Chapter 30

1But now, those younger in days than I laugh at me; those whose fathers I despised, to put them with the sheep dogs.   אוְעַתָּ֚ה | שָֽׂחֲק֣וּ עָלַי֘ צְעִירִ֥ים מִמֶּ֗נִּי לְיָ֫מִ֥ים אֲשֶׁר־מָאַ֥סְתִּי אֲבוֹתָ֑ם לָ֜שִׁ֗ית עִם־כַּלְבֵ֥י צֹאנִֽי:
2Moreover, why did I need the strength of their hands; old age was wasted on them.   בגַּם־כֹּ֣חַ יְ֖דֵיהֶם לָ֣מָּה לִּ֑י עָ֜לֵ֗ימוֹ אָ֣בַד כָּֽלַח:
Moreover, why did I need the strength of their hands: in those days they were wicked, and they were useless, for trouble came because of them.  
old age: Heb. כָּלַח, old age.  
3Because of want and because of hunger, they sat in solitude; they would flee to desolation, to the darkness of waste and desolation.   גבְּחֶ֥סֶר וּבְכָפָ֗ן גַּ֫לְמ֥וּד הָעֹֽרְקִ֥ים צִיָּ֑ה אֶ֜מֶ֗שׁ שׁוֹאָ֥ה וּמְשֹׁאָֽה:
Because of want and because of hunger: they were in solitude.  
they would flee to desolation: For in his days, they would drive them from civilization to go in darkness.  
darkness of waste and desolation: broine in Old French, obscurity.  
4They pluck salt-wort on shrubs, and the roots of juniper bushes were their fare.   דהַקֹּֽטְפִ֣ים מַלּ֣וּחַ עֲלֵי־שִׂ֑יחַ וְשֹׁ֖רֶשׁ רְתָמִ֣ים לַחְמָֽם:
They pluck salt-wort on shrubs: When they were in the deserts, they would pluck for themselves salt-wort [that grew] on the trees of the forests and eat.  
salt-wort: Heb. מלוח. It is the name of an herb. In Aramaic (Pes. 114a), it is called קַקוּלִין and in the language of the Mishnah מַלוּחִים (malves in French), mallows, as we learned in (Kiddushin 66a): “They brought up mallows on golden tables.”  
shrubs: a tree, like (Gen. 21:15), “under one of the shrubs (השיחים).”  
5They are driven forth from the midst [of the city], they shout at them as [at] a thief.   המִן־גֵּ֥ו יְגֹרָ֑שׁוּ יָרִ֥יעוּ עָ֜לֵ֗ימוֹ כַּגַּנָּֽב:
from the midst: From the midst of the city they were driven.  
6To dwell in the crevices of the valleys, in holes of earth and rocks.   ובַּֽעֲר֣וּץ נְחָלִ֣ים לִשְׁכֹּ֑ן חֹרֵ֖י עָפָ֣ר וְכֵפִֽים:
in the crevices of the valleys: There is a salty land that splits, where they would lie in the holes in the earth and the holes in the crevices of the rocks.  
and rocks: Heb. וכפים, the Aramaic translation of סלעים, rocks. (Another explanation:)  
in the crevice of the streams: That is the crevice that the stream makes around itself.  
7Among the shrubs they bray; under the nettles they gather.   זבֵּֽין־שִׂיחִ֥ים יִנְהָ֑קוּ תַּ֖חַת חָר֣וּל יְסֻפָּֽחוּ:
under the nettles they gather: (Orties in French), nettles. They would gather, as in (Isa. 14:1), “and join (ונספחו) the house of Jacob.”  
8Sons of churls, sons of ignoble men were broken from the land.   חבְּֽנֵי־נָ֖בָל גַּם־בְּנֵ֣י בְלִי־שֵׁ֑ם נִ֜כְּא֗וּ מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ:
were broken (in my days) from the land: for I would humble them. [נִכְאוּ is] an expression of (Isa. 66:2), “of crushed spirit (נכה רוח).”  
