The dying Israelites (Bar 3:1-3:4)

“O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

The soul in anguish

Cries out to you!

The wearied spirit

Cries out to you!

Hear!

O Lord!

Have mercy!

We have sinned

Before you!

You are enthroned forever!

We are perishing forever!

O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

Hear now

The prayer

Of the people

Of Israel,

The children

Of those who sinned

Before you.

They did not heed

The voice

Of the Lord

Their God.

Thus calamities

Have clung to us.”

Baruch addressed God as the Lord Almighty, not simply Yahweh, the Lord, God of Israel. The anguished soul and the weary spirit cried out to God. Baruch wanted God to hear their cries and have mercy on them because they had sinned. The Lord Almighty was enthroned forever, while the Israelites were perishing forever because of their finitude. God should listen to the prayer of his people, the children of those who sinned. Their ancestors had not listened to the voice of God, so that their calamities have clung to them as fellow sinners who are the sons and daughters of sinners.

The pride of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 13:8-13:11)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

I will ruin the pride of Judah.

I will ruin the great pride of Jerusalem.

This is an evil people.

They refuse to hear my words.

They stubbornly follow their own will.

They have gone after other gods.

They serve them.

They worship them.

They shall be like this loincloth,

That is good for nothing.

Just as the loincloth clings

To one’s loins,

So I made the whole house of Israel

With the whole house of Judah

Cling to me.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Thus they might be for me

A people,

A name,

A praise,

A glory.

But they would not listen.’”

Now Yahweh explains to Jeremiah the problem and story of the loincloth. Just as the loincloth was ruined, so too would the great pride of Judah and Jerusalem also be ruined. These were evil people who would not listen to the words of Yahweh. They would rather follow their own will and ways. Besides, they have gone after other gods serving and worshipping them. Thus they will be like Jeremiah’s ruined loincloth, good for nothing. Just as the loincloth clung to Jeremiah’s loins, both the house of Judah and Israel had clung to Yahweh. He wanted to make them a great people with a great name that everyone would praise and glory, but they would not listen.

A prayer to Yahweh (Ps 119:25-119:32)

Dalet

“My soul clings to the dust.

Revive me according to your word!

When I told of my ways,

You answered me.

Teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts.

I will meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow.

Strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me!

Graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness.

I set your ordinances before me.

I cling to your decrees.

Yahweh!

Let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments.

You enlarge my understanding!”

This psalmist prays to Yahweh. He wanted to be revived by Yahweh since he had formerly answered his prayers. He wanted to know more about the statutes. Apparently the statutes were difficult things to learn. He was going to meditate on the these decrees so that he might better understand the wondrous works of Yahweh. He wanted to stay away from false ways. He wanted to be faithful as he clung to these decrees. He did not want to be put to shame. He was seeking a better understanding of the commandments. This section on the fourth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Dalet, ends with this plea.

David praises God (Ps 63:5-63:8)

“My soul is satisfied

As with a rich feast.

My mouth praises you

With joyful lips.

I think of you

On my bed.

I meditate on you

In the watches of the night.

You have been my help.

In the shadow of your wings

I sing for joy.

My soul clings to you.

Your right hand upholds me.”

David’s soul was satisfied like as if it were at a great feast. His mouth praised God with his joyful lips. At night when he was in bed, he meditated on God. During the 3 night watches, God had been a help to him. Once again, there is allusion to the refuge in the shadow of the wings of God, when in fact God did not have wings. The cherubim in the Holy of Holies had wings. David sang for joy. His soul clung to God because God helped him with his right hand. Once again, God did not have hands. These metaphorical phrases of a thirsty soul and a winged God with a right hand are ways of explaining his trust in God.

The ostracism of Job (Job 19:13-19:22)

“He has put my family far from me.

My acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.

My relatives and my close friends have failed me.

The guests in my house have forgotten me.

My servant girls count me as a stranger.

I have become an alien in their eyes.

I call to my servant,

But he gives me no answer.

I must myself plead with him.

My breath is repulsive to my wife.

I am loathsome to my own family.

Even young children despise me.

When I rise,

They talk against me.

All my intimate friends abhor me.

Those whom I loved have turned against me.

My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh.

I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.

Have pity on me!

Have pity on me!

O you my friends,

The hand of God has touched me!

Why do you,

Like God,

Pursue me?

Why are you never satisfied with my flesh?”

Job was an outcast from his family and friends. Everyone had failed him. His own house guests have forgotten him. As if to impress us with his wealth, his servant girls now treat him like a stranger. His servants do not answer him so that now he has to actually plead with them to do things. His wife did not like his breath. Even little kids ran away from him and talked behind his back. His bones clung to his skin since he seemed to lose weight. His teeth were in bad shape. He wanted God to have pity on him. He wanted to know why God was pursuing him. Why was everybody after him?