The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

Cry for the children (Lam 2:19-2:19)

Qoph

“Arise!

Cry out

In the night,

At the beginning

Of the watches!

Pour out

Your heart

Like water

Before the presence

Of Yahweh!

Lift your hands

To him

For the lives

Of your children.

They faint

For hunger

At the head

Of every street.”

This author wanted everyone to cry to Yahweh at night, at the beginning of every watch change of the guard. However, there was nothing to guard. They were to pour out their heart like water before Yahweh. They were to pray with outstretched hands for the children who were fainting with hunger on every street corner in town. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The fainting children (Lam 2:12-2:12)

Lamed

“They cry

To their mothers.

‘Where is bread?

Where is wine?’

They faint

Like wounded people

In the streets

Of the city.

Their life

Is poured out

On their mothers’ bosom.”

Here again we have a very descriptive presentation about young children asking their mothers for food and drink. They want to know whether there is any bread or wine. They are fainting like wounded soldiers in the streets of the city. They are slowly dying beside their mothers. This is not a pretty picture. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Lamed. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

A personal lamentation (Lam 2:11-2:11)

Kaph

“My eyes are spent

With weeping.

My stomach churns.

My bile is poured out

On the ground.

Because of the destruction

Of my people.

Because infants

Faint.

Babies faint

In the streets

Of the city.”

Now this poem turns to the author of this work as he was personally weeping. His stomach was churning, so that he was throwing up. He was upset because of the destruction of his people. Infants and babies were fainting in the streets of this desolate city. Once again, we have a personal bleak picture of the wasted city of Jerusalem describing the remaining helpless young people. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Kaph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The farmers and the shepherds (Jer 31:24-31:25)

“Judah

With all its towns

Shall live there together.

The farmers

With those who wander

With their flocks

Shall live there together.

I will satisfy the weary ones.

I will replenish

All who are faint.”

This is something like the old western USA problem about the farmers and the cowboys. How could they get along? Here the towns of Judah are asked to get along with each other. At the same time, the farmers who till the land have to get along with the shepherds and their flocks, because they might wander into their planted areas. Yahweh was going to replenish those who were weary and fainting.

No more pity for Jerusalem (Jer 15:6-15:9)

“Says Yahweh.

‘You have rejected me!

You are going backward.

I have stretched out my hand

Against you.

I destroyed you.

I am weary of relenting.

I have winnowed them

With a winnowing fork

In the gates of the land.

I have bereaved them.

I have destroyed my people.

They did not turn from their ways.

I have made their widows

More numerous than the sand of the seas.

I have brought

Against the mothers of young men

A destroyer at noonday.

I have made anguish fall on her suddenly.

I have made terror fall on her suddenly.

She who bore seven has languished.

She has swooned away.

Her sun went down

While it was yet day.

She has been shamed.

She has been disgraced.

The rest of them

I will give to the sword

Before their enemies.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they have rejected and turned against him. Thus Yahweh stretched out his hand and destroyed them. He was tired of forgiving them. He tried to winnow them out to find the good ones. He made them sad by destroying them. They would not turn away from their evil ways. Thus they may have more widows than all the sand in the seas. That is quite a big hyperbolic number. The destroyer came at noon against young mothers. Even strong women who had 7 children were fainting. The sun was setting before the day was done since they were ashamed and disgraced. Anyone left over would suffer the hardship of the deadly sword.

The plight of Jerusalem (Jer 4:30-4:31)

“You!

O desolate one!

What do you mean

That you dress in crimson?

Why do you deck yourself

With ornaments of gold?

Why do you enlarge your eyes

With paint?

In vain,

You beautify yourself.

Your lovers despise you.

They seek your life.

I heard a cry

Like a woman in labor.

I heard a cry

Of anguish,

Like one bringing forth

Her first child.

This was the cry

Of the daughter Zion

Gasping for breath.

She was stretching out her hands.

‘Woe is me!

I am fainting

Before killers.’”

Jeremiah took on desolate Jerusalem that put on crimson dresses and golden ornaments. She painted her eyes to make them look larger. She was ready to party, but she beautified herself and gussied up in vain. In fact, her lovers wanted to kill her. Jerusalem was also like a woman in childbirth labor pains, much like a woman giving birth to her first child, which is always more difficult. She was gasping for breath. She stretched out her hands, realizing that she was fainting before her killers. Jerusalem was about to go down also.