Jeremiah Weeps in the Darkness

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Lamentations

Roy Rohu

This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

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


About Lamentations

We call this book Lamentations because it is a collection of sad poems. The five poems are about *Jerusalem.

God wanted his people to take care of *Jerusalem and the special house in it. That house was the *temple. God wanted the *Jews to *worship him there. The people who lived in *Jerusalem did not obey God. In the end, he became very angry with them.

God allowed armies from another country to destroy *Jerusalem. And God let them take the *Jews away.

There was a man who loved God. And he loved his own people. He was very sad to see *Jerusalem all burnt and broken. He wrote this book of five poems about 586 years before Jesus was born. The *Jews called this man *Jeremiah. Some people think that he also wrote the book called Jeremiah.

In the first two poems the writer himself speaks. Then he makes the city’s people speak as if the city were a woman. In the next two poems, only the writer speaks. In the last poem, he writes as if the city’s people are praying to God. The first poem is about the lonely city. The second poem says that God was like an angry enemy. In the third poem, the writer remembers that God is good. God wants people to love him. Then the writer begins to be hopeful. In the fourth poem, the writer describes what the terrible enemies did to the people in the city. In the last poem, the city’s people realise that they have been bad. They are sorry and they appeal to God to forgive them.

It is good for us to read this book. In it we see what God thinks about people’s *sins. God always punishes us for our *sins unless we are really sorry. Lamentations reminds us about that. It also reminds us that God wants us to love him. And he wants us to obey him. If we do that, he helps us to do good things. We may not love him and we may do bad things. Then he will be angry with us. It is useful to remember what John wrote (1 John 4:19). ‘We love because he first loved us.’ We should want to please God because he is kind to us.

Chapter 1

Jeremiah is speaking.

v1 How empty is the city! It used to be full of people. Now it is like a lonely widow. People in other nations used to consider it a great city. It was like the queen of all the country. Now it is like a slave.

Verse 1 *Sins make people become slaves. *Jerusalem’s people have not obeyed God. But God made *Jerusalem great in the past. And he knows how to make it weak. Compare with Isaiah 47:8-11 and Revelation 18:7-8.

v2 *Jerusalem is like a woman. This woman weeps in the night and there are tears on her cheeks. She has none of her old lovers to comfort her. All her companions have left her. They are now her enemies.

Verse 2

·           Many people used to come to *Jerusalem. They do not come any more. God wants to make the people sorry. And he wants to make them turn back to himself. God is able to take our friends away from us if it will affect us like that.

·           Compare this verse to Jeremiah 9:1.

v3 The enemy has taken the people away as prisoners. They suffer trouble and hard labour. Enemies have forced the *Jews to leave their own country. In a foreign land, they have no security. And they cannot escape.

Verse 3 The people of the city must now live in a place that is far away from home. People who do not obey God will never have a quiet mind. Compare Isaiah 57:1-2 with Isaiah 48:22.

v4 The empty roads to Zion (*Jerusalem) are sad places. Now nobody comes to God’s *temple on the special days. The city gates are silent places. People are cruel to the city’s young women and its priests sigh. Jerusalem’s people are very sad.

Verse 4 ‘The city gates are silent places.’ This refers to the places just inside the gates. People used to meet and do business there. This is not happening now. Compare chapter 5:14.

v5 *Judah’s enemies now control the city. Those who hate them have all that they want. The *Lord has punished the people in *Jerusalem for their many *sins. Enemies have taken away their children as slaves.

Verse 5

·           If we allow our *sins to rule us, God is able to allow other enemies to rule us also.

·           Where there are no children, there is no future.

·           The *Lord is a judge who always does the right thing. See Jeremiah 30:14.

v6 The city of Zion (*Jerusalem) has lost its greatness. Its leaders have become like animals that have no food. They were too weak to run from their enemies.

Verse 6 *Jerusalem was once very beautiful and happy (Psalm 48:1-3). The ‘leaders’ would include King Zedekiah. The enemy has caught them as they tried to escape (Jeremiah 39:4).

v7 Now *Jerusalem’s people are miserable. They remember the good things that they had long ago. But, when their enemies came, nobody would help them. Their enemies laughed at *Jerusalem because they had ruined it.

v8 *Jerusalem’s people have *sinned greatly. That is why their city is disgusting. The people in other nations thought that Jerusalem was wonderful. Now they think that it is no good. They look at it as if it were a naked woman. The city’s people turn away and sigh.

Verse 8 People in other nations no longer admired *Jerusalem and its people.

People always watch God’s people (2 Corinthians 3:2; Romans 2:24). When God’s people *sin, other people do not respect them any more.

Jeremiah is still speaking.

v9 *Jerusalem’s people have greatly *sinned. Its people never thought that its end would be like this. It is hard to believe. I have nobody to comfort me.

*Lord, see how much we are suffering. See how glad our enemies are.

v10 Enemies have seized *Jerusalem’s precious things. Foreigners have burst into God’s holy *temple. But God had said that such people must never go into it.

v11 All *Jerusalem’s people sigh. They must hunt for food. They exchange things that they love to buy food to keep themselves alive.

*Jerusalem’s people are speaking as if the city were a woman.

See, *Lord, and think about me, because nobody else does.

Verse 11 The only way to make our worries less is to tell them to God. Then we should leave it to God to do what he thinks is best for us. See 1 Peter 4:6-7.

v12 Come and see, all you who go by! Look closely at me! See if anyone could be more miserable than I am. See what the *Lord’s anger has done to me!

Verse 12 ‘Look closely’ means here to have a very careful look.

v13 God has sent fire down into my bones to hurt them. He has spread a net in front of my feet, to turn me back. All day he has made me lonely and weak.

v14 He has made my *sins like a heavy collar to lie on my neck. And so he has made me weak. He has handed me over to the enemy. I am too weak to oppose them.

v15 The *Lord laughed at my strongest soldiers. He sent a great army to kill all my young men. The *Lord has squeezed my young women like fruit that was too ripe.

Verse 13 This is like a picture in words. God had caused a fire that even burnt the centre (‘bones’) of the city. The people could not escape. It was as if God had caught them in a net. Finally, God had left them. That is why they are like a ‘lonely’ woman.

Verse 15 People walk on the fruit to squeeze the juice out. Then they make the juice into wine.

v16 I weep because of these things. Tears flow down my cheeks. Nobody can comfort me. Nobody can encourage me. My children have no future. The enemy has won.

Jeremiah now speaks.

v17 *Jerusalem’s people reach out their hands for help. But nobody comforts them. The *Lord has commanded nations in the neighbourhood of *Jacob (*Israel) to be their enemies. *Jerusalem has become disgusting to people in other nations.

Verse 17 *Jacob was a man of God. The Bible sometimes uses his name to mean God’s people, *Israel. God often rescued *Israel from troubles (Psalm 44:1-8). This time, they must suffer because they have not obeyed God.

*Jerusalem’s people speak as if the city were a woman.

v18 The *Lord is right. I did not obey him. Listen, all people everywhere, and see how I am suffering. The enemy have taken away my young women and my young men to be slaves.

Verse 18 When God sends trouble, we must realise that he is right. We do not understand either him or ourselves if we blame him. See 2 Chronicles 12:5-6 and Proverbs 5:22.

v19 I called to my friends but they did not help. My priests and my leaders died in the city. They were looking for food to keep them alive.

v20 Look, *Lord, I am suffering greatly. And I am very sad. I have great problems in my mind because I have not obeyed God. Outside, the enemy are using swords to kill people. In the house, there is only death because there is no food.

Verses 20-22 are a prayer. It is a comfort when we know that God sees our troubles. He loves us. He will find a way to cause good results from bad things.

v21 My enemies have heard that I sigh. There is nobody to help. All my enemies know about my trouble. They are glad, God, that you have done it. But you said that you will bring a time when my enemies will suffer like me.

v22 Make that time come. Do to them what you have done to me. You have done it to me because I did not obey you. Do it, because my sighs are many. And my heart has no strength.

Chapter 2

Now Jeremiah speaks.

v1 The *Lord’s anger is like a black cloud over Zion (*Jerusalem). He allowed enemies to destroy the beauty of *Israel. Zion (Jerusalem) was like the place where he once rested his feet. In his anger, he did not remember that. He was so angry that he even left his holy *temple.

