The faithful love of Yahweh (Lam 3:22-3:24)

Heth

“The steadfast love

Of Yahweh

Never ceases.

His mercies

Never come

To an end.

They are new

Every morning.

Great is

Your faithfulness.

‘Yahweh

Is my portion.’

Says my soul.

‘Therefore I will hope

In him.’”

This poem or lamentation took a new turn towards the faithful love of Yahweh. The former tone of pessimism turned to hope, since the steadfast love of Yahweh never ceased. His mercy has no end. Every morning the faithfulness of Yahweh re-appeared. This author depended on Yahweh so that he would hope in Yahweh. Suddenly, this despairing author has great hope in Yahweh. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Heth in this acrostic poem.

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The mourning in Jerusalem (Lam 2:10-2:10)

Yod

“The elders

Of daughter Zion

Sit on the ground

In silence.

They have thrown dust

On their heads.

They have put on

Sackcloth.

The young girls

Of Jerusalem

Have bowed

Their heads

To the ground.”

There is a change in tone here. No longer was Yahweh with his anger the main point. The emphasis now shifts to those left in the city of Jerusalem itself. The elders, who were left in Jerusalem, were sitting on the ground in silence. They were grieving, as they threw dust on their heads and put sackcloth on. The young girls of Jerusalem also bowed their heads to the ground. Obliviously not everyone was killed or taken captive. These old men and young women left in Jerusalem were in a state of shock and mourning. 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.

Against Babylon (Jer 50:1-50:1)

“The word

That Yahweh spoke

Concerning Babylon,

Concerning the land

Of the Chaldeans,

By the prophet Jeremiah.”

Now there is a switch in tone. Prior to this, Jeremiah and the oracles of Yahweh had said to obey the Babylonian king. Now there are a series of oracles against the Babylonians or the Chaldeans. Eventually Babylon would fall in 539 BCE, long after the death of Jeremiah (582 BCE) and King Nebuchadnezzar (562 BCE). In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 27, not chapter 50 as here.

Rebuke against rebellion (Isa 1:2-1:3)

“Hear!

O heavens!

Listen!

O earth!

Yahweh has spoken.

‘I reared children.

I brought them up.

But they have rebelled

Against me.

The ox knows its owner.

The donkey knows its master’s crib.

But Israel does not know.

My people do not understand.’”

Isaiah begins with an oracle that comes from Yahweh. He asks heaven and earth to listen to him. Yahweh says that he reared and brought up his children. However, these children have rebelled against him. As an ox knows its owner and a donkey knows where his home is, the people of Israel are just the opposite. They do not know or understand anything. This is the tone to many of the oracles of Yahweh via Isaiah. It is not clear whether this oracle is against just the northern Israelites or also includes the people of Judah. Sometimes the term “Israel” is used for both and sometimes just for the northern Israelites.

The thirty sayings (Prov 22:20-22:21)

“Have I not written for you thirty sayings

Of admonition and knowledge?

They are to show you

What is right and true.

Thus you may give a true answer

To those who sent you.”

These 30 sayings have a certain similarity or loose comparison with the Egyptian Instructions of Amenemope with its 30 chapters from around 1300-1075 BCE. They sayings are about admonitions and knowledge. They intend to show you what is right and true. That way, you can answer anyone who sent you. These sayings are more international in tone.

Title (Prov 1:1-1:1)

“These are

The proverbs of Solomon,

Son of David,

The King of Israel.”

This introduction title to proverbs was a later addition to the main sections on the Proverbs of Solomon. However, it sets the tone for the whole work which is really poetic wisdom. This opening introduction clearly places Solomon, the Son of David, and King of Israel as the author as indicated in the stories about Solomon in 1 Kings, chapters 1-11. This adds value and prestige to these proverbs.

The servant prayer (Ps 123:1-123:2)

A song of ascents

“To you I lift up my eyes.

O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

As the eyes of servants

Look to the hand of their master,

As the eyes of a maid

Look to the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes look to Yahweh our God,

Until he has mercy upon us.”

Psalm 123 is another very short psalm, or song, sung on the ascending way to Jerusalem in a pilgrimage. However, the tone is more somber as there is a cry for help against enemies. Both the male and female servants look to Yahweh to help them. They lift up their eyes to the heavens, like servants looking to the hands of their masters. Their eyes cry for mercy towards Yahweh, their God.