Saturday, January 23, 2010

ZION: The Old Testament (Jeremiah 26 - Lamentations 5)

The Old Testament (Jeremiah 26 - Lamentations 5)

JST Jeremiah 26:12-20

Jeremiah reaps his prophet's reward in this chapter -- he is arrested and tried for treason for his "sin" of prophesying against the wickedness and corruption of Jerusalem. Eventually he is acquitted when the hearts of some of the priests who are trying him are softened and they realize that Jeremiah is not the only prophet who has spoken against them.

Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
Therefore now, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and repent, and the Lord will turn away the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.
But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.
Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.
Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people saying,
Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be ploughed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house of the Lord as the high places of a forest.
Did Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord and beseech the Lord and repent? and the Lord turned away the evil which he had pronounced against them. Thus by putting Jeremiah to death we might procure great evil against our souls.
But there was a man among the priests, rose up and said, that, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath¬jearim, prophesied in the name of the Lord, who also prophesied against this city, and against this land, according to all the words of Jeremiah.

It is often the case in the scriptural record that the wickedness of the people closes the mouths of the true prophets. One wonders how Jeremiah would be dealt with today were he to speak from the podium of the Conference Center. And Jeremiah’s warnings are tame compared to Ezekiel’s. For example, read Ezekiel 16 for an excoriating and scorching rebuke of Israel in her abominations. The pages of our scripture are still scorched to this day as Ezekiel accuses Israel of being worse than a whore – Israel was a wife who had committed adultery. The imagery of the bride (the house of Israel) who betrayed the bridegroom (Christ) is thoroughly developed in Ezekiel 16. The similarities between Israel then and now are inescapable. The adultery of Israel happens in each dispensation when the chosen people forsake Christ in exchange for the favors of a dark and fallen world, likened in scripture to Egypt and Babylon as the types for worldliness.

My intent in pointing out this unpleasant comparison is to suggest that if we make our bed in the world with the world, we, like the world, will give God ample justification for destroying those who play the harlot while simultaneously proclaiming their righteousness to the world. This may be the reason that Joseph Smith is warned specifically in July 1837, that when vengeance eventually comes “speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth” that the Lord’s wrath in “a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind” will begin “upon my house” and “from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; first among those among you saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.” (See D&C 112:23-26. It is the Lord’s use of that word “professed” that should give us each pause as we consider the quality of our discipleship. In the final consumption there is purification for the righteous in the burning heat, but only ultimate destruction for the wicked. The final purification of the saints is accomplished simultaneously with the destruction of the hypocrites who merely professed their allegiance to Christ with their lips).

There is much to be done yet in this world of the ungodly and the worldly before that day of wrath. Let us pray that in our zeal to turn the world to the glorious truths of the Restoration that the world does not turn us instead. That was always the problem in ancient Israel. 

However, there is at least one General Authority who thinks, "We can create Zion in the midst of Babylon."  (See Elder David R. Stone, "Zion in the Midst of Babylon," Ensign, May 2006, 90–93).

JST Jeremiah 30:10-17

Note the words of the Lord in this passage, consoling and comforting Judah, giving her the assurance that she will one day be restored with Israel to their respective lands in Zion, but nevertheless reminding her of the incurable disease that has come upon her because of her iniquity. These things will come to pass in the last days, and surely those days are our day. Joseph Smith clarifies several verses in this chapter. Compare with the KJV.

Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid.
For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations wither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.
For thus saith the Lord, thy bruise is not incurable, although thy wounds are grievous.
Is there none to plead thy cause, that thou mayest be bound up? Hast thou no healing medicines?
Have all thy lovers forgotten thee, do they not seek thee? For I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of thine iniquities; because thy sins were increased.
Why criest thou for thine affliction? Is thy sorrow incurable? It was for the multitude of thine iniquities, and because thy sins are increased I have done these things unto thee.
But all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey.
For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Jeremiah 31:1-14, 31-34

Jeremiah prophesies here that Israel will be gathered in the last days, that Zion will be established, and that the mourning in Israel will be turned to joy. Despite the rebukes, consolation is always forthcoming to those who will repent. In modern parlance if you are a “Jeremiah” you are thought to be a negative and fatalistic purveyor of bad news. But the prophetic record is always balanced with hope for the sinner. Jeremiah promises that the Lord will write his covenant on the hearts of Israel in the last days, and that they will be his people despite the sins of their progenitors.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be their God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.
For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications, will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Compare D&C 1:20; D&C 84:98; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16; Isaiah 51:7; 2 Nephi 8:7).

