He has thrown down the splendor of Israel
from heaven to earth;
when he displayed his anger. 7
all the homes of Jacob’s descendants. 11
In his anger he tore down
the fortified cities 12 of Daughter Judah.
He knocked to the ground and humiliated
the kingdom and its rulers. 13
the whole army 16 of Israel.
He withdrew his right hand 17
as the enemy attacked. 18
He was like a raging fire in the land of Jacob; 19
it consumed everything around it. 20
his right hand was ready to shoot. 22
Like a foe he killed everyone,
even our strong young men; 23
he has poured out his anger like fire
on the tent 24 of Daughter Zion.
destroyed 26 Israel.
He destroyed 27 all her palaces;
he ruined her 28 fortified cities.
He made everyone in Daughter Judah
mourn and lament. 29
he destroyed his appointed meeting place.
The Lord has made those in Zion forget
both the festivals and the Sabbaths. 32
both king and priest.
and abhorred his temple. 37
He handed over to the enemy 38
her palace walls;
as if it were a feast day. 41
2:8 The Lord was determined to tear down
Daughter Zion’s wall.
He prepared to knock it down; 42
he did not withdraw his hand from destroying. 43
He made the ramparts and fortified walls lament;
together they mourned their ruin. 44
2:17 The Lord has done what he planned;
He has overthrown you without mercy 49
and has enabled the enemy to gloat over you;
he has exalted your adversaries’ power. 50
O wall of Daughter Zion! 54
Make your tears flow like a river
all day and all night long! 55
Do not rest;
do not let your tears 56 stop!
when the night watches start! 58
Pour out your heart 59 like water
before the face of the Lord! 60
Lift up your hands 61 to him
for your children’s lives; 62
they are fainting 63
at every street corner. 64
Whom have you ever afflicted 66 like this?
Should women eat their offspring, 67
their healthy infants? 68
Should priest and prophet
be killed in the Lord’s 69 sanctuary?
2:21 The young boys and old men
lie dead on the ground in the streets.
My young women 70 and my young men
have fallen by the sword.
You killed them when you were angry; 71
you slaughtered them without mercy. 72
On the day of the Lord’s anger
no one escaped or survived.
My enemy has finished off
4 tn The verb יָעִיב (ya’iv) is a hapax legomenon (a term that appears only once in Hebrew OT). Most lexicons take it as a denominative verb from the noun עָב (’av, “cloud,” HALOT 773 s.v. II עָב; BDB 728 s.v. עוּב): Hiphil imperfect 3rd person masculine singular from עוֹב (’ov) meaning “cover with a cloud, make dark” (HALOT 794 s.v. עוב) or “becloud” (BDB 728 s.v.): “the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of His anger.” This approach is followed by many English versions (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV). However, a few scholars relate it to a cognate Arabic verb “to blame, revile” (Ehrlich, Rudolph, Hillers): “the Lord has shamed Daughter Zion in His anger.” Several English versions adopt this (NRSV, NJPS, CEV). The picture of cloud and wrath concurs with the stanza’s connection to “day of the Lord” imagery.
5 tn The common gloss for זָכַר (zakhar) is “remember.” זָכַר (zakhar) entails “bearing something in mind” in a broader sense than the English gloss “remember.” When God “bears someone in mind,” the consequences are beneficial for them. The implication of not regarding his footstool is to not esteem and so not care for or protect it.
6 tn Heb “the footstool of His feet.” The noun הֲדֹם (hadom, “footstool”), always joined with רַגְלַיִם (raglayim, “feet”) is always used figuratively in reference to the dwelling place of God (BDB 213 s.v. הֲדֹם). It usually refers to the
7 tn Heb “in the day of His anger.” As a temporal reference this phrase means “when he displayed his anger.” The Hebrew term “day,” associated with the “day of the Lord” or “day of his wrath” also functions as a title in a technical sense.
9 tn Heb “has swallowed up.”
10 tc The Kethib is written לֹא חָמַל (lo’ khamal, “without mercy”), while the Qere reads וְלֹא חָמַל (vÿlo’ khamal, “and he has shown no mercy”). The Kethib is followed by the LXX, while the Qere is reflected in many Hebrew
11 tn Heb “all the dwellings of Jacob.”
