1 How the gold has lost its luster! Even the finest gold has become dull. The sacred gemstones lie scattered in the streets!
2 See how the precious children of Jerusalem,* worth their weight in gold, are now treated like pots of clay.1
3 Even the jackals feed their young, but not my people Israel. They ignore their children's cries, like the ostriches of the desert.
4 The parched tongues of their little ones stick with thirst to the roofs of their mouths. The children cry for bread, but no one has any to give them.
5 The people who once ate only the richest foods now beg in the streets for anything they can get. Those who once lived in palaces now search the garbage pits for food.
6 The guilt* of my people is greater than that of Sodom, where utter disaster struck in a moment with no one to help them.2
7 Our princes were once glowing with health; they were as clean as snow and as elegant as jewels.
8 But now their faces are blacker than soot. No one even recognizes them. Their skin sticks to their bones; it is as dry and hard as wood.
9 Those killed by the sword are far better off than those who die of hunger, wasting away for want of food.
10 Tenderhearted women have cooked their own children and eaten them in order to survive the siege.
11 But now the anger of the LORD is satisfied. His fiercest anger has now been poured out. He started a fire in Jerusalem* that burned the city to its foundations.3
12 Not a king in all the earth--no one in all the world--would have believed an enemy could march through the gates of Jerusalem.
13 Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets and priests, who defiled the city by shedding innocent blood.
14 They wandered blindly through the streets, so defiled by blood that no one dared to touch them.
15 "Get away!" the people shouted at them. "You are defiled! Don't touch us!" So they fled to distant lands and wandered there among foreign nations, but none would let them stay.
16 The LORD himself has scattered them, and he no longer helps them. The priests and leaders are no longer honored and respected.
17 We looked in vain for our allies to come and save us, but we were looking to nations that could offer no help at all.
18 We couldn't go into the streets without danger to our lives. Our end was near; our days were numbered. We were doomed!
19 Our enemies were swifter than the eagles. If we fled to the mountains, they found us. If we hid in the wilderness, they were waiting for us there.
20 Our king, the LORD's anointed, the very life of our nation, was caught in their snares. We had foolishly boasted that under his protection we could hold our own against any nation on earth!
21 Are you rejoicing in the land of Uz, O people of Edom? But you, too, must drink from the cup of the LORD's anger. You, too, will be stripped naked in your drunkenness.
22 O Jerusalem,* your punishment will end; you will soon return from exile. But Edom, your punishment is just beginning; soon your many sins will be revealed.4
Read Lamentations 5