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Lamentations 1:7-8

Context

ז (Zayin)

1:7 Jerusalem 1  remembers, 2 

when 3  she became a poor homeless person, 4 

all her treasures

that she owned in days of old. 5 

When her people fell into an enemy’s grip, 6 

none of her allies came to her rescue. 7 

Her enemies 8  gloated over 9  her;

they sneered 10  at her downfall. 11 

ח (Khet)

1:8 Jerusalem committed terrible sin; 12 

therefore she became an object of scorn. 13 

All who admired 14  her have despised her 15 

because they have seen her nakedness. 16 

She groans aloud 17 

and turns away in shame. 18 

1 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

2 sn As elsewhere in chap. 1, Jerusalem is personified as remembering the catastrophic days of 587 b.c. when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and exiled its inhabitants. Like one of its dispossessed inhabitants, Jerusalem is pictured as becoming impoverished and homeless.

3 tn Heb “the days of her poverty and her homelessness,” or “the days of her affliction and wandering.” The plural construct יְמֵי (yÿme, “days of”) functions in the general sense “the time of” or “when,” envisioning the time period in which this occurred. The principal question is whether the phrase is a direct object or an adverb. If a direct object, she remembers either the season when the process happened or she remembers, i.e. reflects on, her current season of life. An adverbial sense, “during” or “throughout” normally occurs with כֹּל (kol, “all”) in the phrase “all the days of…” but may also occur without כֹּל (kol) in poetry as in Job 10:20. The adverbial sense would be translated “during her poor homeless days.” Treating “days” adverbially makes better sense with line 7b, whereas treating “days” as a direct object makes better sense with line 7c.

4 tn The 3rd person feminine singular suffixes on the terms עָנְיָהּ וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (’onyah umÿrudeha, “her poverty and her homelessness,” or “the days of her affliction and wandering”) function as subjective genitives: “she became impoverished and homeless.” The plural noun וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (umÿrudeha, lit. “her homelessnesses”) is an example of the plural of intensity. The two nouns עָנְיָהּ וּמְרוּדֶיהָ (’onyah umÿrudeha, lit., “her poverty and her homelessness”) form a nominal hendiadys in which one noun functions adjectivally and the other retains its full nominal sense: “her impoverished homelessness” or “homeless poor” (GKC 397-98 §124.e). The nearly identical phrase עֲנִיִּים מְרוּדִים (’aniyyim mÿrudim, “homeless poor”) is used in Isa 58:7 (see GKC 226 §83.c), suggesting this was a Hebrew idiom. Jerusalem is personified as one of its inhabitants who became impoverished and homeless when the city was destroyed.

5 tc The BHS editors suggest that the second bicola in 1:7 is a late addition and should be deleted. Apart from the four sets of bicola here in 1:7 and again in 2:19, every stanza in chapters 1-4 consists of three sets of bicola. Commentators usually suggest dropping line b or line c. Depending on the meaning of “days” in line a (see note on “when” earlier in the verse) either line makes sense. The four lines would make sense as two bicola if “days of” in line 7a is understood adverbially and 7b as the direct object completing the sentence. Lines 7c-d would begin with a temporal modifier and the rest of the couplet describe conditions that were true at that time.

6 tn Heb “into the hand of.” In such phrases “hand” represents power or authority.

7 tn Heb “and there was no helper for her.” This phrase is used idiomatically in OT to describe the plight of a city whose allies refuse to help ward off a powerful attacker. The nominal participle עוֹזֵר II (’oser) refers elsewhere to military warriors (1 Chr 12:1, 18, 22; 2 Chr 20:23; 26:7; 28:23; 26:15; Ps 28:7; 46:6; Ezek 12:14; 30:8; 32:21; Dan 11:34) and the related noun refers to military allies upon whom an attacked city calls for help (Lachish Letters 19:1).

8 tn Heb “the adversaries” (צָרִים, tsarim). The 3rd person feminine singular pronoun “her” is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and good English style.