12 tn Heb “the strongholds.”
13 tn Heb “He brought down to the ground in disgrace the kingdom and its princes.” The verbs חִלֵּל…הִגִּיע (higgi’…khillel, “he has brought down…he has profaned”) function as a verbal hendiadys, as the absence of the conjunction ו (vav) suggests. The first verb retains its full verbal force, while the second functions adverbially: “he has brought down [direct object] in disgrace.”
14 tc The MT reads אַף (’af, “anger”), while the ancient versions (LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Latin Vulgate) reflect אַפּוֹ (’appo, “His anger”). The MT is the more difficult reading syntactically, while the ancient versions are probably smoothing out the text.
15 tn Heb “cut off, scattered.”
16 tn Heb “every horn of Israel.” The term “horn” (קֶרֶן, qeren) normally refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Israel. This term is often used figuratively as a symbol of strength, usually in reference to the military might of an army (Deut 33:17; 1 Sam 2:1, 10; 2 Sam 22:3; Pss 18:3; 75:11; 89:18, 25; 92:11; 112:9; 1 Chr 25:5; Jer 48:25; Lam 2:3, 17; Ezek 29:21) (BDB 901 s.v. 2), just as warriors are sometimes figuratively described as “bulls.” Cutting off the “horn” is a figurative expression for destroying warriors (Jer 48:25; Ps 75:10 [HT 11]).
18 tn Heb “from the presence of the enemy.” This figurative expression refers to the approach of the attacking army.
19 tn Heb “he burned in Jacob like a flaming fire.”
20 tn Or “He burned against Jacob, like a raging fire consumes all around.”
21 tn Heb “bent His bow.” When the verb דָּרַךְ (darakh) is used with the noun קֶשֶׁת (qeshet, “archer-bow”), it means “to bend [a bow]” to string it in preparation for shooting arrows (1 Chr 5:18; 8:40; 2 Chr 14:7; Jer 50:14, 29; 51:3). This idiom is used figuratively to describe the assaults of the wicked (Pss 11:2; 37:14) and the judgments of the
22 tn Heb “His right hand is stationed.”
23 tn Heb “the ones who were pleasing to the eye.”
24 tn The singular noun אֹהֶל (’ohel, “tent”) may function as a collective, referring to all tents in Judah. A parallel expression occurs in verse 2 using the plural: “all the dwellings of Jacob” (כָּל־נְאוֹת יַעֲקֹב, kol-nÿ’ot ya’aqov). The singular “tent” matches the image of “Daughter Zion.” On the other hand, the singular “the tent of Daughter Zion” might be a hyperbolic synecdoche of container (= tent) for contents (= inhabitants of Zion).
26 tn Heb “swallowed up.”
27 tn Heb “swallowed up.”
28 tn Heb “his.” For consistency this has been translated as “her.”
29 tn Heb “He increased in Daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.”
30 tn Heb “His booth.” The noun שׂךְ (sokh, “booth,” BDB 968 s.v.) is a hapax legomenon (term that appears only once in the Hebrew OT), but it is probably an alternate spelling of the more common noun סֻכָּה (sukkah, “booth”) which is used frequently of temporary shelters and booths (e.g., Neh 8:15) (BDB 697 s.v. סֻכָּה). Related to the verb שָׂכַךְ (sakhakh, “to weave”), it refers to a temporary dwelling constructed of interwoven boughs. This is a figurative description of the temple, as the parallel term מוֹעֲדוֹ (mo’ado, “his tabernacle” or “his appointed meeting place”) makes clear. Jeremiah probably chose this term to emphasize the frailty of the temple, and its ease of destruction. Contrary to the expectation of Jerusalem, it was only a temporary dwelling of the
31 tc The MT reads כַּגַּן (kaggan, “like a garden”). The LXX reads ὡς ἄμπελον (Jw" ampelon) which reflects כְּגֶפֶן (kÿgefen, “like a vineyard”). Internal evidence favors כְּגֶפֶן (kÿgefen) because God’s judgment is often compared to the destruction of a vineyard (e.g., Job 15:33; Isa 34:4; Ezek 15:2, 6). The omission of פ (pe) is easily explained due to the similarity in spelling between כְּגֶפֶן (kÿgefen) and כַּגַּן (kaggan).
