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To listen to J.Vernon McGee in audio stream - click on "Listen." To hear the bible chapter read in the King James Version click on "Bible KJV". The bible is read by Pastor Dan Wagner, retired minister from California. The Book of Lamentations is available for reading below.

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Listen Download   Lamentations Introduction
Listen Download Bible - KJV Lamentations Ch. 1 Lam1: How lonely sits the city! Judah has gone into exile. O LORD, I am despised. Is any sorrow like mine? There is no one to comfort me.
Listen Download Bible - KJV Lamentations Ch. 2 Lam2: The LORD has not pitied Jacob. He has abandoned his sanctuary. My eyes fail with tears. Young and old lie slaughtered in the streets.
Listen Download Bible - KJV Lamentations Ch. 3 Lam3: He has driven me into darkness. But the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases. Let us return to the LORD! You will repay my enemies
Listen Download Bible - KJV Lamentations Ch. 4 Lam4: The holy stones lie scattered. The children beg for food. The LORD has poured out his fierce anger. O Zion, your punishment will end.
Listen Download Bible - KJV Lamentations Ch. 5 Lam5: Look, O LORD, and see our disgrace! We have become orphans. Slaves rule over us. But you, O LORD, reign forever. Restore us as of old!

Book of Lamentations Outlines by J.Vernon McGee PDF format <Link>

The Book of Lamentations - Summary

Lamentations is a book of very sad poems. Lamentations is in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Jeremiah wrote the Book of Lamentations after soldiers from Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.

Jerusalem had been a beautiful city. The temple (house of God) was in Jerusalem. But the soldiers destroyed the buildings. They killed many people (Lamentations 2:21). They led the young men away to Babylon. The soldiers even forced the young women to have sex with them (Lamentations 5:11-13).

Jeremiah saw these terrible events. And he knew why these things happened. They happened because the people in Jerusalem had not obeyed God's law. The people prayed to evil gods. And the people were very evil. God sent his servants to warn the people. But the people did not change their behaviour. So, God punished them (2 Chronicles 36:14-17).

Jeremiah was very sad when he wrote Lamentations. But he still had hope. Between his sad words, he wrote about God's love. Jeremiah knew that God cares (Lamentations 3:22-33).

Jeremiah wanted the people to trust God again (Lamentations 3:40-42). And Jeremiah knew that God would not always punish his people (Lamentations 4:22). Jeremiah prayed that the people could return to Jerusalem (Lamentations 5:21).

A Very Sad Man Prays to God

Words in boxes are comments on the text.

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.

The word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About this book

We call this book Lamentations because it is a sad book. It has five parts. All five parts are about the city called *Jerusalem.

God wanted people to *look after *Jerusalem and the special house there. God wanted people to *worship only him in that house. But the people who lived in *Jerusalem did not obey God. In the end, he was angry with those people. He let armies come from another country. Those armies came to destroy *Jerusalem and to take the people away. The writer lived in Jerusalem. We think that he was a man called Jeremiah. We can read a translation of Lamentations in a very old book called the Septuagint. It says that Jeremiah wrote Lamentations. He certainly wrote another book in the Bible, which is called Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a man who loved God and his own people. He was very sad when they destroyed his city, *Jerusalem. Jeremiah wrote the book about 586 years before Jesus was born.

In the first two parts of the book, Jeremiah writes sometimes as if he himself is speaking. Other times he writes as if *Jerusalem city and its people are speaking. The city speaks as if a woman is speaking. In the next two parts, only Jeremiah speaks. In the last part, he writes as if the city’s people are praying to God.

The first part is about the lonely city. The second part says that God was like an angry enemy. In the next part, Jeremiah remembers how good God is. If people really love God, they can hope for better things always. After that, Jeremiah talks about the cruel enemies. He remembers what those enemies did to the people in the city. In the last part, the city’s people know that they have done many wrong things. So they ask God to forget those bad things.

Lamentations shows us that God gets angry about *sin. He is happy when we change. This book also shows us what God wants. He wants us to love him. He wants us to obey him. If we do that, he helps us. He will help us to be good and to do good things.

Chapter 1

Jeremiah is speaking

v1 The city that was full of people is lonely now.

The city is like the wife of a dead husband.

Once she was great.

She was like a queen among the other places in the country.

Now she is a slave.

