which is a bitter poison. 3
therefore I have hope:
his compassions 12 never end.
your faithfulness is abundant! 14
so I will put my hope in him.
to the one 17 who seeks him.
for deliverance from the Lord. 19
perhaps there is hope.
let him have his fill of insults.
reject us forever. 30
according to the abundance of his loyal kindness. 33
or to grieve people. 35
3:34 To crush underfoot
all the earth’s prisoners, 36
in the presence of the Most High,
3:36 to defraud a person in a lawsuit –
unless the Lord 42 decreed it?
3:38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that everything comes –
both calamity and blessing? 43
when punished for his sins? 45
and let us return to the Lord.
to God in heaven:
you 50 have not forgiven.”
you killed without mercy.
3:44 You shrouded yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can get through.
in the estimation 53 of the nations.
devastation and destruction. 56
there will be no break 62
3:50 until the Lord looks down from heaven
and sees what has happened. 63
all the suffering of the daughters in my city. 66
hunted me down 68 like a bird.
and threw stones at me.
3:54 The waters closed over my head;
3:55 I have called on your name, O Lord,
from the deepest pit. 72
“Do not close your ears to my cry for relief!” 75
you said, 77 “Do not fear!”
you redeemed my life.
3:59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
pronounce judgment on my behalf! 81
3:60 You have seen all their vengeance,
all their plots against me. 82
all their plots against me.
against me all day long.
I am the object of their mocking songs.
may your curse be on them!
from under the Lord’s heaven.
1 tc The LXX records ἐμνήσθην (emnhsqhn, “I remembered”) which may reflect a first singular form זָכַרְתִּי (zakharti) whereas the MT preserves the form זְכָר (zÿkhor) which may be Qal imperative 2nd person masculine singular (“Remember!”) or infinitive construct (“To remember…”). A 2nd person masculine singular imperative would most likely address God. In the next verse נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is the subject of זְכָר (zÿkhor). If נַפְשִׁי (nafshi) is also the subject here one would expect a 2fs Imperative זִכְרִי (zikhri) a form that stands in the middle of the MT’s זְכָר (zÿkhor) and the presumed זָכַרְתִּי (zakharti) read by the LXX. English versions are split between the options: “To recall” (NJPS), “Remember!” (RSV, NRSV, NASB), “Remembering” (KJV, NKJV), “I remember” (NIV).
tn The basic meaning of זָכַר (zakhar) is “to remember, call to mind” (HALOT 270 s.v. I זכר). Although it is often used in reference to recollection of past events, it can also describe consideration of present situations: “to consider, think about” something present (BDB 270 s.v. 5).
2 tn The two nouns עָנְיִי וּמְרוּדִי (’onyi umÿrudi, lit., “my poverty and my homelessness”) form a nominal hendiadys in which one noun functions adjectivally and the other retains its full nominal sense: “my impoverished homelessness” or “homeless poor” (GKC 397-98 §124.e). The nearly identical phrase is used in Lam 1:7 and Isa 58:7 (see GKC 226 §83.c), suggesting this was a Hebrew idiom. Jerusalem’s inhabitants were impoverished and homeless.
3 tn Heb “wormwood and gall.” The two nouns joined by ו (vav), לַעֲנָה וָרֹאשׁ (la’ana varo’sh, “wormwood and bitterness”) form a nominal hendiadys. The first retains its full verbal sense and the second functions adjectivally: “bitter poison.”
4 tc The MT reads נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”); however, the Masoretic scribes preserve an alternate textual tradition, marked by the Tiqqune Sopherim (“corrections by the scribes”) of נַפְשֶׁךָ (nafshekha, “your soul”).
tn Heb “my soul.” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is used as a synecdoche of part (= my soul) for the whole person (= I ). The verb תִּזְכּוֹר (tizkor) is Qal imperfect 3rd person feminine singular and the subject is נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”), though the term does not appear until the end of the verse functioning as the subject of both verbs. Due to the synecdoche, the line is translated as though the verb were 1st person common singular.
5 tn The infinitive absolute followed by an imperfect of the same root is an emphatic rhetorical statement: זָכוֹר תִּזְכּוֹר (zakhor tizkor, “continually think”). Although the basic meaning of זָכַר (zakhar) is “to remember, call to mind” (HALOT 270 I זכר), here it refers to consideration of a present situation: “to consider, think about” something present (BDB 270 s.v. זָכַר 5). The referent of the 3rd person feminine singular form of תִּזְכּוֹר (tizkor) is the feminine singular noun נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”).
