Destroy the enemies (Lam 3:64-3:66)

Taw

“Pay them back

For their deeds!

O Yahweh!

According to the work

Of their hands,

Give them anguish

Of heart!

May your curse

Be on them!

Pursue them

In anger!

Destroy them

From under Yahweh’s heavens!”

This personal lament ends with a plea to Yahweh to destroy his enemies. This author was very clear. He wanted his enemies paid back for what they had done. Yahweh was to use his own hands and his own anger. They were to receive an anguished heart. They should be cursed, pursued, and destroyed. They should be wiped out from under God’s heavens. These three verses start with the final Hebrew consonant letter Taw, since this is the last section of this acrostic poem.

The lack of food (Lam 1:11-1:11)

Kaph

“All her people groan.

They search for bread.

They trade

Their treasures

For food

To revive

Their strength.

‘Look!

Yahweh!

See!

How worthless

I have become!’”

Once again, we have the shift from a third person description about Jerusalem to a first person singular Jerusalem itself praying directly to Yahweh, the God of Israel. All the people were groaning due to the lack of bread or nourishment. They were trading their treasures for food, which makes sense. They wanted to revive their strength. This verse ends with the first person singular plea to Yahweh. Jerusalem laments how worthless she has become. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Kaph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The positive response of Yahweh (Jer 15:19-15:21)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘If you turn back,

I will take you back.

You shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious,

Not what is worthless,

You shall serve as my mouth.

They will turn to you,

But you will not turn to them.

I will make you to this people

A fortified wall of bronze.

They will fight against you.

But they shall not prevail over you.

I am with you

To save you.

I am with you

To deliver you.’

Says Yahweh!

‘I will deliver you

Out of the hand of the wicked.

I will redeem you

From the grasp of the ruthless.’”

Yahweh was very receptive to the Jeremiah’s plea. If he turned back, Yahweh would accept him. In fact, he was going to stand in front of him. If Jeremiah uttered what was precious and worthwhile, he would then serve as the mouth of Yahweh, a true prophet. The people were to turn to him, but he was not to turn to them. Jeremiah was going to become a fortified bronze wall. Many people would fight against him, but they would not prevail, because Yahweh was with him. Yahweh would save him. He would deliver him from the hands of the wicked and the grasp of the ruthless ones.

The intervention of Yahweh (Isa 42:14-42:17)

“For a long time,

I have held my peace.

I have kept still.

I have restrained myself.

Now I will cry out

Like a woman in labor.

I will gasp.

I will pant.

I will lay waste mountains.

I will lay waste hills.

I will dry up all their herbage.

I will turn the rivers into islands.

I will dry up the pools.

I will lead the blind

By a road that they do not know.

I will lead the blind

In paths that they have not known.

I will guide them.

I will turn

The darkness before them into light.

I will turn

The rough places into level ground.

These are the things I will do.

I will not forsake them.

They shall be turned back.

They shall be utterly put to shame.

All those who trust in craved images,

All those who say to cast images,

‘You are our gods.’”

Once again, we have the first person singular, as Yahweh speaks directly in Second Isaiah. Yahweh had been quiet, still, and restrained. Now, however, Yahweh was going to yell out with gasps and pants, like a woman in labor about to give birth. He was going to tear down the mountains and the hills, dry up vegetation and pools, as well as turn rivers into islands. He was going to lead the blind on unknown roads with unlevel ground. He would turn their darkness into light and level the rough ground. He was not going to give up on the blind, perhaps a reference to the Israelites being led blindly in the desert wilderness during the Exodus. However, he was going to shame those who relied on carved and cast images as their gods. This was a strong plea for monotheism among the Israelites.

The lamentation (Isa 33:7-33:9)

“Listen!

The valiant cry in the streets!

The envoys of peace weep bitterly!

The highways are deserted!

The travelers have quit the road!

The treaty is broken!

Its cities are despised!

Its obligations are disregarded!

The land mourns.

The land languishes.

Lebanon is confounded.

Lebanon withers away.

Sharon is like a desert.

Bashan shakes off their leaves.

Carmel shakes off their leaves.”

Now we have a lamentation. Things are in bad shape. Once again, there is the continual plea to listen. The valiant ones are crying in the streets. The peace envoys are also weeping. The highways are deserted, since no travelers are going any place. The treaties have been broken. The city is despised since no one keeps their obligations. The land itself mourns and languishes. Even the northern neighbor Lebanon is confused and withering away. Sharon and Carmel on the west and Bashan on the southeast are like dying trees in a desert. Everybody is having troubles.

Judges (Sir 46:11-46:12)

“The judges also,

With their respective names,

Were holy famous men.

Their hearts did not fall

Into idolatry.

They did not turn away

From the Lord.

May their memory be blessed!

May their bones send forth new life

Where they lie!

May the names of those

Who have been honored

Live again in their children!”

Sirach does not name any specific judges in his praise of these judges to whom a whole book of the Hebrew Bible describes in some detail, Judges. They did not fall into idolatry, since they did not turn away from the Lord. Their memory should be blessed. Their bones should bring life to where they have been placed. Their names should be honored, as they live again in their children. Despite this plea to honor their names, Sirach does not mention any one particular name of a judge, even though the whole institution of judges was held in high esteem.

Be careful my son (Prov 31:2-31:3)

“No!

My son!

No!

Son of my womb!

No!

Son of my vows!

Do not give your strength to women!

Do not give your ways to those who destroy kings!”

This is the plea of a mother to her son. She is warning him about giving his strength to women since that destroys kings. This would be a propos if this was Bathsheba talking to her son Solomon, since he had 700 wives and 300 concubines according to 1 Kings, chapter 11.