Lamentations 3:1-5:22

3:1 א (Alef)

I am the man who has experienced affliction

from the rod of the Lord’s wrath.

2 He drove me into captivity and made me walk

in darkness and not light.

3 He repeatedly attacks me;

he turns his hand against me all day long.

4 ב (Bet)

He has made my mortal skin waste away;

he has broken my bones.

5 He has besieged and surrounded me

with bitter hardship.

6 He has made me reside in deepest darkness

like those who died long ago.

7 ג (Gimel)

He has walled me in so that I cannot get out;

he has weighted me down with heavy prison chains.

8 Also, when I cry out desperately for help,

he has shut out my prayer.

9 He has blocked every road I take with a wall of hewn stones;

he has made every path impassable.

10 ד (Dalet)

To me he is like a bear lying in ambush,

like a hidden lion stalking its prey.

11 He has obstructed my paths and torn me to pieces;

he has made me desolate.

12 He drew his bow and made me

the target for his arrow.

13 ה (He)

He shot his arrows

into my heart.

14 I have become the laughingstock of all people,

their mocking song all day long.

15 He has given me my fill of bitter herbs

and made me drunk with bitterness.

16 ו (Vav)

He ground my teeth in gravel;

he trampled me in the dust.

17 I am deprived of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is.

18 So I said, “My endurance has expired;

I have lost all hope of deliverance from the Lord.”

19 ז (Zayin)

Remember my impoverished and homeless condition,

which is a bitter poison.

20 I continually think about this,

and I am depressed.

21 But this I call to mind;

therefore I have hope:

22 ח (Khet)

The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases;

his compassions never end.

23 They are fresh every morning;

your faithfulness is abundant!

24 “My portion is the Lord,” I have said to myself,

so I will put my hope in him.

25 ט (Tet)

The Lord is good to those who trust in him,

to the one who seeks him.

26 It is good to wait patiently

for deliverance from the Lord.

27 It is good for a man

to bear the yoke while he is young.

28 י (Yod)

Let a person sit alone in silence,

when the Lord is disciplining him.

29 Let him bury his face in the dust;

perhaps there is hope.

30 Let him offer his cheek to the one who hits him;

let him have his fill of insults.

31 כ (Kaf)

For the Lord will not

reject us forever.

32 Though he causes us grief, he then has compassion on us

according to the abundance of his loyal kindness.

33 For he is not predisposed to afflict

or to grieve people.

34 ל (Lamed)

To crush underfoot

all the earth’s prisoners,

35 to deprive a person of his rights

in the presence of the Most High,

36 to defraud a person in a lawsuit—

the Lord does not approve of such things!

37 מ (Mem)

Whose command was ever fulfilled

unless the Lord decreed it?

38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that everything comes—

both calamity and blessing?

39 Why should any living person complain

when punished for his sins?

40 נ (Nun)

Let us carefully examine our ways,

and let us return to the Lord.

41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands

to God in heaven:

42 “We have blatantly rebelled;

you have not forgiven.”

43 ס (Samek)

You shrouded yourself with anger and then pursued us;

you killed without mercy.

44 You shrouded yourself with a cloud

so that no prayer could get through.

45 You make us like filthy scum

in the estimation of the nations.

46 פ (Pe)

All our enemies have gloated over us;

47 panic and pitfall have come upon us,

devastation and destruction.

48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes

because my people are destroyed.

49 ע (Ayin)

Tears flow from my eyes and will not stop;

there will be no break

50 until the Lord looks down from heaven

and sees what has happened.

51 What my eyes see grieves me—

all the suffering of the daughters in my city.

52 צ (Tsade)

For no good reason my enemies

hunted me down like a bird.

53 They shut me up in a pit

and threw stones at me.

54 The waters closed over my head;

I thought I was about to die.

55 ק (Qof)

I have called on your name, O Lord,

from the deepest pit.

56 You heard my plea:

“Do not close your ears to my cry for relief!”

57 You came near on the day I called to you;

you said, “Do not fear!”

58 ר (Resh)

O Lord, you championed my cause;

you redeemed my life.

59 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord;

pronounce judgment on my behalf!

60 You have seen all their vengeance,

all their plots against me.

61 ש (Sin/Shin)

You have heard their taunts, O Lord,

all their plots against me.

62 My assailants revile and conspire

against me all day long.

63 Watch them from morning to evening;

I am the object of their mocking songs.

64 ת (Tav)

Pay them back what they deserve, O Lord,

according to what they have done.

65 Give them a distraught heart;

may your curse be on them!

66 Pursue them in anger and eradicate them

from under the Lord’s heaven.

4:1 א (Alef)

Alas! Gold has lost its luster;

pure gold loses value.

