Terrors of the Besieged City

א Alef

How the gold has become tarnished,

the fine gold become dull!

The stones of the temple[a] lie scattered

at the corner of every street.

ב Bet

Zion’s precious people—

once worth their weight in pure gold—

how they are regarded as clay jars,

the work of a potter’s hands!

ג Gimel

Even jackals offer their breasts

to nurse their young,

but my dear people have become cruel

like ostriches in the wilderness.

ד Dalet

The nursing infant’s tongue

clings to the roof of his mouth from thirst.

Little children beg for bread,

but no one gives them any.

ה He

Those who used to eat delicacies

are destitute in the streets;

those who were reared in purple garments

huddle in garbage heaps.

ו Vav

The punishment of my dear people

is greater than that of Sodom,

which was overthrown in an instant

without a hand laid on it.

ז Zayin

Her dignitaries were brighter than snow,

whiter than milk;

their bodies[b] were more ruddy than coral,

their appearance like sapphire.[c]

ח Khet

Now they appear darker than soot;

they are not recognized in the streets.

Their skin has shriveled on their bones;

it has become dry like wood.

ט Tet

Those slain by the sword are better off

than those slain by hunger,

who waste away, pierced with pain

because the fields lack produce.

י Yod

10 The hands of compassionate women

have cooked their own children;

they became their food

during the destruction of my dear people.

כ Kaf

11 The Lord has exhausted His wrath,

poured out His burning anger;

He has ignited a fire in Zion,

and it has consumed her foundations.

ל Lamed

12 The kings of the earth

and all the world’s inhabitants did not believe

that an enemy or adversary

could enter Jerusalem’s gates.

מ Mem

13 Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets

and the guilt of her priests,

who shed the blood of the righteous

within her.

נ Nun

14 Blind, they stumbled in the streets,

defiled by this blood,

so that no one dared

to touch their garments.

ס Samek

15 “Stay away! Unclean!” people shouted at them.

“Away, away! Don’t touch us!”

So they wandered aimlessly.

It was said among the nations,

“They can stay here no longer.”

פ Pe

16 The Lord Himself has scattered them;

He regards them no more.

The priests are not respected;

the elders find no favor.

ע Ayin

17 All the while our eyes were failing

as we looked in vain for assistance;

we watched from our towers

for a nation[d] that refused to help.

צ Tsade

18 Our steps were closely followed

so that we could not walk in our streets.

Our end drew near; our time ran out.

Our end had come!

ק Qof

19 Those who chased us were swifter

than eagles in the sky;

they relentlessly pursued us over the mountains

and ambushed us in the wilderness.

ר Resh

20 The Lord’s anointed,[e] the breath of our life,[f]

was captured in their traps.

We had said about him,

“We will live under his protection among the nations.”

שׂ Sin

21 So rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,

you resident of the land of Uz!

Yet the cup will pass to you as well;

you will get drunk and expose yourself.

ת Tav

22 Daughter Zion, your punishment is complete;

He will not lengthen your exile.[g]

But He will punish your iniquity, Daughter Edom,

and will expose your sins.


  1. Lamentations 4:1 Or The sacred gems
  2. Lamentations 4:7 Lit bones
  3. Lamentations 4:7 Or lapis lazuli
  4. Lamentations 4:17 Probably Egypt
  5. Lamentations 4:20 = King Zedekiah
  6. Lamentations 4:20 Lit nostrils
  7. Lamentations 4:22 Or not deport you again