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Lamentations 2New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

The Lord’s Wrath and Zion’s Ruin[a]

How the Lord in his wrath
    has abhorred daughter Zion,
Casting down from heaven to earth
    the glory of Israel,[b]
Not remembering his footstool
    on the day of his wrath!

The Lord has devoured without pity
    all of Jacob’s dwellings;
In his fury he has razed
    daughter Judah’s defenses,
Has brought to the ground in dishonor
    a kingdom and its princes.

In blazing wrath, he cut down entirely
    the horn[c] of Israel;
He withdrew the support of his right hand
    when the enemy approached;
He burned against Jacob like a blazing fire
    that consumes everything in its path.

He bent his bow like an enemy;
    the arrow in his right hand
Like a foe, he killed
    all those held precious;
On the tent of daughter Zion
    he poured out his wrath like fire.

The Lord has become the enemy,
    he has devoured Israel:
Devoured all its strongholds,
    destroyed its defenses,
Multiplied moaning and groaning
    throughout daughter Judah.

He laid waste his booth like a garden,
    destroyed his shrine;[d]
The Lord has blotted out in Zion
    feast day and sabbath,
Has scorned in fierce wrath
    king and priest.

The Lord has rejected his altar,
    spurned his sanctuary;
He has handed over to the enemy
    the walls of its strongholds.
They shout in the house of the Lord
    as on a feast day.

The Lord was bent on destroying
    the wall of daughter Zion:
He stretched out the measuring line;[e]
    did not hesitate to devour,
Brought grief on rampart and wall
    till both succumbed.

Her gates sank into the ground;
    he smashed her bars to bits.
Her king and her princes are among the nations;
    instruction is wanting,
Even her prophets do not obtain
    any vision from the Lord.

10 The elders of daughter Zion
    sit silently on the ground;
They cast dust[f] on their heads
    and dress in sackcloth;
The young women of Jerusalem
    bow their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes are spent with tears,
    my stomach churns;[g]
My bile is poured out on the ground
    at the brokenness of the daughter of my people,
As children and infants collapse
    in the streets of the town.

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

13 To what can I compare you[h]—to what can I liken you—
    O daughter Jerusalem?
What example can I give in order to comfort you,
    virgin daughter Zion?
For your breach is vast as the sea;
    who could heal you?

14 Your prophets provided you visions
    of whitewashed illusion;
They did not lay bare your guilt,
    in order to restore your fortunes;
They saw for you only oracles
    of empty deceit.

15 All who pass by on the road,
    clap their hands at you;
They hiss and wag their heads
    over daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the city they used to call
    perfect in beauty and joy of all the earth?”

16 They open their mouths against you,
    all your enemies;
They hiss and gnash their teeth,
    saying, “We have devoured her!
How we have waited for this day—
    we have lived to see it!”

17 The Lord has done what he planned.
    He has fulfilled the threat
Decreed from days of old,
    destroying without pity!
He let the enemy gloat over you
    and exalted the horn of your foes.

18 Cry out to the Lord from your heart,
    wall of daughter Zion!
Let your tears flow like a torrent
    day and night;
Give yourself no rest,
    no relief for your eyes.

19 Rise up! Wail in the night,
    at the start of every watch;
Pour out your heart like water
    before the Lord;
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children,
Who collapse from hunger
    at the corner of every street.[i]

20 “Look, O Lord, and pay attention:
    to whom have you been so ruthless?
Must women eat their own offspring,[j]
    the very children they have borne?
Are priest and prophet to be slain
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 They lie on the ground in the streets,
    young and old alike;
Both my young women and young men
    are cut down by the sword;
You killed them on the day of your wrath,
    slaughtered without pity.

22 You summoned as to a feast day
    terrors on every side;
On the day of the Lord’s wrath,
    none survived or escaped.
Those I have borne and nurtured,
    my enemy has utterly destroyed.”


  1. 2:1–22 This chapter continues to move between the voice of the poet (vv. 1–20) and that of personified Zion (vv. 20–22). The persona of the poet, first portrayed in chap. 1 as a detached observer recounting both the desolation as well as the sins of the city, becomes in this chapter an advocate for Zion in her appeal to the Lord and never once mentions her sins.
  2. 2:1 The glory of Israel: the Temple. His footstool: the ark of the covenant (1 Chr 28:2; Ps 99:5; 132:7); or again, the Temple (Ez 43:7).
  3. 2:3 Horn: a symbol of power and strength; cf. v. 17; 1 Sm 2:1, 10; Ps 89:18, 25; 92:11; 112:9.
  4. 2:6 Booth…shrine: synonyms for the Temple; cf. Ps 27:5; 74:4, 8. The term for “shrine” in Hebrew (mo‘ed) figures prominently in the pentateuchal expression “tent of meeting” (’ohel mo‘ed).
  5. 2:8 The measuring line: normally used for building, here employed ironically as an instrument of destruction; cf. Is 34:11; 2 Kgs 21:13.
  6. 2:10 They cast dust: as a sign of mourning; cf. Jos 7:6; Jb 2:12; Ez 27:30.
  7. 2:11 My eyes are spent with tears, my stomach churns: the poet appropriates the emotional language used by Zion in 1:16 and 1:20 to express a progressively stronger commitment to her cause. After describing the systematic dismantling of the city in vv. 5–9, the poet turns to the plight of the inhabitants in vv. 10–12. It is the description of children dying in the streets that finally brings about the poet’s emotional breakdown, even as it did for Zion in 1:16.
  8. 2:13 To what can I compare you…?: the author calls attention to the poetic task: to find language that speaks adequately of the atrocities and incomparable suffering experienced by Zion, and thus to attempt to offer comfort.
  9. 2:19 The poet urges Zion to appeal to the Lord once more on behalf of her dying children. The image of Zion’s children effectively condenses the metaphorical sense of all residents of the city (young and old alike) into the more poignant picture of actual children at the point of death. It was precisely this image, no doubt well known to survivors of besieged cities, that led to the emotional breakdown of both Zion (1:16) and the poet (2:11). The hope is that the Lord will be similarly affected by such a poignant image and respond with mercy.
  10. 2:20 Must women eat their own offspring: extreme famine in a besieged city sometimes led to cannibalism; this becomes a stereotypical way of expressing the nearly unthinkable horrors of war; cf. Lam 4:10; Dt 28:53; 2 Kgs 6:28–29; Bar 2:3; Ez 5:10.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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