9But now I have become their song, and I have become their conversation piece.   טוְעַתָּה נְגִֽינָתָ֣ם הָיִ֑יתִי וָֽאֱהִ֖י לָהֶ֣ם לְמִלָּֽה:
10They abhor me, they have distanced themselves from me, and from my face they have spared no spittle.   יתִּֽעֲבוּנִי רָ֣חֲקוּ מֶ֑נִּי וּמִ֜פָּנַ֗י לֹא־חָ֥שְׂכוּ רֹֽק:
11For He untied my bowstring and afflicted me, and they have cast off the bridle before me.   יאכִּֽי־יִתְרִ֣י (כתיב יִתְרִ֣ו) פִ֖תַּח וַיְעַנֵּ֑נִי וְ֜רֶ֗סֶן מִפָּנַ֥י שִׁלֵּֽחוּ:
For He untied my bowstring: He untied the string of my bow (that I said above that my bow would become stronger); i.e., He weakened my strength-He Who has the power to do so.  
and they have cast off the bridle: My bridle, with which they were bridled to me-they cast it off before me because they no longer fear me.  
12On my right, "little sprouts" stand; they push away my feet and they cast up against me their ways of destruction.   יבעַל־יָמִין֘ פִּרְחָ֪ח יָ֫ק֥וּמוּ רַגְלַ֥י שִׁלֵּ֑חוּ וַיָּסֹ֥לּוּ עָ֜לַ֗י אָרְח֥וֹת אֵידָֽם:
On my right: on my right, stand “little sprouts” as [with] any other simple person, because I am no longer so esteemed in their sight [that they] subordinate themselves before Me.  
they push away my feet: If the place is crowded, they push me away.  
and they cast up against me their ways of destruction: Any shameful way [i.e., act] that they have to do, they make their way before me or beside me [to perform it] and they have no fear.  
13They break up my path; they serve to increase my calamity, although they derive no help therefrom.   יגנָֽתְס֗וּ נְֽתִיבָ֫תִ֥י לְהַוָּתִֽי־ (כתיב לְהַיָּתִי) יֹעִ֑ילוּ לֹ֖א עֹזֵ֣ר לָֽמוֹ:
They break up my path: Heb. נתסוּ. [My] good [path] and do not care for it. נתסוּ is like נתצוּ the “sammech” replacing the “zaddi.”  
they serve to increase my calamity: they continue to provoke me.  
14As [through] a wide breach they come; under [cover of] darkness they roll upon [me].   ידכְּפֶ֣רֶץ רָחָ֣ב יֶֽאֱתָ֑יוּ תַּ֥חַת שֹׁ֜אָ֗ה הִתְגַּלְגָּֽלוּ:
As [through] a wide breach: in a fence, through which everyone comes and passes through, so they come together against me to embarrass me.  
under darkness they roll: i.e., they come rolling along in secret until they reach me, to provoke me, so that I should not be able to escape from them.  
15Terrors turned upon me; they pursue my nobility as a spirit, and my salvation passed by like a cloud.   טוהָהְפַּ֥ךְ עָלַ֗י בַּלָּ֫ה֥וֹת תִּרְדֹּ֣ף כָּ֖רוּחַ נְדִֽבָתִ֑י וּכְ֜עָ֗ב עָֽבְרָ֥ה יְשֻֽׁעָתִֽי:
turned upon me: Heb. הָהְפַ, [equivalent to] נֶהְפַּ.  
Terrors: demons.  
as a spirit: An evil [spirit].  
my nobility: The noble spirit that rested upon me from the beginning.  
16And now, my soul pours out upon me; days of affliction seize me.   טזוְעַתָּ֗ה עָ֖לַי תִּשְׁתַּפֵּ֣ךְ נַפְשִׁ֑י יֹ֖אֽחֲזוּ֣נִי יְמֵי־עֹֽנִי:
And now: to this trouble my soul pours out like a man whose spirit is troubled, for…  
days of affliction: in which I am [now] seize me and coerce me to pour out my soul.  
