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Lamentations 1:12-16

Context

ל (Lamed)

1:12 Is it nothing to you, 1  all you who pass by on the road? 2 

Look and see!

Is there any pain like mine?

The Lord 3  has afflicted me, 4 

he 5  has inflicted it on me

when 6  he burned with anger. 7 

מ (Mem)

1:13 He sent down fire 8 

into my bones, and it overcame 9  them.

He spread out a trapper’s net 10  for my feet;

he made me turn back.

He has made me desolate;

I am faint all day long.

נ (Nun)

1:14 My sins are bound around my neck like a yoke; 11 

they are fastened together by his hand.

He has placed his yoke 12  on my neck; 13 

he has sapped my strength. 14 

The Lord 15  has handed me over 16 

to those whom I cannot resist.

ס (Samek)

1:15 He rounded up 17  all my mighty ones; 18 

The Lord 19  did this 20  in 21  my midst.

He summoned an assembly 22  against me

to shatter my young men.

The Lord has stomped like grapes 23 

the virgin daughter, Judah. 24 

ע (Ayin)

1:16 I weep because of these things;

my eyes 25  flow with tears. 26 

For there is no one in sight who can comfort me 27 

or encourage me. 28 

My children 29  are desolated 30 

because an enemy has prevailed.

1 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.

2 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.”

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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).

7 tn Heb “on the day of burning anger.”

8 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.

9 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.”

10 tn Heb “net.” The term “trapper’s” is supplied in the translation as a clarification.

11 tc The consonantal text נשקד על פּשעי (nsqdl psy) is vocalized by the MT as נִשְׂקַד עֹל פְּשָׁעַי (nisqadol pÿshaay, “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 (nishqadal pÿshaay, “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.”

12 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.”

13 tn Heb “his yoke is upon my neck.”

14 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.”

15 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”).

16 tn Heb “The Lord has given me into the hands of.”

17 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).

18 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.

19 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.

20 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.

21 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.

22 tn Heb “an assembly.” The noun מוֹעֵד (moed, “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).

23 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.

24 sn The expression the virgin daughter, Judah is used as an epithet, i.e. Virgin Judah or Maiden Judah, further reinforcing the feminine anthrpomorphism.

25 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.

26 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).

27 tn Heb “For a comforter is far from me.”

28 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).

29 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.

30 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).



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