The dying Israelites (Bar 3:1-3:4)

“O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

The soul in anguish

Cries out to you!

The wearied spirit

Cries out to you!

Hear!

O Lord!

Have mercy!

We have sinned

Before you!

You are enthroned forever!

We are perishing forever!

O Lord Almighty!

God of Israel!

Hear now

The prayer

Of the people

Of Israel,

The children

Of those who sinned

Before you.

They did not heed

The voice

Of the Lord

Their God.

Thus calamities

Have clung to us.”

Baruch addressed God as the Lord Almighty, not simply Yahweh, the Lord, God of Israel. The anguished soul and the weary spirit cried out to God. Baruch wanted God to hear their cries and have mercy on them because they had sinned. The Lord Almighty was enthroned forever, while the Israelites were perishing forever because of their finitude. God should listen to the prayer of his people, the children of those who sinned. Their ancestors had not listened to the voice of God, so that their calamities have clung to them as fellow sinners who are the sons and daughters of sinners.

The failure to serve the king of Babylon (Bar 2:21-2:23)

“Thus says the Lord.

‘Bend your shoulders!

Serve

The king of Babylon!

You will then

Remain in the land

That I gave

To your ancestors.

But if you will not obey

The voice of the Lord,

If you will not serve

The king of Babylon,

I will cease

The voice of mirth,

The voice of gladness,

The voice of the bridegroom,

The voice of the bride,

From the towns of Judah,

As well as from the region

Around Jerusalem.

The whole land

Will be a desolation

Without inhabitants.’”

The Lord via the prophets had told the Judeans to bend their shoulders and serve the king of Babylon. If they did that, they would remain in the land that the Lord had given to their ancestors. However, if they did not obey the voice of God, and not serve the king of Babylon, then God would cease to have any sounds of mirth or gladness from the brides or the bridegrooms from the towns of Judah as well as the region around Jerusalem. The whole land would become a desolation without inhabitants. They had a clear choice, obey the Lord and the king of Babylon, or suffer the consequences. They were already in exile, because they had not obeyed the king of Babylon. As usual, Jeremiah and Baruch were pro-Babylonian.

The shameful sinful behavior (Bar 2:3-2:5)

“Some of us

Ate the flesh

Of their sons.

Others

Ate the flesh

Of their daughters.

He made us subject

To all the kingdoms

Around us.

We were

An object of scorn.

We were a desolation among

All the surrounding people,

Where the Lord

Has scattered us.

We were brought down.

We were not raised up.

Because our nation

Sinned

Against the Lord,

Our God,

In not heeding

His voice.”

Once again, there is allusion to the cannibalism of people, eating their sons and daughters as food because of the famine in Jerusalem, as was mentioned in Lamentations, chapters 2 and 4, as well as Jeremiah, chapter 19. They were no longer a nation, because now they obeyed all the other countries around them. They had become an object of scorn and a desolation among all the people and the countries where they were scattered into. They were brought down, not raised up. They had sinned as a nation. Thus they were punished as a nation. They had not listened to the voice of God, their Lord.

Jeremiah defends himself (Jer 26:12-26:15)

“Then Jeremiah spoke

To all the officials,

To all the people.

Saying.

‘Yahweh sent me

To prophesy

Against this house,

Against this city,

All the words you have heard.

Now therefore

Amend your ways!

Amend your doings!

Obey the voice of Yahweh!

Your God!

Then maybe

Yahweh will change his mind

About the desolation

That he has pronounced against you.

But as for me,

Here I am in your hands.

Do with me

As it seems good

And right to you!

Only know for certain

That if you put me to death,

You will be bringing

Innocent blood

Upon yourselves,

Upon this city,

Upon its inhabitants.

In truth,

Yahweh sent me to you

To speak all these words

In your ears.’”

Jeremiah defended himself, as he spoke to the royal officials and all the people. Yahweh had sent him to prophesy against this Temple and this city.   They should amend their ways and actions. They should obey the voice of God, Yahweh. Perhaps Yahweh would change his mind about the coming disaster that he had proclaimed. Jeremiah was willing to put his own fate in their hands. However, he reminded them that if they hurt him, they would have innocent blood on their hands, upon the city, and its inhabitants. Yahweh had sent him to speak all these words to them. They were not his words, but the words of Yahweh, their God.

Sing to the Lord a new song (Jdt 16:13-16:17)

“I will sing to my God a new song!

O Lord, you are great and glorious!

Wonderful in strength!

Invincible!

Let all your creatures serve you!

You spoke, and they were made.

You send forth your Spirit.

It formed them.

There is none that can resist your voice.

The mountains shall be shaken to their foundations with the waters.

Before your glance,

The rocks shall melt like wax.

But to those who fear you,

You show mercy.

Every sacrifice as a fragrant offering is a small thing.

The fat of all whole burnt offerings to you is a very little thing.

But who ever fears the Lord is great forever.

Woe to the nations that rise up against my people!

The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them

In the Day of Judgment.

He will send fire and worms into their flesh.

They shall weep in pain forever.”

Now this canticle switched back to Judith praising God. Judith was going to sing a new song to the great and glorious God who has invincible strength. Once again there was an illusion to creation as she said that all creatures got their life from God. Therefore, they should praise God, who sent forth his Spirit to form the world. No one can resist the voice of God. He controls the mountains and the rocks. Sacrifices are trifling matters before God. The most important thing is to fear God. The Lord almighty will take vengeance on anyone who rises up against his people. The Day of Judgment is coming where there will be eternal weeping as fire and worms will eat flesh and cause eternal pain. Here we see the eschatological sense of a final judgment day, a post-exilic theme.