The Five Scrolls

Then there are the five scrolls that includes the poetic love story the Song of Solomon, or the Song of Songs from the 6th century BCE.  The Book of Ruth was about the story of Ruth, a Moabite foreigner who came to Israel, from the 9th to the 6th century BCE.  Lamentations has usually been ascribed to Jeremiah the prophet from the 6th century BCE.  Ecclesiastes is like a book of wisdom proverbs from the 4th century BCE.  The story of Esther is about a Jewish lady who becomes a Persian queen also from the 4th century BCE.

The cosmic Day of Yahweh (Am 8:9-8:10)

“On that day,

Says Yahweh God.

‘I will make the sun

Go down at noon.

I will darken the earth

In broad daylight.

I will turn

Your feasts

Into mourning.

I will turn

All your songs

Into lamentations.

I will bring sackcloth

On all loins.

I will bring baldness

On every head.

I will make it

Like the mourning

For an only son.

I will make

The end of it

Like a bitter day.’”

Yahweh said that on the day of Yahweh, the sun would set at noon, so that the earth would be dark during the normal daylight hours.  Yahweh was going to turn joyful feasts into times of mourning, since their songs would be lamentations.  Everyone would wear sackcloth and be bald.  The mourning and weeping would be like for an only son.  Yahweh was going to bring an end to a bitter day.

Cannibalism (Ezek 5:10-5:10)

“Surely,

Parents shall eat

Their children

In your midst.

The children shall eat

Their parents.

I will execute judgments

On you.

Any of you

Who survive,

I will scatter

To every wind.”

This ideal of cannibalism in Jerusalem was attested by Jeremiah, chapter 19, and Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, and now here in Ezekiel. Parents would eat their children, while children would eat their parents in this situation of starvation in Jerusalem. Yahweh was going to execute his judgments on those who survived. These survivors would be scattered to the four winds in every direction.

The shameful sinful behavior (Bar 2:3-2:5)

“Some of us

Ate the flesh

Of their sons.

Others

Ate the flesh

Of their daughters.

He made us subject

To all the kingdoms

Around us.

We were

An object of scorn.

We were a desolation among

All the surrounding people,

Where the Lord

Has scattered us.

We were brought down.

We were not raised up.

Because our nation

Sinned

Against the Lord,

Our God,

In not heeding

His voice.”

Once again, there is allusion to the cannibalism of people, eating their sons and daughters as food because of the famine in Jerusalem, as was mentioned in Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, as well as Jeremiah, chapter 19. They were no longer a nation, because now they obeyed all the other countries around them. They had become an object of scorn and a desolation among all the people and the countries where they were scattered into. They were brought down, not raised up. They had sinned as a nation. Thus they were punished as a nation. They had not listened to the voice of God, their Lord.

The restoration (Lam 5:21-5:22)

“Restore us

To yourself!

O Yahweh!

Thus we may be

Restored!

Renew our days

As of old!

Unless you have

Utterly rejected us?

Are you angry

With us

Beyond measure?”

While this author pleads for restoration, there is an element of doubt at the end. They wanted to be restored to Yahweh like in the good old days. But then the element of doubt crept in. They were asking for mercy, but has Yahweh utterly rejected them? Is God so angry that it cannot be measured? Have the Judeans gone too far against Yahweh? Thus this lamentation does not have a happy ending, but a more existential angst that maybe there will be no restoration at all.

Yahweh and the Judeans (Lam 5:19-5:20)

“But you!

O Yahweh!

You reign forever!

Your throne

Endures

To all generations.

Why have you

Forgotten us

Completely?

Why have you

Forsaken us

These many days?”

Yahweh reigns forever. His throne will endure through all generations. The question is why has he forgotten the Judeans? Why has he forsaken them for so many days? There is a sense of urgency in these questions.

The sickness (Lam 5:17-5:18)

“Our hearts

Are sick

Because of this.

Our eyes

Have grown dim

Because of these things.

Mount Zion

Lies desolate.

Jackals prowl

Over it.”

The hearts of the people of Jerusalem are sick. Their eyes have grown dim. Mount Zion has become desolate. The famous jackals prowl all around the city.