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13 The young men perform menial labor;[a]
boys stagger from their labor.[b]

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  1. Lamentations 5:13 tn The text is difficult. Word by word the MT has, “young men hand mill (?) they take up.” Perhaps it means, “they take [our] young men for mill grinding,” or perhaps it means, “the young men take up [the labor of] mill grinding.” This expression is an example of synecdoche, where the mill stands for the labor at the mill, and then that labor stands for performing menial physical labor as servants. The surface reading, “young men carry hand mills,” does not portray any great adversity for them. The Vulgate translates as an abusive sexual metaphor (see D. R. Hillers, Lamentations [AB], 99), but this gives no known parallel to the second part of the verse.
  2. Lamentations 5:13 tc Heb “boys trip over wood.” This phrase makes little sense. The translation adopts D. R. Hillers’ suggestion (Lamentations [AB], 99) of בְּעֶצֶב כָּשָׁלוּ (beʿetsev kashalu). Due to letter confusion and haplography the final ב (bet) of בְּעֶצֶב (beʿetsev), which looks like the כ (kaf) beginning the next word, may have been dropped. This verb can have an abstract noun after the preposition ב (bet), meaning “from, due to,” rather than “over.”