Hierarchical Précis

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Major Prophets

Lamentations

It is not certain who wrote Lamentations, but ancient Jewish and Christian tradition ascribe it to Jeremiah. He is named in the opening sentence of the Septuagint, which reads: ‘And it happened, after Israel was taken captive and Jerusalem was laid waste, Jeremiah sat weeping and gave this lament over Jerusalem…’ There are five laments recorded as poetry in five chapters. Each lament has twenty two verses reflecting the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, except the third, which has sixty-six verses (3 x 22). The first four laments are acrostics with each of the twenty-two verses, or triplets of twenty-two in the third chapter, beginning with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The first lament is over Jerusalem’s misery and desolation. She was once a prosperous and vibrant city but is now laid waste and desolate. The second lament reflects God’s anger against His people, the destruction of Jerusalem and the scoffing by Israel’s enemies. The third speaks of Judah’s affliction reflected in the words of an individual, his recognition of God’s love and faithfulness, but a desire for God to avenge his enemies. The fourth lament expresses a contrast between the city’s former glory and the suffering of her people through God’s judgement. The final lament is an appeal to God not to forget Judah despite her sin and the consequences of it, and to restore her to her former glory, unless He has utterly rejected her and is angry beyond measure.