The crying eyes (Lam 3:49-3:51)

Ayin

“My eyes will flow

Without ceasing.

They will flow

Without respite,

Until Yahweh

From heaven

Looks down,

Until Yahweh

Sees them.

My eyes

Cause me grief

At the fate

Of all the young women

In my city.”

The personal lament of this author continues. He was full of flowing, unceasing, and unstoppable tears. He wanted Yahweh to look down from heaven to see him crying. His eyes were causing him grief at what was happening to the young girls of his city. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin in this acrostic poem.

Yahweh has compassion (Lam 3:31-3:33)

Kaph

“Yahweh will not

Reject forever.

Although he causes grief,

He will have compassion

According to the abundance

Of his steadfast love.

He does not willingly

Afflict anyone.

He does not willingly

Grieve anyone.”

This grieving author talks about the compassion of Yahweh, since Yahweh was not going to reject him forever. Yahweh definitely caused him grief, but he is compassionate with his abundant steadfast love. Then in a strange statement that almost contradicts what was said earlier, this author proclaims that Yahweh does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone. In fact, that had been the main complaint earlier in this poem. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Kaph in this acrostic poem.

Lamentation over Judah (Jer 8:18-8:20)

“My joy is gone.

Grief is upon me.

My heart is sick.

Hark!

The cry of my poor people

From far and wide in the land!

‘Is Yahweh not in Zion?

Is her King not in her?’

‘Why have they provoked me to anger?

They have their images.

They have their foreign idols?’

‘The harvest is past.

The summer is ended.

We are not saved.’

Jeremiah laments the situation in Judah. His joy is gone. His grief has made him heartsick. The cry of the poor people can be heard far and wide all over the land. Why hasn’t Yahweh helped? Why is the king gone? They have provoked Yahweh to anger with their images of foreign idols. The harvest has past as summer has ended. They are not saved. What can he do?

Do not mourn excessively (Sir 38:18-38:23)

“Grief may result in death.

A sorrowful heart

Saps one’s strength.

When a person is taken away,

Sorrow is over.

But the life of the poor

Weighs down the heart.

Do not give your heart

To sorrow!

Drive it away!

Remember your own end.

Do not forget!

There is no coming back.

You do the dead no good.

You injure yourself.

Remember his fate.

Yours is like it.

Yesterday it was his.

Today it is yours.

Me yesterday!

You today!

When the dead is at rest,

Let his remembrance rest also.

Be comforted for him

When his spirit has departed.”

Sirach did not want a long mourning period because grief could lead to the death of the person grieving. A sad heart can sap your strength. When the person was buried, the period of sorrow should end despite the fact that your heart is still heavy. Drive away sorrow and grief. Remember you own life. There is no coming back from the grave. You can’t do anything for the dead. You may injure yourself. Your fate will be the same as his. He was here yesterday and gone today. Your fate may be the same, here today and gone tomorrow. When the dead are at rest, let their remembrance die with them. Their spirit has departed, since we have the Greek idea of body and spirit.

Discernment (Sir 36:23-36:25)

“The stomach

Will take any food.

Yet one food is

Better than another.

As the palate

Tastes the kinds of game,

So an intelligent mind

Detects false words.

A perverse mind

Will cause grief.

But a person

With experience

Will pay him back.”

Sirach points out that just as your taste buds can tell the difference between various kinds of food, so too the mind should be able to discern the difference between true and false words. Both the stomach and the mind can absorb all kinds of foods and words. However, just as one food is better for you than another, so too the perverse mind can cause grief. The experienced person will be able to verbally payback the false words and the perverse minds.

The son replaces the father (Sir 30:4-30:6)

“When the father dies,

He will not seem to be dead.

Because he has left behind him

One like himself.

While alive

He was looked upon

With joy.

At death,

There is no grief.

He has left behind him

An avenger

Against his enemies.

He has left behind him

One to repay

The kindness of his friends.”

When the father dies, it will not seem like he died, since his son will be like him. Although there was rejoicing in life, there is no grief at death. His son will be an avenger of his enemies and be kind to his friends. Once again Sirach has this repeated theme of friends and enemies.

Wisdom lives with me (Wis 8:9-8:9)

“Therefore I determined to take her

To live with me.

I knew

That she would give me good counsel.

She would give me encouragement in cares.

She would give me encouragement in grief.”

The wisdom author wanted wisdom to live (συμβίωσιν) with him.   She would then provide good counsel and encouragement whenever there were serious cares or in times of grief.