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Lamentations 4:9-10

Context

ט (Tet)

4:9 Those who died by the sword 1  are better off

than those who die of hunger, 2 

those who 3  waste away, 4 

struck down 5  from lack of 6  food. 7 

י (Yod)

4:10 The hands of tenderhearted women 8 

cooked their own children,

who became their food, 9 

when my people 10  were destroyed. 11 

1 tn Heb “those pierced of the sword.” The genitive-construct denotes instrumentality: “those pierced by the sword” (חַלְלֵי־חֶרֶב, khalle-kherev). The noun חָלָל (khalal) refers to a “fatal wound” and is used substantivally to refer to “the slain” (Num 19:18; 31:8, 19; 1 Sam 17:52; 2 Sam 23:8, 18; 1 Chr 11:11, 20; Isa 22:2; 66:16; Jer 14:18; 25:33; 51:49; Lam 4:9; Ezek 6:7; 30:11; 31:17, 18; 32:20; Zeph 2:12).

2 tn Heb “those slain of hunger.” The genitive-construct denotes instrumentality: “those slain by hunger,” that is, those who are dying of hunger.

3 tn Heb “who…” The antecedent of the relative pronoun שֶׁהֵם (shehem, “who”) are those dying of hunger in the previous line: מֵחַלְלֵי רָעָב (mekhalle raav, “those slain of hunger”).

4 tn Heb “they flow away.” The verb זוּב (zuv, “to flow, gush”) is used figuratively here, meaning “to pine away” or “to waste away” from hunger. See also the next note.

5 tn Heb “pierced through and through.” The term מְדֻקָּרִים (mÿduqqarim), Pual participle masculine plural from דָּקַר (daqar, “to pierce”), is used figuratively. The verb דָּקַר (daqar, “to pierce”) usually refers to a fatal wound inflicted by a sword or spear (Num 25:8; Judg 9:54; 1 Sam 31:4; 1 Chr 10:4; Isa 13:15; Jer 37:10; 51:4; Zech 12:10; 13:3). Here, it describes people dying from hunger. This is an example of hypocatastasis: an implied comparison between warriors being fatally pierced by sword and spear and the piercing pangs of hunger and starvation. Alternatively “those who hemorrhage (זוּב [zuv, “flow, gush”]) [are better off] than those pierced by lack of food” in parallel to the structure of the first line.

6 tn The preposition מִן (min, “from”) denotes deprivation: “from lack of” something (BDB 580 s.v. 2.f; HALOT 598 s.v. 6).

7 tn Heb “produce of the field.”

8 tn Heb “the hands of compassionate women.”

9 tn Heb “eating.” The infinitive construct (from I בָּרָה, barah) is translated as a noun. Three passages employ the verb (2 Sam 3:35; 12:17; 13:5,6,10) for eating when ill or in mourning.

10 tn Heb “the daughter of my people.”

11 tn Heb “in the destruction of the daughter of my people.”



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