God made *Jerusalem great and important. So he can stop it being great or important. He will stop it if the people go against him. In Isaiah 47:1-11 and Revelation 18:1-8, he says that he will do this to another city.

v2 She weeps in the night

and there are *tears on her face.

Not one of her lovers will help her to feel better.

All her friends have left her.

They have gone against her and they are now her enemies.

·        Many people had always come to *Jerusalem. They do not come any longer. God took their friends away so that Jerusalem’s people would turn back to him.

·        See how very sad Jeremiah is: Jeremiah 9:1.

v3 The enemies have taken *Judah’s people away as slaves.

The slaves have only trouble and difficult work.

They now live among strangers.

They have no rest, and they live far away from home.

They cannot go away from those who do cruel things to them.

Jerusalem was the capital city of the country called *Judah. Zion is another name for Jerusalem.

v4 *Zion’s streets are sad places now.

            Nobody comes to *worship God there any longer.

            There is nothing to hear at the city gates.

            The *priests are sad.

            Strangers are cruel to the young women.

            The people in *Zion are very sad.

The leaders always met at the city gate to talk together. See Lamentations 5:14.

v5 The people’s enemies rule them now.

            Those who *hate them have plenty.

            The *Lord has caused trouble for the people

            because they did so many wrong things.

            The enemies took the children away to work as slaves.

v6 *Zion is not beautiful any longer.

            Her leaders are like animals without food.

            They are too weak to run from their enemies.

v7 *Jerusalem’s people are in trouble and they are away from their homes now.

            So, they remember the good things

            that they had a long time ago.

            When their enemies came, nobody was there with them.

            Nobody helped them.

            Their enemies laughed when they destroyed Jerusalem.

v8 Jerusalem’s people have *sinned very much.

            That is why this city is not clean any longer.

            People thought that this city was the best.

            Now they think that it is not important.

            They see it as it is.

            Jerusalem’s people make sad noises and they want to hide themselves away.

v9 Jerusalem seemed dirty because the people were so bad.

            They never thought that the end would be like this.

            But their enemies destroyed the city.

            They do not have anyone who can help them to feel better.

            God did not listen any longer when they asked for his help.

            ‘*Lord, see our troubles.

            See how happy our enemies are’, the people pray.

v10 The enemies have taken away all Jerusalem’s valuable things.

            Foreign people have walked into God’s *holy house.

            But God had said that people like that must not go in there.

            They are not his people.

v11 Jerusalem’s people are making sad noises.

            They are sad as they look for food.

            They sell things that they love.

            They use them to buy food.

            That way, they can keep themselves alive.

The city’s people are speaking like one person

‘*Lord, see what is happening.

            Think about me,

            because nobody else does’, the people pray.

v12 ‘Come and really look at me!

            All you people who pass me do not show any interest in me.

            But you have never seen anything as sad as I am.

            The *Lord was very angry with me.

            So it was the *Lord who did this to me.’

The city’s people are speaking

v13 ‘It is like God has sent fire down into our bones to hurt us.

            He wants us to turn towards him again.

            So he has caused things to be very difficult for us.

            All day he causes us to feel lonely and weak.

v14 He has caused our *sins to seem like something very heavy that lies on our necks.

            It makes us weak.

            He has let the enemy be very strong.

            He let them win against us.

            So we cannot beat them.

v15 The *Lord has let the enemy beat all our strong men.

            He brought a big army to fight our young men.

            And the enemy won that fight.

            People walk on *grapes to break them.

            Like that, the *Lord let the enemy hurt our young women here in *Judah.’

People walk on the fruit called grapes to break them. This makes something to drink come out of them. This means that the *Lord caused trouble and pain for the strong men, the young men and the women. He was *punishing them. But he also did it to teach them. He wanted them to change.

v16 ‘We weep because of these things.

            *Tears run down our faces because God is not with us.

            Nobody will help us.

            We are the children of this city

            and we have nothing now.

            The enemy has won.’

Jeremiah is speaking again

v17 *Zion’s people ask for help,

            but nobody is their friend.

            They are *Jacob’s children.

            But the *Lord has said that he will cause their enemies

            to come from every country near them.

            Those other people think about *Jerusalem as they would think about something dirty.

*Jacob was a man of God who lived a long time ago. The Bible sometimes uses the name *Jacob to mean all God’s people, *Israel. God often saved *Israel from troubles (Psalm 44:1-8). Now they are in trouble because they have turned against God.

