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.
and there was no one to comfort her.
because my 12 enemy boasts!”
1:16 I weep because of these things;
For there is no one in sight who can comfort me 15
or encourage me. 16
because an enemy has prevailed.
but they had deceived me.
My priests and my elders
perished in the city.
Truly they had 20 searched for food
yet there is no one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
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 (tum’ah, “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
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 (pÿla’im, 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 pÿla’im) 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
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.
13 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.
14 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).
15 tn Heb “For a comforter is far from me.”
16 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).
17 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.
18 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).
19 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).
20 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.
21 tn The vav (ו) prefixed to וַיָשִׁיבוּ (vayashivu) introduces a purpose clause: “they sought food for themselves, in order to keep themselves alive.”
22 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).
23 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.
24 tc The MT reads שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u, “They heard”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). The LXX ἀκούσατε (akousate) reflects the vocalization שִׁמְעוּ (shim’u, “Hear!”), Qal imperative 2nd person masculine plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). Internal evidence favors the MT. Elsewhere in Lamentations, personified Jerusalem urges God with singular imperatives (“Look! See!”); however, nowhere else is a plural imperative used. In fact, the Qal perfect 3rd person common plural form שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u, “They hear”) appears in the following line. The referent of שָׁמְעוּ (sham’u) is the enemy who has destroyed Jerusalem and now mocks her when they hear her laments. The MT vocalization is undoubtedly original. Most English versions follow the MT: “They hear” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, CEV); but several follow the LXX and revocalize the text as an imperative: “Hear!” (RSV, NRSV, TEV).
25 tn “You” here and in the following line refers to the
26 tn Heb “that You have done it.”
27 tn The verb הֵבֵאתָ (heve’ta) Hiphil perfect 2nd person masculine singular from בּוֹא (bo’, “to bring” in the Hiphil) probably functions, not as a simple past-time perfect, but as a precative perfect, an unusual volitional nuance similar to the imperative of request. The precative is used in reference to situations the speaker prays for and expects to be realized; it is a prayer or request of confidence (e.g., 2 Sam 7:29; Job 21:16; 22:18; Pss 3:8; 4:2; 7:7; 22:22; 31:5-6; 71:3; Lam 1:21). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. This volitional precative nuance is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta which translates this verb using an imperative. Most English versions adopt the precative nuance: “Bring on the day you have announced” (NRSV), “Oh, that Thou wouldst bring the day which Thou hast proclaimed” (NASB), “May you bring the day you have announced” (NIV), “Bring the day you promised” (TEV), “Oh, bring on them what befell me!” (NJPS), “Hurry and punish them, as you have promised” (CEV). A few English versions adopt a prophetic perfect future-time nuance: “thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called” (KJV, NKJV, ASV).
28 tn The term יוֹם (yom, “day”) is often used as a metonymy of association, standing for the event associated with that particular time period: judgment (e.g., Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9; Jer 46:10; Lam 2:22; Ezek 13:5; 30:3; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad 15; Zeph 1:7, 14; Zech 14:1; Mal 3:23) (BDB 399 s.v. 3).
29 tn Heb “proclaimed.”
30 tn Heb “and.” Following a volitive use of the perfect, the vav (ו) prefixed to וְיִהְיוּ (vÿyihyu, “and let it be!”) introduces a purpose/result clause in a dependent volitive construction: “so that they may be like me!”
31 tn Heb “that they be like me.”