בסיעתא דשמיא

מגילת איכה | Megillat Eikhah (Lamentations) for Tisha B’Av by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org, 2015)

Image: Eikha by Aharon Varady. Font is Bar Kosba by the Culmus Project. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.

We are grateful to Rabbi David Seidenberg for sharing his translation of Eikhah (aka Laments, Lamentations). Please support Reb Dovid’s work with a financial contribution.


An earlier translation of Eikha was originally published on neohasid.org in 2008, and ported to Unicode Hebrew here.

For Reb Dovid’s essay on cannibalism in Eikha, please read “To Prey or to Pray? The Lessons of Famine on Tisha B’Av” (The Jew & the Carrot blog, 2008-08-07).

Rabbi Seidenberg writes:

Some notes on the theology of Eikhah

The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed that what happened to Zion was divine punishment. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.)

Besides the obvious consolation of believing that the tragedy had meaning, the reader might also consider that for the ancients, the two choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no interest in them. It is easy to imagine why people would choose the image of a punishing God over the complete absence of God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us…”

Only in chapter 3 is the destruction of Zion consistently seen as fair and just punishment. In other chapters, the degree of divine punishment is (subtly) described as excessive and abusive (e.g. “See YHVH and look: Whom did you treat like this?” in chapter 2).

According to Jeremiah, the reason for exile was that Israel had not allowed the land to rest during her Jubilee years – an outcome promised in the Torah. (This idea is not found in Eikhah, where the identification of the people with the land is total.) In an age when we have good reason to believe that our ecological “sins” are coming home to roost, the connection between disaster and divine retribution may not seem so farfetched. If we sympathize with this idea, we can read Eikhah as an invitation to change our lives, towards justice for all peoples, for all species, and for the land herself.

[Translator’s Notes]

[For this translation, I used] two translations of Laments, [and] the book of mourning poems read on Tish’a B’Av. Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 were translated by Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg, with attention to the principles of the Buber-Rosenzweig Bible. This translation strives to be “concordant” by translating related Hebrew words with related English words, and by following the order and syntax of the Hebrew as much as possible. In some cases alternate translations are given, indicated by a slash. This translation also focuses on the more physical, earthy meaning of words, drawing the reader from modern thought patterns towards more ancient ways of seeing and feeling. Chapter 3 is partly retranslated from James Moffat’s 1922 translation. Moffat followed the principles of “idiomatic” translation, recasting the Hebrew according to the word order, meaning, and sense of everyday English. Moffat, more than most idiomatic translators, evokes the emotional depth of the Hebrew. For brief essays on the theology of Eikhah and links to songs, see the end of this booklet.

“Laments” revised from 2008 edition based on translations made for the Aleph Kallah and the NHC in 2002 and 2003. Moffat’s translation was published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1924, and is now in the Public Domain [since 2014]. This booklet contains the sacred name in Hebrew for God. Please do not destroy it or dispose of it improperly.

אֵיכָה א

1 אֵיכָ֣ה ׀
יָשְׁבָ֣ה בָדָ֗ד
הָעִיר֙ רַבָּ֣תִי עָ֔ם
הָיְתָ֖ה כְּאַלְמָנָ֑ה
רַּבָּ֣תִי בַגּוֹיִ֗ם
שָׂרָ֙תִי֙ בַּמְּדִינ֔וֹת
הָיְתָ֖ה לָמַֽס׃ ס
Eikhah! How can it be –
that she sat alone,
the city so great / so swelled with people?
She was like a widow.
The one great among the nations,
ministering among the states,
became a slave caste.

2 בָּכ֨וֹ תִבְכֶּ֜ה בַּלַּ֗יְלָה
וְדִמְעָתָהּ֙ עַ֣ל לֶֽחֱיָ֔הּ
אֵֽין־לָ֥הּ מְנַחֵ֖ם
בָּ֣גְדוּ בָ֔הּ
הָ֥יוּ לָ֖הּ לְאֹיְבִֽים׃ ס
Crying, she will cry in the night,
her tear upon her cheek
There is none for her, no comforter,
from all her lovers.
All her companions
played traitor with her.
They became for her enemies.

3 גָּֽלְתָ֨ה יְהוּדָ֤ה
מֵעֹ֙נִי֙ וּמֵרֹ֣ב עֲבֹדָ֔ה
הִ֚יא יָשְׁבָ֣ה בַגּוֹיִ֔ם
לֹ֥א מָצְאָ֖ה מָנ֑וֹחַ
כָּל־רֹדְפֶ֥יהָ הִשִּׂיג֖וּהָ
בֵּ֥ין הַמְּצָרִֽים׃ ס
She, Judah, was exiled,
by poverty, and by (so) much hard labor
She sat among the nations,
not finding any rest;
All her pursuers caught up with her
between the confined places.

4 דַּרְכֵ֨י צִיּ֜וֹן אֲבֵל֗וֹת
מִבְּלִי֙ בָּאֵ֣י מוֹעֵ֔ד
כָּל־שְׁעָרֶ֙יהָ֙ שֽׁוֹמֵמִ֔ין
כֹּהֲנֶ֖יהָ נֶאֱנָחִ֑ים
בְּתוּלֹתֶ֥יהָ נּוּג֖וֹת
וְהִ֥יא מַר־לָֽהּ׃ ס
Zion’s roads are mourning
from being without festival-goers,
all her gates desolated;
Her priests are moaning,
her girls grieving;
And she – it is bitterness for her.

5 הָי֨וּ צָרֶ֤יהָ לְרֹאשׁ֙
אֹיְבֶ֣יהָ שָׁל֔וּ
כִּֽי־יְהוָ֥ה הוֹגָ֖הּ
עַ֣ל רֹב־פְּשָׁעֶ֑יהָ
עוֹלָלֶ֛יהָ הָלְכ֥וּ שְׁבִ֖י
לִפְנֵי־צָֽר׃ ס
Her tormentors were at the head,
her enemies had ease
For YHVH aggrieved her
for the greatness of her sins.
Her babes walked captive
before foe;

6 וַיֵּצֵ֥א מן־בת־ מִבַּת־צִיּ֖וֹן
הָי֣וּ שָׂרֶ֗יהָ כְּאַיָּלִים֙
לֹא־מָצְא֣וּ מִרְעֶ֔ה
וַיֵּלְכ֥וּ בְלֹא־כֹ֖חַ
לִפְנֵ֥י רוֹדֵֽף׃ ס
and all her splendor went out from
daughter Zion!
Her ministers, like deer,
not finding a place to graze;
They walked, without strength,
before a pursuer.

7 זָֽכְרָ֣ה יְרוּשָׁלִַ֗ם
יְמֵ֤י עָנְיָהּ֙
כֹּ֚ל מַחֲמֻדֶ֔יהָ
אֲשֶׁ֥ר הָי֖וּ מִ֣ימֵי קֶ֑דֶם
בִּנְפֹ֧ל עַמָּ֣הּ בְּיַד־צָ֗ר
וְאֵ֤ין עוֹזֵר֙ לָ֔הּ
רָא֣וּהָ צָרִ֔ים
שָׂחֲק֖וּ עַ֥ל מִשְׁבַּתֶּֽהָ׃ ס
Jerusalem remembered
the days of her poverty / affliction
and her downsliding,
all her precious things
which were from days long ago,
while her people fell into a foe’s hand;
And there is no help for her.
They saw her, her tormentors,
laughing over her becoming stilled.

8 חֵ֤טְא חָֽטְאָה֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם
עַל־כֵּ֖ן לְנִידָ֣ה הָיָ֑תָה
כָּֽל־מְכַבְּדֶ֤יהָ הִזִּיל֙וּהָ֙
כִּי־רָא֣וּ עֶרְוָתָ֔הּ
גַּם־הִ֥יא נֶאֶנְחָ֖ה
וַתָּ֥שָׁב אָחֽוֹר׃ ס
Sinning she sinned, Jerusalem.
For this an outcast / nidah she became.
All who honor her despise her,
for they saw her nakedness.
Also her, she is moaning,
turned around backward.

9 טֻמְאָתָ֣הּ בְּשׁוּלֶ֗יהָ
לֹ֤א זָֽכְרָה֙ אַחֲרִיתָ֔הּ
וַתֵּ֣רֶד פְּלָאִ֔ים
אֵ֥ין מְנַחֵ֖ם לָ֑הּ
רְאֵ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אֶת־עָנְיִ֔י
כִּ֥י הִגְדִּ֖יל אוֹיֵֽב׃ ס
Her blood / tum’ah in her skirts,
she didn’t remember her end after,
she descended wondrously.
There is no comforter for her.
YHVH, see my poverty, my humiliation,
for an enemy became great.

