Lamentations Translation
by Matthew A. LaPine (2018)

Chapter 1
Alas, she sits alone, she a city, once great with people,
She a great woman among the goyim
She a princess among the provinces, she, reduced to the yoke

Bitterly, she weeps the night through, her tears run along her jaw
She has no solace from all her lovers
From all her friends she reaps betrayal, they’ve become to her, enemies.

Carried to exile and crushed with affliction,
Judah, she likewise sits among the nations
She has found no rest, all her pursuers overrun her in the narrows

Dismal mourning steeps the steps to Zion
For no steps track to the place of meeting
All her gates are desolate, her priests groan
Her virgins forced, she wasted with gall

Enemies at ease have brought her low
For YHWH smites her for her defiance
Her children walked lightly the path to captivity
Before the faces of careful foes

From the daughter of Zion, all glory is gone out
Her princes are does, driven out of pasture
Her princes went feebly to nowhere
Before the faces of vigorous pursuit

Ghosts of reminiscences, Jerusalem—destitute and displaced
She, summons these precious tokens of days of old
When her people fell into the the enemy’s grip—no hand to stay
Her enemy standing, sneering at her fall

Her own grievous sin makes Jerusalem defiled
Those who adored now abhor; the lovers loathe
For they have seen her nude, stripped, exposed
And she sobbing shrinks away

In crimson streaks her uncleanness drips from hem
From not considering the issue of guilt
Her drop shocks away all comforters, no one for her
“Look YHWH! On my condition—my enemies rise”

Jerusalem’s treasures snatched by the palms of her foes
She suffered horror as the goyim penetrated her sacred place
Those whom you had commanded
That they should not enter your place of meeting

Keenly searching for crumbs of bread, all her people sob
They have betrayed their treasures in lieu of life, of food
“Look YHWH! Perceive what I have become!
Squandered, despised, worthless, spent.

Look! You who pass on the road! Perceive!
Is it nothing to you, you who lightly pass me by?
Could there be any pain like mine, which has afflicted me
—with which YHWH has afflicted me in his wrath?

My bones burn with the heavenly fire he sent
He set a snare too for my feet and turned me back on it
He left me appallingly desolate all the day
All the day he left me faint, wan, ill

Noose-like, my sins wrapp’d ‘round my neck
Trussed and cinched by his own hand, fixed
I staggered, my strength ragged, in tatters
And my Lord handed me to those I can’t repel

Our warriors my Lord heaped up—in our midst
He called an assembly against us to shatter our young men
My Lord has stomped the grapes
The virgin daughter of Judah bleeds red

Pitifully I weep; grim images fill my eyes
My eyes flow with torrential tears
For far away is anyone to comfort, to revive my soul
My sons are abandoned, decaying, where my enemy prevailed

Ruined Zion opens her arms, but with no one to embrace
YHWH has issued a verdict against Jacob
Converting near neighbors into fierce enemies
Beloved lady Jerusalem has become filthy, grotesque to them

Surely God is right—can I believe it?
For I rebelled against his commands—how I feel it!
But please! Listen! All people! Look on my woe!
My daughters and sons have walked away into captivity

Tenderly I had called for my lovers
And they deceived me—they, delusions of dreams
My holy priests and honored elders perished within the city
Having scoured for food, for life—delusion of a dream

Upon my distress, please Lord look
My heart turns; my belly boils—how defiant was I!
Outside the sword maims, claims, bereaves
Inside the house is silent expectation of death

Why is there no one to comfort me? When they have heard my groan!
My enemies have heard of my woe, and rejoice
Bring on them the day you promised
That they may be like me.