17At night, my bones are picked off me and my sinews have no rest.   יזלַ֗יְלָה עֲ֖צָמַי נִקַּ֣ר מֵֽעָלָ֑י וְ֜עֹֽרְקַ֗י לֹ֣א יִשְׁכָּבֽוּן:
are picked off: Heb. נקר, like (Num. 16: 14), “will you put out (תנקר) the eyes of those people?” (forer in French, to bore). The worms pick my flesh off my bones.  
my sinews: Heb. עֹרְקַי. My sinews have no rest. Sinew in Arabic is “orek.” So did Dunash explain it (Teshuvoth Dunash p.85). Another explanation: עֹרְקַי, my pursuers who cause me to flee. (Machbereth Menachem p. 139)  
18By great force is my garment changed; like the opening of my shirt it girds me.   יחבְּרָב־כֹּ֖חַ יִתְחַפֵּ֣שׂ לְבוּשִׁ֑י כְּפִ֖י כֻּתָּנְתִּ֣י יַֽאַזְרֵֽנִי:
is my garment changed: My “garment” changes, layer after layer. When a person removes his garments and puts on other garments different from the first ones, he calls these בִּגְדֵי חֹפֶשׁ, like (I Kings 22:30), “I will disguise myself (התחפש) and go into battle.” This is translated into Aramaic by the word אשתני, I will change.  
like the opening of my shirt it girds me: Like the opening of my shirt, which girds and encompasses my neck, so do my garments gird me all around.  
19It directed me to the mud, and I was compared to dust and ashes.   יטהֹרַ֥נִי לַחֹ֑מֶר וָֽ֜אֶתְמַשֵּׁ֗ל כֶּֽעָפָ֥ר וָאֵֽפֶר:
It directed me to the mud: These boils directed me and taught me to sit in the mud, as we said above (2:8).“and he sat down in the ashes.” Another explanation: הוֹרַנִי means: it cast me, an expression of (Exod. 15:4), “He cast (ירה) into the sea.”  
and I was compared: Was likened. And in the Midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma (Buber, Vayishlach 8): Said Rabbi Berechiah, “Transpose the verse.” I was compared to Abraham in my righteousness, who called himself dust and ashes (Gen.18:27), and He judges me like the wicked of the Generation of the Dispersion (who rebelled against Him by building the tower), concerning whom it is written (Gen. 11: 3): “and the mortar served them as clay.”  
20I cry out to You but You do not answer me; I stood, and You ponder me.   כאֲשַׁוַּ֣ע אֵ֖לֶיךָ וְלֹ֣א תַֽעֲנֵ֑נִי עָ֜מַ֗דְתִּי וַתִּתְבֹּ֥נֶן בִּֽי:
I stood: to see, to remain silent, and to understand, as in (Neh. 8:5), “And when he opened [it], all the people stood,” and no longer replied.  
and You ponder me: You think about me to change my plagues.  
21You became cruel to me; with the strength of Your hand You manifest hatred to me.   כאתֵּֽהָפֵ֣ךְ לְאַכְזָ֣ר לִ֑י בְּעֹ֖צֶם יָדְךָ֣ תִשְׂטְמֵֽנִי:
22You lift me up to the spirit, You cause me to ride [on it], and weakness melts me away.   כבתִּשָּׂאֵ֣נִי אֶל־ר֖וּחַ תַּרְכִּיבֵ֑נִי וּ֜תְמֹגְגֵ֗נִי תֻּשִׁיָּֽה (כתיב תֻּשִׁוָּֽה) :
You lift me up to the spirit: of the demons.  
You cause me to ride [on it], and weakness melts me away: Weakness and feebleness of strength melted me away.  
and weakness melts me away: Heb. ותמגגני, a feminine form, the subject of which is תֻּשִיָה, and this “tav” is not like the “tav” of “ You lift me up (תשאני).”  
23For I knew that You would return me to death and to the meeting place of all living.   כגכִּֽי־יָ֖דַעְתִּי מָ֣וֶת תְּשִׁיבֵ֑נִי וּבֵ֖ית מוֹעֵ֣ד לְכָל־חָֽי:
For I knew: For I knew that You would return me to death, a place which is a meeting place for all living, namely the grave.  