Jewels are scattered

on every street corner.

2 ב (Bet)

The precious sons of Zion

were worth their weight in gold—

Alas!—but now they are treated like broken clay pots,

made by a potter.

3 ג (Gimel)

Even the jackals nurse their young

at their breast,

but my people are cruel,

like ostriches in the wilderness.

4 ד (Dalet)

The infant’s tongue sticks

to the roof of its mouth due to thirst;

little children beg for bread,

but no one gives them even a morsel.

5 ה (He)

Those who once feasted on delicacies

are now starving to death in the streets.

Those who grew up wearing expensive clothes

are now dying amid garbage.

6 ו (Vav)

The punishment of my people

exceeds that of Sodom,

which was overthrown in a moment

with no one to help her.

7 ז (Zayin)

Our consecrated ones were brighter than snow,

whiter than milk;

their bodies more ruddy than corals,

their hair like lapis lazuli.

8 ח (Khet)

Now their appearance is darker than soot;

they are not recognized in the streets.

Their skin has shriveled on their bones;

it is dried up, like tree bark.

9 ט (Tet)

Those who die by the sword are better off

than those who die of hunger,

those who waste away,

struck down from lack of food.

10 י (Yod)

The hands of tenderhearted women

cooked their own children,

who became their food,

when my people were destroyed.

11 כ (Kaf)

The Lord fully vented his wrath;

he poured out his fierce anger.

He started a fire in Zion;

it consumed her foundations.

12 ל (Lamed)

Neither the kings of the earth

nor the people of the lands ever thought

that enemy or foe could enter

the gates of Jerusalem.

13 מ (Mem)

But it happened due to the sins of her prophets

and the iniquities of her priests,

who poured out in her midst

the blood of the righteous.

14 נ (Nun)

They wander blindly through the streets,

defiled by the blood they shed,

while no one dares

to touch their garments.

15 ס (Samek)

People cry to them, “Turn away! You are unclean!

Turn away! Turn away! Don’t touch us!”

So they have fled and wander about;

but the nations say, “They may not stay here any longer.”

16 פ (Pe)

The Lord himself has scattered them;

he no longer watches over them.

They did not honor the priests;

they did not show favor to the elders.

17 ע (Ayin)

Our eyes continually failed us

as we looked in vain for help.

From our watchtowers we watched

for a nation that could not rescue us.

18 צ (Tsade)

Our enemies hunted us down at every step

so that we could not walk about in our streets.

Our end drew near, our days were numbered,

for our end had come!

19 ק (Qof)

Those who pursued us were swifter

than eagles in the sky.

They chased us over the mountains;

they ambushed us in the wilderness.

20 ר (Resh)

Our very life breath—the Lord’s anointed king—

was caught in their traps,

of whom we thought,

“Under his protection we will survive among the nations.”

21 ש (Sin/Shin)

Rejoice and be glad for now, O people of Edom,

who reside in the land of Uz.

But the cup of judgment will pass to you also;

you will get drunk and take off your clothes.

22 ת (Tav)

O people of Zion, your punishment will come to an end;

he will not prolong your exile.

But, O people of Edom, he will punish your sin

and reveal your offenses!

5:1 O Lord, reflect on what has happened to us;

consider and look at our disgrace.

2 Our inheritance is turned over to strangers;

foreigners now occupy our homes.

3 We have become fatherless orphans;

our mothers have become widows.

4 We must pay money for our own water;

we must buy our own wood at a steep price.

5 We are pursued—they are breathing down our necks;

we are weary and have no rest.

6 We have submitted to Egypt and Assyria

in order to buy food to eat.

7 Our forefathers sinned and are dead,

but we suffer their punishment.

8 Slaves rule over us;

there is no one to rescue us from their power.

9 At the risk of our lives we get our food

because robbers lurk in the wilderness.

10 Our skin is as hot as an oven

due to a fever from hunger.

11 They raped women in Zion,

virgins in the towns of Judah.

12 Princes were hung by their hands;

elders were mistreated.

13 The young men perform menial labor;

boys stagger from their labor.

14 The elders are gone from the city gate;

the young men have stopped playing their music.

15 Our hearts no longer have any joy;

our dancing is turned to mourning.

16 The crown has fallen from our head;

woe to us, for we have sinned!

17 Because of this, our hearts are sick;

because of these things, we can hardly see through our tears.

18 For wild animals are prowling over Mount Zion,

which lies desolate.

19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;

your throne endures from generation to generation.

20 Why do you keep on forgetting us?

Why do you forsake us so long?

21 Bring us back to yourself, O Lord, so that we may return to you;

renew our life as in days before,

22 unless you have utterly rejected us

and are angry with us beyond measure.