2 Aaghh! How could the Lord surround Zion in a cloud of His anger
as if He has cast the beauty of Israel down from heaven to earth?
Majestic Israel, God’s footstool,
is debased by God’s anger in a moment of wrath.
2 Buried beneath the dust,
Jacob’s houses have been swallowed.
The Lord did this without mercy,
shattering her fortresses.
God brought down to the ground daughter Judah,
and defiled her kingdom and her leaders.
3 Cut down by God’s anger,
the pride and strength of Israel falls;
He withdrew His right hand and stood back and allowed Israel’s enemies
to wreak havoc in the land.
God has burned and consumed Jacob
in an insatiable fire.
4 Deployed like an enemy, God stood poised against Judah—
bow bent, right hand clinched—crashing down
On everything that we admired
among daughter Zion’s tents.
The anger of the Lord whipped like flickering flames to reduce it to ashes.
5 Enemy of ours—our God—who would have thought?
Yet the Lord chewed up Israel,
Swallowed its mighty palaces;
He spit out fortresses and reduced them to dust.
God increased suffering and sorrow
to a fever pitch in daughter Judah.
6 Felling His own dwelling like a garden hut,
God destroyed His meeting place;
He did away with the sacred festivals and Sabbaths in Zion,
and in fierce anger
He ignored and spurned our leaders—
our king and priests alike.
7 God disdained the most sacred religious spots—
His altar, His sanctuary, the centerpiece of our tradition.
The Lord gave our enemy full charge of the city,
palaces and all.
And in the temple itself, the Eternal’s house,
they hoot and holler as if it’s one of our sacred festivals.
For generations the Judeans have looked upon the temple in their midst as a comfort and even a protection. Jeremiah stood before the temple and preached to these same people that they should not trust in the lying words of others: “Change your ways and stop what you are doing, and I will let you live in this land. Do not rely on the misguided words, ‘The temple of the Eternal, the temple of the Eternal, the temple of the Eternal,’ as if the temple’s presence alone will protect you” (Jeremiah 7:3–4). Even good things from God can be misconstrued to turn us away from Him. Now the temple itself will be brought low because of the hard hearts of the people.
8 Hesitating not for one moment,
the Eternal measured across the city of daughter Zion;
Unrelenting, He was determined to destroy,
to bring the city down with rampart and wall
To its knees in rubble and grief.
9 Into the earth, Jerusalem’s defenses, the bars and gates, are sunk—
her leaders, both king and prince, scattered among surrounding nations,
Gone to foreign places.
Now there is no law, no wise instruction;
The prophets receive no divine visions;
who can see the Eternal’s way?
10 Jerusalem elders of daughter Zion are mute,
dispensing no precious wisdom.
They sit on the ground distraught, clad in sackcloth;
they hurl dust on their heads.
The young maidens of Jerusalem hang their heads
down to the ground.
11 Knowing the fate of Zion, my insides are in turmoil and pour out
for Jerusalem, the devastation of the daughter of my people.
I can’t see because of the tears for the children in the streets—
I can’t stop crying for infants and toddlers too weak to wail.
My people are destroyed.
12 Little Children: Mother, grain and wine—where is it?
Like the wounded,
collapsing in the city streets,
They pine and die
on their mother’s breast.
13 My dear daughter Jerusalem,
how can I tell your tragedy?
To what can I liken this disgrace?
O virgin daughter Zion, would that I could comfort you.
Who can heal your massive injury
that is as deep and wide as the sea?
14 Nothing but vanity from your prophets—
nothing but worthlessness from them;
They never warned and exposed you to correct your wicked ways
so that things would go well again with no captivity.
Instead, they told divine oracles of lies and deceit,
that everything was fine.
15 On your head, now, passersby heap scorn;
they wag their fingers, shake their heads at daughter Jerusalem.
Passersby: Is this the city everyone thought was so great—
a city of perfect beauty and
Earth’s pride and joy?
16 Pursuing you, your enemies cut you down.
Enemies: Ha! Would the day ever come? We’ve got her now!
Look, we’ve swallowed her whole, destroyed her.
We waited anxiously for today,
and we made it happen!
17 Question the Eternal One about what He has done.
He determined—punished according to the term and tenets
He laid down so long ago.
He executed fierce destruction without pity
And made your enemy glad.
He has made them prevail with might.
18 Raise your cry to the Lord with all your might!
Take no relief; be ceaseless in grief.
Lady Jerusalem: Oh walls, may your stones cry out,
cry out for daughter Zion;
Make rivers with tears of sorrow, rushing.
Do not cease from your weeping.
19 Stand up and yell in the night with all your heart;
call to God even while the city sleeps during the night watch;
Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands and plead to Him for the lives of your children,
For the babies weak with hunger
dying on every street corner.
20 Take heed, Eternal One!
Look what You’ve done and to whom you have done this.
Can it be—women eat their offspring, even their tender newborns;
and in the most sacred places of the Eternal,
Priests and prophets are slaughtered?
21 Unable to go on, young and old fall,
lying in the dusty streets.
My strong young men and women, all unmarried,
are attacked and killed by Your sword in Your anger.
You are responsible for this mayhem and misery.
You, God, slew without pity.
22 Victims all, You summoned those terrors surrounding me
as if You were calling together a sacred festival.
On the day of Your divine wrath there was no escapee,
not even one survivor.
The ones whom I raised up and made numerous,
my enemy made a complete end of them.