A few chapters later in Chapter 35, Jeremiah in a desperate attempt to awaken king Jehoiakim and the Jews living in Jerusalem at the time to an awareness of their condition, Jeremiah brings the sons of Rechab to the temple. He demonstrates their faithfulness by placing wine in front of them in the temple precincts, and they refuse the temptation. Rechab and his family had left Jerusalem and the wickedness of big city life to preserve the purity of their religion in the remote desert regions near Jerusalem. Jonadab ben Rechab (the son of Rechab) is the father of these faithful sons and taught them well by precept and by example. Jonadab is promised a permanent home in the temple “before me” forever (see verse 19). They refused to live in permanent homes of stone, living in tents as nomads instead. They were outcasts by their own choice. They fled before the prophesied destruction occurred. This was the same pattern followed by Lehi and his family, contemporaries of Jeremiah. Hugh Nibley suggests that Ezekiel was likely a Rechabite also.

Later in New Testament times we see the Qumran community setting up shop in the desert near the Dead Sea, where they became the self-appointed guardians of the sacred writings. These scrolls include the Temple Scroll, which has proven to be of inestimable value to researchers seeking to understand the rituals of the ancient temple. It is from these wanderers that much of our scripture comes, Hugh Nibley suggesting that John the Baptist was following the Rechabite pattern, as did Lehi and his family. Even earlier Abraham and all his descendants likewise followed the pattern. Even before Abraham, Enoch and his Zion community left civilization to separate themselves from the wickedness around them.

Here is a small sampling of Hugh Nibley on the Rechabite principle, and it should be noted he is perhaps the only voice in the Church today who teaches it:

Does anybody else get out here that we notice? We are going to see other escapes like that. They are going to be destroyed, so you get out. That's the next thing to do; that's logical enough. And you choose a wilderness. Remember, it tells us in the book of Ether (a marvelous book, absolutely indispensable; we have to have that, the Jaredite story) that they go to that place where there never had man been. They go to a land which has never been occupied by human beings. It has to be a real wilderness; they are always going to wildernesses. This is an interesting thing here. The Saints went to the wilderness. As you know, Moses left the Egyptians and went into the wilderness, where he wandered forty years. The prophets always go out into the wilderness. Elijah went out and hid in the valley. The Qumran people had to imitate that. This is the Rechabite doctrine. When Israel or Jerusalem becomes wicked, the pious go off and live by themselves in the desert and wait for God to give them more revelation. That's the theme of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those people went out to Qumran to do that very thing, so we have the Rechabites.
We are told in Jeremiah 35 that Jonadab ben Rechab and his son were righteous, and they were so blessed. They were the only people that were not corrupt in Jerusalem. They were blessed by having special offices in the temple forever after that. They went out to live in the desert by themselves. They would not live in houses of stone, and they would not even cultivate the ground. They would live as John the Baptist lived. John the Baptist was another one who went out into the wilderness. "Why have you come out into the wilderness?" He was contemporary with Qumran of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We are told that he was a wild man and that he lived on wild locust and honey. He dressed in camel's hair and he scared people. When Enoch appeared the people said, "There's a strange thing in the land; a wild man has come among us." We know from the Jewish sources that when John the Baptist appeared people said, "Who is he?" They said, "He is Enoch." They asked him, "Who are you?" and he said, "I am the man."
Josephus never gives the name of John the Baptist. He tells his story but never gives his name because when they asked him who he was he said, "I am Enos," which just means "the man." They took him for Enoch. It's this idea of the one who goes out and lives in the wilderness. As a witness against the sins and follies of the human race, you go out by yourself. People try that all the time. The Saints were driven whether they wanted to or not. The Mormons didn't stage it. As George Albert Smith, Sr. said, "We came out here of our own free will because they made us."  (Nibley, Hugh W., Teachings of the Book of Mormon -- Semester 1: Transcripts of [29] Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990. Introduction and 1 Nephi 1 – Mosiah 5. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1993, 15. See also Appendix A, “We Will Still Weep For Zion”).

Nibley argues throughout his writings concerning Zion that the only way Zion can be established is to “get out of the wicked city into the desert to live your religion.” Nibley is openly mystified at the specter the modern Church presents to the world as it continues to try and mix Zion with Babylon when they are mutually exclusive in their goals and desires.

