Here is the book✻ in which you may read God’s commandments, that law of his which stands for ever; holding fast by it or forsaking it, a man makes life or death his goal.
Jacob, thy steps retrace, and this path follow, guiding thy steps by glow of the light that beckons thee;
this is thy pride, wouldst thou yield it up to another? Thy prize, shall an alien race enjoy it?
Israel, a blessed race is ours, that has knowledge of God’s will.
People of God, take courage, all that is left of Israel’s muster-roll!
Sold as slaves though you be, he does not mean your ruin. He has given your enemies the mastery, none the less; had you not defied his vengeance?
Had you not challenged the eternal power that made you, by sacrificing to evil powers, that gods were none?
To God that fostered you, what ingratitude, to Jerusalem that nursed you, what bitter pain!
Alas, she cried, as she saw the divine vengeance falling on you, listen, neighbour cities all, to my complaint; here is a heavy load of grief God has charged me with!
Sentence of banishment he, the eternal, has pronounced upon my people, sons and daughters of mine;
how joyously I nurtured them, with what tears of anguish I saw them depart!
And let none boast over my widowing, that so much have lost; if I am thus forlorn, it is because of my sons’ transgression, that refused God’s will;
his claim disowned, his paths left untrodden; not for them the straight road of loyal observance.
Come, neighbours, tell we the sad tale again, how he, the eternal, would sentence these sons and daughters of mine to exile.
A cruel race he summoned to the attack from far away, men of an alien speech;
for old age they had no reverence, for childhood no pity; robbed widow of her darling sons, and left her desolate.
Alas, my children, look not to me for aid!
He it is must save you from the power of your enemies, who is the author of your calamity.
Go your ways, my children, go your ways; I am left desolate;
the festal robe of happier times I have put aside, clothed myself in sackcloth as the suppliants do; I will spend my days pleading with him, the eternal.
Take courage, my children, and raise your voices, too, in appeal; from the enemy’s tyrant grasp the Lord shall deliver you.
Upon him, the eternal, I pin evermore my hopes of your happiness, the holy God, evermore our deliverer! Light grows my heart, to think of the mercy he has in store for you.
With lamentation I bade farewell to you, and with tears; with joy and triumph he will bring you back to me, and for ever;
these neighbours of mine, that saw you banished at his decree, shall witness ere long a divine deliverance; what renown shall be yours when it comes, what dawn unending!
Bear patiently, my children, with the punishment that has overtaken you. What if thy enemy hunts thee down? Ere long thou shalt see the ruin of him, set thy foot on his neck!
Ah, the rough roads delicate feet of yours have travelled! Like a plundered flock the enemy drove you.
Yet take courage, my children, and cry out upon the Lord; he, the author of your exile, has not forgotten you.
Hearts that loved to stray, ten times more eagerly retrace your steps, and come back to him!
And he, that compassed your woe, in unfading joy will compass your deliverance.
Thyself, Jerusalem, take courage! He that called thee by thy name brings thee comfort.
Woe to the men that harassed thee, and triumphed in thy ruin,
woe to every city that enslaved and harboured children of thine!
No smile of content greeted the disaster of thy fall, but shall be paid for with a sigh of desolation;
the city that was once so populous, all its boasting gone, all its pride of yesterday turned into lament!
Long shall the fires of eternal justice smoulder there, long shall it be the haunt of devils.✻
Turn thee about, Jerusalem, and look to the sun’s rising; see what rejoicing the Lord has in store for thee;
sons of thine, in many lands lost to thee, gathered by his call from east to west shall come back again, praising joyfully God’s holy will.
The Holy Bible