32 tn Heb “The
33 tn Heb “In the fury of his anger” (זַעַם־אפּוֹ, za’am-’appo). The genitive noun אפּוֹ (’appo, “his anger”) functions as an attributed genitive with the construct noun זַעַם (za’am, “fury, rage”): “his furious anger.”
34 tn The verb נָאַץ (na’ats, “to spurn, show contempt”) functions as a metonymy of cause (= to spurn king and priests) for effect (= to reject them; cf. CEV). Since spurning is the cause, this may be understood as “to reject with a negative attitude.” However, retaining “spurn” in the translation keeps the term emotionally loaded. The most frequent term for נָאַץ (na’ats) in the LXX (παροξύνω, paroxunw) also conveys emotion beyond a decision to reject.
36 tn The Heb verb זָנַח (zanakh) is a rejection term often used in military contexts. Emphasizing emotion, it may mean “to spurn.” In military contexts it may be rendered “to desert.”
38 tn Heb “He delivered into the hand of the enemy.” The verb הִסְגִּיר (hisgir), Hiphil perfect 3rd person masculine singular from סָגַר (sagar), means “to give into someone’s control: to deliver” (Deut 23:16; Josh 20:5; 1 Sam 23:11, 20; 30:15; Job 16:11; Pss 31:9; 78:48, 50, 62; Lam 2:7; Amos 1:6, 9; Obad 14).
39 tn Heb “they.”
40 tn Heb “they gave voice” (קוֹל נָתְנוּ, kol natno). The verb נָתַן (natan, “to give”) with the noun קוֹל (kol, “voice, sound”) is an idiom meaning: “to utter a sound, make a noise, raise the voice” (e.g., Gen 45:2; Prov 2:3; Jer 4:16; 22:20; 48:34) (HALOT 734 s.v. נתן 12; BDB 679 s.v. נָתַן 1.x). Contextually, this describes the shout of victory by the Babylonians celebrating their conquest of Jerusalem.
41 tn Heb “as on the day of an appointed time.” The term מוֹעֵד (mo’ed, “appointed time”) refers to the religious festivals that were celebrated at appointed times in the Hebrew calendar (BDB 417 s.v. 1.b). In contrast to making festivals neglected (forgotten) in v 6, the enemy had a celebration which was entirely out of place.
42 tn Heb “he stretched out a measuring line.” In Hebrew, this idiom is used (1) literally: to describe a workman’s preparation of measuring and marking stones before cutting them for building (Job 38:5; Jer 31:39; Zech 1:16) and (2) figuratively: to describe the
43 tn Heb “He did not return His hand from swallowing.” That is, he persisted until it was destroyed.
44 tn Heb “they languished together.” The verbs אָבַּלּ (’aval, “to lament”) and אָמַל (’amal, “languish, mourn”) are often used in contexts of funeral laments in secular settings. The Hebrew prophets often use these terms to describe the aftermath of the
45 tn The verb בָּצַע (batsa’) has a broad range of meanings: (1) “to cut off, break off,” (2) “to injure” a person, (3) “to gain by violence,” (4) “to finish, complete” and (5) “to accomplish, fulfill” a promise.
46 tn Heb “His word.” When used in collocation with the verb בָּצַע (batsa’, “to fulfill,” see previous tn), the accusative noun אִמְרָה (’imrah) means “promise.”
47 tn Heb “commanded” or “decreed.” If a reference to prophetic oracles is understood, then “decreed” is preferable. If understood as a reference to the warnings in the covenant, then “threatened” is a preferable rendering.
48 tn Heb “from days of old.”
49 tn Heb “He has overthrown and has not shown mercy.” The two verbs חָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל (kharas vÿlo’ khamal) form a verbal hendiadys in which the first retains its verbal sense and the second functions adverbially: “He has overthrown you without mercy.” וְלֹא חָמָל (vÿlo’ khamal) alludes to 2:2.