The city’s people are speaking again

v18 ‘The *Lord is right to *punish us.

            We have not obeyed him.

            Listen, all people everywhere, and look at us.

            We are in very bad trouble.

            The enemy has taken away our young women

            and our young men to be slaves.’

When God causes trouble, he causes it for a reason. People should know that he is right. Some people might say that he is wrong. If they say that, they do not understand either him or themselves. See 2 Chronicles 12:5-6.

v19 ‘We shouted to our friends.

            They had said that they would help us.

            But they did not help us.

            Our *priests and our leaders died in the city.

            They were looking for food to keep them alive.

v20 Look, *Lord, we are in a lot of trouble.

            We are very sad.

            We are weak deep inside ourselves

            because we have done so many bad things.

            They are killing our people in the streets.

            People are dying in the houses.’

*Jerusalem’s people are talking to God, (see verses 20-22). It helps people to know that God sees all their troubles. God thinks about their troubles because he loves them. He will even cause good things to be the result of bad things.

v21 ‘Everybody knows that we are very sad.

            Nobody wants to help us.

            All our enemies know about our trouble.

            They are happy, God, that you caused that trouble.

            Please cause trouble for those enemies too, as you promised.

v22 You know that they have done many bad things.

            *Punish them as you have *punished us.

            You *punished us because we did many bad things.

            Now we are ashamed and we are very sad.’

Chapter 2

Jeremiah is speaking

v1 The *Lord was very angry.

            He wanted *Zion’s people to be ashamed.

            *Zion was the most beautiful city in *Israel.

            But he has put it down to the ground from its high place.

            *Zion was like a place where he had rested his feet.

            Now that he is angry, he has forgotten about that.

Some people think that the *holy house of God in *Jerusalem made the city beautiful. See Isaiah 64:11.

‘he rested his feet’. See Isaiah 60:13.

v2 The *Lord has destroyed all the houses where *Jacob’s people lived.

            He decided that he must *punish them.

            Because he is angry,

            he has destroyed all *Judah’s strong towns.

            Yes, he has destroyed all the buildings.

            And he has killed the rulers and all the people.

v3 Yes, because he is very angry,

            he has destroyed *Israel’s whole army.

            He did not help them when they were fighting the enemy.

            He was like a big hot fire

            that burned *Jacob’s people from all sides.

v4 He has bent his *bow like an enemy ready to kill people.

            And, like an enemy,

            he has killed all those who once gave him pleasure.

            He has shown how angry he was.

            He has sent a fire and he burned all *Zion’s houses.

v5 The *Lord has become like an enemy.

            He has destroyed *Israel

            and all the beautiful houses there.

            He has destroyed all the strong towns that had walls.

            He has caused *Judah’s people to weep.

            They are very sad.

v6 He has knocked down his own *holy house

            as easily as someone can knock down a hut in a garden.

            He has destroyed this place where people once met him.

            He has caused *Zion’s people to forget

            the special events and the *Sabbaths in his *holy house.

            He was very angry.

            So he thought that our king and our *priests were not important.

            He refused to help them.

The ‘*holy house’ is the place in *Jerusalem where *Israel’s people went to *worship God. The Bible calls it ‘the Temple’. King Solomon built the Temple that Jeremiah is talking about here. See 1 Kings 5:1-5.

v7 His *holy house and his *altar there

            no longer give pleasure to the *Lord.

            He has given *Zion’s most beautiful houses to the enemy.

            They shout in the *holy house of the *Lord

            as people shout on a special *holy day.

v8 The *Lord decided to destroy the strong walls of *Zion.

            He carefully broke away each stone.

            It causes us to weep when we look at those walls.

            He destroyed them all.

            He destroyed the inside walls and he destroyed the strong outside walls.

v9 *Zion’s gates fell down on the ground.

            He destroyed them and he has broken them in pieces.

            The enemies have taken away our king

            and his sons to a foreign country.

            The people have nearly forgotten God’s rules.

            And God does not send messages to us any longer.

            His *prophets have nothing to say to us.

Verse 7 Foreign people should not be in the ‘*holy house’. See Nehemiah 13:1.

Verse 9 ‘nearly forgotten’. God’s rules were still there, but people did not think about them any longer. They did not obey them.

v10 *Zion’s leaders sit on the ground and they are saying nothing.