10 יָדוֹ֙ פָּ֣רַשׂ צָ֔ר
עַ֖ל כָּל־מַחֲמַדֶּ֑יהָ
כִּֽי־רָאֲתָ֤ה גוֹיִם֙
בָּ֣אוּ מִקְדָּשָׁ֔הּ
אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּ֔יתָה
בַקָּהָ֖ל לָֽךְ׃ ס
A foe / Trauma spread out his hand
over all her precious things;
She saw other nations
come within her holy place,
which you commanded her:
“They won’t come in
with the community to you.”

11 כָּל־עַמָּ֤הּ נֶאֱנָחִים֙
מְבַקְּשִׁ֣ים לֶ֔חֶם
נָתְנ֧וּ מחמודיהם מַחֲמַדֵּיהֶ֛ם
בְּאֹ֖כֶל לְהָשִׁ֣יב נָ֑פֶשׁ
רְאֵ֤ה יְהוָה֙
וְֽהַבִּ֔יטָה כִּ֥י הָיִ֖יתִי זוֹלֵלָֽה׃ ס
All her people are moaning
seeking bread;
They gave up their precious things
for food to restore life.
See, YHVH!
Look (how) I was despised.

12 ל֣וֹא אֲלֵיכֶם֮
כָּל־עֹ֣בְרֵי דֶרֶךְ֒
הַבִּ֣יטוּ וּרְא֗וּ
אִם־יֵ֤שׁ מַכְאוֹב֙ כְּמַכְאֹבִ֔י
אֲשֶׁ֥ר עוֹלַ֖ל לִ֑י
אֲשֶׁר֙ הוֹגָ֣ה יְהוָ֔ה
בְּי֖וֹם חֲר֥וֹן אַפּֽוֹ׃ ס
Never to you,
all who pass on the way.
Look (all of you), and see –
Could there be pain like my pain
which was doled out to me,
which YHVH caused to grieve
in the day of His furious anger?

13 מִמָּר֛וֹם שָֽׁלַח־אֵ֥שׁ
בְּעַצְמֹתַ֖י וַיִּרְדֶּ֑נָּה
פָּרַ֨שׂ רֶ֤שֶׁת לְרַגְלַי֙
הֱשִׁיבַ֣נִי אָח֔וֹר
נְתָנַ֙נִי֙ שֹֽׁמֵמָ֔ה
כָּל־הַיּ֖וֹם דָּוָֽה׃ ס
From a height He sent fire
in my bones and overwhelmed them.
He spread out a net for my feet;
He repelled me back;
He made me desolate,
all day – sickness.

14 נִשְׂקַד֩ עֹ֨ל פְּשָׁעַ֜י
בְּיָד֗וֹ יִשְׂתָּֽרְג֛וּ
עָל֥וּ עַל־צַוָּארִ֖י
הִכְשִׁ֣יל כֹּחִ֑י
נְתָנַ֣נִי אֲדֹנָ֔י בִּידֵ֖י
לֹא־אוּכַ֥ל קֽוּם׃ ס
The harness of my sins lashed on,
they were tied down by His hand,
brought up onto my neck,
making my strength fail.
Adonai gave me over into (such) hands
that I am unable to stand up.

15 סִלָּ֨ה
כָל־אַבִּירַ֤י ׀ אֲדֹנָי֙ בְּקִרְבִּ֔י
קָרָ֥א עָלַ֛י מוֹעֵ֖ד
לִשְׁבֹּ֣ר בַּחוּרָ֑י
גַּ֚ת דָּרַ֣ךְ אֲדֹנָ֔י
לִבְתוּלַ֖ת בַּת־יְהוּדָֽה׃ ס
Adonai spurned
all my mighty warriors within me,
he called out over me a feast
for breaking my boys;
a winepress—Adonai stomped—
for daughter Judah’s girl.

16 עַל־אֵ֣לֶּה ׀ אֲנִ֣י בוֹכִיָּ֗ה
עֵינִ֤י ׀ עֵינִי֙ יֹ֣רְדָה מַּ֔יִם
כִּֽי־רָחַ֥ק מִמֶּ֛נִּי מְנַחֵ֖ם
מֵשִׁ֣יב נַפְשִׁ֑י
הָי֤וּ בָנַי֙ שֽׁוֹמֵמִ֔ים
כִּ֥י גָבַ֖ר אוֹיֵֽב׃ ס
Over these, I am crying;
My eye, my eye, she drops water.
For so far from me is any comforter,
a restorer for my life.
My children were decimated,
for an enemy overwhelmed / triumphed.

17 פֵּֽרְשָׂ֨ה צִיּ֜וֹן בְּיָדֶ֗יהָ
אֵ֤ין מְנַחֵם֙ לָ֔הּ
צִוָּ֧ה יְהוָ֛ה לְיַעֲקֹ֖ב
סְבִיבָ֣יו צָרָ֑יו
הָיְתָ֧ה יְרוּשָׁלִַ֛ם
לְנִדָּ֖ה בֵּינֵיהֶֽם׃ ס
Zion spread out with her hands,
there is no comforter for her.
YHVH commanded for Jacob,
surrounding him, his tormentors.
Jerusalem became
outcast / nidah between them.

18 צַדִּ֥יק ה֛וּא יְהוָ֖ה
כִּ֣י פִ֣יהוּ מָרִ֑יתִי
שִׁמְעוּ־נָ֣א כָל־עמים הָֽעַמִּ֗ים
וּרְאוּ֙ מַכְאֹבִ֔י
בְּתוּלֹתַ֥י וּבַחוּרַ֖י
הָלְכ֥וּ בַשֶּֽׁבִי׃ ס
Righteous is YHVH,
for his mouth I rebelled (against).
Listen, please—all peoples—
and see my pain!
My girls and my boys
walked captive / into captivity.

19 קָרָ֤אתִי לַֽמְאַהֲבַי֙
הֵ֣מָּה רִמּ֔וּנִי
כֹּהֲנַ֥י וּזְקֵנַ֖י
בָּעִ֣יר גָּוָ֑עוּ
כִּֽי־בִקְשׁ֥וּ אֹ֙כֶל֙ לָ֔מוֹ
וְיָשִׁ֖יבוּ אֶת־נַפְשָֽׁם׃ ס
I called to my lovers.
Those deceived me.
My priests, and my elders,
they wasted away in the city,
seeking food for themselves,
and to bring back their life / soul.

20 רְאֵ֨ה יְהוָ֤ה כִּֽי־צַר־לִי֙
מֵעַ֣י חֳמַרְמָ֔רוּ
נֶהְפַּ֤ךְ לִבִּי֙ בְּקִרְבִּ֔י
כִּ֥י מָר֖וֹ מָרִ֑יתִי
מִח֥וּץ שִׁכְּלָה־חֶ֖רֶב
בַּבַּ֥יִת כַּמָּֽוֶת׃ ס
See YHVH – for mine is torment,
my guts were churning,
my heart overturned within me,
for rebelling I rebelled.
From outside sword bereaving;
In the house, like death itself.

21 שָׁמְע֞וּ כִּ֧י נֶאֱנָחָ֣ה אָ֗נִי
אֵ֤ין מְנַחֵם֙ לִ֔י
כָּל־אֹ֨יְבַ֜י שָׁמְע֤וּ
שָׂ֔שׂוּ כִּ֥י אַתָּ֖ה עָשִׂ֑יתָ
הֵבֵ֥אתָ יוֹם־קָרָ֖אתָ
וְיִֽהְי֥וּ כָמֽוֹנִי׃ ס
They listened. I am moaning,
there is no comforter for me.
All my enemies listened for me.
for my evil doom.
They rejoiced, for You did it,
You brought the day You called for –
and let them be(come) like me.

22 תָּבֹ֨א כָל־רָעָתָ֤ם לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙
וְעוֹלֵ֣ל לָ֔מוֹ
כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר עוֹלַ֛לְתָּ לִ֖י
עַ֣ל כָּל־פְּשָׁעָ֑י
כִּֽי־רַבּ֥וֹת אַנְחֹתַ֖י
וְלִבִּ֥י דַוָּֽי׃ פ
May all their evil come before You,
and deal to them
as You dealt to me
for all my sins.
For so much are my sighs,
and my heart is sickened.

