1:2 She weeps bitterly at night;
tears stream down her cheeks. 1
She has no one to comfort her
among all her lovers. 2
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
1:8 Jerusalem committed terrible sin; 3
therefore she became an object of scorn. 4
All who admired 5 her have despised her 6
because they have seen her nakedness. 7
She groans aloud 8
and turns away in shame. 9
1:11 All her people groaned
as they searched for a morsel of bread. 10
They exchanged 11 their valuables 12
for 13 just enough food
to stay alive. 14
“Look, O Lord! Consider 15
that I have become worthless!”
1:12 Is it nothing to you, 16 all you who pass by on the road? 17
Look and see!
Is there any pain like mine?
The Lord 18 has afflicted me, 19
he 20 has inflicted it on me
when 21 he burned with anger. 22
1:16 I weep because of these things;
my eyes 23 flow with tears. 24
For there is no one in sight who can comfort me 25
or encourage me. 26
My children 27 are desolated 28
because an enemy has prevailed.
1:22 Let all their wickedness come before you;
afflict 29 them
just as you have afflicted 30 me 31
because of all my acts of rebellion. 32
For my groans are many,
and my heart is sick with sorrow. 33
1 tn Heb “her tears are on her cheek.”
2 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.
3 tc The MT reads חֵטְא (khet’, “sin”), but the BHS editors suggest the vocalization חָטֹא (khato’, “sin”), Qal infinitive absolute.
4 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).
5 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.”
6 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).
7 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.
8 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.
9 tn Heb “and turns backward.”
10 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.
11 tn Heb “they sell.”
12 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).
13 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).
14 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).
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.”
18 tn Heb “He.” The personal pronoun “he” and the personal name “the
19 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.
20 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.
21 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).
22 tn Heb “on the day of burning anger.”
23 tc The MT and several medieval Hebrew
tn Heb “My eye, my eye.” The Hebrew text repeats the term for literary emphasis to stress the emotional distress of personified Jerusalem.
24 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).
25 tn Heb “For a comforter is far from me.”
26 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).
27 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.
28 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).
29 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.
30 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.
31 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”).
32 tn Heb “all my rebellions,” that is, “all my rebellious acts.”
33 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).