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Lamentations 1:18-22

Context
Jerusalem Speaks:

צ (Tsade)

1:18 The Lord is right to judge me! 1 

Yes, I rebelled against his commands. 2 

Please listen, all you nations, 3 

and look at my suffering!

My young women and men

have gone into exile.

ק (Qof)

1:19 I called for my lovers, 4 

but they had deceived me.

My priests and my elders

perished in the city.

Truly they had 5  searched for food

to 6  keep themselves 7  alive. 8 

ר (Resh)

1:20 Look, O Lord! I am distressed; 9 

my stomach is in knots! 10 

My heart is pounding 11  inside me.

Yes, I was terribly rebellious! 12 

Out in the street the sword bereaves a mother of her children; 13 

Inside the house death is present. 14 

ש (Sin/Shin)

1:21 They have heard 15  that I groan,

yet there is no one to comfort me.

All my enemies have heard of my trouble;

they are glad that you 16  have brought it about. 17 

Bring about 18  the day of judgment 19  that you promised 20 

so that 21  they may end up 22  like me!

ת (Tav)

1:22 Let all their wickedness come before you;

afflict 23  them

just as you have afflicted 24  me 25 

because of all my acts of rebellion. 26 

For my groans are many,

and my heart is sick with sorrow. 27 

1 tn Heb “The Lord himself is right.” The phrase “to judge me” is not in the Hebrew, but is added in the translation to clarify the expression.

2 tn Heb “His mouth.” The term “mouth” (פֶּה, peh) is a metonymy of instrument (= mouth) for the product (= words). The term פֶּה (peh) often stands for spoken words (Ps 49:14; Eccl 10:3; Isa 29:13), declaration (Gen 41:40; Exod 38:21; Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; Ezra 1:1) and commands of God (Exod 17:1; Num 14:41; 22:18; Josh 15:13; 1 Sam 15:24; 1 Chr 12:24; Prov 8:29; Isa 34:16; 62:2). When the verb מָרָה (marah, “to rebel”) is used with the accusative direct object פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) to connote disobedience to God’s commandments (Num 20:24; 1 Sam 12:14, 15; 1 Kgs 13:21) (BDB 805 s.v. פֶּה 2.c).

3 tc The Kethib is written עַמִּים (’ammim, “peoples”), but the Qere, followed by many medieval Hebrew mss and the ancient versions (LXX and Aramaic Targum), read הָעַמִּים (haammim, “O peoples”). The Qere is probably the original reading.

tn Heb “O peoples.” Here Jerusalem addresses the peoples of the surrounding nations (note the use of “neighbors” in the preceding verse).

4 sn The term “lovers” is a figurative expression (hypocatastasis), comparing Jerusalem’s false gods and political alliance with Assyria to a woman’s immoral lovers. The prophet Hosea uses similar imagery (Hos 2:5, 7, 10, 13).

5 tn Here the conjunction כּי (ki) functions in (1) a temporal sense in reference to a past event, following a perfect: “when” (BDB 473 s.v. 2.a; cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or (2) a concessive sense, following a perfect: “although” (Pss 21:12; 119:83; Mic 7:8; Nah 1:10; cf. BDB 473 s.v. 2.c.β) or (3) with an intensive force, introducing a statement with emphasis: “surely, certainly” (BDB 472 s.v. 1.e). The present translation follows the third option.

6 tn The vav (ו) prefixed to וַיָשִׁיבוּ (vayashivu) introduces a purpose clause: “they sought food for themselves, in order to keep themselves alive.”

7 tn The noun נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) functions as a metonymy (= soul) of association (= life) (e.g., Gen 44:30; Exod 21:23; 2 Sam 14:7; Jon 1:14). When used with נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the Hiphil הָשִׁיב (hashiv) of שׁוּב (shuv, “to turn, return”) may mean “to preserve a person’s life,” that is, to keep a person alive (Lam 1:14, 19).

8 tc The LXX adds καὶ οὐχ εὗρον (kai ouc Jeuron, “but they did not find it”). This is probably an explanatory scribal gloss, indicated to explicate what appeared to be ambiguous. The LXX often adds explanatory glosses in many OT books.

9 tn Heb “because I have distress” (כִּי־צַר־לִי, ki-tsar-li).

10 tn Heb “my bowels burn” or “my bowels are in a ferment.” The verb חֳמַרְמָרוּ (khamarmaru) is an unusual form and derived from a debated root: Poalal perfect 3rd person common plural from III חָמַר (khamar, “to be red,” HALOT 330 s.v. III חמר) or Pe`al`al perfect 3rd person common plural from I חָמַר (khamar, “to ferment, boil up,” BDB 330 s.v. I חָמַר). The Poalal stem of this verb occurs only three times in OT: with פָּנִים (panim, “face,” Job 16:16) and מֵעִים (meim, “bowels,” Lam 1:20; 2:11). The phrase מֵעַי חֳמַרְמָרוּ (meay khamarmaru) means “my bowels burned” (HALOT 330 s.v.) or “my bowels are in a ferment,” as a euphemism for lower-intestinal bowel problems (BDB 330 s.v.). This phrase also occurs in later rabbinic literature (m. Sanhedrin 7:2). The present translation, “my stomach is in knots,” is not a literal equivalent to this Hebrew idiom; however, it is an attempt to approximate the equivalent English idiom.

