Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lamentations 2

Translating Lamentations is not as cheerful a process as translating Ruth or the Song. I sat down and read it in English before Church on Sunday - took me about 10 minutes. I don't think I can give this the 77 days it deserves. Maybe 7. The third and centre chapter - the three-fold acrostic - is entirely in the first person. And in this second chapter, one cannot but be struck that God destroys his own citadel, his own sanctuary, his own booth. Is prayer all we are left with? Again, as in Job, for the arbiter or referee, and Ruth, for a redeemer, there is a need here that cannot be fulfilled except by God. To hold faithfulness and hope in the face of this destruction and failure, as does this writer and the writer of Psalm 89, is a work of faith.

There is again an intensity of repetition of words. I suspect there are unique framing words for each poem and framing and thematic words for the whole book. I am working on diagrams but my mind has regressed in my learning as I work through this web of destruction. Do not for a moment think you can read the Bible in 10 minutes.

VerseHebrew textA translationWhat shall we say?
Alephאֵיכָה יָעִיב בְּאַפּוֹ אֲדֹנָי
אֶת בַּת צִיּוֹן
הִשְׁלִיךְ מִשָּׁמַיִם אֶרֶץ
תִּפְאֶרֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל
וְלֹא זָכַר הֲדֹם רַגְלָיו
בְּיוֹם אַפּוֹ ס
Ah how my Lord has covered in darkness
the daughter of Zion
He has cast down from heaven to earth
the adornment of Israel
and he has not remembered
his footstool
in the day of his anger
Same construction as Lam 1:1 so a similar beginning


I don't know any music from this part so here is a Colonially named flower to lighten the pain of this reading - Bougainvillea growing on volcanic waste
Betבִּלַּע אֲדֹנָי וְלֹא חָמַל

אֵת כָּל נְאוֹת יַעֲקֹב
הָרַס בְּעֶבְרָתוֹ
מִבְצְרֵי בַת-יְהוּדָה
הִגִּיעַ לָאָרֶץ
חִלֵּל מַמְלָכָה וְשָׂרֶיהָ ס
Blasted without pity, my Lord -
all the meadows of Jacob
He has thrown down in his fury
the fortress of the daughter of Judah
He has touched to the earth -
He has polluted her kingdom and her princes

From Collages
Gimelגָּדַע בָּחֳרִי אַף
כֹּל קֶרֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל
הֵשִׁיב אָחוֹר
יְמִינוֹ מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב
וַיִּבְעַר בְּיַעֲקֹב
כְּאֵשׁ לֶהָבָה
אָכְלָה סָבִיב ס
Glowing in anger he has cut down
every horn of Israel
He has turned back
his right hand from the face of the enemy
and he has burned Jacob
as a fiery flame
that circles and devours
Daletדָּרַךְ קַשְׁתּוֹ
כְּאוֹיֵב נִצָּב
יְמִינוֹ כְּצָר
וַיַּהֲרֹג כֹּל מַחֲמַדֵּי עָיִן
בְּאֹהֶל בַּת צִיּוֹן
שָׁפַךְ כָּאֵשׁ חֲמָתוֹ ס
Directed has he his bow
like an enemy taking his stand
his right hand as adversity
and slew all the eye's delectable goods
in the tent of the daughter of Zion
he poured out like fire his wrath
Heהָיָה אֲדֹנָי כְּאוֹיֵב
בִּלַּע יִשְׂרָאֵל
בִּלַּע כָּל אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ
שִׁחֵת מִבְצָרָיו
וַיֶּרֶב בְּבַת יְהוּדָה
תַּאֲנִיָּה וַאֲנִיָּה ס
He, my Lord, became as an enemy
He has engulfed Israel
He has engulfed all her citadels
he has ruined his own fortress
and has nurtured in the daughter of Judah
her lament and her groaning
Vavוַיַּחְמֹס כַּגַּן שֻׂכּוֹ
שִׁחֵת מֹעֲדוֹ
שִׁכַּח יְהוָה בְּצִיּוֹן
מוֹעֵד וְשַׁבָּת
וַיִּנְאַץ בְּזַעַם אַפּוֹ
מֶלֶךְ וְכֹהֵן ס
Violently he removed as a garden his booth
He has ruined his feast
יְהוָה has let feast and sabbath in Zion be forgotten
and he has spurned in the foaming of his anger
king and priest
Zayinזָנַח אֲדֹנָי מִזְבְּחוֹ
נִאֵר מִקְדָּשׁוֹ
הִסְגִּיר בְּיַד אוֹיֵב
חוֹמֹת אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ
קוֹל נָתְנוּ בְּבֵית יְהוָה
כְּיוֹם מוֹעֵד ס
Zeroed has my Lord his altar
He has made void his sanctuary
He has shut up by the hand of an enemy
the walls of her citadels
They give voice in the house of  יְהוָה
as in the day of the feast
z is difficult in English - for concordance I  should use zero in Lam 3:17, 3:31 = cast off, but I probably won't. Curious though that the mathematical image can be continued in the parallel, 'make void'
Chetחָשַׁב יְהוָה לְהַשְׁחִית
חוֹמַת בַּת צִיּוֹן
נָטָה קָו
לֹא הֵשִׁיב יָדוֹ מִבַּלֵּעַ
וַיַּאֲבֶל חֵל וְחוֹמָה
יַחְדָּו אֻמְלָלוּ ס
He had, יְהוָה, considered ruining
the wall of the daughter of Zion
He had planned the approach and had not turned his hand from engulfing
but he made rampart and wall lament
they lamented together
This insight and imputation of a cruel character of God is not made behind his back. So let us imitate if we have any complaint against the most high.
Tetטָבְעוּ בָאָרֶץ שְׁעָרֶיהָ
אִבַּד וְשִׁבַּר בְּרִיחֶיהָ
מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם
אֵין תּוֹרָה
גַּם נְבִיאֶיהָ לֹא
מָצְאוּ חָזוֹן מֵיְהוָה ס
To the ground are her gates sunk
He has exterminated and crushed her bars
Her king and her princes are among the nations
There is no Torah
Even her prophets
find no vision from יְהוָה
I wonder if gate (her gate - shariah) and the Muslim 'sharia' law are related in etymology?
Yodיֵשְׁבוּ לָאָרֶץ
יִדְּמוּ זִקְנֵי בַת צִיּוֹן
הֶעֱלוּ עָפָר עַל רֹאשָׁם
חָגְרוּ שַׂקִּים
הוֹרִידוּ לָאָרֶץ רֹאשָׁן
בְּתוּלֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם ס
Yet in silence on the ground the elders of the daughter of Zion sit
They have thrown dust on their heads
They wear sackcloths
Hanging down their heads to the ground are the virgins of Jerusalem
יְהוָה would also be an acceptable start for this Yod position- not available in this verse

