The proclamation of guilt (Lam 3:40-3:42)

Nun

“Let us test

Our ways!

Let us examine

Our ways!

Let us return

To Yahweh!

Let us lift up

Our hearts!

Let us lift up

Our hands To God

In heaven!

We have transgressed!

We have rebelled!

You have not

Forgiven us.”

This author admits his sinfulness. He wanted to examine and test all their ways of doing things. He and his friends wanted to return to Yahweh. Thus everyone should lift up their hearts and hands to the heavenly God. He and his comrades had transgressed and rebelled against Yahweh, their God in heaven. Thus Yahweh had not yet forgiven them. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun in this acrostic poem.

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Don’t be too wise or too wicked (Eccl 7:15-7:18)

“In my vain life,

I have seen everything.

There are righteous people

Who perish in their righteousness.

There are wicked people

Who prolong their life

In their evildoing.

‘Do not be too righteous!

Do not act too wise!

Why should you destroy yourself?

Do not be too wicked!

Do not be a fool!

Why should you die before your time?’

It is good

That you should take hold of this,

Without letting go of the other.

Whoever fears God

Shall succeed with both.”

In a strange admonition, Qoheleth wanted people to be neither too wise nor too wicked. There is no ultimatum extreme here, since this is a centrist view. He admits that he has had a vain life, but he has seen everything. He has seen the righteous perish, while the wicked have prolonged their life of evildoing. So he warns us not to be too righteous or wise, because you might destroy yourself. At the same time, he warns against being too wicked or foolish, because you also might die before your time. He says that you should be a little righteous and a little wicked, some of each. The most important thing was to fear God. That way you would succeed, whether being wise or foolish.

Stupidity (Prov 30:2-30:3)

“Surely I am too stupid to be human.

I do not have human understanding.

I have not learned wisdom.

I do not have knowledge of the Holy One.”

In a rare expression of humility, this Agur proclaims that he is too stupid to even be a human. He admits his human limitations since he does not even have human understanding. He has never learned about wisdom. He does not even know the holy one.

The law is my delight (Ps 119:89-119:96)

Lamed

“Yahweh exists forever!

Your word is firmly fixed in heaven.

Your faithfulness endures to all generations.

You have established the earth.

It stands fast.

By your appointment

They stand today.

All things are your servants.

If your law had not been my delight,

I should have perished in my misery.

I will never forget your precepts.

By them,

You have given me life.

I am yours!

Save me!

I have sought your precepts.

The wicked lie in wait

To destroy me.

But I consider your decrees.

I have seen a limit to all perfection.

But your commandment is exceedingly broad.”

Yahweh is eternal in heaven. His faithfulness endures forever. He has established the earth and keeps it going. All things are his servants. This psalmist admits that if he did not have this delightful law, he might have perished in his misery. He would never forget the precepts of Yahweh since they gave him life. He gave himself fully to Yahweh. He relied on Yahweh to save him since he always sought his precepts. However, the wicked lay in wait for him in order to destroy him. The psalmist would consider the decrees of Yahweh and seek perfection because of the broad commandments. So ends this section on the twelfth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Lamed.

The prayer of Queen Esther to God (Greek text only)

“Queen Esther prayed to the Lord God of Israel.

‘O my Lord,

You only are our king.

Help me.

I am alone.

I have no helper but you.

My danger is in my hand.

Ever since I was born

I have heard in the tribe of my family

That you, O Lord, took Israel out of all the nations,

You took our ancestors from among all their forebears

For an everlasting inheritance.

You did for them all that you promised.

Now we have sinned before you.

You have handed us over to our enemies,

Because we glorified their gods.

You are righteous, O Lord!

Now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery.

They have covenanted with their idols to abolish

What your mouth has ordained.

They want to destroy your inheritance.

They want to stop the mouths of those who praise you.

They want to quench your altar.

They want to quench your house.

They want to open the mouths of the nations to praise vain idols.

They want to magnify forever a mortal king.’”

In this Greek text, Queen Esther is saying that there only one king, the Lord of Israel. However, she is married to a king, the great king of 127 provinces. She has learned about the God of Israel from her family, which in this case was Mordecai. The Israelites were promised an everlasting inheritance. However, Queen Esther admits that the Israelites have sinned in glorifying foreign gods. Thus they were turned over to their enemies. The reality of the captivity was clear to her. Now, however, they wanted to destroy our mouths, God’s altar and his house. However, they had already been destroyed. In none of this prescription against the Jews was there any mention of a mortal king being magnified. The king has made no pretention of being immortal, only the Romans and Greek kings would do that, not this Persian king.