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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Lamentations

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1.1–11 : Lament over Zion.

Suffering is refracted through personified Jerusalem.

1 :

How or “Ah,” commonly found in dirges (Isa 1.21; Jer 48.17; cf. Lam 2.1a; 4.1a ). Great among the nations and princess among the provinces, may be titles of Jerusalem (cf. Isa 47.5 ).

2 :

Lovers, literally Judah's political allies, but metaphorically her loved ones who have neglected their obligation of compassion. For the metaphor of allies as lovers, see Ezek 16.26–28 .

3 :

Suffering (Ex 3.7,17; 4.31 ) and hard servitude (Ex 1.14; 2.23; 5.11; 6.6 ), allusions to the Egyptian captivity.

5 :

Transgressions, although 2 Kings attributes Judah's destruction to specific transgressions (2 Kings 21.10–15 ), here the sins are not specified.

6 :

Daughter Zion (lit. “Daughter of Zion”), the personified city's most common epithet ( 1.6,15; 2.1–2,4–5,8,10,13,15,18; 4.21–22; cf. 3.48; 4.3,6,10; Isa 1.8; 52.2; Jer 4.31; Mic 4.8 ; etc.).

8 :

Nakedness, an allusion to both the punishment of a prostitute (cf. Isa 47.3; Jer 13.22; Ezek 16.37; Nah 3.5 ) and her victimization.

9 :

Uncleanness … skirts, perhaps menstruation, or a bloody discharge. O LORD …, Zion herself voices this plea.

10 :

Precious things, Temple treasures (cf. 2 Chr 36.10 ). Invade, elsewhere connotes sexual intercourse (Gen 6.4; 2 Sam 16.21; Ezek 23.44; Prov 6.29 ), suggesting rape.

11 :

Look … and see, repeated in v. 12 , joining the two halves of the poem, vv. 1–11 and 12–22 .

1.12–22 : The city's lament.

Except in 1.17 , the city itself speaks the second half of the poem.

12:

Sorrow, better, “pain.” The Heb word translated weakly as was brought, properly conveys violence: torture or rape (1 Sam 31.4; Jer 38.19; Judg 19.25 ). Day … anger, i.e., “the Day of the LORD,” when God comes in judgment against Judah itself (e.g., Am 5.18 ).

13 :

Left me stunned, better, “ravished or desolated me,” describing devastated lands (Lev 26.33; Isa 1.7; 54.3; Jer 12.11; Am 9.14 ) and the physical state of a raped woman (2 Sam 13.20 ).

14 :

“Yoke,” servitude (Deut 28.48; 1 Kings 12.4; Isa 47.6; Jer 28.1–17 ). Lord (Heb “adonai”), occurs fourteen times in Lamentations, while the proper name, LORD (“yhwh”), occurs thirty‐two times.

15 :

In the midst of me (lit. “the Lord in my midst”), God's presence, which typically means good things for Israel and Judah and bad things for their enemies (Deut 7.21; Josh 3.5; Isa 12.6; Jer 14.9; Zeph 3.15 ), here, ironically, spells disaster for Judah. Virgin, another common epithet applied to the goddess Anat in Ugaritic and to personified cities (Isa 23.12; Jer 31.4; Am 5.2; Lam 2.13b ).

17 :

Filthy thing, i.e., “menstruant,” the ruined city as an arch‐symbol of death and impurity (see Lev 15.16–24 ).

18 :

The Lord is in the right, a double entendre constituting both a legal declaration of innocence (Ex 9.27; 1 Sam 24.18; 2 Kings 10.9 ) and a statement of the common expectation for divine and royal behavior (Isa 45.21; Jer 12.1; Ps 11.5,7 ).

20 :

Distressed, in Hebrew, forms a pun with “adversary, foe,” which appears five other times ( 1.5a,c,7d,10a,17b ). In the street … in the house, see Deut 32.25 .

21 :

They heard, better “hear” (as in Syr, Gk), an imperative addressed to the LORD.

22 :

Deal with them as you have dealt with me, correspondence between the wrong and the judgment (e.g., Ob 13; 1 Sam 15.33; Judg 1.7 ). The Heb word for many (“rabbot”) is a form of the word translated “full” in v. 1 , a device for marking closure as well as contrast: formerly, many people; now, many sighs.

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