The city of Jerusalem is so empty! It used to be full of people. But now it's like a woman whose husband has died. She used to be great among the nations. She was like a queen among the kingdoms. But now she is a slave.
Jerusalem sobs bitterly at night. Tears run down her cheeks. None of her friends comforts her. All those who were going to help her have turned against her. They have become her enemies.
After Judah's people had suffered greatly, they were taken away as prisoners. Now they live among the nations. They can't find any place to rest. All those who were chasing them have caught up with them. And they can't get away.
The roads to Zion are empty. No one travels to its appointed feasts. All of the public places near its gates are deserted. Its priests groan. Its young women are sad. And Zion itself sobs bitterly.
Its enemies have become its masters. They have an easy life. The LORD has brought suffering to Jerusalem because its people have committed so many sins. Its children have been taken away as prisoners. Their enemies have forced them to leave their homes.
The city of Zion used to be full of glory. But now its glory has faded away. Its princes are like deer. They can't find anything to eat. They are almost too weak to get away from those who hunt them down.
Jerusalem's people are suffering and wandering. They remember all of the treasures they used to have. But they fell into the hands of their enemies. And no one was there to help them. Their enemies looked at them. They laughed because Jerusalem had been destroyed.
Its people have committed many sins. They have become polluted. All those who honored Jerusalem now look down on it. They look at it as if it were a naked woman. The city groans and turns away in shame.
Her skirts are dirty. She didn't think about how things might turn out. Her fall from power amazed everyone. And no one was there to comfort her. She said, "Lord, please pay attention to how much I'm suffering. My enemies have won the battle over me."
Jerusalem's enemies took away all of its treasures. Its people saw strangers enter its temple. The LORD had commanded them not to do that.
All of Jerusalem's people groan as they search for bread. They trade their treasures for food just to stay alive. They say, "Lord, look at us. Think about our condition. Everyone looks down on us."
They also say, "All of you who are passing by, don't you care about what has happened to us? Just look at our condition. Has anyone suffered the way we have? The LORD has brought all of this on us. He has made us suffer. His anger has burned against us.
"He sent fire down from heaven. It went deep down into our very bones. He spread a net to catch us by the feet. He stopped us right where we were. He made our city empty. We are sick all the time.
"We must carry the heavy load of our sins. He tied it on us with his hands. Our sins are heavy on our necks. The Lord has taken away our strength. He has handed us over to our enemies. We can't win the battle over them.
"The Lord has refused to accept any of our soldiers. He has sent for an army to crush our young men. We are like grapes in the Lord's winepress. He has stomped on us, even though we are his very own people.
"That's why we are sobbing. Tears are flowing from our eyes. No one is near to comfort us. No one can heal our spirits. Our children don't have anything. Our enemies are much too strong for us."
Zion reaches out its hands. But no one is there to comfort its people. The LORD has ordered that the neighbors of Jacob's people would become their enemies. Jerusalem has become polluted among them.
Its people say, "The LORD always does what is right. But we refused to obey his commands. Listen, all of you nations. Pay attention to how much we're suffering. Our young women and young men have been taken away as prisoners.
"We called out to those who were going to help us. But they turned against us. Our priests and elders died in the city. They were searching for food just to stay alive.
"Lord, see how upset we are! We are suffering deep down inside. Our hearts are troubled. Again and again we have refused to obey you. Outside the city, people are being killed with swords. Inside, there is nothing but death.
"People have heard us groan. But no one is here to comfort us. Our enemies have heard about all of our troubles. What you have done makes them happy. So please judge them, just as you said you would. Let them become like us.
"Please pay attention to all of their sinful ways. Punish them as you have punished us. You judged us because we had committed so many sins. We groan all the time. And our hearts are weak."
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide.