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The Book No One Wants To Study

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A. Septuagint entitles it as “The Book of Lamentations of Jeremiah”
2 Chronicles 35:25 KJV 1900
And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.
B. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 are acrostic.
C. Chapter 3 is 66 verses with each 3rd verse being an acrostic.
The ESV Study Bible Literary Features

Some acrostic poems begin each succeeding line with the next letter of the alphabet. For example, chapter 1 consists of 22 one-verse sentences. Therefore 1:1 starts with a word that begins with aleph, 1:2 uses a word that begins with beth, and so forth through the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Other acrostic poems open a segment with aleph and then begin each succeeding segment with the succeeding letter of the alphabet. Only the first word in a stanza exhibits the acrostic pattern. For example, chapters 1 and 2 feature 22 three-line verses, for a total of 66 lines. The first word in 1:1, 2:1, and 4:1 begins with an aleph; the first word in 1:2, 2:2, and 4:2 begins with beth; and so forth.

There are variations on that second type. For example, chapter 4 follows the same procedure as chapters 1 and 2, except that each segment is two lines long, for a total of 44 lines.

Still other acrostic poems have stanzas of three lines each that begin with the same letter of the alphabet. Thus, chapter 3 has 66 lines, like chapters 1 and 2. But each line in 3:1–3 begins with aleph; 3:4–6 has each line begin with beth; and so forth. The composition of acrostics requires great skill.

Meter. Lamentations often utilizes qinah meter, a type used in some passages that mourn the dead (e.g., Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 27). This rhythm is based on lines of two unequal parts. The first part normally consists of three words and the second part usually includes two words. This pattern creates three accents, then two, thereby creating a falling, rising, and falling cadence. In this way the poems seem to “limp,” as if the reader is walking haltingly along behind a funeral procession.

Basic movement. The acrostic forms noted above convey the book’s movement from Jerusalem’s protest concerning what she has suffered (1:1–22) to her penitent turning to God again (5:1–22). Chapters 1–2 relate Jerusalem’s horrible defeat at the hands of Babylon. People, property, opportunity, and hope have been lost. A narrator and a prophetic voice encourage Jerusalem to turn to God. Jerusalem prays, but almost solely in protest. These chapters are the least acrostic of all the poems, and they portray the least movement toward God.

D. The first word of the book in Hebrew is “Ekah” (How?) Also see 2:1 and 4:1.
E. This book is an explanation of the sins that led to the exile.

A. A Widowed City (chap. 1).

B. A Broken People (chap. 2).

C. A Suffering Prophet (chap. 3).

D. A Ruined Kingdom (chap. 4).

E. A Penitent Nation (chap. 5).


I. First Dirge: Jerusalem’s Desolation because of Her Sin (chap. 1)

A. Jeremiah’s lament over Jerusalem’s desolation (1:1–11)

B. Jerusalem’s plea for mercy (1:12–22)

II. Second Dirge: God’s Punishment of Jerusalem’s Sin (chap. 2)

A. God’s anger (2:1–10)

B. Jeremiah’s grief (2:11–19)

C. Jerusalem’s plea (2:20–22)

III. Third Dirge: Jeremiah’s Response (chap. 3)

A. Jeremiah’s afflictions (3:1–18)

B. Jeremiah’s hope (3:19–40)

C. Jeremiah’s prayer (3:41–66)

IV. Fourth Dirge: The Lord’s Anger (chap. 4)

A. Contrast before and after the siege (4:1–11)

B. Causes for the siege (4:12–20)

C. Call for vindication (4:21–22)

V. Fifth Dirge: The Remnant’s Response (chap. 5)

A. The remnant’s prayer for remembrance (5:1–18)

B. The remnant’s prayer for restoration (5:19–22)








I. Grief after the destruction of Jerusalem 1:1–22

II. Personal suffering after the destruction of Jerusalem 2:1–22

III. Hope in the face of adversity 3:1–66

IV. The pain of the destruction of Jerusalem 4:1–22

V. Remembering that God still reigns 5:1–22


1. The name of the book

2. Its place in the Canon

3. Forms and types

4. The time and place of composition

5. Authorship


Part I (vv. 1–11)

Part II (vv. 12–22)


Part I (vv. 1–10)

Part II (vv. 11–22)


Part I (vv. 1–24)

Part II (vv. 25–51)

Part III (vv. 52–66)


Part I (vv. 1–11)

Part II (vv. 12–16)

Part III (vv. 17–22)


Part I (vv. 1–18)

Part II (vv. 19–22)

Faithlife Study Bible Introduction to Lamentations


• The desolation of Jerusalem (Lam 1:1–22)

• God’s judgment on Jerusalem (Lam 2:1–22)

• Hope in God’s faithfulness in the midst of disaster (Lam 3:1–66)

• Jerusalem before and after the siege (Lam 4:1–22)

• A prayer for restoration (Lam 5:1–22)

