A Reading from the Second Book of Lamentations

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I saw the eagle, the bird of prey, circling above the land of Israel. Perched upon Zion, it  beat its triumphant wings; Yahweh’s people swept across the valley; they conquered the cities and laid waste to the land.

The blood of brave men ran down the rivers. The cries of the orphans filled the air. And the wails of widowed women rang through the night. Upon the land of milk and honey, they starve in their cages, driven from their lands, while we be fruitful and multiply.

I weep for them who suffer, for they are my brothers too. Are not they, the vanquished, kin, blood of our blood, the sons of Ishmael, whom Yahweh sent to the desert with Hagar? Did they, like us, not come from Abraham, to whom Yahweh promised offspring that would number like stars of the night?

Is not this Promised Land theirs too?

I weep for my people, for they were once slaves, and now they are the tyrants. Did they not face oppression in the land of Egypt? Did they not bear the Pharoah’s yoke and cry out to Yahweh for their deliverer? They, like pharaoh, have hardened their hearts. And they, like Pharoah, won’t let the people go.

Yahweh, are not the vanquished your people too? You sent their father Ishmael to the desert, but did not abandon him. To a well you led Hagar, so that Ishmael may drink, live, and produce offspring as abundant as the desert sands that would conquer the world.

And if you sent Moses to deliver my fathers from the Pharoah’s yoke, if in six days you delivered them from their enemies, if you had them return to Zion, won’t you send the vanquished, my brothers, their deliverer too? My people have hardened their hearts, but where are the plagues that swept through the land of Egypt? Where is their liberation from their yoke, the parting of the sea, where is their inheritance, and where is the peace in the Promised Land?

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