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Lamentations 4:18-22


צ (Tsade)

4:18 Our enemies 1  hunted us down at every step 2 

so that we could not walk about in our streets.

Our end drew near, our days were numbered, 3 

for our end had come!

ק (Qof)

4:19 Those who pursued us were swifter

than eagles 4  in the sky. 5 

They chased us over the mountains;

they ambushed us in the wilderness.

ר (Resh)

4:20 Our very life breath – the Lord’s anointed king 6 

was caught in their traps, 7 

of whom we thought, 8 

“Under his protection 9  we will survive among the nations.”

The Prophet Speaks:

ש (Sin/Shin)

4:21 Rejoice and be glad for now, 10  O people of Edom, 11 

who reside in the land of Uz.

But the cup of judgment 12  will pass 13  to you also;

you will get drunk and take off your clothes.

ת (Tav)

4:22 O people of Zion, 14  your punishment 15  will come to an end; 16 

he will not prolong your exile. 17 

But, O people of Edom, 18  he will punish 19  your sin 20 

and reveal 21  your offenses!

1 tn Heb “they”; this has been specified in the translation as “our enemies” for clarity.

2 tn Heb “they hunted our steps.”

3 tn Heb “our days were full.”

4 tn The bird referred to here could be one of several species of eagles, but more likely is the griffin-vulture (cf. NEB “vultures”). However, because eagles are more commonly associated with swiftness than vultures in contemporary English, “eagles” was used in the translation.

5 tn Or “in the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.

6 tn Heb “the anointed one of the Lord.” The term “king” is added in the translation to clarify the referent of the phrase “the Lord’s anointed.”

7 tn Heb “was captured in their pits.”

8 tn Heb “of whom we had said.”

9 tn Heb “under his shadow.” The term צֵל (tsel, “shadow”) is used figuratively here to refer the source of protection from military enemies. In the same way that the shade of a tree gives physical relief and protection from the heat of the sun (e.g., Judg 9:15; Job 40:22; Ps 80:11; Song 2:3; Ezek 17:23; 31:6, 12, 17; Hos 4:13; 14:8; Jon 4:5, 6), a faithful and powerful king can provide “shade” (= protection) from enemies and military attack (Num 14:19; Ps 91:1; Isa 30:2, 3; 49:2; 51:16; Jer 48:45; Lam 4:20).

10 tn The phrase “for now” is added in the translation to highlight the implied contrast between the present joy of the Gentiles (4:21a) and their future judgment (4:21b).

11 tn Heb “O Daughter of Edom.”

12 tn Heb “the cup.” Judgment is often depicted as a cup of wine that God forces a person to drink, causing him to lose consciousness, red wine drooling out of his mouth – resembling corpses lying on the ground as a result of the actual onslaught of the Lord’s judgment. The drunkard will reel and stagger, causing bodily injury to himself – an apt metaphor to describe the devastating effects of God’s judgment. Just as a cup of poison kills all those who are forced to drink it, the cup of God’s wrath destroys all those who must drink it (e.g., Ps 75:9; Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15, 17, 28; 49:12; 51:7; Lam 4:21; Ezek 23:33; Hab 2:16).

13 tn The imperfect verb “will pass” may also be a jussive, continuing the element of request, “let the cup pass…”

14 tn Heb “O Daughter Zion.”

15 tn Heb “your iniquity.” The noun עָוֹן (’avon) has a broad range of meanings, including: (1) iniquity, (2) guilt of iniquity, and (3) consequence or punishment for iniquity (cause-effect metonymical relation). The context suggests that “punishment for sin” is most appropriate here (e.g., Gen 4:13; 19:15; Exod 28:38, 43; Lev 5:1, 17; 7:18; 10:17; 16:22; 17:16; 19:8; 20:17, 19; 22:16; 26:39, 41, 43; Num 5:31; 14:34; 18:1, 23; 30:15; 1 Sam 25:24; 28:10; 2 Sam 14:9; 2 Kgs 7:9; Job 10:14; Pss 31:11; 69:28; 106:43; Prov 5:22; Isa 5:18; 30:13; 40:2; 53:6, 11; 64:5, 6; Jer 51:6; Lam 4:22; 5:7; Ezek 4:4-6, 17; 7:16; 14:10; 18:19-20; 21:30, 34; 24:23; 32:27; 35:5; 39:23; 44:10, 12).

16 tn Heb “will be completed.” The perfect tense verb תַּם (tam), Qal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from תָּמַם (tamam, “to be complete”), could be taken as a precative perfect expressing a request (“may your punishment be complete”). The translation understands it as an example of the so-called “prophetic perfect.” The perfect tense often describes actions that are viewed as complete (normally past- or present-time events). When the perfect tense describes a future event, it often depicts it as “complete,” that is, “as good as done” or certain to take place from the viewpoint of the prophet. Thus, by using the perfect tense, Jeremiah may be emphasizing the certainty that the exile will eventually come to an end. It has also been viewed as a simple perfect “your punishment is ended.”

17 tn The verb לֹא יוֹסִיף (loyosif) could be taken as a precative perfect, making a request to God. See the note at the beginning of the verse.

18 tn Heb “O Daughter of Edom.”

19 tn The verb פָּקַד (paqad) could be taken as a precative perfect, making a request to God. See the note at the beginning of the verse.

20 tn The noun עָוֹן (’avon) is repeated twice in this verse: its first occurrence means “punishment for iniquity” (v. 22a), and its second usage means “iniquity” (v. 22b). See preceding translator’s note on the broad range of meanings of this word. The repetition of the same root with different meanings creates an ironic polysemantic wordplay: Zion’s “punishment” for its sin is about to come to an end; however, the punishment for Edom’s “sin” is about to begin.

21 tn The verb גִּלָּה (gillah) could be taken as a precative perfect, making a request to God. See the note at the beginning of the verse.

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