- How tarnished is the gold, how changed the noble metal; How the sacred stones lie strewn at every street corner!
- Zion's precious sons, fine gold their counterpart, Now worth no more than earthen jars made by the hands of a potter!
- 1 Even the jackals bare their breasts and suckle their young; The daughter of my people has become as cruel as the ostrich in the desert.
- The tongue of the suckling cleaves to the roof of its mouth in thirst; The babes cry for food, but there is no one to give it to them.
- Those accustomed to dainty food perish in the streets; Those brought up in purple now cling to the ash heaps.
- The punishment of the daughter of my people is greater than the penalty of Sodom, Which was overthrown in an instant without the turning of a hand.
- Brighter than snow were her princes, whiter than milk, More ruddy than coral, more precious than sapphire.
- Now their appearance is blacker than soot, they are unrecognized on the streets; Their skin shrinks on their bones, as dry as wood.
- Better for those who perish by the sword than for those who die of hunger, Who waste away, as though pierced through, lacking the fruits of the field!
- The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children, To serve them as mourners' food in the downfall of the daughter of my people.
- The LORD has spent his anger, poured out his blazing wrath; He has kindled a fire in Zion that has consumed her foundations.
- The kings of the earth did not believe, nor any of the world's inhabitants, That enemy or foe could enter the gates of Jerusalem.
- 2 Because of the sins of her prophets and the crimes of her priests, Who shed in her midst the blood of the just!--
- They staggered blindly in the streets, soiled with blood, So that people could not touch even their garments:
- "Away you unclean!" they cried to them, "Away, away, do not draw near!" If they left and wandered among the nations, nowhere could they remain.
- The LORD himself has dispersed them, he regards them no more; He does not receive the priests with favor, nor show kindness to the elders.
- 3 Our eyes ever wasted away, looking in vain for aid; From our watchtower we watched for a nation that could not save us.
- Men dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; Our end drew near, and came; our time had expired.
- Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the air, They harassed us on the mountains and waylaid us in the desert.
- 4 The anointed one of the LORD, our breath of life, was caught in their snares, He in whose shadow we thought we could live on among the nations.
- 5 Though you rejoice and are glad, O daughter Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz, To you also shall the cup be passed; you shall become drunk and naked.
- Your chastisement is completed, O daughter Zion, he will not prolong your exile; But your wickedness, O daughter Edom, he will punish, he will lay bare your sins.
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Footnotes1 Cruel as the ostrich: see note on Job 39:14-16. Jerusalem, in her distress, has abandoned her children.
2 [13-15] The priests and the false prophets lulled the people into an illusory security (Jer 2:8; 5:31; 6:13; etc.), condoning and entering into their crimes so that they themselves became unclean.
3 A nation: Egypt, which failed to give effective aid against Babylon.
4 Our breath of life: the king. This is a royal epithet borrowed from Egyptian usage, while the anointed one of the LORD is Israelite. After the disaster of 598 B.C. (2 Kings 24:1-17), Jerusalem could have hoped to live in peace amidst her neighbors; but they (Lam 4:21-22) as well as Babylon turned against her to ensure her total devastation in 587 B.C.
5 Uz: see note on Jer 25:20.
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