and there was no one to comfort her.
because my 10 enemy boasts!”
all her valuables. 12
invaded her holy temple 15 –
those whom you 16 had commanded:
1:11 All her people groaned
as they searched for a morsel of bread. 19
for 22 just enough food
to stay alive. 23
“Look, O Lord! Consider 24
that I have become worthless!”
1 tn Heb “uncleanness.” The noun טֻמְאָה (tum’ah, “uncleanness”) refers in general to the state of ritual uncleanness and specifically to (1) sexual uncleanness (Num 5:19); (2) filthy mass (Ezek 24:11; 2 Chr 29:16); (3) ritual uncleanness (Lev 16:16, 19; Ezek 22:15; 24:13; 36:25, 29; 39:24; Zech 13:2); (4) menstrual uncleanness (Lev 15:25, 26, 30; 18:19; Ezek 36:17); (5) polluted meat (Judg 13:7, 14). Here, Jerusalem is personified as a woman whose menstrual uncleanness has soiled even her own clothes; this is a picture of the consequences of the sin of Jerusalem: uncleanness = her sin, and soiling her own clothes = consequences of sin. The poet may also be mixing metaphors allowing various images (of shame) to circulate in the hearer’s mind, including rape and public exposure. By not again mentioning sin directly (a topic relatively infrequent in this book), the poet lays a general acknowledgment of sin in 1:8 alongside an exceptionally vivid picture of the horrific circumstances which have come to be. It is no simplistic explanation that sin merits such inhumane treatment. Instead 1:9 insists that no matter the legal implications of being guilty, the Lord should be motivated to aid Jerusalem (and therefore her people) because her obscene reality is so revolting.
2 tn Heb “her uncleanness is in her skirts.”
3 tn Heb “her skirts.” This term is a synecdoche of specific (skirts) for general (clothing).
4 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 or consideration of present situations, it also may mean “to consider, think about” the future outcome of conduct (e.g., Isa 47:7) (BDB 270 s.v. 5). The same term is used is 7a.
5 tn Heb “she did not consider her end.” The noun אַחֲרִית (’akharit, “end”) here refers to an outcome or the consequences of an action; in light of 1:8 here it is the consequence of sin or immoral behavior (Num 23:10; 24:20; Deut 32:20, 29; Job 8:7; Pss 37:37; 73:17; Prov 14:12; 23:32; 25:8; Eccl 7:8; Isa 46:10; 47:7; Jer 5:31; 17:11; Dan 12:8).
6 tc The MT reads וַתֵּרֶד (vattered) vav (ו) consecutive + Qal preterite 3rd person feminine singular from יָרַד (yarad, “to go down”). Symmachus καὶ κατήχθη (kai kathcqh, “and she was brought down”) and Vulgate deposita est use passive forms which might reflect וַתּוּרַד (vatturad, vav consecutive + Pual preterite 3rd person feminine singular from from יָרַד [yarad, “to go down”]). External evidence favors the MT (supported by all other ancient versions and medieval Hebrew
tn Heb “and she came down in an astonishing way” or “and she was brought down in an astonishing way.”
7 tn The noun פֶּלֶא (pele’) means not only “miracle, wonder” (BDB 810 s.v.) but “something unusual, astonishing” (HALOT 928 s.v.). The plural פְּלָאִים (pÿla’im, lit., “astonishments”) is an example of the plural of intensity: “very astonishing.” The noun functions as an adverbial accusative of manner; the nature of her descent shocks and astounds. Rendering פְּלָאִים וַתֵּרֶד (vattered pÿla’im) as “she has come down marvelously” (cf. BDB 810 s.v. 1 and KJV, ASV) is hardly appropriate; it is better to nuance it “in an astonishing way” (HALOT 928 s.v. 3) or simply “was astonishing.”
8 tn The words “she cried” do not appear in the Hebrew. They are added to indicate that personified Jerusalem is speaking.
9 tc The MT reads עָנְיִי (’onyi, “my affliction”) as reflected in all the ancient versions (LXX, Aramaic Targum, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta) and the medieval Hebrew
10 tn Heb “an enemy.” While it is understood that the enemy is Jerusalem’s, not using the pronoun in Hebrew leaves room to imply to God that the enemy is not only Jerusalem’s but also God’s.
11 tn Heb “stretched out his hand.” The war imagery is of seizure of property; the anthropomorphic element pictures rape. This is an idiom that describes greedy actions (BDB 831 s.v. פָרַשׂ), meaning “to seize” (HALOT 976 s.v. 2).
12 tc The Kethib is written מַחֲמוֹדֵּיהֶם (makhamodehem, “her desired things”); the Qere and many medieval Hebrew
tn Heb “all her desirable things.” The noun מַחְמָד (makhmad, “desirable thing”) refers to valuable possessions, such as gold and silver which people desire (e.g., Ezra 8:27). This probably refers, not to the valuable possessions of Jerusalem in general, but to the sacred objects in the temple in particular, as suggested by the rest of the verse. For the anthropomorphic image compare Song 5:16.
13 tn Heb “she watched” or “she saw.” The verb רָאָה (ra’ah, “to see”) has a broad range of meanings, including “to see” a spectacle causing grief (Gen 21:16; 44:34; Num 11:15; 2 Kgs 22:20; 2 Chr 34:28; Esth 8:6) or abhorrence (Isa 66:24). The words “in horror” are added to “she watched” to bring out this nuance.
14 sn The syntax of the sentence is interrupted by the insertion of the following sentence, “they invaded…,” then continued with “whom…” The disruption of the syntax is a structural device intended to help convey the shock of the situation.
15 tn Heb “her sanctuary.” The term מִקְדָּשָׁהּ (miqdashah, “her sanctuary”) refers to the temple. Anthropomorphically, translating as “her sacred place” would also allow for the rape imagery.
16 sn Lam 1-2 has two speaking voices: a third person voice reporting the horrific reality of Jerusalem’s suffering and Jerusalem’s voice. See W. F. Lanahan, “The Speaking Voice in the Book of Lamentations” JBL 93 (1974): 41-49. The reporting voice has been addressing the listener, referring to the Lord in the third person. Here he switches to a second person address to God, also changing the wording of the following command to second person. The revulsion of the Reporter is so great that he is moved to address God directly.
17 tn Heb “enter.” The Hebrew term בּוֹא (bo’) is also a sexual metaphor.
18 tn The noun קָהָל (qahal, “assembly”) does not refer here to the collective group of people assembled to worship the
sn This is a quotation from Deut 23:3, “No Ammonite or Moabite or any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the
19 tn Heb “bread.” In light of its parallelism with אֹכֶל (’okhel, “food”) in the following line, it is possible that לֶחֶם (lekhem, “bread”) is used in its broader sense of food or nourishment.
20 tn Heb “they sell.”
23 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 restore a person’s vitality,” that is, to keep a person alive (Lam 1:14, 19).
24 sn The dagesh lene in כּי (ki) following the vowel ending the verb וְהַבִּיטָה (vÿhabbitah, “consider”) indicates a dramatic pause between calling for the Lord’s attention and stating the allegation to be seen and considered.