1 [a]How solitary and lonely sits the city [Jerusalem] That was [once] full of people! How like a widow she has become. She who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces, Has become a forced laborer! 2 She weeps bitterly in the night And her tears are [constantly] on her cheeks; Among all her lovers (political allies) She has no one to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies. 3 Judah has gone into exile under affliction And under harsh servitude; She dwells among the [pagan] nations, But she has found no rest; All her pursuers have overtaken her In the midst of [her] distress. 4 The roads to Zion are in mourning Because no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate; Her priests are groaning, Her virgins are grieved and suffering, And she suffers bitterly. 5 Her adversaries have become her masters, Her enemies prosper; For the Lord has caused her grief Because of the multitude of her transgressions; Her young children have gone Into captivity before the enemy. 6 All her beauty and majesty Have departed from the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem). Her princes have become like deer That have found no pasture; They have fled without strength Before the pursuer. 7 In the days of her affliction and homelessness Jerusalem remembers all her precious things That she had from the days of old, When her people fell into the hand of the adversary, And no one helped her, The enemy saw her, They mocked at her downfall. 8 Jerusalem sinned greatly; Therefore she has become an unclean thing [and has been removed]. All who honored her [now] despise her Because they have seen her nakedness; Even she herself groans and turns [her face] away. 9 Her (ceremonial) uncleanness was on her skirts; She did not [seriously] consider her future. Therefore she has come down [from throne to slavery] in an astonishing manner; She has no comforter. “O Lord” [cries Jerusalem], “look at my affliction, For the enemy has magnified himself [in triumph]!” 10 The adversary has spread out his hand Over all her precious and desirable things; For she has seen the [Gentile] nations enter her sanctuary (the Jerusalem temple)— [b]The ones whom You commanded That they should not enter into Your congregation [not even in the outer courts]. 11 All her people groan, seeking bread; They have exchanged their desirable and precious things for food To restore their lives. “See, O Lord, and consider How despised and repulsive I have become!” 12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass this way? Look and see if there is any pain like my pain Which was severely dealt out to me, Which the Lord has inflicted [on me] on the day of His fierce anger. 13 “From on high He sent fire into my bones, And it prevailed over them. He has spread a net for my feet; He has turned me back. He has made me desolate and hopelessly miserable, Faint all the day long. 14 “The yoke of my transgressions is bound; By His hand they are knit and woven together. They have come upon my neck. He has made my strength fail; The Lord has put me into the hand Of those against whom I cannot stand. 15 “The Lord has rejected all the strong men In my midst; He has proclaimed an established time against me To crush my young men. The Lord has trampled down as in a wine press The Virgin Daughter of Judah. 16 “I weep for these things; My eyes overflow with tears, Because a comforter, One who could restore my soul, is far away from me. My children are desolate and perishing, For the enemy has prevailed.” 17 Zion stretches out her hands, But there is no comforter for her. The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob That his neighbors should be his enemies; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing [an object of contempt] among them. 18 “The Lord is righteous and just; For I have rebelled against His commandment (His word). Hear now, all you peoples, And look at my pain; My virgins and my young men Have gone into captivity. 19 “I [Jerusalem] called to my lovers (political allies), but they deceived me. My priests and my elders perished in the city While they looked for food to restore their strength. 20 “See, O Lord, how distressed I am! My spirit is deeply disturbed; My heart is overturned within me and cannot rest, For I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword kills and bereaves; In the house there is [famine, disease and] death! 21 “People have heard that I groan, That I have no comforter [in You]. All my enemies have heard of my desperation; They are delighted [O Lord] that You have done it. Oh, that You would bring the day [of judgment] which You have proclaimed So that they will become like me. 22 “Let all their wickedness come before You; And deal with them as You have dealt with me Because of all my transgressions; For my groans are many and my heart is faint.”