Verse 1

·           The words ‘the beauty of *Israel’ probably refer to *Jerusalem and its magnificent *temple. See Isaiah 64:11.

·           ‘He rested his feet’. See Isaiah 60:13.

v2 The *Lord has destroyed all the homes in *Judah without pity. He was so angry that he has broken down *Judah’s strong cities. He has caused shame for the whole country and its leaders.

v3 In his fierce anger, God has broken off the *horn of *Israel. God has refused to protect us from the enemy. He has burned like a great fierce fire that destroyed everything in *Judah.

Verse 3 Some animals use their *horn to fight with. So ‘horn’ is a way to talk about the strength of *Israel.

v4 God has aimed his arrows at us like an enemy. He has killed all those who once pleased him. His anger was like a great fire that destroyed all the homes in *Jerusalem.

v5 Like an enemy, God has destroyed *Israel and all its great houses. He has knocked down its walls of defence. And he has made the people in *Judah so sad and miserable.

v6 God ruined his holy house as somebody might ruin a shed in a garden. God has taken away the place where his people once came together to honour him. He has made Jerusalem’s people forget the special days of their religion. In his anger, he now has no respect for king or priest.

Verse 6 The ‘holy house’ is the place in *Jerusalem where the people of *Israel went to pray. The Bible calls it ‘the *Temple’. King Solomon built the first *temple. See 1 Kings 5:1-5.

v7 God has refused the gifts that the people put on his *altar. He has gone from his *temple. He has allowed the enemy to knock down the walls of the *temple. Foreigners shout with joy where once we praised God.

v8 God decided to destroy the walls of Zion (*Jerusalem). So he carefully measured their exact extent. He did not hesitate to destroy the walls completely. He completely ruined both the inner wall and the outer wall. He threw both walls to the ground. They were like couples whose partners had died. They had no more strength.

v9 Jerusalem’s city gates have fallen to the ground. God has broken into pieces the heavy bars that fastened the gates. Foreign enemies have taken away the king and the royal family. Now priests do not teach God’s laws. *Prophets have no message from the *Lord.

Verse 7 The enemy should not be in the *temple. See Nehemiah 13:1. But God allowed them to ruin it.

Verse 8 First God decided to destroy *Jerusalem’s walls. He measured the walls in order to make sure that all of both walls were included. Finally, he used the enemies to destroy both walls completely.

v10 *Jerusalem’s old people sit on the ground and they are silent. They have scattered dust on their heads. They have dressed themselves in *sackcloth. The young women of *Jerusalem look down to the ground in shame.

Verse 10 In those times, people put dust on their heads and put on clothes of *sackcloth. They did this to show that they were very sad.

v11 My eyes are sore from tears. Miserable feelings have worn me out. My people are suffering so much. Children and babies fall in the street because they are so weak.

v12 The children ask their mothers, ‘Where has all the food and drink gone?’ Then they fall down in pain on the street of the city and die in their mothers’ arms.

v13 People of *Jerusalem, I do not know what I can say to comfort you. Nobody has suffered as you have. The damage to your city is complete. I do not know who can repair it.

v14 Your ‘*prophets’ have promised so many foolish and vain things to you. They have not warned you about your *sins. So that is why your enemies have made you prisoners. They have only told you lies about your future.

Verse 14 God warned the people many times not to listen to these false *prophets. God also told the people how to recognise genuine *prophets who came from him. See Jeremiah 23:16-22; 28:9; Matthew 7:15-23.

v15 All who go by make fun of *Jerusalem. They ask, “Is this really the city that people called ‘most beautiful’ and ‘the joy of the whole world’?”

v16 All your enemies *curse you with delight. They say ‘We have completely destroyed *Jerusalem’s people. We have waited for this day. Now that day has come! Now we have seen it all happen!’

v17 The *Lord has now done what he warned you about. He has done what he warned you about so long ago. He has destroyed without pity. He has caused your enemies to be happy and he has made them strong.

