Fourth lament
The punishment of Jerusalem
The prophet speaks:
1The purest gold is ruined
and has lost its shine;
jewels from the temple
lie scattered in the streets.
2These are Zion's people,
worth more than purest gold;
yet they are counted worthless
like dishes of clay.
3Even jackals#4.3 jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller. nurse their young,
but my people are like ostriches
that abandon their own.
4Babies are so thirsty
that their tongues are stuck
to the roof of the mouth.
Children go begging for food,
but no one gives them any.
5All who ate expensive foods
lie starving in the streets;
those who grew up in luxury
now sit on rubbish heaps.
6 # Gen 19.24 My nation was punished worse
than the people of Sodom,
whose city was destroyed
in a flash without the help
of human hands.#4.6 hands: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
7The leaders of Jerusalem
were purer than snow
and whiter than milk;
their bodies were healthy
and glowed like jewels.#4.7 jewels: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
8Now they are blacker than tar,
and no one recognizes them;
their skin clings to their bones
and is drier than firewood.
9Being killed with a sword
is better than slowly
starving to death.
10 # Deut 28.57Ezek 5.10 Life in the city is so bad
that loving mothers have boiled
and eaten their own children.
11The Lord was so fiercely angry
that he burnt the city of Zion
to the ground.
12Not a king on this earth
or the people of any nation
believed enemies could break
through her gates.
13Jerusalem was punished because
her prophets and her priests
had sinned and caused the death
of innocent victims.
14Yes, her prophets and priests
were covered with blood;
no one would come near them,
as they wandered
from street to street.
15Instead, everyone shouted,
“Go away! Don't touch us!
You're filthy and unfit
to belong to God's people!”
So they had to leave
and become refugees.
But foreign nations told them,
“You can't stay here!”#4.15 here: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
16The Lord is the one
who sent them scattering,
and he has forgotten them.
No respect or kindness
will be shown
to the priests or leaders.
17Our eyes became weary,
hopelessly looking
for help from a nation#4.17 nation: Egypt, a former ally of Judah.
that could not save us.
18Enemies hunted us down
on every public street.
Our time was up;
our doom was near.
19They swooped down faster
than eagles from the sky.
They hunted for us in the hills
and set traps to catch us
out in the desert.
20The Lord's chosen leader#4.20 chosen leader: Probably Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, taken away to Babylonia in 586 bc.
was our hope for survival!
We thought he would keep us safe
somewhere among the nations,
but even he was caught
in one of their traps.
21You people of Edom
can celebrate now!
But your time will come
to suffer and stagger
around naked.
22The people of Zion
have paid for their sins,
and the Lord will soon
let them return home.
But, people of Edom,
you will be punished,
and your sins exposed.