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Lamentations 3:22-23

Context

ח (Khet)

3:22 The Lord’s loyal kindness 1  never ceases; 2 

his compassions 3  never end.

3:23 They are fresh 4  every morning;

your faithfulness is abundant! 5 

1 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.

2 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 Lord, we are not cut off.” However, the ancient versions (LXX, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targum) and many medieval Hebrew mss preserve the alternate reading תָּמּוּ (tammu), Qal perfect 3rd person common plural from תָּמַם (tamam, “to be finished”): “The kindnesses of the Lord never cease.” The external evidence favors the alternate reading. The internal evidence supports this as well, as the parallel B-line suggests: “his compassions never come to an end.” Several English versions follow the MT: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed” (KJV, NKJV), “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed” (NIV). Other English versions follow the alternate textual tradition: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (RSV, NRSV), “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease” (NASB), “The kindness of the Lord has not ended” (NJPS) and “The Lord’s unfailing love still continues” (TEV).

3 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.

4 tn Heb “they are new.”

5 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!”



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