This chapter is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. 1How deserted lies the city,
once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
has now become a slave.
2Bitterly she weeps at night,
tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
there is no-one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.
3After affliction and harsh labour,
Judah has gone into exile.
She dwells among the nations;
she finds no resting-place.
All who pursue her have overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.
4The roads to Zion mourn,
for no-one comes to her appointed festivals.
All her gateways are desolate,
her priests groan,
her young women grieve,
and she is in bitter anguish.
5Her foes have become her masters;
her enemies are at ease.
The Lord has brought her grief
because of her many sins.
Her children have gone into exile,
captive before the foe.
6All the splendour has departed
from Daughter Zion.
Her princes are like deer
that find no pasture;
in weakness they have fled
before the pursuer.
7In the days of her affliction and wandering
Jerusalem remembers all the treasures
that were hers in days of old.
When her people fell into enemy hands,
there was no-one to help her.
Her enemies looked at her
and laughed at her destruction.
8Jerusalem has sinned greatly
and so has become unclean.
All who honoured her despise her,
for they have all seen her naked;
she herself groans
and turns away.
9Her filthiness clung to her skirts;
she did not consider her future.
Her fall was astounding;
there was none to comfort her.
‘Look, Lord, on my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed.’
10The enemy laid hands
on all her treasures;
she saw pagan nations
enter her sanctuary –
those you had forbidden
to enter your assembly.
11All her people groan
as they search for bread;
they barter their treasures for food
to keep themselves alive.
‘Look, Lord, and consider,
for I am despised.’
12‘Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look around and see.
Is any suffering like my suffering
that was inflicted on me,
that the Lord brought on me
in the day of his fierce anger?
13‘From on high he sent fire,
sent it down into my bones.
He spread a net for my feet
and turned me back.
He made me desolate,
faint all the day long.
14‘My sins have been bound into a yoke1:14 Most Hebrew manuscripts; many Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint He kept watch over my sins;
by his hands they were woven together.
They have been hung on my neck,
and the Lord has sapped my strength.
He has given me into the hands
of those I cannot withstand.
15‘The Lord has rejected
all the warriors in my midst;
he has summoned an army against me
to1:15 Or has set a time for me / when he will crush my young men.
In his winepress the Lord has trampled
Virgin Daughter Judah.
16‘This is why I weep
and my eyes overflow with tears.
No-one is near to comfort me,
no-one to restore my spirit.
My children are destitute
because the enemy has prevailed.’
17Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is no-one to comfort her.
The Lord has decreed for Jacob
that his neighbours become his foes;
Jerusalem has become
an unclean thing among them.
18‘The Lord is righteous,
yet I rebelled against his command.
Listen, all you peoples;
look on my suffering.
My young men and young women
have gone into exile.
19‘I called to my allies
but they betrayed me.
My priests and my elders
perished in the city
while they searched for food
to keep themselves alive.
20‘See, Lord, how distressed I am!
I am in torment within,
and in my heart I am disturbed,
for I have been most rebellious.
Outside, the sword bereaves;
inside, there is only death.
21‘People have heard my groaning,
but there is no-one to comfort me.
All my enemies have heard of my distress;
they rejoice at what you have done.
May you bring the day you have announced
so that they may become like me.
22‘Let all their wickedness come before you;
deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my sins.
My groans are many
and my heart is faint.’
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1The city of Jerusalem is so empty!
She used to be full of people.
But now she’s like a woman whose husband has died.
She used to be great among the nations.
She was like a queen among the kingdoms.
But now she is a slave.
2Jerusalem weeps bitterly at night.
Tears run down her cheeks.
None of her friends comforts her.
All those who were going to help her
have turned against her.
They have become her enemies.
3After Judah’s people had suffered greatly,
they were taken away as prisoners.
Now they live among the nations.
They can’t find any place to rest.
All those who were chasing them have caught up with them.
And they can’t get away.
4The roads to Zion are empty.
No one travels to her appointed feasts.
All the public places near her gates are deserted.
Her priests groan.
Her young women are sad.
And Zion herself weeps bitterly.
5Her enemies have become her masters.
They have an easy life.
The Lord has brought suffering to Jerusalem
because her people have committed so many sins.
Her children have been taken away as prisoners.
Her enemies have forced her people to leave their homes.
6The city of Zion used to be full of glory.
But now her glory has faded away.
Her princes are like deer.
They can’t find anything to eat.
They are almost too weak to get away
from those who hunt them down.
7Jerusalem’s people are suffering and wandering.
They remember all the treasures
they used to have.
But they fell into the hands of their enemies.
And no one was there to help them.
Their enemies looked at them.
They laughed because Jerusalem had been destroyed.
8Her people have committed many sins.
They have become impure.
All those who honored Jerusalem now look down on her.
They all look at her as if she were a naked woman.
The city groans and turns away in shame.
9Her skirts are dirty.
She didn’t think about how things might turn out.
Her fall from power amazed everyone.
And no one was there to comfort her.
She said, “Lord, please pay attention to how much I’m suffering.
My enemies have won the battle over me.”
10Jerusalem’s enemies took away
all her treasures.
Her people saw outsiders
enter her temple.
The Lord had commanded them
not to do that.
11All Jerusalem’s people groan
as they search for bread.
They trade their treasures for food
just to stay alive.
Jerusalem says, “Lord, look at me.
Think about my condition.
Everyone looks down on me.”
12Jerusalem also says, “All you who are passing by,
don’t you care about what has happened to me?
Just look at my condition.
Has anyone suffered the way I have?
The Lord has brought all this on me.
He has made me suffer.
His anger has burned against me.
13“He sent down fire from heaven.
It went deep down into my bones.
He spread a net to catch me by the feet.
He stopped me right where I was.
He made me empty.
I am sick all the time.
14“My sins have been made into a heavy yoke.
They were woven together by his hands.
They have been placed on my neck.
The Lord has taken away my strength.
He has handed me over to my enemies.
I can’t win the battle over them.
15“The Lord has refused to accept
any of my soldiers.
He has sent for an army
to crush my young men.
I am like grapes in the Lord’s winepress.
He has stomped on me,
even though I am his very own.
16“That’s why I am weeping.
Tears are flowing from my eyes.
No one is near to comfort me.
No one can heal my spirit.
My children don’t have anything.
My enemies are much too strong for me.”
17Zion reaches out her hands.
But no one is there to comfort her people.
The Lord has ordered that
the neighbors of Jacob’s people would become their enemies.
Jerusalem has become impure among them.
18Jerusalem says, “The Lord always does what is right.
But I refused to obey his commands.
Listen, all you nations.
Pay attention to how much I’m suffering.
My young men and women
have been taken away as prisoners.
19“I called out to those who were going to help me.
But they turned against me.
My priests and elders
died in the city.
They were searching for food
just to stay alive.
20“Lord, see how upset I am!
I am suffering deep down inside.
My heart is troubled.
Again and again I have refused to obey you.
Outside the city, people are being killed by swords.
Inside, there is nothing but death.
21“People have heard me groan.
But no one is here to comfort me.
My enemies have heard about all my troubles.
What you have done makes them happy.
So please judge them, just as you said you would.
Let them become like me.
22“Please pay attention to all their sinful ways.
Punish them as you have punished me.
You judged me because I had committed so many sins.
I groan all the time.
And my heart is weak.”