1:11 All her people groaned
as they searched for a morsel of bread. 1
for 4 just enough food
to stay alive. 5
“Look, O Lord! Consider 6
that I have become worthless!”
Look and see!
Is there any pain like mine?
he 11 has inflicted it on me
Yes, I rebelled against his commands. 15
Please listen, all you nations, 16
and look at my suffering!
My young women and men
have gone into exile.
but they had deceived me.
My priests and my elders
perished in the city.
Truly they had 18 searched for food
my stomach is in knots! 23
My heart is pounding 24 inside me.
Yes, I was terribly rebellious! 25
Out in the street the sword bereaves a mother of her children; 26
Inside the house death is present. 27
1 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.
2 tn Heb “they sell.”
5 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).
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.”
9 tn Heb “He.” The personal pronoun “he” and the personal name “the
10 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.
11 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.
12 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).
13 tn Heb “on the day of burning anger.”
14 tn Heb “The
15 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).
16 tc The Kethib is written עַמִּים (’ammim, “peoples”), but the Qere, followed by many medieval Hebrew
tn Heb “O peoples.” Here Jerusalem addresses the peoples of the surrounding nations (note the use of “neighbors” in the preceding verse).
17 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).
18 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.
19 tn The vav (ו) prefixed to וַיָשִׁיבוּ (vayashivu) introduces a purpose clause: “they sought food for themselves, in order to keep themselves alive.”
20 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).
21 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.
22 tn Heb “because I have distress” (כִּי־צַר־לִי, ki-tsar-li).
23 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.
24 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).
25 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.
26 tn Heb “in the street the sword bereaves.” The words “a mother of her children” are supplied in the translation as a clarification.
27 tn Heb “in the house it is like death.”