Lam 1-4

The Deserted City 1How lonely sits the city that once was full of people! How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces has become a vassal. 2She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has no one to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies. 3Judah has gone into exile with suffering and hard servitude; she lives now among the nations, and finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress. 4The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to the festivals; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her young girls grieve, and her lot is bitter. 5Her foes have become the masters, her enemies prosper, because the Lord has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe. 6From daughter Zion has departed all her majesty. Her princes have become like stags that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer. 7Jerusalem remembers, in the days of her affliction and wandering, all the precious things that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was no one to help her, the foe looked on mocking over her downfall. 8Jerusalem sinned grievously, so she has become a mockery; all who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans, and turns her face away. 9Her uncleanness was in her skirts; she took no thought of her future; her downfall was appalling, with none to comfort her. “O Lord, look at my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!” 10Enemies have stretched out their hands over all her precious things; she has even seen the nations invade her sanctuary, those whom you forbade to enter your congregation. 11All her people groan as they search for bread; they trade their treasures for food to revive their strength. Look, O Lord, and see how worthless I have become. 12Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger. 13From on high he sent fire; it went deep into my bones; he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; he has left me stunned, faint all day long. 14My transgressions were bound into a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they weigh on my neck, sapping my strength; the Lord handed me over to those whom I cannot withstand. 15The Lord has rejected all my warriors in the midst of me; he proclaimed a time against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press the virgin daughter Judah. 16For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed. 17Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her; the Lord has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should become his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them. 18The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and behold my suffering; my young women and young men have gone into captivity. 19I called to my lovers but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city while seeking food to revive their strength. 20See, O Lord, how distressed I am; my stomach churns, my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death. 21They heard how I was groaning, with no one to comfort me. All my enemies heard of my trouble; they are glad that you have done it. Bring on the day you have announced, and let them be as I am. 22Let all their evil doing come before you; and deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my transgressions; for my groans are many and my heart is faint. Chapter 2God's Warnings Fulfilled 1How the Lord in his anger has humiliated daughter Zion! He has thrown down from heaven to earth the splendor of Israel; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. 2The Lord has destroyed without mercy all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has broken down the strongholds of daughter Judah; he has brought down to the ground in dishonor the kingdom and its rulers. 3He has cut down in fierce anger all the might of Israel; he has withdrawn his right hand from them in the face of the enemy; he has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around. 4He has bent his bow like an enemy, with his right hand set like a foe; he has killed all in whom we took pride in the tent of daughter Zion; he has poured out his fury like fire. 5The Lord has become like an enemy; he has destroyed Israel; He has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds, and multiplied in daughter Judah mourning and lamentation. 6He has broken down his booth like a garden, he has destroyed his tabernacle; the Lord has abolished in Zion festival and sabbath, and in his fierce indignation has spurned king and priest. 7The Lord has scorned his altar, disowned his sanctuary; he has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; a clamor was raised in the house of the Lord as on a day of festival. 8The Lord determined to lay in ruins the wall of daughter Zion; he stretched the line; he did not withhold his hand from destroying; he caused rampart and wall to lament; they languish together. 9Her gates have sunk into the ground; he has ruined and broken her bars; her king and princes are among the nations; guidance is no more, and her prophets obtain no vision from the Lord. 10The elders of daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have thrown dust on their heads and put on sackcloth; the young girls of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground. 11My eyes are spent with weeping; my stomach churns; my bile is poured out on the ground because of the destruction of my people, because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city. 12They cry to their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their life is poured out on their mothers' bosom. 13What can I say for you, to what compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter Zion? For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you? 14Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes, but have seen oracles for you that are false and misleading. 15All who pass along the way clap their hands at you; they hiss and wag their heads at daughter Jerusalem; “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?” 16All your enemies open their mouths against you; they hiss, they gnash their teeth, they cry: “We have devoured her! Ah, this is the day we longed for; at last we have seen it!” 17The Lord has done what he purposed, he has carried out his threat; as he ordained long ago, he has demolished without pity; he has made the enemy rejoice over you, and exalted the might of your foes. 18Cry aloud to the Lord! O wall of daughter Zion! Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite! 19Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street. 20Look, O Lord, and consider! To whom have you done this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have borne? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord? 21The young and the old are lying on the ground in the streets; my young women and my young men have fallen by the sword; in the day of your anger you have killed them, slaughtering without mercy. 22You invited my enemies from all around as if for a day of festival; and on the day of the anger of the Lord no one escaped or survived; those whom I bore and reared my enemy has destroyed. Chapter 3God's Steadfast Love Endures 1I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God's! wrath;2he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;3against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. 4He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones;5he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;6he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. 7He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me;8though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;9he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. 10He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;11he led me off my way and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;12he bent his bow and set me as a mark for his arrow. 13He shot into my vitals the arrows of his quiver;14I have become the laughingstock of all my people, the object of their taunt-songs all day long.15He has filled me with bitterness, he has sated me with wormwood. 16He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;17my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;18so I say, “Gone is my glory, and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.” 19The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!20My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.21But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.26It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.27It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,28to sit alone in silence when the Lord has imposed it,29to put one's mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),30to give one's cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults. 31For the Lord will not reject forever.32Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;33for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. 34When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot,35when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High,36when one's case is subverted —does the Lord not see it? 37Who can command and have it done, if the Lord has not ordained it?38Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?39Why should any who draw breath complain about the punishment of their sins? 40Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord.41Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.42We have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven. 43You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity;44you have wrapped yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.45You have made us filth and rubbish among the peoples. 46All our enemies have opened their mouths against us;47panic and pitfall have come upon us, devastation and destruction.48My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people. 49My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite,50until the Lord from heaven looks down and sees.51My eyes cause me grief at the fate of all the young women in my city. 52Those who were my enemies without cause have hunted me like a bird;53they flung me alive into a pit and hurled stones on me;54water closed over my head; I said, “I am lost.” 55I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;56you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear to my cry for help, but give me relief!”57You came near when I called on you; you said, “Do not fear!” 58You have taken up my cause, O Lord, you have redeemed my life.59You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause.60You have seen all their malice, all their plots against me. 61You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me.62The whispers and murmurs of my assailants are against me all day long.63Whether they sit or rise—see, I am the object of their taunt-songs. 64Pay them back for their deeds, O Lord, according to the work of their hands!65Give them anguish of heart; your curse be on them!66Pursue them in anger and destroy them from under the Lord's heavens. Chapter 4The Punishment of Zion 1How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The sacred stones lie scattered at the head of every street. 2The precious children of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold— how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter's hands! 3Even the jackals offer the breast and nurse their young, but my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. 4The tongue of the infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives them anything. 5Those who feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple cling to ash heaps. 6For the chastisement of my people has been greater than the punishment of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, though no hand was laid on it. 7Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, their hair like sapphire. 8Now 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. 9Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. 10The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of my people. 11The Lord gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations. 12The 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. 13It 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. 14Blindly 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.” 16The Lord himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders. 17Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; we were watching eagerly for a nation that could not save. 18They 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. 19Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness. 20The 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.” 21Rejoice 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. 22The 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.