- Remember, O LORD, what has befallen us, look, and see our disgrace:
- Our inherited lands have been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners.
- We have become orphans, fatherless; widowed are our mothers.
- The water we drink we must buy, for our own wood we must pay.
- On our necks is the yoke of those who drive us; we are worn out, but allowed no rest.
- 1 To Egypt we submitted, and to Assyria, to fill our need of bread.
- 2 Our fathers, who sinned, are no more; but we bear their guilt.
- 3 Slaves rule over us; there is no one to rescue us from their hands.
- At the peril of our lives we bring in our sustenance, in the face of the desert heat;
- Our skin is shriveled up, as though by a furnace, with the searing blasts of famine.
- The wives in Zion were ravished by the enemy, the maidens in the cities of Judah;
- Princes were gibbeted by them, elders shown no respect.
- The youths carry the millstones, boys stagger under their loads of wood;
- 4 The old men have abandoned the gate, the young men their music.
- The joy of our hearts has ceased, our dance has turned into mourning;
- The garlands have fallen from our heads: woe to us, for we have sinned!
- Over this our hearts are sick, at this our eyes grow dim:
- That Mount Zion should be desolate, with jackals roaming there!
- You, O LORD, are enthroned forever; your throne stands from age to age.
- Why, then, should you forget us, abandon us so long a time?
- Lead us back to you, O LORD, that we may be restored: give us anew such days as we had of old.
- For now you have indeed rejected us, and in full measure turned your wrath against us.
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Footnotes1 In its state of abjection, Judah was forced to depend on its traditional enemies to the west and the east for subsistence. Mesopotamia is here called by the name it had long borne, Assyria, though in these times the power of the Assyrians had been superseded by that of the Chaldeans.
2 Our fathers: collective responsibility, for good and for evil, was recognized in the Old Testament; cf Jer 31:29. But the present generation is also personally guilty of sin (Lam 5:16).
3 Administrations imposed by foreign powers were notoriously corrupt and inept. The Hebrew word for "slave" is the same as that used for an official (servant of the ruler); the author doubtless intends the double meaning here.
4 The gate: the place of assembly, where city decisions were made and judgment given by the elders and other notables; see note on Ruth 4:1.
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