            They have dressed themselves in *sackcloth

            and they throw dirt on their own heads.

They are showing everyone that they are very sad.

And the young women of *Jerusalem can only look down to the ground,

            because they are very sad too.

In those times, people sometimes put dirt on their heads and they put on clothes of *sackcloth. They did it to show that they were very sad.

v11 I have cried so much that my eyes are red now.

            Even the parts inside my body hurt,

            because my people are dying.

            I feel ill because I am so sad.

            The children and babies fall in the city’s streets

            because they are so weak.

v12 ‘Where has all the food and drink gone?’

            the hungry children ask their mothers.

            Then they fall down in pain on the streets of the city.

            They die in their mothers’ arms.

v13 I want to help you people of *Jerusalem.

            But there is nothing that I can say to you.

            I do not know about anything like what has happened to you.

            God has destroyed *Zion completely!

            I do not know anyone who can make you people better.

v14 Your *prophets have promised you many good things.

            Those good things will not happen.

            They should have told you that you should not do wrong things.

            If they had told you that, none of these troubles would have happened.

            The *prophets do not tell you true messages from God

            and their dreams are false.

God had told the people many times that they must not listen to these false *prophets. God also told the people how to recognise good *prophets. Only good *prophets brought messages from God. See Jeremiah 23:16-22; 28:9.

v15 Everyone who goes by laughs.

            They are happy because you are sad.

            They see how the enemy has destroyed everything in *Jerusalem.

            “Surely this cannot be the city that men called ‘most beautiful’ ”, they say.

            “People have said that this city is the best city on earth.”

v16 All your enemies make noises through their teeth

            because they are very happy.

            ‘We have won!’ they say.

            ‘We have waited for this day.

            Now we have beaten you!

            Now we have seen it!’

v17 The *Lord has done what he decided to do.

            Yes, he has done what he told you about a long time ago.

            He has destroyed your city and he has not felt sorry about it.

            He has caused your enemies to be happy.

            He has made them strong

            so that they could win against you.

See Deuteronomy 28:15, 36, 47-68; 29:22-28; 30:1-5. God gave people clear messages a long time before this time. If they did not obey him, their enemies would beat them. And God would help their enemies.

v18 Day and night, cause your *tears to run like a river round the walls of *Zion.

            Cry to the *Lord all the time, you people.

            Do not rest.

            Do not let your eyes stop crying.

v19 Stand up and pray for God’s help.

            Talk to God all night.

            Pour out your words and thoughts to God

            as you pour out water from a jar.

            Lift up your hands to him when you ask him.

            And ask him to save the lives of your children.

            They fall down to die at the end of every street

            because they are so hungry.

*Jerusalem’s people speak

v20 ‘Look at us, *Lord’, you should say.

            ‘You have done all this to your people.

            Women eat their own children now!

            But they are the children that they *looked after.

            People have killed your own *priests and *prophets

            in your *holy house!

v21 Young people and old people lie dead in the streets.

            The enemy has killed the young men and women with long knives.

            But it was really you who killed them.

            You were very angry with us.

            So you killed them and you did not feel sorry.

v22 You asked our enemies to come round us

            as people come to a special party.

            They killed our people because you were angry.

            Nobody could hide or run away.

            They all died.

            We saw the enemy kill our own children.’

Chapter 3

In this chapter, Jeremiah is speaking.

v1 I am the man who has seen trouble.

God *punished me because he was angry with me.

v2 He has led me into the dark.

There is no light, so I cannot see the right way.

v3 He is completely against me;

so again and again, he causes me trouble all day long.

v4 God has caused my skin and my whole body to become old.

He has broken my bones.

God may be angry with his people and he may *punish them. He *punishes them so that they learn from him. But they must not think that he has also stopped loving them. God is not against them, but he is against their *sin.

v5 He has fought against me from every side.

He caused much trouble for me,

so that I am very sad.

v6 He has brought me to this dark place.

So I am like a person who has been dead for a long time.

v7 I am like a person inside high walls that God has built.

And I cannot go out.

My troubles are very bad.

They are like heavy metal and they hold me down.

v8 I shout and I pray for help,

But God does not listen.

v9 I am like a person on a path with lots of curves,

because he put big rocks in my way.

v10 God is like a strong wild animal.

