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?

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A New Jerusalem (Isa 65:17-65:20)

“I am about to create new heavens.

I am about to create a new earth.

The former things

Shall not be remembered.

They shall not come to mind.

But be glad!

Rejoice forever In what I am creating!

I am about to create

Jerusalem as a joy.

I am about to create

Its people as a delight.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem!

I will delight in my people!

No more shall the sound

Of weeping be heard in it.

No more shall the sound

Of the cry of distress be heard in it.

No more shall there be in it

An infant that lives but a few days.

No more shall there be in it

An old person

Who does not live out a lifetime.

One who dies at a hundred years old

Will be considered a youth.

One who falls short of a hundred years old

Will be considered accursed.”

Yahweh was going to create a new heaven and a new earth. All the past things would be forgotten. Jerusalem was going to be a joy and a delight for its people, since there would be no more weeping or crying in distress. Infants would not die at child birth. Old people would live a long life. Anyone who died before 100 years of age would be considered a cursed youth. Good times would come to this new Jerusalem.

The great assembly (Isa 43:8-43:9)

“Bring forth the people

Who are blind,

Yet have eyes!

Bring forth the people

Who are deaf,

Yet have ears!

Let all the nations gather together!

Let the people assemble!

Who among them can declare this?

Who has foretold to us the former things?

Let them bring their witnesses

To justify them!

Let them hear!

Let them say!

‘It is true.’”

Yahweh wanted them to bring out the blind and the deaf who had eyes and ears. He wanted all the nations and people of the earth together in his universal outreach. Was there anyone who had foretold what was to happen in the past? Were there any witnesses to justify that it was true? Let them come forward!

The wise old sages (Sir 8:8-8:9)

“Do not slight the discourse of the sages.

Busy yourself with their maxims.

Because from them

You will gain discipline.

You will learn how to serve princes.

Do not ignore the discourse of the aged.

They themselves learned from their parents.

From them

You learn how to understand.

You learn how to give an answer

When the need arises.”

Like many of the biblical writings, there is a respect for the past. In particular, there is a great respect for the oral tradition of those with great experience. Therefore you should listen to the maxims and sayings of the wise old sages. You will learn disciple and how to serve the various rulers. Do not ignore the conversations of the old people since they have learned many of these things from their parents. From them, you should learn how to understand and give an answer at the appropriate time.

Wisdom is greater than any good (Wis 8:5-8:8)

“If riches are a desirable possession in life,

What is richer than wisdom?

Wisdom is the active cause

Of all things.

If understanding is effective,

Who more than she

Is the fashioner of what exists?

If any one loves righteousness,

Her labors are virtues.

She teaches self-control.

She teaches prudence.

She teaches justice.

She teaches courage.

Nothing in life

Is more profitable

For mortals than these.

If anyone longs for wide experience,

She knows the things of old.

She infers the things to come.

She understands turns of speech.

She understands the solutions of riddles.

She has foreknowledge of signs.

She has foreknowledge of wonders.

She has foreknowledge of the outcome of seasons.

She has foreknowledge of the outcome of times.”

Wisdom is greater than any good there is, not only material things, but spiritual or conceptual values also. Everyone wants riches (πλοῦτός) so that the most desirable possession in life is wisdom (σοφίας), the cause of all things. If you want understanding (φρόνησις), then you need wisdom. If you love righteousness (δικαιοσύνην ἀγαπᾷ), you need wisdom. Wisdom teaches the four great Greek cardinal virtues of self-control, prudence, justice, and courage. Wisdom knows about the past and the future. She can solve riddles. She also has foreknowledge of signs and wonders, as well as the outcome of the seasons and the times to come.

The human task (Eccl 3:9-3:11)

“What gain have the workers received

From their toil?

I have seen the business

That God has given to everyone

To be busy with.

He has made everything suitable

For its time.

Moreover,

He has put a sense of past and future

Into human minds.

Yet they cannot find out

What God has done

From the beginning to the end.”

God has given workers things to busy themselves with, but they do not know their gain or profit. Everything, however, is suitable for its time. Humans have a sense of past and future, not just the present. Despite this, they do not know what God has done from the beginning until now or what he will do in the future.

What is new? (Eccl 1:8-1:11)

“All things are wearisome.

More than one can express.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing.

The ear is not filled with hearing.

What has been

Is what will be.

What has been done

Is what will be done.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said?

‘See!

This is new.’

It has already been

In the ages before us.

People of long ago

Are not remembered.

There will be no remembrance

Of people yet to come

By those who come after them.”

Qoheleth was weary of everything. His eyes and his ears were weary, always looking and listening for more. However, the past is a predictor of the future. Whatever was done in the past will happen again in the future. Then there is the famous saying that there is nothing new under the sun. Perhaps in human relations not much changes. However, Qoheleth did not live in the technological 21st century, where things like airplanes, automobiles, radio communications, TV, computers, and I-phones would have surprised him as new things. It is true that human behavior is repetitive. We do tend to forget about the people in the past, just as the people in the future will forget about us.