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Lamentations 1-5 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The Deserted City

How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
    she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the cities
    has become a vassal.

She weeps bitterly in the night,
    tears on her cheeks;
among all her lovers
    she has none to comfort her;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
    they have become her enemies.

Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
    and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations,
    but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
    in the midst of her distress.

The roads to Zion mourn,
    for none come to the appointed feasts;
all her gates are desolate,
    her priests groan;
her maidens have been dragged away,[a]
    and she herself suffers bitterly.

Her foes have become the head,
    her enemies prosper,
because the Lord has made her suffer
    for the multitude of her transgressions;
her children have gone away,
    captives before the foe.

From the daughter of Zion has departed
    all her majesty.
Her princes have become like harts
    that find no pasture;
they fled without strength
    before the pursuer.

Jerusalem remembers
    in the days of her affliction and bitterness[b]
all the precious things
    that were hers from days of old.
When her people fell into the hand of the foe,
    and there was none to help her,
the foe gloated over her,
    mocking at her downfall.

Jerusalem sinned grievously,
    therefore she became filthy;
all who honored her despise her,
    for they have seen her nakedness;
yea, she herself groans,
    and turns her face away.

Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
    she took no thought of her doom;
therefore her fall is terrible,
    she has no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
    for the enemy has triumphed!”

10 The enemy has stretched out his hands
    over all her precious things;
yea, she has seen the nations
    invade her sanctuary,
those whom thou didst forbid
    to enter thy congregation.

11 All her people groan
    as they search for bread;
they trade their treasures for food
    to revive their strength.
“Look, O Lord, and behold,
    for I am despised.”

12 “Is it nothing to you,[c] all you who pass by?
    Look and see
if there is any sorrow like my sorrow
    which was brought upon me,
which the Lord inflicted
    on the day of his fierce anger.

13 “From on high he sent fire;
    into my bones[d] he made it descend;
he spread a net for my feet;
    he turned me back;
he has left me stunned,
    faint all the day long.

14 “My transgressions were bound[e] into a yoke;
    by his hand they were fastened together;
they were set upon my neck;
    he caused my strength to fail;
the Lord gave me into the hands
    of those whom I cannot withstand.

15 “The Lord flouted all my mighty men
    in the midst of me;
he summoned an assembly against me
    to crush my young men;
the Lord has trodden as in a wine press
    the virgin daughter of Judah.

16 “For these things I weep;
    my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
    one to revive my courage;
my children are desolate,
    for the enemy has prevailed.”

17 Zion stretches out her hands,
    but there is none to comfort her;
the Lord has commanded against Jacob
    that his neighbors should be his foes;
Jerusalem has become
    a filthy thing among them.

18 “The Lord is in the right,
    for I have rebelled against his word;
but hear, all you peoples,
    and behold my suffering;
my maidens and my young men
    have gone into captivity.

19 “I called to my lovers
    but they deceived me;
my priests and elders
    perished in the city,
while they sought food
    to revive their strength.

20 “Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress,
    my soul is in tumult,
my heart is wrung within me,
    because I have been very rebellious.
In the street the sword bereaves;
    in the house it is like death.

21 “Hear[f] how I groan;
    there is none to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my trouble;
    they are glad that thou hast done it.
Bring thou[g] the day thou hast announced,
    and let them be as I am.

22 “Let all their evil-doing come before thee;
    and deal with them
as thou hast dealt with me
    because of all my transgressions;
for my groans are many
    and my heart is faint.”

God’s Warnings Fulfilled

How the Lord in his anger
has set the daughter of Zion under a cloud!
He has cast down from heaven to earth
    the splendor of Israel;
he has not remembered his footstool
    in the day of his anger.

The Lord has destroyed without mercy
    all the habitations of Jacob;
in his wrath he has broken down
    the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has brought down to the ground in dishonor
    the kingdom and its rulers.

He has cut down in fierce anger
    all the might of Israel;
he has withdrawn from them his right hand
    in the face of the enemy;
he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob,
    consuming all around.

He has bent his bow like an enemy,
    with his right hand set like a foe;
and he has slain all the pride of our eyes
    in the tent of the daughter of Zion;
he has poured out his fury like fire.

The Lord has become like an enemy,
    he has destroyed Israel;
he has destroyed all its palaces,
    laid in ruins its strongholds;
and he has multiplied in the daughter of Judah
    mourning and lamentation.