אֵיכָה ב

1 אֵיכָה֩
יָעִ֨יב בְּאַפּ֤וֹ ׀
אֲדֹנָי֙ אֶת־בַּת־צִיּ֔וֹן
הִשְׁלִ֤יךְ מִשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶ֔רֶץ
תִּפְאֶ֖רֶת יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
בְּי֥וֹם אַפּֽוֹ׃ ס
Eikhah! How can it be!
In his anger Adonai
clouded over daughter Zion.
He cast down, from skies (to) earth,
Israel’s glory,
and didn’t remember
His foot’s resting place
in His day of anger.

2 בִּלַּ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֜י לא וְלֹ֣א חָמַ֗ל
אֵ֚ת כָּל־נְא֣וֹת יַעֲקֹ֔ב
הָרַ֧ס בְּעֶבְרָת֛וֹ
מִבְצְרֵ֥י בַת־יְהוּדָ֖ה
הִגִּ֣יעַ לָאָ֑רֶץ
חִלֵּ֥ל מַמְלָכָ֖ה וְשָׂרֶֽיהָ׃ ס
Adonai devoured—He had no pity—
all of Jacob’s pastures.
He tore down with His burning
daughter Judah’s fortifications;
He reached to the very ground.
He violated kingdom and her ministers.

3 גָּדַ֣ע בָּֽחֳרִי אַ֗ף
כֹּ֚ל קֶ֣רֶן יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל
הֵשִׁ֥יב אָח֛וֹר יְמִינ֖וֹ
מִפְּנֵ֣י אוֹיֵ֑ב
וַיִּבְעַ֤ר בְּיַעֲקֹב֙ כְּאֵ֣שׁ לֶֽהָבָ֔ה
אָכְלָ֖ה סָבִֽיב׃ ס
With ferocious anger He hacked off
all of Israel’s horn.
He turned His right hand backward
before the enemy.
Burning into Jacob, like fire flaming
consuming (all) around.

4 דָּרַ֨ךְ קַשְׁתּ֜וֹ כְּאוֹיֵ֗ב
נִצָּ֤ב יְמִינוֹ֙
וַֽיַּהֲרֹ֔ג כֹּ֖ל
בְּאֹ֙הֶל֙ בַּת־צִיּ֔וֹן
שָׁפַ֥ךְ כָּאֵ֖שׁ חֲמָתֽוֹ׃ ס
He worked His bow like an enemy,
He stood His right hand firm
as a foe / a tormentor
and he murdered everything
precious to the eye;
In daughter Zion’s tent
He poured out His wrath like fire.

5 הָיָ֨ה אֲדֹנָ֤י ׀ כְּאוֹיֵב֙
בִּלַּ֣ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל
בִּלַּע֙ כָּל־אַרְמְנוֹתֶ֔יהָ
שִׁחֵ֖ת מִבְצָרָ֑יו
וַיֶּ֙רֶב֙ בְּבַת־יְהוּדָ֔ה
תַּאֲנִיָּ֖ה וַאֲנִיָּֽה׃ ס
Adonai was like an enemy;
He devoured Israel.
He devoured all her citadels,
undermined His fortifications;
And He multiplied in daughter Zion
grief and groaning.

6 וַיַּחְמֹ֤ס כַּגַּן֙ שֻׂכּ֔וֹ
שִׁחֵ֖ת מוֹעֲד֑וֹ
שִׁכַּ֨ח יְהוָ֤ה ׀ בְּצִיּוֹן֙
מוֹעֵ֣ד וְשַׁבָּ֔ת
וַיִּנְאַ֥ץ בְּזַֽעַם־אַפּ֖וֹ
מֶ֥לֶךְ וְכֹהֵֽן׃ ס
Like a garden, He tore apart His sukkah,
He destroyed His feast.
YHVH caused Shabbat and festival
to be forgotten in Zion,
by the rage of His anger
king and priest.

7 זָנַ֨ח אֲדֹנָ֤י ׀ מִזְבְּחוֹ֙
נִאֵ֣ר מִקְדָּשׁ֔וֹ
הִסְגִּיר֙ בְּיַד־אוֹיֵ֔ב
חוֹמֹ֖ת אַרְמְנוֹתֶ֑יהָ
ק֛וֹל נָתְנ֥וּ בְּבֵית־יְהוָ֖ה
כְּי֥וֹם מוֹעֵֽד׃ ס
Adonai abhorred His altar,
disdained His holy place.
He turned over to an enemy’s hand
the walls of her citadels.
They gave a shout in YHVH’s house
like a festival day.

8 חָשַׁ֨ב יְהוָ֤ה ׀ לְהַשְׁחִית֙
חוֹמַ֣ת בַּת־צִיּ֔וֹן
נָ֣טָה קָ֔ו
לֹא־הֵשִׁ֥יב יָד֖וֹ
וַיַּֽאֲבֶל־חֵ֥ל וְחוֹמָ֖ה
יַחְדָּ֥ו אֻמְלָֽלוּ׃ ס
YHVH determined to ruin
daughter Zion’s wall.
He stretched a line,
He didn’t turn His hand back
from swallowing up,
and He made rampart and wall,
mourn together, wretched.

9 טָבְע֤וּ בָאָ֙רֶץ֙ שְׁעָרֶ֔יהָ
אִבַּ֥ד וְשִׁבַּ֖ר בְּרִיחֶ֑יהָ
מַלְכָּ֨הּ וְשָׂרֶ֤יהָ בַגּוֹיִם֙
אֵ֣ין תּוֹרָ֔ה
לֹא־מָצְא֥וּ חָז֖וֹן מֵיְהוָֽה׃ ס
They drowned in the earth, her gates.
He smashed and broke her bars.
Her king and her ministers in the nations,
there is no Torah / no teaching.
Also her prophets,
They found no vision from YHVH.

10 יֵשְׁב֨וּ לָאָ֤רֶץ יִדְּמוּ֙
זִקְנֵ֣י בַת־צִיּ֔וֹן
הֶֽעֱל֤וּ עָפָר֙ עַל־רֹאשָׁ֔ם
חָגְר֖וּ שַׂקִּ֑ים
הוֹרִ֤ידוּ לָאָ֙רֶץ֙ רֹאשָׁ֔ן
בְּתוּלֹ֖ת יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ ס
They sat down to the earth, silenced,
daughter Zion’s elders,
they lifted dust over their head,
tied on sackcloth.
They let their head down to the earth,
Jerusalem’s girls.

11 כָּל֨וּ בַדְּמָע֤וֹת עֵינַי֙
חֳמַרְמְר֣וּ מֵעַ֔י
נִשְׁפַּ֤ךְ לָאָ֙רֶץ֙ כְּבֵדִ֔י
בֵּֽעָטֵ֤ף עוֹלֵל֙ וְיוֹנֵ֔ק
בִּרְחֹב֖וֹת קִרְיָֽה׃ ס
My eyes were used up by the tears,
my guts churned up,
my organs poured out to the ground
over the shattering of
my daughter people,
with exhaustion of babe and suckling
in the town’s squares.

12 לְאִמֹּתָם֙ יֹֽאמְר֔וּ
אַיֵּ֖ה דָּגָ֣ן וָיָ֑יִן
כֶּֽחָלָל֙ בִּרְחֹב֣וֹת
עִ֔יר בְּהִשְׁתַּפֵּ֣ךְ נַפְשָׁ֔ם
אֶל־חֵ֖יק אִמֹּתָֽם׃ ס
To their mothers they would say,
“Where is grain and wine?”,
stretching themselves out,
like a corpse, in city streets,
with their life force pouring out
onto their mothers’ chest.

13 מָֽה־אֲעִידֵ֞ךְ
מָ֣ה אֲדַמֶּה־לָּ֗ךְ
הַבַּת֙ יְר֣וּשָׁלִַ֔ם
מָ֤ה אַשְׁוֶה־לָּךְ֙
בְּתוּלַ֖ת בַּת־צִיּ֑וֹן
כִּֽי־גָד֥וֹל כַּיָּ֛ם
מִ֥י יִרְפָּא־לָֽךְ׃ ס
What can I make testify?
What will I liken to you?
O daughter Jerusalem!
What can I compare to you
(that) I may comfort you,
daughter Zion’s girl?
For great, like the sea,
is your shattering
– who will bring healing to you?

