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Lamentations



Lamentations of Jeremiah This book shows the compassion and interest God has in the afflictions of His people, and that these are not lessened even when the afflictions have been brought about by Himself because of their sins. It is declared of the Lord that "in all their Affliction he was afflicted," Isa. 63: 9; and this was seen when the Lord was on earth in His weeping over Jerusalem. Jeremiah had a like Spirit and lamented over the calamities that had fallen upon his beloved people and their city Jerusalem. He appealed to the passers by: could they see such sorrow, caused by an Affliction sent by Jehovah in His fierce wrath, and be unmoved by it? Lam. 1: 12. Then he adds that Jehovah in these dealings was righteous, for they had rebelled against His Commandments.

Lam. 3. The Prophet details his personal sufferings: they were like the sympathetic sufferings of Christ spoken of elsewhere; but in Lam. 3: 22 the Prophet remembers the mercies of Jehovah, and expresses his hope in Him. Because of His compassions they were not consumed; and it was good to wait and hope. Jehovah will not cast off for ever, and He does not afflict willingly. The Prophet then calls for Repentance and a turning to Jehovah. He has Confidence that God hears, and he asks for the Destruction of their enemies.

Lam. 4. Jeremiah as in the presence of Jehovah spreads out all the humiliating reverses that had fallen upon them, mentioning separately the Nazarites, the Prophets, the priests, and the people; and then he foretells that God's wrath should pass also unto Edom, who had doubtless rejoiced at the calamities of Jerusalem. He could add that the Punishment of the Daughter of Zion was accomplished, she should no more be carried away.

Lam. 5. An affecting Appeal is made to God. All had been confessed, and hope in God had been expressed; yet the afflictions pressed heavily upon the Prophet. His last words are: "Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. But thou hast utterly rejected us: thou art very wroth against us."

The composition of the Lamentations is uncommon. The first four chapters are arranged in alphabetical order and the chapters contain 22 verses each, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, except that Lam. 3 has 22 stanzas of three verses, making in all 66. In Lam. 1, Lam. 2, and Lam. 4, verse 1 begins with A; verse 2 with B, and so on, as in some of the Psalms. In Lam. 3 each verse in a stanza begins with the same Letter, thus verses 1, 2, 3 begin with A; verses 4, 5, 6 with B, and so on to the end. The Prayer in Lam. 5: is not alphabetical. In the Hebrew Bible the 'Lamentations' form a part of the Hagiographa (Holy Writings), and is placed between Ruth and Ecclesiastes. In the Jewish Liturgy this book was appointed to be repeated on the Fast of the ninth of Ab (fifth month), to commemorate the Destruction of the city and the Temple by the Chaldeans and also by the Romans.

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