He has broken down his booth like that of a garden,
    laid in ruins the place of his appointed feasts;
the Lord has brought to an end in Zion
    appointed feast and sabbath,
and in his fierce indignation has spurned
    king and priest.

The Lord has scorned his altar,
    disowned his sanctuary;
he has delivered into the hand of the enemy
    the walls of her palaces;
a clamor was raised in the house of the Lord
    as on the day of an appointed feast.

The Lord determined to lay in ruins
    the wall of the daughter of Zion;
he marked it off by the line;
    he restrained not his hand from destroying;
he caused rampart and wall to lament,
    they languish together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
    he has ruined and broken her bars;
her king and princes are among the nations;
    the law is no more,
and her prophets obtain
    no vision from the Lord.

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion
    sit on the ground in silence;
they have cast dust on their heads
    and put on sackcloth;
the maidens of Jerusalem
    have bowed their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes are spent with weeping;
    my soul is in tumult;
my heart is poured out in grief[h]
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,
because infants and babes faint
    in the streets of the city.

12 They cry to their mothers,
    “Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like wounded men
    in the streets of the city,
as their life is poured out
    on their mothers’ bosom.

13 What can I say for you, to what compare you,
    O daughter of Jerusalem?
What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you,
    O virgin daughter of Zion?
For vast as the sea is your ruin;
    who can restore you?

14 Your prophets have seen for you
    false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
    to restore your fortunes,
but have seen for you oracles
    false and misleading.

15 All who pass along the way
    clap their hands at you;
they hiss and wag their heads
    at the daughter of Jerusalem;
“Is this the city which was called
    the perfection of beauty,
    the joy of all the earth?”

16 All your enemies
    rail against you;
they hiss, they gnash their teeth,
    they cry: “We have destroyed her!
Ah, this is the day we longed for;
    now we have it; we see it!”

17 The Lord has done what he purposed,
    has carried out his threat;
as he ordained long ago,
    he has demolished without pity;
he has made the enemy rejoice over you,
    and exalted the might of your foes.

18 Cry aloud[i] to the Lord!
    O[j] daughter of Zion!
Let tears stream down like a torrent
    day and night!
Give yourself no rest,
    your eyes no respite!

19 Arise, cry out in the night,
    at the beginning of the watches!
Pour out your heart like water
    before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
    for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
    at the head of every street.

20 Look, O Lord, and see!
    With whom hast thou dealt thus?
Should women eat their offspring,
    the children of their tender care?
Should priest and prophet be slain
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 In the dust of the streets
    lie the young and the old;
my maidens and my young men
    have fallen by the sword;
in the day of thy anger thou hast slain them,
    slaughtering without mercy.

22 Thou didst invite as to the day of an appointed feast
    my terrors on every side;
and on the day of the anger of the Lord
    none escaped or survived;
those whom I dandled and reared
    my enemy destroyed.

God’s Steadfast Love Endures

I am the man who has seen affliction
    under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me
    into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand
    again and again the whole day long.

He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
    and broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
    with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness
    like the dead of long ago.

He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
    he has put heavy chains on me;
though I call and cry for help,
    he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,
    he has made my paths crooked.

10 He is to me like a bear lying in wait,
    like a lion in hiding;
11 he led me off my way and tore me to pieces;
    he has made me desolate;
12 he bent his bow and set me
    as a mark for his arrow.

13 He drove into my heart
    the arrows of his quiver;
14 I have become the laughingstock of all peoples,
    the burden of their songs all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitterness,
    he has sated me with wormwood.

16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel,
    and made me cower in ashes;
17 my soul is bereft of peace,
    I have forgotten what happiness is;
18 so I say, “Gone is my glory,
    and my expectation from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and my bitterness,[k]
    the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it
    and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,[l]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is thy faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone in silence
    when he has laid it on him;
29 let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;
30 let him give his cheek to the smiter,
    and be filled with insults.

31 For the Lord will not
    cast off for ever,
32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33 for he does not willingly afflict
    or grieve the sons of men.

34 To crush under foot
    all the prisoners of the earth,
35 to turn aside the right of a man
    in the presence of the Most High,
36 to subvert a man in his cause,
    the Lord does not approve.

37 Who has commanded and it came to pass,
    unless the Lord has ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
    that good and evil come?
39 Why should a living man complain,
    a man, about the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us test and examine our ways,
    and return to the Lord!
41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven:
42 “We have transgressed and rebelled,
    and thou hast not forgiven.

