1 How desolate sits the city of Jerusalem, once filled with people! She* To preserve some of the poetic effect, the female personification of the city of Jerusalem has been preserved in this translation. has become like a widow, she who was once great among the nations. The queen of all the world has become a slave-laborer.
2 She cries bitterly through the night, tears rolling down her cheeks. Despite all her many lovers, no one comes to comfort her. Betrayed by all her friends, they are now her enemies.
3 Judah has been dragged off into captivity, suffering miserably under brutal slavery; she lives among the nations but has no place of her own where she can rest. Those chasing her have brought her down and she cannot escape.
4 Even the roads to Zion are in mourning because no one travels on them to go to the religious festivals. All her gates are empty. Her priests groan in sadness. Her girls are suffering. She herself is in bitter distress.
5 Those who hated her now control her; her enemies enjoy life, because the Lord has made her suffer due to all her sins of rebellion. Her children have been taken away as prisoners of the enemy.
6 All the glory has left the Daughter of Zion. Her leaders are like deer that can't find any grass to eat. They don't even have the strength to run away when the hunter comes after them!
7 As she wanders around in her misery, Jerusalem thinks back to all the wonderful things she once had in the old days. When her enemies conquered her people, she didn't receive any help. Her enemies gloated over her, and laughed at her downfall.
8 Jerusalem sinned terribly which is why she is now treated as someone unclean. Everyone who used to honor her now despise her, because they've seen her naked and ashamed. She herself groans as she turns away.
9 Her uncleanness contaminates her skirts.† Referring to the uncleanness resulting from unfaithfulness (see Leviticus 18:20 for example). She didn't think about what would happen. Her fall was a shock, and no one was there to comfort her. “Please, Lord, see how much I'm suffering, because the enemy has won!” she says.‡ “She says”: added for clarity.
10 The invader has stolen all her treasures. She even had to watch as heathen nations went into her sanctuary, people you had forbidden to enter.
11 All her people groan, looking for bread. They have spent what they value the most to buy food so they can stay alive.
“Please, Lord, look and see what's happening to me,” she says. “It's as if I'm worthless!
12 Don't you care anything about it, all you people passing by? Take a look and see! Is there any suffering as bad as mine, punished by the Lord when he became angry?
13 He sent down fire from heaven that destroyed my bones. He spread out a net to catch my feet, tripping me over. He abandoned me, leaving me sick all day long.
14 He took my rebellious sins and twisted them together into a yoke that he tied to my neck. He took away all my strength, and handed me over defenseless to my enemies.
15 The Lord brushed aside all my strong soldiers defending me. He called up an army to attack me, to crush my young men. The Lord has trampled down the virgin Daughter of Judah like grapes in a winepress.
16 This is why I'm weeping, tears flowing from my eyes, because there's is no one here to comfort me, no one to make me feel better. There's nothing left for my children because the enemy has conquered us.”
17 Zion holds out her hands in distress, but there's no one to comfort her. The Lord issued orders against Jacob, and his neighbors became his enemies. Jerusalem is to them something disgusting.
18 “The Lord has done what's right, because I rebelled against his instructions. Listen, everyone everywhere; look at what I'm suffering. My young women and young men have been taken off into captivity.
19 I called out for help to my lovers, but they betrayed me. My priests and elders starved to death in the city as they tried to find food to keep themselves alive.
20 Can't you see, Lord, how upset I am? inside I am in turmoil; my heart is breaking because I've been so rebellious. Outside, the sword kills those I love; inside, it's like I'm living in the house of death.
21 People hear me groaning, but no one comes to comfort me. All my enemies have heard about the bad things that have happened to me, and they're delighted that it was you who did it. Please bring about the day of judgment that you promised so they can end up like me.
22 May you see all the evil things they've done! Treat them the same way as you've treated me as a result of all my rebellious sins, for I'm groaning all the time, and I'm sick at heart.”
*1:1 To preserve some of the poetic effect, the female personification of the city of Jerusalem has been preserved in this translation.
‡1:9 “She says”: added for clarity.