6 tc The MT reads נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”); however, the Masoretic scribes preserve an alternate textual tradition, included in some lists of the Tiqqune Sopherim (“corrections by the scribes”) of נַפְשֶׁךָ (nafshekha, “your soul”).
tn Heb “my soul…” or “your soul…” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is used as a synecdoche of part (= my soul) for the whole person (= I ). Likewise, נַפְשֶׁךָ (nafshekha, “your soul”) is also a synecdoche of part (= your soul) for the whole person (= you).
7 tc The MT preserves the Kethib וְתָשִׁיחַ (vÿtashiakh), Qal imperfect 3rd person feminine singular from II שׁוּחַ (shuakh) + vav (ו) consecutive, while the Qere reads וְתָשׁוֹחַ (vÿtashoakh), Hiphil imperfect 3rd person feminine singular from II שׁוּחַ (shuakh) + vav (ו) consecutive. According to D. R. Hillers (Lamentations [AB], 56), the Kethib implies a Hiphil of שׁוּחַ (shuakh) which is unclear due to a lack of parallels, and reads the Qere as from the root שָׁחַח (shakhakh) which has close parallels in Ps 42:6, 7, 11; 43:5. The conjectured meaning for שׁוּחַ (shuakh) in BDB 1005 s.v שׁוּחַ is that of שָׁחַח (shakhakh). HALOT 1438-39 s.v. שׁוח reads the root as שָׁחַח (shakhakh) but the form as Qal.
tn Heb “and my soul sinks down within me.” The verb II שׁוּחַ (shuakh, “to sink down”) is used here in a figurative sense, meaning “to be depressed.”
8 tn Heb “I cause to return.”
9 tn Heb “to my heart.” The noun לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) has a broad range of meanings, including its use as a metonymy of association, standing for thoughts and thinking = “mind” (e.g., Deut 32:46; 1 Chr 29:18; Job 17:11; Ps 73:7; Isa 10:7; Hag 1:5, 7; 2:15, 18; Zech 7:10; 8:17).
10 tn It is difficult to capture the nuances of the Hebrew word חֶסֶד (khesed). When used of the Lord it is often connected to his covenant loyalty. This is the only occasion when the plural form of חֶסֶד (khesed) precedes the plural form of רַחֲמִים (rakhamim, “mercy, compassion”). The plural forms, as with this one, tend to be in late texts. The plural may indicate several concrete expressions of God’s kindnesses or may indicate the abstract concept of his kindness.
11 tc The MT reads תָמְנוּ (tamnu) “indeed we are [not] cut off,” Qal perfect 1st person common plural from תָּמַם (tamam, “be finished”): “[Because of] the kindnesses of the
12 tn The plural form of רַחֲמִים (rakhamim) may denote the abstract concept of mercy, several concrete expressions of mercy, or the plural of intensity: “great compassion.” See IBHS 122 §7.4.3a.
13 tn Heb “they are new.”
14 tn The adjective רַב (rav) has a broad range of meanings: (1) quantitative: “much, numerous, many (with plurals), abundant, enough, exceedingly” and (2) less often in a qualitative sense: “great” (a) of space and location, (b) “strong” as opposed to “weak” and (c) “major.” The traditional translation, “great is thy faithfulness,” is less likely than the quantitative sense: “your faithfulness is abundant” [or, “plentiful”]. NJPS is on target in its translation: “Ample is your grace!”
15 tn Heb “My soul said…” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is a synecdoche of part (= my soul) for the whole person (= I ).
16 tn Heb “wait for him”
17 tn Heb “to the soul…” The term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “soul”) is a synecdoche of part (= “the soul who seeks him”) for the whole person (= “the person who seeks him”).
18 tn Heb “waiting and silently.” The two adjectives וְיָחִיל וְדוּמָם (vÿyakhil vÿdumam, “waiting and silently”) form a hendiadys: The first functions verbally and the second functions adverbially: “to wait silently.” The adjective דוּמָם (dumam, “silently”) also functions as a metonymy of association, standing for patience or rest (HALOT 217 s.v.). This metonymical nuance is captured well in less literal English versions: “wait in patience” (TEV) and “wait patiently” (CEV, NJPS). The more literal English versions do not express the metonymy as well: “quietly wait” (KJV, NKJV, ASV), “waits silently” (NASB), “wait quietly” (RSV, NRSV, NIV).