14 נְבִיאַ֗יִךְ חָ֤זוּ לָךְ֙
שָׁ֣וְא וְתָפֵ֔ל
וְלֹֽא־גִלּ֥וּ עַל־עֲוֺנֵ֖ךְ
לְהָשִׁ֣יב שביתך שְׁבוּתֵ֑ךְ
וַיֶּ֣חֱזוּ לָ֔ךְ
מַשְׂא֥וֹת שָׁ֖וְא וּמַדּוּחִֽים׃ ס
For you did your prophets envision
deception, and irrelevance,
revealing nothing for your wrong
to turn back your destiny / your captivity,
and they envisioned for you
a burden of deceit and dejections.

15 סָֽפְק֨וּ עָלַ֤יִךְ כַּפַּ֙יִם֙
כָּל־עֹ֣בְרֵי דֶ֔רֶךְ
שָֽׁרְקוּ֙ וַיָּנִ֣עוּ רֹאשָׁ֔ם
עַל־בַּ֖ת יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם
הֲזֹ֣את הָעִ֗יר שֶׁיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙
כְּלִ֣ילַת יֹ֔פִי
מָשׂ֖וֹשׂ לְכָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ ס
They struck their hands over you,
all who passed on the road,
they hissed and they shook their head
over daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this it? The city they said (was)
beauty’s completion,
joy’s source for all the earth?”

16 פָּצ֨וּ עָלַ֤יִךְ פִּיהֶם֙
שָֽׁרְקוּ֙ וַיַּֽחַרְקוּ־שֵׁ֔ן
אָמְר֖וּ בִּלָּ֑עְנוּ
אַ֣ךְ זֶ֥ה הַיּ֛וֹם שֶׁקִּוִּינֻ֖הוּ
מָצָ֥אנוּ רָאִֽינוּ׃ ס
They crack open their mouth over you,
all your enemies.
They hissed, gritting teeth.
They said: We swallowed;
Akh! This day that we hoped for,
we found, we saw!

17 עָשָׂ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר זָמָ֗ם
בִּצַּ֤ע אֶמְרָתוֹ֙
אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה מִֽימֵי־קֶ֔דֶם
הָרַ֖ס וְלֹ֣א חָמָ֑ל
וַיְשַׂמַּ֤ח עָלַ֙יִךְ֙ אוֹיֵ֔ב
הֵרִ֖ים קֶ֥רֶן צָרָֽיִךְ׃ ס
YHVH did what He conspired;
He pushed through His saying
which He commanded from early days.
He tore down and showed no pity.
He made an enemy rejoice over you;
your tormentors’ horn was exalted.

18 צָעַ֥ק לִבָּ֖ם אֶל־אֲדֹנָ֑י
חוֹמַ֣ת בַּת־צִ֠יּוֹן
הוֹרִ֨ידִי כַנַּ֤חַל דִּמְעָה֙
יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה
אַֽל־תִּתְּנִ֤י פוּגַת֙ לָ֔ךְ
אַל־תִּדֹּ֖ם בַּת־עֵינֵֽךְ׃ ס
Their heart screamed out to Adonai.
Wall of daughter Zion,
let down a tear like a torrent,
day and night.
Don’t give yourself any break;
Don’t let your daughter eye fall silent.

19 ק֣וּמִי ׀ רֹ֣נִּי בליל בַלַּ֗יְלָה
לְרֹאשׁ֙ אַשְׁמֻר֔וֹת
שִׁפְכִ֤י כַמַּ֙יִם֙ לִבֵּ֔ךְ
נֹ֖כַח פְּנֵ֣י אֲדֹנָ֑י
שְׂאִ֧י אֵלָ֣יו כַּפַּ֗יִךְ
עַל־נֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ עֽוֹלָלַ֔יִךְ
הָעֲטוּפִ֥ים בְּרָעָ֖ב
בְּרֹ֥אשׁ כָּל־חוּצֽוֹת׃ ס
Get up! Sing out in the night
to the first of the nightwatches:
Pour out your heart like water
right before Adonai!
Lift your palms toward him –
for the life of your babies
stretched out by famine
at every street head!

20 רְאֵ֤ה יְהוָה֙ וְֽהַבִּ֔יטָה
לְמִ֖י עוֹלַ֣לְתָּ כֹּ֑ה
אִם־תֹּאכַ֨לְנָה נָשִׁ֤ים פִּרְיָם֙
עֹלֲלֵ֣י טִפֻּחִ֔ים
אִם־יֵהָרֵ֛ג בְּמִקְדַּ֥שׁ אֲדֹנָ֖י
כֹּהֵ֥ן וְנָבִֽיא׃ ס
See YHVH and look:
Whom did you treat / deal with so?
If women will eat their fruit,
coddled babies –;
If priest and prophet are murdered
in Adonai’s holy place –!

21 שָׁכְב֨וּ לָאָ֤רֶץ חוּצוֹת֙
נַ֣עַר וְזָקֵ֔ן
בְּתוּלֹתַ֥י וּבַחוּרַ֖י
נָפְל֣וּ בֶחָ֑רֶב
הָרַ֙גְתָּ֙ בְּי֣וֹם אַפֶּ֔ךָ
טָבַ֖חְתָּ לֹ֥א חָמָֽלְתָּ׃ ס
Laid down to the earth (in the) streets,
young and old,
my girls and my boys,
they fell by sword;
You murdered in the day of Your anger.
You slaughtered, You had no pity.

22 תִּקְרָא֩ כְי֨וֹם מוֹעֵ֤ד
מְגוּרַי֙ מִסָּבִ֔יב
וְלֹ֥א הָיָ֛ה בְּי֥וֹם אַף־יְהוָ֖ה
פָּלִ֣יט וְשָׂרִ֑יד
אֲשֶׁר־טִפַּ֥חְתִּי וְרִבִּ֖יתִי
אֹיְבִ֥י כִלָּֽם׃ פ
You would call, like a festival day,
(for) my neighbors from all around;
and (so) in YHVH’s day of anger
there weren’t any escaped or remaining
which I had nursed and raised –
my enemy finished them all.

אֵיכָה ג
[Moffat translation begins here.]

1 אֲנִ֤י הַגֶּ֙בֶר֙ רָאָ֣ה עֳנִ֔י
בְּשֵׁ֖בֶט עֶבְרָתֽוֹ׃
2 אוֹתִ֥י נָהַ֛ג וַיֹּלַ֖ךְ
חֹ֥שֶׁךְ וְלֹא־אֽוֹר׃
3 אַ֣ךְ בִּ֥י יָשֻׁ֛ב יַהֲפֹ֥ךְ יָד֖וֹ
כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם׃ ס
I am the man who has suffered
under the rod of His anger:
I am the man He has been leading
in darkness with no light;
He has turned against me His hand
all the day long;

4 בִּלָּ֤ה בְשָׂרִי֙ וְעוֹרִ֔י
שִׁבַּ֖ר עַצְמוֹתָֽי׃
5 בָּנָ֥ה עָלַ֛י וַיַּקַּ֖ף
רֹ֥אשׁ וּתְלָאָֽה׃
6 בְּמַחֲשַׁכִּ֥ים הוֹשִׁיבַ֖נִי
כְּמֵתֵ֥י עוֹלָֽם׃ ס
He has worn away my flesh and
my skin, broken my bones;
He has piled troubles up against me,
right round my head;
He has made me dwell in the dark,
like those long dead;

7 גָּדַ֧ר בַּעֲדִ֛י
וְלֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א
הִכְבִּ֥יד נְחָשְׁתִּֽי׃
8 גַּ֣ם כִּ֤י אֶזְעַק֙ וַאֲשַׁוֵּ֔עַ
שָׂתַ֖ם תְּפִלָּתִֽי׃
9 גָּדַ֤ר דְּרָכַי֙ בְּגָזִ֔ית
נְתִיבֹתַ֖י עִוָּֽה׃ ס
He has walled me round,
till I cannot go out,
He has loaded me with chains.
Even when I would cry and plea,
He stops my prayer;
He blocks my way with boulders,
till my course is twisted;

10 דֹּ֣ב אֹרֵ֥ב הוּא֙ לִ֔י
אריה אֲרִ֖י בְּמִסְתָּרִֽים׃
11 דְּרָכַ֥י סוֹרֵ֛ר וַֽיְפַשְּׁחֵ֖נִי
שָׂמַ֥נִי שֹׁמֵֽם׃
12 דָּרַ֤ךְ קַשְׁתוֹ֙
וַיַּצִּיבֵ֔נִי כַּמַּטָּרָ֖א לַחֵֽץ׃ ס
He lurks for me like a bear,
like a lion in ambush;
He has chased and mangled me
and left me desolate;
He has bent His bow
and made me target for His arrows;

