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Judah in Exile
BY EDUARD BENDEMANN, HEAD OF THE DUSSELDORF
"Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest.”—Lamentations, 1, 3.
'E TURN now to the period of Judah's exile. Jerusalem, the mighty walled fortress, the gorgeous metropolis with its teeming multitude, Jerusalem was no more. Its people were scattered over foreign lands. Yet even there they continued as a nation, a "peculiar people," having their own faith, their literature, and their prophets.
First of these writers of the exile, there was Jeremiah himself, or another speaking very like him, who wrote the Book of Lamentations. Its association with the great prophet is based only on tradition, and on an introduction prefixed to it in one version of the Bible, which reads, “And it came to pass after Israel had been carried away captive, and Jerusalem had been laid waste, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation, and said:"
Then follows the first pathetic lament, opening, "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!"
The book consists of five chapters or rather five separate songs of lamentation, each dealing with a fresh aspect of the great disaster. The first song tells of the desolation of Jerusalem and the misery of the people.
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13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them: and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
14 But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.
15 Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands:
16 Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.
17 Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.
18 But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:
19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them:
20 And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.
21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries:
24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
26 And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD.
27¶Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.
28 For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill,