of all my acts of rebellion.#tn Heb “all my rebellions,” that is, “all my rebellious acts.”
For my groans are many,
and my heart is sick with sorrow.#tn Heb “is sorrowful” or “is faint.” The adjective דַוָּי (davvay, “faint”) is used in reference to emotional sorrow (e.g., Isa 1:5; Lam 1:22; Jer 8:18). The cognate Aramaic term means “sorrow,” and the cognate Syriac term refers to “misery” (HALOT 216 s.v. *דְּוַי). The related Hebrew adjective דְּוַה (dÿvah) means “(physically) sick” and “(emotionally) sad,” while the related Hebrew verb דָּוָה (davah) means “to be sad” due to menstruation. The more literal English versions fail to bring out explicitly the nuance of emotional sorrow and create possible confusion whether the problem is simply loss of courage: “my heart is faint” (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, NIV). The more paraphrastic English versions explicate the emotional sorrow that this idiom connotes: “my heart is sick” (NJPS), “I am sick at heart” (TEV), and “I’ve lost all hope!” (CEV).
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