Lamentations 3:21-33 - Being God's mouth on earth
Please, browse the many free commentaries available on https://www.katrinapearls.com/blog
This I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
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.”
Yahweh is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of Yahweh.
It is good for one to bear
the yoke in youth,
to sit alone in silence
when [Yahweh] has imposed it,
to put one’s mouth to the dust
(there may yet be hope),
to give one’s cheek to the smiter,
and be filled with insults.
For adonay will not
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.
This reading selection from Jeremiah’s Lamentations is the first optional “Response” that will accompany the Track 2 Old Testament option from the Wisdom of Solomon. There it is written, “God did not make death, And he does not delight in the death of the living.” If chosen, these readings will precede a reading from Paul’s second letter to the Christians of Corinth, where he wrote: “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.” All will accompany a reading from Mark’s Gospel, where the Spirit passed through Jesus, healing a woman, prompting him to say, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
In this song of sorrow, there are sets of three verses for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 19 and 20 [not included] fall under the heading of Zayin [ז], the seventh letter. The verses 31-33 then fall under the heading of Kaf [כ], the eleventh letter. In these thirteen verses, the NRSV [and thereby the Episcopal Church] has presented a capitalized “Lord” six times. In reality [as there are no capital letters in Hebrew] this assumption is based on Jeremiah having written different certain words, where that difference is not recognized as such, generalizing everything as “Lord.” One of those times is pure manufacturing, as a third person form of a verb is assumed to be “Lord,” when nothing so specific was written. The first four words written by Jeremiah can be capitalized as the proper name for God, which is “Yahweh.” The last reference [verse 31, but all verse numbers have been erased by the Episcopal Church] had Jeremiah write “adonay,” which could be translated as a lower-case “lord.”
Because it has been presented as “Lord,” I have restored the original Hebrew. It must be understood that the naming of Yahweh is a statement of a direct, personal relationship with Him. To call Him “Lord” is a statement that one believes in God, but has never known Him. When Yahweh becomes one’s “lord,” then one will cal that inner presence one’s “lord.”
Because this song of lament is sixty-six verses long, which is twenty-two sets of three verses, each set associated with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the missing two verses that lead to verse 21 need to be seen. They are translated by the NRSV as such:
19 The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall!
20 My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me.
In the Hebrew text, the word translated as “my soul” is written last in verse 20, rather than first, as the translation shows. The literal translation of this verse says, “remember remember, to sink down low within my soul,” where “zā·ḵō·wr tiz·kō·wr” is repeating the word “zakar,” meaning “remember.” This double statement reflects back on the use of “zə·ḵār-‘ā·nə·yî” in verse 19, which literally translates as “remember my poverty.” Those memories are of “roaming, restlessness, straying” [from “ū·mə·rū·ḏî”], such that the “wormwood and gall” are the bad experiences of past sins remembered.
By realizing that the three verses of the Zayin set all speak of memories of when a “soul strayed” away from Yahweh, one can see how verse 21 then sets up the following triplets, by saying, “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.” The colon mark is not part of the text, as all triplets end with the Hebrew letter Samech [ס], which is “used to mark the end of a setumah” – a closed section [“parashah”]. Thus, “I have hope” has to be seen as Jeremiah having his soul given a promise of a future beyond the material realm, where “hope” equates with “salvation,” where “salvation” is dependent on fulfilling a promise made by a soul in return. That “hope” then comes from a soul marrying Yahweh and rising from “poverty” and “affliction” to the ability to withstand the present pains, because of the faith found in a promise.
The essence of a colon can be seen as why the Episcopal Church cut off the two verses that talk of the necessity of having sunk as low as a soul can sink, which is what leads a soul to beg for mercy and find the hand of Yahweh offering salvation, in exchange for becoming His wife and subject. They only want to focus on the ‘rebound’ that comes from “hope,” without placing focus on the sin that must be forever sacrificed, in order to gain “hope.” As the next triplet delves into that “mercy,” they are simply using one verse to set that up, rather than three.