19 tn Heb “deliverance of the
21 tn Heb “that he bear.”
22 sn Jeremiah is referring to the painful humiliation of subjugation to the Babylonians, particularly to the exile of the populace of Jerusalem. The Babylonians and Assyrians frequently used the phrase “bear the yoke” as a metaphor: their subjects were made as subservient to them as yoked oxen were to their masters. Because the Babylonian exile would last for seventy years, only those who were in their youth when Jerusalem fell would have any hope of living until the return of the remnant. For the middle-aged and elderly, the yoke of exile would be insufferable; but those who bore this “yoke” in their youth would have hope.
23 tn Heb “in his youth.” The preposition ב (bet) functions in a temporal sense: “when.”
24 tn Heb “him.” The speaking voice in this chapter continues to be that of the גֶּבֶר (gever, “man”). The image of female Jerusalem in chs. 1-2 was fluid, being able to refer to the city or its inhabitants, both female and male. So too the “defeated soldier” or “everyman” (see note at 3:1 on “man”) is fluid and can represent any member of the Jewish community, male and female. This line especially has a proverbial character which can be extended to any person, hence the translation. But masculine pronouns are otherwise maintained reflecting the Hebrew grammatical system and the speaking voice of the poem.
25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the
26 tn Heb “has laid it on him.” The verb נָטַל (natal) is used 4 times in Biblical Hebrew; the related noun refers to heaviness or a burden. The entry of BDB 642 s.v. is outdated while HALOT 694 s.v. נטל is acceptable for the Qal. See D. R. Hillers, Lamentations (AB), 57. Hillers’ suggestion of a stative meaning for the Qal is followed here, though based on 2 Sam 24:12 “impose” is also possible.
27 tn Heb “Let him put his mouth in the dust.”
28 tn Heb “to the smiter.”
30 tn The verse is unusually short and something unrecoverable may be missing.
31 tn Heb “Although he has caused grief.” The word “us” is added in the translation.
32 tn Heb “He will have compassion.” The words “on us” are added in the translation.
33 tc The Kethib preserves the singular form חַסְדּוֹ (khasdo, “his kindness”), also reflected in the LXX and Aramaic Targum. The Qere reads the plural form חֲסָדָיו (khasadayv, “his kindnesses”) which is reflected in the Latin Vulgate.
34 tn Heb “he does not afflict from his heart.” The term לֵבָב (levav, “heart”) preceded by the preposition מִן (min) most often describes one’s initiative or motivation, e.g. “of one’s own accord” (Num. 16:28; 24:13; Deut. 4:9; 1Kings 12:33; Neh. 6:8; Job 8:10; Is. 59:13; Ezek. 13:2, 17). It is not God’s internal motivation to bring calamity and trouble upon people.
35 tn Heb “sons of men.”
36 tn Heb “prisoners of earth/land.” The term ארצ may refer to (1) the earth or (2) a country or (3) the promised land in particular (as well as other referents). “Earth” is chosen here since the context presents God’s general principles in dealing with humanity. Given the historical circumstances, however, prisoners from the land of Israel are certainly in the background.
37 tn The speaking voice is still that of the גֶּבֶר (gever, “man”), but the context and line are more universal in character.
38 tn Heb “to turn away a man’s justice,” that is, the justice or equitable judgment he would receive. See the previous note regarding the “man.”
40 tn Heb “the Lord does not see.” The verb רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”) is here used in reference to mental observation and approval: “to gaze at” with joy and pleasure (e.g., 2 Kgs 10:16; Mic 7:9; Jer 29:32; Isa 52:8; Job 20:17; 33:28; Pss 54:9; 106:5; 128:5; Son 3:11; 6:11; Eccl 2:1). If the line is parallel to the end of v. 35 then a circumstantial clause “the Lord not seeing” would be appropriate. The infinitives in 34-36 would then depend on the verbs in v. 33; see D. R. Hillers, Lamentations (AB), 71.
41 tn Heb “Who is this, he spoke and it came to pass?” The general sense is to ask whose commands are fulfilled. The phrase “he spoke and it came to pass” is taken as an allusion to the creation account (see Gen 1:3).