Verse 17 God gave his people clear warning long before this time. See Deuteronomy 30:1-5.

v18 People in *Jerusalem, cry to the *Lord! Wear yourselves out with lots of tears! Let your tears flow like a river round Jerusalem’s walls!

v19 Get up and cry out frequently. As night comes, tell God how miserable you are. Lift up your hands and pray to him. Pray that your young children will not die. These children are falling down in every street. They are weak because of their hunger.

*Jerusalem’s people speak as if the city were a woman.

v20 Look, *Lord. Think whom you have done this to. Must women eat their little children? Should the priests and the *prophets have to die in your holy house?

v21 Both young people and old people lie dead in the streets. Enemies have killed the young men and women with their swords. It was really you who killed them in your anger. You killed them and you did not pity them.

v22 You invited my enemies to come to me as if to a party. Because you were so angry, nobody escaped or remained alive. My enemies have murdered my children whom I looked after. They have killed those whom I brought up.

Verse 20 ‘Think whom you have done this to.’ The writer is reminding God that they are his own people.

Verse 21 Without young men and young women, there would be no people in the future.

Chapter 3

Jeremiah speaks.

In this chapter, the writer speaks on behalf of all God’s people. Much of what he says is true also of the troubles that the *Lord Jesus suffered for us. Psalms 22 and 69 are other examples of this.

v1 I am a man who has known punishment from the heavy stick of an angry God.

v2 He has chased me into deep darkness where there is no light.

v3 He is against me. He punishes me again and again all day long.

Verse 1 God does not use the sword to kill all his people. But he does use his heavy stick to punish and to train them. See Hebrews 12:7-11.

Verse 2 God is in light. And if we walk in the light, all is well. See 1 John 1:7. We may walk in darkness. If so, it is because we have not agreed with God. See Amos 3:3.

Verse 3 Sometimes God punishes us. Then we must not think that he has also stopped loving us. God is not against us but he is against our *sins.

v4 God has worn out my skin and my body. He has broken my bones.

v5 He has made walls to surround me and has given me worry and trouble.

v6 He has made me live in darkness like those who have been dead for a long time.

Verse 4 God’s people are no longer strong like young people. They are weak like old people. That is what verse 4 is saying.

Verse 5 Compare this verse with verse 19, also with Psalm 69:21 and Matthew 27:34.

Verse 6 ‘darkness’ The writer means the place where dead people go.

v7 God has built a wall round me so that I cannot get out. It is as if he has bound me with heavy chains.

v8 Yes, and when I shout for help, he refuses to listen.

v9 He has kept me in with smooth walls and my paths just go nowhere.

Verse 7 See verse 9 and Hosea 2:6. The writer does not mean a real wall and chains. These are words that are like a picture.

Verse 8 See Psalm 80:4-6 and Psalm 66:18.

Verse 9 God loves his people. He will not allow them to avoid the lesson that he wants them to learn. See also verse 31.

v10 Like a bear or a lion that hides, God has waited for me.

v11 He has dragged me away from the road. He has torn me to pieces. And there is nobody to help me.

v12 He used his bow and aimed his arrows at me.

Verse 10 Compare with Hosea 5:14.

v13 Then God shot me. His arrows went deep into my body.

v14 All my people laughed at me. They even sang songs about me all the day.

v15 He has caused me to suffer greatly. He has filled my cup with bitter drink.

v16 He has broken my teeth with small stones and covered me with ashes.

v17 He has caused me to have many troubles in my mind. I forget what it is like to be happy.

v18 My strength has gone. What the *Lord allowed me to hope for has gone too.

v19 Remember well my trouble. Remember how sad I am. It is like the taste of a bitter liquid.

v20 I think about it all the time and I feel so miserable.

v21 But I remember something else. And so I can hope again.

v22 It is because of God’s goodness that we are still alive. He will not fail to love his people.

v23 Hope comes again with each new day. God keeps his promises to his people.

v24 ‘The *Lord is mine’, I say to myself, ‘that is why I will hope in him.’

Verse 20 We all *sin sometimes. Then we should remember how great God is. And we should remember how small we are. That is the start of the way back to God.

Verses 21-22 The writer begins to hope again because God has not put an end to *Israel. See verse 2.

In chapter 2 verses 17 and 21, God’s people feel that God has forgotten to be kind. Now they have started to think. They are saying right things about God. We may lose things that we loved. But, if we are his, we shall not lose him.

