Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:
1Alas! The gold is dulled, Debased the finest gold! The sacred gems are spilled At every street corner.
אאֵיכָה יוּעַם זָהָב יִשְׁנֶא הַכֶּתֶם הַטּוֹב תִּשְׁתַּפֵּכְנָה אַבְנֵי־קֹדֶשׁ בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת׃
2The precious children of Tzion; Once valued as gold— Alas, they are accounted as earthen pots, Work of a potter's hands!
בבְּנֵי צִיּוֹן הַיְקָרִים הַמְסֻלָּאִים בַּפָּז אֵיכָה נֶחְשְׁבוּ לְנִבְלֵי־חֶרֶשׂ מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי יוֹצֵר׃
3Even jackals offer the breast And suckle their young; But my poor people has turned cruel, Like ostriches of the desert.
גגַּם־תנין [תַּנִּים] חָלְצוּ שַׁד הֵינִיקוּ גּוּרֵיהֶן בַּת־עַמִּי לְאַכְזָר כי ענים [כַּיְעֵנִים] בַּמִּדְבָּר׃
4The tongue of the suckling cleaves To its palate for thirst. Little children beg for bread; None gives them a morsel.
דדָּבַק לְשׁוֹן יוֹנֵק אֶל־חכּוֹ בַּצָּמָא עוֹלָלִים שָׁאֲלוּ לֶחֶם פֹּרֵשׂ אֵין לָהֶם׃
5Those who feasted on dainties Lie famished in the streets; Those who were reared in purple Have embraced refuse heaps.
ההָאֹכְלִים לְמַעֲדַנִּים נָשַׁמּוּ בַּחוּצוֹת הָאֱמֻנִים עֲלֵי תוֹלָע חִבְּקוּ אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת׃
6The guilt of my poor people Exceeded the iniquity of Sodom, Which was overthrown in a moment, Without a hand striking it.
ווַיִּגְדַּל עֲוׂן בַּת־עַמִּי מֵחַטַּאת סְדֹם הַהֲפוּכָה כְמוֹ־רָגַע וְלֹא־חָלוּ בָהּ יָדָיִם׃
7Her elect were purer than snow, Whiter than milk; Their limbs were ruddier than coral, Their bodies were like sapphire.
זזַכּוּ נְזִירֶיהָ מִשֶּׁלֶג צַחוּ מֵחָלָב אָדְמוּ עֶצֶם מִפְּנִינִים סַפִּיר גִּזְרָתָם׃
8Now their faces are blacker than soot, They are not recognized in the streets; Their skin has shriveled on their bones, It has become dry as wood.
חחָשַׁךְ מִשְּׁחוֹר תָּאֳרָם לֹא נִכְּרוּ בַּחוּצוֹת צָפַד עוֹרָם עַל־עַצְמָם יָבֵשׁ הָיָה כָעֵץ׃
9Better off were the slain of the sword Than those slain by famine, Who pined away, [as though] wounded, For lack of the fruits of the field.
טטוֹבִים הָיוּ חַלְלֵי־חֶרֶב מֵחַלְלֵי רָעָב שֶׁהֵם יָזוּבוּ מְדֻקָּרִים מִתְּנוּבֹת שָׂדָי׃
10With their own hands, tenderhearted women Have cooked their children; Such became their fare, In the disaster of my poor people.
ייְדֵי נָשִׁים רַחֲמָנִיּוֹת בִּשְּׁלוּ יַלְדֵיהֶן הָיוּ לְבָרוֹת לָמוֹ בְּשֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִּי׃
11Hashem vented all His fury, Poured out His blazing wrath; He kindled a fire in Tzion Which consumed its foundations.
יאכִּלָּה יְהֹוָה אֶת־חֲמָתוֹ שָׁפַךְ חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ וַיַּצֶּת־אֵשׁ בְּצִיּוֹן וַתֹּאכַל יְסוֹדֹתֶיהָ׃
12The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor any of the inhabitants of the world, That foe or adversary could enter The gates of Yerushalayim.
יבלֹא הֶאֱמִינוּ מַלְכֵי־אֶרֶץ וכל [כֹּל] יֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל כִּי יָבֹא צַר וְאוֹיֵב בְּשַׁעֲרֵי יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם׃
13It was for the sins of her Neviim, The iniquities of her Kohanim, Who had shed in her midst the blood of the just.
יגמֵחַטֹּאת נְבִיאֶיהָ עֲוׂנוֹת כֹּהֲנֶיהָ הַשֹּׁפְכִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ דַּם צַדִּיקִים׃
14They wandered blindly through the streets, Defiled with blood, So that no one was able To touch their garments.
ידנָעוּ עִוְרִים בַּחוּצוֹת נְגֹאֲלוּ בַּדָּם בְּלֹא יוּכְלוּ יִגְּעוּ בִּלְבֻשֵׁיהֶם׃
15“Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them, “Away! Away! Touch not!” So they wandered and wandered again; For the nations had resolved: “They shall stay here no longer.”
