Yahweh causes the death of many in Jerusalem (Lam 2:21-2:21)

Shin

“The young

With the old

Are lying

On the ground

In the streets.

My young women

With my young men

Have fallen

By the sword.

In the day

Of your anger,

You have killed them,

Slaughtering

Without mercy.”

Suddenly, the author switches to the first person singular as Jerusalem itself laments the death of its people. Both the young and the old people were lying in the streets dead. Both the young men and the young women were killed by the sword. Now this author, speaking as Jerusalem, blames all of this on Yahweh. He claimed with a very strong accusation that on the day of his anger, Yahweh killed and slaughtered the people of Jerusalem without mercy. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Shin. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

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The false visions of the prophets (Lam 2:14-2:14)

Nun

“Your prophets

Have seen

False visions

For you.

They have seen

Deceptive visions.

They have not exposed

Your iniquity

In order to restore

Your fortunes.

But they have seen

False oracles,

Misleading oracles

For you.”

Now we have an element of guilt. This author blames their situation in Jerusalem on the false and deceptive visions of Yahweh’s prophets. Jeremiah often called them the happy prophets, who saw no harm coming. These prophets never challenged the people and their iniquity. They kept talking about restoration with their false and misleading oracles. It almost seems like this is an attempt to say that the prophets had the wrong visions or oracles from Yahweh, rather than the prophets misunderstood these visions or oracles of Yahweh. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The bad shepherds (Jer 23:1-23:2)

“‘Woe to the shepherds

Who destroy

The sheep of my pasture!

Woe to the shepherds

Who scatter

The sheep of my pasture!’

Says Yahweh.

Therefore thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Concerning the shepherds

Who shepherd my people.

‘It is you

Who have scattered my flock.

You have driven them away.

You have not attended to them.

So I will attend to you

For your evil doings.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, condemns the bad shepherds or the bad leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. Yahweh blames them for destroying and scattering the sheep of his pasture, his people, the Israelites. There is no question in the mind of Yahweh that that it was these leaders who scattered and drove away his flock. They had not attended to them. Instead, they went on their evil ways. Now Yahweh will attend to their evil actions. This oracle of Yahweh is clearly pointing the blame on the leaders.

The difficulties of King Solomon (Sir 47:19-47:22)

“You brought in women

To lie at your side.

Through your body,

You were brought

Into subjection.

You stained your honor.

You defiled your family line.

You brought wrath

Upon your children.

They were grieved

At your folly.

Because the sovereignty

Was divided.

A rebel kingdom

Arose out of Ephraim.

But the Lord

Will never give up his mercy.

He will not cause

Any of his works to perish.

He will never blot out

The descendants of his chosen one.

He will not destroy

The family line

Of him who loved him.

So he gave a remnant to Jacob.

To David

He gave a root of his stock.”

Unlike the other famous holy men, Sirach points out some problems with King Solomon. He had a woman problem. As usual, Sirach blames them rather than Solomon. However, he did point out that Solomon brought in women to lie with him that reduced his strength and power. Solomon thus stained the family line with this dishonor. Thus his children suffered with the split in the Israelite kingdom. At the death of King Solomon, the rebels in Ephraim took over the northern part of the kingdom, so that only Judah was left. However, the Lord was merciful and never gave up, so that the family line was not destroyed. They just had less power. The remnant remained of Jacob and David and his family. The roots were still there, even if the tree was smaller.

The problem of the Ephraimites (Ps 78:9-78:11)

“The Ephraimites,

Armed with the bow,

Turned back on the day of battle.

They did not keep God’s covenant.

They refused to walk according to his law.

They forgot what he had done.

They forgot the miracles

That he had shown them.”

In a strange twist, Asaph, this psalmist, blames the failure of the Israelites on the Ephraimites, the descendents of Joseph. Within the biblical literature there does not appear to be mention of this specific incident. He seems to say that they would not fight. Interesting enough, this hints at the breakup between Judah and Israel, where the northern Israelites slowly became the Samaritans. Ephraim, the son of Joseph was one of the northern tribes that were not part of Judah. They did not keep God’s covenant. They refused to walk according to his laws. They seem to have forgotten all the miracles that God had done for them and the other Israelites.

The speech of Alcimus before King Demetrius I (2 Macc 14:6-14:10)

Alcimus answered.

‘Those of the Jews

Who are called Hasideans,

Whose leader is Judas Maccabeus,

They are keeping up the war.

They are stirring up sedition.

They will not let the kingdom attain tranquility.

Therefore I have laid aside my ancestral glory.

I refer to the high priesthood.

I have now come here.

First, I am genuinely concerned for the interests of the king.

Second, I have regard also for my compatriots.

Through the folly of those whom I have mentioned,

Our whole nation is now in no small misfortune.

Since you are acquainted,

O king,

With the details of this matter,

May it please you!

Take thought for our country!

Think of our hard-pressed nation with the gracious kindness

That you show to all.

As long as Judas lives,

It is impossible for the government to find peace.’”

Once again this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. The Jerusalem high priest Alcimus blames the Hasideans for all the trouble. This is the first mention of these Hasideans in this book but they were important in 1 Maccabees, since they seem to be a group of ascetic scribes who were the early followers of Mattathias, the father of Judas Maccabeus. They may later have become the Essenes. Clearly Judas Maccabeus was their leader. Alcimus claimed that Judas Maccabeus and his group was preventing peace and leading a seditious revolt. As long as he lived there could be no peace. On the other hand, Alcimus explained that he was concerned about the king and his people. He wanted King Demetrius I to show compassion on his kingdom by getting rid of Judas Maccabeus.