Friday, March 26, 2010

Lamentations 1

This being a first read of Lamentations for me, I will be free with colour coding so we can see the many repeated words and similar sounds in this chapter. (There were too many to colour in this technology. The repetition is intense. Later maybe I will diagram it.) I have taken some freedom with words and placement due to the restriction of the acrostic form - a demand I think I should respect as a translator of this letter game.

I wonder too, given the playful structure of this lament, whether there is some latticework in the acrostic - i.e. if aleph in each of chapters 1-4 is related etc. That will make for some interesting parallel analysis. One can get a sense of the possibility just by reading the four (or five) chapters across: Lamentations 1:1, 2:1, 3:1-3, 4:1, 5:1. You might note the connection with the Song of Songs in Lamentations 4:1 (Compare Song 5:11). The beloved, the chosen, the elect, Zion is judged. There are other possible connections with the Song.

VerseHebrew textA translationWhat shall we say?
Alephאֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה
בָדָד הָעִיר
רַבָּתִי עָם
הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה
רַבָּתִי בַגֹּויִם
שָׂרָתִי בַּמְּדִינֹות
הָיְתָה לָמַס ס
Ah how solitary
sits the city
Filled with people
she became as a widow
Filled from the nations
Princess among the provinces
she came into forced service
It is very difficult to think away from the Latin version for the number of times it has been set to music.
Music is a language of the spirit subtending time.
Bethבָּכֹו תִ בְכֶּה בַּלַּיְלָה
וְדִמְעָתָהּ עַל לֶחֱיָהּ
אֵין לָהּ מְנַחֵם
מִכָּל אֹהֲבֶיהָ
כָּל רֵעֶיהָ בָּגְדוּ בָהּ
הָיוּ לָהּ לְאֹיְבִים ס
Beside herself with weeping in the night
And her tears on her cheeks
There is for her none to comfort 
among all her lovers
All her companions have defrauded her
They have become her enemies
Comfort and See are among the most highly repeated words in this chapter
Gimelגָּלְתָה יְהוּדָה
מֵעֹנִי וּמֵרֹב עֲבֹדָה
הִיא יָשְׁבָה בַגֹּויִם
לֹא מָצְאָה מָנֹוחַ
כָּל רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ
בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים ס
Gone is Judah into exile
from humiliation and great bondage
She sat among the nations
She found no rest
All her persecutors take hold on her
between her adversities
Daletדַּרְכֵי צִיֹּון אֲבֵלֹות
מִבְּלִי בָּאֵי מֹועֵד
כָּל שְׁעָרֶיהָ שֹׁומֵמִין
כֹּהֲנֶיהָ נֶאֱנָחִים
בְּתוּלֹתֶיהָ נּוּגֹות
וְהִיא מַר־לָהּ ס
Desolate are all her gates
the ways of Zion are in mourning
none come to her feasts
Her priests sigh
Her virgins are afflicted
and she is bitter
Line 3 of the Hebrew is first in the English to allow a D to begin.
Heהָיוּ צָרֶיהָ לְרֹאשׁ
אֹיְבֶיהָ שָׁלוּ
כִּי יְהוָה הוֹגָהּ
עַל רֹב פְּשָׁעֶיהָ
עוֹלָלֶיהָ הָלְכוּ שְׁבִי
לִפְנֵי צָר ס
Her adversary has taken precedence
Her enemies prosper
For יְהוָה has afflicted her
on account of her many transgressions
Her babes are taken captive
in the face of adversity
Although 'head' occurs 7 times in this scroll, I think there must be an idiom here that takes precedence over any possible concordant translation.
Vavוַיֵּצֵא מִבַּת צִיּוֹן
כָּל הֲדָרָהּ
הָיוּ שָׂרֶיהָ כְּאַיָּלִים
 לֹא מָצְאוּ מִרְעֶה
וַיֵּלְכוּ בְלֹא כֹחַ
לִפְנֵי רוֹדֵף  ס
Vanished is honour from the daughter of Zion
Her princes have become like hart
that find no pasture
and they walk without strength
in the face of their persecutors
I needed the V
Zayin זָכְרָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם
יְמֵי עָנְיָהּ
וּמְרוּדֶיהָ כֹּל מַחֲמֻדֶיהָ
 אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ מִימֵי קֶדֶם
בִּנְפֹל עַמָּהּ בְּיַד צָר
וְאֵין עוֹזֵר לָהּ
רָאוּהָ צָרִים
שָׂחֲקוּ עַל מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ ס
Zion remembers
the days of her humiliation
and Jerusalem from her miseries
all her delectable goods
that she had in former days
when her people fell by the hand of adversity
and there was none to help her
Her adversaries saw her
They mocked her sabbath
Zion is added and Jerusalem displaced for the zayin. I think the ellipsis of 'remembers' works - but as in all my awkward translations, it is important to get the pause and not be in a hurry
Chetחֵטְא חָטְאָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם
עַל כֵּן לְנִידָה הָיָתָה
כָּל מְכַבְּדֶיהָ הִזִּילוּהָ
כִּי רָאוּ עֶרְוָתָהּ
גַּם הִיא נֶאֶנְחָה
וַתָּשָׁב אָחוֹר ס
How sinful Jerusalem's sin
therefore she is isolated
All who honoured her despise her
for they see her nakedness
even as she sighs and turns away
נִידָה is a unique word apparently. If there is great sin, what can be the consequence? In this context, exile can lead to repentance or to self-defense. But the immediate effect may be a quivering isolation, a moment of vulnerability that enables a real recognition of foolishness.
Tetטֻמְאָתָהּ בְּשׁוּלֶיהָ
לֹא זָכְרָה אַחֲרִיתָהּ
וַתֵּרֶד פְּלָאִים
אֵין מְנַחֵם לָהּ
רְאֵה יְהוָה אֶת עָנְיִי

