The starving children (Lam 4:4-4:4)

Daleth

“The tongue

Of the infant

Sticks

To the roof

Of its mouth

For thirst.

The children

Beg for food.

But no one gives

Them anything.”

The situation in Jerusalem was dire, since the infants are so thirsty that their tongues stick to the roof of their mouths. The children had to beg for food. But even then, there was no one to give them food. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Daleth in this acrostic poem.

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Caring for the young (Lam 4:3-4:3)

Gimel

“Even the jackals

Offer their breast.

They nurse

Their young.

But my people

Have become cruel,

Like the ostriches

In the wilderness.”

How do you care for the young children and infants? This author points out that even the wild jackals nurse their young infants. However, his people, meaning those left in Jerusalem, have become cruel. They are more like the ostriches in the desert wilderness. Somehow ostriches were considered cruel. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Gimel in this acrostic poem.

The precious children of Zion (Lam 4:2-4:2)

Beth

“The precious children

Of Zion!

They are worth

Their weight

In fine gold!

How they are reckoned

As earthen pots!

They are the work

Of a potter’s hands!”

This author turns to the precious children of Zion, who are worth their weight in gold. They are the earthen jugs of the potter who made them. Thus the God made children of Jerusalem are worth more than gold. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth in this acrostic poem.

Gold (Lam 4:1-4:1)

Aleph

“How the gold

Has grown dim!

How the pure gold

Is changed!

The sacred stones

Lie scattered

At the head

Of every street.”

This lamentation begins with talk about the dimming gold and sacred stones scattered all over the streets, especially at the head of the street or the street corners. This is a reference to the holy treasures and vessels of the Temple that have been stolen due to the attack on Jerusalem. This first verse of this single verse acrostic poem starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Aleph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Destroy the enemies (Lam 3:64-3:66)

Taw

“Pay them back

For their deeds!

O Yahweh!

According to the work

Of their hands,

Give them anguish

Of heart!

May your curse

Be on them!

Pursue them

In anger!

Destroy them

From under Yahweh’s heavens!”

This personal lament ends with a plea to Yahweh to destroy his enemies. This author was very clear. He wanted his enemies paid back for what they had done. Yahweh was to use his own hands and his own anger. They were to receive an anguished heart. They should be cursed, pursued, and destroyed. They should be wiped out from under God’s heavens. These three verses start with the final Hebrew consonant letter Taw, since this is the last section of this acrostic poem.

The taunts of the enemy (Lam 3:61-3:63)

Shin

“You have heard

Their taunts!

O Yahweh!

You have heard

All their plots

Against me!

The whispers

With the murmurs

Of my assailants

Are against me

All day long.

Whether they sit

Or whether they rise,

I am the object

Of their taunt songs.”

This personalized lamentation approach continues with a complaint against his enemies who taunt him. They plot against him with whispers and murmurs all day long. Whether they are sitting around or moving about, they continue to make him the object of their taunting songs. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Shin in this acrostic poem.

The saving redemption (Lam 3:58-3:60)

Resh

“You have taken up

My cause!

O Yahweh!

You have redeemed

My life!

You have seen

The wrong

Done to me!

O Yahweh!

Judge my cause!

You have seen

All their malice!

You have seen

All their plots

Against me!”

This personalized lament continued, but this time on a positive note. Yahweh has taken up his cause. He has redeemed his life. He has seen the wrong things that were done to him. Yahweh was going to judge his case, since he saw all the malice that other people have done against him with their various plots. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Resh in this acrostic poem.