Lamentations 4 Common English Bible (CEB)
The people’s suffering
4 Oh, no!
Gold is tarnished; even the purest gold is changed.
Sacred jewels are scattered on every street corner.
2 Zion’s precious children, once valued as pure gold—
oh no!—now they are worth no more than clay pots made by a potter.
3 Even jackals offer the breast; they nurse their young.
But the daughter of my people has become cruel, like desert ostriches.
4 The baby’s tongue sticks to the roof of its mouth, thirsty.
Children ask for bread, beg for it—but there is no bread.
5 Those who once ate gourmet food now tremble in the streets.
Those who wore the finest purple clothes now cling to piles of garbage.
6 Greater was the punishment of the daughter of my people than Sodom’s penalty,
which was quickly overthrown without any hand-wringing.
7 Her nazirites were purer than snow; they were more dazzling than milk.
Their limbs were redder than coral; their bodies were sapphire.
8 But their appearance grew darker than soot; they weren’t recognized in the streets.
Their skin shriveled on their bones; it became dry like wood.
9 Things were better for those stabbed by the sword than for those stabbed by famine—
those who bled away, pierced, lacking food from the field.
10 The hands of loving women boiled their own children
to become their food during the destruction of the daughter of my people.
11 The Lord let loose his fury; he poured out his fierce anger.
He started a fire in Zion; it licked up its foundations.
12 The earth’s rulers didn’t believe it—neither did any who inhabit the world—
that either enemy or adversary could enter Jerusalem’s gates.
13 It was because of her prophets’ sins, her priests’ iniquities,
those who shed righteous blood in the middle of the city.
14 People wandered blindly in the streets, polluted with blood.
No one would even touch their clothing.
15 “Go away! Unclean!” was shouted at them, “Go away! Away! Don’t touch!”
So they fled and wandered around. The nations said, “They can’t stay here anymore.”
16 It was the Lord’s presence that scattered them; he no longer notices them.
They didn’t honor the priests’ presence; they didn’t favor the elders.
17 Our eyes continually failed, looking for some help, but for nothing.
From our watchtower we watched for a nation that doesn’t save.
18 Our steps were tracked; we could no longer walk in our streets.
Our end had drawn near; our days were done—our end had definitely come.
19 Our hunters were faster than airborne eagles.
They chased us up the mountains; they ambushed us in the wilderness.
20 The Lord’s chosen one, the very breath in our lungs, was caught in their traps—
the one we used to talk about, saying, “Under his protection we will live among the nations.”
21 Rejoice and be happy, Daughter Edom, you who live in the land of Uz.
But this cup will pass over to you too. You will get drunk on it. You will be stripped naked.
22 Your punishment is over, Daughter Zion; God won’t expose you anymore.
But he will attend to your punishment, Daughter Edom; he will expose your sins.
Lamentations 4 New International Version (NIV)
4 How the gold has lost its luster,
the fine gold become dull!
The sacred gems are scattered
at every street corner.
2 How the precious children of Zion,
once worth their weight in gold,
are now considered as pots of clay,
the work of a potter’s hands!
3 Even jackals offer their breasts
to nurse their young,
but my people have become heartless
like ostriches in the desert.
4 Because of thirst the infant’s tongue
sticks to the roof of its mouth;
the children beg for bread,
but no one gives it to them.
5 Those who once ate delicacies
are destitute in the streets.
Those brought up in royal purple
now lie on ash heaps.
6 The punishment of my people
is greater than that of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment
without a hand turned to help her.
7 Their princes were brighter than snow
and whiter than milk,
their bodies more ruddy than rubies,
their appearance like lapis lazuli.
8 But now they are blacker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it has become as dry as a stick.
9 Those killed by the sword are better off
than those who die of famine;
racked with hunger, they waste away
for lack of food from the field.
10 With their own hands compassionate women
have cooked their own children,
who became their food
when my people were destroyed.
11 The Lord has given full vent to his wrath;
he has poured out his fierce anger.
He kindled a fire in Zion
that consumed her foundations.
12 The kings of the earth did not believe,
nor did any of the peoples of the world,
that enemies and foes could enter
the gates of Jerusalem.
13 But it happened because of the sins of her prophets
and the iniquities of her priests,
who shed within her
the blood of the righteous.
14 Now they grope through the streets
as if they were blind.
They are so defiled with blood
that no one dares to touch their garments.
15 “Go away! You are unclean!” people cry to them.
“Away! Away! Don’t touch us!”
When they flee and wander about,
people among the nations say,
“They can stay here no longer.”
16 The Lord himself has scattered them;
he no longer watches over them.
The priests are shown no honor,
the elders no favor.
17 Moreover, our eyes failed,
looking in vain for help;
from our towers we watched
for a nation that could not save us.
18 People stalked us at every step,
so we could not walk in our streets.
Our end was near, our days were numbered,
for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter
than eagles in the sky;
they chased us over the mountains
and lay in wait for us in the desert.
20 The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath,
was caught in their traps.
We thought that under his shadow
we would live among the nations.
21 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,
you who live in the land of Uz.
But to you also the cup will be passed;
you will be drunk and stripped naked.
22 Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion;
he will not prolong your exile.
But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom,
and expose your wickedness.
New International Version (NIV)
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