my stomach is in knots. 3
My heart 4 is poured out on the ground
children and infants faint
in the town squares.
4:17 Our eyes continually failed us
as we looked in vain for help. 7
From our watchtowers we watched
for a nation that could not rescue us.
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 tn Heb “Our eyes failed in vain for help.”