God’s Anger over Israel
2 How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem) With a cloud in His anger! He has cast down from heaven to the earth The glory and splendor of Israel And has not remembered His footstool In the day of His anger. 2 The Lord has swallowed up; He has not spared All the country places of Jacob. In His wrath He has thrown down The strongholds of the Daughter of Judah (Jerusalem). He has brought them down to the ground [in disgrace]; He has debased the kingdom and its princes. 3 In fierce anger He has cut off and destroyed Every [c]horn of Israel. He has withdrawn His right hand From the presence of the enemy. And He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire Consuming all around. 4 He has bent His bow like an enemy; He has set His right hand like an adversary And slain all that were delightful and pleasing to the eye; In the tent of the Daughter of Zion He has poured out His wrath like fire. 5 The Lord has become like an enemy; He has swallowed up Israel. He has swallowed up all its palaces; He has destroyed its strongholds And multiplied in the Daughter of Judah Mourning and lamentation (expressions of grief). 6 And He has violently broken down His temple like a [fragile] garden hedge; He has destroyed His appointed meeting place. The Lord has caused the appointed feast and Sabbath To be forgotten in Zion And has despised and rejected the king and the priest In the indignation of His anger. 7 The Lord has rejected His altar; He has abandoned His sanctuary. He has given into the hand of the enemy The walls of her palaces; They have made a noise in the house of the Lord As on a day of an appointed feast. 8 The Lord determined to lay in ruins The [city] wall of the Daughter of Zion. He has stretched out a line, He has not stopped His hand from destroying. He has caused the rampart and the wall to lament (mourn in grief); They have languished together. 9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; He has destroyed and broken her bars. Her king and her princes are [exiled] among the nations; The law is no more. Also, her prophets no longer find Vision from the Lord. 10 The elders of the Daughter of Zion Sit on the ground keeping silent; They have thrown dust on their heads, They have covered themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem Have bowed their heads to the ground. 11 My eyes fail because of tears [mourns Jeremiah], My spirit is deeply disturbed; My heart is poured out on the earth [in grief] Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people [Jerusalem], When little ones and infants faint In the streets of the city. 12 They cry to their mothers, “Where is grain and wine?” As they faint like a wounded man In the streets of the city, As their life [slips away and] is poured out In their mothers’ arms. 13 How shall I console you? To what shall I compare you, O Daughter of Jerusalem? With what shall I compare you, so that I may comfort you, O Virgin Daughter of Zion? For your ruin is as vast as the sea; Who can heal you? 14 Your prophets have seen (imagined) for you False and foolish visions; And they have not exposed your wickedness To restore you from captivity [by teaching you to repent], But they have seen (imagined) and declared to you false and misleading oracles. 15 All who pass along the way Clap their hands in derision at you; They scoff and shake their heads At the Daughter of Jerusalem, saying, “Is this the city that was called ‘The perfection of beauty, The joy of all the earth’?” 16 All your enemies Have opened their mouths wide against you; They [scornfully] hiss and gnash their teeth. They say, “We have swallowed her up! Certainly this is the day for which we waited; We have reached it, we have seen it!” 17 The Lord has done what He planned; He has accomplished His word Which He commanded [d]from days of old. He has demolished without sparing, And He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you; He has exalted the power of your enemies. 18 Their hearts cried out to the Lord. “O wall of the Daughter of Zion, Let your tears run down like a river day and night; Give yourself no relief, Let your eyes have no rest. 19 “Arise, cry aloud in the night, At the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water Before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your little ones Who are faint from hunger At the head of every street.” 20 See, O Lord, and look! With whom have You dealt this way? Should women eat their offspring, The little ones who were born healthy and beautiful? Should priest and prophet be killed In the sanctuary of the Lord? 21 The young and the old Lie on the ground in the streets; My virgins and my young men Have fallen by the sword. You have killed them in the day of Your anger, You have slaughtered, not sparing. 22 You [Lord] called as in the day of an appointed feast My terrors (dangers) on every side; And there was no one who escaped or survived In the day of the Lord’s anger. Those I have cared for and brought up with tenderness, My enemy annihilated them.
Jeremiah Shares Israel’s Affliction
3 I am [Jeremiah] the man who has seen affliction Because of the rod of His wrath. 2 He has led me and made me walk In darkness and not in light. 3 Surely He has turned His hand against me Repeatedly all the day. 4 He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away; He has shattered my bones. 5 He has besieged and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. 6 He has made me live in dark places Like those who have long been dead. 7 He walled me in so that I cannot get out; He has weighted down my chain. 8 Even when I cry out and shout for help, He shuts out my prayer. 9 He has blocked my ways with cut stone; He has made my paths crooked. 10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait, And like a lion [hiding] in secret places. 11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces; He has made me desolate. 12 He has bent His bow And set me as a target for the arrow. 13 He has caused the arrows of His quiver To enter my inner parts. 14 I have become the [object of] ridicule to all my people, And [the subject of] their mocking song all the day. 15 He has filled me with bitterness; He has made me drunk with wormwood (bitterness). 16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has [covered me with ashes and] made me cower in the dust. 17 My soul has been cast far away from peace; I have forgotten happiness. 18 So I say, “My strength has perished And so has my hope and expectation from the Lord.”
