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The Prophet Speaks Out: Zion’s Suffering Was Worse Than Sodom’s

[a]“Look how the gold has become tarnished!
    The fine gold has changed!
    The sacred stones are scattered at every street corner.

“Zion’s precious children, who are worth their weight in fine gold,
    are now treated like clay pots,
        like those made by a potter’s hands.
Even jackals offer their breasts to nurse their young,
    but the women of my people are as cruel as wild ostriches.
The tongues of nursing infants stick to the roofs of their mouths
    because of their thirst.
    Little children beg for bread,
    but no one will break off a piece for them.
Those who used to eat delicacies are now destitute in the streets.
    Those who used to wear expensive clothes now pick through piles of garbage.
The punishment for my people’s wickedness has been more severe
    than the punishment for the sins of Sodom.
        Sodom was destroyed instantly, without one human hand touching it.
Zion’s princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk.
    Their bodies were more pink than coral.
    Their hair was like sapphires.
Their faces are now blacker than soot.
    No one recognizes them on the streets.
    Their skin has shriveled on their bones.
        It has become as dry as bark.
Those who were killed with swords are better off
    than those who are dying from starvation.
    Those who were stabbed bled to death.
    The others are dying because there is nothing in the fields to eat.
10 The hands of loving mothers cooked their own children.
    The children were used for food by my people
        when they were being destroyed by a blockade.
11 Yahweh’s fury has accomplished his purpose.
    He unleashed his burning anger.
    He started a fire in Zion that even burned its foundations.
12 Neither the kings of the earth nor anyone living on earth could believe
    that enemies or invaders would ever get through the gates of Jerusalem.
13 They got through because of the sins of Jerusalem’s prophets
    and the crimes of its priests,
        who spilled the blood of righteous people within it.
14 My people staggered blindly through the streets.
    They were so contaminated with bloodstains
        that no one would touch their clothes.
15 ‘Get away! You’re unclean,’[b] people yelled at them.
    ‘Get away! Get away! Don’t touch anyone.’
    When they fled and wandered around,
        the people of the nations said, ‘They can’t stay here any longer.’
16 Yahweh himself has scattered them.
    He will no longer look favorably on them.
        They no longer respected the priests,
            nor did they honor their older leaders.”

The People of Zion Speak Out

17 “We are still straining our eyes, trying in vain to find help.
    We waited and waited for a nation that didn’t save us.
18 The enemy kept tracking us down,
    so we couldn’t even go out into the streets.
        Our end was near.
        Our time was up.
        Our end had come.
19 Those who were hunting us were faster than eagles in the sky.
    They chased us in the mountains and ambushed us in the wilderness.
20 The person Yahweh anointed as king, who is the breath of our life,
    was caught in their pits.
        We had thought that we would live
            in our king’s shadow among the nations.”

The Prophet Speaks Out: Be Warned about Edom’s Impending Doom

21 “Rejoice and be glad, people of Edom, inhabitants of the country of Uz.
    The cup of the Lord’s fury will be passed to you next.
        You’ll get drunk and take off all your clothes.
22 People of Zion, the punishment for your wickedness will end.
    Yahweh will not let you remain in exile.
    People of Edom, he will punish you for your wickedness.
    He will expose your sins.”


  1. Lamentations 4:1 Chapter 4 is a poem in Hebrew alphabetical order.
  2. Lamentations 4:15 “Unclean” refers to anything that Moses’ Teachings say is not presentable to God.

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