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,a
worth their weight in fine gold,
are now treated like pots of clay
made by a common potter.
3 Even the jackals feed their young,
but not my people Israel.
They ignore their children’s cries,
like ostriches in the desert.
4 The parched tongues of their little ones
stick to the roofs of their mouths in thirst.
The children cry for bread,
but no one has any to give them.
5 The people who once ate the richest foods
now beg in the streets for anything they can get.
Those who once wore the finest clothes
now search the garbage dumps for food.
6 The guiltb of my people
is greater than that of Sodom,
where utter disaster struck in a moment
and no hand offered help.
7 Our princes once glowed with health—
brighter than snow, whiter than milk.
Their faces were as ruddy as rubies,
their appearance like fine jewels.c
8 But now their faces are blacker than soot.
No one recognizes them in the streets.
Their skin sticks to their bones;
it is as dry and hard as wood.
9 Those killed by the sword are better off
than those who die of hunger.
Starving, they waste away
for lack of food from the fields.
10 Tenderhearted women
have cooked their own children.
They have eaten them
to survive the siege.
11 But now the anger of the Lord is satisfied.
His fierce anger has been poured out.
He started a fire in Jerusalemd
that burned the city to its foundations.
12 Not a king in all the earth—
no one in all the world—
would have believed that an enemy
could march through the gates of Jerusalem.
13 Yet it happened because of the sins of her prophets
and the sins of her priests,
who defiled the city
by shedding innocent blood.
14 They wandered blindly
through the streets,
so defiled by blood
that no one dared touch them.
15 “Get away!” the people shouted at them.
“You’re defiled! Don’t touch us!”
So they fled to distant lands
and wandered among foreign nations,
but none would let them stay.
16 The Lord himself has scattered them,
and he no longer helps them.
People show no respect for the priests
and no longer honor the leaders.
17 We looked in vain for our allies
to come and save us,
but we were looking to nations
that could not help us.
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 eagles in flight.
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 thought that his shadow
would protect us 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 beautiful Jerusalem,e your punishment will end;
you will soon return from exile.
But Edom, your punishment is just beginning;
soon your many sins will be exposed.
a. 4:2 Hebrew precious sons of Zion.
b. 4:6 Or punishment.
c. 4:7 Hebrew like lapis lazuli.
d. 4:11 Hebrew in Zion.
e. 4:22 Hebrew O daughter of Zion.