The Prophet Speaks:
1 א (Alef) 1
Alas!2 Gold has lost its luster;3
2 ב (Bet)
The precious sons of Zion
were worth their weight in gold –
Alas! – but now they are treated like7 broken clay pots,
3 ג (Gimel)
Even the jackals9 nurse their young but my people11 are cruel, like ostriches12 in the desert.
4 ד (Dalet)
The infant’s tongue sticks
to the roof of its mouth due to thirst;
little children beg for bread,13 but no one gives them even a morsel.14
5 ה (He)
Those who once feasted on delicacies15 are now starving to death16 in the streets. Those who grew up17 wearing expensive clothes18 are now dying19 amid garbage.20
6 ו (Vav)
The punishment21 of my people22 exceeded that of23 of Sodom,
which was overthrown in a moment
with no one to help her.24
7 ז (Zayin)
Her consecrated ones25 were brighter than snow,
whiter than milk;
their bodies more ruddy than corals,
their hair26 like lapis lazuli.27
8 ח (Khet)
Now their appearance28 is darker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it is dried up, like tree bark.
9 ט (Tet)
Those who died by the sword29 are better off than those who die of hunger,30 those who31 waste away,32 struck down33 from lack of34 food.35
10 י (Yod)
The hands of tenderhearted women36
cooked their own children,
when my people38 were destroyed.39
11 כ (Kaf)
The Lord fully vented40 his wrath; he poured out his fierce anger.41
He started a fire in Zion;
it consumed her foundations.42
12 ל (Lamed)
Neither the kings of the earth
nor the people of the lands43 ever thought44
that enemy or foe would enter
the gates45 of Jerusalem.46
13 מ (Mem)
But it happened47 due to the sins of her prophets48
and the iniquities of her priests,
who poured out in her midst
the blood of the righteous.
14 נ (Nun)
They49 wander blindly50 through the streets, defiled by the blood they shed,51
to touch their garments.
15 ס (Samek)
People cry to them, “Turn away! You are unclean!
Turn away! Turn away! Don’t touch us!”
So they have fled and wander about;
but the nations say,53 “They may not stay here any longer.”
16 פ (Pe)
The Lord himself54 has scattered them;
he no longer watches over them.
They did not honor the priests;55 they did not show favor to the elders.56
The People of Jerusalem Lament:
17 ע (Ayin)
Our eyes continually failed us
as we looked in vain for help.57
From our watchtowers we watched
for a nation that could not rescue us.
18 צ (Tsade)
Our enemies58 hunted us down at every step59
so that we could not walk about in our streets.
Our end drew near, our days were numbered,60
for our end had come!
19 ק (Qof)
Those who pursued us were swifter
than eagles61 in the sky.62
They chased us over the mountains;
they ambushed us in the wilderness.
20 ר (Resh)
Our very life breath – the Lord’s anointed king63 – was caught in their traps,64 “Under his protection66 we will survive among the nations.”
The Prophet Speaks:
21 ש (Sin/Shin)
Rejoice and be glad for now,67 O people of Edom,68
who reside in the land of Uz.
But the cup of judgment69 will pass70 to you also;
you will get drunk and take off your clothes.
22 ת (Tav)
O people of Zion,71 your punishment72 will come to an end;73 he will not prolong your exile.74 But, O people of Edom,75 he will punish76 your sin77 and reveal78 your offenses!