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Lamentations 1:4

Context

ד (Dalet)

1:4 The roads to Zion 1  mourn 2 

because no one 3  travels to the festivals. 4 

All her city gates 5  are deserted; 6 

her priests groan. 7 

Her virgins grieve; 8 

she is in bitter anguish! 9 

Lamentations 1:11

Context

כ (Kaf)

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 

Jerusalem Speaks:

“Look, O Lord! Consider 15 

that I have become worthless!”

Lamentations 1:21-22

Context

ש (Sin/Shin)

1:21 They have heard 16  that I groan,

yet there is no one to comfort me.

All my enemies have heard of my trouble;

they are glad that you 17  have brought it about. 18 

Bring about 19  the day of judgment 20  that you promised 21 

so that 22  they may end up 23  like me!

ת (Tav)

1:22 Let all their wickedness come before you;

afflict 24  them

just as you have afflicted 25  me 26 

because of all my acts of rebellion. 27 

For my groans are many,

and my heart is sick with sorrow. 28 

1 tn Heb “roads of Zion.” The noun צִיּוֹן (tsiyyon, Zion) is a genitive of direction (termination) following the construct noun, meaning “roads to Zion.”

sn The noun דַּרְכֵי (darkhe, “roads”) is normally masculine in gender, but here it is feminine (e.g., Exod 18:20) (BDB 202 s.v.) as indicated by the following feminine adjective אֲבֵּלּוֹת (’avelot, “mourning”). This rare feminine usage is probably due to the personification of Jerusalem as a bereaved woman throughout chap. 1.

2 tn The adjective אֲבֵּלּוֹת (’avelot, “mourning”) functions as a predicate of state.

sn The term אָבַּלּ (’aval, “mourn”) refers to the mourning rites for the dead or to those mourning the deceased (Gen 37:35; Job 29:25; Ps 35:14; Jer 16:7; Esth 6:12; Sir 7:34; 48:24). The prophets often use it figuratively to personify Jerusalem as a mourner, lamenting her deceased and exiled citizens (Isa 57:18; 61:2, 3) (BDB 5 s.v.; HALOT 7 s.v.).

3 tn Heb “from lack of.” The construction מִבְּלִי (mibbÿli) is composed of the preposition מִן (min) functioning in a causal sense (BDB 580 s.v. מִן 2.f) and the adverb of negation בְּלִי (bÿli) to denote the negative cause: “from want of” or “without” (HALOT 133 s.v. בְּלִי 4; BDB 115 s.v. בְּלִי 2.c) (Num 14:16; Deut 9:28; 28:55; Eccl 3:11; Isa 5:13; Jer 2:15; 9:11; Hos 4:6; Ezek 34:5).

4 tn Heb “those coming of feast.” The construct chain בָּאֵי מוֹעֵד (bae moed) consists of (1) the substantival plural construct participle בָּאֵי (bae, “those who come”) and (2) the collective singular genitive of purpose מוֹעֵד (moed, “for the feasts”).

5 tc The MT reads שְׁעָרֶיהָ (shÿareha, “her gates”). The BHS editors suggest revocalizing the text to the participle שֹׁעֲרֶיהָ (shoareha, “her gate-keepers”) from שֹׁעֵר (shoer, “porter”; BDB 1045 s.v. שֹׁעֵר). The revocalization creates tight parallelism: “her gate-keepers”//“her priests,” but ruins the chiasm: (A) her gate-keepers, (B) her priests, (B’) her virgins, (A’) the city itself.

6 tn The verb שָׁמֵם (shamem) normally means “to be desolated; to be appalled,” but when used in reference to land, it means “deserted” (Isa 49:8; Ezek 33:28; 35:12, 15; 36:4) (BDB 1030 s.v. 1).

7 tn Heb “groan” or “sigh.” The verb אָנַח (’anakh) is an expression of grief (Prov 29:2; Isa 24:7; Lam 1:4, 8; Ezek 9:4; 21:11). BDB 58 s.v. 1 suggests that it means “sigh” but HALOT 70-71 s.v. prefers “groan” here.

8 tc The MT reads נּוּגוֹת (nugot, “are grieved”), Niphal participle feminine plural from יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”). The LXX ἀγόμεναι (agomenai) reflects נָהוּגוֹת (nahugot, “are led away”), Qal passive participle feminine plural from נָהַג (nahag, “to lead away into exile”), also reflected in Aquila and Symmachus. The MT reading is an unusual form (see translator’s note below) and best explains the origin of the LXX which is a more common root. It would be difficult to explain the origin of the MT reading if the LXX reflects the original. Therefore, the MT is probably the original reading.

tn Heb “are grieved” or “are worried.” The unusual form נּוּגוֹת (nugot) is probably best explained as Niphal feminine plural participle (with dissimilated nun [ן]) from יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”). The similarly formed Niphal participle masculine plural construct נוּגֵי (nuge) appears in Zeph 3:18 (GKC 421 §130.a). The Niphal of יָגָה (yagah, “to grieve”) appears only twice, both in contexts of sorrow: “to grieve, sorrow” (Lam 1:4; Zeph 3:18).

9 tn Heb “and she is bitter to herself,” that is, “sick inside” (2 Kgs 4:27)

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 MT reads שָׁמְעוּ (shamu, “They heard”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). The LXX ἀκούσατε (akousate) reflects the vocalization שִׁמְעוּ (shimu, “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 (shamu, “They hear”) appears in the following line. The referent of שָׁמְעוּ (shamu) 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).

17 tn “You” here and in the following line refers to the Lord.

18 tn Heb “that You have done it.”

19 tn The verb הֵבֵאתָ (heveta) 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).

20 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).

21 tn Heb “proclaimed.”

22 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!”

23 tn Heb “that they be like me.”

24 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.

25 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.

26 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”).

27 tn Heb “all my rebellions,” that is, “all my rebellious acts.”

28 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).



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