13 הֵבִיא֙ בְּכִלְיוֹתָ֔י
בְּנֵ֖י אַשְׁפָּתֽוֹ׃
14 הָיִ֤יתִי שְּׂחֹק֙ לְכָל־עַמִּ֔י
נְגִינָתָ֖ם כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם׃
15 הִשְׂבִּיעַ֥נִי בַמְּרוֹרִ֖ים
הִרְוַ֥נִי לַעֲנָֽה׃ ס
he has driven His shafts home,
right into my kidneys;
I was a joke to all my people,
their mocking song all day long.
He has filled me up with bitter herbs,
and sated me with wormwood;

16 וַיַּגְרֵ֤ס בֶּֽחָצָץ֙ שִׁנָּ֔י
הִכְפִּישַׁ֖נִי בָּאֵֽפֶר׃
17 וַתִּזְנַ֧ח מִשָּׁל֛וֹם
נַפְשִׁ֖י נָשִׁ֥יתִי טוֹבָֽה׃
18 וָאֹמַר֙ אָבַ֣ד נִצְחִ֔י
וְתוֹחַלְתִּ֖י מֵיְהוָֽה׃ ס
He has broken my teeth with gravel,
and covered me with ashes.
He has bereft my soul of peace,
I forgot goodness,
I said, “My strength is gone,
and my hope in YHVH!”

19 זְכָר־עָנְיִ֥י וּמְרוּדִ֖י
לַעֲנָ֥ה וָרֹֽאשׁ׃
20 זָכ֣וֹר תִּזְכּ֔וֹר
ותשיח וְתָשׁ֥וֹחַ עָלַ֖י נַפְשִֽׁי׃
21 זֹ֛את אָשִׁ֥יב אֶל־לִבִּ֖י
עַל־כֵּ֥ן אוֹחִֽיל׃ ס
Remembering my stress and my
scattering is as bitter gall to me;
my soul is always thinking of it,
and is crushed within me.
But this will I call to my heart,
to give me hope:

22 חַֽסְדֵ֤י יְהוָה֙
כִּ֣י לֹא־תָ֔מְנוּ
כִּ֥י לֹא־כָל֖וּ רַחֲמָֽיו׃
23 חֲדָשִׁים֙ לַבְּקָרִ֔ים
רַבָּ֖ה אֱמוּנָתֶֽךָ׃
24 חֶלְקִ֤י יְהוָה֙
אָמְרָ֣ה נַפְשִׁ֔י
עַל־כֵּ֖ן אוֹחִ֥יל לֽוֹ׃ ס
YHVH’s love
for it never ends,
for His mercies would never fail.
renewed every morning,
great is your faithfulness!
YHVH is my allotted share,
my soul said,
therefore I will hope in Him.

25 ט֤וֹב יְהוָה֙
לְנֶ֖פֶשׁ תִּדְרְשֶֽׁנּוּ׃
26 ט֤וֹב וְיָחִיל֙ וְדוּמָ֔ם
לִתְשׁוּעַ֖ת יְהוָֽה׃
27 ט֣וֹב לַגֶּ֔בֶר
כִּֽי־יִשָּׂ֥א עֹ֖ל
בִּנְעוּרָֽיו׃ ס
YHVH is good
to those who wait for Him,
to a soul / person that seeks Him.
It is good to wait in silence
for the help of YHVH;
it is good for a man
to bear a yoke
while he has youth.

28 יֵשֵׁ֤ב בָּדָד֙ וְיִדֹּ֔ם
כִּ֥י נָטַ֖ל עָלָֽיו׃
29 יִתֵּ֤ן בֶּֽעָפָר֙ פִּ֔יהוּ
אוּלַ֖י יֵ֥שׁ תִּקְוָֽה׃
30 יִתֵּ֧ן לְמַכֵּ֛הוּ לֶ֖חִי
יִשְׂבַּ֥ע בְּחֶרְפָּֽה׃ ס
Let him sit alone and be silent,
since it is His hand;
let him lay his lips to the dust –
there may be hope for him;
let him offer his cheek to the striker,
be satisfied with insult.

31 כִּ֣י לֹ֥א יִזְנַ֛ח
לְעוֹלָ֖ם אֲדֹנָֽי׃
32 כִּ֣י אִם־הוֹגָ֔ה וְרִחַ֖ם
כְּרֹ֥ב חסדו חֲסָדָֽיו׃
33 כִּ֣י לֹ֤א עִנָּה֙ מִלִּבּ֔וֹ
וַיַּגֶּ֖ה בְנֵי־אִֽישׁ׃ ס
For Adonai will not always
discard life;
If He aggrieves, He has pity,
so abundant is His love;
Afflicting is not in His heart,
nor grieving the children of a man.

34 לְדַכֵּא֙ תַּ֣חַת רַגְלָ֔יו
כֹּ֖ל אֲסִ֥ירֵי אָֽרֶץ׃
35 לְהַטּוֹת֙ מִשְׁפַּט־גָּ֔בֶר
נֶ֖גֶד פְּנֵ֥י עֶלְיֽוֹן׃
36 לְעַוֵּ֤ת אָדָם֙ בְּרִיב֔וֹ
אֲדֹנָ֖י לֹ֥א רָאָֽה׃ ס
To tread underfoot
the whole land’s people, imprisoned,
to distort a man’s just rights,
before the face of Elyon,
to twist a person in his struggle,
does Adonai not see it?

37 מִ֣י זֶ֤ה אָמַר֙ וַתֶּ֔הִי
אֲדֹנָ֖י לֹ֥א צִוָּֽה׃
38 מִפִּ֤י עֶלְיוֹן֙ לֹ֣א תֵצֵ֔א
הָרָע֖וֹת וְהַטּֽוֹב׃
39 מַה־יִּתְאוֹנֵן֙ אָדָ֣ם חָ֔י
גֶּ֖בֶר עַל־חטאו חֲטָאָֽיו׃ ס
Who is it who said and it became true,
unless Adonai also commanded?
Doesn’t the mouth of Elyon
decree evils and the good?
Why should one still living complain,
a man, (if punished) for his sins?

40 נַחְפְּשָׂ֤ה דְרָכֵ֙ינוּ֙ וְֽנַחְקֹ֔רָה
וְנָשׁ֖וּבָה עַד־יְהוָֽה׃
41 נִשָּׂ֤א לְבָבֵ֙נוּ֙ אֶל־כַּפָּ֔יִם
אֶל־אֵ֖ל בַּשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
42 נַ֤חְנוּ פָשַׁ֙עְנוּ֙ וּמָרִ֔ינוּ
אַתָּ֖ה לֹ֥א סָלָֽחְתָּ׃ ס
Let us scan our lives and search,
and let us return to YHVH,
lifting our hearts up to our hands
(stretched out) toward El in heaven.
Our sin is our own, we have rebelled,
and You – You have not pardoned;

43 סַכֹּ֤תָה בָאַף֙
הָרַ֖גְתָּ לֹ֥א חָמָֽלְתָּ׃
44 סַכּ֤וֹתָה
בֶֽעָנָן֙ לָ֔ךְ
מֵעֲב֖וֹר תְּפִלָּֽה׃
45 סְחִ֧י וּמָא֛וֹס
בְּקֶ֥רֶב הָעַמִּֽים׃ ס
You have veiled Your face in anger,
pursuing us,
killing without pity;
You have covered
Yourself with a cloud
no prayer can pierce;
mere scum and refuse
You have made us
in the midst of the peoples.

46 פָּצ֥וּ עָלֵ֛ינוּ
פִּיהֶ֖ם כָּל־אֹיְבֵֽינוּ׃
47 פַּ֧חַד וָפַ֛חַת הָ֥יָה לָ֖נוּ
הַשֵּׁ֥את וְהַשָּֽׁבֶר׃
48 פַּלְגֵי־מַ֙יִם֙ תֵּרַ֣ד עֵינִ֔י
עַל־שֶׁ֖בֶר בַּת־עַמִּֽי׃ ס
Our enemies, yelling, crack open
their mouth against us;
dismay and destruction befall us,
the ravage and the ruin.
Tears are flooding from my eyes
for the ruin of my daughter people;

49 עֵינִ֧י נִגְּרָ֛ה
וְלֹ֥א תִדְמֶ֖ה
מֵאֵ֥ין הֲפֻגֽוֹת׃
50 עַד־יַשְׁקִ֣יף
וְיֵ֔רֶא יְהוָ֖ה מִשָּׁמָֽיִם׃
51 עֵינִי֙ עֽוֹלְלָ֣ה לְנַפְשִׁ֔י
מִכֹּ֖ל בְּנ֥וֹת עִירִֽי׃ ס
my eye flows
and won’t be silent,
unable to pause,
till YHVH will look down
and see, from heaven above.
My eyes doles sorrow to my soul
over all my city’s daughters.

