The personal guilt (Lam 1:22-1:22)

Taw

“Let all their evil doing

Come before you!

Deal with them,

As you have dealt

With me,

Because of all my transgressions.

My groans are many.

My heart is faint.”

A final personal lament from Jerusalem brings this poem to an end. Jerusalem admitted that she had transgressed the law.   She spoke with many groans and a faint heart. However, she wanted all the evil doings of others to also come before Yahweh, so that he could deal with them as he had dealt with Jerusalem. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Taw, the last consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Do not be afraid (Jer 46:27-46:28)

“‘As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

Do not be dismayed!

O Israel!

I am going to save you

From far away.

I will save your offspring

From the land

Of their captivity.

Jacob shall return.

They shall have quiet.

They shall have ease.

No one shall make them afraid.

As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

I am with you!

I will save you!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make an end

Of all the nations

Among whom

I have banished you.

But I will not make

An end of you.

I will chastise you

In just measure.

I will by no means

Leave you unpunished.’”

This passage is almost word for word like chapter 30: 11-12. Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.

Do not be afraid (Jer 30:10-30:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘As for you!

Have no fear!

My servant Jacob!

Do not be dismayed!

O Israel!

I am going to save you

From far away.

I will save your offspring

From the land

Of their captivity.

Jacob shall return.

They shall have quiet.

They shall have ease.

No one shall make them afraid.

I am with you!

I will save you!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make an end

Of all the nations

Among whom

I have scattered you.

But of you,

I will not make an end.

I will chastise you

In just measure.

I will by no means

Leave you unpunished.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, said that Israel or Jacob did not have to fear or be dismayed. Yahweh was going to save them and their offspring from their captivity, even though he was far away. They would return and have peace and quiet. No one would make them afraid, because Yahweh was with them. He was going to bring an end to all the nations where the Israelites had been scattered. These countries would come to an end, but the Israelites would not come to an end. The Israelites were going to be chastised, but in a just measure, since they would not escape unpunished.

Against pagan practices (Isa 66:17-66:17)

“‘Those who sanctify themselves,

Those who purify themselves

In order to go into the gardens,

Follow the one in the center.

They eat the flesh of pigs.

They eat vermin.

They eat rodents.

They shall come to an end together.’

Says Yahweh.”

This probably should have followed the earlier remarks about pig’s blood. Yahweh once again points out that he is against these people who follow pagan practices. They sanctify and purify themselves to go into their gardens with the idols in the center. They end up eating pork, vermin, and rodents. They will all come to an end together.

Oracle about Kedar (Isa 21:16-21:17)

“Thus Yahweh said to me.

‘Within a year,

According to the years of a hired worker,

All the glory of Kedar

Will come to an end.

The remaining bows of Kedar’s warriors

Will be few.’

Yahweh,

The God of Israel,

Has spoken.”

Kedar was another wandering northern Arab tribe. This time Yahweh spoke the oracle to Isaiah. Apparently, the Kedar tribe was more aggressive, since within a hired worker’s year, their glory would come to an end. Their warriors and their bows would be few. This clearly was a spoken oracle by Yahweh, the God of Israel.

The announcement of the ruin (Isa 10:22-10:23)

“Though your people Israel were

Like the sand of the sea,

Only a remnant of them

Will return.

Destruction is decreed,

overflowing with righteousness.

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Will make a full end,

As decreed,

In all the earth.”

The answer is simple. Although Israel would have been as numerous as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return from the Exile. Yahweh has decreed destruction in his righteousness. The God of many armies will put an end here on earth. The ruin of Israel is coming. Perhaps it already had come by the time of this writing. In fact, the Israelites were never a large amount of people like the sands of the seas.

Elijah (Sir 48:1-48:3)

“Then Elijah arose.

He was a prophet,

Like a fire.

His word burned

Like a torch.

He brought a famine

Upon them.

By his zeal

He made them

Few in number.

By the word of the Lord

He shut up the heavens.

Three times also

He brought down fire.”

Sirach seems to be relying on the Elijah cycle of stories from 1 Kings, chapters 17-18. This 9th century BCE northern prophet, Elijah, from the east side of the Jordan River in the town of Tishbe, the Gilead, went to the king of Northern Israel, King Ahab (874-853 BCE). Elijah was like a fire as his words were like a flaming torch. He foretold the famine that reduced the number of people in Israel. He foretold this famine, not brought as Sirach said. Elijah was able to control the heavens with his prayers, so that he could bring an end to this drought. He also had a faceoff with the 450 Baal priests or Jezebel’s prophets when he confronted the practices of King Ahab and his wife. Elijah then had Yahweh send down fire on his wet wood. Although the original story did not mention how many times the fire came down, Sirach mentions that it was 3 times.