Yea, bring all their wickedness before you, publish it!
Run your scythe through them as you have with me
You have done it, because of my rebellion
My groans are unceasing; my heart is crushed

Chapter 2
Alas, the Lord has blackened and marred her in his wrath
The Lord has flung down the daughter of Zion
Israel’s beauty is toppled from the heavens to the mire
In his anger he did not remember his footstool, his temple

Bitten, gnawed and swallowed up were all the dwellings of Jacob
With no mercy the Lord has done this
He has smashed the strongholds of the daughter of Judah
He has trampled to the ground the kingdom and its rulers—to disgrace

Chopped, cleft, cut off is every horn of strength
In fierce and fiery anger the Lord has done this
His protecting right hand is withdrawn before the hordes
As a flame, a fire, he has burned, consuming everywhere

Drawn is his bow, as an assailant
Stationed as a foe is his strong hand
He has slain his beloved, she beautiful in his eyes
In the tent of the daughter of Zion
The flame of his fiery wrath was burned

Even the Lord has become an enemy
He consumed Israel, consumed its palaces
He has devastated its fortresses
He has buried the daughter of Judah in mourning

For he has destroyed his “booth”—his holy temple, his place
YHWH has seared from memory forgotten festivals and sabbaths
He has scratched out his places, his times, his people
In the umbrage of his anger, he has disdained king or priest

Given into the hands of the enemy
The Lord has forsaken his altar—abhorred his sanctuary
And they give shouts of celebration, absurdly
In YHWH’s house, as in the day of festival

He decided to shred the breastworks of daughter Zion
YHWH set a line to survey their ruin, planned their fall
He did not withdraw his fist from seizing it, ripping it
He caused rampart and wall to howl with crashing languish

Into the dead earth, her gates have sunk
He busted and broke to bits her bars
Her king and chiefs are adrift among the nations
There is no Torah.
Her blind prophets see no visions from YHWH.

Judicious elders, struck dumb, sit down in the dust
Daughter Zion’s wise heap it on their heads
Carelessly, thoughtlessly, emptily, in rags
Virgin daughters abase their faces to that dust

Knotted and knifed my bowels erupt
The bile of my bitterness spews dusty lines of grief
My eyes have spent their tears
On account of my broken daughter, my broken people
And Feeble children fainting in city streets

Loudly bawling for vacant mothers
Where is food? Where is drink?
Like their wounded fathers, they faint in city streets
And breathe out their souls on mothers’ dry breasts

Metaphors fail for you, daughter Jerusalem
What does your suffering mean? What can I say?
What could bring comfort do you, virgin Daughter?
Who can heal wounds deeper than the sea?

Nugatory and sham visions the prophets imagined
Not exposing your vice, restoring your fortunes
For you they saw, false fortunes, comforting chimeras

Onlookers mock you with jeering gestures, passing by
Leering heads hiss vicious cuts at Jerusalem, Daughter
Did we call this place Beauty realized? Joy of our land?

Pompous enemies spread yawning jowls jeering
Hissing, whistling, gnashing, baring yellowed ivory
Their cry, “we have swallowed her!”
“For this day we hoped, it came, we taste!”

Resolutely YHWH has done what he purposed
His words, fulfilled, have knifed, threats from long ago
He has no pity on us; the enemy has joy over us
He has exalted the might of those who kill us

Squall and shout from your hearts to YHWH
You broken defenders of daughter Zion
Let your tears run the channels of the river
Day and night, do not stop their flow
Neither allow your eyes relief

Take your place on broken ramparts to sing your grief
During early hours, when watchmen would worry
Pour out your heart like water before the Lord
Lift up your hands to him…over children starving, dying
On every street

Under the gaze of YHWH, these children die, Look! See!
Who have you ever treated this way?
Should women eat their own fruit? The children they love?
Should someone be slain in God’s sanctuary? Priest? Prophet?

Wasted in the dust of the earth
Are the corpses of our men, boys and aged
Virgins and suitors equally emptied, expired by the sword
You slaughtered them in the day of your anger
You butchered them without pity

You summoned as if to a celebration my terrors on every side
Not on this day, the day of YHWH’s anger
No one escaped, no one survived
Children I held in my arms, and raised in hope
My enemy has destroyed

Chapter 3
Affliction alone I have experienced under the rod of his wrath
A vagrant, I amble aimlessly to captivity, driven desperately in the dark
Attacking me alone, he turns and returns his fist relentlessly