52 צ֥וֹד צָד֛וּנִי כַּצִּפּ֖וֹר
אֹיְבַ֥י חִנָּֽם׃
53 צָֽמְת֤וּ בַבּוֹר֙ חַיָּ֔י
וַיַּדּוּ־אֶ֖בֶן בִּֽי׃
54 צָֽפוּ־מַ֥יִם עַל־רֹאשִׁ֖י
אָמַ֥רְתִּי נִגְזָֽרְתִּי׃ ס
Hunting, they hunted me, like a bird,
with no reason for their hate;
they sealed off my life in the pit,
flinging stones at me;
waters flowed over my head,
“I am cut off,” I said.

55 קָרָ֤אתִי שִׁמְךָ֙ יְהוָ֔ה מִבּ֖וֹר
56 קוֹלִ֖י שָׁמָ֑עְתָּ
אַל־תַּעְלֵ֧ם אָזְנְךָ֛
לְרַוְחָתִ֖י לְשַׁוְעָתִֽי׃
57 קָרַ֙בְתָּ֙ בְּי֣וֹם אֶקְרָאֶ֔ךָּ
אָמַ֖רְתָּ אַל־תִּירָֽא׃ ס
I called Your name, YHVH,
from a nethermost pit.
You did hear my voice:
“Give ear, don’t hide
from my plea and cry”;
You came at my call,
saying, “Fear not.”

58 רַ֧בְתָּ אֲדֹנָ֛י
רִיבֵ֥י נַפְשִׁ֖י גָּאַ֥לְתָּ חַיָּֽי׃
59 רָאִ֤יתָה יְהוָה֙ עַוָּ֣תָתִ֔י
שָׁפְטָ֖ה מִשְׁפָּטִֽי׃
60 רָאִ֙יתָה֙ כָּל־נִקְמָתָ֔ם
כָּל־מַחְשְׁבֹתָ֖ם לִֽי׃ ס
O Lord, You took
on my soul’s struggles, saved my life.
59 And now you see my wrongs;
Oh vindicate me!
60 You have seen all their vengeance
their plotting against me.

61 שָׁמַ֤עְתָּ חֶרְפָּתָם֙ יְהוָ֔ה
כָּל־מַחְשְׁבֹתָ֖ם עָלָֽי׃
62 שִׂפְתֵ֤י קָמַי֙
וְהֶגְיוֹנָ֔ם עָלַ֖י כָּל־הַיּֽוֹם׃
63 שִׁבְתָּ֤ם וְקִֽימָתָם֙ הַבִּ֔יטָה
אֲנִ֖י מַנְגִּינָתָֽם׃ ס
You have heard their insult, YHVH,
all their plotting against me,
the talk of those rising against me,
their obsession all day long.
Look at them, sitting or rising –
I am their mocking song!

64 תָּשִׁ֨יב לָהֶ֥ם גְּמ֛וּל יְהוָ֖ה
כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יְדֵיהֶֽם׃
65 תִּתֵּ֤ן לָהֶם֙ מְגִנַּת־לֵ֔ב
תַּאֲלָֽתְךָ֖ לָהֶֽם׃
66 תִּרְדֹּ֤ף בְּאַף֙
מִתַּ֖חַת שְׁמֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ פ
You will requite them, YHVH,
for all their hands have done;
65 You will enwall their heart –
Your curse be upon them!
66 You will chase them angrily,
and crush them
from under the heavens.

אֵיכָה ד

1 אֵיכָה֙
יוּעַ֣ם זָהָ֔ב
יִשְׁנֶ֖א הַכֶּ֣תֶם הַטּ֑וֹב
תִּשְׁתַּפֵּ֙כְנָה֙ אַבְנֵי־קֹ֔דֶשׁ
בְּרֹ֖אשׁ כָּל־חוּצֽוֹת׃ ס
Eikhah! How can it be
that gold becomes dull,
the finest gold transmuted,
sacred gems poured / dumped out
at every streethead;

2 בְּנֵ֤י צִיּוֹן֙ הַיְקָרִ֔ים
הַמְסֻלָּאִ֖ים בַּפָּ֑ז
אֵיכָ֤ה נֶחְשְׁבוּ֙ לְנִבְלֵי־חֶ֔רֶשׂ
מַעֲשֵׂ֖ה יְדֵ֥י יוֹצֵֽר׃ ס
Sons of Zion, precious ones,
weighed against the purest gold —
how can it be that they are counted as
clay jars, work of maker’s hands?

3 גַּם־תנין תַּנִּים֙ חָ֣לְצוּ שַׁ֔ד
הֵינִ֖יקוּ גּוּרֵיהֶ֑ן
בַּת־עַמִּ֣י לְאַכְזָ֔ר
כי ענים כַּיְעֵנִ֖ים בַּמִּדְבָּֽר׃ ס
Even jackals draw out a breast,
would give suck to their cubs.
(But) my daughter people — so cruel,
like ostriches in the wilderness.

4 דָּבַ֨ק לְשׁ֥וֹן יוֹנֵ֛ק
אֶל־חכּ֖וֹ בַּצָּמָ֑א
עֽוֹלָלִים֙ שָׁ֣אֲלוּ לֶ֔חֶם
פֹּרֵ֖שׂ אֵ֥ין לָהֶֽם׃ ס
A suckling’s tongue, stuck
to its palate with this thirst,
babes sought bread –
one break it off for them.
5 The ones eating for delicacies

5 הָאֹֽכְלִים֙ לְמַ֣עֲדַנִּ֔ים
נָשַׁ֖מּוּ בַּחוּצ֑וֹת
הָאֱמֻנִים֙ עֲלֵ֣י תוֹלָ֔ע
חִבְּק֖וּ אַשְׁפַּתּֽוֹת׃ ס
The ones eating for delicacies
rwere wasted in the streets,
the ones nursed on scarlet
were hugging trash heaps.

6 וַיִּגְדַּל֙ עֲוֺ֣ן בַּת־עַמִּ֔י
מֵֽחַטַּ֖את סְדֹ֑ם
הַֽהֲפוּכָ֣ה כְמוֹ־רָ֔גַע
וְלֹא־חָ֥לוּ בָ֖הּ יָדָֽיִם׃ ס
And my daughter people’s iniquity
grew great, beyond Sodom’s sin,
the one overthrown, as if a moment,
and no hands were laid on her.

7 זַכּ֤וּ נְזִירֶ֙יהָ֙ מִשֶּׁ֔לֶג
צַח֖וּ מֵחָלָ֑ב
אָ֤דְמוּ עֶ֙צֶם֙ מִפְּנִינִ֔ים
סַפִּ֖יר גִּזְרָתָֽם׃ ס
Her Nazirites were pure beyond snow,
clearer than milk,
red of bone more than rubies,
their cut form sapphire crystal.

8 חָשַׁ֤ךְ מִשְּׁחוֹר֙
לֹ֥א נִכְּר֖וּ בַּחוּצ֑וֹת
צָפַ֤ד עוֹרָם֙ עַל־עַצְמָ֔ם
יָבֵ֖שׁ הָיָ֥ה כָעֵֽץ׃ ס
(Now) darkened beyond black soot
is their form,
they are not recognized in the streets,
their skin stretched taut over their bone,
it was dried out like a stick.

9 טוֹבִ֤ים הָיוּ֙ חַלְלֵי־חֶ֔רֶב
מֵֽחַלְלֵ֖י רָעָ֑ב
שֶׁ֣הֵ֤ם יָז֙וּבוּ֙ מְדֻקָּרִ֔ים
מִתְּנוּבֹ֖ת שָׂדָֽי׃ ס
Better were the sword-slain
than the famine-slain,
for they drain away, impaled
by (want of) produce of the field.

