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Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,
Unless the Lord has authorized and commanded it?
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That both adversity (misfortune) and good (prosperity, happiness) proceed?

Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Complain [of punishment] in view of his sins?
Let us test and examine our ways,
And let us return to the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands [in prayer]
Toward God in heaven;
We have transgressed and rebelled,
You have not pardoned.
You have covered Yourself with anger
And pursued us;
You have slain [without pity] and have not spared.
You have covered Yourself with a cloud
So that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us scum and refuse
Among the peoples (Gentile nations).
All our enemies have gaped at us.
Panic and pitfall (traps, danger) have come on us,
Devastation and destruction.
My eyes overflow with streams of tears
Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people (Jerusalem).
My eyes overflow unceasingly,
Without stopping,
Until the Lord looks down
And sees from heaven.
My eyes [see things that] bring pain to my soul
Because of all the daughters of my city.
Without cause my enemies
Hunted me down like a bird;
They silenced me in the pit
And placed a stone over me.(A)
The waters ran down on my head;
I said, “I am cut off (destroyed)!”
I called on Your name, O Lord,
Out of the lowest pit.(B)
You have heard my voice,
“Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief,
From my cry for help.”
You drew near on the day I called to You;
You said, “Do not fear.”(C)
O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause [You have guided my way and protected me];
You have rescued and redeemed my life.
O Lord, You have seen the wrong [done to me];
Judge my case.
You have seen all their vengeance,
All their schemes against me.
You have heard their reproach, O Lord,
And all their schemes against me.
The lips and whispering of my assailants
Are against me all day long.
Look at their sitting and their rising [their actions and secret counsels];
I am their mocking song [the subject of their ridicule].(D)
You will repay them, O Lord,
According to the work of their hands.
You will harden their hearts;
Your curse will be upon them.
You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
From under the heavens of the Lord.

Distress of the Siege Described

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!(E)

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].(F)

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.(G)
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.(H)
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.(I)

A Prayer for Mercy

O Lord, remember what has come upon us;
Look, and see our reproach (national disgrace)!

Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
Our houses to foreigners.

We have become orphans without a father;
Our mothers are like widows.

We have to pay for our drinking water;
Our wood comes to us at a price.

Our pursuers are at our necks;
We are worn out, there is no rest for us.

We have given the hand [as a pledge of fidelity and submission] to Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread.

Our fathers sinned, and are no more;
It is [a]we who have carried their sin.(J)

Servants rule over us;
There is no one to rescue us out of their hand.(K)

We get our bread at the risk of our lives
Because of the sword [of the Arabs] in the wilderness [who may attack if we go out to harvest the crop].
Our skin is as hot as [the heat of] an oven
Because of the burning heat of [the fever of] famine.
They ravished the women in Zion,
The virgins in the cities of Judah.
Princes were hung by their hands;
Elders were not respected.
Young men worked at the grinding mill,
And boys fell [staggering] under loads of wood.
Elders are gone from the gate;
Young men from their music.
The joy of our hearts has ended;
Our dancing has been turned into mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head [our honor is covered with dust]!
Woe to us, for we have sinned!
Because of this our heart is faint,
Because of these things our eyes are dim.
As for Mount Zion, which lies desolate,
Foxes and the jackals prowl over it.

But You, O Lord, reign forever;
Your throne endures from generation to [all] generations.
Why do You forget us forever?
Why do You forsake us so long?
Return us to You, O Lord, so that we may be restored;
Renew our days as of old,
Unless You have utterly rejected us
And are exceedingly angry with us.


  1. Lamentations 5:7 Both forefathers and sons were responsible for the disaster that had come on Jerusalem. This generation was equally deserving of punishment.