11 tn The participle נֶהְפַּךְ (nehpakh), Niphal participle masculine singular הָפַךְ (hafakh, “to turn over”) functions verbally, referring to progressive present-time action (from the speaker’s viewpoint). The verb הָפַךְ (hafakh) is used here to describe emotional distress (e.g., Ezek 4:8).

12 tn Heb “because I was very rebellious.” The Hebrew uses an emphatic construction in which the root מָרַה (marah, “to rebel”) is repeated: מָרוֹ מָרִיתִי (maro mariti), Qal infinitive absolute from מָרָה (marah) followed by Qal perfect 1st person common singular from מָרָה (marah). When an infinitive absolute is used with a finite verb of the same root, it affirms the verbal idea (e.g., Gen 2:17; 18:10; 22:17; 31:15; 46:4; Num 16:13; 23:11; Judg 4:9; 15:13; 20:39; 1 Sam 2:30; 9:6; 2 Sam 24:24; Isa 6:9; Ezek 16:4). See IBHS 585-86 §35.3.1f.

13 tn Heb “in the street the sword bereaves.” The words “a mother of her children” are supplied in the translation as a clarification.

14 tn Heb “in the house it is like death.”

15 tc The MT reads שָׁמְעוּ (shamu, “They heard”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). The LXX ἀκούσατε (akousate) reflects the vocalization שִׁמְעוּ (shimu, “Hear!”), Qal imperative 2nd person masculine plural from שָׁמַע (shama’, “to hear”). Internal evidence favors the MT. Elsewhere in Lamentations, personified Jerusalem urges God with singular imperatives (“Look! See!”); however, nowhere else is a plural imperative used. In fact, the Qal perfect 3rd person common plural form שָׁמְעוּ (shamu, “They hear”) appears in the following line. The referent of שָׁמְעוּ (shamu) is the enemy who has destroyed Jerusalem and now mocks her when they hear her laments. The MT vocalization is undoubtedly original. Most English versions follow the MT: “They hear” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, NJPS, CEV); but several follow the LXX and revocalize the text as an imperative: “Hear!” (RSV, NRSV, TEV).

16 tn “You” here and in the following line refers to the Lord.

17 tn Heb “that You have done it.”

18 tn The verb הֵבֵאתָ (heveta) Hiphil perfect 2nd person masculine singular from בּוֹא (bo’, “to bring” in the Hiphil) probably functions, not as a simple past-time perfect, but as a precative perfect, an unusual volitional nuance similar to the imperative of request. The precative is used in reference to situations the speaker prays for and expects to be realized; it is a prayer or request of confidence (e.g., 2 Sam 7:29; Job 21:16; 22:18; Pss 3:8; 4:2; 7:7; 22:22; 31:5-6; 71:3; Lam 1:21). See IBHS 494-95 §30.5.4c, d. This volitional precative nuance is reflected in the Syriac Peshitta which translates this verb using an imperative. Most English versions adopt the precative nuance: “Bring on the day you have announced” (NRSV), “Oh, that Thou wouldst bring the day which Thou hast proclaimed” (NASB), “May you bring the day you have announced” (NIV), “Bring the day you promised” (TEV), “Oh, bring on them what befell me!” (NJPS), “Hurry and punish them, as you have promised” (CEV). A few English versions adopt a prophetic perfect future-time nuance: “thou wilt bring the day that thou hast called” (KJV, NKJV, ASV).

19 tn The term יוֹם (yom, “day”) is often used as a metonymy of association, standing for the event associated with that particular time period: judgment (e.g., Isa 2:12; 13:6, 9; Jer 46:10; Lam 2:22; Ezek 13:5; 30:3; Amos 5:18, 20; Obad 15; Zeph 1:7, 14; Zech 14:1; Mal 3:23) (BDB 399 s.v. 3).

20 tn Heb “proclaimed.”

21 tn Heb “and.” Following a volitive use of the perfect, the vav (ו) prefixed to וְיִהְיוּ (vÿyihyu, “and let it be!”) introduces a purpose/result clause in a dependent volitive construction: “so that they may be like me!”

22 tn Heb “that they be like me.”

23 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.

24 tn For the nuance “afflict” see the note at 1:12.

25 tn The parallel statements “afflict them” and “just as you have afflicted me” in the translation mirror the Hebrew wordplay between עוֹלֵל לָמוֹ (’olel lamo, “May you deal with them”) and עוֹלַלְתָּ לִי (’olalta li, “you dealt with me”).

26 tn Heb “all my rebellions,” that is, “all my rebellious acts.”

27 tn Heb “is sorrowful” or “is faint.” The adjective דַוָּי (davvay, “faint”) is used in reference to emotional sorrow (e.g., Isa 1:5; Lam 1:22; Jer 8:18). The cognate Aramaic term means “sorrow,” and the cognate Syriac term refers to “misery” (HALOT 216 s.v. *דְּוַי). The related Hebrew adjective דְּוַה (dÿvah) means “(physically) sick” and “(emotionally) sad,” while the related Hebrew verb דָּוָה (davah) means “to be sad” due to menstruation. The more literal English versions fail to bring out explicitly the nuance of emotional sorrow and create possible confusion whether the problem is simply loss of courage: “my heart is faint” (KJV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, ASV, NASB, NIV). The more paraphrastic English versions explicate the emotional sorrow that this idiom connotes: “my heart is sick” (NJPS), “I am sick at heart” (TEV), and “I’ve lost all hope!” (CEV).



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