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Lamentations 4:15-16

Context

ס (Samek)

4:15 People cry to them, “Turn away! You are unclean!

Turn away! Turn away! Don’t touch us!”

So they have fled and wander about;

but the nations say, 1  “They may not stay here any longer.”

פ (Pe)

4:16 The Lord himself 2  has scattered them;

he no longer watches over them.

They did not honor the priests; 3 

they did not show favor to the elders. 4 

1 tn Heb “They say among the nations.”

2 tn Heb “the face of the Lord.” The term פָּנֶה (paneh, “face”) is a synecdoche of part (= face) for the whole person (= the Lord himself). The phrase is often translated “the presence of the Lord.” The term “face” also functions anthropomorphically, depicting the invisible spirit God as though he had a physical face.

3 tc The MT reads the plural verb לֹא נָשָׂאוּ (lonasau, “they did not lift up”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from נָשָׂא (nasa’, “to lift up” the face); however, the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) have singular verbs, reflecting a Vorlage of לֹא נָשָׂא (lonasa’, “he did not lift up”), Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from נָשָׂא (nasa’). D. R. Hillers suggests that the MT plural is an intentional scribe change, to avoid the appearance that God brought about evil on the priests and elders. Equally possible is that consonantal לא חננו (lkhnnv) should be revocalized as Qal passive perfect 3rd person common plural, and that כֹהֲנִים (kohanim, “the priests”) functions as the subject of a passive verb rather than the accusative direct object of an active verb: “(the faces of ) the priests were not lifted up.”

tn Heb “did not lift up.” The verb נָשָׂא (nasa’) means “to lift up” (the face); however, the specific contextual nuance here is probably “to show consideration” (e.g., Deut 28:50; Lam 4:16) (BDB 670 s.v. 1.b.3).

4 tc The MT reads the plural verb לֹא חָנָנוּ (lokhananu, “they did not show favor”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from חָנַן (khanan, “to show favor, be merciful”); however, the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) have singular verbs, reflecting a Vorlage of לֹא חָנַן (lokhanan, “he did not show favor”), Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from חָנַן (khanan). D. R. Hillers suggests that the MT plural is an intentional scribe change, to avoid the appearance that God brought about evil on the priests and elders. Equally possible is that consonantal לא חננו (lkhnnv) should be revocalized as Qal passive perfect 3rd person common plural, and that זְקֵנִים (zÿqenim, “the elders”) functions as the subject of a passive verb rather than the accusative direct object of an active verb: “the elders were not shown favor/mercy.”

tn The basic meaning of the verb חָנַן (khanan) is “to show favor [to], be gracious [to].” In some contexts this can mean “to spare” the lives of someone (Deut 7:2; 28:50; Job 19:21; Lam 4:16) (BDB 336 s.v. 1.c), though it is not clear whether that is the case here.



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