Verse twenty-two then begins the triplet under the letter Chet [ח]. The NRSV translation shows, “The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, his mercies never come to an end,” where I have replaced their use of “the Lord” with the truth written. The translation shown is not what is stated, as the literal translation says, “the mercies Yahweh that not finished , that not accomplished his compassions .” There is nothing written about “love,” although “compassions” can lead one to think that is the intent. The Hebrew words “ṯā·mə·nū” and “ḵā·lū” are similar, as both can mean “completion” or “finished.” The word “kalah” expands that to “at an end, accomplished, or spent.” This then says the “goodness” or “kindness” of Yahweh are not “finished,” after those “mercies” have been extended to a soul that has been redeemed through divine marriage. Likewise, that “goodness” and “kindness” will continue, as they will not reach “an end,” because Yahweh’s “compassions” will forever remain with a soul in marriage. Therefore, to intuit “love” from this means the shared “love” of a Husband and a wife.
The middle verse of this threesome then is translated by the NRSV to say, “they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” While this gives the impression that “his mercies never come to an end,” such that “they” infers a soul can sin and sin some more, with Yahweh always extending “new” forgivenesses” every morning,” this is an absurdity. The omitted verse that tell of how low a soul went, before Yahweh was begged to save it, says the “endlessness” is the commitment a soul makes to receive the “goodness” of Yahweh. The word “goodness” is the opposite of “sinful,” so that which is “new” is the life led by a soul. The element of “morning” is when a new light of truth has come, removing a soul from darkness. The aspect of “faithfulness” says the soul and Yahweh both keep their commitments in marriage, with the intimate presence of a soul merged with the Spirit of Yahweh brings true faith to a soul, which is “steadfast, firm, and true.”
The final verse of the Chet segment is then said by the NRSV to say, “Yahweh is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Here the word “hope” is found, which matches the usage in verse twenty-one [“’ō·w·ḥîl”]. The literal translation has this verse begin with “my portion,” which is a statement about a soul’s “share” of the commitment that reflects “faithfulness.” That “portion” then says “Yahweh speaks my soul,” which says one’s commitment is then to do what Yahweh says to do, in order for that soul to remain saved. This is not unwilling force, but desires actions, where the “hope” of one’s “soul” is to be told what to do, to please Yahweh. With “hope” explained, this triplet is ended by a “ס.”
Verse twenty-five then begins the triplet under the letter Tet [ט]. The NRSV translation shows, “Yahweh is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” Again, I have made the necessary change to state that Jeremiah addressed “Yahweh,” not some unknown “Lord.” Here, the first word places focus on “good, pleasant, agreeable,” which is then attributed to “Yahweh to those who wait for him.” After verse twenty-four spoke of one’s “hope” to do one’s “share,” the aspect of waiting now says one does not act independently of Yahweh. Simply from having been graced with a desire to do “good,” one only does what Yahweh leads one to do. In that regard there is the element of “patience” that one learns as a wife of Yahweh, whereas impatience was the impetus to sin before divine marriage. Again, this is “soul” motivated, whereas before it was the flesh leading the soul into slavery to self. One learns what would please Yahweh – one’s holy Husband – so one “seeks” to do “pleasing” acts in the name of Yahweh [as a wife].
The middle verse in this set is then translated by the NRSV to say, “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of Yahweh.” Once again, the name Yahweh is written, but bastardized by translation. In two consecutive verses Jeremiah began with the word “towb,” where the focus in on “good, agreeable, pleasant.” Here, the element of “waiting” is translated, but that missing from the translation is the “anxious longing” that comes, when “hoping” to receive a direct command from Yahweh. The Hebrew word written, “chuwl,” implies a desire to ‘dance, writhe, or whirl,” because one’s soul wants so much to please the Holy Husband. It is this inner sensation that is the delight held by a soul, not the flesh, so it is “silent” and “quiet.” It comes from the promise of “salvation” to come, so the soul feels much like a child as Christmas or a birthday nears and there is a sensation of delight that cannot be made to come faster by speaking of it.
