, ,

<span style=

Vassar Bushmills

If you know your roof is leaking, your foundation sinking, or your pipes are leaking, you get them fixed. You call in a plumber or a specialist. It’s a matter of survival.

What you don’t do is sit on your couch and sing lamentations of woe about the fall of that roof over your head which you know will occur after that last fatal rainstorm.

The Book of Lamentations is an interesting read in that it is an outpouring of grief because Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. That occurred because the Judeans, as before and before, had not listened to the prophet sent by God, in this case Jeremiah, so God finally threw in the towel on the whole lot of them, and let them be shipped off into captivity. The First Temple of Solomon was razed by the Babylonians. It would be 60 years before they were allowed to return home and build a Second Temple, which stood until the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD.

But it was not the Babylonians who allowed them to return, but the Persians, under Cyrus, a much more benign ruler.

The poets of Lamentations (there were more than one) anguished over the loss of life, the city, and their beloved Temple, and the misery of their exile. They worried that Yahweh (God) had abandoned them.

But from reading these five poems, a person can pick up the hint that the bad things that happened to the Children of Israel were undeserved.

In the “What Is, Is” category of historical analysis, the last 500 years of the Old Testament are a succession of tales of prophets whose commission by God was not quite the same as the early prophets. For one, the Israelites would remain a subjected people for another 2000 years, until 1948 of the common era. Except for a brief period of independence under the Maccabees, the Children of Israel were continuously under the dominion of superior empires; Persian, Alexandrian Greek (Seleucid), then Roman, who granted semi-autonomy to the Herodian line of Israeli kings. This ushered in the Christian era. where they were protected by the Byzantine Christians until the 6th Century, who lost it to the Mohammedans by war, bringing about 300 years of religious wars with Christians, the Crusades, before the Muslims, by then under Turks, (Seljuk and Ottoman), and no longer Arab, would lose it finally in World War I, for all the usual historic reasons for empires to collapse, internal rot. Then the historic Israel fell under the protection of the British, with a new name, the Palestine Mandate, where it remained until 1948 when a United Nations mandate created the State of Israel. Since the Byzantine era, Israel was also called the Holy Land[…]

Continue Reading

Painting: Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem Artist: Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (1630) Source: Wikimedia Commons