The impenetrable Yahweh (Lam 3:43-3:45)

Samek

“You have wrapped yourself

With anger.

You have pursued us.

You have killed us

Without pity.

You have wrapped yourself

With a cloud.

Thus no prayer

Can pass through.

You have made us filth.

You have made us rubbish.

Among the people.”

This author turns in an unanswered prayer towards Yahweh, addressing him in the second person singular. Yahweh had wrapped himself in anger and a cloud. He had pursued this author and his friends, killing them without pity. Their prayers to Yahweh could not penetrate through the clouds. They had become filth and rubbish among all people as they were forsaken and downtrodden. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek in this acrostic poem.

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Israel and Judah have not been forgotten (Jer 51:5-51:6)

“Israel

Has not been forsaken!

Judah

Has not been forsaken

By their God,

Yahweh of hosts!

Even though their land

Is full of guilt

Against the Holy One

Of Israel,

Flee!

From the midst

Of Babylon!

Save your lives!

Each one of you!

Do not perish!

Because of her guilt!

This is the time

Of Yahweh’s vengeance.

He is repaying her

What is due.”

Yahweh declares, via Jeremiah, that the Israelites and Judeans should not worry. They have not been forsaken, left behind like widows, even though the land is full of guilty ones, who have sinned against the Holy One of Israel. They should flee Babylon. They should save their lives. They will not perish because of the guilt of Babylon. Yahweh would be bringing vengeance and repaying Babylon for what she had done.

The reason for Yahweh’s judgment (Jer 16:11-16:13)

“Then you shall say to them.

Says Yahweh.

‘It is because your ancestors

Have forsaken me.

They have gone after other gods.

They have served them.

They have worshiped them.

They have forsaken me.

They have not kept my law.

However you have behaved worse

Than your ancestors.

Here you are,

Every one of you,

Following your stubborn evil will.

You refuse to listen to me.

Therefore I will hurl you

Out of this land,

Into a land

That neither you,

Nor your ancestors,

Have known.

There you shall serve other gods

Day and night.

I will show you no favor.’”

Jeremiah received his explanation of why this disaster was to come from Yahweh. The problem was twofold, their ancestors and they themselves. First of all, their ancestors had forsaken Yahweh, since they served and worshipped other gods. They did not keep Yahweh’s law. However, the current Israelites were even worse than their ancestors. Jeremiah’s contemporaries refused to listen to him. Instead they followed their own stubborn evil ways. The result of this was that the current people of Judah and Jerusalem would be thrown out of this Promised Land into another country. There they would serve other gods, day and night, in a land that was foreign to them and their ancestors. Yahweh was in no mood to show any favors.

Yahweh explains why he is doing this (Jer 9:13-9:14)

“Yahweh says.

‘They have forsaken my law

That I set before them.

They have not obeyed my voice.

They have not walked in accordance with it.

But they have stubbornly followed

Their own hearts.

They have gone after the Baals,

As their ancestors taught them.”

Yahweh explains why this punishment was about to take place. They simply have forsaken the law of Yahweh that he set before them. They have not obeyed his voice. They have not walked according to his ways. They have stubbornly followed their own hearts. They went to the pagan idol gods of Baal, like their ancestors. Yahweh clearly explained his reasoning.

Cut your hair off (Jer 7:29-7:30)

“Cut off your hair!

Throw it away!

Raise a lamentation

On the bare heights!

Yahweh has rejected

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

Yahweh has forsaken

The generation

That provoked his wrath.

The people of Judah

Have done evil in my sight.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They have set their abominations

In the house

That is called by my name.

They defile it.’”

Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to go into mourning by cutting off his hair. He should get rid of his hair and lament from the heights because Yahweh, in his wrath, has rejected and forsaken this generation. The people of Judah, in specific, have done evil in the sight of Yahweh. They have placed abominations of false idol gods in his house. Thus they have defiled the Temple.

The hope for Zion (Isa 62:10-62:12)

“Go through!

Go through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people!

Build up!

Build up the highway!

Clear it of stones!

Lift up an ensign

Over the people!

Yahweh has proclaimed

To the ends of the earth.

Say to daughter Zion!

‘See!

Your salvation comes!

His reward is with him!

His recompense is before him.’

They shall be called.

‘The holy people!

The redeemed of Yahweh!’

You shall be called.

‘Sought out!

A city not forsaken.’”

Here we have a summary of all that had proceeded. The Israelites were to go through the gates in order to prepare a way for the others to come. They were to build up the highway and clear it of stones so that it would be a level road to walk on. They were to lift up a symbolic sign over the people. Yahweh has proclaimed to the ends of the earth that his daughter Zion will be saved. Zion was to receive their rewards and compensation. They were to be called the holy people, the people redeemed by Yahweh. They would be a city sought out and not forsaken. Jerusalem would be restored as a shining city on a hill.

New name and status (Isa 62:2-62:5)

“You shall be called

By a new name.

The mouth of Yahweh

Will give you this name.

You shall be a crown of beauty

In the hand of Yahweh.

You shall be a royal diadem

In the hand of your God.

You shall no more

Be termed ‘Forsaken’.

Your land shall no more

Be termed ‘Desolate’.

But you shall be called

‘My delight is in her’.

Your land is ‘Married’.

Yahweh delights in you.

Your land shall be married.

As a young man

Marries a young woman,

So shall your builder

Marry you.

As the bridegroom rejoices

Over the bride,

So shall your God rejoice

Over you.”

Yahweh will give Jerusalem a new name. Zion will be a crown of beauty in Yahweh’s hand. Jerusalem will be like a royal crown in the hand of their God. They will no longer be called forsaken and desolate. They will be called delightful and married because Yahweh delights in them. This marriage is like that of a groom and his new wife. God the builder will marry the land. Just as the groom rejoices over his new bride, so too God will rejoice over his land and its people.