BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB LAMENTATIONS Chapter 1
1:1 Oh, how lonely she sits, the city once thronged with people, as if suddenly widowed. Though once great among the nations, she, the princess among provinces, is now reduced to vassalage.
1:2 She passes her nights weeping; the tears run down her cheeks. Not one of all her lovers remains to comfort her. Her friends have all betrayed her and become her enemies.
1:3 Judah is exiled after her downfall and harsh enslavement. She dwells among the nations now, but finds no relief there. Her pursuers all overtake her in places where there is no way out.
1:4 The roads to Zion are in mourning; no one comes to her festivals now. Her gateways are all deserted; her priests groan; her virgins are grief-stricken; she suffers bitterly.
1:5 Her oppressors now have the upper hand, her enemies enjoy prosperity; Yahweh himself has made her suffer for her many, many sins; her little children have left her as prisoners driven in front of the oppressor.
1:6 From the daughter of Zion all her glory has departed. Her leaders were like rams that find no pasture. Listlessly they took the road, driven by the drover.
1:7 Jerusalem remembers her days of misery and distress, when her people fell before the enemy and no one came to help her. Her oppressors looked at her and laughed at her downfall.
1:8 Jerusalem has sinned grievously and she has become a thing unclean. All those who used to honour her despise her; they have seen her nakedness. While she herself groans and turns her face away.
1:9 Her filth clings to the hem of her clothes. She had never thought of ending like this, sinking as low as this. She has no one to comfort her. ‘Yahweh, look on my degradation; my enemy is triumphant.’
1:10 The oppressor has laid his hands on all she treasured; she has seen the pagans enter her sanctuary, men whom you had forbidden to attend your Assembly.
1:11 All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their valuables for food, to keep life in them. ‘Look, Yahweh, and mark how despised I am.’
1:12 All you who pass this way, look and see: is any sorrow like the sorrow that afflicts me, with which Yahweh has struck me on the day of his burning anger?
1:13 He has sent a fire from on high down into my bones; he has laid a snare underneath my feet; he has brought me down; he has left me deserted, and ill all day long.
1:14 The yoke of my sins weighs down on me, his, the hand that knotted them; their yoke is on my neck, he makes my energy fail. The Lord has put me at their mercy, I have no strength left to resist.
1:15 Yahweh has spurned the bravest fighters I had; he has summoned a host against me to destroy the flower of my army. In his winepress the Lord has trampled the virgin daughter of Judah.
1:16 And that is why I weep; my eyes dissolve in tears, since the comforter who could revive me is far away. My sons are in despair, the enemy has proved too strong.
1:17 Zion stretches out her hands; no one is there to comfort her. Yahweh has summoned against Jacob foes from every side; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing to them.
1:18 Yahweh is acting rightly, for I had rebelled against his order. Listen therefore, all you nations, and see my sorrow. My virgins and my young men have gone into exile.
1:19 I called for help to my lovers; they failed me. My priests and my elders were perishing inside the city, as they searched for food to keep life in them.
1:20 Look, Yahweh. How great my anguish! My entrails shudder; my heart turns over inside me. Alas! I have always been a rebel – and now, outside, the sword has robbed me of my children, and inside, there is death.
1:21 Listen to my groaning; there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies gloat over my disaster: this is your doing. Bring the day you once foretold, so that they may be as I am.
1:22 Let all their wickedness come before you; treat them as you have treated me for all my sins. Many indeed are my groans, my heart is sick.
JB LAMENTATIONS Chapter 2
2:1 Oh, how Yahweh in his wrath has brought darkness on the daughter of Zion! He has flung the glory of Israel from heaven to the ground, no more remembering his footstool[*a] on the day of his wrath.
2:2 The Lord has pitilessly destroyed all the homes of Jacob; in his displeasure he has shattered the strongholds of the daughter of Judah; he has thrown to the ground, he has left accursed the kingdom and its rulers.
2:3 In his burning anger he has broken every horn in Israel, withdrawn the strength of his right hand at the coming of the enemy, and kindled in Jacob a fire that burns up everything near it.
