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Old Testament Summaries: Book of Lamentations

The results of the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem were recorded in the Book of Lamentations, which describes the death and destruction that has taken place. As a result, the author expresses his feelings over the end of a great city and the people that lived there. In this article, you will learn more about the Book of Lamentations, including passages and facts.

The Book of Lamentations is comprised of five separate poems. The first chapter highlights the misery of the oppressed. The second chapter discusses the connection with national sins and acts of God. In chapter 3, the focus shifts to the hope for the people of God ”“ the punishment will be good for them in the long run. Chapter 4 laments the end of the temple and city, which is now in ruin. In Chapter 5, a prayer is offered that suggests repentance will lead to the recovery of the people.

The Book of Lamentations is used in the readings, chantings and choral settings regarding a religious service called the Tenebrae. During the Morning and Evening Prayer given on Holy Week and Good Friday, the Church of England reads from the Book of Lamentations. Those of the Jewish faith will recite the Book of Lamentations on a yearly basis ”“ on the destruction of Jewish Temples (known as Tisha b’ Av) and other significant days in Jewish history.

There is no definite identification as to who is responsible for writing the Book of Lamentations, but many give the credit to the Prophet Jeremiah. The author of the book is one who was a witness of the destruction that the Babylonians brought onto Jerusalem. Jeremiah fits the qualifications of someone who would have been able to pen the text. The Book of Lamentations was most likely written between 586 and 575 BC, which was either during or immediately after the fall of Jerusalem.

Since the people of Judah continued to lead unrepentant lives, God permitted the besiegement, plundering and destruction of the nation at the hands of the Babylonians. Another consequence was that  Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for about 400 years was also burned to the ground. The Prophet Jeremiah saw all of this and is believed to have written the Book of Lamentations as a lament for the events and consequences associated with Judah and Jerusalem.

To get an idea of the text featured in the Book of Lamentations, consider the following passages:

“The LORD has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his word, which he decreed long ago. He has overthrown you without pity, he has let the enemy gloat over you, he has exalted the horn of your foes.” (Lamentations 2:17)

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

“You, O LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us so long? Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure.” (Lamentations 5:19-22)