He hides and he waits for me by the path.

v11 He is like an animal that pulls a person away from the path.

            Then it tears the person in pieces.

            He has made me very lonely.

v12 God is like a soldier with a *bow.

He bent the *bow and he shot at me.

v13 It was as if he shot me in the heart.

v14 All the people see me and laugh.

They even sing silly songs about me all day long.

v15 God has caused my life to become a thing of pain.

It is as if he filled a cup with a very *bitter drink for me.

v16 It is as if he caused me to eat small stones.

And the stones broke my teeth.

Then he put me on the ground,

and he covered me with ashes.

v17 He has taken *peace away from my mind.

I have forgotten what good days are like.

There were good days when I had plenty.

And there were good days when I was happy.

But I have forgotten what that was like.

v18 ‘Everything good has finished for me!

The things that I hoped for from the *Lord have not come!’ I tell myself.

v19 Remember (*Lord) all my troubles because I am sad.

Remember that I am very lonely.

And my mouth tastes bad as I think about it.

v20 I think about all those things,

and I feel small and alone.

v21 But then I choose to remember God,

and then I hope again:

v22 God is good and he never stops being kind to us.

That is why we are alive at all.

v23 Each new day we can remember

that God’s promises will certainly happen.

v24 ‘He is my *Lord’, I say to myself.

‘He is the reason why I can hope again.’

v25 The *Lord does good things for people who wait for him.

He is kind to everyone who looks for him.

v26 It is good when people go on hoping.

It is good when they quietly wait for God,

because he will save them.

Verse 21 Jeremiah begins to hope again. God’s people think that God has forgotten to be kind.

Verse 22 Now Jeremiah is telling them true things about God. It is always good to believe God. We must remember what he has promised. And we should believe him even more when bad things happen to us.

v27 It is also good for people to obey God when they are young.

            They should work well for him.

v28 Also, they should sit alone quietly,

when God causes them to be in trouble.

v29 They should lie down on the ground in front of God.

Then they can hope again.

v30 Cruel people will want to hurt them.

            And those people will want to say cruel things to them.

They should let them do it and they should not fight them.

Verse 28 God does not speak to us when we are talking all the time.

Verse 29 When people felt small or ashamed in front of God, they often lay down on the ground.

Verse 30 Jesus spoke about this too in Matthew 5:39.

v31 The *Lord does not turn away from people for always.

v32 God does cause people to feel sad sometimes,

but he is sorry for us.

He is also very kind to us,

because he loves us very much.

v33 He does not enjoy seeing people who are in pain.

He does not enjoy causing trouble for them.

God only wants people to learn from him. Then they can be happy.

v34 Bad people may be cruel to those who are in a prison.

But God does not like to see that.

v35 Bad people may take other people’s things.

But God does not like to see that.

And God is the greatest of all.

v36 People with authority may not be fair to other people.

But the *Lord is not happy when he sees that.

v37 The *Lord causes things to happen.

            Nobody can cause things to happen without him.

v38 God is the greatest of all and he causes things to happen.

He causes good things and bad things when he speaks.

v39 He only *punishes us when we do wrong things.

We are still alive, so we should not be angry with God.

v40 Instead, we should think a lot about what we do.

And we should turn back to the *Lord again.

v41 God is in his home and we should pray to him.

We should offer ourselves completely to him.

Heaven is the name of God’s home.

v42 ‘We have done wrong things,

and we have gone against you.

And you have not *forgiven us’, we say to God.

v43 ‘You have hidden yourself from us because you are angry.

You have followed us so that you could kill us.

You were not sorry about it.

v44 You have hidden from us in a cloud.

So you do not listen to us when we talk to you.

v45 You let people from other countries think bad things about us.

They think that we have no value.

We are like things that nobody can use any longer.

v46 All our enemies say bad things to us.

v47 And we are very afraid of the people who have beaten us.

            They have caught us like animals.

            They have killed us.

            And they have destroyed all the things that we had.’

Jeremiah has suggested an honest way for the people to speak to God.

v48 I weep, and my eyes are red with all my *tears.

It is because the enemy has killed my people.

v49 *Tears come like a river from my eyes.

And they will not stop,

v50 until the *Lord looks down on us from his home in *heaven.

            He will see us and he will help us.

v51 I see our city.

I see what has happened to all the people here.

