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Lamentations 5:12-16

Context

5:12 Princes were hung by their hands;

elders were mistreated. 1 

5:13 The young men perform menial labor; 2 

boys stagger from their labor. 3 

5:14 The elders are gone from the city gate;

the young men have stopped playing their music.

5:15 Our hearts no longer have any joy; 4 

our dancing is turned to mourning.

5:16 The crown has fallen from our head;

woe to us, for we have sinned!

1 tn Heb “elders were shown no respect.” The phrase “shown no respect” is an example of tapeinosis, a figurative expression of understatement: to show no respect to elders = to terribly mistreat elders.

2 tn The text is difficult. Word by word the MT has “young men hand mill(?) they take up” Perhaps it means “they take [our] young men for mill grinding,” or perhaps it means “the young men take up [the labor of] mill grinding.” This expression is an example of synecdoche where the mill stands for the labor at the mill and then that labor stands for performing menial physical labor as servants. The surface reading, “young men carry hand mills,” does not portray any great adversity for them. The Vulgate translates as an abusive sexual metaphor (see D. R. Hillers, Lamentations [AB], 99), but this gives no known parallel to the second part of the verse.

3 tc Heb “boys trip over wood.” This phrase makes little sense. The translation adopts D. R. Hillers’ suggestion (Lamentations [AB], 99) of בְּעֶצֶב כָּשָׁלוּ (bÿetsev kashalu). Due to letter confusion and haplography the final ב (bet) of בְּעֶצֶב (bÿetsev) which looks like the כ (kaf) beginning the next word, was dropped. This verb can have an abstract noun after the preposition ב (bet) meaning “from, due to” rather than “over.”

4 tn Heb “the joy of our heart has ceased.”



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