Hope of Relief in God’s Mercy
19 Remember [O Lord] my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the gall (bitterness). 20 My soul continually remembers them And is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, Because His [tender] compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion and my inheritance,” says my soul; “Therefore I have hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word]. 26 It is good that one waits quietly For the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man that he should bear The yoke [of godly discipline] in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone [in hope] and keep quiet, Because God has laid it on him [for his benefit]. 29 Let him put his mouth in the dust [in recognition of his unworthiness]; There may yet be hope. 30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him; Let him be filled with reproach. 31 For the Lord will not reject forever, 32 For if He causes grief, Then He will have compassion According to His abundant lovingkindness and tender mercy. 33 For He does not afflict willingly and from His heart Or grieve the children of men. 34 To trample and crush under His feet All the prisoners of the land, 35 To deprive a man of justice In the presence of the Most High, 36 To defraud a man in his lawsuit— The Lord does not approve of these things. 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has authorized and commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High That both adversity (misfortune) and good (prosperity, happiness) proceed?
39 Why should any living mortal, or any man, Complain [of punishment] in view of his sins? 40 Let us test and examine our ways, And let us return to the Lord. 41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands [in prayer] Toward God in heaven; 42 We have transgressed and rebelled, You have not pardoned. 43 You have covered Yourself with anger And pursued us; You have slain [without pity] and have not spared. 44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud So that no prayer can pass through. 45 You have made us scum and refuse Among the peoples (Gentile nations). 46 All our enemies have gaped at us. 47 Panic and pitfall (traps, danger) have come on us, Devastation and destruction. 48 My eyes overflow with streams of tears Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people (Jerusalem). 49 My eyes overflow unceasingly, Without stopping, 50 Until the Lord looks down And sees from heaven. 51 My eyes [see things that] bring pain to my soul Because of all the daughters of my city. 52 Without cause my enemies Hunted me down like a bird; 53 They silenced me in the pit And placed a stone over me. 54 The waters ran down on my head; I said, “I am cut off (destroyed)!” 55 I called on Your name, O Lord, Out of the lowest pit. 56 You have heard my voice, “Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help.” 57 You drew near on the day I called to You; You said, “Do not fear.” 58 O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause [You have guided my way and protected me]; You have rescued and redeemed my life. 59 O Lord, You have seen the wrong [done to me]; Judge my case. 60 You have seen all their vengeance, All their schemes against me. 61 You have heard their reproach, O Lord, And all their schemes against me. 62 The lips and whispering of my assailants Are against me all day long. 63 Look at their sitting and their rising [their actions and secret counsels]; I am their mocking song [the subject of their ridicule]. 64 You will repay them, O Lord, According to the work of their hands. 65 You will harden their hearts; Your curse will be upon them. 66 You will pursue them in anger and destroy them From under the heavens of the Lord.