And so I am very sad.

v52 My enemies had no reason to follow me.

            But they caught me as they would catch a bird.

v53 They put me alive into the well,

and they threw stones down on me.

v54 The water covered my head.

Then I said, ‘I shall die.’

v55 I shouted your name, *Lord,

when I was in the well.

v56 ‘Please listen to me, *Lord’, I shouted.

‘Help me! Save me!’ I shouted,

and you heard me.

v57 You came near to me when I prayed to you.

‘Do not be afraid’, you said.

v58 *Lord, you have given me help.

You have paid the price to keep me alive.

v59 You saw the bad things that they did to me.

So please agree with me that they were not fair!

v60 You know all the bad things that they did to me.

And you know about all the bad things that they want to do to me.

v61 You have heard their cruel words against me, *Lord.

Yes, you know about all the bad things that they want to do to me.

v62 These people have been cruel to me.

They attack me with cruel words every hour of the day.

v63 Look at them as they sing cruel things about me.

            They sing when they are sitting.

And they sing when they are standing.

v64 *Punish them for what they have done, *Lord.

v65 Cause them to think that they cannot hope for anything good.

            Cause bad things to happen to them.

v66 Run after them angrily.

            Kill them all because you are angry with them.

            Let nobody on earth remember them any longer.

Chapter 4

In this chapter, Jeremiah continues to speak.

v1 Look! The gold has stopped shining!

Look how the best gold has changed!

The valuable stones from the *Holy Place lie at the end of every street!

v2 *Jerusalem’s men were valuable, like the best gold.

Now they lie in the streets, because God has broken them.

They are like common pots that a *potter makes.

*Jerusalem’s people were valuable to God, as gold is valuable. Perhaps the ‘valuable stones’ from the *Holy Place were like *Jerusalem’s leaders and *priests. Certainly the enemy had destroyed and burnt the *Holy Place there. They broke the beautiful stones from its walls, and those stones were lying in the street.

People did not think that common pots were valuable.

v3 Even the wild animals offer the breast to their young animals.

But *Jerusalem’s young women have become cruel.

They are like *ostriches that put their young ostriches in wild places.

*Ostriches are large birds that put their eggs in the sand. See Job 39:14-16.

v4 The mouths of the babies in Jerusalem are completely dry, because they are so *thirsty.

And the young children ask for food, but nobody gives them anything to eat.

v5 There are people here who had been very rich.

They ate the best foods, but now they are hungry.

Now they lie in the streets with nothing to eat.

They wore the best clothes, but now they sit in the ashes.

v6 God has *punished my people.

He *punished us more than he *punished *Sodom’s people.

God destroyed that city in a moment,

and no human person helped him.

*Sodom’s people were very bad and they did not know much about God. They all died quickly. *Jerusalem’s people knew a lot about God, but they also did many very bad things. They died more slowly. They were in pain for a long time before they died.

v7 The leaders of *Jerusalem were more clean than the cleanest cold water.

They seemed to be more white than milk.

Their bodies had very good health,

and they seemed to shine like valuable stones.

v8 Now their faces are black like wood that somebody has burnt.

People see them in the streets, but do not recognise them.

Their skin hangs on their bones.

Their skin is as dry as wood for a fire.

A long time ago, these leaders had been extra careful to be clean. They wanted to do what God wanted them to do. People thought that these leaders were very special. But now, they are the same as everybody else in the streets.

v9 Our enemies have killed many people with long knives.

It is better for those dead people

than for the people who have no food.

They are very hungry.

And they die slowly because they have nothing to eat.

v10 Women who once were very kind

have boiled their own children.

Their children became their food,

when the enemies were destroying the city.

These people had done some very bad things in the bad times when they were very sad and hungry. But God wants them to learn his ways again.

v11 The *Lord was very angry.

So he sent fire to burn *Zion.

It destroyed the whole city, even the strongest houses.

v12 The kings in the other cities on earth could not believe it.

            None of the people on earth could believe it.

They thought that no enemy could go through *Jerusalem’s gates.

These other people had seen or they knew about *Jerusalem’s strong walls. They also knew that *Jerusalem and Jerusalem’s people were special to God. So, they were very surprised about what happened to the city.

v13 God *punished *Jerusalem and its people because their leaders *sinned.

God did not like the things that their *prophets and *priests did.