43 tn Heb “From the mouth of the Most High does it not go forth, both evil and good?”
44 tn The Hebrew word here is אָדָם (’adam) which can mean “man” or “person.” The second half of the line is more personalized to the speaking voice of the defeated soldier using גֶּבֶר (gever, “man”). See the note at 3:1.
45 tc Kethib reads the singular חֶטְאוֹ (khet’o, “his sin”), which is reflected in the LXX. Qere reads the plural חֲטָאָיו (khata’ayv, “his sins”) which is preserved in many medieval Hebrew
tn Heb “concerning his punishment.” The noun חֵטְא (khet’) has a broad range of meanings: (1) “sin,” (2) “guilt of sin” and (3) “punishment for sin,” which fits the context of calamity as discipline and punishment for sin (e.g., Lev 19:17; 20:20; 22:9; 24:15; Num 9:13; 18:22, 32; Isa 53:12; Ezek 23:49). The metonymical (cause-effect) relation between sin and punishment is clear in the expressions חֵטְא מִשְׁפַט־מָוֶת (khet’ mishpat-mavet, “sin deserving death penalty,” Deut 21:22) and חֵטְא מָוֶת (khet’ mavet, “sin unto death,” Deut 22:26). The point of this verse is that the punishment of sin can sometimes lead to death; therefore, any one who is being punished by God for his sins, and yet lives, has little to complain about.
46 tn Heb “Let us test our ways and examine.” The two verbs וְנַחְקֹרָה…נַחְפְּשָׂה (nakhpÿsah…vÿnakhqorah, “Let us test and let us examine”) form a verbal hendiadys in which the first functions adverbially and the second retains its full verbal force: “Let us carefully examine our ways.”
47 tc The MT reads the singular noun לְבָבֵנוּ (lÿvavenu, “our heart”) but the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate) and many medieval Hebrew
48 tn The Heb emphasiszes the pronoun “We – we have sinned….” Given the contrast with the following, it means “For our part, we have sinned….” A poetic reading in English would place vocal emphasis on “we” followed by a short pause.
49 tn Heb “We have revolted and we have rebelled.” The two verbs פָשַׁעְנוּ וּמָרִינוּ (pasha’nu umarinu, “we have revolted and we have rebelled”) form a verbal hendiadys in which the synonyms emphasize the single idea.
50 tn The Heb emphasiszes the pronoun “You – you have not forgiven.” Given the contrast with the preceding, it means “For your part, you have not forgiven.” A poetic reading in English would place vocal emphasis on “you” followed by a short pause.
51 tn Heb “covered.” The object must be supplied either from the next line (“covered yourself”) or from the end of this line (“covered us”).
52 tn Heb “offscouring and refuse.” The two nouns סְחִי וּמָאוֹס (sÿkhi uma’os) probably form a nominal hendiadys, in which the first noun functions as an adjective and the second retains its full nominal sense: “filthy refuse,” i.e., “filthy scum.”
53 tn Heb “in the midst of.”
54 tn Heb “open wide their mouths.”
55 tn The similar sounding nouns פַּחַד וָפַחַת (pakhad vafakhat, “panic and pitfall”) are an example of paronomasia.
56 tn Similar to the paronomasia in the preceding line, the words הַשֵּׁאת וְהַשָּׁבֶר (hashe’t vÿhashaver, “devastation and destruction”) form an example of alliteration: the beginning of the words sound alike.
57 tn Heb “canals.” The phrase “canals of water” (eye water = tears) is an example of hyperbole. The English idiom “streams of tears” is also hyperbolic.
58 tn Heb “my eyes flow down with canals of water.”
59 tn Heb “the daughter of my people,” or “the Daughter, my people.”
60 tn Heb “because of the destruction of [the daughter of my people].”
61 tn Heb “my eye flows.” The term “eye” is a metonymy of association, standing for the “tears” which flow from one’s eyes.
62 tn Heb “without stopping.” The noun הַפוּגָה (hafugah, “stop”) is a hapax legomenon (word that occurs only once in Hebrew scriptures). The form of the noun is unusual, probably being derived from the denominative Hiphil verbal stem of the root פּוּג (pug, “to grow weary, ineffective; numb, become cold”).
63 tn The phrase “what has happened” is added in the translation for smoother English style and readability.
