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Lamentations 2:1-9

Context
The Prophet Speaks:

א (Alef)

2:1 Alas! 1  The Lord 2  has covered

Daughter Zion 3  with his anger. 4 

He has thrown down the splendor of Israel

from heaven to earth;

he did not protect 5  his temple 6 

when he displayed his anger. 7 

ב (Bet)

2:2 The Lord 8  destroyed 9  mercilessly 10 

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 

ג (Gimel)

2:3 In fierce anger 14  he destroyed 15 

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 

ד (Dalet)

2:4 He prepared his bow 21  like an enemy;

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.

ה (He)

2:5 The Lord, 25  like an enemy,

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 

ו (Vav)

2:6 He destroyed his temple 30  as if it were a vineyard; 31 

he destroyed his appointed meeting place.

The Lord has made those in Zion forget

both the festivals and the Sabbaths. 32 

In his fierce anger 33  he has spurned 34 

both king and priest.

ז (Zayin)

2:7 The Lord 35  rejected 36  his altar

and abhorred his temple. 37 

He handed over to the enemy 38 

her palace walls;

the enemy 39  shouted 40  in the Lord’s temple

as if it were a feast day. 41 

ח (Khet)

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 

ט (Tet)

2:9 Her city gates have fallen 45  to the ground;

he smashed to bits 46  the bars that lock her gates. 47 

Her king and princes were taken into exile; 48 

there is no more guidance available. 49 

As for her prophets,

they no longer receive 50  a vision from the Lord.

1 tn See the note at 1:1.

2 tc The MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”) here rather than יהוה (YHWH, “the Lord”). See the tc note at 1:14.

3 sn Chapter 2 continues the use of feminine epithets (e.g., “Daughter Zion”), although initially portraying Jerusalem as an object destroyed by the angered enemy, God.

4 tn The verb יָעִיב (yaiv) 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 Lord’s temple in Jerusalem (Isa 60:13; Lam 2:1) or to the ark as the place above which the Lord is enthroned (Pss 99:5; 132:7; 1 Chr 28:2).

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.

8 tc The MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”) here rather than יהוה (YHWH, “the Lord”). See the tc note at 1:14.

9 tn Heb “has swallowed up.”

10 tc The Kethib is written לֹא חָמַל (lokhamal, “without mercy”), while the Qere reads וְלֹא חָמַל (vÿlokhamal, “and he has shown no mercy”). The Kethib is followed by the LXX, while the Qere is reflected in many Hebrew mss and the ancient versions (Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate). The English versions are split between the Kethib: “The Lord swallowed all the dwellings of Jacob without mercy” (cf. RSV, NRSV, NIV, TEV, NJPS) and the Qere: “The Lord swallowed all the dwellings of Jacob, and has shown no mercy” (cf. KJV, NASB, CEV). As these words occur between a verb and its object (חָמַל [khamal] is not otherwise followed by אֵת [’et, direct object marker]), an adverbial reading is the most natural, although interrupting the sentence with an insertion is possible. Compare 2:17, 21; 3:43. In contexts of harming, to show mercy often means to spare from harm.

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 חִלֵּלהִגִּיע (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]).

17 tn Heb “he caused his right hand to turn back.” The implication in such contexts is that the Lord’s right hand protects his city. This image of the right hand is consciously reversed in 2:4.

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 Lord (Ps 7:13; Lam 2:4; 3:12) (BDB 202 s.v. דָּרַךְ 4). The translation “he prepared his bow” is the slightly more general modern English idiomatic equivalent of the ancient Hebrew idiom “he bent his bow” – both refer to preparations to get ready to shoot arrows.

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-nÿot yaaqov). 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).

25 tc The MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”) here rather than יהוה (YHWH, “the Lord”). See the tc note at 1:14.

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 (moado, “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 Lord – its permanence cut short due to sin of the people.