2:4 Like an enemy he has bent his bow, holding his right hand steady; like a foe, he has slaughtered everything that delights the eye; on the tent of the daughter of Zion he has poured his anger out like fire.
2:5 The Lord has been like an enemy; he has destroyed Israel; he has destroyed every one of her palaces, laid low her strongholds, and for the daughters of Judah has multiplied wailing on wailing.
2:6 He has wrecked his own domain like a garden, shattered his own gathering place; Yahweh has wiped out the memory of festivals and sabbathsin Zion; in the heat of his wrath he has repudiated king and priest.
2:7 The Lord has grown weary of his altar, has come to loathe his sanctuary, and handed her palace walls over to the enemy; from the uproar in the Temple of Yahweh it might have been a day of festival.
2:8 Yahweh resolved to ruin the city wall of the daughter of Zion; with a line he measured it, and did not withdraw his hand until he had completely overthrown it, bringing mourning on city wall and rampart; now they are crumbling down together.
2:9 Her gates have sunk into the ground; he has shattered their bars. Her king, her nobles, are now with the pagans, the Law is no more. Even her prophets receive no further vision from Yahweh.
2:10 Mutely they sit on the ground, the elders of the daughter of Zion; they have put dust on their heads, and wrapped themselves in sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem hang their heads down to the ground.
2:11 My eyes wasted away with weeping, my entrails shuddered, my liver spilled on the ground at the ruin of the daughters of my people, as children, mere infants, fainted in the squares of the Citadel.
2:12 They kept saying to their mothers, ‘Where is the bread?’ as they fainted like wounded men in the squares of the City, as they poured out their souls on their mothers’ breasts.
2:13 How can I describe you, to what compare you, daughter of Jerusalem? Who can rescue and comfort you, virgin daughter of Zion? For huge as the sea is your affliction; who can possibly cure you?
2:14 The visions your prophets had on your behalf were delusive, tinsel things, they never pointed out your sin, to ward off your exile. The visions they proffered you were false, fallacious, misleading.
2:15 All who pass your way clap their hands at the sight; they whistle and shake their heads over the daughter of Jerusalem. ‘Was this the loveliest of all, this, the joy of the whole world?’
2:16 Your enemies open their mouths in chorus against you; they whistle and grind their teeth; they say, ‘We have swallowed her up. This is the day we were waiting for; now we can touch it, see it.’
2:17 Yahweh has accomplished his intention, he has carried out his word decreed in the days of old; he has destroyed without pity, giving your enemy cause to gloat over you and raising his horn.
2:18 Cry aloud, then, to the Lord, groan, daughter of Zion; let your tears flow like a torrent, day and night; give yourself no relief, grant your eyes no rest.
2:19 Up, cry out in the night-time, in the early hours of darkness; pour your heart out like water before Yahweh. Stretch out your hands to him for the lives of your children.
2:20 Look, Yahweh, and consider: whom have you ever treated like this? Why, women have eaten their little ones, the children they had nursed in their arms! Why, priest and prophet have been slaughtered in the sanctuary of Yahweh!
2:21 Children and old men are lying on the ground in the streets; my virgins and my young men have fallen by the sword; you have killed on the day of your wrath, you have slaughtered pitilessly.
2:22 As though to a festival you have summoned terrors from every side; on the day of your wrath, no one escaped, no one survived. Those whom I had nursed and reared, my enemy has murdered them all.
JB LAMENTATIONS Chapter 3
3:1 I am the man familiar with misery under the rod of his anger;
3:2 I am the one he has driven and forced to walk in darkness, and without any light.
3:3 Against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long.
3:4 He has wasted my flesh and skin away, has broken my bones.
3:5 He has made a yoke for me, has encircled my head with weariness.
3:6 He has forced me to dwell in darkness with the dead of long ago.
3:7 He has walled me in; I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
3:8 and when I call and shout, he shuts out my prayer.
3:9 He has blocked my ways with cut stones, he has obstructed my paths.
3:10 For me he has been a lurking bear, a lion on the watch.
3:11 He has filled my paths with briars and torn me, he has made me a thing of horror.