I suspect that virgins is used metaphorically here and elsewhere - right?
Kafכָּלוּ בַדְּמָעוֹת עֵינַי
חֳמַרְמְרוּ מֵעַי
נִשְׁפַּךְ לָאָרֶץ כְּבֵדִי
עַל שֶׁבֶר בַּת עַמִּי
בֵּעָטֵף עוֹלֵל וְיוֹנֵק
בִּרְחֹבוֹת קִרְיָה ס
Knowing tears, my eyes are exausted
My belly is in turmoil
Poured on the ground is my liver
over the destruction of the daughter of my people
for the babes and sucklings are weak
in the plazas of the town
Lamedלְאִמֹּתָם יֹאמְרוּ
אַיֵּה דָּגָן וָיָיִן
בְּהִתְעַטְּפָם כֶּחָלָל
בִּרְחֹבוֹת עִיר
בְּהִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ נַפְשָׁם
אֶל חֵיק אִמֹּתָם ס
Looking to their mothers, they say
where is corn and wine
when they are weakened as the wounded
in the plazas of the city
when their lives are poured out
into the their mother's bosom
Memמָה אֲעִידֵךְ
מָה אֲדַמֶּה לָּךְ
הַבַּת יְרוּשָׁלִַם
מָה אַשְׁוֶה לָּךְ
וַאֲנַחֲמֵךְ
בְּתוּלַת בַּת צִיּוֹן

כִּי גָדוֹל כַּיָּם שִׁבְרֵךְ
מִי יִרְפָּא לָךְ ס
My testimony for you - what will it be?
To what will I compare you
O daughter of Jerusalem
To what will I liken you that I may comfort you
O virgin daughter of Zion
for great as the sea is your destruction
Who will heal you?
Who is the 'I' in this poem? Is is the 'I' who will take on all responsibility in the next part?
Nunנְבִיאַיִךְ חָזוּ לָךְ שָׁוְא וְתָפֵל
וְלֹא גִלּוּ עַל עֲו‍ֹנֵךְ
לְהָשִׁיב שְׁבוּתֵךְ
וַיֶּחֱזוּ לָךְ
מַשְׂאוֹת שָׁוְא וּמַדּוּחִים ס
Nothing worth, insipid were the visions that your prophets had
for they did not reveal your iniquity
to turn away your captivity
but their visions for you were utterances of worthlessness and enticements
Gone into exile in Lam 1: 3 seems a limited gloss - perhaps discovered or revealed as being in exile would be better - but we need the G in this verse 3. Here and in Lam 4:22 - itself a frame for the acrostics, perhaps a better rendering would highlight the 'discovery' - not that physical exile is needed, but that a state of exile already exists and will have been revealed by the subsequent history.
Samechסָפְקוּ עָלַיִךְ כַּפַּיִם
כָּל עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ
שָׁרְקוּ וַיָּנִעוּ רֹאשָׁם
עַל בַּת יְרוּשָׁלִָם
הֲזֹאת הָעִיר שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ
כְּלִילַת יֹפִי
מָשׂוֹשׂ לְכָל הָאָרֶץ ס
So they applaud you
all passing this way
they hiss and nod their heads
at the daughter of Jerusalem
Is this the city that they say is 
the perfection of beauty?
the joy of the whole earth?
'pass by' occurs 4 times once each in chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4

