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Lamentations 1:4-6

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 

ה (He)

1:5 Her foes subjugated her; 10 

her enemies are at ease. 11 

For the Lord afflicted her

because of her many acts of rebellion. 12 

Her children went away

captive 13  before the enemy.

ו (Vav)

1:6 All of Daughter Zion’s 14  splendor 15 

has departed. 16 

Her leaders became like deer;

they found no pasture,

so they were too exhausted to escape 17 

from the hunter. 18 

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 “her foes became [her] head” (הָיוּ צָרֶיהָ לְרֹאשׁ, hayu tsareha lÿrosh) or more idiomatically “have come out on top.” This is a Semitic idiom for domination or subjugation, with “head” as a metaphor for leader.

11 tn The nuance expressed in the LXX is that her enemies prosper (cf. KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT).

12 tn Heb “because of her many rebellions.” The plural פְּשָׁעֶיהָ (pÿshaeha, “her rebellions”) is an example of the plural of repeated action or characteristic behavior (see IBHS 121 §7.4.2c). The 3rd person feminine singular suffix (“her”) probably functions as a subjective genitive: “her rebellions” = “she has rebelled.”

13 tn The singular noun שְׁבִי (shÿvi) is a collective singular, meaning “captives, prisoners.” It functions as an adverbial accusative of state: “[they] went away as captives.”

14 tn Heb “the daughter of Zion.” This phrase is used as an epithet for the city. “Daughter” may seem extraneous in English but consciously joins the various epithets and metaphors of Jerusalem as a woman, a device used to evoke sympathy from the reader.

15 tn Heb “all her splendor.” The 3rd person feminine singular pronominal suffix (“her”) functions as a subjective genitive: “everything in which she gloried.” The noun הָדָר (hadar, “splendor”) is used of personal and impersonal referents in whom Israel gloried: Ephraim (Deut 33:17), Jerusalem (Isa 5:14), Carmel (Isa 35:2). The context focuses on the exile of Zion’s children (1:5c) and leaders (1:6bc). The departure of the children and leaders of Jerusalem going away into exile suggested to the writer the departure of the glory of Israel.

16 tn Heb “It has gone out from the daughter of Zion, all her splendor.”

17 tn Heb “they fled with no strength” (וַיֵּלְכוּ בְלֹא־כֹחַ, vayelÿkhu bÿlo-khoakh).

18 tn Heb “the pursuer” or “chaser.” The term רָדַף (“to chase, pursue”) here refers to a hunter (e.g., 1 Sam 26:20). It is used figuratively (hypocatastasis) of military enemies who “hunt down” those who flee for their lives (e.g., Gen 14:15; Lev 26:7, 36; Judg 4:22; Ps 7:6; 69:27; 83:16; 143:3; Isa 17:13; Lam 5:5; Amos 1:11).



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