I once asked Elder Neal A. Maxwell several years ago how the Brethren felt about Hugh Nibley.  His response:  "He is absolutely true and faithful to the Brethren.  He is now above the fray."

Jeremiah 50:4-8, 23-32

We see in these verses the fulfillment of prophecy on two levels. Babylon, the nation that brought destruction upon Jerusalem and Israel to punish her for her sins, is likewise slated for its own destruction. Babylon thenceforth became the symbol in the lips of the prophets for all that was wicked in the world, and in the latter days Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon (the world) will be destroyed.

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.
Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.

How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.
The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
Come against her from the uttmost border, open her storehouses; cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left.
Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of the visitation.
The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.
Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.
And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

Jeremiah 51:6-12, 24-27, 33-37

There is a rich irony in this chapter of Jeremiah's record. First God permits Babylon to be the agent of destruction on a rebellious Israel, then destroys Babylon for its wickedness when the seventy years of Israel's captivity are fulfilled. The testimony of Jeremiah should speak volumes to us in this latter day of our own circumstance.

We failed to obtain Zion earlier in this dispensation because of wickedness (see D&C 105:1-11; 103:11-20), and our wickedness has multiplied many-fold since then. Ironically, the Lord has permitted us to go into bondage in the spiritual Babylon of worldliness in the last days until we are of sufficient strength spiritually to reclaim the land of Zion.  (See D&C 105:29-32). Not until we are led out of bondage as at the first will Zion be reclaimed. (See D&C 103:15 20). When we are entirely separated from the world, and Zion is established in the last days, then Babylon the great will be destroyed. (See D&C 64:22-24; 63:53-54; Revelation 17-18).

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD's vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.
Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD's hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.
The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon.

And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.
And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD.
Set ye up a standard in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillers.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; The daughter of Babylon is like a threshingfloor, it is time to thresh her: yet a little while, and the time of the her harvest shall come.
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
The violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and my blood upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry.
And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant.

Lamentations 1:4-6, 17

The lamentations of Jeremiah are some of the most poignant we have in all scripture. Writing after the fact of the Babylonian captivity, his prophecies now having all been fulfilled, he laments that the promised destruction has at last come. In many places he speaks in the first person, as though he were Jerusalem or Zion speaking. One senses a godly sorrow for sin in these words, yet there is also the hope of forgiveness. Jerusalem lies in ruin, the temple has been desecrated, and the treasures of Solomon have been carried off as booty by the conquering hordes of Babylon.  (Click on the illustration to enlarge the picture).

The year of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem was 587 B.C. His destruction of the temple was only the first such event in a long and torturous history of Israel's enemies constantly overrunning the city and leveling the temple. In each case before they demolished the temple the conquerors defiled and desecrated it. Consider this brief history of the temple mount in Jerusalem (I am paraphrasing information obtained from Jerry Landay's excellent book about the temple mount in Jerusalem, entitled Dome of the Rock, [New York: Newsweek, 4th printing], 1978) to help give a perspective on the anguish the faithful Jews must feel about the loss of their temple:

1. In 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar offered pigs as a sacrifice on the altar of incense in the holy of holies in Solomon's Temple, thus desecrating it. (There were two altars in the Jewish temples located on the temple mount in Jerusalem the altar in the holy of holies was the altar of incense, and the altar in the outer courtyard was the altar of sacrifice.)

2. Soon thereafter, the entire temple was destroyed and the Jewish nation taken captive into Babylon. Before destroying the temple the Babylonians ransacked it, taking all the priceless objects as booty.

3. Zerubbabel returned under Cyrus's decree in 520 B.C., rebuilt the temple with financial aid from sympathetic King Darius (the same king of Babylon who loved Daniel so much), only to witness its desecration once more. This time it was pillaged and destroyed by Antiochus IV, the Syrian tyrant, in 169 B.C. ("Epiphanes" was his self styled name, meaning "God manifest." He literally held himself up as a god.)

4. Two years later his officers erected a statue of Zeus in the holy of holies, and sacrificed pigs once again on the altar of incense.

