Your sister’s cup (Ezek 23:31-23:34)

“‘You have gone

The way

Of your sister.

Therefore,

I will give her cup

Into your hand.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You shall drink

Your sister’s cup!

It is deep!

It is wide!

You shall be scorned!

You shall be derided!

It holds so much!

You will be filled

With drunkenness!

You will be filled

With sorrow!

It is a cup of horror!

It is a cup of desolation!

It is the cup

Of your sister

Samaria!

You shall drink it!

You shall drain it out!

You shall gnaw its sherds!

You shall

Tear out your breasts!

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God.”

This seems to be a poem or oracle about a cup of wrath. Jerusalem has gone the way of her sister Samaria. Thus she will be given her sister’s cup, the Samarian cup. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that Jerusalem would drink her sister’s deep and wide cup. Thus she was going to be scorned and derided. Jerusalem would drink from this large cup. She would be filled with drunkenness and sorrow because this was a cup of horror and desolation. Jerusalem was to drain this big cup by drinking from it. She would then gnaw and eat the glass pottery sherd pieces of this cup. Finally, she would tear out her breasts. This is what Yahweh, God, had spoken. This did not sound like a good experience.

Patience (Bar 4:23-4:26)

“I sent you out

With sorrow,

With weeping.

But God will give you

Back to me

With joy,

With gladness forever.

As the neighbors of Zion

Have now seen

Your capture,

So they soon will see

Your salvation

By God.

This will come

To you

With great glory,

With the splendor

Of the Everlasting One.

My children,

Endure with patience

The wrath

That has come upon you

From God.

Your enemy

Has overtaken you.

But you will soon see

Their destruction.

You will tread

Upon their necks.

My pampered children

Have traveled rough roads.

They were taken away

Like a flock

Carried off

By the enemy.”

The personification of Jerusalem continued as this city advised her exiles to have patience. She had sent them out of town with sorrow and weeping. However, God was going to bring them back to Jerusalem with eternal joy and gladness. Zion’s neighbors had seen them captured. They would soon see these Israelites safely coming back with the glorious splendor of the Everlasting One, not Yahweh. Jerusalem wanted her pampered children to endure patiently the wrath of God that had come via their enemies. They would soon tread on the necks of their enemies since they would be destroyed. Even though they had traveled rough roads and were taken away like a flock of sheep, they needed patience.

The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

The sorrow in Jerusalem (Lam 1:12-1:12)

Lamed

“Is it nothing to you?

All you who pass by!

Look!

See!

If there is any sorrow

Like my sorrow?

It was brought

Upon me.

Yahweh inflicted it

On the day

Of his fierce anger.”

Now this is no longer a description of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem herself speaking out. She wants the passers-by to notice the great sorrow that is in Jerusalem. They should look and see what Yahweh in his anger has inflicted on her. There is no sorrow like the sorrow in Jerusalem. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Lamed. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The king reacts (Jer 36:24-36:26)

“Yet neither the king,

Nor any of his servants,

Who heard

All these words,

Was afraid.

They did not tear

Their garments.

Even when Elnathan,

Delaiah,

With Gemariah

Urged the king

Not to burn the scroll,

He would not listen to them.

The king commanded

Jerahmeel,

The king’s son,

With Seraiah,

The son of Azriel,

To arrest

The secretary Baruch

With the prophet Jeremiah.

But Yahweh hid them.”

Neither the king of Judah, King Jehoiakim, nor his servants, was alarmed by the words of the scroll. They did not tear their garments as a sign of sorrow or repentance. Instead, the king burned the scroll in its various pieces as mentioned above, despite the protests of some of his senior officials like Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah, who had demanded the first reading, earlier in this chapter. They did not want the king to burn the scroll, but he would not listen to them. Instead, he sent his son Jerahmeel with his friend Seraiah, someone in the royal service, to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah. However, Yahweh hid them, but it is not clear where or how.

Jeremiah curses the day he was born (Jer 20:14-20:18)

“Cursed be the day

On which I was born!

The day

When my mother bore me,

Let it not be blessed!

Cursed be the man

Who brought the news to my father!

‘A child is born to you,

A son.’

This made him very glad.

Let that man be

Like the cities

That Yahweh overthrew without pity!

Let him hear a cry in the morning!

Let him hear an alarm at noon!

Because he did not kill me

In the womb.

Thus my mother would have been

My grave.

Her womb would be forever great.

Why did I come forth

From the womb?

To see toil?

To see sorrow?

Why do I spend my days in shame?”

It is an unusual idea to curse one’s own existence. The only comparable thought would have been in Job, chapter 3, where he cursed the day he was conceived and the day he was born. This is a lament about the personal problems in the life of the prophet Jeremiah. He wanted the day of his birth not to be a celebration or blessing, but a cursed day. He even wanted the man who told his father about the birth of his son to be cursed also. Jeremiah wanted that man to be like Yahweh’s destroyed cities. He wanted him to hear cries in the morning and at noon. They should have killed him in the womb so that his mother’s womb would have been his grave. This is an interesting thought for many anti-abortionists. Jeremiah wondered why he had come forth from the womb only to have a life of toils and sorrow, filled with shame. This is a very depressing idea, much like the poor depressed Job.

The holy way (Isa 35:8-35:10)

“A highway shall be there.

It shall be called the Holy Way.

The unclean shall not travel on it.

But it shall be for God’s people.

No traveler,

Not even fools,

Shall go astray.

No lion shall be there.

No ravenous beast shall come up on it.

They shall not be found there.

But the redeemed shall walk there.

The ransomed of Yahweh shall return.

They shall come to Zion with singing.

Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

They shall obtain joy.

They shall obtain gladness.

Sorrow shall flee away.

Sighing shall flee away.”

Isaiah has something called the Holy Way highway. On this road there will be no unclean people, only God’s people. However, there is no indication about how they would patrol this road. No one would ever get lost on this highway, not even a fool. Perhaps they must have had good signs on the Holy Way highway. No lions or predatory animals would be on this great holy highway. Only the redeemed and the ransomed of Yahweh would be on this road as they went to Mount Zion singing. There would be joy and gladness with no sorrow or sighing. Obviously, this is about the time of the return after the exile.