כִּי הִגְדִּיל אוֹיֵב ס
Tendered in her robes is her uncleanness
She did not remember her consequences
and she fell down with wonders
there is none to comfort her
see יְהוָה my humiliation
for the enemy is magnified
A strong pervasive, interpenetrating, and intrinsic substitute beginning with 't' for the preposition 'in'.

The sentence with wonders seems to associate the exile with the passover wonders in the land of Ham - it is not easy to make a sentence with it
Yodיָדוֹ פָּרַשׂ צָר
עַל כָּל מַחֲמַדֶּיהָ
  כִּי רָאֲתָה גוֹיִם בָּאוּ מִקְדָּשָׁהּ
אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָה לֹא יָבֹאוּ
בַקָּהָל לָךְ ס
Yes, adversity spread its hand
on all her delectable goods
for she has seen the nations enter her holy place
whom you charged not to enter into your assembly
Kafכָּל עַמָּהּ נֶאֱנָחִים
מְבַקְּשִׁים לֶחֶם
נָתְנוּ מַחֲמַדֵּיהֶם
בְּאֹכֶל לְהָשִׁיב נָפֶשׁ
רְאֵה יְהוָה וְהַבִּיטָה
כִּי הָיִיתִי זוֹלֵלָה ס
Know that all her people sigh
seeking bread
they give their delectable goods for food
to turn life around
see יְהוָה and look
for I have become polluted

While שׁוּב has many possible glosses, I will try and include a 'turn' in it so that the many times it appears can be heard.

I usually avoid that lovely word 'soul' as a translation of נָפֶשׁ because of its false associations of bodiless - here they need real food
Lamedלוֹא אֲלֵיכֶם
כָּל עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ
הַבִּיטוּ וּרְאוּ
אִם יֵשׁ מַכְאוֹב כְּמַכְאֹבִי אֲשֶׁר
עוֹלַל לִי
אֲשֶׁר הוֹגָה יְהוָה
בְּיוֹם חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ ס
Look - not for you -
all you passing this way
and see
if there is sorrow like my sorrow
which is
imposed on me
which יְהוָה afflicted
in the day of his fierce anger
The inference of a question here ([Is it] nothing to you?) seems misleading as to other possible meanings. Such as - let it not come to you JPS or it's not about you, etc.

Fierce - also in Lam 4:11, anger - thematic - occurs 10 times but not in chapter 5
Memמִמָּרוֹם שָׁלַח אֵשׁ
בְּעַצְמֹתַי וַיִּרְדֶּנָּה
פָּרַשׂ רֶשֶׁת לְרַגְלַי
הֱשִׁיבַנִי אָחוֹר
נְתָנַנִי שֹׁמֵמָה
כָּל הַיּוֹם דָּוָה ס
Mightily from on high he has sent fire into my bones and he subjugates her
He has spread a net for my feet
He has turned me away
He has made me desolate every day - faint
fire recurs in Lam 2:3-:4, 4:11
faint Lam 5:17 only - frame?

