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Lamentations 1:14

Context

נ (Nun)

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

they are fastened together by his hand.

He has placed his yoke 2  on my neck; 3 

he has sapped my strength. 4 

The Lord 5  has handed me over 6 

to those whom I cannot resist.

Lamentations 1:17

Context
The Prophet Speaks:

פ (Pe)

1:17 Zion spread out her hands,

but there is no one to comfort her.

The Lord has issued a decree against Jacob;

his neighbors 7  have become his enemies.

Jerusalem has become

like filthy garbage 8  in their midst. 9 

Lamentations 2:11

Context

כ (Kaf)

2:11 My eyes are worn out 10  from weeping; 11 

my stomach is in knots. 12 

My heart 13  is poured out on the ground

due to the destruction 14  of my helpless people; 15 

children and infants faint

in the town squares.

Lamentations 2:17

Context

ע (Ayin)

2:17 The Lord has done what he planned;

he has fulfilled 16  his promise 17 

that he threatened 18  long ago: 19 

He has overthrown you without mercy 20 

and has enabled the enemy to gloat over you;

he has exalted your adversaries’ power. 21 

1 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.”

2 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.”

3 tn Heb “his yoke is upon my neck.”

4 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.”

5 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”).

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

7 tn Heb “his neighbors,” which refers to the surrounding nations.

8 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).

9 tc The MT reads בֵּינֵיהֶם (bÿnehem, “in them” = “in their midst”). The BHS editors suggest that this is a textual corruption for בְּעֵינֵיהֶם (beenehem, “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.

10 tn Heb “my eyes are spent” or “my eyes fail.” The verb כָּלָה (kalah) is used of eyes exhausted by weeping (Job 11:20; 17:5; Ps 69:4; Jer 14:6; 4:17), and means either “to be spent” (BDB 477 s.v. 2.b) or “to fail” (HALOT 477 s.v. 6). It means to have used up all one’s tears or to have worn out the eyes because of so much crying. It is rendered variously: “my eyes fail” (KJV, NIV), “my eyes are spent” (RSV, NRSV, NASB, NJPS), “my eyes are worn out” (TEV), and “my eyes are red” (CEV).

11 tn Heb “because of tears.” The plural noun דִּמְעוֹת (dimot, “tears”) is an example of the plural of intensity or repeated behavior: “many tears.” The more common singular form דִּמְעָה (dimah) normally functions in a collective sense (“tears”); therefore, the plural form here does not indicate simple plural of number.

12 tn Heb “my bowels burn” or “my bowels are in a ferment.” The verb חֳמַרְמְרוּ (khomarmÿru) 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 (meim, “bowels,” Lam 1:20; 2:11). The phrase חֳמַרְמְרוּ מֵעַיּ (khomarmÿru meay) 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.

13 tn Heb “my liver,” viewed as the seat of the emotions.

14 tn Heb “on account of the breaking.”

15 tn Heb “the daughter of my people.” Rather than a genitive of relationship (“daughter of X”), the phrase בַּת־עַמִּי (bat-ammi) is probably a genitive of apposition. The idiom “Daughter X” occurs often in Lamentations: “Daughter Jerusalem” (2x), “Daughter Zion” (7x), “Virgin Daughter Zion” (1x), “Daughter of My People” (5x), “Daughter Judah” (2x), and “Virgin Daughter Judah” (1x). In each case, it is a poetic description of Jerusalem or Judah as a whole. The idiom בַּת־עַמִּי (bat-ammi, lit., “daughter of my people” is rendered variously by the English versions: “the daughter of my people” (KJV, RSV, NASB), “my people” (NIV, TEV, CEV), and “my poor people” (NJPS). The metaphor here pictures the people as vulnerable and weak.

16 tn The verb בָּצַע (batsa’) has a broad range of meanings: (1) “to cut off, break off,” (2) “to injure” a person, (3) “to gain by violence,” (4) “to finish, complete” and (5) “to accomplish, fulfill” a promise.

17 tn Heb “His word.” When used in collocation with the verb בָּצַע (batsa’, “to fulfill,” see previous tn), the accusative noun אִמְרָה (’imrah) means “promise.”

18 tn Heb “commanded” or “decreed.” If a reference to prophetic oracles is understood, then “decreed” is preferable. If understood as a reference to the warnings in the covenant, then “threatened” is a preferable rendering.

19 tn Heb “from days of old.”

20 tn Heb “He has overthrown and has not shown mercy.” The two verbs חָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל (kharas vÿlokhamal) form a verbal hendiadys in which the first retains its verbal sense and the second functions adverbially: “He has overthrown you without mercy.” וְלֹא חָמָל (vÿlokhamal) alludes to 2:2.

21 tn Heb “He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.” The term “horn” (קֶרֶן, qeren) normally refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Israel. This term is often used figuratively as a symbol of strength, usually in reference to the military might of an army (Deut 33:17; 1 Sam 2:1, 10; 2 Sam 22:3; Pss 18:3; 75:11; 89:18, 25; 92:11; 112:9; 1 Chr 25:5; Jer 48:25; Lam 2:3; Ezek 29:21), just as warriors are sometimes figuratively described as “bulls.” To lift up the horn often means to boast and to lift up someone else’s horn is to give victory or cause to boast.



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