Against Edom (Lam 4:21-4:21)

Shin

“Rejoice!

Be glad!

O daughter Edom!

You live

In the land of Uz!

But to you also

The cup shall pass!

You shall

Become drunk!

You shall

Strip yourself bare!”

This poem ends with a swipe at Judah’s southern neighbor Edom. With an ironic twist, this author told Edom to rejoice and be glad because they lived in Uz, the place where Job lived. However, there was a warning that the cup of anger would pass to them. They would become drunk and naked. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Shin in this acrostic poem.

The anointed king (Lam 4:20-4:20)

Resh

“Yahweh’s anointed,

The breath

Of our life,

Was taken

In their pits.

This is the one

Of whom

We said.

‘Under his shadow

We shall live

Among the nations.’”

Using the first personal plural, they extol Yahweh’s anointed one, the king of Judah, King Zedekiah. He was the breath of their life, but he fell into a pit and was captured. They had agreed to live under his shadow, but now he was no more. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Resh in this acrostic poem.

Being pursued (Lam 4:19-4:19)

Qoph

“Our pursuers

Were swifter

Than the eagles

In the heavens.

They chased us

On the mountains.

They lay in wait

For us

In the wilderness.”

Continuing with the first person plural, the people of Jerusalem and this author believed that they were being pursued by their enemies that were faster than the eagles in the sky. Their foes chased them into the mountains and lay waiting to ambush them in the desert wilderness, since their enemies were all around them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph in this acrostic poem.

Our days are numbered (Lam 4:18-4:18)

Cade

“They dogged

Our steps.

Thus we could

Not walk

In our streets.

Our end

Drew near.

Our days

Were numbered.

Our end

Had come.”

This verse speaks in the first person plural, referring to the people of Jerusalem. Their enemies persisted in watching them walking, so that they could not step out into the streets. Their end was near. Their days were numbered. Their end had come. They would be no more.   This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Cade in this acrostic poem.

Blindness (Lam 4:17-4:17)

Ayin

“Our eyes failed.

We were forever

Watching vainly

For help.

We were

Watching eagerly

For a nation

That could not save.”

Despite the fact that the people of Jerusalem were watching in vain, their eyes failed them. They were looking for help, but none came. They eagerly watched for country after country to help them, but no one could save them. Either they were blind or other countries were blind to them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Ayin in this acrostic poem.

The disgraced priests and elders (Lam 4:16-4:16)

Phe

“Yahweh himself

Has scattered them.

He will regard them

No more.

No honor

Was shown

To the priests.

No favor

To the elders.”

Yahweh himself had scattered these immoral leaders. He did not have any regard for them any longer. No honor was to be shown to any of these priests, while the elders were not to be favored. Yahweh had clearly turned on these so-called spiritual leaders. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe in this acrostic poem.

Immoral lepers (Lam 4:15-4:15)

Samek

“‘Away!

Unclean!’

People shouted

At them.

‘Away!

Away!

Do not touch!’

So they became

Fugitives.

So they became

Wanderers.

It was said

Among the nations.

‘They shall

Stay here

No longer.’”

These leaders had become immoral lepers. People shouted at them to get away from them. No one was to touch these unclean people. They became like fugitives and wanderers since nobody would take them in. Everyone said not to stay there any longer since they had become moral pariahs. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek in this acrostic poem.