Lamentations 4
Contemporary English Version

The Punishment of Jerusalem

The Prophet Speaks:

1The purest gold is ruined

and has lost its shine;

jewels from the temple

lie scattered in the streets.

2These are Zion's people,

worth more than purest gold;

yet they are counted worthless

like dishes of clay.

3Even jackals+ nurse their young,

but my people are like ostriches

that abandon their own.

4Babies are so thirsty

that their tongues are stuck

to the roof of the mouth.

Children go begging for food,

but no one gives them any.

5All who ate expensive foods

lie starving in the streets;

those who grew up in luxury

now sit on trash heaps.

6 My nation was punished worse

than the people of Sodom,

whose city was destroyed

in a flash without the help

of human hands.+

7The leaders of Jerusalem

were purer than snow

and whiter than milk;

their bodies were healthy

and glowed like jewels.+

8Now they are blacker than tar,

and no one recognizes them;

their skin clings to their bones

and is drier than firewood.

9Being killed with a sword

is better than slowly

starving to death.

10 Life in the city is so bad

that loving mothers have boiled

and eaten their own children.

11The Lord was so fiercely angry

that he burned the city of Zion

to the ground.

12Not a king on this earth

or the people of any nation

believed enemies could break

through her gates.

13Jerusalem was punished because

her prophets and her priests

had sinned and caused the death

of innocent victims.

14Yes, her prophets and priests

were covered with blood;

no one would come near them,

as they wandered

from street to street.

15Instead, everyone shouted,

“Go away! Don't touch us!

You're filthy and unfit

to belong to God's people!”

So they had to leave

and become refugees.

But foreign nations told them,

“You can't stay here!”+

16The Lord is the one

who sent them scattering,

and he has forgotten them.

No respect or kindness

will be shown

to the priests or leaders.

17Our eyes became weary,

hopelessly looking

for help from a nation+

that could not save us.

18Enemies hunted us down

on every public street.

Our time was up;

our doom was near.

19They swooped down faster

than eagles from the sky.

They hunted for us in the hills

and set traps to catch us

out in the desert.

20The Lord's chosen leader+

was our hope for survival!

We thought he would keep us safe

somewhere among the nations,

but even he was caught

in one of their traps.

21You people of Edom

can celebrate now!

But your time will come

to suffer and stagger

around naked.

22The people of Zion

have paid for their sins,

and the Lord will soon

let them return home.

But, people of Edom,

you will be punished,

and your sins exposed.


4.3 jackals: Desert animals related to wolves, but smaller.
4.6 hands: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
4.7 jewels: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
4.15 here: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
4.17 nation: Egypt, a former ally of Judah.
4.20 chosen leader: Probably Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, taken away to Babylonia in 586 b.c.

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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