Lamentations 4 - The Punishment of Zion
A presentation by The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School on March 13, 2016.
For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation and conversation.
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1 How is the gold become dim!
How is the most fine gold changed!
The hallowed stones are poured out
at the head of every street.
2 The precious sons of Zion,
comparable to fine gold,
how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers,
the work of the hands of the potter!
3 Even the jackals draw out the breast,
they give suck to their young ones;
the daughter of my people is become cruel,
like the ostriches in the wilderness.
4 The tongue of the sucking child cleaveth
to the roof of his mouth for thirst;
the young children ask bread,
and none breaketh it unto them.
5 They that did feed on dainties
are desolate in the streets;
they that were brought up in scarlet
6 For the iniquity of the daughter of my people
is greater than the sin of Sodom,
that was overthrown as in a moment,
and no hands fell upon her.
7 Her princes were purer than snow,
they were whiter than milk,
they were more ruddy in body than rubies,
their polishing was as of sapphire;
8 Their visage is blacker than coal;
they are not known in the streets;
their skin is shrivelled upon their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick.
9 They that are slain with the sword are better
than they that are slain with hunger;
for these pine away,
stricken through, for want of the fruits of the field.
10 The hands of women full of compassion
have sodden their own children;
they were their food
in the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The LORD hath accomplished His fury,
He hath poured out His fierce anger;
and He hath kindled a fire in Zion,
which hath devoured the foundations thereof.
12 The kings of the earth
believed not, neither all the inhabitants of the world,
that the adversary and the enemy would enter
into the gates of Jerusalem.
13 It is because of the sins of her prophets,
and the iniquities of her priests,
that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her.
14 They wander as blind men in the streets,
they are polluted with blood,
so that men cannot touch their garments.
15 'Depart ye! unclean!' men cried unto them,
'Depart, depart, touch not';
yea, they fled away and wandered;
men said among the nations: 'They shall no more sojourn here.'
16 The anger of the LORD hath divided them;
He will no more regard them;
they respected not the persons of the priests,
they were not gracious unto the elders.
17 As for us, our eyes do yet fail
for our vain help;
in our watching we have watched
for a nation that could not save.
18 They hunt our steps,
that we cannot go in our broad places;
our end is near, our days are fulfilled;
for our end is come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter
than the eagles of the heaven;
they chased us upon the mountains,
they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the LORD,
was taken in their pits;
of whom we said:
'Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.'
21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,
that dwellest in the land of Uz:
the cup shall pass over unto thee also;
thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked.
22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished,
O daughter of Zion, He will no more carry thee away into captivity;
He will punish thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom,
He will uncover thy sins.
from The Jewish Publication Society (1917 edition) of The Holy Scriptures (Old Testament)
E.g. BibleGateway is a source of newer translations.
Lamentations 4:1-5 (translation by David Slavitt)
All the gold has been dulled, its pure luster lost. And the precious gems are strewn stones in the streets.
Bright sons of Zion, worth their weight in gold and diamonds, are scattered too, like shards from a broken pot.
Cruel jackals are tender and give suck to their young. More cruel is the daughter of my people, who cares for her children less than an ostrich in the wild.
Dirty, hungry, thirsty, children complain and beg, but no one comes to their aid.
Everywhere ruin attends ...