43 “Thou hast wrapped thyself with anger and pursued us,
    slaying without pity;
44 thou hast wrapped thyself with a cloud
    so that no prayer can pass through.
45 Thou hast made us offscouring and refuse
    among the peoples.

46 “All our enemies
    rail against us;
47 panic and pitfall have come upon us,
    devastation and destruction;
48 my eyes flow with rivers of tears
    because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

49 “My eyes will flow without ceasing,
    without respite,
50 until the Lord from heaven
    looks down and sees;
51 my eyes cause me grief
    at the fate of all the maidens of my city.

52 “I have been hunted like a bird
    by those who were my enemies without cause;
53 they flung me alive into the pit
    and cast stones on me;
54 water closed over my head;
    I said, ‘I am lost.’

55 “I called on thy name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
56 thou didst hear my plea, ‘Do not close
    thine ear to my cry for help!’[m]
57 Thou didst come near when I called on thee;
    thou didst say, ‘Do not fear!’

58 “Thou hast taken up my cause, O Lord,
    thou hast redeemed my life.
59 Thou hast seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;
    judge thou my cause.
60 Thou hast seen all their vengeance, all their devices against me.

61 “Thou hast heard their taunts, O Lord,
    all their devices against me.
62 The lips and thoughts of my assailants
    are against me all the day long.
63 Behold their sitting and their rising;
    I am the burden of their songs.

64 “Thou wilt requite them, O Lord,
    according to the work of their hands.
65 Thou wilt give them dullness of heart;
    thy curse will be on them.
66 Thou wilt pursue them in anger and destroy them
    from under thy heavens, O Lord.”[n]

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[o] of the daughter of my people has been greater
    than the punishment[p] of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
    no hand being laid on it.[q]

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

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[t] 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.

A Plea for Mercy

Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
    behold, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
    our homes to aliens.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
    our mothers are like widows.
We must pay for the water we drink,
    the wood we get must be bought.
With a yoke[u] on our necks we are hard driven;
    we are weary, we are given no rest.
We have given the hand to Egypt,
    and to Assyria, to get bread enough.
Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
    and we bear their iniquities.
Slaves rule over us;
    there is none to deliver us from their hand.
We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
    because of the sword in the wilderness.
10 Our skin is hot as an oven
    with the burning heat of famine.
11 Women are ravished in Zion,
    virgins in the towns of Judah.
12 Princes are hung up by their hands;
    no respect is shown to the elders.
13 Young men are compelled to grind at the mill;
    and boys stagger under loads of wood.
14 The old men have quit the city gate,
    the young men their music.
15 The joy of our hearts has ceased;
    our dancing has been turned to mourning.
16 The crown has fallen from our head;
    woe to us, for we have sinned!
17 For this our heart has become sick,
    for these things our eyes have grown dim,
18 for Mount Zion which lies desolate;
    jackals prowl over it.

19 But thou, O Lord, dost reign for ever;
    thy throne endures to all generations.
20 Why dost thou forget us for ever,
    why dost thou so long forsake us?
21 Restore us to thyself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
    Renew our days as of old!
22 Or hast thou utterly rejected us?
    Art thou exceedingly angry with us?

Footnotes:

  1. Lamentations 1:4 Gk Old Latin: Heb afflicted
  2. Lamentations 1:7 Cn: Heb wandering
  3. Lamentations 1:12 Heb uncertain
  4. Lamentations 1:13 Gk: Heb bones and
  5. Lamentations 1:14 Cn: Heb uncertain
  6. Lamentations 1:21 Gk Syr: Heb they heard
  7. Lamentations 1:21 Syr: Heb thou hast brought
  8. Lamentations 2:11 Heb to the ground
  9. Lamentations 2:18 Cn: Heb Their heart cried
  10. Lamentations 2:18 Cn: Heb O wall of
  11. Lamentations 3:19 Cn: Heb wandering
  12. Lamentations 3:22 Syr Tg: Heb we are not cut off
  13. Lamentations 3:56 Heb uncertain
  14. Lamentations 3:66 Syr Compare Gk Vg: Heb the heavens of the Lord
  15. Lamentations 4:6 Or iniquity
  16. Lamentations 4:6 Or sin
  17. Lamentations 4:6 Heb uncertain
  18. Lamentations 4:7 Heb uncertain
  19. Lamentations 4:7 Heb lapis lazuli
  20. Lamentations 4:17 Heb uncertain
  21. Lamentations 5:5 Symmachus: Heb lacks with a yoke
Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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