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Lamentations 2:4-5

Context

ד (Dalet)

2:4 He prepared his bow 1  like an enemy;

his right hand was ready to shoot. 2 

Like a foe he killed everyone,

even our strong young men; 3 

he has poured out his anger like fire

on the tent 4  of Daughter Zion.

ה (He)

2:5 The Lord, 5  like an enemy,

destroyed 6  Israel.

He destroyed 7  all her palaces;

he ruined her 8  fortified cities.

He made everyone in Daughter Judah

mourn and lament. 9 

Lamentations 2:8

Context

ח (Khet)

2:8 The Lord was determined to tear down

Daughter Zion’s wall.

He prepared to knock it down; 10 

he did not withdraw his hand from destroying. 11 

He made the ramparts and fortified walls lament;

together they mourned their ruin. 12 

1 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.

2 tn Heb “His right hand is stationed.”

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

4 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).

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

6 tn Heb “swallowed up.”

7 tn Heb “swallowed up.”

8 tn Heb “his.” For consistency this has been translated as “her.”

9 tn Heb “He increased in Daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.”

10 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.

11 tn Heb “He did not return His hand from swallowing.” That is, he persisted until it was destroyed.

12 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.



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