The Community’s Lament to the Lord
1Remember, Lord, what has happened to us,
pay attention, and see our disgrace:
2Our heritage is turned over to strangers,
our homes, to foreigners.#a. [5:2] Ps 79:1.
3We have become orphans, without fathers;
our mothers are like widows.
4We pay money to drink our own water,
our own wood comes at a price.
5With a yoke on our necks, we are driven;
we are worn out, but allowed no rest.
6We extended a hand to Egypt and Assyria,
to satisfy our need of bread.#Extended a hand: that is, made an alliance. In its state of abjection, Judah was forced to depend on the major powers to the west and the east for subsistence.
7Our ancestors, who sinned, are no more;
but now we bear their guilt.
8Servants#Servants: the Hebrew word for “servant” is also the word used for an official of relatively high status (servant of the ruler; cf. 2 Kgs 25:24, where the term is used to refer to Babylonian rulers over occupied Jerusalem); the author doubtless intends the double meaning here. rule over us,
with no one to tear us from their hands.
9We risk our lives just to get bread,
exposed to the desert heat;#b. [5:9] Lam 1:11.
10Our skin heats up like an oven,
from the searing blasts of famine.#c. [5:10] Lam 4:8.
11Women are raped in Zion,
young women in the cities of Judah;#d. [5:11] Zec 14:2.
12Princes have been hanged by them,
elders shown no respect.#e. [5:12] Lam 4:16.
13Young men carry millstones,
boys stagger under loads of wood;
14The elders have abandoned the gate,#The gate: a place of assembly, where city decisions were made and judgment given by the elders and other community leaders; see note on Ru 4:1.
the young men their music.
15The joy of our hearts has ceased,
dancing has turned into mourning;#f. [5:15] Jer 16:9; 25:10; Am 8:10.
16The crown has fallen from our head:
woe to us that we sinned!
17Because of this our hearts grow sick,
at this our eyes grow dim:
18Because of Mount Zion, lying desolate,
and the jackals roaming there!
19But you, Lord, are enthroned forever;
your throne stands from age to age.#g. [5:19] Ps 9:8; 45:7; 102:13, 27.
20#Unlike most of the laments found in the Book of Psalms, the Book of Lamentations never moves from lament to thanksgiving. It ends with this question still unanswered by God: “Why have you utterly forgotten us?” Why have you utterly forgotten us,
forsaken us for so long?#h. [5:20] Ps 13:2; 42:10; Is 49:14.
21Bring us back to you, Lord, that we may return:
renew our days as of old.#i. [5:21] Ps 80:19–20.
22For now you have indeed rejected us
and utterly turned your wrath against us.#j. [5:22] Jer 14:19.
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