Drunken Moab (Jer 48:26-48:27)

“Make him drunk!

Because he magnified himself

Against Yahweh.

Let Moab wallow

In his vomit.

He too shall become

A laughing stock.

Israel was

A laughing stock

For you.

He was not caught

Among thieves.

Whenever you spoke of him

You shook your head.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wanted Moab to get drunk since Moab had made himself a big shot, magnifying himself against Yahweh. Now he would wallow in his vomit and become a laughing stock for others, because he had made Israel a laughing stock. This was an allusion to the fact that Moab was in Reuben territory that was always in dispute. Although Moab was not a thief, he did make fun of Israel. Thus when Israel spoke, they simply shook their heads.

Personal lament of Jeremiah (Jer 20:7-20:9)


You have enticed me!

I was enticed!

You have overpowered me!

You have prevailed!

I have become a laughingstock

All day long!

Every one mocks me!

Whenever I speak,

I must cry out!

I must shout!



The word of Yahweh

Has become for me

A reproach.

It has become

A derision all day long.

If I say.

‘I will not mention him,

I will not speak any more

In his name,’

Then within me

There is something

Like a burning fire

Shut up in my bones.

I am weary

With holding it in.

I cannot.”

Jeremiah seems to blame Yahweh for enticing him into being a prophet in this personal lament. Yahweh has overpowered him so that he cannot prevail. He has become a laughing stock all day long, as everyone mocks him. Every time Jeremiah cries out “violence and destruction” to others, they reproach and deride him, despite the fact that it is the word of God in him. If he tries not to mention Yahweh and not speak about him, then there is something within him like a burning fire in his bones. Jeremiah was tired of holding it in. Thus he has no other option than to shout it out despite everything that happened to him. He can no longer hold it in.

Self control (Sir 18:30-18:33)

“Do not follow

Your base desires!

Restrain your appetites!

If you allow your soul

To take pleasure

In base desire,

It will make you

The laughingstock of your enemies.

Do not revel

In great luxury!

You might become impoverished

By its expense.

Do not become a beggar

By feasting with borrowed money,

When you have nothing in your purse.”

Sirach reminds us that we should have self control. You should not follow your base desires, because you should restrain your various appetites. Do not let your soul take pleasure in these base desires. Otherwise, you will be the laughing stock of your enemies. Do not get caught up in luxuries. You might be impoverished by this attempt to enjoy luxury. Do not become a beggar by feasting on borrowed money, when you have nothing. Try a little self control.

They live in shame (Ps 44:13-44:16)

“You have made us the taunt of our neighbors.

You have made us the derision and scorn of those about us.

You have made us a byword among the nations.

You have made us a laughing stock among the peoples.

All day long my disgrace is before me.

Shame has covered my face,

At the words of the taunters

At the words of the revilers,

At the sight of the enemy,

At the sight of the avenger.”

Their neighbors were taunting them. Obviously this psalm was written after the captivity, not at the time of David. They were scorned as they became a byword among the various nations. They were a laughing stock among the various peoples. They were ashamed at the words of the taunters and revilers. They were shamed in the sight of their enemies and avengers.

Achior says that God is on the Israelite side (Jdt 5:17-5:21)

“As long as they did not sin against their God they prospered.

The God who hates iniquity is with them.

But when they departed from the way

That he had prescribed for them,

They were utterly defeated in many battles.

They were led away captive to a foreign country.

The temple of their God was razed to the ground.

Their towns were captured by their enemies.

But now they have returned to their God.

They have come back from the places where they were scattered.

They have occupied Jerusalem, where their sanctuary is.

They have settled in the hill country, because it was uninhabited.

So now, my master and lord,

If there is any oversight in this people and they sin against their God, And we find out their offense,

Then we will go up and defeat them.

But if they are not a guilty nation,

Then let my lord pass them by.

Their Lord and God will defend them.

We shall then become the laughing stock of the whole world.”

The most controversial part of the story of the Achior story is that God is on the Israelite side. When they followed God, they were protected. When they failed to follow his prescriptions, they were defeated. They were sent away to captivity. Here is where we have a problem. Holofernes is supposedly the general of King Nebuchadnezzar who will bring them into captivity. He is the one who destroyed the Temple. The setting is clearly post-exilic as these are good Israelites who returned and built the temple in Jerusalem. Achior then posses the problem, if these people have sinned, then they should be easy to defeat. However, if they have not sinned, their God will protect them. Then it is best to leave them alone. If we lose, we will be the laughing stock of the whole world, obviously the Mideast world of that time.