10 יְדֵ֗י נָשִׁים֙ רַחֲמָ֣נִיּ֔וֹת
בִּשְּׁל֖וּ יַלְדֵיהֶ֑ן
הָי֤וּ לְבָרוֹת֙ לָ֔מוֹ
בְּשֶׁ֖בֶר בַּת־עַמִּֽי׃ ס
Merciful Hands of merciful women
stewed their children –
they became provision for them
in the shattering of my daughter people.

11 כִּלָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אֶת־חֲמָת֔וֹ
שָׁפַ֖ךְ חֲר֣וֹן אַפּ֑וֹ
וַיַּצֶּת־אֵ֣שׁ בְּצִיּ֔וֹן
וַתֹּ֖אכַל יְסוֹדֹתֶֽיהָ׃ ס
YHVH used up His fury,
poured out His burning anger,
and He kindled a fire in Zion,
and it consumed her foundations.

12 לֹ֤א הֶאֱמִ֙ינוּ֙
וכל כֹּ֖ל יֹשְׁבֵ֣י תֵבֵ֑ל
כִּ֤י יָבֹא֙ צַ֣ר וְאוֹיֵ֔ב
בְּשַׁעֲרֵ֖י יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ ס
They would not have believed,
kings of the earth
all worldly inhabitants,
that tormentor and enemy would come
into the gates of Jerusalem.

13 מֵֽחַטֹּ֣את נְבִיאֶ֔יהָ
עֲוֺנ֖וֹת כֹּהֲנֶ֑יהָ
הַשֹּׁפְכִ֥ים בְּקִרְבָּ֖הּ
דַּ֥ם צַדִּיקִֽים׃ ס
(It was) because of her prophets’ sins,
her priests’ iniquities,
who poured out inside her
the blood of righteous people.

14 נָע֤וּ עִוְרִים֙
בַּֽחוּצ֔וֹת נְגֹֽאֲל֖וּ בַּדָּ֑ם
בְּלֹ֣א יֽוּכְל֔וּ יִגְּע֖וּ
בִּלְבֻשֵׁיהֶֽם׃ ס
They were shaking / staggering, blind
in the streets, defiled with the blood,
with none able to touch their clothes.

15 ס֣וּרוּ טָמֵ֞א
קָ֣רְאוּ לָ֗מוֹ
ס֤וּרוּ ס֙וּרוּ֙ אַל־תִּגָּ֔עוּ
כִּ֥י נָצ֖וּ גַּם־נָ֑עוּ
אָֽמְרוּ֙ בַּגּוֹיִ֔ם
לֹ֥א יוֹסִ֖יפוּ לָגֽוּר׃ ס
“Get out! Contaminated! Tamei’!”
they would call to them,
“Get out! Get out! Don’t touch!”
For they fled, even staggered.
They said in the nations,
they will dwell no more.

16 פְּנֵ֤י יְהוָה֙
חִלְּקָ֔ם לֹ֥א יוֹסִ֖יף
פְּנֵ֤י כֹהֲנִים֙ לֹ֣א נָשָׂ֔אוּ
זקנים וּזְקֵנִ֖ים לֹ֥א חָנָֽנוּ׃ ס
YHVH’s presence / face
divided them, He would no longer
look at / notice them –
(for) priest’s faces they did not lift up,
and (to) elders they did not show grace.

17 עודינה עוֹדֵ֙ינוּ֙ תִּכְלֶ֣ינָה עֵינֵ֔ינוּ
אֶל־עֶזְרָתֵ֖נוּ הָ֑בֶל
בְּצִפִּיָּתֵ֣נוּ צִפִּ֔ינוּ אֶל־גּ֖וֹי
לֹ֥א יוֹשִֽׁעַ׃ ס
Still will our eyes be used up / failing,
toward our help, (finding) emptiness
in our seeking, we scanned, we looked
to a nation not [able to] save.

18 צָד֣וּ צְעָדֵ֔ינוּ
מִלֶּ֖כֶת בִּרְחֹבֹתֵ֑ינוּ
קָרַ֥ב קִצֵּ֛ינוּ מָלְא֥וּ יָמֵ֖ינוּ
כִּי־בָ֥א קִצֵּֽינוּ׃ ס
They hunted / tracked our steps,
(driven) from going in our squares.
Our end draws close, our days filled,
for our end has come.

19 קַלִּ֤ים הָיוּ֙ רֹדְפֵ֔ינוּ
מִנִּשְׁרֵ֖י שָׁמָ֑יִם
עַל־הֶהָרִ֣ים דְּלָקֻ֔נוּ
בַּמִּדְבָּ֖ר אָ֥רְבוּ לָֽנוּ׃ ס
Swift were they, our pursuers, swifter
than eagles of the heavens.
Over the mountains they chased us,
in the wilderness they laid ambush for us.

20 ר֤וּחַ אַפֵּ֙ינוּ֙ מְשִׁ֣יחַ יְהוָ֔ה
נִלְכַּ֖ד בִּשְׁחִיתוֹתָ֑ם
אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָמַ֔רְנוּ בְּצִלּ֖וֹ
נִֽחְיֶ֥ה בַגּוֹיִֽם׃ ס
Breath of our nose, YHVH’s anointed,
he was trapped by their destructions,
of whom we said, in his shade
we will live with the nations.

21 שִׂ֤ישִׂי וְשִׂמְחִי֙ בַּת־אֱד֔וֹם
יושבתי יוֹשֶׁ֖בֶת בְּאֶ֣רֶץ ע֑וּץ
גַּם־עָלַ֙יִךְ֙ תַּעֲבָר־כּ֔וֹס
תִּשְׁכְּרִ֖י וְתִתְעָרִֽי׃ ס
Rejoice and be happy, daughter Edom,
dwelling in the land of Utz –
a cup will also pass over upon you,
you will drink and strip yourself naked.

22 תַּם־עֲוֺנֵךְ֙ בַּת־צִיּ֔וֹן
לֹ֥א יוֹסִ֖יף לְהַגְלוֹתֵ֑ךְ
פָּקַ֤ד עֲוֺנֵךְ֙
גִּלָּ֖ה עַל־חַטֹּאתָֽיִךְ׃ פ
Completed your iniquity, daughter Zion,
no more to be exiled / exposed.
He has charged your iniquity,
daughter Edom,
(to) expose (you) for your sins.

אֵיכָה ה

1 זְכֹ֤ר יְהוָה֙ מֶֽה־הָ֣יָה לָ֔נוּ
הביט הַבִּ֖יטָה וּרְאֵ֥ה
YHVH, remember what was ours /
Look, and see
our abuse / our shame!

2 נַחֲלָתֵ֙נוּ֙ נֶֽהֶפְכָ֣ה לְזָרִ֔ים
בָּתֵּ֖ינוּ לְנָכְרִֽים׃
Our inheritance overturned, to strangers
our houses to foreigners.

3 יְתוֹמִ֤ים הָיִ֙ינוּ֙ אין וְאֵ֣ין אָ֔ב
אִמֹּתֵ֖ינוּ כְּאַלְמָנֽוֹת׃
We were orphans, there is no father,
our mothers like widows.

4 מֵימֵ֙ינוּ֙ בְּכֶ֣סֶף שָׁתִ֔ינוּ
עֵצֵ֖ינוּ בִּמְחִ֥יר יָבֹֽאוּ׃
Our water we drank for money;
our wood came (only) with a price.

5 עַ֤ל צַוָּארֵ֙נוּ֙ נִרְדָּ֔פְנוּ
יָגַ֖עְנוּ לא וְלֹ֥א הֽוּנַ֖ח לָֽנוּ׃
On our neck we were pursued,
tired out, without letting us rest.

6 מִצְרַ֙יִם֙ נָתַ֣נּוּ יָ֔ד
אַשּׁ֖וּר לִשְׂבֹּ֥עַֽ לָֽחֶם׃
Egypt, we stretched a hand,
Assyria, to satisfy bread.

7 אֲבֹתֵ֤ינוּ חָֽטְאוּ֙ אינם וְאֵינָ֔ם
אנחנו וַאֲנַ֖חְנוּ עֲוֺנֹתֵיהֶ֥ם סָבָֽלְנוּ׃
Our fathers sinned and are not,
and we shouldered their evils.

8 עֲבָדִים֙ מָ֣שְׁלוּ בָ֔נוּ
פֹּרֵ֖ק אֵ֥ין
Slaves ruled us.
There is none to break us out
from their hand.

9 בְּנַפְשֵׁ֙נוּ֙ נָבִ֣יא לַחְמֵ֔נוּ
מִפְּנֵ֖י חֶ֥רֶב הַמִּדְבָּֽר׃
For our lives we bring our bread,
from the wilderness’s sword.

