1 How solitary and lonely sits the city [Jerusalem] that was [once] full of people! How like a widow has she become! She who was [a]great among the nations and princess among the provinces has become a tributary [in servitude]!
2 She weeps bitterly in the night, and her tears are [constantly] on her cheeks. Among all her lovers (allies) she has no one to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies.(A)
3 Judah has gone into exile [to escape] from the affliction and laborious servitude [of the homeland]. She dwells among the [heathen] nations, but she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtook her amid the [dire] straits [of her distress].
4 The roads to Zion mourn, because no one comes to the solemn assembly or the appointed feasts. All her gates are desolate, her priests sigh and groan, her maidens are grieved and vexed, and she herself is in bitterness.
5 Her adversaries have become the head; her enemies prosper. For the Lord has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions; her young children have gone into captivity before the enemy.(B)
6 From the Daughter of Zion all her beauty and majesty have departed. Her princes have become like harts that find no pasture; they have fled without strength before the pursuer.
7 Jerusalem [earnestly] remembers in the days of her affliction, in the days of her [compulsory] wanderings and her bitterness, all the pleasant and precious things that she had from the days of old. When her people fell into and at the hands of the adversary, and there was none to help her, the enemy [gloated as they] looked at her, and they mocked at her desolations and downfall.
8 Jerusalem has grievously sinned; therefore she has become an unclean thing and has been removed. All who honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness; yes, she herself groans and sighs and turns [her face] away.
9 Her filthiness was in and on her skirts; she did not [seriously and earnestly] consider her final end. Therefore she has come down [from throne to slavery] singularly and astonishingly; she has no comforter. O Lord [cries Jerusalem], look at my affliction, for the enemy has magnified himself [in triumph]!
10 The adversary has spread out his hand upon all her precious and desirable things; for she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary [of the temple]—[b]when You commanded that they should not even enter Your congregation [in the outer courts].(C)
11 All her people groan and sigh, seeking for bread; they have given their desirable and precious things [in exchange] for food to revive their strength and bring back life. See, O Lord, and consider how wretched and lightly esteemed, how vile and abominable, I have become!
12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which was dealt out to me, with which the Lord has afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger!
13 From above He has sent fire into my bones, and it prevailed against them. He has spread a net for my feet; He has turned me back. He has made me hopelessly miserable and faint all the day long.
14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by His hand; they were twined together; they were set upon my neck. He has made my strength fail and [me to] stumble; the Lord has delivered me into the hands of those I am unable to resist or withstand.(D)
15 The Lord has made of no account all my [Jerusalem’s] mighty men in the midst of me; He has proclaimed a set time against me to crush my young men. The Lord has trodden as in a winepress the Virgin Daughter of Judah.
16 For these things I weep; my eyes overflow with tears, because a comforter, one who could refresh and restore my soul, is far from me. My children are desolate and perishing, for the enemy has prevailed.(E)
17 Zion stretches forth her hands, but there is no comforter for her. The Lord has commanded concerning and against Jacob that his neighbors should be his adversaries; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them [an object of contempt].
18 The Lord is righteous (just and in the right); for I have rebelled against His commandment (His word). Hear, I pray you, all you peoples, and look at my sorrow and suffering; my maidens and my young men have gone into captivity.
19 I [Jerusalem] called to my lovers [allies], but they deceived me. My priests and my elders expired in the city while they sought food to save their lives.
20 Behold, O Lord, how distressed I am! My vital parts (emotions) are in tumult and are deeply disturbed; my heart cannot rest and is violently agitated within me, for I have grievously rebelled. Outside the house the sword bereaves, at home there is [famine, pestilence] death!
21 [My foes] have heard that I [Jerusalem] sigh and groan, that I have no comforter [in You]. All my enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad [O Lord] that You have done it. You will bring the day [of Judah’s punishment] that you have foretold and proclaimed; [it involves also my foes’ punishment] and they will become like me.(F)
22 Let all their wickedness come before You; and deal with them as You have dealt with me because of all my transgressions; for my sighs and groans are many and my heart is faint.
- Lamentations 1:1 It is possible to read the writings of the prophets only as valuable contributions to Old Testament history. And the reader may be enriched by familiarity with their forecasts of events which have been startlingly fulfilled, thus proclaiming the divine inspiration of the books and the wisdom and power of the God Who prompted their writings. But to stop there is by no means to grasp their full and outstanding purpose for today. Through the prophets God is speaking definitely and definitively to every individual and nation on earth, even right now demanding that we see ourselves as He sees us—a world of nations and individuals tobogganing toward disaster; and He declares that there is no alternative unless we repent and come to terms with Him.
- Lamentations 1:10 The Ammonites and Moabites, descendants of Lot and kinsmen of Israel, were forbidden to enter the congregation of the Lord, “even to their tenth generation,” because they refused assistance to the Israelites when they were fleeing from Egypt, and because they hired Balaam to curse Israel (Deut. 23:3, 4). The Israelites themselves never assembled any closer to the sanctuary of the temple than in the court outside its door. No Jew—not even David or Jesus Himself or any of His apostles—ever ventured into the sanctuary or temple proper except for certain Levites to whom such service was assigned. Two Greek words have customarily been translated “temple” in the New Testament. One (hieron) always means the temple enclosure (the porches, courts, chambers, and the like); the other word (naos) means the sanctuary proper—the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies—into which none but the authorized priests might go, and then only at stated times. But now, Jeremiah says, the forbidden heathen nations enter the very Holy of Holies for plunder! Nothing more humiliating could happen for a Jew than this.