Death would be better than famine (Lam 4:9-4:9)

Tet

“Happier were those

Pierced by the sword

Than those

Pierced by hunger.

Their life

Drains away.

They are deprived

Of the produce

Of the field.”

This author points out that famine or starvation is worse than death by a sword. Starvation leads to the draining of life since they were deprived of the products of the field. This brings up the question of whether a quick death or a slow painful death is better. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Tet in this acrostic poem.

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The stubborn rebellious heart (Jer 5:22-5:25)

“‘Do you not fear me?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Do you not tremble before me?

I placed the sand

As a boundary for the sea.

This is a perpetual barrier

That it cannot pass.

Though the waves toss,

They cannot prevail.

Though they roar,

They cannot pass over it.

But these people have a stubborn heart.

They have a rebellious heart.

They have turned aside.

They have gone away.

They do not say in their hearts.

‘Let us fear Yahweh our God.

He gives the rain in its season.

He gives the autumn rain.

He gives the spring rain.

He keeps for us

The weeks appointed for the harvest.’

Your iniquities have turned these away.

Your sins have deprived you of good.”

Why don’t they fear Yahweh? Why don’t they tremble before him? Yahweh has placed sand as a perpetual barrier against the sea so that the sea cannot pass over it. Even though the waves toss and roar, they still were not able to prevail and pass over the sand. They have a stubborn and rebellious heart. They have turned away and gone astray. They do not fear Yahweh their God. Yahweh gives the perfect rain for every season with autumn and spring rains. Yet they have sunshine for the harvest time. Yahweh, via Jeremiah reminds them that their iniquities have turned them away from him. Their sins have deprived them of the good things in life.

Slander (Sir 28:13-28:16)

“Curse the gossips!

Curse the double-tongued!

They destroy the peace of many.

Slander has shaken many.

Slander has scattered them

From nation to nation.

Slander has destroyed strong cities.

Slander has overturned

The houses of the great.

Slander has driven virtuous women

From their homes.

Slander has deprived them

Of the fruit of their toil.

Whoever pays heed to slander

Will not find rest.

They will not settle down in peace.”

The gossips, the whisperers, the double-tongued, and the slanders are all to be cursed because they destroy the peace of many people. In particular, Sirach singles out slander, the slurring of other people and their reputation. Slander has shaken and scattered many people in various countries. It has destroyed cities and different rulers. Slander has driven virtuous women from their homes. It has deprived people of the results of their work. If you listen to slander, you will not find rest. You will not settle in peace.

Judas Maccabeus asks for prayers (2 Macc 13:9-13:12)

“The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that had been done in his father’s time. But when Judas Maccabeus heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night. Now was the time to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law, their country, and the holy temple. He did not want to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined in the same petition. They had implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing. Then Judas Maccabeus exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.”

Judas Maccabeus heard that King Antiochus V was coming to destroy the Jews. He was going to be worse than his father King Antiochus IV. Judas Maccabeus ordered the people to pray to the Lord day and night. He was afraid that they would fall back into the deprived ways of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined him in imploring the Lord for 3 days of weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate. Then he exhorted and commanded them to get ready.

The prayer of thanksgiving (2 Macc 3:29-3:30)

“While he lay prostrate, speechless because of the divine intervention he was deprived of any hope of recovery. They praised the Lord who had acted marvelously for his own place. The temple, which a little while before was full of fear and disturbance, was filled with joy and gladness. The Almighty Lord had appeared.”

While Heliodorus was lying speechless without any hope of recovering, they began to praise the Lord. They thanked the Lord who had acted marvelously in favor of this place, the Temple.   The Temple that had been full of fear was now filled with joy and gladness because the almighty Lord had appeared there to turn back Heliodorus. God had protected his Temple.