Distress of the Siege Described
4 How dark and dim the gold has become, How the pure gold has changed! The sacred stones [of the temple] are poured out and scattered At the head of every street. 2 The [noble and] precious sons of Zion, [Once] worth their weight in fine gold, How they are regarded [merely] as earthen jars, The work of a potter’s hands! 3 Even the jackals offer the breast, They nurse their young; But the daughter of my people has become cruel Like ostriches in the wilderness [that desert their young]. 4 The tongue of the infant clings To the roof of its mouth because of thirst; The little ones ask for food, But no one gives it to them. 5 Those who feasted on delicacies Are perishing in the streets; Those reared in purple [as nobles] Embrace ash heaps. 6 For the [punishment of the] wickedness of the daughter of my people [Jerusalem] Is greater than the [punishment for the] sin of Sodom, Which was overthrown in a moment, And no hands were turned toward her [to offer help]. 7 Her princes were purer than snow, They were whiter than milk [in appearance]; They were more ruddy in body than rubies, Their polishing was like lapis lazuli (sapphire). 8 Their appearance is [now] blacker than soot [because of the prolonged famine]; They are not recognized in the streets; Their skin clings to their bones; It is withered, and it has become [dry] like wood. 9 Those killed with the sword Are more fortunate than those killed with hunger; For the hungry pine and ebb away, For the lack of the fruits of the field. 10 The hands of compassionate women Boiled their own children; They became food for them Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people [Judah]. 11 The Lord has fulfilled His wrath; He has poured out His fierce anger And has kindled a fire in Zion That has consumed her foundations. 12 The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor did any of the inhabitants of the earth, That the adversary (oppressor) and enemy Could enter the gates of Jerusalem. 13 Because of the sins of her [counterfeit] prophets And the wickedness of her [unfaithful] priests, Who have shed in her midst The blood of the just and righteous; 14 They wandered, blind, in the streets; They were defiled with blood So that no one could touch their garments. 15 People cried to them, “Go away! Unclean! Depart! Depart! Do not touch!” So they fled, then they wandered [as fugitives]; People among the nations said, “They shall not stay here any longer with us.” 16 The presence of the Lord scattered them [among the nations]; He will not continue to look after them. They did not honor the priests; They did not favor the elders. 17 [And as for us,] yet our eyes failed, Looking in vain for help. Watching [from the towers] we watched For a nation that could not save. 18 The enemy hunted our steps, So that we could not walk in our streets; Our end drew near, Our days were finished For our end had come. 19 Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles of the sky; They pursued us on the mountains, They waited in ambush for us in the wilderness. 20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord [our king], Was captured in their snares, He of whom we had said, “Under his shadow We shall live among the nations.” 21 Rejoice and be glad, O Daughter of Edom, Who lives in the land of Uz. But the cup [of the wine of God’s wrath] will pass to you as well; You will become drunk and make yourself naked. 22 The punishment of your sin has been completed, O Daughter of Zion; The Lord will no longer send you into exile. But He will punish your sin, O Daughter of Edom; He will expose your sins.
A Prayer for Mercy
5 O Lord, remember what has come upon us; Look, and see our reproach (national disgrace)! 2 Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, Our houses to foreigners. 3 We have become orphans without a father; Our mothers are like widows. 4 We have to pay for our drinking water; Our wood comes to us at a price. 5 Our pursuers are at our necks; We are worn out, there is no rest for us. 6 We have given the hand [as a pledge of fidelity and submission] to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread. 7 Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is [e]we who have carried their sin. 8 Servants rule over us; There is no one to rescue us out of their hand. 9 We get our bread at the risk of our lives Because of the sword [of the Arabs] in the wilderness [who may attack if we go out to harvest the crop]. 10 Our skin is as hot as [the heat of] an oven Because of the burning heat of [the fever of] famine. 11 They ravished the women in Zion, The virgins in the cities of Judah. 12 Princes were hung by their hands; Elders were not respected. 13 Young men worked at the grinding mill, And boys fell [staggering] under loads of wood. 14 Elders are gone from the gate; Young men from their music. 15 The joy of our hearts has ended; Our dancing has been turned into mourning. 16 The crown has fallen from our head [our honor is covered with dust]! Woe to us, for we have sinned! 17 Because of this our heart is faint, Because of these things our eyes are dim. 18 As for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, Foxes and the jackals prowl over it.
19 But You, O Lord, reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to [all] generations. 20 Why do You forget us forever? Why do You forsake us so long? 21 Return us to You, O Lord, so that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old, 22 Unless You have utterly rejected us And are exceedingly angry with us.
Lamentations 1:1The writings of the prophets are not only valuable contributions to Old Testament history, but the reader is also enriched by familiarity with the forecasts of events which have been fulfilled, thus revealing the divine inspiration of the books and the wisdom and power of the God who prompted their writings.
Lamentations 1:10The Ammonites and Moabites, descendants of Lot and related to Israel, were forbidden to enter the congregation of the Lord, “even to their tenth generation,” because they refused to assist the sons of Israel when they were escaping from Egypt, and because they hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deut 23:3, 4). The Israelites never assembled any closer to the sanctuary of the temple than in the court outside its door. No Jew, not even David was authorized to enter the sanctuary proper except for certain Levites to whom such service was assigned. But now, Jeremiah says, the forbidden pagan nations enter the Holy of Holies to vandalize.
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