The Teacher’s Commentary 63: Lam.—Mourning in a Strange Land



Jerusalem in Mourning



Jerusalem in Ruin



Call for Renewal



Restitution to Come



A Cry for Relief


Chapter One

Standing On The Outside Looking In (vv. 1-11)
Standing On The Inside Looking Out (vv. 12-22).
Verse 2
Jeremiah 27:1–10 KJV 1900
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck, And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah; And command them to say unto their masters, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say unto your masters; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and that will not put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I punish, saith the Lord, with the sword, and with the famine, and with the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand. Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish.
Jeremiah 27:3 KJV 1900
And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;
Verse 3
Deuteronomy 28:65 KJV 1900
And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:
Verse 4
Lamentations 5:11 KJV 1900
They ravished the women in Zion, And the maids in the cities of Judah.
Verse 5
Deuteronomy 28:44 KJV 1900
He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
Deuteronomy 28:32 KJV 1900
Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.
Deuteronomy 28:41 KJV 1900
Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
Deuteronomy 28:42 KJV 1900
All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.
Verse 6
Deuteronomy 28:25 KJV 1900
The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
Verse 7
ASV=did mock at her desolations
NKJV=at her downfall
NASB=at her ruin
Verse 9
Jeremiah 2:34 KJV 1900
Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.
Deuteronomy 32:39 KJV 1900
See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: Neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
Deuteronomy 32:29 KJV 1900
O that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!
Deut 32:39
Isaiah 47:7 KJV 1900
And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: So that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, Neither didst remember the latter end of it.
Verse 18
Jeremiah 12:1 KJV 1900
Righteous art thou, O Lord, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
2 Chronicles 12:16 KJV 1900
And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David: and Abijah his son reigned in his stead.
2 Chronicles 12:6 KJV 1900
Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The Lord is righteous.
2 Chr
2 Chronicles 21:6 KJV 1900
And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 28:41 KJV 1900
Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.
Verse 19
Jeremiah 30:14 KJV 1900
All thy lovers have forgotten thee; They seek thee not; For I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, For the multitude of thine iniquity; Because thy sins were increased.
Jer 30:
Verse 20
Jeremiah 4:19 KJV 1900
My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; My heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, Because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
Deuteronomy 32:25 KJV 1900
The sword without, And terror within, shall destroy Both the young man and the virgin, The suckling also with the man of gray hairs.

Chapter 2

Verse 1
Isaiah 64:11 KJV 1900
Our holy and our beautiful house, Where our fathers praised thee, Is burned up with fire: And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
2 Samuel 1:19 KJV 1900
The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: How are the mighty fallen!
1 Chronicles 28:2 KJV 1900
Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building:
Psalm 99:5 KJV 1900
Exalt ye the Lord our God, And worship at his footstool; For he is holy.
Verse 14
Jeremiah 23:22 KJV 1900
But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
Jeremiah 29:23 KJV 1900
Because they have committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbours’ wives, and have spoken lying words in my name, which I have not commanded them; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.
Deuteronomy 28:37 KJV 1900
And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee.
Verse 20
Deut 28:53-57
Deuteronomy 28:53–57 KJV 1900
And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee: So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates. The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter, And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
Jeremiah 19:9 KJV 1900
And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
Lamentations 4:13 KJV 1900
For the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, That have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her,
Lam 4:
Lamentations 4:16 KJV 1900
The anger of the Lord hath divided them; he will no more regard them: They respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders.
Verse 21
Deuteronomy 28:50 KJV 1900
A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:
Verse 22
Jeremiah 6:25 KJV 1900
Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way; for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side.

Chapter 3

Verse 8
Job 30:20 KJV 1900
I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.
Verse 12
Job 16:12–14 KJV 1900
I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: He hath also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, And set me up for his mark. His archers compass me round about, He cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; He poureth out my gall upon the ground. He breaketh me with breach upon breach, He runneth upon me like a giant.
Verse 50
2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV 1900
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Verse 65
Genesis 12:3 KJV 1900
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Lamentations agrees with the theology of Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 27–30, Joshua–Kings, and Jeremiah in that it affirms that Jerusalem fell:

a. because of the people’s sins (Lam. 1:18);

b. because they rejected God’s word sent through the prophets (2:8, 14, 17);

c. because their leaders led them astray (4:13). God warned (2:17), but the people did not heed the warning.

5. It affirms God’s faithful, never-ceasing mercy (3:19–24; cf. Deut. 30:1–10). Therefore, readers can know that God is not finished with his people even when they sin greatly.

6. The book agrees with Psalms in that it affirms that prayers of confession and petition are the means for restoring a broken relationship with God. These poems also coincide with the Psalms in their honest expressions of pain and their dismay at what God has allowed to happen. By attributing what has occurred to God’s will, the poems also share the Psalms’ emphasis on God’s sovereignty as King of creation (Ps. 103:19).

7. Lamentations agrees with the emphasis on “the day of the LORD” found in the prophetic books. This “day” is the day God comes to judge sin. It can occur in historical contexts like 587 B.C., or it can occur at the end of time and be the final “day of the LORD.” Regardless, such “days” do occur, and people need to take seriously the warnings about such days in Lamentations and the rest of the Bible.

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