Bones broken, my skin and flesh he scrapes, worn like a garment
Built battlements enveloping me with bitterness and woe
Beleaguered by darkness and despair I sit as one long dead

Callously he has clamped and cramped me with walls, shackles I can’t escape
Calling, crying for help, my prayers are also caged
Cut paths made crooked and obstructed, choked with stones

Devouring creatures lurk, stealthy bear and stalking lion; they are YHWH, who
Dismembered me where I fled, and left me a carcass, desolate
Deftly toying with me, his target, as a bowman aims for sport

Every piercing arrow from the bow of God has entered my entrails, my heart
Each onlooker with wrinkled eyes of mirth, with ecstatic giggling taunts
Eating, I am filled with bitter nothing, drinking, I am sated with acid thirst

Frequently grinding gravel, ivory gnawing, I cower covered in dust
Forgetting Shalom, in which my soul once rested, now bereft, forgetting goodness
Falteringly stuttering, “My endurance—his splendor, my hope—from YHWH, have failed”

“God, remember, my homelessness, my bitter acid, my poison”
Grievously, I remember. My soul remembers and fails
Grasping for words, I recall this, and I hope

His covenant love is not spent; his mercies do not end
He renews them each morning; YHWH’s faithfulness is great
Hope raises its eyes to him; he is my soul’s possession

Indeed, YHWH is good to those who hope, to the soul that seeks him
It is good to wait, silently, for the salvation of YHWH
It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth

Juvenile, injudicious, he must sit alone, sit silently, when yoke is put on him
Jaw set, genuflect, lip kissing dust, on chance of hope
Jutting jaw now turned to receive patiently, reproaching blows

Knowing, the Lord does not cast off forever
Knowing, though suing suffering, he will pity from his great love
Knowing, he does afflict, but not from his heart, nor grieves the children of men

Languishing slaves, pressed to the earth to work it, he will not crush underfoot
Laid bare and vulnerable, they have rights before the face of the Most High
Legally oppressed, their claim is not unseen; defraud not sanctioned by the Lord

Men’s mouths assert their power to will; all fail but the
Mouth of the Lord, when it speaks, so it is, both good and bad
May mere men moan, when weak sons of Adam suffer for their sins?

No, we must examine our ways, test them, and from this dust
Now raise our hearts and hands to the God of the heavens
Nevertheless, we have transgressed and rebelled, and you have not forgiven

Obscured, you dressed yourself in anger, pursued us to butcher us without pity
Obscured, you covered yourself with a cloud, choking our prayers from the sky
Offscouring and feces you’ve made us under the shoes of the nations

Prating tongues through parted lips pour down proud exaltation from enemy overseers
Panic and pitfall engulf us, plunging us into fracture and forlorn
Plowing tears furrow my cheeks, springing desert wadis for my shattered daughter people

Relentlessly, torrentially, the tears flow, a deep spring unceasing and unbreaking
Raining, wetting the dust until YHWH stoops to see from the heavens
Reminding my soul how deep is this well of grief for the daughters of my city

Stalked like prey, I have been, hunted, without provocation
Scrapped and stuffed solitary into a pit, penned, trapped, then stoned
Swelling, surging waves of destruction came over me; I studied death

Then I cried up, “YHWH!” from the lowest depth of this pit, this grave
This cry, you heard. “Do not close your ears to relieving my plight!”
Then you came near when I called, you said, “Do not be afraid”

Unfaltering, the Lord has taken up my cause, redeeming my life from the pit
Undertaking to notice the unrelenting oppression, my exploitation; he judges my case
Unseen became seen, all their vengefulness, their cleverly devised atrocity

When they taunted, you indeed heard it, YHWH; when they plotted, you saw
While I unaware, their lips spoke daily treason against me, their minds devised domination over me
Witness their sitting and rising, the habits of evil; I am the one they mock!