5. In 63 B.C., the temple was again destroyed under the hand of Pompey and the Romans.

6. Herod, hoping to win the favor and support of his Jewish subjects, commenced an extensive construction project in the city of Jerusalem in 19 B.C., which included the rebuilding of the temple. The Temple of Herod occupied the temple mount during Christ's mortal ministry, and it was this temple he prophesied would be destroyed. (See Matthew 24:1-2).

7. Titus, son of Roman Emperor Vespasian, marched four full legions of Roman soldiers six abreast into Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and literally decimated the population and everything else in their path including the temple. Josephus, eyewitness Jewish historian, records that it was not safe for Titus "to let men captured by force go free, and to guard such a host of prisoners would tie up a great proportion of his troops. . . The soldiers themselves through rage and bitterness nailed up their victims in various attitudes as a grim joke, till owing to the vast numbers there was no room for the crosses, and no crosses for the bodies." Six hundred and fifty seven years to the very day on which the Babylonians had plundered and razed the first Temple of Solomon, its successor fell. The woodwork beneath the gold and silver plates that overlaid the outer surface of the temple caught fire, and the precious metals ran like water. Their fury whetted from the long siege, Roman soldiers with firebrands rushed into the blazing temple and set fires inside. According to Josephus, "The entire city seemed to be on fire, while as for the noise, nothing could be imagined more shattering or more horrifying. There was the war cry of the Roman legions as they converged; the yells of the partisans encircled with fire and sword; the panic flight into the arms of the enemy of the people cut off above, their shrieks as the end approached. . ." Josephus fixed the number of Jews who died at 1,100,000.

8. Roman Emperor Hadrian mopped up the few remaining Jewish survivors who were left in Jerusalem, cleared off the rubble on the temple mount that had not already been removed, and erected statues of himself astride his horse and Jupiter Capitolinus, his patron god, on the temple site in 132 A.D.

9. The Muslims erected a crude wooden mosque on the holy spot in 637 A.D., then replaced it in 691 A.D. with the impressive Mosque of Omar, the "Dome of the Rock," still standing on the site today.

Each of the instances cited above constitutes an "abomination" in the view of the Jews, and because it precludes worship in their temple they are left "desolate." The "abomination of desolation" has had numerous fulfillments, and will yet be fulfilled again as one of the signs preceding the Second Coming. (See JS-M 1:32-33; Matthew 24:29-30; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:24-25. On the first weekend in October 1973, coinciding with General Conference, Egypt and Syria invaded Israel in what later came to be known as the "Yom Kippur War." That war seems tame today, after nearly two years of fierce fighting between the Palestinians and Jews, triggered by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, accompanied by an armed force. Evidence that the temple mount has latter-day implications is inherent in this statement from President Harold B. Lee in the last talk he gave from the Tabernacle pulpit. He said, "The war is now on, and you know what's happening, and what will happen, because that's the greatest target of Satan, because there's one of the holiest pieces of property in all the world." [This statement was edited out of the printed version of his talk in the Ensign, but it is preserved on videotape.] The September 11, 2001, bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by highjacked passenger jets has now raised the stakes to such an extremity that it is entirely possible the Dome of the Rock could now be removed by military action in retaliation, thus clearing the way for the rebuilding of the ancient Jewish temple on the temple mount. This site still remains the focal point of unfolding prophecy, as predicted by President Lee).

Maybe the best way to relate to the anguish of the Jews is to imagine the Salt Lake Temple being destroyed by an occupying army. Would we feel desolated in our worship?

In the interest of brevity I have cited only those verses containing the word Zion in Lamentations, but reading all the verses in context will yield a broader view of the book. Of particular interest to me personally is the translation in the Jerusalem Bible, where the verses are rendered in poetic form. Joseph Smith made no revisions to the book in the JST.

The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.
Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.

Zion spreadeth forth her hands, and there is none to comfort her: the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob, that his adversaries should be round about him: Jerusalem is as a menstruous woman among them.

The Jerusalem Bible, Lamentations 2

Since this chapter contains several references to Zion, and in order to provide a taste of the excellent translation of The Jerusalem Bible, the entire chapter is cited here. Compare KJV.

Oh, how Yahweh in his wrath
   has brought darkness on the daughter of Zion!
He has flung the glory of Israel
   from heaven to the ground,
no more remembering his footstool
   on the day of his wrath.

The Lord has pitilessly destroyed
   all the homes of Jacob;
in his displeasure he has shattered
   the strongholds of the daughter of Judah;
he has thrown to the ground, he has left accursed
   the kingdom and its rulers.

In his burning anger
   he has broken every horn in Israel,
withdrawn the strength of his right hand
   at the coming of the enemy,
and kindled in Jacob a fire
   that burns up everything near it.

Like an enemy he has bent his bow,
   holding his right hand steady;
like a foe, he has slaughtered
   everything that delights the eye;
on the tent of the daughter of Zion
   he has poured his anger out like fire.

The Lord has been like an enemy;
   he has destroyed Israel;
he has destroyed every one of her palaces,
   laid low her strongholds,
and for the daughters of Judah has multiplied
   wailing on wailing.

He has wrecked his own domain like a garden,
   shattered his own gathering place;
Yahweh has wiped out the memory
   of festivals and sabbaths in Zion;
in the heat of his wrath he has repudiated
   king and priest.

The Lord has grown weary of his altar,
   has come to loathe his sanctuary,
and handed her palace walls
   over to the enemy;
from the uproar in the Temple of Yahweh
   it might have been a day of festival.

Yahweh resolved to ruin
   the city wall of the daughter of Zion;
with a line he measured it, and did not withdraw his hand
   until he had completely overthrown it,
bringing mourning on city wall and rampart;
   now they are crumbling down together.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
   he has shattered their bars.
Her king, her nobles, are now with the pagans,
   the Law is no more.
Even her prophets receive
   no further vision from Yahweh.

Mutely they sit on the ground,
   the elders of the daughter of Zion;
they have put dust on their heads,
   and wrapped themselves in sackcloth.
The virgins of Jerusalem hand their heads
   down to the ground.

My eyes wasted away with weeping,
   my entrails shuddered,
my liver spilled on the ground
   at the ruin of the daughters of my people,
as children, mere infants, fainted
   in the squares of the Citadel.

They kept saying to their mothers,
   "Where is the bread?"
as they fainted like wounded men
   in the squares of the City,
as they poured out their souls
   on their mothers' breasts.

How can I describe you, to what compare you,
   daughter of Jerusalem?
Who can rescue and comfort you,
   virgin daughter of Zion?
For huge as the sea is your affliction;
   who can possibly cure you?

The visions your prophets had on your behalf
   were delusive, tinsel things,
they never pointed out your sin,
   to ward off your exile.
The visions they proffered you were false,
   fallacious, misleading.

All who pass your way
   clap their hands at the sight;
they whistle and shake their heads
   over the daughter of Jerusalem.
"Was this the loveliest of all,
   this, the joy of the whole world?"

Your enemies open their mouths
   in chorus against you;
they whistle and grind their teeth;
   they say, "We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we were waiting for;
   now we can touch it, see it."

Yahweh has accomplished his intention,
   he has carried out his word
decreed in the days of old;
   he has destroyed without pity,
giving your enemy cause to gloat over you
   and raising his horn.

Cry aloud, then, to the Lord,
   groan, daughter of Zion;
let your tears flow like a torrent,
   day and night;
give yourself no relief,
   grant your eyes no rest.

Up, cry out in the nighttime,
   in the early hours of darkness;
pour your heart out like water
   before Yahweh,
Stretch out your hands to him
   for the lives of your children.

Look, Yahweh, and consider:
   whom have you ever treated like this?
Why, women have eaten their little ones,
   the children they had nursed in their arms!
Why, priest and prophet have been slaughtered
   in the sanctuary of Yahweh!

Children and old men are lying
   on the ground in the streets;
my virgins and my young men
   have fallen by the sword;
you have killed on the day of your wrath,
   you have slaughtered pitilessly.

As though to a festival you have summoned
   terrors from every side;
on the day of your wrath, no one escaped,
   no one survived,
Those whom I had nursed and reared,
   my enemy has murdered them all.

Lamentations 4:2, 11, 22

Jeremiah continues his lament, and one gets a glimpse of the sorrow of the Jews in the depths of their despair. Even today the lamentations continue at the Wailing Wall, the last remaining vestige of the ancient temple. We cite here only the three verses containing the word Zion, but to be appreciated the entire chapter should be studied.

The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!

The LORD hath accomplished his fury; he hath poured out his fierce anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion, and it hath devoured the foundations thereof.

The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins.

Lamentations 5:11, 18

Jeremiah's verses in this chapter are in the form of a prayer, as he recounts the sorrowful condition of Zion.

They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.

Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it.

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