24But not with destruction does He stretch forth his hand; if with His misfortune, He would dandle them.   כדאַ֣ךְ לֹֽא־בְ֖עִי יִשְׁלַח־יָ֑ד אִם־בְּ֜פִיד֗וֹ לָהֶ֥ן שֽׁוּעַ:
But not with destruction: was the Judge accustomed to stretch forth His hand; with destruction, like (Micah 1:6), “into a heap (לעי) in the field.”  
if with His misfortune: If He would send a misfortune, which is a breach upon His creatures.  
He would dandle them: He would dandle them with partial consolations. And so did our Sages (Pesikta d’Rav Kahana p. 1 27a) explain it: The Holy One, blessed be He, does not smite a nation and leave it desolate, but He brings misfortune to one and dandles it with its fellow that suffered already, and it is consoled thereby. He brought misfortune upon Assyria and dandled it with Egypt, as it is said (Nahum 3:8): “Are you better than the great No-Amon?” He brought misfortune upon Egypt and dandled them with Assyria, as it is said (Ezek. 31: 3): “Behold Assyria was [a cedar] in the Lebanon.” The words שוע להן may also be interpreted as: Prayer and supplication avail them.  
25whether I did not weep for one who had a difficult time, or whether my soul was [not] grieved for the needy.   כהאִם־לֹ֣א בָ֖כִיתִי לִקְשֵׁה־י֑וֹם עָֽגְמָ֥ה נַ֜פְשִׁ֗י לָֽאֶבְיֽוֹן:
… whether I did not weep for one who had a difficult time: [You] know and recognize whether I was not compassionate and [did not] weep for the poor, who had difficult times, and [whether] my soul [did not] grieve for the needy, that this befell me because of all these.  
26For I hoped for good and evil came, and I looked forward to light and pitch darkness came.   כוכִּ֚י ט֣וֹב קִ֖וִּיתִי וַיָּ֣בֹא רָ֑ע וַֽאֲיַֽחֲלָ֥ה לְ֜א֗וֹר וַיָּ֥בֹא אֹֽפֶל:
For I hoped for good etc.: That is to say that this reward was fit for me.  
27My innards seethed and did not become silent; days of affliction came before me.   כזמֵעַ֖י רֻתְּח֥וּ וְלֹא־דָ֗מּוּ קִדְּמֻ֥נִי יְמֵי־עֹֽנִי:
and did not become silent: They cannot be silent.  
28I went blackened without the sun; I rose in the congregation and I would cry out.   כחקֹדֵ֣ר הִ֖לַּכְתִּי בְּלֹ֣א חַמָּ֑ה קַ֖מְתִּי בַקָּהָ֣ל אֲשַׁוֵּֽעַ:
without the sun: The sun did not gaze upon me, yet I am blackened.  
29I was a brother to jackals and a companion to ostriches.   כטאָח הָיִ֣יתִי לְתַנִּ֑ים וְ֜רֵ֗עַ לִבְנ֥וֹת יַֽעֲנָֽה:
I was a brother to jackals etc.: Jackals and ostriches spend all their days wailing.  
30My skin, which was upon me, was blackened, and my bones dried out from the heat.   לע֖וֹרִי שָׁחַ֣ר מֵֽעָלָ֑י וְעַצְמִי־חָ֜רָ֗ה מִנִּי־חֹֽרֶב:
dried out: Heb. חרה, an expression of a thing that is burned and dried through the heat of the fire, like (Jer. 6:29), “The bellows is heated (נחר) ” ; (Ezek. 15: 4), “and the middle of it is burned (נחר).”  
31And my harp became mournful, and my flute [turned] into the voice of weepers.   לאוַיְהִ֣י לְ֖אֵבֶל כִּנֹּרִ֑י וְ֜עֻגָבִ֗י לְק֣וֹל בֹּכִֽים: