The joy is gone (Lam 5:15-5:16)

“The joy

Of our hearts

Has ceased.

Our dancing

Has been turned

To mourning.

The crown

Has fallen

From our head.

Cursed be us!

We have sinned!”

Happiness has left the people of Jerusalem. The joy of their hearts is now gone. They have stopped dancing. They now turn to mourning. The crown of Jerusalem has fallen. They are now cursed because they were sinners.

The change in habits (Lam 5:13-5:14)

“Young men

Are compelled

To grind

At the mill.

Boys stagger

Under loads of wood.

The old men

Have left

The city gate.

The young men

Have left

Their music.”

The lives of the people left in Jerusalem have changed. The young men are now grinding at the mill, while the young boys stagger under the heavy loads of wood. The old men have left their discussions at the city gate, while the young men no longer are involved with music.

The disrespect for people (Lam 5:11-5:12)

“Women are raped

In Zion.

Virgins are raped

In the towns

Of Judah.

Princes are

Hung up

By their hands.

No respect

Is shown

To the elders.”

People are disrespected. In the city of Jerusalem, Zion, they rape women. They also rape virgins in the Judean towns. They hang up princes of Jerusalem by their hands. Finally, no one respects the elderly. There does not seem to be a moral equivalency among these actions, since rape seems worse than disrespect for the elderly.

The bad living conditions

“We get our bread

At the peril

Of our lives,

Because of the sword

In the wilderness.

Our skin is black

As an oven

From the scorching heat

Of famine.”

Once again in the first person plural, they complain about their living conditions. They have trouble getting bread. They are afraid of the wilderness, because they could die there. Their skin is turning black from the sun with famine all around them. Black skin was considered bad.

The sins of the ancestors (Lam 5:7-5:8)

“Our ancestors sinned.

They are no more.

We bear

Their iniquities.

Slaves rule

Over us.

There is no one

To deliver us

From their hand.”

Once again in the first person plural, they complain. There is no question that their ancestors had sinned, but they are dead. Thus the present living must bear their iniquities. The Chaldean slaves rule over them. There is no one anywhere who can help them to escape.

The hard life (Lam 5:5-5:6)

“With a yoke

On our necks,

We are hard driven.

We are weary.

We are given

No rest.

We have made a pact

With Egypt.

We have made a pact

With Assyria

To get bread enough.”

Once again in the first person plural, they complain about yoke on their necks as in Jeremiah, chapter 28. They are tired because they are forced into hard labor without much rest. They had to make a pact with Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread to eat. Actually, Assyria had already disappeared.

Orphans and widows (Lam 5:3-5:4)

“We have become

Orphans!

We are fatherless!

Our mothers are

Like widows!

We must pay

For the water

We drink!

The wood

We get

Must be bought.”

Assuming the first person plural, this author laments the situation of him and his friends left in Jerusalem. They have become orphans, without fathers. Their mothers have become widows. They have to pay for the water and the wood for their existence. Life is tough.