How the gold has grown dim, how the pure gold is changed! The sacred stones lie scattered at the head of every street.
2 The precious children of Zion, worth their weight in fine gold— how they are reckoned as earthen pots, the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even the jackals offer the breast and nurse their young, but my people has become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the infant sticks to the roof of its mouth for thirst; the children beg for food, but no one gives them anything.
5 Those who feasted on delicacies perish in the streets; those who were brought up in purple cling to ash heaps.
6 For the chastisement[a] of my people has been greater than the punishment[b] of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, though no hand was laid on it.[c]
7 Her princes were purer than snow, whiter than milk; their bodies were more ruddy than coral, their hair[d] like sapphire.[e]
8 Now 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.
9 Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field.
10 The hands of compassionate women have boiled their own children; they became their food in the destruction of my people.
11 The Lord gave full vent to his wrath; he poured out his hot anger, and kindled a fire in Zion that consumed its foundations.
12 The 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.
13 It 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.
14 Blindly 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.”
16 The Lord himself has scattered them, he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders.
17 Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; we were watching eagerly for a nation that could not save.
18 They 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.
19 Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains, they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The 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.”
21 Rejoice 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.
22 The 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.
a. Lamentations 4:6 Or iniquity
b. Lamentations 4:6 Or sin
c. Lamentations 4:6 Meaning of Heb uncertain
d. Lamentations 4:7 Meaning of Heb uncertain
e. Lamentations 4:7 Or lapis lazuli
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.