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Easton's Bible Dictionary
Lamentations, Book of

Called in the Hebrew canon 'Ekhah, meaning "How," being the formula for the commencement of a song of wailing. It is the first word of the book (see 2 Samuel 1:19-27). The LXX. adopted the name rendered "Lamentations" (Gr. threnoi = Hebrews qinoth) now in common use, to denote the character of the book, in which the prophet mourns over the desolations brought on the city and the holy land by Chaldeans. In the Hebrew Bible it is placed among the Khethubim. (see BIBLE.)

As to its authorship, there is no room for hesitancy in following the LXX. and the Targum in ascribing it to Jeremiah. The spirit, tone, language, and subject-matter are in accord with the testimony of tradition in assigning it to him. According to tradition, he retired after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to a cavern outside the Damascus gate, where he wrote this book. That cavern is still pointed out. "In the face of a rocky hill, on the western side of the city, the local belief has placed `the grotto of Jeremiah.' There, in that fixed attitude of grief which Michael Angelo has immortalized, the prophet may well be supposed to have mourned the fall of his country" (Stanley, Jewish Church).

The book consists of five separate poems. In chapter 1 the prophet dwells on the manifold miseries oppressed by which the city sits as a solitary widow weeping sorely. In chapter 2 these miseries are described in connection with the national sins that had caused them. Chapter 3 speaks of hope for the people of God. The chastisement would only be for their good; a better day would dawn for them. Chapter 4 laments the ruin and desolation that had come upon the city and temple, but traces it only to the people's sins. Chapter 5 is a prayer that Zion's reproach may be taken away in the repentance and recovery of the people.

The first four poems (chapters) are acrostics, like some of the Psalms (25, 34, 37, 119), i.e., each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order. The first, second, and fourth have each twenty-two verses, the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The third has sixty-six verses, in which each three successive verses begin with the same letter. The fifth is not acrostic.

Speaking of the "Wailing-place (q.v.) of the Jews" at Jerusalem, a portion of the old wall of the temple of Solomon, Schaff says: "There the Jews assemble every Friday afternoon to bewail the downfall of the holy city, kissing the stone wall and watering it with their tears. They repeat from their well-worn Hebrew Bibles and prayer-books the Lamentations of Jeremiah and suitable Psalms."

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

lam-en-ta'-shunz,-The Lamentations of Jeremiah:

1. Name:

This is a collective name which tradition has given to 5 elegies found in the Hebrew Canon that lament the fate of destroyed Jerusalem. The rabbis call this little book 'Ekhah ("how"), according to the word of lament with which it begins, or qinoth. On the basis of the latter term the Septuagint calls it threnoi, or Latin Threni, or "Lamentations."

2. Form:

The little book consists of 5 lamentations, each one forming the contents of a chapter. The first 4 are marked by the acrostic use of the alphabet. In addition, the qinah ("elegy") meter is found in these hymns, in which a longer line (3 or 4 accents) is followed by a shorter (2 or 3 accents). In Lamentations 1 and 2 the acrostic letters begin three such double lines; in Lamentations 4, however, two double lines. In Lamentations 3 a letter controls three pairs, but is repeated at the beginning of each line. In Lamentations 5 the alphabet is wanting; but in this case too the number of pairs of lines agrees with the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, i.e. 22. In Lamentations 2; Lamentations 3 and 4, the letter `ayin (`) follows pe (p), as is the case in Psalm 34. Lamentations 1, however, follows the usual order.

