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Lonely Jerusalem

The Prophet Speaks:

Jerusalem, once so crowded,
    lies deserted and lonely.
This city that was known
all over the world
    is now like a widow.
This queen of the nations
    has been made a slave.
Each night, bitter tears
    flood her cheeks.
None of her former lovers
    are there to offer comfort;
her friends[a] have betrayed her
    and are now her enemies.

The people of Judah are slaves,
suffering in a foreign land,
    with no rest from sorrow.
Their enemies captured them
    and were terribly cruel.[b]
The roads to Zion mourn
because no one travels there
    to celebrate the festivals.
The city gates are deserted;
    priests are weeping.
Young women are raped;[c]
    Zion is in sorrow!
Enemies now rule the city
    and live as they please.
The Lord has punished Jerusalem
    because of her awful sins;
he has let her people
    be dragged away.

Zion’s glory has disappeared.
Her leaders are like deer
    that cannot find pasture;
they are hunted down
    till their strength is gone.
Her people recall the good life
    that once was theirs;
now they suffer
    and are scattered.
No one was there to protect them
from their enemies
who sneered
    when their city was taken.

Jerusalem’s horrible sins
    have made the city a joke.
Those who once admired her
    now hate her instead—
she has been disgraced;
    she groans and turns away.

Her sins had made her filthy,
but she wasn’t worried
    about what could happen.
And when Jerusalem fell,
    it was so tragic.
No one gave her comfort
    when she cried out,
“Help! I’m in trouble, Lord!
    The enemy has won.”

10 Zion’s treasures were stolen.
Jerusalem saw foreigners
    enter her place of worship,
though the Lord
had forbidden them
    to belong to his people.[d]
11 Everyone in the city groans
    while searching for food;
they trade their valuables
for barely enough scraps
    to stay alive.

Jerusalem Speaks:

Jerusalem shouts to the Lord,
“Please look and see
    how miserable I am!”
12 No passerby even cares.[e]
Why doesn’t someone notice
    my terrible sufferings?
You were fiercely angry, Lord,
and you punished me
    worst of all.
13 From heaven you sent a fire
    that burned in my bones;
you set a trap for my feet
    and made me turn back.
All day long you leave me
    in shock from constant pain.
14 You have tied my sins
    around my neck,[f]
and they weigh so heavily
    that my strength is gone.
You have put me in the power
    of enemies
too strong for me.

15 You, Lord, have turned back
my warriors
and crushed
    my young heroes.
Judah was a woman untouched,
but you let her be trampled
    like grapes in a wine pit.
16 Because of this, I mourn,
    and tears flood my eyes.
No one is here to comfort
    or to encourage me;
we have lost the war—
    my people are suffering.

The Prophet Speaks:

17 Zion reaches out her hands,
    but no one offers comfort.
The Lord has turned
the neighboring nations
    against Jacob’s descendants.
Jerusalem is merely a filthy rag
    to her neighbors.

Jerusalem Speaks:

18 The Lord was right,
    but I refused to obey him.
Now I ask all of you to look
    at my sufferings—
even my young people
    have been dragged away.
19 I called out to my lovers,
    but they betrayed me.
My priests and my leaders died
while searching the city
    for scraps of food.

20 Won’t you look and see
    how upset I am, our Lord?
My stomach is in knots,
and my heart is broken
    because I betrayed you.
In the streets and at home,
    my people are slaughtered.

21 Everyone heard my groaning,
    but no one offered comfort.
My enemies know of the trouble
that you have brought on me,
    and it makes them glad.
Hurry and punish them,
    as you have promised.
22 Don’t let their evil deeds
    escape your sight.
Punish them as much
as you have punished me
    because of my sins.
I never stop groaning—
    I’ve lost all hope!

Footnotes

  1. 1.2 lovers. . . friends: Israel’s former allies.
  2. 1.3 Their. . . cruel: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 1.4 raped: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  4. 1.10 to. . . people: Or “to enter his temple.”
  5. 1.12 No. . . cares: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  6. 1.14 You. . . neck: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

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