3:12 He has bent his bow and taken aim, making me the target for his arrows.
3:13 In my back he has planted his darts, the children of his quiver.
3:14 I have become the laughing-stock of my whole nation, their butt all day long.
3:15 He has given me my fill of bitterness, he has made me drunk with wormwood.
3:16 He has broken my teeth with gravel, he has given me ashes for food.
3:17 My soul is shut out from peace; I have forgotten happiness.
3:18 And now I say, ‘My strength is gone, that hope which came from Yahweh’.
3:19 Brooding on my anguish and affliction is gall and wormwood.
3:20 My spirit ponders it continually and sinks within me.
3:21 This is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope:
3:22 the favours of Yahweh are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted;
3:23 every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness.
3:24 ‘My portion is Yahweh’ says my soul ‘and so I will hope in him.’
3:25 Yahweh is good to those who trust him, to the soul that searches for him.
3:26 It is good to wait in silence for Yahweh to save.
3:27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke from youth onwards,
3:28 to sit in solitude and silence when the Lord fastens it on him,
3:29 to put his lips to the dust – perhaps there still is hope –
3:30 to offer his cheek to the striker, to be overwhelmed with insults.
3:31 For the Lord does not reject mankind for ever and ever.
3:32 If he has punished, he has compassion so great is his kindness;
3:33 since he takes no pleasure in abasing and afflicting the human race.
3:34 When all the prisoners in a country are crushed and trampled underfoot,
3:35 when a man’s rights are overridden in defiance of the Most High,
3:36 when a man is deprived of justice, does not the Lord see it?
3:37 Who has only to speak to make things exist? Who commands, if not the Lord?
3:38 From where, if not from the mouth of the Most High, do evil and good come?
3:39 Why then should man complain? Better for him to be bold against his sins.
3:40 Let us examine our path, let us ponder it and return to Yahweh.
3:41 Let us stretch out our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
3:42 We are the ones who have sinned, who have rebelled, and you have not forgiven.
3:43 You have wrapped yourself in wrath, pursued us, slaughtered us without pity.
3:44 You have wrapped yourself in a cloud too thick for prayer to pierce.
3:45 You have reduced us to rubbish to the scourings of the nations.
3:46 Our enemies have opened their mouths in chorus against us.
3:47 Dread and pitfall have been our lot, ravage and ruin.
3:48 My eyes dissolve in torrents of tears over the ruin of the daughters of my people.
3:49 My eyes weep ceaselessly, without relief
3:50 until Yahweh looks down and sees from heaven.
3:51 My eyes have grown sore over all the daughters of my Citadel.
3:52 They hunted me, harried me like a bird, they who hate me for no reason.
3:53 They tumbled my life into a pit, they threw stones down on me.
3:54 The waters went over my head; I said, ‘I am lost’.
3:55 Yahweh, I called on your name from the deep pit.
3:56 You heard me crying, ‘Do not close your ear to my prayer’.
3:57 You came near that day when I called to you; you said, ‘Do not be afraid’.
3:58 You have defended the cause of my soul, you have redeemed my life.
3:59 Yahweh, you have seen the wrong done to me; grant me redress.
3:60 You have seen all their frenzy, all their plots against me.
3:61 Yahweh, you have heard their insults, all their plots against me,
3:62 my opponents slandering me under their breath all day long.
3:63 Whether they sit, or whether they stand, see, I am their butt.
3:64 Yahweh, repay them as their deeds deserve.
3:65 Give them hardness of heart, your curse be on them.
3:66 Pursue them in fury, root them out from underneath your heavens.
JB LAMENTATIONS Chapter 4
4:1 Oh, how the old gold has tarnished, that gold so fine! The sacred stones now lie scattered at the corner of every street.
4:2 The sons of Zion, as precious as finest gold, Oh, reckoned now no better than earthenware pots made by the potter!
4:3 The very jackals give the breast, and suckle their young: but the daughters of my people have grown cruel like the ostriches of the desert.
4:4 The tongue of the baby at the breast sticks to his palate for thirst, little children go begging for bread; no one spares a scrap for them.
4:5 Those who used to eat only the best, now lie dying in the streets; those who were reared in the purple claw at the rubbish heaps.
4:6 The crimes of the daughter of my people have outdone the sins of Sodom, which was overthrown in a moment, no time for a man to wring his hands.
4:7 Once her young men were brighter than snow, whiter than milk; rosier than coral their bodies, their hue as radiant as sapphire.
4:8 Now with faces darker than blackness itself they move unrecognisable through the streets. The skin is shrunken against their bones, dry as a stick.
4:9 Happy were those killed by the sword, happier than those by hunger, spent and sinking, deprived of the fruits of the fields.
4:10 With their own hands, tender-hearted women have boiled their children; these have been their food in the disaster that fell on the daughter of my people.
4:11 Yahweh has indulged his fury, has poured his anger out. He has lit a fire in Zion that has devoured her foundations.
4:12 The kings of the earth never believed, nor did all the inhabitants of the world, that oppressor and enemy would ever penetrate the gates of Jerusalem.
4:13 It came through the sins of her prophets and the crimes of her priests, who had shed the blood of the upright in the heart of the city.
4:14 Through the streets like blind men, they roamed polluted with blood, so that no one dared to touch their clothes.
4:15 ‘Keep away! Unclean!’ people shouted ‘Keep away! Do not touch us!’ If they left and took refuge with the nations, they were not allowed to shelter there either.
4:16 The face of Yahweh dispersed them; he never spared a glance for them again. People respected the priests no longer, they paid no attention to the prophets.
4:17 And still we wore out our eyes, watching for help in vain. From our towers we watched for a nation[*a] which could not save us anyway.
4:18 Our enemies eyed our steps, and barricaded our squares. Our end was near, our days were done.
4:19 Our pursuers were swifter than eagles in the sky; they dogged our steps in the mountains, they ambushed us in the desert.
4:20 The breath of our nostrils, Yahweh’s anointed,[*b] was captured in their pits, he of whom we said, ‘Under his shadow we shall live among the nations’.
4:21 Rejoice, exult, daughter of Edom, as you dwell in Uz! To you in turn the cup will pass; it will make you drunk, and you will show your nakedness.
4:22 Your crime has been atoned for, daughter of Zion; he will never banish you again. Your crime he will punish, daughter of Edom; he will lay bare your sins.
JB LAMENTATIONS Chapter 5
5:1 Yahweh, remember what has happened to us; look on us and see our degradation.
5:2 Our inheritance has passed to aliens, our homes to barbarians.
5:3 We are orphans, we are fatherless; our mothers are like widows.
5:4 We drink our own water – at a price; we have to pay for what is our own firewood.
5:5 The yoke is on our necks; we are persecuted; we are worked to death; no relief for us.
5:6 We hold out our hands to Egypt, or to Assyria, just to get enough bread.
5:7 Our fathers have sinned; they are no more, and we ourselves bear the weight of their crimes.
5:8 Slaves[*a] rule us; no one rescues us from them.
5:9 At peril of our lives we earn our bread, by risking the sword of the desert.
5:10 Our skin is as hot as the oven, such is the fever of famine.
5:11 They have raped the women in Zion, the virgins in the towns of Judah.
5:12 Princes have been hanged at their hands; the face of the old has not been respected.
5:13 Youths have toiled at the mill; boys have collapsed under loads of wood.
5:14 The elders have deserted the gateway; the young men have given up their music.
5:15 Joy has vanished from our hearts; our dancing has been turned to mourning.
5:16 The garland has fallen from our heads. Woe to us, because we have sinned!
5:17 This is why our hearts are sick; this is why our eyes are dim:
5:18 because Mount Zion is desolate; jackals roam to and fro on it.
5:19 But you, Yahweh, you remain for ever; your throne endures from age to age.
5:20 You cannot mean to forget us for ever? You cannot mean to abandon us for good?
5:21 Make us come back to you, Yahweh, and we will come back. Renew our days as in times past,
5:22 unless you have utterly rejected us, in an anger that knows no limit.
END OF JB LAMENTATIONS [5 Chapters].