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Of the news that comes to our small community here in Egypt, almost none now reaches us from Jerusalem; the poor, desolate city. And though my eyes pour like springs day and night for humbled Zion – her tent in tatters, her children gone – my tears shall never refill her empty pools and broken cisterns. The news we do receive comes to us from your community far away in the land beyond the Euphrates, and though it is little, it is enough to quench my thirst for word of my people.
We hear, or at least get the impression from what we hear, of immense activity: of planting and harvesting and of feasting on the produce; of building and establishing trades and businesses, and of working for the welfare of the city. All this is good, I say – and indeed have said in the letter I sent you all when the first of our people were taken to Babylon. It demonstrates an acceptance of our chastisement: a submission to present tribulations and investment in future hopes – if we are to be granted a future.
And I am interested to hear of your fasts and prayers, and of a renewed enthusiasm for the ways of home. I even hear that some are now compiling the songs and stories of our land in an attempt to make something of our memories. And why should I be surprised?