Ekhah 4

1 How has the zahav lost its luster! How is the most fine gold changed! The avnei kodesh are poured out on every street corner.
2 The precious Bnei Tziyon, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the yotzer (potter)!
3 Even the jackals offer the breast; they nurse their young ones; the Bat Ami is become heartless, like the ostriches in the midbar.
4 The leshon of the nursing infant cleaveth to the roof of his mouth for thirst; the olalim beg for lechem, and no man giveth it unto them.
5 They that did feed delicately are destitute in the chutzot; they that were brought up in purple lie on dunghills.
6 For the punishment of the iniquity of the Bat Ami is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom, that was overthrown as in a moment, and no hands helped her.
7 Her nobles were purer than snow; they were whiter than cholov, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their appearance was of sapphire;
8 Their visage is blacker than soot; they are not known in the streets; their skin cleaveth to their atzmot; it is dried up, it is become like a stick.
9 They that are slain with the cherev are better than they that are slain with hunger; for these pine away, being pierced for want of the increase of the sadeh.
10 The hands of the pitiful nashim have cooked their own yeladim; they were their meat in the destruction of the Bat Ami.
11 Hashem hath accomplished His fury; He hath poured out His charon af, and hath kindled an eish in Tziyon, and it hath devoured the yesodot thereof.
12 The malkhei eretz, and all the inhabitants of the tevel (world), would not have believed that the adversary and the oyev should have entered into the sha’arei Yerushalayim.
13 For the sins of her Nevi’im, and the iniquities of her Kohanim, that have shed the dahm of the Tzaddikim in the midst of her,
14 They have groped about like ivrim (blind men) in the streets; they have defiled themselves with dahm, so that men dare not touch their garments.
15 They cried unto them, Go away; tamei (unclean)! Depart, depart, touch not; so they fled away and wandered. They said among the Goyim, They shall no more sojourn there.
16 The anger of Hashem hath scattered them; He will no more regard them; they respected not the persons of the Kohanim; they showed no favor to the Zekenim.
17 As for us, our eyes failed looking in vain for ezratenu (our help); from our towers we have watched for a nation that could not save us.
18 They stalk our steps, that we cannot go in our streets; kitzeinu (our end) is near, our yamim are numbered; for kitzeinu is come.
19 Our pursuers are swifter than the eagles of Shomayim; they pursued us upon the mountains, they laid wait for us in the midbar.
20 The Moshiach of Hashem, who was our very life, was taken in their traps, of whom we said, Under his shadow [of protection] we shall live among the Goyim.
21 Rejoice and be glad, O Bat Edom, that dwellest in Eretz Uz; the kos (cup) also shall pass unto thee; thou shalt be drunk, and shalt be stripped naked.
22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O Bat Tziyon; He will no more prolong your Golus; He will visit thine iniquity, O Bat Edom; He will expose thy sins.

Ekhah 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

The deplorable state of the nation is contrasted with its ancient prosperity.

Verses 1-12 What a change is here! Sin tarnishes the beauty of the most exalted powers and the most excellent gifts; but that gold, tried in the fire, which Christ bestows, never will be taken from us; its outward appearance may be dimmed, but its real value can never be changed. The horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem are again described. Beholding the sad consequences of sin in the church of old, let us seriously consider to what the same causes may justly bring down the church now. But, Lord, though we have gone from thee in rebellion, yet turn to us, and turn our hearts to thee, that we may fear thy name. Come to us, bless us with awakening, converting, renewing, confirming grace.

Verses 13-20 Nothing ripens a people more for ruin, nor fills the measure faster, than the sins of priests and prophets. The king himself cannot escape, for Divine vengeance pursues him. Our anointed King alone is the life of our souls; we may safely live under his shadow, and rejoice in Him in the midst of our enemies, for He is the true God and eternal life.

Verses 21-22 Here it is foretold that an end should be put to Zion's troubles. Not the fulness of punishment deserved, but of what God has determined to inflict. An end shall be put to Edom's triumphs. All the troubles of the church and of the believer will soon be accomplished. And the doom of their enemies approaches. The Lord will bring their sins to light, and they shall lie down in eternal sorrow. Edom here represents all the enemies of the church. And the corruption, and sin of Israel, which the prophet has proved to be universal, justifies the judgments of the Lord. It shows the need of that grace in Christ Jesus, which the sin and corruption of all mankind make so necessary.

Chapter Summary


The prophet begins this chapter with a complaint of the ill usage of the dear children of God, and precious sons of Zion, La 4:1,2; relates the dreadful effects of the famine during the siege of Jerusalem, La 4:3-10; the taking and destruction of that city he imputes to the wrath of God; and represents it as incredible to the kings and inhabitants of the earth, La 4:11,12; the causes of which were the sins of the prophets, priests, and people, La 4:13-16; expresses the vain hopes they once had, but now were given up entirely, their king being taken, La 4:17-20; and the chapter is concluded with a prophecy of the destruction of the Edomites, and of the return of the Jews from captivity, La 4:21,22.

Ekhah 4 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.