The Hebrew name for the Book of Lamentations and is also the first word in said book. Means "How?, and is held for being the formula for the commencement of a song of wailing. In it, the prophet Jeremiah mourns over the desolations brought on the city and the holy land by Chaldeans.
The book consists of five separate poems. In chapter 1 the prophet dwells on the manifold miseries oppressed by which the city sits as a solitary widow weeping sorely. In chapter 2 these miseries are described in connection with the national sins that had caused them. Chapter 3 speaks of hope for the people of God. The chastisement would only be for their good; a better day would dawn for them. Chapter 4 laments the ruin and desolation that had come upon the city and temple, but traces it only to the people's sins. Chapter 5 is a prayer that Zion's reproach may be taken away in the repentance and recovery of the people.
The first four poems (chapters) are acrostics, like some of the Psalms (25, 34, 37, 119), i.e., each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order. The first, second, and fourth have each twenty-two verses, the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The third has sixty-six verses, in which each three successive verses begin with the same letter. The fifth is not acrostic.
Aicha yashav badad, hair rabati am -- hayita ka'almana.
1. How has the city that was once so populous remained lonely! She has become like a widow! She that was great among the nations, a princess among the provinces, has become tributary.
2. She weeps, yea, she weeps in the night, and her tears are on her cheek; she has no comforter among all her lovers; all her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
3. Judah went into exile because of affliction and great servitude; she settled among the nations, and found no rest; all her pursuers overtook her between the boundaries.
4. The roads of Zion are mournful because no one comes to the appointed season; all her gates are desolate, her priests moan; her maidens grieve while she herself suffers bitterly.
5. Her adversaries have become the head, her enemies are at ease; for the Lord has afflicted her because of the multitude of her sins; her young children went into captivity before the enemy.
6. And gone is from the daughter of Zion all her splendor; her princes were like harts who did not find pasture and they departed without strength before their pursuer.
7. Jerusalem recalls the days of her poverty and her miseries, and all her precious things that were from days of old; when her people fell into the hand of the adversary, and there was none to help her; the enemies gazed, gloating on her desolation.
8. Jerusalem sinned grievously, therefore she became a wanderer; all who honored her despised her, for they have seen her shame; moreover, she herself sighed and turned away.
9. Her uncleanliness is in her skirts, she was not mindful of her end, and she fell astonishingly with none to comfort her. Behold, O Lord, my affliction, for the enemy has magnified himself.
10. The adversary stretched forth his hand upon all her precious things, for she saw nations enter her Sanctuary, whom You did command not to enter into Your assembly.
11. All her people are sighing as they search for bread; they gave away their treasures for food to revive the soul; see, O Lord, and behold, how I have become worthless.
12. All of you who pass along the road, let it not happen to you. Behold and see, if there is any pain like my pain, which has been dealt to me, with which the Lord saddened me on the day of His fierce anger.
13. From above He has hurled fire into my bones, and it broke them; He has spread a net for my feet, He has turned me back, He has made me desolate and faint all day long.
14. The yoke of my transgressions was marked in His hand, they have become interwoven; they have come upon my neck and caused my strength to fail; the Lord delivered me into the hands of those I could not withstand.
15. The Lord has trampled all my mighty men in my midst, He summoned an assembly against me to crush my young men; the Lord has trodden as in a wine press the virgin daughter of Judah.
16. For these things I weep; my eye, yea my eye, sheds tears, for the comforter to restore my soul is removed from me; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.
17. Zion spreads out her hands for help, but there is none to comfort her; the Lord has commanded concerning Jacob that his adversaries shall be round about him; Jerusalem has become an outcast among them.
18. The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against His word; hear, I pray, all you peoples, and behold my pain; my maidens and my youths have gone into captivity.
19. I called to my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, when they sought food for themselves to revive their souls.
20. Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress, my innards burn, my heart is turned within me, for I have grievously rebelled; in the street the sword bereaves, in the house it is like death.
21. They have heard how I sigh, and there is none to comfort me, all my enemies have heard of my trouble and are glad that You have done it; if only You had brought the day that You proclaimed upon them and let them be like me.
22. May all their wickedness come before You, and deal with them as You have dealt with me for all my transgressions, for my sighs are many and my heart is faint.
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