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CHAPTER 5

The Community’s Lament to the Lord

1Remember, LORD, what has happened to us,

pay attention, and see our disgrace:

2Our heritage is turned over to strangers,

our homes, to foreigners.a

3We have become orphans, without fathers;

our mothers are like widows.

4We pay money to drink our own water,

our own wood comes at a price.

5With a yoke on our necks, we are driven;

we are worn out, but allowed no rest.

6We extended a hand to Egypt and Assyria,

to satisfy our need of bread.*

7Our ancestors, who sinned, are no more;

but now we bear their guilt.

8Servants* rule over us,

with no one to tear us from their hands.

9We risk our lives just to get bread,

exposed to the desert heat;b

10Our skin heats up like an oven,

from the searing blasts of famine.c

11Women are raped in Zion,

young women in the cities of Judah;d

12Princes have been hanged by them,

elders shown no respect.e

13Young men carry millstones,

boys stagger under loads of wood;

14The elders have abandoned the gate,*

the young men their music.

15The joy of our hearts has ceased,

dancing has turned into mourning;f

16The crown has fallen from our head:

woe to us that we sinned!

17Because of this our hearts grow sick,

at this our eyes grow dim:

18Because of Mount Zion, lying desolate,

and the jackals roaming there!

19But you, LORD, are enthroned forever;

your throne stands from age to age.g

20* Why have you utterly forgotten us,

forsaken us for so long?h

21Bring us back to you, LORD, that we may return:

renew our days as of old.i

22For now you have indeed rejected us

and utterly turned your wrath against us.j

* [5:6] Extended a hand: that is, made an alliance. In its state of abjection, Judah was forced to depend on the major powers to the west and the east for subsistence.

* [5:8] Servants: the Hebrew word for “servant” is also the word used for an official of relatively high status (servant of the ruler; cf. 2 Kgs 25:24, where the term is used to refer to Babylonian rulers over occupied Jerusalem); the author doubtless intends the double meaning here.

* [5:14] The gate: a place of assembly, where city decisions were made and judgment given by the elders and other community leaders; see note on Ru 4:1.

* [5:2022] Unlike most of the laments found in the Book of Psalms, the Book of Lamentations never moves from lament to thanksgiving. It ends with this question still unanswered by God: “Why have you utterly forgotten us?”

a. [5:2] Ps 79:1.

b. [5:9] Lam 1:11.

c. [5:10] Lam 4:8.

d. [5:11] Zec 14:2.

e. [5:12] Lam 4:16.

f. [5:15] Jer 16:9; 25:10; Am 8:10.

g. [5:19] Ps 9:8; 45:7; 102:13, 27.

h. [5:20] Ps 13:2; 42:10; Is 49:14.

i. [5:21] Ps 80:1920.

j. [5:22] Jer 14:19.




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