Personal distress (Lam 3:4-3:6)

Beth

“Yahweh has made

my flesh waste away.

He has made

My skin waste away.

He has broken

My bones.

He has besieged me.

With bitterness.

He has enveloped me

With tribulation.

He has made me

Sit in darkness

Like the dead

Of long ago.”

Almost like the sufferings of Job, this author complains about his own personal suffering. His flesh and his skin are wasting away, since his bones are broken. He has been besieged and enveloped in bitterness and tribulation, sitting in darkness like a person dead for a long time. Throughout this poem, these three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Beth. Each three verse section after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this personal acrostic poem.

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The redeemer (Job 19:25-19:27)

“I know that my redeemer lives.

Then at the last he will stand upon the earth.

After my skin has been thus destroyed,

Then in my flesh I shall see God.

I shall see him on my side.

My eyes shall behold.

Not another shall behold.

My heart faints within me!”

This passage has a different translation in the Greek, Syriac, and Latin. It is often referred to as a precursor of Jesus the redeemer, or the Messianic savior who came to earth. Redeemer could also mean defender or vindicator. The Hebrew word of ‘goel’ or redeemer means a member of the family who avenged your honor, despite debts. Job believed that someone would help him. Whether this is God or not is not clear. However, even more controversial is the idea that his flesh will see God after his skin has been destroyed. Is this a hint at a resurrection, since throughout this work he talked about Sheol as a dead end place? His eyes will see even though he was faint.

Job says that God is punishing him (Job 16:12-16:17)

“I was at ease.

God broke me in two.

God seized me by the neck.

God dashed me to pieces.

God set me up as his target.

God’s archers surround me.

God slashes open my kidneys.

God shows no mercy.

God pours out my gall on the ground.

God bursts upon me again and again.

God rushes at me like a warrior.

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin.

I have laid my strength in the dust.

My face is red with weeping.

Deep darkness is on my eyelids.

Although there is no violence in my hands,

My prayer is pure.”

Job was very explicit. God was picking on him. God had broken him in two. God had seized him by the neck. God had broken him into pieces. Job had become a target having arrows coming at him. God had not shown him any mercy. God had slashed his kidneys and gall bladder. God had rushed at him like a warrior. As a result, Job said that he sewed his skin with sackcloth, a very course fabric worn next to the skin. His strength was in the dust. His face was red with crying tears. His eyes were darkened. Still there was no violence in Job’s hands. His prayer remained pure. Job is almost indignant that God is picking on him.