November 18, 2017

Lamentations for a Fall that has not yet Occurred?

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

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.

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That’s the chain of custody of Israel since the Lamentations were composed about 600 years before Christ.

When the Persians defeated the Babylonians they reversed the “depopulation” policy, allowing the Israelites to return home. They also sponsored the rebuilding of the Temple, and sent Ezra the prophet back to Israel to re-instruct the people about the Law (since they’d been away for about three generations). But this was not out of religious comity or inspiration, but the geo-political need to have a stable, reliable and loyal nation commanding this major cross-roads of empire. The Persians had just defeated the Egyptians, you see, driving them toward their own fall from history.

You might want to reread the Book of Lamentations in this context, as you will read many expressions of regret, remorse, sadness, even outrage, you hear today, only about events they likely could never have prevented, such as having bigger, stronger neighbors.

What distinguishes the Biblical lamenters and modern day lamenters is that the Israelites waited to put their regrets to pen until after the events had happened.

Not really possessing the scope of vision as world historians have today, they never knew that their little spot on the map had become a major crossroads to empire, and there was very little they could do to protect themselves with alliances, or the sovereignty of larger military powers. In that regard, they were actually lucky as neither the Persians, Greek nor Romans (unlike the Babylonians) were oppressive in the sense of preventing them from practicing their faith, and living under semi-autonomous self-rule. Even the early Arab Muslim occupiers considered them “cousins”, as People of the Book.

Unlike the early Children of Israel, America has all this fore-knowledge. And, if you believe God has a stake in America, it’s expected that we use it. Which is why I firmly believe the disinformation campaign to drive God, His promises and His retribution, out of our minds is real.

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If someday surviving Christian writers lament America’s fall, and Christianity’s protection with it, which will be brutal, a la Babylon, and not benign, a la Persia, it will indeed have been our fault.

America is the Crossroads-of-Crossroads to world history, and anyone who sees otherwise, is cynically and intentionally blind. It is not a vanity for me to say this now, for all the barbarians at our gate have been saying it for over two centuries. About human freedom there is not a civilized Greek or Roman among them, even though many claim business, political and law degrees from the finest of social strata and educational institutions.

So, when Ezra returned to Jerusalem the first thing he did was take over the education of the Israelites. Being forewarned is forearmed.

If you know the Barbarians are at your gate, and know they have the key-code to your House, and know their purposes, you meet them at the barricade, with your neighbors who share in common your purpose. And not your front door, where, let’s face it, once they get that far all is lost.

If you lose there, then you can lament.

Not before. So get up off the couch and do something.

Call a friend. Join a group. Carry a candle. Hell, buy a black bandana. Just do it together. But scare the hell out of the people causing this threat before they can gain enough power to put on an iron fist and go all-Babylonian on the good people of America. Right now they think we are capable of more physical pain than we really do. (Projection) That’s a fear we need to encourage. Make them afraid.

Just stop sitting on the couch and doing nothing other than writing down your lamentations about what might happen tomorrow.

If you continue doing that, it will happen tomorrow.

About Puma ByDesign 319 Articles
Unhyphenated American female, born and raised in the Empire State and who like most New Yorkers, in spite of being a registered Democrat, I voted for the candidate, not the party which meant voting often across party lines throughout the years. In 2008, coming to terms once and for all with the fact that Democrats and I had nothing in common, I left the liberal cesspool forever. Of course, I now have a grudge to settle after decades of being lied to and so I blog to right the wrongs and expose the lies.