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The Punishment of Zion

How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The holy stones lie scattered
    at the head of every street.

The precious sons of Zion,
    worth their weight in fine gold,
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
    the work of a potter’s hands!

Even the jackals give the breast
    and suckle their young,
but the daughter of my people has become cruel,
    like the ostriches in the wilderness.

The tongue of the nursling cleaves
    to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
    but no one gives to them.

Those who feasted on dainties
    perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
    lie on ash heaps.

For the chastisement[a] of the daughter of my people has been greater
    than the punishment[b] of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
    no hand being laid on it.[c]

Her princes were purer than snow,
    whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
    the beauty of their form[d] was like sapphire.[e]

Now their visage is blacker than soot,
    they are not recognized in the streets;
their skin has shriveled upon their bones,
    it has become as dry as wood.

Happier were the victims of the sword
    than the victims of hunger,
who pined away, stricken
    by want of the fruits of the field.

10 The hands of compassionate women
    have boiled their own children;
they became their food
    in the destruction of the daughter of my people.

11 The Lord gave full vent to his wrath,
    he poured out his hot anger;
and he kindled a fire in Zion,
    which consumed its foundations.

12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
    or any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
    the gates of Jerusalem.

13 This was for the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed in the midst of her
    the blood of the righteous.

14 They wandered, blind, through the streets,
    so defiled with blood
that none could touch
    their garments.

15 “Away! Unclean!” men cried at them;
    “Away! Away! Touch not!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
    men said among the nations,
    “They shall stay with us no longer.”

16 The Lord himself has scattered them,
    he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
    no favor to the elders.

17 Our eyes failed, ever watching
    vainly for help;
in our watching[f] we watched
    for a nation which could not save.

18 Men dogged our steps
    so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered;
    for our end had come.

19 Our pursuers were swifter
    than the vultures in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains,
    they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.

20 The breath of our nostrils, the Lord’s anointed,
    was taken in their pits,
he of whom we said, “Under his shadow
    we shall live among the nations.”

21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
    dweller in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
    you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.

22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished,
    he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter of Edom, he will punish,
    he will uncover your sins.


  1. Lamentations 4:6 Or iniquity
  2. Lamentations 4:6 Or sin
  3. Lamentations 4:6 Heb uncertain
  4. Lamentations 4:7 Heb uncertain
  5. Lamentations 4:7 Heb lapis lazuli
  6. Lamentations 4:17 Heb uncertain

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