The switch in pronoun is strange - but whether me or her, I suspect the meaning is clear with identification of the individual with the corporate affliction
Nunנִשְׂקַד עֹל פְּשָׁעַי בְּיָדוֹ
יִשְׂתָּרְגוּ עָלוּ עַל צַוָּארִי
הִכְשִׁיל כֹּחִי
נְתָנַנִי אֲדֹנָי בִּידֵי
לֹא אוּכַל קוּם ס
Now bound by his hand is the yoke of my transgressions
They are intertwined - they come up to my neck
He has made my strength fail
My Lord has given me into the hands of those against whom I cannot rise
compare Job 40:17 - Even Behemoth - I wonder if this is an argument for evolution
Samechסִלָּה כָל אַבִּירַי
אֲדֹנָי בְּקִרְבִּי
קָרָא עָלַי
מוֹעֵד לִשְׁבֹּר בַּחוּרָי
גַּת דָּרַךְ אֲדֹנָי
לִבְתוּלַת בַּת יְהוּדָה ס
Suspended has my Lord all the mighty in my midst
He has called against me
a feast to crush my youth
In a winepress my Lord has trodden
the virgin daughter of Judah
(or JB Spurned)
Ayinעַל אֵלֶּה אֲנִי בוֹכִיָּה 
עֵינִי עֵינִי יֹרְדָה מַּיִם
כִּי רָחַק מִמֶּנִּי מְנַחֵם מֵשִׁיב נַפְשִׁי
הָיוּ בָנַי שׁוֹמֵמִים
כִּי גָבַר אוֹיֵב  ס
I - I weep for these things
my eye, my eye running with water
for the comforter is too far from me to return my life
My children are desolate
for an enemy has prevailed
For yod a Y, for aleph and ayin a glottal. The Hebrew ani, ayini are as close as the English I, eye. My eye sees the Hebrew repeated I.
Pehפֵּרְשָׂה צִיּוֹן בְּיָדֶיהָ
אֵין מְנַחֵם לָהּ
צִוָּה יְהוָה לְיַעֲקֹב סְבִיבָיו צָרָיו
הָיְתָה יְרוּשָׁלִַם
לְנִדָּה בֵּינֵיהֶם ס
Pathos - Zion spreads with her hands
there is none to comfort her
יְהוָה charged  concerning Jacob that his adversaries would surround him
Jerusalem has become
impure among them
Tsadeצַדִּיק הוּא יְהוָה
כִּי פִיהוּ מָרִיתִי
שִׁמְעוּ נָא כָל הָעַמִּים
וּרְאוּ מַכְאֹבִי
בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי
הָלְכוּ בַשֶּׁבִי ס
So Righteous is יְהוָה
for I disobeyed his bidding
Hear please - all peoples
and see my sorrow
My virgins and my youth
are gone into captivity
I have to find ts in a word since there is no English equivalent letter. In the psalms I was sometimes a little flippant - e.g. tza! in Psalm 34. In Psalm 119 I used S and St. Here I have followed what I did in Psalm 145 where another poet said the same thing.
Qofקָרָאתִי לַמְאַהֲבַי
הֵמָּה רִמּוּנִי
כֹּהֲנַי וּזְקֵנַי
בָּעִיר גָּוָעוּ
כִּי בִקְשׁוּ אֹכֶל לָמוֹ
וְיָשִׁיבוּ אֶת נַפְשָׁם ס
Queried I for my lovers
they misled me
My priests and my elders
expired in the city
as they sought their food
to restore their lives
Reshרְאֵה יְהוָה
כִּי צַר לִי
מֵעַי חֳמַרְמָר
וּנֶהְפַּךְ לִבִּי בְּקִרְבִּי
כִּי מָרוֹ מָרִיתִי
מִחוּץ שִׁכְּלָה חֶרֶב
בַּבַּיִת כַּמָּוֶת ס
Regard יְהוָה
for I am in adversity
My belly is in turmoil
and overturned is my heart within me
for I have wantonly disobeyed
In the streets the sword bereaves
in the house - as death
Seeing - 8 times in this chapter - 8 more in the remaining ones - 'regard' this once for the R.

Mar מָרִ as a sound is repeated as bitter, overturned, and disobeyed
Shinשָׁמְעוּ כִּי נֶאֱנָחָה אָנִי
אֵין מְנַחֵם לִי
כָּל אֹיְבַי שָׁמְע וּרָעָתִי
שָׂשׂוּכִּי אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ
הֵבֵאתָ יוֹם קָרָאת
וְיִהְיוּ כָמֹנִי ס
Sighing, my sighing they have heard
there is none to comfort me
All my enemies hear of my evil
they rejoice that you have done it
You will bring the day you have called
and they will be as I am
The enemy has public knowledge that increases shame and stimulates a desire for equal retribution
Tafתָּבֹא כָל רָעָתָם לְפָנֶיךָ
וְעוֹלֵל לָמוֹ
כַּאֲשֶׁר עוֹלַלְתָּ לִי
עַל כָּל פְּשָׁעָי
כִּי רַבּוֹת אַנְחֹתַי
וְלִבִּי דַוָּי פ
To your face let all their evil come
and impose on them
as you have imposed on me
on account of all my transgressions
for many are my sighs
and my heart is faint
How strangely close is עלל from which we get עֹולֵל (which I have rendered impose) to עולל for babes or children

Notice the closing Peh rather than Samech- this is the only verse without a Samech


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