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Lamentations 2:3-4

Context

ג (Gimel)

2:3 In fierce anger 1  he destroyed 2 

the whole army 3  of Israel.

He withdrew his right hand 4 

as the enemy attacked. 5 

He was like a raging fire in the land of Jacob; 6 

it consumed everything around it. 7 

ד (Dalet)

2:4 He prepared his bow 8  like an enemy;

his right hand was ready to shoot. 9 

Like a foe he killed everyone,

even our strong young men; 10 

he has poured out his anger like fire

on the tent 11  of Daughter Zion.

1 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.

2 tn Heb “cut off, scattered.”

3 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]).

4 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.

5 tn Heb “from the presence of the enemy.” This figurative expression refers to the approach of the attacking army.

6 tn Heb “he burned in Jacob like a flaming fire.”

7 tn Or “He burned against Jacob, like a raging fire consumes all around.”

8 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.

9 tn Heb “His right hand is stationed.”

10 tn Heb “the ones who were pleasing to the eye.”

11 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).



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