Period: c.580 B.C.
Title: The Hebrew title of this book (‘ekah) takes its name from the first word of 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1 (“How . . . !”). Alternatively, Jews have also traditionally referred to the book as qinot (“Lamentations”). It is from this name that the Greek (Threnoi), Latin (Lamentationes) and English titles are derived.
Summary: A lamentation is an expression of suffering. In this book, Jeremiah expresses his sorrow regarding the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the nation at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The book describes and explains the afflictions brought against the city of Jerusalem as well as surrounding nations that scoff at Jerusalem’s affliction. Jeremiah emphasizes that this is the result of divine judgment for the sins of the people. The book further underlines lessons that Jerusalem should learn from its afflictions, namely the vanity of glory, leadership and pride in an attempt to overcome them in the future. An interesting feature of the book is that the first four chapters are written in alphabetic acrostics in the original Hebrew.
The suffering, ruined city of Zion: Chapter 1:1-22
- Wretched condition of devastated Jerusalem: 1:1-11
- Lament of the daughter of Jerusalem: 1:12-22
The suffering, ruined holy place of Zion: Chapter 2:1-22
- God’s judgments upon the ramparts and His sanctuary: 2:1-10
- Lament of the eyewitness of this judgment: 2:11-19
- Terrors of this day of God’s anger: 2:20-22
The suffering representative of smitten Zion: Chapter 3:1-66
- The sorrows God sent his servant: 3:1-18
- The servant’s prayer of reassurance: 3:19-42
- The servant’s prayer for vindication: 3:43-66
The suffering people of Zion: 4:1-22
- Horrors of the siege, and the sad fate of Zion’s nobility: 4:1-11
- Causes and climax of Zion’s catastrophe: 4:12-20
- A prophecy against haughty and gloating Edom: 4: 21-22
Supplications of penitent Zion: Chapter 5:1-22
- Zion’s plea to God to regard her affliction and disgrace: 5:1-18
- A final address to the eternal Sovereign: 5:19-22