"So the Lord carried out the threat he had made against us and against our judges, our kings, our rulers, and the people of Israel and Judah.
Nowhere else on earth have such things happened as happened in Jerusalem when the Lord carried out the threats written in the Law of Moses.
Things were so bad that we even ate the flesh of our own sons and daughters.
The Lord scattered our people, handing us over to the control of all the nations around us, and they looked on us with reproach and horror.
We sinned against the Lord our God and refused to obey him. Therefore, our nation was conquered, instead of being victorious.
"The Lord our God is always righteous, but we and our ancestors are still burdened with our guilt.
Even though the Lord punished us as he had threatened,
we still did not turn to him and pray that we would abandon our evil thoughts.
We did not obey him or live by his just commands, so the Lord brought on us all the punishments he had kept ready for us.
"You, O Lord, are the God of Israel who brought your people out of Egypt with great power and with signs, miracles, and wonders. You showed your mighty strength and gained a glorious reputation, which is still recognized today.
O Lord our God, we have sinned; we have been unfaithful; we have disobeyed all your commands.
But do not be angry with us any longer. Here among the nations where you have scattered us, only a few of us are left.
Listen to our prayer of petition, Lord, and rescue us for the sake of your own honor. Let those who have taken us into exile be pleased with us.
Then the whole world will know that you are the Lord our God and that you have chosen the nation of Israel to be your own people.
"O Lord, look down from heaven and see our misery. Listen to our prayer.
Open your eyes and look upon us. Those in the world of the dead with no breath left in their bodies cannot offer praises to you or proclaim how just you are.
Only the living, O Lord, can offer you praise and acknowledge your justice, even though they may be suffering greatly, bent and weak, hungry and with failing eyesight.
"O Lord our God, we pray to you for mercy, but not because of any good things done by our ancestors and our kings.
You turned your anger and wrath against us, just as you had threatened to do when your servants the prophets spoke your word to us and said,
"Bend your backs and serve the king of Babylonia, and you can remain in the land that I gave to your ancestors. 1
But if you refuse to obey my command to serve him,
I will bring to an end every sound of joy and celebration in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem. Even the happy sounds of wedding feasts will no longer be heard. The whole land will be desolate and uninhabited.'
"But we did not obey your command to serve the king of Babylonia, so you carried out the threat that you had made when you spoke through your servants the prophets, when you said that the bones of our kings and of our ancestors would be taken from their tombs and scattered. 2
And now here they lie exposed to the heat of the day and to the frost of the night. They died in torment from famine, war, and disease.
And because of the sin of the people of Israel and Judah, you have reduced your own Temple to ruins, even as it is today.
"But, Lord, you have been patient with us and have shown us great mercy,
as you promised through your servant Moses on the day you commanded him to write your Law in the presence of the Israelites. 3
"If you do not obey me,' you said, "you will be reduced to a handful among the nations where I will scatter you.
I know that you will not obey me, because you are a stubborn people. But when you are taken into exile in another land, you will come to your senses.
Then you will realize that I am the Lord your God, and I will give you a desire to know and a mind with which to understand.
There in the land of your exile you will praise me and remember me.
You will stop being so stubborn and wicked, for you will remember what happened to your ancestors when they sinned against the Lord.
Then I will bring you back to the land that I solemnly promised to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it will be yours again. I will increase your population, and you will never again be reduced to a small number.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you; I will be your God and you will be my people. I will never again remove you, the people of Israel, from the land that I gave you.' 4