Complete Study Of The Book Of Lamentations


The dictionary says that a lament is ‘a passionate expression of grief or sorrow’ and that’s what we find in the book of Lamentations. We find the heart-breaking outpouring of a human heart which is in deep sorrow, expressed in poetry. When you read through it, you can’t miss the grief being expressed and the heartache as the writer reflects after his beloved Jerusalem is totally destroyed and now lays in ruin.

The Author

Although not mentioned in the book itself, it’s widely accepted that Jeremiah was the author because of the similarities between the Book of Lamentations and the Book of Jeremiah itself, Jeremiah 7:21 / Lamentations 1:15 / Jeremiah 9:1 / Jeremiah 1:18 / Lamentations 1:6.

According to tradition, Jeremiah retired after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to a cavern outside the Damascus gate, where he wrote this book. That cavern is still there to this day and on the face of a rocky hill, on the western side of the city, the locals now call it ‘the grotto of Jeremiah’.

The Book

The Book of Lamentations is a kind of follow-up to the Book of Jeremiah in as much as it tells the grisly story of how the people died by the famine and by the sword. Lamentations show the sorrow that Jeremiah felt at the fall of Jerusalem. There’s no doubt he was an eyewitness to the actual fall and we see him sitting on a hill, opposite Jerusalem, and giving us all the sad details of the fall. I suppose we could say that Lamentations is all the sad and gory details of the fall of his beloved city.

The Book Consists Of Five Separate Poems

In Lamentations 1 we see Jeremiah dwelling on the various miseries oppressed by which the city sits as a lonely widow weeping sorely. In Lamentations 2 we read about these miseries which are described in connection with the national sins that had caused them. In Lamentations 3 we read of hope for the people of God. The punishment would only be for their good, a better day would dawn for them.

In Lamentations 4 we read about his laments over the ruin
and desolation that had come upon the city and temple but realises it’s because of the people’s sins. In Lamentations 5 we read a prayer that Zion’s reprimand may be taken away in the repentance and recovery of the people.

Alphabetical Acrostics

An acrostic is a composition in which the initial letters of each line or unit, when taken together, spell something meaningful. An alphabetic acrostic starts with the first letter of the alphabet, and each successive line begins with each successive letter until the alphabet is finished.

One of the many interesting rhetorical features of the Hebrew Bible is its use of alphabetical acrostics. These acrostics are not ‘hidden codes’, they are literary compositions in which the writer has used the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the initial letters for a sequence of verses. Psalm 25 / Psalm 34 / Psalm 37 / Psalm 119.

The first four poems, chapters, are acrostics, each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order. The first, second, and fourth have each twenty-two verses, the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The third has sixty-six verses, in which each three successive verses begin with the same letter. The fifth isn’t acrostic. The main reason they were written this way was probably because they would be easier to remember.

Summary Of Lamentations

Lamentations is basically a book of very sad poems, Jerusalem which once stood in all its splendour was now in ruins, God ‘lived’ there in the temple but this also lay in ruins.

Nebuchadnezzar had come in and totally destroyed it all, along with killing many Jews in the process. The young men were taken into captivity, the Babylonians raped the young Jewish women.

We must remember that Jeremiah saw all of this, he knew exactly what had happened, but he also recognised that God’s own people weren’t so innocent, they broke God’s laws time and time again, they became as evil, as the false gods they ended up worshipping and so God had to punish them, 2 Chronicles 36:14-17.

No wonder he’s heartbroken, but amongst all the heartbreak and sorrow there’s a glimmer of hope, he knew that God actually does care about His people and so he prays that one day, his people could return to their beloved city.

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Complete Study Of The Book Of Lamentations