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The Deserted City


How lonely sits the city

that once was full of people!

How like a widow she has become,

she that was great among the nations!

She that was a princess among the provinces

has become a vassal.



She weeps bitterly in the night,

with tears on her cheeks;

among all her lovers

she has no one to comfort her;

all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,

they have become her enemies.



Judah has gone into exile with suffering

and hard servitude;

she lives now among the nations,

and finds no resting place;

her pursuers have all overtaken her

in the midst of her distress.



The roads to Zion mourn,

for no one comes to the festivals;

all her gates are desolate,

her priests groan;

her young girls grieve,

and her lot is bitter.



Her foes have become the masters,

her enemies prosper,

because the L ord has made her suffer

for the multitude of her transgressions;

her children have gone away,

captives before the foe.



From daughter Zion has departed

all her majesty.

Her princes have become like stags

that find no pasture;

they fled without strength

before the pursuer.



Jerusalem remembers,

in the days of her affliction and wandering,

all the precious things

that were hers in days of old.

When her people fell into the hand of the foe,

and there was no one to help her,

the foe looked on mocking

over her downfall.



Jerusalem sinned grievously,

so she has become a mockery;

all who honored her despise her,

for they have seen her nakedness;

she herself groans,

and turns her face away.



Her uncleanness was in her skirts;

she took no thought of her future;

her downfall was appalling,

with none to comfort her.

“O L ord, look at my affliction,

for the enemy has triumphed!”



Enemies have stretched out their hands

over all her precious things;

she has even seen the nations

invade her sanctuary,

those whom you forbade

to enter your congregation.



All her people groan

as they search for bread;

they trade their treasures for food

to revive their strength.

Look, O L ord, and see

how worthless I have become.



Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

Look and see

if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,

which was brought upon me,

which the L ord inflicted

on the day of his fierce anger.



From on high he sent fire;

it went deep into my bones;

he spread a net for my feet;

he turned me back;

he has left me stunned,

faint all day long.



My transgressions were bound into a yoke;

by his hand they were fastened together;

they weigh on my neck,

sapping my strength;

the Lord handed me over

to those whom I cannot withstand.



The L ord has rejected

all my warriors in the midst of me;

he proclaimed a time against me

to crush my young men;

the Lord has trodden as in a wine press

the virgin daughter Judah.



For these things I weep;

my eyes flow with tears;

for a comforter is far from me,

one to revive my courage;

my children are desolate,

for the enemy has prevailed.



Zion stretches out her hands,

but there is no one to comfort her;

the L ord has commanded against Jacob

that his neighbors should become his foes;

Jerusalem has become

a filthy thing among them.



The L ord is in the right,

for I have rebelled against his word;

but hear, all you peoples,

and behold my suffering;

my young women and young men

have gone into captivity.



I called to my lovers

but they deceived me;

my priests and elders

perished in the city

while seeking food

to revive their strength.



See, O L ord, how distressed I am;

my stomach churns,

my heart is wrung within me,

because I have been very rebellious.

In the street the sword bereaves;

in the house it is like death.



They heard how I was groaning,

with no one to comfort me.

All my enemies heard of my trouble;

they are glad that you have done it.

Bring on the day you have announced,

and let them be as I am.



Let all their evil doing come before you;

and deal with them

as you have dealt with me

because of all my transgressions;

for my groans are many

and my heart is faint.


He describes at large the calamities of Jerusalem. But it is no wonder that the Prophet, thus lengthened his discourse; for we know that those who are heavily oppressed never satisfy themselves with mourning and lamentations. If, indeed, we duly consider how great the evils were, the Prophet will not appear to us wordy, nor will his prolixity be wearisome to us. For when any one compares the flourishing state of Jerusalem with that desolate ruin which the Prophet laments, it will surely appear to him that no words, however many, can fully express what it really was; nay, though the expressions may seem hyperbolical, yet they do not exceed the greatness of that calamity. This point is briefly adverted to, lest any one should be wearied with those various modes of expression which the Prophet employs, when yet he might have at once said that Jerusalem was destroyed.

He says, For this will I weep. He throughout sustains the person of a woman; for Jerusalem herself speaks, and not Jeremiah. I, she says, for this will weep; mine eye mine eye! it shall descend into waters. Others read, “Waters will descend from mine eyes;” but such a rendering is too loose. I do not, then, doubt but that Jerusalem says that her eyes would be like fountains of waters. She indeed speaks in the singular number, and repeats the words, mine eye! mine eye! it shall descend, or flow as waters, that is, as though they were two fountains, because alienated from me, or far from me, is a comforter, to revive my soul 142142     Though the Sept. and Vulg. do not repeat the “eye,” yet the Targ. has “my two eyes,” and the Syr., “mine eyes.” The repetition is in most copies, and it is very emphatical. See a similar instance in Jeremiah 4:9.

   16. For these things I weep: mine eye! mine eye! it brings down water; For far from me is a comforter, a restorer of my life;
Become desolate are my sons, for the enemy has prevailed.

    — Ed
By these words she intimates that she was fainting, and as it were dying and that there was no one present to administer comfort, so that her soul might be revived. As it appeared before, that it is deemed an extreme evil when there is no friend to do the duty of humanity by alleviating sorrow; so now again Jerusalem repeats the same complaint, and says that all her sons were destroyed, because the enemy had prevailed. It follows, —

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