Verses 23-24 It is always good to trust God but especially when bad things happen to us.

v25 The *Lord is good to people who wait for him. He is good to everyone who looks for him.

v26 It is good for a person to go on hoping and to be quiet. And it is good if he waits patiently for God to rescue him.

v27 It is also good for a man to obey God while he is young.

Verse 27 A person may not obey God’s rules while he is young. Then he will have to learn to obey God later. See Ecclesiastes 12:1.

v28 A young man should sit by himself and be quiet. Because that is what God wants for him.

v29 He should get so low in front of God that his face is touching the ground. If he does, there is hope for him.

v30 When someone slaps him, he should not try to hurt him back. He should accept it when people are cruel to him.

Verse 28 God does not speak to us when we are doing all the talking. Nor when we are too busy to listen to him.

Verse 29 When people felt small in front of God, they often lay down on the ground. See Genesis 17:3; Joshua 5:14; Ezekiel 1:28.

Verse 30 Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 5:39. And he set us an example to follow (Isaiah 50:6).

v31 The *Lord does not give up for ever with his people.

v32 Sometimes God has to punish people. That makes them sad. But he will also show them kindness out of his great store of love.

v33 He does not enjoy it when he causes people to suffer.

Verse 31 God waits until we have learnt our lesson. (See also verse 9.) When we are sorry, we go back to God. Then he is there for us. See James 4:8; Hosea 6:1; Luke 15:11-24.

v34-36 God is not pleased when you are too cruel to the prisoners.

He is not pleased when you cheat anyone.

He is not pleased when there is an unfair decision in the law court.

He sees all of these things.

v37 Nobody can order anything to happen unless the *Lord has ordered it.

v38 It is the great God who orders both good things and bad things to happen.

v39 No man should complain when God punishes him for his *sins.

Verse 37 See Proverbs 16:9 and Jeremiah 10:23.

v40 Instead, we should think carefully about how we behave. And we should turn again to the *Lord.

v41 We should raise our hands and pray to God in heaven.

v42 We have done bad things. We have not obeyed you, *Lord. You are not happy about that.

Verse 40 That is what another man did. See Psalm 119:59. See also Haggai 1:5-7.

Verse 41 Our hearts (minds) must agree with the words of our prayers. We must mean what we say.

v43 Our God, you have hidden yourself from us because you are angry. You have chased us. You have killed us. And you have not pitied us.

v44 You have hidden yourself from us in a thick cloud so that our prayer does not get to you.

v45 You have made us like rubbish, like things that are no more use to anyone.

Verses 42-44 See what another man said in Psalm 66:18.

v46 All our enemies say bad things against us.

v47 Fear and traps are all round us.

v48 My eyes are sore with all the tears because the enemy has destroyed my people,

Verse 47 Compare with Isaiah 24:17 and Jeremiah 48:43.

v49 So, streams of tears come from my eyes. They do not stop or even rest.

v50 They will not stop until the *Lord looks down. I will cry until he sees from heaven.

v51 What my eye sees upsets my heart (mind). I am upset because of what happened to all the women in my city.

Verse 51 The writer is talking about the bad things that the enemy has done to the women in *Jerusalem.

If we love God’s people as we should, their troubles will make us really sad. See Romans 12:15.

v52 My enemies hunted me like a bird, for no reason.

v53 They threw me alive into the well. Then they closed the well over me with a stone.

v54 The water closed over my head. Then I said, ‘My end has come.’

Verse 53 Something like this happened to *Jeremiah himself. See Jeremiah 38:6.

Verse 54 Some people have great troubles. Then they often think that God has forgotten them. See Psalm 31:12 and Jonah 2:4. But God has made a great promise to his people. See Hebrews 13:5-6.

v55 I called to you by name, *Lord, from the bottom of the well.

v56 You have heard my cry. Do not close your ear to my prayer.

v57 You came near to me as soon as I called to you. You told me not to be afraid.

Verse 55 ‘Call by name’ means when a person calls to God. And he is thinking about all the good that is in God. Sometimes we pray our best prayer when we are in great trouble. See Psalm 130:1.

