Date Written: 587-550 BC
Lamentations is a short poetic book of mourning over the destruction of
The book is a series of five poems. The first four are acrostic, meaning they are structured alphabetically according to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapters 1, 2 and 4 each contain 22 lines, corresponding to the alphabet, but chapter 3 is 66 lines since it has 3 lines for each letter. Chapter 5 is 22 lines, but it is not acrostic. Scholars have found similarities between Lamentations and other Ancient Near Eastern poems of lament.
Several different voices are represented in the text. This fact can make Lamentations a bit confusing. The main voice that begins the book is the voice of the author, narrator or the prophet Jeremiah. But quickly, the voice of
The author truly "laments" the fate of
The message of Lamentations is hard. It challenges us with the fact that there are tangible and painful consequences for our sin.
Lamentations is a prayer. It is a prayer of sorrow, a prayer of repentence, a prayer in time of suffering, a prayer for God's deliverance. The Jewish people suffered greatly at the time of the exile. The reader of Lamentations can try to identify with their sufferings and pray along with them.
The book is read in Jewish liturgy to commemorate the destruction of the first and second
Lamentations expresses the desperation of a suffering soul and a suffering people. This book not only helps us to understand the plight of the Jews at the time of the exile but it shows us how to bring our own sufferings to God in prayer.
By Mark Giszczak