א (Alef) 1
now sits all alone! 5
The prominent 6 lady among the nations
has become a widow! 7
1:2 She weeps bitterly at night;
tears stream down her cheeks. 12
She has no one to comfort her
among all her lovers. 13
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
She 17 lives among the nations;
she has found no resting place.
All who pursued her overtook her
her priests groan. 26
Her virgins grieve; 27
she is in bitter anguish! 28
her enemies are at ease. 30
For the Lord afflicted her
because of her many acts of rebellion. 31
Her children went away
captive 32 before the enemy.
has departed. 35
Her leaders became like deer;
they found no pasture,
so they were too exhausted to escape 36
from the hunter. 37
all her treasures
that she owned in days of old. 42
When her people fell into an enemy’s grip, 43
none of her allies came to her rescue. 44
therefore she became an object of scorn. 50
because they have seen her nakedness. 53
She groans aloud 54
and turns away in shame. 55
and there was no one to comfort her.
because my 65 enemy boasts!”
all her valuables. 67
invaded her holy temple 70 –
those whom you 71 had commanded:
1:11 All her people groaned
as they searched for a morsel of bread. 74
for 77 just enough food
to stay alive. 78
“Look, O Lord! Consider 79
that I have become worthless!”
1 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.
2 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.
3 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
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.).
11 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).
12 tn Heb “her tears are on her cheek.”
13 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.
14 tn Heb “Judah.” The term “Judah” is a synecdoche of nation (= Judah) for the inhabitants of the nation (= people).
15 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.
16 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).
17 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).
18 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.
19 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.
20 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.
21 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.).
22 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).
23 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”).
24 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.
26 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.
27 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).
29 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.
30 tn The nuance expressed in the LXX is that her enemies prosper (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT).
31 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.”
32 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.”
33 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.
34 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.
35 tn Heb “It has gone out from the daughter of Zion, all her splendor.”
36 tn Heb “they fled with no strength” (וַיֵּלְכוּ בְלֹא־כֹחַ, vayelÿkhu bÿlo’-khoakh).
37 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).
39 sn As elsewhere in chap. 1, Jerusalem is personified as remembering the catastrophic days of 587
40 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.
41 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.
42 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.
43 tn Heb “into the hand of.” In such phrases “hand” represents power or authority.
44 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).
45 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.
46 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.
48 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.”
49 tc The MT reads חֵטְא (khet’, “sin”), but the BHS editors suggest the vocalization חָטֹא (khato’, “sin”), Qal infinitive absolute.
50 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).
51 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.”
52 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).
53 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.
54 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.
55 tn Heb “and turns backward.”
56 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.
57 tn Heb “her uncleanness is in her skirts.”
58 tn Heb “her skirts.” This term is a synecdoche of specific (skirts) for general (clothing).
59 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.
60 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).
61 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
tn Heb “and she came down in an astonishing way” or “and she was brought down in an astonishing way.”
62 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.”
63 tn The words “she cried” do not appear in the Hebrew. They are added to indicate that personified Jerusalem is speaking.
64 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
65 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.
66 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).
67 tc The Kethib is written מַחֲמוֹדֵּיהֶם (makhamodehem, “her desired things”); the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
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.
68 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.
69 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.
70 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.
71 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.
72 tn Heb “enter.” The Hebrew term בּוֹא (bo’) is also a sexual metaphor.
73 tn The noun קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”) does not refer here to the collective group of people assembled to worship the
sn This is a quotation from Deut 23:3, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the
74 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.
75 tn Heb “they sell.”
78 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).
79 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.