The Punishment of Zion
1How the gold has grown dim,
how the pure gold is changed!
The sacred stones lie scattered
at the head of every street.
2The precious children of Zion,
worth their weight in fine gold—
how they are reckoned as earthen pots,
the work of a potter's hands!
3Even the jackals offer the breast
and nurse their young,
but my people has become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4The tongue of the infant sticks
to the roof of its mouth for thirst;
the children beg for food,
but no one gives them anything.
5Those who feasted on delicacies
perish in the streets;
those who were brought up in purple
cling to ash heaps.
6For the chastisement of my people has been greater
than the punishment of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment,
though no hand was laid on it.
7Her princes were purer than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies were more ruddy than coral,
their hair like sapphire.
8Now their visage is blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as wood.
9Happier were those pierced by the sword
than those pierced by hunger,
whose life drains away, deprived
of the produce of the field.
10The hands of compassionate women
have boiled their own children;
they became their food
in the destruction of my people.
11The Lord gave full vent to his wrath;
he poured out his hot anger,
and kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed its foundations.
12The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor did any of the inhabitants of the world,
that foe or enemy could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
13It was for the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed the blood of the righteous
in the midst of her.
14Blindly they wandered through the streets,
so defiled with blood
that no one was able
to touch their garments.
15“Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them;
“Away! Away! Do not touch!”
So they became fugitives and wanderers;
it was said among the nations,
“They shall stay here no longer.”
16The Lord himself has scattered them,
he will regard them no more;
no honor was shown to the priests,
no favor to the elders.
17Our eyes failed, ever watching
vainly for help;
we were watching eagerly
for a nation that could not save.
18They dogged our steps
so that we could not walk in our streets;
our end drew near; our days were numbered;
for our end had come.
19Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles in the heavens;
they chased us on the mountains,
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20The Lord's anointed, the breath of our life,
was taken in their pits—
the one of whom we said, “Under his shadow
we shall live among the nations.”
21Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom,
you that live in the land of Uz;
but to you also the cup shall pass;
you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.
22The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter Zion, is accomplished,
he will keep you in exile no longer;
but your iniquity, O daughter Edom, he will punish,
he will uncover your sins.
Chapter 5A Plea for Mercy
1Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us;
look, and see our disgrace!2Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our homes to aliens.3We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are like widows.4We must pay for the water we drink;
the wood we get must be bought.5With a yoke on our necks we are hard driven;
we are weary, we are given no rest.6We have made a pact with Egypt and Assyria,
to get enough bread.7Our ancestors sinned; they are no more,
and we bear their iniquities.8Slaves rule over us;
there is no one to deliver us from their hand.9We get our bread at the peril of our lives,
because of the sword in the wilderness.10Our skin is black as an oven
from the scorching heat of famine.11Women are raped in Zion,
virgins in the towns of Judah.12Princes are hung up by their hands;
no respect is shown to the elders.13Young men are compelled to grind,
and boys stagger under loads of wood.14The old men have left the city gate,
the young men their music.15The joy of our hearts has ceased;
our dancing has been turned to mourning.16The crown has fallen from our head;
woe to us, for we have sinned!17Because of this our hearts are sick,
because of these things our eyes have grown dim:18because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate;
jackals prowl over it.
19But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.20Why have you forgotten us completely?
Why have you forsaken us these many days?21Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored;
renew our days as of old—22unless you have utterly rejected us,
and are angry with us beyond measure.