Verse 56 The writer says that God has answered some of his prayer (done some things that he asked him to do). He now asks God to answer the rest of his prayer.

Verse 57 We notice that the writer’s thoughts change from fear to hope and back again. He complains. He feels better. He complains again. Psalm 42 is also like that. The important thing is how the writer speaks in the end.

v58 *Lord, you have rescued me. You have saved my life.

v59 The things that they did to me were not fair. You saw that, so please be my judge.

v60 You have seen all the bad things that they did to me. And you know all their bad plans for me.

Verses 58-60 It is a great comfort to know that God loves us. And he knows all about our troubles. He loves us and he will make all things work together for our good. See Romans 8:28.

v61 You have heard their insults against me, *Lord. And you know all their plots against me.

v62 These people attack me all the day, with words and whispers.

v63 They sing about me, when they are sitting. And they sing about me when they are standing. Whatever they are doing, they sing about me.

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

v65 Do bad things to them and cause them to have despair.

v66 Chase them in your anger! Completely remove them from the earth!

Verses 61-66 It is good that the writers in the Bible are real people with real feelings like us. In that way, we see that God can use us too. But Jesus tells us what to do about our enemies. See Matthew 5:41-45.

Chapter 4

Jeremiah continues to speak.

v1 Look! The gold has stopped shining! Look how the best gold has changed! The stones of the *temple are in a pile at the corner of every street!

v2 People thought that the young men of *Jerusalem were like best gold. Now they are more like ordinary pots of *clay which a *potter makes.

Verses 1-2

Some people think that the ‘young men’ were the priests of the *temple.

The fine gold of God’s house (see 1 Kings 6:22) and its special stone was dirty. It was dirty with smoke after the fire. Now the enemy has scattered the materials that the builders used.

v3 Even the wild dogs give milk to their young ones. But the young women in my country have become cruel. They behave like *ostriches in the desert.

Verse 3 *Ostriches in the desert lay their eggs in the sand and leave them. (See Job 39:14-15.) They do not look after their eggs.

v4 The tongue of the baby at the breast sticks in its mouth because the breast has gone dry. The young children ask for food but nobody gives them anything to eat.

v5 People who once ate the best of food are now in the streets with nothing to eat. The people that wore the best of clothes now search piles of rubbish to find food.

v6 That is the punishment for the *sins of my people. It is greater punishment than the punishment of *Sodom, which God, not man, destroyed in a moment.

Verse 6 The people in *Sodom were very wicked and they did not care about God. They all died quickly (Genesis 19:25). The people in *Jerusalem knew a lot about God. But they too were wicked. They were dying slowly. See also verse 9. In Matthew 11:23-24, Jesus was speaking about *Sodom. He was telling some of the *Jews what would happen to them. They listened to him but they would not change their behaviour.

v7 The leaders in *Jerusalem were cleaner than snow. They were whiter than milk. Their bodies were redder than *rubies. Their shapes were like smooth precious stones.

v8 Now their faces are black like coal. People see them but they do not recognise them. Their skin hangs on their bones. Their skin is dry like a stick.

Verses 7-8 These people had been healthy and strong. Also, they were extra careful to be clean. They did not have bad habits.

People considered that their leaders were very special. Now they look the same as everybody else in the streets.

v9 The sword has killed some people. They are happier than the ones who die from hunger. The hungry ones die slowly because there is nothing for them to eat.

v10 The women who once were kind-hearted have now boiled their own children. The children were food for them in the bad times of my people.

Verse 10 ‘Boiled children’. See also Deuteronomy 28:56-57; 2 Kings 6:29; Jeremiah 19:9. See also chapter 2 verse 20. See what awful things people do when God is punishing them for their *sins.

v11 The *Lord has now satisfied his anger. The *Lord was so angry that he sent his fire on *Jerusalem. He has burnt even the strong base of the houses.

v12 No foreign rulers or their people believed that an enemy could ever enter through the gates of *Jerusalem.

Verse 12 These people had seen or had heard about the strong walls of *Jerusalem. They also knew that *Jerusalem was special to God. So, the fate of the city greatly surprised them.

v13 It was the *sins of *Jerusalem’s *prophets and its priests that caused the city’s ruin. It is because of them that good people died.

