The invasion of the sanctuary (Lam 1:10-1:10)

Yod

“Enemies

Have stretched out

Their hands

Over all

Her precious things.

She has even seen

The nations

Invade her sanctuary.

You had forbidden

Your congregation

To enter it.”

The enemies of Jerusalem and Yahweh have put their hands all over her precious things in the sanctuary. Now all kinds of people and countries have invaded the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem, the very places where Yahweh’s own congregation was not even allowed to enter. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The prophet Hananiah speaks (Jer 28:2-28:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I have broken the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Within two years,

I will bring back

To this place

All the vessels

Of Yahweh’s house

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Took away from this place.

He carried them

To Babylon.

I will also bring back

To this place

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

With all the exiles

From Judah

Who went to Babylon.

I will break

The yoke

Of the king of Babylon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Hananiah, the prophet from Gibeon, then uttered an oracle of Yahweh, the God of Israel, much like Jeremiah had done. He claimed that he had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. He said that within 2 years all the vessels from the Temple sanctuary would be returned to Jerusalem. He was also going to bring back the deposed King Jeconiah or King Jehoiachin or King Coniah as he was known as, who had been king for only a couple of months in 598 BCE after his father King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been killed. In the meantime, King Nebuchadnezzar had put King Jeconiah’s uncle on the throne, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). The exiled King Jeconiah was in Babylon in captivity. He was part of the first captivity of 598 BCE, when the sacred vessels and the other exiles also went to Babylon. Clearly, Hananiah the prophet said that Yahweh wanted to break the yoke of the king of Babylon. However, Jeremiah the prophet had said that Yahweh was in favor of this yoke. Let’s see what happens as these 2 prophets interpret the will of Yahweh as regards Babylon.

Jeremiah (Sir 49:6-49:7)

“They set fire

To the chosen city

Of the sanctuary.

They made its streets desolate,

As Jeremiah had foretold.

They had mistreated him.

Even though in the womb,

He had been consecrated

A prophet.

He was to pluck up.

He was to ruin.

He was to destroy.

Likewise,

He was to build.

He was to plant.”

Once again, Sirach could rely on the biblical Book of Jeremiah, the prophet. The prophet Jeremiah (646-574 BCE) lived around the time of the captivity and fall of the Kingdom of Judah (587 BCE). He had foretold that the Temple sanctuary would be destroyed. He predicted that the streets of Jerusalem would be desolate. He was also mistreated by his fellow Israelites, even though he was a prophet from his birth. He uttered oracles about ruining, destroying, building, and planting. He is considered the 2nd of the great prophets after Isaiah.