SU-ru ta-MAY KA-r'-u LA-mo SU-ru SU-ru al ti-GA-u KEE na-TZU gam na-U a-m'-RU ba-go-YIM LO yo-SI-fu la-GUR
טוסוּרוּ טָמֵא קָרְאוּ לָמוֹ סוּרוּ סוּרוּ אַל־תִּגָּעוּ כִּי נָצוּ גַּם־נָעוּ אָמְרוּ בַּגּוֹיִם לֹא יוֹסִיפוּ לָגוּר׃
4:15 For the nations had resolved: “They shall stay here no longer.”
The insulting jeers described in this verse were repeated not too long ago. Following the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, Jews were not only denied entry into many foreign countries, but even the borders of their homeland were closed. After the conclusion of World War II, Palestine (as the Land of Israel was then called) was under British sovereignty and the British government put a strict quota on the number of Jewish refugees allowed to enter. Furthermore, many of those who defied the quota and managed to cross the border into the Promised Land without British permission were rounded up and placed in detention camps, such as the one in the northern coastal city of Atlit. However, the will of Hashem could not be thwarted. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the declaration “They shall stay here no longer” quickly became obsolete. With the Knesset’s passing of the Law of Return, every Jew in the world became entitled to move to Israel and obtain citizenship in the new country. Since then, millions of Jews have moved from all corners of the globe to the Holy Land. For the first time in almost two thousand years, almost half of the Jews in the world now live in Israel and indeed, “they stay here” once again.
16Hashem's countenance has turned away from them, He will look on them no more. They showed no regard for Kohanim, No favor to elders.
טזפְּנֵי יְהֹוָה חִלְּקָם לֹא יוֹסִיף לְהַבִּיטָם פְּנֵי כֹהֲנִים לֹא נָשָׂאוּ זקנים [וּזְקֵנִים] לֹא חָנָנוּ׃
17Even now our eyes pine away In vain for deliverance. As we waited, still we wait For a nation that cannot help.
יזעודינה [עוֹדֵינוּ] תִּכְלֶינָה עֵינֵינוּ אֶל־עֶזְרָתֵנוּ הָבֶל בְּצִפִּיָּתֵנוּ צִפִּינוּ אֶל־גּוֹי לֹא יוֹשִׁעַ׃
18Our steps were checked, We could not walk in our squares. Our doom is near, our days are done— Alas, our doom has come!
יחצָדוּ צְעָדֵינוּ מִלֶּכֶת בִּרְחֹבֹתֵינוּ קָרַב קִצֵּינוּ מָלְאוּ יָמֵינוּ כִּי־בָא קִצֵּינוּ׃
19Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles in the sky; They chased us in the mountains, Lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
ka-LEEM ha-YU ro-d'-FAY-nu mi-nish-RAY sha-MA-yim al he-ha-REEM d-la-KU-nu ba-mid-BAR a-r'-VU LA-nu
יטקַלִּים הָיוּ רֹדְפֵינוּ מִנִּשְׁרֵי שָׁמָיִם עַל־הֶהָרִים דְּלָקֻנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אָרְבוּ לָנוּ׃
4:19 They chased us in the mountains
This verse conveys a sense that the enemy lurks on all terrains and in all locations, and is impossible to escape. Unfortunately, even after arriving on the shores of Eretz Yisrael following the Holocaust, Jewish refugees from Europe encountered a situation similar to that described in this verse. Having survived the Nazis, these Jews were met by a new enemy: The local Arab population, which fought violently to keep them away from their ancient homeland. This enemy also waged war on a number of fronts, including the mountains and the wilderness, as described in this verse. In January of 1948, a terrible tragedy took place in the Judean hills. A group of thirty-five soldiers was dispatched to bring provisions and food to the beleaguered communities of Gush Etzion, the Etzion bloc. They set out on foot at night to avoid detection, but the sun rose before they managed to reach their destination. Still in the vicinity of hostile villages, they were detected by some Arab women who had gone down to the valley to gather branches.. Arab mobs were quickly deployed and after a lengthy battle, all thirty-five of the soldiers were killed in a bloody massacre. “They chased us in the mountains, lay in wait for us in the wilderness.”
20The breath of our life, Hashem's anointed, Was captured in their traps— He in whose shade we had thought To live among the nations.
כרוּחַ אַפֵּינוּ מְשִׁיחַ יְהֹוָה נִלְכַּד בִּשְׁחִיתוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְנוּ בְּצִלּוֹ נִחְיֶה בַגּוֹיִם׃
21Rejoice and exult, Fair Edom, Who dwell in the land of Uz! To you, too, the cup shall pass, You shall get drunk and expose your nakedness.
כאשִׂישִׂי וְשִׂמְחִי בַּת־אֱדוֹם יושבתי [יוֹשֶׁבֶת] בְּאֶרֶץ עוּץ גַּם־עָלַיִךְ תַּעֲבָר־כּוֹס תִּשְׁכְּרִי וְתִתְעָרִי׃
22Your iniquity, Fair Tzion, is expiated; He will exile you no longer. Your iniquity, Fair Edom, He will note; He will uncover your sins.
כבתַּם־עֲוׂנֵךְ בַּת־צִיּוֹן לֹא יוֹסִיף לְהַגְלוֹתֵךְ פָּקַד עֲוׂנֵךְ בַּת־אֱדוֹם גִּלָּה עַל־חַטֹּאתָיִךְ׃