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[a] Aaghh! Lonely is this city that once bustled with life;
Cheer is empty; like a widow, she is abandoned
    and oh, so lonely.
She who was a princess, great among the nations,
    has lost everything and been forced to serve as a slave.

Bawling, she weeps without constraint every night,
    cries herself to sleep, bitter tears streaming down her cheeks.
Her former friends ignore her;
    there is no one there to share her sorrow;
Companions contend and have betrayed her;
    friends have been unfaithful and turned against her as enemies.

Carried off to a foreign place, Judah is exiled in misery
    and debased by affliction and hard labor;
She cannot find rest living among the pagan nations.
    She tried to run and hide, but in her distress pursuers have overcome her.

Despair permeates the very dust of Zion’s roads.
    Nobody walks them in anticipation of celebration and worship.
No one enters the city’s desolate gates bringing offerings or sacrifices to God.
    The religious leaders are heavyhearted,
And the virgin women despair.
    It’s so bitter for dear Zion!

Enemies of Jerusalem have gained the upper hand.
    Her foes prosper against her.
The Eternal One has caused her sorrow because of her rebellions,
    for she acted against Him, willfully, again and again.
Even her little ones are taken away at the whim of her foes.

Faded beauty, this daughter Zion.
    Her princely young men, like stags,
They have no place to graze, no strength to fight;
    they fled to the woods,
Pursued mercilessly by hunters.

Gone are the days that she remembers, happy and precious;
    Jerusalem wanders aimlessly and remembers what precious things she has lost
Things from the old days of David, Solomon, and Josiah.
    But now her people have fallen to her enemies,
And in this defeat by her enemies, no one ran to her aid,
    and her enemies now snicker and gloat at her downfall.

Hideous must be Jerusalem’s crimes
    that the city itself is now morally and ritually impure.
Those who once admired her now hate her.
    They strip her naked and laugh.
All she can do is groan
    and shrink back, ashamed.

Impurity clung to her inside the cover of her clothes.
    She refused to consider anything but the present,
Never expecting her impurity would be revealed.
    Nobody came forward with comfort—no one.

Lady Jerusalem: See, Eternal One, how badly I suffer
        and how my enemies swell with pride.

The people of Judah and Jerusalem have had many opportunities to recognize their failings. Now they learn that their choices have grave consequences. For generations they have ignored the warnings and continued in idolatry, dependence upon foreign powers, and oppression of the less fortunate. Yes, the sacrifices in the temple have continued, but they have continually turned away from God. One prophet after another has called them back to a life of trust in the Lord, but they still look to others for assurance. Time has run out.

10 Jabbing and fondling,
    mauling all her treasures, the enemy takes stock.
Foreign nations enter even her holy place,
    claiming what You decided was off-limits
And forbidden to them—Your temple.[b]

11 Kept in hunger,
    her people are desperate for food.
Once prosperous, they trade her treasures
    for nourishment of any kind.

Lady Jerusalem: Look, Eternal One—
        really see how hated I’ve become.

12     Look around, you who pass by and go about your business.
        Is there any sorrow as great as mine?
    Any pain as great as that which has been forced on me?
        No. Because my pain comes from the Eternal.
    It is His judgment, rendered on the day of His intense anger.

13     My bones burn with the wrath of God,
        the fire sent from on high.
    He laid a trap, then left me,
        turned me back to the destruction,
    With the shakes, constantly sick and faint.

14     Now the burden of all my wrongs is a yoke.
        God has laid them upon my shoulders,
    Bound them around my neck.
        He has made sure I’m too weak to support them.
    The Lord gave me into the hand of an enemy.
        I could not resist.

15     Overwhelmed by none other than God,
        the Lord has determined that all my warriors are worthless.
    He has summoned a meeting of those who are against me
        to crush the young men who would protect me,
    And He has stomped lovely Judah, virgin daughter,
        like grapes in a winepress.

16     Pity, my eyes won’t stop their crying; I can’t stop.
        There is no one nearby to comfort me or revive my spirit,
    No one to pull me up.
        My children know it—they’re left empty,
    The enemy has won.

17 Quietly, Zion spreads out her hands, pleading for comfort.
    But no one comes. The Lord forbids it.
God has commanded Jacob’s enemies
    to surround her.
Jerusalem has become their foe;
    she is an impurity among them.

The poetic imagery is violently and sexually disturbing. Zion’s captors enter her sacred area and cart off her children. She has been unfaithful to her husband, the Eternal One.

18 Lady Jerusalem: Right and true is the Eternal One.
        I am the one in the wrong: I have rebelled against His law.
    Listen all of you peoples.
        See how much I have suffered;
    My handsome men and my gentle women, unmarried and unprotected,
        have marched away into captivity.

19     Summoning my lovers brings nothing
        nothing but pain in their betrayal.
    The old guard, religious and political leaders,
        have died starving here in the city;
    Their search for sustenance failed.

20     Take account, Eternal One, of me; how miserable I am.
        My belly growls and turns;
    My heart is wrung out like a rag; my faults and failings are to blame
        because I have been rebellious.
    Death is everywhere in the homes;
        the sword makes women childless in the streets.

21     Uncaring, with no compassion from others,
        they know how badly I suffer.
    O how alone I am.
        My enemies gloat, and You have brought about my misery,
    So happy to know I’m in pain.
        But You, O God, will make them as bad off as I.

22     Vindicate me and judge their evil actions
        and make them suffer,
    As You’ve made me suffer
        for all my wrongdoings.
    I’m a wreck, and I groan with a faint heart.


  1. 1:1 A Hebrew acrostic poem. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet.
  2. 1:10 Deuteronomy 23:3

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