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The Lord Was Like an Enemy

The Prophet Speaks:

The Lord was angry!
    So he disgraced[a] Zion
though it was Israel’s pride
    and his own place of rest.
In his anger he threw Zion down
    from heaven to earth.
The Lord had no mercy!
He destroyed the homes
    of Jacob’s descendants.
In his anger he tore down
    every walled city in Judah;
he toppled the nation
together with its leaders,
    leaving them in shame.

The Lord was so furiously angry
that he wiped out
    the whole army[b] of Israel
by not supporting them
    when the enemy attacked.
He was like a raging fire
that swallowed up
    the descendants of Jacob.
He attacked like an enemy
with a bow and arrows,
    killing our loved ones.
He has burned to the ground
    the homes on Mount Zion.[c]

The Lord was like an enemy!
    He left Israel in ruins
with its palaces
    and fortresses destroyed,
and with everyone in Judah
    moaning and weeping.
He shattered his temple
    like a hut in a garden;[d]
he completely wiped out
    his meeting place,
and did away with festivals
and Sabbaths
    in the city of Zion.
In his fierce anger he rejected
    our king and priests.

The Lord abandoned his altar
    and his temple;
he let Zion’s enemies
    capture her fortresses.
Noisy shouts were heard
    from the temple,
as if it were a time
    of celebration.

The Lord had decided
to tear down the walls of Zion
    stone by stone.
So he started destroying
    and did not stop
until walls and fortresses
    mourned and trembled.
Zion’s gates have fallen
    facedown on the ground;
the bars that locked the gates
    are smashed to pieces.
Her king and royal family
are prisoners
    in foreign lands.
Her priests don’t teach,
and her prophets don’t have
    a message from the Lord.

10 Zion’s leaders are silent.
    They just sit on the ground,
tossing dirt on their heads
    and wearing sackcloth.
Her young women can do nothing
    but stare at the ground.

11 My eyes are red from crying,
my stomach is in knots,
    and I feel sick all over.
My people are being wiped out,
and children lie helpless
    in the streets of the city.
12 A child begs its mother
    for food and drink,
then blacks out
like a wounded soldier
    lying in the street.
The child slowly dies
    in its mother’s arms.

13 Zion, how can I comfort you?
    How great is your pain?[e]
Lovely city of Jerusalem,
how can I heal your wounds,
    gaping as wide as the sea?
14 Your prophets deceived you
with false visions
    and lying messages—
they should have warned you
to leave your sins
    and be saved from disaster.
15 Those who pass by
shake their heads and sneer
    as they make fun and shout,
“What a lovely city you were,
the happiest on earth,
    but look at you now!”

16 Zion, your enemies curse you
and snarl like wild animals,
    while shouting,
“This is the day
we’ve waited for!
    At last, we’ve got you!”

17 The Lord has done everything
that he had planned
    and threatened long ago.
He destroyed you without mercy
and let your enemies boast
    their powerful forces.[f]

18 Zion, deep in your heart
    you cried out to the Lord.
Now let your tears overflow
    your walls day and night.
Don’t ever lose hope
    or let your tears stop.
19 Get up and pray for help
    all through the night.
Pour out your feelings
    to the Lord,
as you would pour water
    out of a jug.
Beg him to save your people,
who are starving to death
    at every street crossing.

Jerusalem Speaks:

20 Think about it, Lord!
Have you ever been this cruel
    to anyone before?
Is it right for mothers
    to eat their children,
or for priests and prophets
    to be killed in your temple?
21 My people, both young and old,
    lie dead in the streets.
Because you were angry,
my young men and women
    were brutally slaughtered.
22 When you were angry, Lord,
you invited my enemies
    like guests for a party.
No one survived that day;
enemies killed my children,
    my own little ones.


  1. 2.1 disgraced: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 2.3 army: The Hebrew text has “horn,” which refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Palestine.
  3. 2.4 the homes on Mount Zion: Or “the temple on Mount Zion.”
  4. 2.6 He. . . garden: Or “He shattered the temple walls, as if they were the walls of a garden.”
  5. 2.13 How great. . . pain: Or “What are you really like?” or “What can I say about you?”
  6. 2.17 powerful forces: The Hebrew text has “horn,” which refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Palestine.

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