Verse 13 The wicked people were just as bad as the priests and *prophets were. (See Jeremiah 5:31.) It was sad that good people died too because of the *sins of *Jerusalem’s people. See 2 Kings 24:3-4 and James 5:5-6.

v14 Those leaders wandered in the streets like blind men. There is blood on their clothes and nobody wants to touch them.

Verse 14 ‘Blood’ See Numbers 19:16. But there was not actual blood on the leaders’ clothes. It means that they caused many people to die by their *sins.

v15 ‘Go away! You are unclean!’ people shouted at their leaders. ‘Do not touch us!’ They hurried away. And they wandered among the nations. They could not find any place to rest.

v16 The anger of the *Lord has scattered them. He does not look on them in a favourable way any more. The ordinary people now have no respect for bad priests, or for bad leaders.

Verse 16 God will not look with kindness on people who practise *sin. See Psalm 66:18. Good people may be sorry for bad priests. But they do not listen to them or respect them.

v17 We wore out our eyes as we looked in vain for help. But help did not come. We looked in vain for help from a nation that could not save us.

Verse 17 The help that the *Jews hoped to receive was from *Egypt (Jeremiah 37:7). But nobody can help us if God is against us. See Psalm 60:11. But God is for us against our *sins, if we love and follow him.

v18 Enemies hunted us where we walked. So we could not go into the streets. Our end was near. We could not live now. The end had come.

v19 Our enemies went after us. They were quicker than *eagles that dive out of the sky. Our enemies hunted us among the mountains. They hid and waited for us in the wild places.

v20 Our great hope had been in the king that God gave us. But the enemies caught him as men catch an animal in a pit (a hole in the ground). We had said about him, ‘Under his shadow we shall live in safety among the foreigners.’

Verse 20 The king was Zedekiah. He was the last king of *Judah. See Jeremiah 39:1-14 and 2 Kings 25:1-7.

The *Jews thought that their kings were very special. That was because God had caused them to rule over his people.

v21 Be happy and glad while you may, you people of *Edom and *Uz. But the cup will come to you also. You will become like drunks. You will be naked, too.

Verse 21 ‘The cup’ means the experience of trouble which God will send to *Edom. God will punish *Edom’s people because they have been cruel to his people. See Numbers 20:18-20; Ezekiel 35:1-7; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Chronicles 20:10 and Psalm 137:7.

v22 The punishment for your *sins has come to its end, you people of *Jerusalem. God will no more let enemies take you away as prisoners. But you, you people of *Edom, he will punish you for your *sins. He will uncover them.

Verse 22 God also talked about the punishment of *Edom in Isaiah 34:5-15. The people of *Edom did scatter. It is not a nation now.

Chapter 5

Jeremiah is praying.

v1 Remember, *Lord, the suffering that has come upon us. Look down and see our shame.

Verse 1

·           In any kind of trouble, it is always right to pray. See James 5:13.

·           There is a right way to receive what God sends. See Nehemiah 9:32-37.

·           God loves us even when we have *sinned. So, when we suffer, God suffers with us. It is good to know that. See Isaiah 63:9.

v2 Strangers now occupy the land that our fathers handed on to us. Foreigners are living in our homes.

Verse 2 The writer is talking about Canaan, the country that the *Lord promised to his people (Deuteronomy 26:1).

v3 We have become like *orphans. Our fathers have gone and our mothers are like widows.

v4 We must pay money for the water that we drink. We have to buy our own wood for fuel.

v5 Our enemies make us work like animals. But the work is too heavy and we have no rest.

v6 We held out our hand to the *Egyptians and to the *Assyrians for food.

Verse 4 *Israel’s people used to have more than enough water. They also used to have enough wood. But they have not obeyed God. So that has changed.

Verse 6 The people find that their friends in *Egypt and *Assyria cannot help.

v7 Our fathers *sinned. They are dead. But we have had the punishment that they deserved.

Verse 7 This does not mean that the present people had not *sinned against God. See verse 16.

v8 The men who rule us now are not better than slaves. But there is nobody to free us from their power.

v9 To bring home our bread, we risk our lives because our enemies are all round us.

