New King James Version
The Degradation of Zion
4 How the gold has become dim!
How changed the fine gold!
The stones of the sanctuary are [a]scattered
At the head of every street.
3 Even the jackals present their breasts
To nurse their young;
But the daughter of my people is cruel,
(B)Like ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the infant clings
To the roof of its mouth for thirst;
(C)The young children ask for bread,
But no one breaks it for them.
5 Those who ate delicacies
Are desolate in the streets;
Those who were brought up in scarlet
(D)Embrace ash heaps.
8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot;
They go unrecognized in the streets;
(G)Their skin clings to their bones,
It has become as dry as wood.
12 The kings of the earth,
And all inhabitants of the world,
Would not have believed
That the adversary and the enemy
Could (O)enter the gates of Jerusalem—
15 They cried out to them,
“Go away, (T)unclean!
Go away, go away,
Do not touch us!”
When they fled and wandered,
Those among the nations said,
“They shall no longer dwell here.”
17 Still (V)our eyes failed us,
Watching vainly for our help;
In our watching we watched
For a nation that could not save us.
19 Our pursuers were (Y)swifter
Than the eagles of the heavens.
They pursued us on the mountains
And lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
- Lamentations 4:1 Lit. poured out
- Lamentations 4:2 Lit. Weighed against
- Lamentations 4:2 reckoned
- Lamentations 4:7 Or nobles
- Lamentations 4:7 Or purer
- Lamentations 4:7 Lit. polishing
- Lamentations 4:10 boiled
- Lamentations 4:16 Tg. anger
- Lamentations 4:18 Lit. hunted
- Lamentations 4:22 has been completed
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.
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!(A)
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].
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.
Those who feasted on delicacies
Are perishing in the streets;
Those reared in purple [as nobles]
Embrace ash heaps.
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].(B)
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).
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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;
They wandered, blind, in the streets;
They were defiled with blood
So that no one could touch their garments.
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.”
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.
[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.(C)
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.
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.
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.”
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.(D)
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.(E)
New International Version
2 How the precious children of Zion,(B)
once worth their weight in gold,
are now considered as pots of clay,
the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even jackals offer their breasts
to nurse their young,
but my people have become heartless
like ostriches in the desert.(C)
6 The punishment of my people
is greater than that of Sodom,(I)
which was overthrown in a moment
without a hand turned to help her.
7 Their princes were brighter than snow
and whiter than milk,
their bodies more ruddy than rubies,
their appearance like lapis lazuli.
10 With their own hands compassionate women
have cooked their own children,(N)
who became their food
when my people were destroyed.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor did any of the peoples of the world,
that enemies and foes could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.(T)
18 People stalked us at every step,
so we could not walk in our streets.
Our end was near, our days were numbered,
for our end had come.(AG)
- Lamentations 4:1 This chapter is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.