No one to comfort Zion (Lam 1:17-1:17)

Phe

“Zion stretches out

Her hands.

But there is no one

To comfort her.

Yahweh has commanded

Against Jacob.

His neighbors should

Become his foes.

Jerusalem has become

A filthy thing

Among them.”

Now we are back to a description about Zion, rather than a first person lament from Jerusalem. Zion wanted to be comforted, but there was no one to reach out to her outstretched hands. Yahweh had commanded that the neighbors of Jacob should become his enemies. Jerusalem itself has become a filthy useless thing among its neighbors. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Phe. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

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Seek and you shall find (Jer 29:12-29:14)

“Then when you call

Upon me,

I will listen.

When you come,

I will see you.

When you pray to me,

I will hear you.

When you search for me,

You will find me.

When you seek me

With all your heart,

I will let you find me.’

Says Yahweh.”

In somewhat beautiful poetic terms, Yahweh, via Jeremiah’s letter, says that if they called on him, he would hear them. If they prayed to him, he would listen to them. If they searched for him, they would find him. If they sought him with their whole hearts, he would let himself be found. Yahweh was ready and willing to help them. They just had to reach out to him with calls, prayers, and sincere searching.

Good banquet manners (Sir 31:12-31:18)

“Are you seated

At the table of the great?

Do not be greedy at it!

Do not say.

‘How much food there is here!’

Remember that a greedy eye

Is a bad thing.

What has been created greedier

Than the eye?

Therefore it sheds tears

For any reason.

Do not reach out your hand

For everything you see!

Do not crowd your neighbor

At the dish!

Judge your neighbor’s feelings

By your own.

In every matter,

Be thoughtful!

Eat what is set before you,

Like a well brought-up person.

Do not chew greedily!

You might give offense.

Be the first to stop eating!

This befits good manners.

Do not be insatiable!

You might give offense.

If you are seated

Among many persons,

Do not help yourself

Before they do.”

When you go to a banquet with great people, do not be greedy. Do not say “wow, this is a lot of food.” Sirach warns that a greedy eye is a bad thing. In fact eyes are the greediest since they also cry. Do not reach out for everything on the table. Don’t crowd your neighbor when you are eating. Be thoughtful of other people’s feelings. Eat like a well breed person. Do not greedily chew your food. Be the first one to stop eating. Don’t keep eating. Let others go before you when you go to get food. Sirach wanted everyone to have good banquet manners.