Cannibalism (Lam 4:10-4:10)

Yod

“The hands

Of compassionate women

Have boiled

Their own children.

They became

Their food

In the destruction

Of my people.”

This author complains about the practice of cannibalism. Even the compassionate women of Jerusalem boiled their own children. They had their own children become their food as Yahweh’s people self-destructed. This cannibalism was also mentioned in Jeremiah, chapter 19, and in the 2nd Lamentation. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

The laughing stock (Lam 3:13-3:15)

He

“Yahweh shot

Into my vitals

The arrows

Of his quiver.

I have become

The laughingstock

Of all my people.

I have become

The object

Of their taunt-songs

All day long.

He has filled me

With bitterness.

He has filled me

With wormwood.”

This suffering servant complains that Yahweh has shot an arrow into his vital organs. He has become the laughing stock of his people, as they sing taunting songs to and about him all day long. He has been filled with bitterness and forced to eat the bitter wormwood plant. This is a real unhappy dude. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter He in this acrostic poem.

Personal distress (Lam 3:4-3:6)

Beth

“Yahweh has made

my flesh waste away.

He has made

My skin waste away.

He has broken

My bones.

He has besieged me.

With bitterness.

He has enveloped me

With tribulation.

He has made me

Sit in darkness

Like the dead

Of long ago.”

Almost like the sufferings of Job, this author complains about his own personal suffering. His flesh and his skin are wasting away, since his bones are broken. He has been besieged and enveloped in bitterness and tribulation, sitting in darkness like a person dead for a long time. Throughout this poem, these three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each three verse section after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this personal acrostic poem.

The lying prophets (Jer 23:25-23:27)

“I have heard

What the prophets have said.

They prophesy lies

In my name.

They say.

‘I have dreamed!

I have dreamed!’

How long

Will this last?

Will the hearts of the prophets

Ever turn back?

They prophesy lies!

They prophesy

The deceit of their own heart.

They plan to make my people

Forget my name,

By their dreams

That they tell one another.

They are just

Like their ancestors

Who forgot my name

For Baal.”

Yahweh complains about these lying prophets, since they prophesy and lie in his name. They claim that they have had dreams. Will these prophets ever return? They continue to lie and present the deceit for their own hearts. They want the people to forget the name of Yahweh with their dreams that they tell to one another. They are just like their ancestors who forgot the name of Yahweh and went to the Baal gods.

The bad situation of Jeremiah (Jer 23:9-23:10)

“My heart is crushed

Within me

Concerning the prophets.

All my bones shake.

I have become

Like a drunken man

Because of Yahweh.

I have become

Like one overcome by wine

Because of his holy words.

The land is full of adulterers.

Because of the curse,

The land mourns.

The pastures of the wilderness

Are dried up.

Their course has been evil.

Their might is not right.”

Jeremiah complains about the terrible situation he is in. His heart is crushed. His bones shake. He has become like a drunkard, overcome with wine, because of Yahweh and his words. His land is full of adulterers. His land itself mourns as the pastures have dried up. There is evil all around. No one does the right thing. Jeremiah is worried.

The ingratitude of Israel (Isa 43:22-43:24)

“Yet you did not call upon me!

O Jacob!

But you have been weary of me!

O Israel!

You have not brought me

Your sheep

For burnt offerings!

You have not honored me

With your sacrifices!

I have not burdened you

With offerings.

I have not wearied you

With frankincense.

You have not bought me sweet cane

With money.

You have not satisfied me

With the fat of your sacrifices.

But you have burdened me

With your sins.

You have wearied me

With your iniquities.”

Once again, Second Isaiah uses the first person singular for Yahweh, as he complains about the ingratitude of the Israelites. Notice that he calls them both Jacob and Israel. They were not calling on Yahweh, since they have been weary of him. They have not been bringing burnt offerings, sacrifices, and other offerings of frankincense. They have not brought any sweet cane or money. This sounds like a Levitical priest complaining about the lack of good sacrifices. Instead of fat sacrifices, they have burdened and wearied Yahweh with their sins and iniquities.   This also sounds like a settled people with a temple altar.

The rejection (Ps 89:38-89:45)

“But now you have spurned him.

You have rejected him.

You are full of wrath against your anointed.

You have renounced the covenant with your servant.

You have defiled his crown in the dust.

You have broken through all his walls.

You have laid his strongholds in ruins.

All who pass by despoil him.

He has become the scorn of his neighbors.

You have exalted the right hand of his foes.

You have made all his enemies rejoice.

Moreover,

You have turned back the edge of his sword.

You have not supported him in battle.

You have removed the scepter from his hand.

You hurled his throne to the ground.

You have cut short the days of his youth.

You have covered him with shame.”

Selah

Now there is a switch in tone in this psalm. Instead of the everlasting dynasty of David, this psalmist complains that God has abandoned David. In a series of complaints directly to God, using the second person “you,” he says that God has spurned and rejected David. His wrath or anger has turned on David. God has renounced the covenant with David. He has thrown his crown on the ground. He has broken down all the walls and ruined his fortresses. His foes now plunder him and scorn him as all the enemies now rejoice. The edge of his sword has turned on himself as he no longer has any support in battles. His scepter is gone as well as his youth. He is full of shame. This could be at the time of the revolt against David or a metaphor for the captivity that came to the descendents of David. The Israelites saw this captivity as a punishment from God. This section also ends with the musical interlude pause of Selah.