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Lamentations 1:14

Context

נ (Nun)

1:14 My sins are bound around my neck like a yoke; 1 

they are fastened together by his hand.

He has placed his yoke 2  on my neck; 3 

he has sapped my strength. 4 

The Lord 5  has handed me over 6 

to those whom I cannot resist.

Lamentations 3:27

Context

3:27 It is good for a man 7 

to bear 8  the yoke 9  while he is young. 10 

1 tc The consonantal text נשקד על פּשעי (nsqdl psy) is vocalized by the MT as נִשְׂקַד עֹל פְּשָׁעַי (nisqadol pÿshaay, “my transgression is bound by a yoke”); but the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) and many medieval Hebrew mss vocalize the text as נִשְׁקַד עַל פְּשָׁעַי (nishqadal pÿshaay, “watch is kept upon my transgression”). There are two textual deviations: (1) the MT vocalizes the verb as נִשְׂקַד (nisqad, Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׂקַד [saqad, “to bind”]), while the alternate tradition vocalizes it as נִשְׁקַד (nishqad, Niphal perfect 3rd person masculine singular from שָׁקַד [shaqad, “to keep watch”]); and (2) the MT vocalizes על (’l) as the noun עֹל (’ol, “yoke”), while the ancient versions and medieval Hebrew mss vocalize it as the preposition עַל (’al, “upon”). External evidence favors the alternate vocalization: all the early versions (LXX, Targum, Vulgate, Peshitta) and many medieval Hebrew mss versus the relatively late MT vocalization tradition. However, internal evidence favors the MT vocalization: (1) The MT verb שָׂקַד (saqar, “to bind”) is a hapax legomenon (BDB 974 s.v. שָׂקַד) which might have been easily confused for the more common verb שָׂקַד (saqar, “to keep watch”) which is well attested elsewhere (Job 21:32; Pss 102:8; 127:1; Prov 8:34; Isa 29:20; Jer 1:12; 5:6; 31:28; 44:27; Ezr 8:29; Dan 9:14) (BDB 1052 s.v. שָׂקַד Qal.2). (2) The syntax of the MT is somewhat awkward, which might have influenced a scribe toward the alternate vocalization. (3) The presence of the noun עֻלּוֹ (’ullo, “his yoke”) in the following line supports the presence of the same term in this line. (4) Thematic continuity of 1:14 favors the MT: throughout the verse, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are continually compared to yoked animals who are sold into the hands of cruel task-masters. The alternate vocalization intrudes into an otherwise unified stanza. In summary, despite strong external evidence in favor of the alternate vocalization tradition, even stronger internal evidence favors the MT.

tn Heb “my transgressions are bound with a yoke.”

2 tc The MT reads עָלוּ (’alu, “they went up”), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from עָלָה (’alah, “to go up”). However, several important recensions of the LXX reflect an alternate vocalization tradition: Lucian and Symmachus both reflect a Vorlage of עֻלּוֹ (’ullo, “his yoke”), the noun עֹל (’ol, “yoke”) + 3rd person masculine singular suffix. The Lucianic recension was aimed at bringing the LXX into closer conformity to the Hebrew; therefore, this is an important textual witness. Internal evidence favors the readings of Lucian and Symmachus as well: the entire stanza focuses on the repeated theme of the “yoke” of the Lord. The MT reading is obscure in meaning, and the 3rd person common plural form violates the syntactical flow: “[my sins] are lashed together by his hand; they have gone up upon my neck, he has weakened my strength; the Lord has handed me over ….” On the other hand, the Lucian/Symmachus reflects contextual congruence: “My sins are bound around my neck like a yoke, they are lashed together by his hand; his yoke is upon my neck, he has weakened my strength; he has handed me over to those whom I am powerless to resist.”

3 tn Heb “his yoke is upon my neck.”

4 tn Heb “he has caused my strength to stumble.” The phrase הִכְשִׁיל כֹּחִי (hikhshil kokhi, “He has made my strength stumble”) is an idiom that means “to weaken, make feeble.”

5 tc Here the MT reads אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “the Lord”), the perpetual Qere reading for יהוה (YHWH, “Yahweh”), but a multitude of Hebrew mss read consonantal יהוה (YHWH, traditionally translated “the Lord”).

6 tn Heb “The Lord has given me into the hands of.”

7 tn See note at 3:1 on the Hebrew term for “man” here.

8 tn Heb “that he bear.”

9 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.

10 tn Heb “in his youth.” The preposition ב (bet) functions in a temporal sense: “when.”



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