The third verse is this set is then said to say, “It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth,” where one more time Jeremiah began with the word “towb.” Here, it is “good, pleasant, agreeable” for an adult use self-restraint. The Hebrew word “geber” means “man,” but it becomes asexual as “warrior.” Because “men” and “women” struggle with self-restraints ordinarily, as wife of Yahweh becomes a “warrior” that is in a constant war against the lures of the world. In the silence of patient time, it is easy to become distracted; and when the inner urges are feeling like one is anxious, it demands one who is trained to wear the “yoke” of responsibility and “carry” or “bear” the commitment that is the Law [one’s marriage vows to Yahweh]. Thus, the anticipation of a “youth” or one’s “early life” before divine marriage, must be set aside and managed, because of the promise of salvation. This set is then ended by the Samech letter [ס].
The Yod [י] triplet is begun by verse twenty-eight said to say, “to sit alone in silence when he has imposed it.” Here, the insertion of “the Lord” has been removed and replaced with the third person pronoun “he,” as Jeremiah did not specifically name Yahweh. Rather than simply read this verse as saying, “to sit along in silence,” the literal translation can equate to an intent that says, “let him dwell isolated without external influence.” This becomes typical of the Jewish isolation from Gentiles, not from seeing Gentiles as inferior human beings [they all are souls inhabiting flesh], but from seeing an incompatibility in beliefs keeps one adhering to Mosaic Law less likely to stray from that law, if one “dwells” amid others of like mind. In that, the inference coming from “nā·ṭal,” as “has imposed” or “has lifted” or “has born” by God, that ‘higher bar set’ is the Law brought down by Moses, which must be followed [“born”] without fail.
Verse twenty-nine than adds a second verse that begins with the condition saying, “let him.” From “let him dwell” we are led to “let him put” or “let him give.” The NRSV translates this verse as, “to put one’s mouth to the dust (there may yet be hope),” where there is nothing written that would place words in parentheses. To read “let him set in the earth” the inference is to be planted, where the addition of “his mouth” is less about ‘eating dust and more about a soul married to Yahweh becoming His voice place into the world. It is from planting apostles and prophets into the land that others can be led to also marry Yahweh. This extends the “hope” of one soul to “hope” for many souls.
The thirtieth and third verse in this set is then translated to say, “to give one’s cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults.” In this, there is a repeating of “yit·tên” as the initial focus, such that “let him put” or “let him give” is again the lead to the word translated simply as “smiter.” The Hebrew word “lə·mak·kê·hū” stems from “nakah,” which translates as “to the one who strikes him.” This becomes a reflection of an “attacker,” who must then be seen as either a Gentile [enemy of the Judeans, such as the Babylonians] or another Judean [friend or neighbor that disapproved with one’s refusal to be influenced to sin]. Thus, Jeremiah said the same as Jesus, as far as turning the other “cheek.” In effect, Jeremiah adding “be satisfied with disgrace” means the same as Jesus said.
See end note.
When one is the “mouth” of Yahweh “on earth,” then persecution is an expectation. This leases one to try and isolate oneself from direct confrontations with enemies and neighbors. However, to correct a neighbor who has disgraced himself or herself by letting him or her know he or she has broken a Law, might cause him or her strike back in anger. Jeremiah wrote before the system of Judaism that return to Jerusalem after the exile; so, the ordinary Jew was less likely to strike back without legal repercussions. Still, the “full disgrace speaks as a double-edge sword. If one has indeed erred and someone slaps a cheek, then one must offer the other cheek as thanks for having been corrected. On the other hand, if one is slapped wrongly, then offer the “full disgrace” of a sinner, so he or she will strike in anger again, making the error of their ways more known to their souls later.
