Suffering is refracted through personified Jerusalem.
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
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
Suffering (Ex 3.7,17; 4.31
) and hard servitude (Ex 1.14; 2.23; 5.11; 6.6
), allusions to the Egyptian captivity.
Transgressions, although 2 Kings attributes Judah's destruction to specific transgressions (2 Kings 21.10–15
), here the sins are not specified.
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
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.
Uncleanness … skirts, perhaps menstruation, or a bloody discharge. O LORD
…, Zion herself voices this plea.
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.
Look … and see, repeated in v. 12
, joining the two halves of the poem, vv. 1–11 and 12–22
, the city itself speaks the second half of the poem.
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
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
“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.
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
Filthy thing, i.e., “menstruant,” the ruined city as an arch‐symbol of death and impurity (see Lev 15.16–24
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
Distressed, in Hebrew, forms a pun with “adversary, foe,” which appears five other times (
). In the street … in the house,
see Deut 32.25
They heard, better “hear” (as in Syr, Gk), an imperative addressed to the LORD.
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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