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Lamentations 1:3

Context

ג (Gimel)

1:3 Judah 1  has departed into exile

under 2  affliction and harsh oppression. 3 

She 4  lives among the nations;

she has found no resting place.

All who pursued her overtook her

in 5  narrow straits. 6 

1 tn Heb “Judah.” The term “Judah” is a synecdoche of nation (= Judah) for the inhabitants of the nation (= people).

2 tn There is a debate over the function of the preposition מִן (min): (1) temporal sense: “after” (HALOT 598 s.v. 2.c; BDB 581 s.v. 4.b) (e.g., Gen 4:3; 38:24; Josh 23:1; Judg 11:4; 14:8; Isa 24:22; Ezek 38:8; Hos 6:2) is adopted by one translation: “After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile” (NIV). (2) causal sense: “because” (HALOT 598 s.v. 6; BDB 580 s.v. 2.f) (e.g., Isa 5:13) is adopted by many English versions: “Judah has gone into exile because of misery and harsh oppression/servitude” (cf. KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, NJPS). (3) instrumentality: “by, through” (BDB 579 s.v. 2.e): “Judah has gone into exile under affliction, and under harsh servitude” (NASB). The issue here is whether this verse states that Judah went into exile after suffering a long period of trouble and toil, or that Judah went into exile because of the misery and affliction that the populace suffered under the hands of the Babylonians. For fuller treatment of this difficult syntactical problem, see D. R. Hillers, Lamentations (AB), 6-7.

3 tn Heb “great servitude.” The noun עֲבֹדָה (’avodah, “servitude”) refers to the enforced labor and suffering inflicted upon conquered peoples who are subjugated into slavery (Exod 1:14; 2:23; 5:9, 11; 6:9; Deut 26:6; 1 Kgs 12:4; 1 Chr 26:30; 2 Chr 10:4; 12:8; Isa 14:3; Lam 1:3).

4 tn The antecedent of “she” is “Judah,” which functions as a synecdoche of nation (= Judah) for the inhabitants of the nation (= people). Thus, “she” (= Judah) is tantamount to “they” (= former inhabitants of Judah).

5 tn The preposition בִּין (bin) is used in reference to a location: “between” (BDB 107 s.v. 1). The phrase בִּין הַמְּצָרִים (bin hammÿtsarim, “between the narrow places”) is unparalleled elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures; however, this line is paraphrased in “The Thanksgiving Psalm” from Qumran (Hodayoth = 1QH v 29) which adds the phrase “so I could not get away.” Following the interpretation of this line at Qumran, it describes a futile attempt to flee from the enemies in narrow straits which thwarted a successful escape.

6 tn Heb “distresses.” The noun מֵצַר (metsar, “distress”) occurs only here and in Ps 118:5 (NIV, “anguish”). Here, the plural form מְצָרִים (mÿtsarim, lit., “distresses”) is an example of the plural of intensity: “intense distress.” The phrase בִּין הַמְּצָרִים (bin hammÿtsarim, “between the narrow places”) is unparalleled elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures; however, this line is paraphrased in “The Thanksgiving Psalm” from Qumran (Hodayoth = 1QH v 29) which adds the phrase “so I could not get away.” Following the interpretation of this line at Qumran, it describes a futile attempt to flee from the enemies in narrow straits which thwarted a successful escape.



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