Lamentations 4

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)

Cross references

  1. Lamentations 4:2 : Is 30:14; Jer 19:11; 2 Cor 4:7
  2. Lamentations 4:6 : Gen 19:25
  3. Lamentations 4:17 : Ezek 29:16
  4. Lamentations 4:21 : Jer 25:17
  5. Lamentations 4:22 : Ps 137:7

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