beauty for me recalls the Song of course as do the epithets of daughter of Zion, etc
also - of course - Psalm 48:1
Pehפָּצוּ עָלַיִךְ פִּיהֶם
כָּל אֹיְבַיִךְ
שָׁרְקוּ וַיַּחַרְקוּ שֵׁן
אָמְרוּ בִּלָּעְנוּ אַךְ זֶה
הַיּוֹם שֶׁקִּוִּינֻהוּ
מָצָאנוּ רָאִינוּ ס
Parted against you are their mouths
all your enemies
they hiss and they gnash teeth
they say - we have engulfed her
The day that we have been waiting for
we have found it - we have seen it
Any glottal can represent Aleph or Ayin - I have failed! Note that these letters are reversed and it would not have been difficult for the author to have avoided the reversal. What prompted the twist?

For a moment the enemies seem to triumph - not so fast...
Ayinעָשָׂה יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר זָמָם
בִּצַּע אֶמְרָתוֹ
אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מִימֵי קֶדֶם
הָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל
וַיְשַׂמַּח עָלַיִךְ אוֹיֵב
הֵרִים קֶרֶן צָרָיִךְ ס
It was done as planned by יְהוָה
He has violently achieved his word
that he commanded in days of old
He has thrown down without pity
and he has made an enemy rejoice over you
exalting the horn of your adversaries
fulfill or carried out hardly does justice to the way this is put - that God has produced such defeat for Israel as an accomplishment of his word.

JB corrects horn of your adversaries to horn of יְהוָה. I don't see why. But then I am reading this for the first time. We have just read the pride of the enemy - a word that occurs 7 times in this chapter and 5 in the first.
Tsadeצָעַק לִבָּם אֶל אֲדֹנָי
חוֹמַת בַּת צִיּוֹן
הוֹרִידִי כַנַּחַל דִּמְעָה
יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה
אַל תִּתְּנִי פוּגַת לָךְ
אַל תִּדֹּם בַּת עֵינֵךְ ס
'ts crying out to the Lord is their heart
O wall of the daughter of Zion
Let your tear run down as a torrent
day and night
give yourself no respite
no silence for your eye's pupil
The personification of the wall continues after the mockery of enemy.
These stones are encouraged to cry out.
Qofקוּמִי רֹנִּי בַלַּיְלָה
לְרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת
שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ
נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֲדֹנָי
שְׂאִי אֵלָיו כַּפַּיִךְ
עַל נֶפֶשׁ עוֹלָלַיִךְ
הָעֲטוּפִים בְּרָעָב
בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל חוּצוֹת ס
Quicken, cry out in the night
in the beginning of the watches
Pour out like water your heart
before the face of the Lord
Lift up your palms to him
for the life of your babes
that are weak from famine
at the head of every street
Reshרְאֵה יְהוָה וְהַבִּיטָה
לְמִי עוֹלַלְתָּ כֹּה
אִם תֹּאכַלְנָה נָשִׁים
פִּרְיָם עֹלְלֵי טִפֻּחִים
אִם יֵהָרֵג בְּמִקְדַּשׁ
אֲדֹנָי כֹּהֵן וְנָבִיא ס
Regard יְהוָה and look
On whom have you imposed here?
As if women should devour
their fruit, the children of their mothering
As if in the sanctuary of my Lord priest and prophet should be slain
Shinשָׁכְבוּ לָאָרֶץ חוּצוֹת
נַעַר וְזָקֵן
בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי
נָפְלוּ בֶחָרֶב
הָרַגְתָּ בְּיוֹם אַפֶּךָ
טָבַחְתָּ לֹא חָמָלְתָּ ס
Streets and the ground covered with
youngster and aged
My virgins and and my youth
have fallen by the sword
You have slain in the day of your anger
You have butchered without pity
cf Lam 1:18
Tafתִּקְרָא כְיוֹם מוֹעֵד
מְגוּרַי מִסָּבִיב
וְלֹא הָיָה
בְּיוֹם אַף יְהוָה
פָּלִיט וְשָׂרִיד
אֲשֶׁר טִפַּחְתִּי
וְרִבִּיתִי אֹיְבִי כִלָּם פ
Terrors you have summoned circling around me as on a feast day
so there will not be
in the day of the wrath of יְהוָה
one left or one alive
of those I mothered or nurtured
My enemy has exhausted them
exhausted - one could use several possible glosses here - but for concordance on this word כָּלָה with chapter 3 and 4 I have chosen this one.


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