my stomach is in knots. 3
My heart 4 is poured out on the ground
children and infants faint
in the town squares.
O wall of Daughter Zion! 10
Make your tears flow like a river
all day and all night long! 11
Do not rest;
do not let your tears 12 stop!
when the night watches start! 14
Pour out your heart 15 like water
before the face of the Lord! 16
Lift up your hands 17 to him
for your children’s lives; 18
they are fainting 19
at every street corner. 20
1 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).
2 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.
3 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.
4 tn Heb “my liver,” viewed as the seat of the emotions.
5 tn Heb “on account of the breaking.”
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
10 tn The wall is a synecdoche of a part standing for the whole city.
11 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.”
12 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
13 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.”
14 tn Heb “at the head of the watches.”
15 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).
17 sn Lifting up the palms or hands is a metaphor for prayer.
18 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.”
19 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.”
20 tn Heb “at the head of every street.”