YHWH, you will return the investment of cruelty to the measure their hands have earned
You will give them a tortured, anguished heart, may your curse engulf them
You will pursue them in anger, and erase them from under your heavens

Chapter 4
Aurum is dulled; bereft is glittering gold; its purity is paled
Abandoned jewels lie scattered in the crossings of the streets

Boys, the sons of Zion, its true treasure of gold
Are like scattered shards, littered broken pottery, fashioned then destroyed

Crazed and cruel we have become, like Ostriches choosing children to live
Even jackals offer their teats to nurse their young, but not our daughters

Dry tongues stick to dry palates of dehydrated suckling innocents
Shy children solicit bread from shamefaced agèd who avert their eyes

Easy connoisseurs, fattened by delicacies, dwindle to dust in the streets
Darlings adorned with dyes now dying amidst the refuse

Far greater than the punishment of Sodom, is this iniquity done to my people
Whose overthrow was but a moment, without the contorted hands of panic

Grand devotees dazzled like snow, Nazarites purer than milk
Their bodies salmon like coral pearls, their hair cobalt like lapis lazuli

Humiliated, they now vaunt black visage, sooty features grimace,
Not recognized in the streets, shriveled tree-bark skin shrouds bones

It is fortunate to have died, better to be violated by the sword than by hunger
Wasting slowly, pierced by pangs of the fruitless wasted fields

Juicy morsels of children have grimed the compassionate fingers of loving mothers
They, delicate fare for my cracked daughter people

Kettle whistling, the boiling wrath of God was fit, fiercely to pour;
He scorched Zion melting its foundations

Long unimaginable, neither the kings of the land, nor the inhabitants of the world
Could brave belief of an enemy entering the gates of Jerusalem

My eyes have seen it, by the sins of her prophets, by the iniquity of her priests;
They poured out an offering in the midst of the people, the blood of the righteous

Noxious, unclean, the blind men wander madly in the streets
Defiled by the blood they poured, so no one risks touching their garments

Outraged, they cry, “Turn aside! Unclean! Turn aside! Do not touch us!”
The roaches scatter incoherently; “they cannot stay,” it is said among the tribes

Personally, YHWH has shattered and scattered them away from his protective watch
The priests are not esteemed, the elders not revered

Ragged, weary eyes failed, vainly peering for unpromised help
From exposed towers we watched for a nation that would not save us

Steps marked by enemy hunters, poachers sighted us in deserted streets
Our lives had been spent, their days counted to the bitter end

Those who stalked us swooped deadly swift like the eagles of the heavens
Relentlessly pursuing us onto the mountains only to ambush us in the wilderness

Unexpectedly, our breath of life, YHWH’s anointed king, was caught in their snare
Of whom we had said, “We live in his shadow, his shelter from the nations”

Well up in triumph! Rejoice! Daughters of Edom, who dwell in the land of Uz, for now!
You too will drink from this cup; you will be drunk and exposed

Your iniquity is full and finished, Daughter Zion, the exile will not always endure
But God will avenge your iniquity, daughter Edom; he will expose your sin

Chapter 5
Lord, remember what has happened to us; look at us; see our disgrace

Our possessions were given to strangers, our homes to squatters

We are fatherless, orphans, our mothers are widows

We pay for our water, and also our wood to heat and to eat

We are constantly exploited, we are weary with no rest

We’ve pledged to Egypt and Assyria, simply to eat our bread

Our fathers sinned and are dead, while we bear their iniquity

Slaves delight to rule us, we’ve no escape from their whip

We exchange our lives for our food, the sword sneaks in the wilderness

Our skins burn like fire, the fever of hunger

The women of Zion they raped, the virgins of the city of Judah

Princes they hung by their hands, respect they stripped from the elders

Young men rattle the millstone, boys stagger under their loads

Wise elders have abandoned the gates, young men quit their songs

Our hearts have abandoned their joy, our bodies that danced now mourn

The crown has crashed from our head, woe to us, sinners

In all these things, our hearts retch, in all these things our eyes swim

Mount Zion is desolate, foxes forage, scavenge its hill

You, YHWH, are enthroned forever, from generation to generation

Why do you forget us forever? Why have you forsaken us so long?

Bring us back to you, so we return, and renew the days of old

Unless you have utterly rejected us, and are settled in your anger