After verse 30 ended with a ס letter, verse thirty-one begins the last triplet of this reading. The NRSV translates it to say, “ For adonay will not reject forever.” Here, the mistranslation of “’ă·ḏō·nāy” as “the Lord” has been totally misunderstood [by Jews and Gentiles – Christians – alike]. When verse thirty is realized to work two ways, the use of “adonay” likewise works two ways. As “lord” of one’s soul-flesh being, the one who strikes in anger is “lorded” by self-will or [worse] evil demons. One whose soul has married Yahweh has Him as one’s “lord,” thorough the Spirit of Yahweh [which is not Yahweh directly]. Christians have the resurrection of Jesus’ soul with a host soul as this “lord,” which in Greek can be called “Lord,” but only as a title for that Jesus name within. Therefore, verse thirty-one says that even sins will not forbid a soul from being “rejected forever” or “cast off forever.” One casts oneself away from Yahweh, such that the freedom to strike twice will make that evil deed [sin] sink in and turn one back to Yahweh for salvation.
Verse thirty-two then says, “ Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” [NRSV]. Here, again, the use of “compassion” is mistaken as some human sense of “love,” like a mother forgiving her child’s sin, without punishment and calling that “love.” This verse literally begins by saying, “for though he causes grief,” such that “suffering” is a clear statement about punishment, it is that punishment that Jeremiah knew was the depths a soul could sink from having sinned. Without the ‘suffering” and “grief,” then no soul would ever turn away from sin. This, again, is relative to letting a sinner strike the other cheek, in “full disgrace.” That disgrace will bring about a complete lack of “love” from Yahweh – the Father. Therefore, the “compassion shown” by Yahweh will be to always welcome back a lost soul into His fold. That “compassion” comes with an agreement that cannot ever be broken.
The translation of “abundance” is misleading, as it again misleads one to think that the same soul can be forgiven countless times. The better translation says “multitude,” which is relative to the Judeans in exile, the reason for Jeremiah’s lament to Yahweh. Each and every repentant sinner, all of whom were severely punished for their sins, will be welcomed back by Yahweh, “according to” how the “multitude” agrees to divine marriage. This led Jeremiah to bracket “his mercies,” which actually means “his goodness,” such that the “abundance of compassion” is based on who decides to receive “goodness” into their souls.
The final verse in this reading is then said to state, “for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.” Each of these last three verses has begun with the Hebrew word “kî,” which means “for.” In this, “for” is followed by “not he does afflict the soul.” The Hebrew word “mil·lib·bōw” stems from “leb,” which means “inner man, mind, will, heart,” such that “willingly” is a statement about the Spirit of Yahweh not taking delight or pleasure from punishing the wicked. No matter how bad a human body might feel pain and agony [the story of Job], a soul is never harmed or hurt in any way. A lifetime of physical pain is nothing more than a fleeting memory to a soul. Therefore, all punishment seen as Yahweh bringing pain to a sinner is an illusion, because all physical pain and suffering is one’s own soul’s damage done to its body of flesh [unless one is Job, the exception to this rule]; so, Yahweh repairs the damage a soul has done to itself, when one realizes the error of sinful ways.
As an optional reading that is the Track 2 response to the Wisdom of Solomon reading, it is clear to see that Yahweh did not Create in order to destroy. Jeremiah agrees with that insight by saying the only source for destruction comes from a soul that reject Yahweh in marriage. The omitted verses that tell of the depths of despair a soul can fall into, due to self-caused punishments, is why Yahweh is so compassionate and forgiving. A soul have been given life in the material world for the purpose of hearing the whispers that call it to return and be one with God. Religion has been Yahweh’s gift to the world; but Satan has distorted that gift by using trick of deceit to make those whispers harder to listen to, The message of Jeremiah’s lament says “hope” for salvation is the key to finding Yahweh, after becoming lost.
End Note: When Jesus spoke of turning the other cheek and when Jeremiah wrote about this being an expectation of Yahweh for His wives, the expectation must be seen as only applying to those souls married to Yahweh. Jesus was. Therefore, he did not slap back at Pilate nor the Sanhedrin. They brought their own souls greater harm than crucifixion brought Jesus' soul [none]. Still, for the practical purposes of neighbors, striking a cheek means open hand slaps, as an insult. It does not mean closed fists, so the expectation would be to allow an enemy to pummel one to sever injury. David did not turn the other sheek to Goliath; so, there are certainly exceptions.