9 tn The verb רָאָה (raah, “to look”) has a broad range of meanings, including “to feast the eyes upon” and “to look down on” or “to gloat over” fallen enemies with exultation and triumph (e.g., Judg 16:27; Pss 22:18; 112:8; 118:7; Ezek 28:17; Mic 7:10; Obad 12, 13). This nuance is clarified by the synonymous parallelism between רָאוּהָ (rauha, “they gloated over her”) in the A-line and שָׂחֲקוּ עַל־מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ (sakhaqual-mishbatteha, “they mocked at her downfall”) in the B-line.

10 tn Heb “laughed” or “sneered.” The verb שָׂחַק (sakhaq, “to laugh”) is often used in reference to contempt and derision (e.g., Job 30:1; Pss 37:13; 52:8; 59:9; Lam 1:7).

11 tc The MT reads מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ (mishbatteha, “her annihilation”) from the noun מִשְׁבָּת (mishbat, “cessation, annihilation”), which is derived from the root שָׁבַת (shavat, “to cease”). The LXX mistakenly connected this with the root יָשַׁב (yashav, “to dwell”), reading μετοικεσίᾳ αὐτῆς (metoikesia auth") which reflects שִׁבְתָּהּ (shivtah, “her dwelling”). The MT is favored on the basis of internal evidence: (1) The MT is the more difficult reading, being a hapax legomenon, (2) the LXX is guilty of simply misunderstanding the root and wrongly vocalizing the consonantal text, and (3) the LXX does not make good sense contextually, while the MT does.

tn Heb “her cessation” or “her annihilation.”

12 tc The MT reads חֵטְא (khet’, “sin”), but the BHS editors suggest the vocalization חָטֹא (khato’, “sin”), Qal infinitive absolute.

13 tn Heb “she has become an object of head-nodding” (לְנִידָה הָיָתָה, lÿniydah hayatah). This reflects the ancient Near Eastern custom of shaking the head in scorn (e.g., Jer 18:16; Ps 44:15 [HT 14]), hence the translation “object of scorn.” There is debate whether נִידָה (nidah) means (1) “object of head-shaking” from נוּד (nud, “to shake,” BDB 626-27 s.v. נוּד); (2) “unclean thing” from נָדַה (nadah, “to be impure”); or (3) “wanderer” from נָדַד (nadad, “to wander,” BDB 622 s.v. I נָדַד). The LXX and Rashi connected it to נָדַד (nadad, “to wander”); however, several important early Greek recensions (Aquila and Symmachus) and Syriac translated it as “unclean thing.” The modern English versions are split: (1) “unclean thing” (NASB); “unclean” (NIV); (2) “a mockery” (NRSV).

14 sn The Piel participle of כָּבֵד (kaved) is infrequent and usually translated formulaically as those who honor someone. The feminine nuance may be best represented as “her admirers have despised her.”

15 tn The verb הִזִּילוּהָ (hizziluha) is generally understood as a rare form of Hiphil perfect 3rd person common plural + 3rd person feminine singular suffix from I זָלַל (zalal, “to despise”): “they despise her.” This follows the I nun (ן) pattern with daghesh (dot) in zayin (ז) rather than the expected geminate pattern הִזִילּוּהָ (hizilluha) with daghesh in lamed (ל) (GKC 178-79 §67.l).

16 sn The expression have seen her nakedness is a common metaphor to describe the plunder and looting of a city by a conquering army, probably drawn on the ignominious and heinous custom of raping the women of a conquered city as well.

17 tn Heb “groan” or “sigh.” The verb אָנַח (’anakh, appearing only in Niphal) means “sigh” (BDB 58 s.v. 1) or “groan” (HALOT 70-71 s.v.) as an expression of grief (Prov 29:2; Isa 24:7; Lam 1:4, 8; Ezek 9:4; 21:11). The word גַּם (gam) is usually a particle meaning “also,” but has been shown from Ugaritic to have the meaning “aloud.” See T. McDaniel, “Philological Studies in Lamentations, I-II,” Bib 49 (1968): 31-32.

18 tn Heb “and turns backward.”



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