50 tn Heb “He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.” The term “horn” (קֶרֶן, qeren) normally refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Israel. This term is often used figuratively as a symbol of strength, usually in reference to the military might of an army (Deut 33:17; 1 Sam 2:1, 10; 2 Sam 22:3; Pss 18:3; 75:11; 89:18, 25; 92:11; 112:9; 1 Chr 25:5; Jer 48:25; Lam 2:3; Ezek 29:21), just as warriors are sometimes figuratively described as “bulls.” To lift up the horn often means to boast and to lift up someone else’s horn is to give victory or cause to boast.
51 tc The MT reads צָעַק לִבָּם אֵל־אֲדֹנָי (tsa’aq libbam el-’adonay, “their heart cried out to the Lord”) which neither matches the second person address characterizing 2:13-19 nor is in close parallel to the rest of verse 18. Since the perfect צָעַק (tsa’aq, “cry out”) is apparently parallel to imperatives, it could be understood as a precative (“let their heart cry out”), although this understanding still has the problem of being in the third person. The BHS editors and many text critics suggest emending the MT צָעַק (tsa’aq), Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular, to צָעֲקִי (tsa’aqi), Qal imperative 2nd person masculine singular: “Cry out!” This restores a tighter parallelism with the two 2nd person masculine singular imperatives introducing the following lines: הוֹרִידִי (horidi, “Let [your tears] flow down!”) and אַל־תִּתְּנִי (’al-tittni, “Do not allow!”). In such a case, לִבָּם (libbam) must be taken adverbially. For לִבָּם (libbam, “their heart”) see the following note. The adverbial translation loses a potential parallel to the mention of the heart in the next verse. Emending the noun to “your heart” while viewing the verb as a precative perfect would maintain this connection.
52 tn Heb “their heart” or “from the heart.” Many English versions take the ־ם (mem) on לִבָּם (libbam) as the 3rd person masculine plural pronominal suffix: “their heart” (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, CEV). However, others take it as an enclitic or adverbial ending: “from the heart” (cf. RSV, NRSV, TEV, NJPS margin). See T. F. McDaniel, “The Alleged Sumerian Influence upon Lamentations,” VT 18 (1968): 203-4.
54 tn The wall is a synecdoche of a part standing for the whole city.
55 tn Heb “day and night.” The expression “day and night” forms a merism which encompasses everything in between two polar opposites: “from dawn to dusk” or “all day and all night long.”
56 tn Heb “the daughter of your eye.” The term “eye” functions as a metonymy for “tears” that are produced by the eyes. Jeremiah exhorts personified Jerusalem to cry out to the
57 tc The Kethib is written בַּלַּיִל (ballayil) a defective spelling for בַּלַּיְלָה (ballaylah, “night”). The Qere reads בַּלַּיְלָה (ballaylah, “night”), which is preserved in numerous medieval Hebrew
tn The noun בַּלַּיְלָה (ballaylah, “night”) functions as an adverbial accusative of time: “in the night.”
58 tn Heb “at the head of the watches.”
59 tn The noun לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) functions here as a metonymy of association for the thoughts and emotions in the heart. The Hebrew לֵבָב (levav) includes the mind so that in some cases the translation “heart” implies an inappropriate division between the cognitive and affective. This context is certainly emotionally loaded, but as part of a series of admonitions to address God in prayer, these emotions are inextricably bound with the thoughts of the mind. The singular “heart” is retained in the translation to be consistent with the personification of Jerusalem (cf. v. 18).
61 sn Lifting up the palms or hands is a metaphor for prayer.
62 tn Heb “on account of the life of your children.” The noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) refers to the “life” of their dying children (e.g., Lam 2:12). The singular noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “life”) is used as a collective, as the plural genitive noun that follows makes clear: “your children.”
63 tc The BHS editors and many commentators suggest that the fourth bicola in 2:19 is a late addition and should be deleted. Apart from the four sets of bicola in 1:7 and 2:19, every stanza in chapters 1-4 consists of three sets of bicola.
tn Heb “who are fainting.”
64 tn Heb “at the head of every street.”
65 tn Heb “Look, O
sn Integral to battered Jerusalem’s appeal, and part of the ancient Near Eastern lament genre, is the request for God to look at her pain. This should evoke pity regardless of the reason for punishment. The request is not for God to see merely that there are misfortunes, as one might note items on a checklist. The cognitive (facts) and affective (feelings) are not divided. The plea is for God to watch, think about, and be affected by these facts while listening to the petitioner’s perspective.
