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Lamentations 4New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Punishment of Zion

How the gold has grown dim,
    how the pure gold is changed!
The sacred stones lie scattered
    at the head of every street.

The precious children of Zion,
    worth their weight in fine gold—
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
    the work of a potter’s hands!

Even the jackals offer the breast
    and nurse their young,
but my people has become cruel,
    like the ostriches in the wilderness.

The tongue of the infant sticks
    to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
    but no one gives them anything.

Those who feasted on delicacies
    perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
    cling to ash heaps.

For the chastisement[a] of my people has been greater
    than the punishment[b] of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
    though no hand was laid on it.[c]

Her princes were purer than snow,
    whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
    their hair[d] like sapphire.[e]

Now their visage is blacker than soot;
    they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
    it has become as dry as wood.

Happier were those pierced by the sword
    than those pierced by hunger,
whose life drains away, deprived
    of the produce of the field.

10 The hands of compassionate women
    have boiled their own children;
they became their food
    in the destruction of my people.

11 The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
    he poured out his hot anger,
and kindled a fire in Zion
    that consumed its foundations.

12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
    nor did any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
    the gates of Jerusalem.

13 It was for the sins of her prophets
    and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous
    in the midst of her.

14 Blindly they wandered through the streets,
    so defiled with blood
that no one was able
    to touch their garments.

15 “Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them;
    “Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
    it was said among the nations,
    “They shall stay here no longer.”

16 The Lord himself has scattered them,
    he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
    no favor to the elders.

17 Our eyes failed, ever watching
    vainly for help;
we were watching eagerly
    for a nation that could not save.

18 They dogged our steps
    so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered;
    for our end had come.

19 Our pursuers were swifter
    than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains,
    they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.

20 The Lord’s anointed, the breath of our life,
    was taken in their pits—
the one of whom we said, “Under his shadow
    we shall live among the nations.”

21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom,
    you that live in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
    you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.

22 The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished,
    he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish,
    he will uncover your sins.

Footnotes:

  1. Lamentations 4:6 Or iniquity
  2. Lamentations 4:6 Or sin
  3. Lamentations 4:6 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  4. Lamentations 4:7 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  5. Lamentations 4:7 Or lapis lazuli
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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