Lamentations 2: an acrostic version

Lamentations 2, like other chapters, has the same number of stanzas, 22, as the Hebrew alphabet and is acrostic.

1

Alas![1] The Lord in his anger
 abhorred daughter Zion;
flung down from the heavens to earth
 the splendour of Israel;
nor remembered his footstool[2]
 in the day of his anger;


2

Brought to the ground in dishonour
 a kingdom and its princes;
in fury has razed the defences
 of the daughter of Judah.
The Lord has devoured without pity
 all the dwellings of Jacob;


3

Cut off in his smoldering wrath
 the horn of Israel;
has withdrawn his right hand
 at enemy approach;
then blazed against Jacob in fire,
 to scorched earth consuming.


4

Directing his bow like an enemy,
 his right hand poised,
like a foe, he has slain those precious
 in his eye, and has poured
out his wrath like fire on the tent
 of the Daughter of Zion.


5

Enemy! So the Lord has become,
 and swallowed up Israel—
has swallowed up all of her palaces,
 and laid waste her strongholds;
has multiplied for the Daughter of Judah
 wailing and woe.[3]


6

Felling his tent like a garden,
 he destroyed his temple;
The Lord has blotted from Zion
 both feast-day and sabbath;
in ferocity and anger has spurned
 both king and priest.


7

God has rejected his altar,
 spurned his own shrine;
to the hands of the enemy has given
 the walls of her strongholds.
They in the Lord's house shout
 as on festival-day.


8

He was bent on destroying
 daughter Zion's wall;
The Lord stretched out the measuring line;
 did not hesitate to devour;
made wall and rampart lament
 till both succumbed.


9

Into the ground her gates sunk;
 he splintered her railings.
Her king and her princes are exiled;
 the law is absent;[4]
her prophets no longer could find
 any vision from the Lord.


10

Jerusalem's Daughter, your elders
 sit tongue-tied on the ground;
dust they cast on their heads
 and sackcloth they gird.
Zion's young women bow
 their heads to the ground.


11

Lamenting, my weeping eyes fail;
 my stomach is turned;
at the brokenness of my People's Daughter
 my heart to the ground spills
as the infants and children collapse
 in the city streets.


12

Mothers hear them crying out loud:
 "Where is bread and wine?"
as they faint away like the wounded
 in the streets of the city;
as their lives ebb away
 in their mothers' arms.


13

O Daughter Jerusalem: to what can I
 liken you or compare?
O virgin Daughter Zion:
 whose plight is like yours?
Wide as the sea breaks your wound;
 who could heal you?


14

Prophets provided you visions—
 whitewashed illusion.[5]
They did not lay out your guilt
 to restore your fortunes;
they saw for you only oracles
 false and fraudulent.


15

Remembered once: "Perfect in beauty,
 joy of all earth";[6]
now those who pass by on the road
 clap in derision;
they hiss and wag their heads
 over Daughter Jerusalem.


16

Snarling and gnashing their teeth,
 all your enemies
open their mouths at you, saying
 "We have devoured her!
Long for this day we have waited—
 we have lived to see it!"


17

The Lord has done what he planned,
 has fulfilled his threat
decreed from days of old,
 to destroy without pity;
let the enemy over you gloat
 and exalted your foes' horn.


18

Unto the Lord let your heart cry,
 wall of Daughter Zion.
Shed tears like a torrent
 by day and by night;
give yourself no relief,
 your eyes no rest.


19

Vociferous! Cry anguished all night,
 at the start of each watch;
spill out your heart like water
 in full sight of the Lord;
Lift up your hands to him
 for the lives of your babes
who faint from famine and hunger
 at every street-corner.[7]


20

Who have you thus tormented?
 Look, Lord; consider.
Must women eat their own offspring,
 the children they had borne?
Should priest and prophet be slain
 in the sanctuary of the Lord?


21

Young and old strewn together
 on the ground in the streets;
young women and young men lie fallen,
 cut down by the sword.
You slaughtered on the day of your wrath:
 slew them without pity.


22

Zoned round: the terrors you summoned
 as to a feast day;
on the day of the Lord's anger
 none escaped or survived.
Those I had borne and reared,
 my enemy annihilated.


[1]"Alas!": Hebrew 'Ekah, meaning "how", the name of the book itself, and beginning with the Hebrew letter 'aleph' equivalent to our 'A'.

[2]Footstool: a metaphorical reference to the Jerusalem Temple.

[3]The Hebrew also has an alliterative wordplay here.

[4]This line may well refer to the absence of religious law (in parallel to the secular goverance of the first line).

[5]This striking translation courtesy of NABRE.

[6]Psalm 48:2.

[7]Various manuscripts add this extra line-pair.