The enemies of Jerusalem (Bar 4:30-4:35)

“Take courage!

O Jerusalem!

The one who named you

Will comfort you.

Wretched will be

Those who mistreated you!

They rejoiced at your fall.

Wretched will be

The cities

That your children

Served as slaves!

Wretched will be

The city

That received your offspring!

She rejoiced

At your fall.

She was glad

For your ruin.

Now she will be grieved

At her own desolation.

I will take away her pride

In her great population.

Her insolence

Will be turned to grief.

Fire will come upon her

from the Everlasting One

For many days.

For a long time,

She will be inhabited

By demons.”

Now there is a turn, as this author speaks directly to Jerusalem instead of Jerusalem herself complaining. Jerusalem was encouraged to be courageous. She would be comforted. However, those who mistreated her and rejoiced at her fall will be miserable. The cities where the children of Jerusalem served as slaves would be miserable also. The city of Babylon, that received the children of Jerusalem, rejoiced and was glad at the downfall and ruin of Jerusalem. Now they will be grieved at their own desolation. The pride of those people and their insolence will be turned to grief. The Everlasting One, not Yahweh, will bring fire upon it for many days. For a long time it will be inhabited by demons.

The giants perish without wisdom (Bar 3:26-3:28)

“The giants were born there.

They were famous of old.

They were great

In stature.

They were experts

In war.

God did not choose them.

He did not give them

The way to knowledge.

Thus they perished

Because they had

No wisdom.

They perished

Through their folly.”

Israel was the land of the famous ancient giants who were great men and experts at war. However, even these great people did not have knowledge. Thus they perished because they had no wisdom. They were foolish and that was their downfall.

The destruction of Judah (Lam 2:2-2:2)

Beth

“Yahweh has destroyed,

Without mercy,

All the dwellings

Of Jacob.

In his wrath,

He has broken down

The strongholds

Of daughter Judah.

He has brought down

To the ground,

In dishonor,

The kingdom

With its rulers.”

Yahweh had no mercy when he destroyed all the buildings in the land of Jacob. He was so angry that he broke down all the strong fortresses of his beloved daughter Judah. He has brought down and dishonored the kingdom of Judah and its rulers. Yahweh, not the Babylonian king, was considered the cause of the downfall of Judah. 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.

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.

Jerusalem remembers (Lam 1:7-1:7)

Zayin

“Jerusalem remembers

In the days

Of her affliction,

In the days

Of her wandering,

All the precious things

That were hers

In the days of old.

When her people fell

Into the hand

Of the foe,

There was no one

To help her.

The foe looked on,

Mocking over

Her downfall.”

Jerusalem remembered what happened. There were the days of affliction and wandering. She had many precious things in the good old days. However, her people fell into the hands of their foe. No one was there to help them as her enemies mocked her over her downfall. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Zayin. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The wrath of Yahweh for those going to Egypt (Jer 42:18-42:18)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Just as my anger,

Just as my wrath,

Was poured out

On the inhabitants

Of Jerusalem,

So my wrath

Will be poured out

On you

When you go to Egypt.

You shall become an object

Of execration,

Of horror,

Of cursing,

Of ridicule.

You shall see this place

No more.’”

Yahweh did not hold back his anger or wrath. Jeremiah says that Yahweh said that he was not going to make it easy for them. Just as he had shown his anger to the people of Jerusalem with the downfall of that city, so too he would do the same to anyone who went to Egypt. If they went to Egypt, they would become like execration, like a horror. They would be cursed at and ridiculed. They no longer would see this land that they loved so much.

The bad kings (Sir 49:4-49:5)

“Except for King David,

Except for King Hezekiah,

Except for King Josiah

All of them were

Great sinners.

They abandoned

The law of the Most High.

The kings of Judah

Came to an end.

They gave their power

To others.

They gave their glory

To a foreign nation.”

Sirach points out that all the kings, whether in Judah or Israel, were great sinners, except for King David, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah. But even these kings also committed some sins. The worst, of course, were the later kings, just before the exile. Somehow these bad kings were responsible for the downfall of the Israelite and Judah kingdoms because these great sinners abandoned the law of the Most High God. They lost their power and gave away their glory to foreign nations.