Verse 9 In the Bible, ‘bread’ often means any kind of food. ‘Bread’ here probably includes any kind of food that the people could find anywhere.

v10 We are so ill from hunger that our skin is as hot as an oven.

v11 Enemies forced the women and *virgins to have sex with them. This happened in *Jerusalem and in all the other cities in *Judah.

v12 They have hanged our leaders. They do not respect the old men.

v13 They took the young men to make flour out of the corn. The children fell under heavy loads of wood that they could not carry.

Verse 13 The young men felt foolish because the work at the mill was women’s work. Children also had to do the work of slaves.

v14 The old men have stopped sitting at the city’s gate. The young men have stopped their music.

Verse 14 Old men used to meet together at the city’s gate to talk. It was the custom. See Genesis 34:20; Deuteronomy 21:19-20; Ruth 4:1.

v15 We are not happy any longer. We do not dance now. We are too sad.

v16 We do not have a crown any more. We *sinned against God. So now we have a hopeless future.

Verse 16 Not only have their king and his crown gone. These people will have no more kings.

v17 Because of this, our hearts (minds) are sick. We can hardly see because of our tears.

v18 Enemies have knocked down the walls of *Zion. Now foxes walk over the stones.

v19 But you, *Lord, are king for ever. You will always rule your people.

Verse 19 The writer now begins to praise the *Lord.

The people of God have bad times like everybody else in the world. But God loves his people. He has promised that everything will work together for our good. See Romans 8:28; Hebrews 13:5.

v20 Why have you left us, God? Will you ever remember us again?

Verse 20 The writer again remembers the present sad situation. He cannot understand why God continues to let the people suffer.

v21 Bring us back to you, *Lord. We want to make a new start with you.

v22 You seem to have left us for ever. You have been very angry with us. We do not know whether your anger will ever end.

Word List

altar ~ a holy table on which to put gifts for God.

Assyria ~ a country, east of *Judah. The people there (Assyrians) did not like God’s people.

Assyrian ~ a person from *Assyria.

clay ~ earth, heavy and firm when dry, stiff and soft when wet.

curse ~ to wish bad things for.

eagle ~ a very large bird that hunts other birds for food.

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

Egypt ~ a country in Africa, south of *Judah. The people there sometimes liked God’s people and sometimes they did not.

Egyptian ~ a person from *Egypt.

horn ~ a hard thing with a point which grows on the head of some animals.

Israel ~ Israel is the group of people that God chose to be his people.

Jacob ~ Jacob was a son of Isaac and a brother of Esau. God later changed Jacob’s name to Israel. Sometimes the Bible calls *Israel’s people ‘Jacob’.

Jeremiah ~ Jeremiah was a man who loved God. And he loved his own people. He may have written the book of Lamentations.

Jerusalem ~ the *Jews’ capital city; God told King Solomon to build God’s sacred *temple there.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

Judah ~ a part of the country that God gave to his people.

Lord ~ a special name for God that his people use. He will do what he has promised them. That is what this name means.

orphan ~ a person who has no mother or father.

ostrich ~ a big bird. It does not fly, but runs. It lives in hot desert places.

potter ~ a person who makes pots from *clay.

prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words, and tells them to other people; a person who spoke God’s words. Some prophets wrote books in the Bible.

ruby ~ a red precious stone.

sackcloth ~ rough cloth. People used to wear it when they were very sad about something.

sin ~ to do things against God and other people; an bad action that we do against God and other people.

Sodom ~ a town where the people were very wicked. God destroyed Sodom.

temple ~ the sacred house in *Jerusalem where *Israel’s people went to pray.

Uz ~ a country, east of *Edom. The people there did not like God’s people.

virgin ~ a woman who has never had sex with a man.

worship ~ to show honour to God and to say that we love him very much.

Zion ~ the holy hill in *Jerusalem where God’s *temple was.

Book List

Minor Prophets ~ The Century Bible

Matthew Poole ~ Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jamieson, Faussett and Brown ~ Bible Commentary

Matthew Henry ~ Bible Commentary

Calvin’s Commentaries

Bibles ~ NKJV, CEV, Young’s Literal, Bible in 26 Translations


© 1997-2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

December 2004

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