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Lamentations

Lamentations is called "the Lamentations of Jeremiah" in Christian tradition, but is not associated with him in Jewish tradition[1 p.24]. In fact it seems to be the people's complaint when they were defeated and exiled, as Jeremiah had prophesied. There is no hint of repentance, only of "poor me", despite (in 3:24) recognition that they ought to examine their ways. They were still ignoring the prophets' messages.

The book arose because "traumatised people who found themselves as captives in a foreign land needed words to give expression to the overwhelming sense of devastation and loss they had experienced ... in the middle of the book is an astonishing cry of hope [Lamentations 3:21–22], because lamenting in the presence of God opens our hearts to peceiving his compassion and love" [3]. Lamentations is read nowadays in synagogues at the festival of the destruction of the temple.

The book is a series of poems: four that comprise verses starting with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and one that has the same number of lines, 22, as there are letters in that alphabet. This may be a reminder that God is lord of everything from A to Z, as well as an aid to memory.[2]

Commentary

1:4

The prblem is not that the festivals have ceased, but that attendance is low.

1:5

This book has many phrases that suggest that the Jews have learned that their suffering is a consequence of their sin...

1:12

...but the people seem to be responding "poor me" rather than in repentance.

1:13

cf. Acts 2:3.

3:30

cf. Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29.

References:

  1. Coggins, R Introducing the Old Testament Oxford University Press, 2nd edition 2001
  2. Andrew Jones writing in New Daylight 28 June 2011
  3. Michael Mitton writing in New Daylight 25 March 2019

© David Billin 2002–2021