64 tn Heb “my eye causes grief to my soul.” The term “eye” is a metonymy of association, standing for that which one sees with the eyes.
65 tn Heb “my soul.” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is a synecdoche of part (= my soul) for the whole person (= me).
66 tn Heb “at the sight of all the daughters of my city.” It is understood that seeing the plight of the women, not simply seeing the women, is what is so grievous. To make this clear, “suffering” was supplied in the translation.
67 tn Heb “without cause.”
68 tn The construction צוֹד צָדוּנִי (tsod tsaduni, “they have hunted me down”) is emphatic: Qal infinitive absolute of the same root of Qal perfect 3rd person common plural + 1st person common singular suffix.
69 tn Heb “my life.”
70 tn Heb “I said,” meaning “I said to myself” = “I thought.”
71 tn Heb “I was about to be cut off.” The verb נִגְזָרְתִּי (nigzarti), Niphal perfect 1st person common singular from גָּזַר (gazar, “to be cut off”), functions in an ingressive sense: “about to be cut off.” It is used in reference to the threat of death (e.g., Ezek 37:11). To be “cut off” from the hand of the living means to experience death (Ps 88:6).
72 tn Heb “from a pit of lowest places.”
73 tn The verb could be understood as a precative, “hear my plea,” parallel to the following volitive verb, “do not close.”
74 tn Heb “my voice.”
76 tn The verb could be understood as a precative (“Draw near”). The perspective of the poem seems to be that of prayer during distress rather than a testimony that God has delivered.
77 tn The verb could be understood as a precative (“Say”).
79 tn This verb, like others in this stanza, could be understood as a precative (“Plead”).
80 tn Heb “the causes of my soul.” The term נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”) is a synecdoche of part (= my soul) for the whole person (= me).
81 tn Heb “Please judge my judgment.”
82 tc The MT reads לִי (li, “to me”); but many medieval Hebrew
83 tn The verb could be understood as a precative (“Hear”).
84 tn Heb “the lips of my assailants and their thoughts.”
85 tn Heb “their rising and their sitting.” The two terms שִׁבְתָּם וְקִימָתָם (shivtam vÿqimatam, “their sitting and their rising”) form a merism: two terms that are polar opposites are used to encompass everything in between. The idiom “from your rising to your sitting” refers to the earliest action in the morning and the latest action in the evening (e.g., Deut 6:7; Ps 139:3). The enemies mock Jerusalem from the moment they arise in the morning until the moment they sit down in the evening.
86 tn Heb “Please cause to return.” The imperfect verb תָּשִׁיב (tashiv), Hiphil imperfect 2nd person masculine singular from שׁוּב (shuv, “to return”), functions in a volitional sense, like an imperative of request. The Hiphil stem of שׁוּב (shuv, in the Hiphil “to cause to return”) often means “to make requital, to pay back” (e.g., Judg 9:5, 56; 1 Sam 25:39; 1 Kgs 2:32, 44; Neh 3:36; Prov 24:12, 29; Hos 12:3; Joel 4:4, 7) (BDB 999 s.v. שׁוּב 4.a).
87 tn Heb “recompense to them.” The noun גְּמוּל (gÿmul, “dealing, accomplishment”) has two metonymical (cause-effect) meanings: (1) positive “benefit” and (2) negative “retribution, requital, recompense,” the sense used here (e.g., Pss 28:4; 94:2; 137:8; Prov 19:17; Isa 35:4; 59:18; 66:6; Jer 51:6; Lam 3:64; Joel 4:4, 7). The phrase תָּשִׁיב גְּמוּל (tashiv gÿmul) means “to pay back retribution” (e.g., Joel 4:4, 7), that is, to return the deeds of the wicked upon them as a display of talionic or poetic justice.
88 tn Heb “their hands.” The term “hand” is a synecdoche of part (= hands) for the whole person (= they).
89 tn Heb “according to the work of their hands.”
90 tn The noun מְגִנַּה (mÿginnah) is a hapax legomenon. Its meaning is debated; earlier lexicographers suggested that it meant “covering” (BDB 171 s.v.), but more recent lexicons suggest “shamelessness” or “insanity” (HALOT 546 s.v.). The translation is based on the term being parallel to “curse” and needing to relate to “heart.” Cf. NRSV “anguish of heart.”
91 tn Heb “pursue.” The accusative direct object is implied in the Hebrew, and inserted in the translation.