They had caused good people to die.

v14 Those leaders walked in the streets like men who cannot see.

There was blood on their clothes and everybody was afraid to touch them.

v15 ‘Go away!’ people shouted at them.

‘Do not touch us!

You are too dirty to be among God’s people!’

So they went away to other countries, but the people there did not want them.

            ‘They cannot stay here with us!’ those people said.

v16 The *Lord himself has sent them away because he is angry with them.

He will not be kind to them any longer.

Nobody likes bad *priests and nobody likes bad leaders.

Some people were as bad as their leaders, the *priests and the *prophets. It was sad that good people in *Jerusalem also died because of other people’s *sins.

God does not think well of people who do bad things again and again. Good people may be sorry for bad *priests or for other leaders, but they do not listen to them. And they do not think that they are important.

v17 Our eyes became red as we watched.

We were looking for help, but it did not come.

The people from other countries could not save us.

v18 Enemies ran after us, so that we could not go into the streets any longer.

We knew that we would die soon.

We could not live like this any longer.

v19 The enemy was quicker than big birds that fly in the air.

They followed us so that they could catch us out on the mountains.

They hid and they waited for us in the wild places.

v20 God had chosen a man to be our king.

We thought that he would save us.

‘Under his shadow we will live among the other countries’, we had always said.

But the enemy caught him.

Nobody could help them if God was against them. The king was Zedekiah. He was the last King of *Judah. Jeremiah tells us about him in the other book that he wrote. (See Jeremiah 39:1-8.) *Israel’s people thought that their kings were very special. They thought that God had given those kings to them.

v21 You, *Edom’s people, live in the country called *Uz. And you are happy now.

But at a future time, God will hurt you also.

The enemy will take away everything that you have.

So you will become like drunks.

v22 God has finished *punishing *Zion’s people.

He will let them return to their homes soon.

But you, *Edom’s people, God will certainly *punish you.

He will discover everything that you have done wrong.

God will *punish *Edom’s people because they have been cruel to God’s people. *Edom’s people did all die. There is no country called *Edom now.

Chapter 5

In this chapter, *Jerusalem’s people are praying to God.

v1 *Lord, please remember the trouble that has happened to us.

Look at us, because we are ashamed.

v2 Strangers have taken the land that our fathers gave to us.

            Foreign people live in our homes.

v3 We are children whose fathers are dead.

Our mothers no longer have husbands.

v4 We must pay money for the water that we drink.

We must buy wood for our fires.

v5 Our enemies cause us to work like animals.

But the work is too difficult

and they will not let us rest.

v6 We gave ourselves to the *Egyptians and to the *Assyrians,

so that we could get food to eat.

v7 Our fathers *sinned, but they are dead.

Now we have the troubles that you caused because of them.

You *punished us because of their *sin.

This does not mean that these people had not *sinned against God also. They say that they have in verse 16 below.

v8 Slaves now rule us.

And there is nobody to save us from their power.

v9 We meet danger when we work in the fields.

Enemies are everywhere and they want to kill us.

v10 Our skin feels as if we are burning.

We are so hungry that we are ill.

They had no food if they could not plant in their fields.

v11 Enemies do what they want with the women in *Zion.

They are cruel to the young women in *Judah’s cities.

v12 They hang our leaders by their hands.

And they are cruel to our old men also.

v13 They took the young men to work as slaves.

Those young men make flour for them.

And our boys carry wood.

They fall down under big bags of wood.

v14 Our enemies no longer let our old men decide things.

The old men cannot say what is right or fair for us.

And the young men have stopped their music.

Old men always sat together at the city gate to talk about things. When someone did something wrong, people brought them to these older men. They would decide what was fair *punishment. That was what they always did in *Israel.

v15 We are not happy any longer.

Instead, we are very sad,

so we do not dance any longer.

v16 And we have no king in *Jerusalem any longer.

We have *sinned and so very bad things have happened to us.

v17 So our bodies feel ill and we feel ill deep inside us.

Our eyes are very tired and we cannot hope for good things any longer.

v18 We are so sad because they destroyed *Zion’s walls and buildings.

Wild animals walk on them now.

v19 But you, *Lord, are always king.

You will always rule us.

v20 Tell us why you have forgotten us.

Tell us why you have left us for so long.

v21 Help us to come back to you, *Lord.

We really want to make a new start with you.

