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Lamentations 1:2

Context

ב (Bet)

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.

Lamentations 1:9

Context

ט (Tet)

1:9 Her menstrual flow 3  has soiled 4  her clothing; 5 

she did not consider 6  the consequences of her sin. 7 

Her demise 8  was astonishing, 9 

and there was no one to comfort her.

She cried, “Look, 10  O Lord, on my 11  affliction

because my 12  enemy boasts!”

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 tn Heb “uncleanness.” The noun טֻמְאָה (tumah, “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.

4 tn Heb “her uncleanness is in her skirts.”

5 tn Heb “her skirts.” This term is a synecdoche of specific (skirts) for general (clothing).

6 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.

7 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).

8 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 mss); none of the other ancient versions preserve/reflect a passive form. Symmachus is known to have departed from a wooden literal translation (characteristic of Aquila) in favor of smooth and elegant Greek style. The second edition of the Latin Vulgate drew on Symmachus; thus, it is not an independent witness to the passive reading, but merely a secondary witness reflecting Symmachus. The MT is undoubtedly the original reading.

tn Heb “and she came down in an astonishing way” or “and she was brought down in an astonishing way.”

9 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 (pÿlaim, 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 pÿlaim) 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.”

10 tn The words “she cried” do not appear in the Hebrew. They are added to indicate that personified Jerusalem is speaking.

11 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 mss. The Bohairic version and Ambrosius, however, read “her affliction,” which led the BHS editors to suggest a Vorlage of עָנְיָהּ (’onyah, “her affliction”). External evidence strongly favors the MT reading. The 3rd person feminine singular textual variant probably arose out of an attempt to harmonize this form with all the other 3rd person feminine singular forms in 1:1-11a. The MT is undoubtedly the original reading.

12 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.



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