1*1 Each of the first four chapters of this book is an acrostic, laid out in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. The first word of each verse begins with a successive Hebrew letter. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 have one verse for each of the 22 Hebrew letters. Chapter 3 contains 22 stanzas of three verses each. Though chapter 5 has 22 verses, it is not an acrostic.
Sorrow in Jerusalem
1Jerusalem, once so full of people,
is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nations
now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth,
she is now a slave.
2She sobs through the night;
tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers,
there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her
and become her enemies.
3Judah has been led away into captivity,
oppressed with cruel slavery.
She lives among foreign nations
and has no place of rest.
Her enemies have chased her down,
and she has nowhere to turn.
4The roads to Jerusalem*1:4 Hebrew Zion; also in 1:17. are in mourning,
for crowds no longer come to celebrate the festivals.
The city gates are silent,
her priests groan,
her young women are crying—
how bitter is her fate!
5Her oppressors have become her masters,
and her enemies prosper,
for the Lord has punished Jerusalem
for her many sins.
Her children have been captured
and taken away to distant lands.
6All the majesty of beautiful Jerusalem*1:6 Hebrew of the daughter of Zion.
has been stripped away.
Her princes are like starving deer
searching for pasture.
They are too weak to run
from the pursuing enemy.
7In the midst of her sadness and wandering,
Jerusalem remembers her ancient splendor.
But now she has fallen to her enemy,
and there is no one to help her.
Her enemy struck her down
and laughed as she fell.
8Jerusalem has sinned greatly,
so she has been tossed away like a filthy rag.
All who once honored her now despise her,
for they have seen her stripped naked and humiliated.
All she can do is groan
and hide her face.
9She defiled herself with immorality
and gave no thought to her future.
Now she lies in the gutter
with no one to lift her out.
“Lord, see my misery,” she cries.
“The enemy has triumphed.”
10The enemy has plundered her completely,
taking every precious thing she owns.
She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple,
the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.
11Her people groan as they search for bread.
They have sold their treasures for food to stay alive.
“O Lord, look,” she mourns,
“and see how I am despised.
12“Does it mean nothing to you, all you who pass by?
Look around and see if there is any suffering like mine,
which the Lord brought on me
when he erupted in fierce anger.
13“He has sent fire from heaven that burns in my bones.
He has placed a trap in my path and turned me back.
He has left me devastated,
racked with sickness all day long.
14“He wove my sins into ropes
to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.
The Lord sapped my strength and turned me over to my enemies;
I am helpless in their hands.
15“The Lord has treated my mighty men
At his command a great army has come
to crush my young warriors.
The Lord has trampled his beloved city*1:15 Hebrew the virgin daughter of Judah.
like grapes are trampled in a winepress.
16“For all these things I weep;
tears flow down my cheeks.
No one is here to comfort me;
any who might encourage me are far away.
My children have no future,
for the enemy has conquered us.”
17Jerusalem reaches out for help,
but no one comforts her.
Regarding his people Israel,*1:17 Hebrew Jacob. The names “Jacob” and “Israel” are often interchanged throughout the Old Testament, referring sometimes to the individual patriarch and sometimes to the nation.
the Lord has said,
“Let their neighbors be their enemies!
Let them be thrown away like a filthy rag!”
18“The Lord is right,” Jerusalem says,
“for I rebelled against him.
Listen, people everywhere;
look upon my anguish and despair,
for my sons and daughters
have been taken captive to distant lands.
19“I begged my allies for help,
but they betrayed me.
My priests and leaders
starved to death in the city,
even as they searched for food
to save their lives.
20“Lord, see my anguish!
My heart is broken
and my soul despairs,
for I have rebelled against you.
In the streets the sword kills,
and at home there is only death.
21“Others heard my groans,
but no one turned to comfort me.
When my enemies heard about my troubles,
they were happy to see what you had done.
Oh, bring the day you promised,
when they will suffer as I have suffered.
22“Look at all their evil deeds, Lord.
as you have punished me
for all my sins.
My groans are many,
and I am sick at heart.”