We were great before our enemies beat us.

            We pray that you will make us as great as that again.

v22 That could happen unless you have turned away from us completely.

That could happen unless you will continue to be very angry with us.

Not only has their king gone, but also these people will not have another king. Their beautiful city has gone, and all their beautiful things have gone with it. But Jeremiah wants the people to turn back to God. He wants God to *forgive his people. If he does, they can be happy again.

Word List

altar ~ special table for people to burn animals or other gifts which they offer to God.

Assyria ~ a country near to Jeremiah’s country. The people there did not like God’s people.

Assyrian ~ a person from *Assyria.

bitter ~ opposite of sweet.

bow ~ a thing that people make out of wood; it can shoot pointed sticks.

Edom ~ a country near *Israel, also called Seir. This country began as Esau’s country. The people there did not like God’s people.

Egypt ~ the country where *Israel’s people had been slaves a long time ago.

Egyptian ~ a person from *Egypt.

forgive ~ when someone stops being angry with another person who has done bad things.

grape ~ a fruit. People can use grapes to make a drink that has alcohol in it.

hate ~ not to like a person at all; not to love someone.

heaven ~ the home of God.

holy ~ all good with nothing bad in it; completely clean for God to use in a special way.

Israel ~ God’s people; the name of the country that God gave to Jacob and to the *Jews.

Jacob ~ Isaac’s son and Esau’s brother. Some time after that, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

Jerusalem ~ *Israel’s capital city where God told King Solomon that he should build the *holy house of God a long time ago.

Jew ~ *Israel’s people are called Jews; a Jew is a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Judah ~ a part of the country that God gave to *Israel’s people.

look after ~ be good to; keep safe.

Lord ~ a special name for God that his people use. He will do what he has promised them. And he does not change. That is what this name means.

ostrich ~ a big bird. It does not fly, but it runs. It lives in hot places and it makes its home in the sand.

peace ~ when we have no trouble in our minds.

potter ~ a person who makes pots.

priest ~ a man who gave gifts and offered animals to God on behalf of the *Jews; the priest put the animals on the *altar and he burned them there.

prophet ~ someone who speaks on behalf of God; someone who tells other people what God wants; or someone who tells other people what God will do.

punish ~ to hurt someone for the wrong things that they have done. For example, a person who has killed another person must go to prison.

punishment ~ the bad things that God or people do to a person who does wrong things.

Sabbath ~ the Sabbath was the seventh day of the week, which was special to the *Jews. It was a day when the people had to rest from work (Exodus 20:8-11).

sackcloth ~ what people usually wore to show that they were very sad about something; sackcloth is a material. It is a dark colour and people made it out of goats’ hair.

sin ~ when we do wrong things against God or against other people.

Sodom ~ a place where the people were very bad. God destroyed Sodom a long time ago.

tears ~ water that comes from our eyes when we cry.

thirsty ~ when someone needs a drink.

Uz ~ a country. The people there did not like God’s people.

worship ~ to give thanks to God; to show God that we love him very much. To tell someone that they are very great and that you love them.

Zion ~ another name for *Jerusalem.

Book List

The Century Bible ~ Minor Prophets

Calvin’s Commentaries

Matthew Poole ~ Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jamieson, Faussett and Brown ~ Bible Commentary

Matthew Henry ~ Bible Commentary

Bibles ~ New King James, Young’s Literal, Bible in 26 Translations, Contemporary English Version



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*The Good News Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. 1992
**The Liberty Annotated Study Bible, 1988, Liberty University Publication and Thomas A Nelson, Inc. Publication.
***The Liberty Annotated Study Bible, 1988, Liberty University Publication and Thomas A Nelson, Inc. Publication.
****F.B. Meyer Bible Commentary; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois. ISBN 0-8423-4250-8, 1978.
Note: Chapter topic headings suggested from "The Holman Illustrated Study Bible"; Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. ISBN: 978-1-58640-275-4. and Chapter topic headings suggested from "The Inspirational Study Bible" by Max Lucado, General Editor; Word Bibles, 1991; Thomas Nelson, Inc., ISBN 0-8499-5123-2 (Hardback edition); and "The Liberty Annotated Study Bible, 1988, Liberty University Publication and Thomas A Nelson, Inc. Publication. and from "The Abingdon Bible Commentary" Abingdon Press, 1929, The Good News Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. 1992, and


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