Terrors of the Besieged City
א Aleph
1How the gold has become tarnished,
the fine gold become dull!
The stones of the temple4:1 Or The sacred gems lie scattered
at the head of every street.4:1 Ezk 7:19–20
ב Beth
2Zion’s precious children —
once worth their weight in pure gold4:2 Is 62:3; Zch 9:16 —
how they are regarded as clay jars,
the work of a potter’s hands!
ג Gimel
3Even jackals offer their breasts
to nurse their young,
but my dear people have become cruel
like ostriches4:3 Jb 39:13–18 in the wilderness.
ד Daleth
4The nursing baby’s tongue
clings to the roof of his mouth from thirst.4:4 Ps 22:15
Infants beg for food,
but no one gives them any.
ה He
5Those who used to eat delicacies
are destitute in the streets;
those who were reared in purple garments4:5 Jdg 8:26; Est 8:15
huddle in trash heaps.
ו Waw
6The punishment of my dear people
is greater than that of Sodom,4:6 Gn 18–19; Is 3:9; Jr 23:14
which was overthrown in an instant
without a hand laid on it.
ז Zayin
7Her dignitaries were brighter than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies4:7 Lit bones were more ruddy than coral,
their appearance like lapis lazuli.
ח Cheth
8Now they appear darker than soot;4:8 Jb 30:30; Lm 5:10
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become dry like wood.
ט Teth
9Those slain by the sword are better off
than those slain by hunger,
who waste away, pierced with pain
because the fields lack produce.
י Yod
10The hands of compassionate women
have cooked their own children;4:10 Dt 28:53; 2Kg 6:9
they became their food
during the destruction of my dear people.4:10 Jr 8:11,21; Lm 2:11; 3:48
כ Kaph
11The Lord has exhausted his wrath,
poured out his burning anger;
he has ignited a fire in Zion,
and it has consumed her foundations.4:11 Lm 2:3–4
ל Lamed
12The kings of the earth
and all the world’s inhabitants did not believe
that an enemy or adversary
could enter Jerusalem’s gates.4:12 2Sm 5:6–8; Ps 48:1–5
מ Mem
13Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous within her.4:13 Ps 106:38–39; Ezk 22:1–5
נ Nun
14Blind, they stumbled in the streets,4:14 Dt 28:29; Is 59:10; Zph 1:17
defiled by this blood,4:14 Lv 21:11
so that no one dared
to touch their garments.
ס Samek
15“Stay away! Unclean!” people shouted at them.
“Away, away! Don’t touch us!” 4:15 Lv 13:45–46
So they wandered aimlessly.4:15 Gn 4:12
It was said among the nations,
“They can stay here no longer.”
פ Pe
16The Lord himself has scattered them;
he no longer watches over them.
The priests are not respected;
the elders find no favor.
ע Ayin
17All the while our eyes were failing
as we looked in vain for help;4:17 Jr 37:7–8
we watched from our towers
for a nation that would not save us.
צ Tsade
18Our steps were closely followed
so that we could not walk in our streets.
Our end approached;4:18 Ezk 7:2–12; Am 8:2 our time ran out.
Our end had come!
ק Qoph
19Those who chased us were swifter
than eagles in the sky;4:19 Jr 4:13; Hab 1:8
they relentlessly pursued us over the mountains
and ambushed us in the wilderness.
ר Resh
20The Lord’s anointed, the breath of our life,4:20 Lit nostrils4:20 Gn 2:7; 2Kg 25:7
was captured in their traps.
We had said about him,
“We will live under his protection among the nations.”
שׂ Sin
21So rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,4:21 Ezk 35:15; Ob 12
you resident of the land of Uz!4:21 Jr 25:20
Yet the cup4:21 Is 51:17; Jr 25:15–16; Hab 2:16 will pass to you as well;
you will get drunk and expose yourself.
ת Taw
22Daughter Zion, your punishment is complete;
he will not lengthen your exile.4:22 Or not deport you again
But he will punish your iniquity, Daughter Edom,
and will expose your sins.4:22 Ps 137:7; Ezk 25:12–14; Jl 3:19