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Lamentations 2:20-22 – Consider What You Are Permitting-and Doing!

Summary

Lamentations 2:1-10 describes in poetic and stylized images the destruction the Lord carried out against Zion, and then 2:11-19 expresses a shift on the part of the third-person narrator from distant description to compassionate identification. In 2:20-22 the female voice extends the shift by sharply demanding that God pay attention to the impact of God's own judgment on the human community, especially on the most vulnerable.

Analysis

As in the beginning of chapter 1, the narration is in the third person, but unlike chapter one the Lord is the subject of the majority of the verbs. The emphasis is not on a portrayal of Zion's culpability for the situation. Human culpability is only mentioned in verse 15, but the consequences of the Lord's action on humanity are disastrous without end. From infants to the elderly, whether male or female, the fabric of human life has been rent apart. Even the bond of mother and child is breached. The distant, third-person narrator in the first portion of chapters 1 and 2 is finally overwhelmed and joins the weeping in 2:11. The posture of dispassionate observer and accuser has disappeared. It shifts to urging daughter Zion not to repentance, but rather to unrelenting weeping and petition. This is precisely what is done by mother Zion in 2:20-22, even more intensely than urged. Zion demands that God look at her actual condition: all forms of human boundaries have collapsed. Death is pervasive. Childbirth and mothering have been rendered meaningless. God, consider on whom the burden of your punishing wrath has fallen!

Lamentations 2:20-22


20 Look, O Lord, and consider!
   To whom have you done this?
Should women eat their offspring,
   the children they have borne?
Should priest and prophet be killed
   in the sanctuary of the Lord?


21 The young and the old are lying
   on the ground in the streets;
my young women and my young men
   have fallen by the sword;
on the day of your anger you have killed them,
   slaughtering without mercy.


22 You invited my enemies from all around
   as if for a day of festival;
and on the day of the anger of the Lord
   no one escaped or survived;
those whom I bore and reared
   my enemy has destroyed.

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10 February 2011

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