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 Lord has caused to be forgotten in Zion both appointed festival and Sabbath.” The verb שִׁכַּח (shikkakh, “to cause someone to forget”), Piel perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׁכַח (shakhakh, “to forget”) is used figuratively. When people forget “often the neglect of obligations is in view” (L. C. Allen, NIDOTTE 4:104). When people forget the things of God, they are in disobedience and often indicted for ignoring God or neglecting their duties to him (Deut 4:23, 31; 6:12; 8:11, 19; 26:13; 31:21; 32:18; Judg 3:7; 1 Sam 12:9; 2 Kgs 17:38; Is 49:14; 51:13; 65:11; Jer 18:15; Exek 23:35; Hos 4:6). The irony is that the one to whom worship is due has made it so that people must neglect it. Most English versions render this in a metonymical sense: “the Lord has brought to an end in Zion appointed festival and sabbath” (RSV), “[he] did away with festivals and Sabbaths” (CEV), “he has put an end to holy days and Sabbaths” (TEV), “the Lord has ended…festival and sabbath” (NJPS), “the Lord has abolished…festivals and sabbath” (NRSV). Few English versions employ the gloss “remember”: “the Lord hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten” (KJV) and “the Lord has made Zion forget her appointed feasts and her sabbaths”(NIV).

33 tn Heb “In the fury of his anger” (זַעַם־אפּוֹ, zaam-appo). The genitive noun אפּוֹ (’appo, “his anger”) functions as an attributed genitive with the construct noun זַעַם (zaam, “fury, rage”): “his furious anger.”

34 tn The verb נָאַץ (naats, “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 (naats) in the LXX (παροξύνω, paroxunw) also conveys emotion beyond a decision to reject.

35 tc The MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”) here rather than יהוה (YHWH, “the Lord”), which occurs near the end of this verse. See the tc note at 1:14.

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.”

37 tn Heb “His sanctuary.” The term מִקְדָּשׁוֹ (miqdasho, “His sanctuary”) refers to the temple (e.g., 1 Chr 22:19; 2 Chr 36:17; Ps 74:7; Isa 63:18; Ezek 48:21; Dan 8:11) (BDB 874 s.v. מִקְדָּשׁ).

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 (moed, “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 Lord’s planning and preparation to destroy a walled city, that is, to mark off for destruction (2 Kgs 21:13; Isa 34:11; Lam 2:8). It is not completely clear how a phrase from the vocabulary of building becomes a metaphor for destruction; however, it might picture a predetermined and carefully planned measure from which God will not deviate.

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 Lord’s judgment on a nation. Based on parallel terms, אָמַל (’amal) may describe either mourning or deterioration and so makes for a convenient play on meaning when destroyed objects are personified. Incorporating this play into the translation, however, may obscure the parallel between this line and the deterioration of the gates beginning in v. 9.

45 tn Heb “have sunk down.” This expression, “her gates have sunk down into the ground,” is a personification, picturing the city gates descending into the earth, as if going down into the grave or the netherworld. Most English versions render it literally (KJV, RSV, NRSV, NASB, NIV, NJPS); however, a few paraphrases have captured the equivalent sense quite well: “Zion’s gates have fallen facedown on the ground” (CEV) and “the gates are buried in rubble” (TEV).

46 tn Heb “he has destroyed and smashed her bars.” The two verbs אִבַּד וְשִׁבַּר (’ibbad vÿshibbar) form a verbal hendiadys that emphasizes the forcefulness of the destruction of the locking bars on the gates. The first verb functions adverbially and the second retains its full verbal sense: “he has smashed to pieces.” Several English versions render this expression literally and miss the rhetorical point: “he has ruined and broken” (RSV, NRSV), “he has destroyed and broken” (KJV, NASB), “he has broken and destroyed” (NIV). The hendiadys has been correctly noted by others: “smashed to pieces” (TEV, CEV) and “smashed to bits” (NJPS).

47 tn Heb “her bars.” Since the literal “bars” could be misunderstood as referring to saloons, the phrase “the bars that lock her gates” has been used in the present translation.

48 tn Heb “are among the nations.”

49 tn Heb “there is no torah” or “there is no Torah” (אֵין תּוֹרָה, ’en torah). Depending on whether תּוֹרָה (torah, “instruction, law”) is used in parallelism with the preceding or following line, it refers to (1) political guidance that the now-exiled king had formerly provided or (2) prophetic instruction that the now-ineffective prophets had formerly provided (BDB 434 s.v. תּוֹרָה 1.b). It is possible that the three lines are arranged in an ABA chiastic structure, exploiting the semantic ambiguity of the term תּוֹרָה (torah, “instruction”). Possibly it is an oblique reference to the priests’ duties of teaching, thus introducing a third group of the countries leaders. It is possible to hear in this a lament in reference to the destruction of Torah scrolls that may have been at the temple when it was destroyed.

50 tn Heb “they cannot find.”



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