Woe to the rich! (Lk 6:24-6:24)

“But woe to you

Who are rich!

You have received

Your consolation.”

 

Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις, ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said the rich people should be cursed (Πλὴν οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς πλουσίοις), using the second person plural.  They already had received their consolation, comfort, or happiness (ὅτι ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν).  While Matthew had 8 beatitudes about the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the righteous, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, Luke only had 4.  The blessed or fortunate ones here were the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the. persecuted.  3 of the 4 of these categories are almost the same, but the hungry could only go with those who hunger for righteousness.  Some later 4th century Christian writers, like Ambrose of Milan (337-397), have said that theses 4 beatitudes correspond to the 4 cardinal virtues of temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.  However, Luke uniquely has these 4 more woes or curses in which he denounced or called out their bad behavior.  In this particular case, he challenged or criticized the rich people because they already had their consolation.

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The exposed prostitute city of Nineveh (Nah 3:4-3:7)

“Because of the countless

Debaucheries

Of the prostitute,

Her graceful allure

As the mistress of sorcery,

She enslaved nations

Through her debaucheries.

She enslaved people

Through her sorcery.

‘I am against you.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will lift up

Your skirts

Over your face.

I will let nations look

On your nakedness.

I will let kingdoms

Look on your shame.

I will throw filth at you.

I will treat you

With contempt.

I will make you

A spectacle.

Then all who see you

Will shrink from you.

They will say.

‘Nineveh is devastated.

Who will bemoan her?

Where shall I seek comforters

For her?’”

Nahum said that Nineveh had become a prostitute by her actions.  She had been a graceful alluring mistress sorcerer.  She had enslaved people through her debaucheries, her sensual sexual corruption.  Nineveh tricked people with her sorcery.  However, Yahweh said that he was against Nineveh.  He would force her to lift up her skirts over her face, so that all the different countries could see her nakedness.  Everyone would see her shame.  Yahweh was going to throw filth at her.  He was going to treat her with contempt, making a spectacle out of Nineveh.  Then, everyone who saw Nineveh would shrink from her, because they would say that she was devastated.  There would be no one to moan or comfort her.  Nineveh would go away in disgrace.

Does anything compare to Jerusalem (Lam 2:13-2:13)

Mem

“What can I say

To you?

To what shall

I compare you?

O daughter Jerusalem!

To what can I liken you?

How may I comfort you?

O virgin daughter Zion!

Vast as the sea

Is your ruin.

Who can heal you?”

Now the author laments about how to compare what has happened in Jerusalem. Is there anything comparable? How can he comfort Zion? This virgin daughter Zion is beyond healing. Her ruin is as vast as the sea. This author of the Lamentations really sounds like a distraught elderly widow who has lost her husband. Perhaps there is an element of exaggeration, as if no other city had ever suffered defeat or ruin. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Mem. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The weeping Jerusalem (Lam 1:16-1:16)

Ayin

“I weep

For these things.

My eyes

Flow with tears.

A comforter is

Far from me.

There is no one

To revive

My courage.

My children are

Desolate.

The enemy has

Prevailed.”

Once again, we have Jerusalem speaking in the first person singular, weeping and crying with eyes filled with tears. There is no one to comfort or revive her courage. They all seem so far away. Her children are desolate because the enemy has won. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The unclean Jerusalem (Lam 1:9-1:9)

Tet

“Her uncleanness was

In her skirts.

She took no thought

Of her future.

Her downfall was

Appalling.

She had no one

To comfort her.

‘O Yahweh!

Look

At my affliction!

The enemy

Has triumphed!’”

Jerusalem’s skirts were unclean. She never thought about her future. Her downfall was appalling. No one was there to comfort her. Then suddenly, Jerusalem begins to speak or address Yahweh. Jerusalem wanted Yahweh to look at her affliction and what the enemy had done to her. Instead of lamenting about Jerusalem, Jerusalem now lamented about itself. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The weeping city (Lam 1:2-1:2)

Beth

“She weeps bitterly

In the night,

With tears

On her cheeks.

Among all her lovers

She has no one

To comfort her.

All her friends

Have dealt

Treacherously

With her.

They have become

Her enemies.”

Jerusalem is feminine. She weeps bitterly with tears on her checks. Her lovers have abandoned her, so that there is no one to comfort her. They have treated her badly and become her enemies. This was an obvious allusion to her former neighboring allies. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Israel shall come back rejoicing (Jer 31:12-31:14)

“They shall come.

They shall sing aloud

On the height of Zion.

They shall be radiant

Over the goodness of Yahweh,

Over the grain,

Over the wine,

Over the oil,

Over the young of the flock.

Over their herd.

Their life shall become

Like a watered garden.

They shall never languish again.

Then shall the young women

Rejoice in the dance.

The young men

With the old men

Shall be merry.

I will turn their mourning

Into joy.

I will comfort them.

I will give them gladness

For sorrow.

I will give the priests

Their fill of fatness.

My people shall be satisfied

With my goodness.’

Says Yahweh.”

The Israelites will come to the heights of Zion to sing aloud. They will be happy over the goodness of Yahweh with their grain, their wine, their oil, their flocks, and their herds. Their life will become like a watered garden. They will never again languish away. The young women will rejoice in dancing, while the young and old men will be merry. Yahweh was going to comfort them by giving them gladness for all the sorrows that they suffered. Their mourning shall turn into joy. The priests would have fat sacrifices. They will be satisfied with all the goodness of Yahweh.