Lamentations, 2:1-6

Alas, the Lord has blackened and marred her in his wrath
The Lord has flung down the daughter of Zion
Israel’s beauty is toppled* from the heavens to the mire
In his anger he did not remember his footstool, his temple

Bitten, gnawed and swallowed up were all the dwellings of Jacob
With no mercy the Lord has done this
He has smashed the strongholds of the daughter of Judah
He has trampled to the ground the kingdom and its rulers—to disgrace

Chopped, cleft, cut off is every horn of strength
In fierce and fiery anger the Lord has done this
His protecting right hand is withdrawn before the hordes
As a flame, a fire, he has burned, consuming everywhere

Drawn is his bow, as an assailant
Stationed as a foe is his strong hand
He has slain his beloved, her beautiful in his eyes
In the tent of the daughter of Zion
The flame of his fiery wrath was burnt

Even the Lord has become an enemy
He consumed Israel, consumed its palaces
He has devastated its fortresses
He has buried the daughter of Judah in mourning

For he has destroyed his “booth”—his holy temple, his place
YHWH has seared from memory forgotten festivals and sabbaths
He has scratched out his places, his times, his people
In the umbrage of his anger, he has disdained king or priest

*I chose “toppled” here because in Israel’s cosmology God sat in the heavens in his cosmic temple, with the temporal temple as his footstool, and I think “Israel’s beauty” here refers to that meeting point between God and Israel embodied in the temple. Thus, the temple itself is toppled (lit. flung down) from its reach to the heavens to the dull earth. It’s worth noting that much of this section focuses on the temple, “Israel’s beauty,” his footstool, tent, “booth”–an ironic designation of the impermanence what was to be permanent, his place, his temple. Verse 6, in particular, highlights the threefold lament of Jeremiah, that God’s appointed places, people, and times are all burned out of existence and memory by the very Lord who appointed and commemorated them. There may be irony present in the twin descriptions of “beclouded” (trans. blackened) and “burnt” with God’s special divine presence manifested as cloud and fire–but in this case fire that burns and cloud that wipes out of sight and memory.

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