10 עוֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ כְּתַנּ֣וּר נִכְמָ֔רוּ
מִפְּנֵ֖י זַלְעֲפ֥וֹת רָעָֽב׃
Our skin like a furnace, glowing,
because of the delirium of hunger.

11 נָשִׁים֙ בְּצִיּ֣וֹן עִנּ֔וּ
בְּתֻלֹ֖ת בְּעָרֵ֥י יְהוּדָֽה׃
Women in Zion were victimized,
girls, in Judah’s towns.

12 שָׂרִים֙ בְּיָדָ֣ם נִתְל֔וּ
פְּנֵ֥י זְקֵנִ֖ים לֹ֥א נֶהְדָּֽרוּ׃
Ministers by their hand hung.
Elders’ faces were void of majesty.

13 בַּחוּרִים֙ טְח֣וֹן נָשָׂ֔אוּ
וּנְעָרִ֖ים בָּעֵ֥ץ כָּשָֽׁלוּ׃
Boys would carry a millstone,
and youths, stumbling with wood.

14 זְקֵנִים֙ מִשַּׁ֣עַר שָׁבָ֔תוּ
בַּחוּרִ֖ים מִנְּגִינָתָֽם׃
Elders ceased from gate,
boys from their play.

15 שָׁבַת֙ מְשׂ֣וֹשׂ לִבֵּ֔נוּ
נֶהְפַּ֥ךְ לְאֵ֖בֶל מְחֹלֵֽנוּ׃
Our heart stopped any joy,
our dance overturned into mourning.

16 נָֽפְלָה֙ עֲטֶ֣רֶת רֹאשֵׁ֔נוּ
אֽוֹי־נָ֥א לָ֖נוּ כִּ֥י חָטָֽאנוּ׃
The crown on our head is fallen;
Oy for us! For we sinned.

17 עַל־זֶ֗ה הָיָ֤ה דָוֶה֙ לִבֵּ֔נוּ
עַל־אֵ֖לֶּה חָשְׁכ֥וּ עֵינֵֽינוּ׃
For this our heart was sickened.
For these our eyes darkened.

18 עַ֤ל הַר־צִיּוֹן֙ שֶׁשָּׁמֵ֔ם
שׁוּעָלִ֖ים הִלְּכוּ־בֽוֹ׃ פ
For Mount Zion, that was desolated
foxes went through her.

19 אַתָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙
לְעוֹלָ֣ם תֵּשֵׁ֔ב
כִּסְאֲךָ֖ לְדֹ֥ר וָדֽוֹר׃
will sit for all world-time,
Your throne (lasts) for generations.

20 לָ֤מָּה לָנֶ֙צַח֙ תִּשְׁכָּחֵ֔נוּ
לְאֹ֥רֶךְ יָמִֽים׃
Why would you forget us forever?
Abandon us
for the span of time’s days?

21 הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ יְהוָ֤ה ׀ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙
ונשוב וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה
חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם׃
Turn us, YHVH, toward you,
and we will turn.
Renew our days, like long before.

22 כִּ֚י אִם־מָאֹ֣ס מְאַסְתָּ֔נוּ
קָצַ֥פְתָּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ עַד־מְאֹֽד׃
For if loathing, you should loathe us,
be enraged over us, so very much—!

הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ יְהוָ֤ה ׀ אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙
חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ
Turn us, YHVH, toward you,
and we will turn.
Make our days new again,
like dawn / long ago.

Some notes on the theology of Eikhah:

1. The idea that tragedy and disaster are punishment for our sins is alien to most most modern Jews. The author(s) of Eikhah believed (more or less) that what happened to Zion and Jerusalem was an expression of divine punishment.

One obvious reason why this theology was consoling is that it allowed people to believe that the tragedy was meaningful. (This is one reason why it is hard to connect the Holocaust with what we mourn on Tish’a B’av.)

The reader might also consider another possiblity. For the ancients, the choices were to believe that the destruction was punishment, or that God simply had no more interest in what happened to them.

It is easy to imagine why people would choose a punishing God over an uncaring God – though the latter possibility is suggested in the very last line of the text, “For if you should loathe us” (5:22), before we go back to repeat the more comforting line “Turn us…”

So even though Eikhah sounds like it’s about God punishing us, it is really about the hope that God cares about what we do and what happens to us. It’s not really a theology of evil, but rather a prayer that awful occurrences prove that God still cares, instead of proving that God is indifferent.

2. That doesn’t mean we ought to just accept this theology – even in Eikhah itself, this idea is questioned. Only in chapter 3 is the destruction of Zion consistently seen as fair and just punishment. In other chapters, the degree of divine punishment is (subtly) described as excessive and abusive. For example, we read,

“See YHVH and look: Whom did you treat so? If women will eat their fruit, coddled babies –!”(2:20).

3. This may also be the right way to read the metaphors of sexual abuse in Eikhah. (“All who honor her despise her, for they saw her nakedness.” (1:8) In some of the prophets, this metaphor is used to describe the just punishment that comes as a consequence of Israel’s “adulterous” chasing after other gods. But in Eikhah, the metaphor is used to hold up a mirror to God and say, what happened is abusive.

4. The real theology of Eikhah is expressed in the verse, “What can I compare to you, daughter Jerusalem, that I may comfort you?” (2:13) What images, what words, can help people bear the memory of tragedy? The poet is willing to say whatever needs to be said in order to find meaning and face tragedy.

5. There is however another way to look at the motif of divine punishment. According to Jeremiah, the reason for exile was that Israel had not allowed the land to rest every seven years during her Sabbatical or Shmita year. 490 years without Shmita equals 70 years of exile. This idea is not found in Eikhah, where the identification of the people with the land is total. What does this mean? The Torah portrays the land as a subject, with interests, rewards, and rights that take priority over our needs. Especially in the laws of the Jubilee and Shmita years (Lev 25) – and in the consequences that are supposed to befall the people if they do not observe these laws (Lev 26) – it is clear that God is ready to take the side of the land of Israel against the Jewish people.

6. Humanity as a social order, as a species, and all the more so as a collection of individuals, has no moral standing when its interests conflict with the intrinsic interests of the land, who will “enjoy her Sabbaths” (Lev 26:34,43), even if that means the people are exiled or wiped out. From the divine perspective, the human social order has value or validity only when justice encompasses the land as both a moral subject and a covenantal partner. What has intrinsic value is not humanity but justice, which is humanity’s potential.

7. The Torah outlines six curses for not observing the Sabbatical year, which describe how relationship between the the people and the land can unravel, marked by who eats what or whom. The thread of this progression is woven in and out of Leviticus 26, but here is what it looks like when we pull it out:
(1) “you will sow your seed for emptiness, for your enemies will eat it” (v.16);
(2) “you will completely use your strength for emptiness, and your land will not give her produce” (v.20);
(3) “I will send out against you the animal of the field and she will make you childless” (v.22);
(4) “you will be gathered (i.e., like a harvest) into your cities…and I will break the staff of bread against you” (v.26);
(5) “you will eat the flesh of your sons and your daughters’ flesh you will eat” (v.29);
(6) “you will be lost in the nations and the land of your enemies will eat you” (v.38).

Two of these curses involve children being eaten – first by animals and then by their parents. In fact, this image is repeated in Eikhah, and it is the strongest connection between the text of Eikhah and the teachings about the Sabbatical year.

Because the Jewish people was in exile for so long, the last curse (“the land of your enemies will eat you”) does not sound like the worst one. Because we love our children, it is the fifth that sounds the worst. But symbolically, if the land eats us, this represents the final step: a complete reversal of the right relationship between people and land. In an age when we have good reason to believe that our ecological “sins” are coming home to roost, the connection between disaster and divine retribution may not seem so farfetched. If we sympathize with this idea, we can read Eikhah as an invitation to change our lives, towards justice for all peoples, for all species, and for the land herself.

Rabbi David Seidenberg
2015 / 5775, the year of Shmita

Some of this material is excerpted from Kabbalah and Ecology (Cambridge University Press 2015).

The holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments: A new translation by James Moffat (1924: Hodder & Stoughton)
For consistency and in accord with our style guide, we have replaced instances where Moffatt translated divine names from the Hebrew with their transliteration. E.g., “the Eternal” is replaced with YHVH, “the Lord” with Adonai, “the Most High” with Elyon, and “God” with El.
The next three verses are reordered by Moffat: 51, 49, 50.

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