The blind wandering leaders (Lam 4:14-4:14)

Nun

“Blindly,

These leaders

Wandered

Through the streets,

So defiled

With blood

That no one

Was able

To touch

Their garments.”

These leaders wandered blindly through the streets defiled with the blood of the righteous. Thus no one was able to touch their garments. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun in this acrostic poem.

The sinful prophets and priests (Lam 4:13-4:13)

Mem

“It was for the sins

Of her prophets

With the iniquities

Of her priests.

They shed

The blood

Of the righteous

In the midst of her.”

Yahweh was angry because the prophets had sinned and the priests had committed iniquities. They had shed the blood of the righteous in the middle of Jerusalem. Everyone was at fault, especially the leaders of the city who should have known better. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Mem in this acrostic poem.

The strong gates of Jerusalem (Lam 4:12-4:12)

Lamed

“The kings

Of the earth

Did not believe.

Nor did any

Of the inhabitants

Of the world

Believe

That any foe

Or any enemy

Could enter

The gates of Jerusalem.”

All the kings of the earth and all the inhabitants of the world did not believe that any foe or enemy would be able to enter the gates of Jerusalem. This is a little hyperbole. I am not sure that everyone thought this way. Nevertheless, it would be a big surprise for any foe to get through the very strong Jerusalem gates. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Lamed in this acrostic poem.

The fire of Yahweh (Lam 4:11-4:11)

Kaph

“Yahweh gave

Full vent

To his wrath.

He poured out

His hot anger.

He kindled

A fire

In Zion,

That consumed

Its foundations.”

Yahweh was angry at Jerusalem. Thus he vented his anger when he started a fire in Zion that consumed it down to its foundations. Yahweh, not the Babylonians, set the city on fire. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Kaph in this acrostic poem.

Cannibalism (Lam 4:10-4:10)

Yod

“The hands

Of compassionate women

Have boiled

Their own children.

They became

Their food

In the destruction

Of my people.”

This author complains about the practice of cannibalism. Even the compassionate women of Jerusalem boiled their own children. They had their own children become their food as Yahweh’s people self-destructed. This cannibalism was also mentioned in Jeremiah, chapter 19, and in the 2nd Lamentation. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

Death would be better than famine (Lam 4:9-4:9)

Tet

“Happier were those

Pierced by the sword

Than those

Pierced by hunger.

Their life

Drains away.

They are deprived

Of the produce

Of the field.”

This author points out that famine or starvation is worse than death by a sword. Starvation leads to the draining of life since they were deprived of the products of the field. This brings up the question of whether a quick death or a slow painful death is better. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet in this acrostic poem.

The bleak transformation of the Jerusalem princes (Lam 4:8-4:8)

Heth

“Now the visage

Of the Jerusalem princes

Is blacker

Than soot.

They are not recognized

In the streets.

Their skin

Has shriveled

On their bones.

It has become

As dry as wood.”

There has been a huge transformation of these Jerusalem princes. Now they are black like soot, instead of white. No one would recognize them. Their skin has shriveled up and become dry like wood. They are no longer good looking dudes. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Heth in this acrostic poem.