2:10 The elders of Daughter Zion
They have thrown dirt on their heads;
They have dressed in sackcloth. 3
my stomach is in knots. 8
My heart 9 is poured out on the ground
children and infants faint
in the town squares.
when the night watches start! 13
Pour out your heart 14 like water
before the face of the Lord! 15
Lift up your hands 16 to him
for your children’s lives; 17
they are fainting 18
at every street corner. 19
Whom have you ever afflicted 21 like this?
Should women eat their offspring, 22
their healthy infants? 23
Should priest and prophet
be killed in the Lord’s 24 sanctuary?
2:21 The young boys and old men
lie dead on the ground in the streets.
My young women 25 and my young men
have fallen by the sword.
You killed them when you were angry; 26
you slaughtered them without mercy. 27
1 tc Consonantal ישׁבו (yshvy) is vocalized by the MT as יֵשְׁבוּ (yeshvu), Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from יָשַׁב (yashav, “to sit”): “they sit on the ground.” However, the ancient versions (Aramaic Targum, Greek Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta, Latin Vulgate) reflect an alternate vocalization tradition of יָשְׁבוּ (yashvu), Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural from שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”): “they return to the ground (= the grave).” The parallelism with the following line favors the MT.
2 tn Heb “they sit on the ground, they are silent.” Based on meter, the two verbs יִדְּמוּ…יֵשְׁבוּ (yeshvu…yidÿmu, “they sit…they are silent”) are in the same half of the line. Joined without a ו (vav) conjunction they form a verbal hendiadys. The first functions in its full verbal sense while the second functions adverbially: “they sit in silence.” The verb יִדְּמוּ (yidÿmu) may mean to be silent or to wail.
3 tn Heb “they have girded themselves with sackcloth.”
sn Along with putting dirt on one’s head, wearing sackcloth was a sign of mourning.
4 tn Heb “the virgins of Jerusalem.” The term “virgins” is a metonymy of association, standing for single young women who are not yet married. These single women are in grief because their potential suitors have been killed. The elders, old men, and young women function together as a merism for all of the survivors (F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, Lamentations [IBC], 92).
5 tn Heb “have bowed down their heads to the ground.”
6 tn Heb “my eyes are spent” or “my eyes fail.” The verb כָּלָה (kalah) is used of eyes exhausted by weeping (Job 11:20; 17:5; Ps 69:4; Jer 14:6; 4:17), and means either “to be spent” (BDB 477 s.v. 2.b) or “to fail” (HALOT 477 s.v. 6). It means to have used up all one’s tears or to have worn out the eyes because of so much crying. It is rendered variously: “my eyes fail” (KJV, NIV), “my eyes are spent” (RSV, NRSV, NASB, NJPS), “my eyes are worn out” (TEV), and “my eyes are red” (CEV).
7 tn Heb “because of tears.” The plural noun דִּמְעוֹת (dim’ot, “tears”) is an example of the plural of intensity or repeated behavior: “many tears.” The more common singular form דִּמְעָה (dim’ah) normally functions in a collective sense (“tears”); therefore, the plural form here does not indicate simple plural of number.
8 tn Heb “my bowels burn” or “my bowels are in a ferment.” The verb חֳמַרְמְרוּ (khomarmÿru) is an unusual form and derived from a debated root: Poalal perfect 3rd person common plural from III חָמַר (khamar, “to be red,” HALOT 330 s.v. III חמר) or Pe`al`al perfect 3rd person common plural from I חָמַר (khamar, “to ferment, boil up,” BDB 330 s.v. I חָמַר). The Poalal stem of this verb occurs only three times in OT: with פָּנִים (panim, “face,” Job 16:16) and מֵעִים (me’im, “bowels,” Lam 1:20; 2:11). The phrase חֳמַרְמְרוּ מֵעַיּ (khomarmÿru me’ay) means “my bowels burned” (HALOT 330 s.v.) or “my bowels are in a ferment,” as a euphemism for lower-intestinal bowel problems (BDB 330 s.v.). This phrase also occurs in later rabbinic literature (m. Sanhedrin 7:2). The present translation, “my stomach is in knots,” is not a literal equivalent to this Hebrew idiom; however, it is an attempt to approximate the equivalent English idiom.
9 tn Heb “my liver,” viewed as the seat of the emotions.
10 tn Heb “on account of the breaking.”
11 tn Heb “the daughter of my people.” Rather than a genitive of relationship (“daughter of X”), the phrase בַּת־עַמִּי (bat-’ammi) is probably a genitive of apposition. The idiom “Daughter X” occurs often in Lamentations: “Daughter Jerusalem” (2x), “Daughter Zion” (7x), “Virgin Daughter Zion” (1x), “Daughter of My People” (5x), “Daughter Judah” (2x), and “Virgin Daughter Judah” (1x). In each case, it is a poetic description of Jerusalem or Judah as a whole. The idiom בַּת־עַמִּי (bat-’ammi, lit., “daughter of my people” is rendered variously by the English versions: “the daughter of my people” (KJV, RSV, NASB), “my people” (NIV, TEV, CEV), and “my poor people” (NJPS). The metaphor here pictures the people as vulnerable and weak.
12 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.”
13 tn Heb “at the head of the watches.”
14 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).
16 sn Lifting up the palms or hands is a metaphor for prayer.
17 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.”
18 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.”
19 tn Heb “at the head of every street.”
20 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.
22 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).
23 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).
25 tn Heb “virgins.” The term “virgin” probably functions as a metonymy of association for single young women.
26 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.
27 tc The MT reads לֹא חָמָלְתָּ (lo’ khamalta, “You showed no mercy”). However, many medieval Hebrew