The Prophet’s Plea for Mercy
1 Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us
look, and see our disgrace.
2 Our inherited lands have been given to strangers,
our homes to foreigners.
3 We have become orphans and fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.
4 We must purchase the water we drink;
we must pay for our own wood.
5 On our necks is the yoke of those who persecute us;
although we are exhausted, we are afforded no rest.
6 We have submitted to Egypt and Assyria
to get enough bread to sustain us.
7 Our ancestors who sinned are no longer alive,
but we bear the burden of their guilt.
8 Slaves have become our rulers;
there is no one to deliver us from their hands.
9 We earn our bread at the peril of our lives
because of the sword in the wilderness.[a]
10 Our skin is blackened as in a furnace
from the scorching heat of famine.
11 Women have been raped in Zion
and virgins in the towns of Judah.
12 Princes have been hung up by their hands;
elders are shown no respect.
13 Young men toil, carrying the millstones;
boys stagger under their loads of wood.
14 The old men no longer assemble at the city gate;[b]
the young men have given up their music.
15 Joy has vanished from our hearts;
our dancing has turned to mourning.
16 The garlands have fallen from our heads;
woe to us, for we have sinned.
17 This is why we are sick at heart;
because of this our eyes have grown dim.
18 Mount Zion lies desolate,
overrun with jackals.
19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures from age to age.
20 Why have you ceased to remember us?
Why have you abandoned us for so long a time?
21 Restore us back to you, O Lord, and we will return.[c]
Renew our days as we had of old,
22 unless you have utterly rejected us
with an anger that is beyond measure.
- Lamentations 5:9 Sword in the wilderness: they could get bread only by exposing themselves to the dangers of the wilderness.
- Lamentations 5:14 Gate: public life and political activity were carried on at the gates of the city.
- Lamentations 5:21 The first part of this verse is more familiar to us in the Vulgate translation: “Convert us, O Lord, and we shall be converted!”