67 tn Heb “their fruit.” The term פְּרִי (pÿri, “fruit”) is used figuratively to refer to children as the fruit of a mother’s womb (e.g., Gen 30:2; Deut 7:13; 28:4, 11, 18, 53; 30:9; Pss 21:11; 127:3; 132:11; Isa 13:18; Mic 6:7).
68 tn Heb “infants of healthy childbirth.” The genitive-construct phrase עֹלֲלֵי טִפֻּחִים (’olale tippukhim) functions as an attributive genitive construction: “healthy newborn infants.” The noun טִפֻּחִים (tippukhim) appears only here. It is related to the verb טָפַח (tafakh), meaning “to give birth to a healthy child” or “to raise children” depending on whether the Arabic or Akkadian cognate is emphasized. For the related verb, see below at 2:22.
sn Placing the specific reference to children at the end of the line in apposition to clarify that it does not describe the normal eating of fruit helps produce the repulsive shock of the image. Furthermore, the root of the word for “infants” (עוֹלֵל, ’olel) has the same root letters for the verb “to afflict” occurring in the first line of the verse, making a pun (F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Lamentations [IBC], 99-100).
70 tn Heb “virgins.” The term “virgin” probably functions as a metonymy of association for single young women.
71 tn Heb “in the day of your anger.” The construction בָּיוֹם (bayom, “in the day of…”) is a common Hebrew idiom, meaning “when…” (e.g., Gen 2:4; Lev 7:35; Num 3:1; Deut 4:15; 2 Sam 22:1; Pss 18:1; 138:3; Zech 8:9). This temporal idiom refers to a general time period, but uses the term “day” as a forceful rhetorical device to emphasize the vividness and drama of the event, depicting it as occurring within a single day. In the ancient Near East, military minded kings often referred to a successful campaign as “the day of X” in order to portray themselves as powerful conquerors who, as it were, could inaugurate and complete a victory military campaign within the span of one day.
72 tc The MT reads לֹא חָמָלְתָּ (lo’ khamalta, “You showed no mercy”). However, many medieval Hebrew
73 tn The syntax of the line is awkward. English versions vary considerably in how they render it: “Thou hast called as in a solemn day my terrors round about” (KJV), “Thou hast called, as in the day of a solemn assembly, my terrors on every side” (ASV), “You did call as in the day of an appointed feast my terrors on every side” (NASB), “Thou didst invite as to the day of an appointed feast my terrors on every side” (RSV), “As you summon to a feast day, so you summoned against me terrors on every side” (NIV), “You summoned, as on a festival, my neighbors from roundabout” (NJPS), “You invited my enemies to hold a carnival of terror all around me” (TEV), “You invited my enemies like guests for a party” (CEV).
74 tn The term “enemies” is supplied in the translation as a clarification.
75 tn Heb “my terrors” or “my enemies.” The expression מְגוּרַי (mÿguray, “my terrors”) is difficult and may refer to either enemies, the terror associated with facing enemies, or both.
76 tn Heb “surrounding me.”
77 tn The meaning of the verb טָפַח (tafakh) is debated: (1) BDB suggests that it is derived from טָפַה (tafah, “to extend, spread” the hands) and here means “to carry in the palm of one’s hands” (BDB 381 s.v. טָפַה 2). (2) HALOT 378 s.v. II טָפַח suggests that it is derived from the root II טָפַח (tafakh) and means “to give birth to healthy children.” The recent lexicons suggest that it is related to Arabic tafaha “to bring forth fully formed children” and to Akkadian tuppu “to raise children.” The use of this particular term highlights the tragic irony of what the army of Babylon has done: it has destroyed the lives of perfectly healthy children whom the women of Israel had raised.
78 tn This entire line is an accusative noun clause, functioning as the direct object of the following line: “my enemy has destroyed the perfectly healthy children….” Normal word order in Hebrew is: verb + subject + direct object. Here, the accusative direct object clause is moved forward for rhetorical emphasis: those whom the Babylonians killed had been children born perfectly healthy and well raised … what a tragic loss of perfectly good human life!