3. Contents:

These 5 hymns all refer to the great national catastrophe that overtook the Jews and in particular the capital city, Jerusalem, through the Chaldeans, 587-586 B.C. The sufferings and the anxieties of the city, the destruction of the sanctuary, the cruelty and taunts of the enemies of Israel, especially the Edomites, the disgrace that befell the king and his nobles, priests and prophets, and that, too, not without their own guilt, the devastation and ruin of the country-all this is described, and appeal is made to the mercy of God. A careful sequence of thought cannot be expected in the lyrical feeling and in the alphabetical form. Repetitions are found in large numbers, but each one of these hymns emphasizes some special feature of the calamity. Lamentations 3 is unique, as in it one person describes his own peculiar sufferings in connection with the general calamity, and then too in the name of the others begins a psalm of repentance. This person did not suffer so severely because he was an exceptional sinner, but because of the unrighteousness of his people. These hymns were not written during the siege, but later, at a time when the people still vividly remembered the sufferings and the anxieties of that time and when the impression made on them by the fall of Jerusalem was still as powerful as ever.

4. Author:

Who is the author of these hymns? Jewish tradition is unanimous in saying that it was Jeremiah. The hymns themselves are found anonymously in the Hebrew text, while the Septuagint has in one an additional statement, the Hebrew style of which would lead us to conclude that it was found in the original from which the version was made. This statement reads: "And it came to pass, after Israel had been taken away captive and Jerusalem had been laid waste, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and uttered this lamentation over Jerusalem and said." The Targum also states that Jeremiah was the author. The rabbis and the church Fathers have no doubts on the subject. Jerome (compare on Zechariah 12:11) thinks that 2 Chronicles 35:25 refers to these hymns. The same is said by Josephus (Ant., X, v, 1). If this were the case, then the writer of Chronicles would have regarded La as having been written because of the death of Josiah. But this misunderstanding is not to be ascribed to him. It was easily possible that he was acquainted with lamentations of such a nature, but which afterward were lost. At all events, Jeremiah was by nature adapted to the composition of such elegies, as is proved by his book of prophecies.

Only in modern times has the authorship of these hymns by Jeremiah been seriously called into question; and it is now denied by most critics. For this they give formal and material reasons: The language of these lamentations shows many similarities to the discourses of Jeremiah, but at the same time also many differences. The claim that the alphabetical scheme is not worthy of Jeremiah is a prejudice caused by the taste of our times. Hebrew poets had evidently been making use of such methods for a long time, as it helps materially in memorizing. At the time of the first acute suffering on account of the destruction of Jerusalem, in fact, he would probably not have made use of it. But. we have in this book a collection of lamentations' written some time after this great catastrophe. The claim has also been made that the views of Jeremiah and those of the composer or the composers of these poems differ materially. It is said that Jeremiah emphasizes much more strongly the guilt of the people as the cause of the calamity than is done in these hymns, which lament the fate of the people and find the cause of it in the sins of the fathers (Lamentations 5:7), something that Jeremiah is said not to accept (Jeremiah 31:29 f). However, the guilt of the people and the resultant wrath of God are often brought out in these hymns; and Jeremiah does not deny (31:29) that there is anything like inherited guilt. He declares rather that in the blessed future things would be different in this respect. Then, too, we are not to forget that if Jeremiah is the author of these patriotic hymns, he does not speak in them as the prophet and the appointed accuser of his people, but that he is at last permitted to speak as he humanly feels, although there is no lack of prophetical reminiscences (of Lamentations 4:21). In these hymns he speaks out of the heart that loves his Jerusalem and his people, and he utters the priestly prayer of intercession, which he was not allowed to do when announcing the judgment over Israel. The fact that he also evinces great reverence for the unfortunate king and his Divinely given hereditary dignity (Lamentations 4:20), although as a prophet he had been compelled to pronounce judgment over him, would not be unthinkable in Jeremiah, who had shown warm sympathies also for Jehoiachim (22:24, 28). A radical difference of sentiment between the two authors is not to be found. On the other hand, a serious difficulty arises if we claim that Jeremiah was not the author of Lamentations in the denunciations of Lamentations over the prophets of Jerusalem (2:14; 4:13). How could the great prophet of the Destruction be so ignored if he himself were not the author of these sentiments? If he was himself the author we can easily understand this omission. In his book of prophecies he has spoken exactly the same way about the prophets. To this must be added, that Lamentations 3 forces us to regard Jeremiah as the author, because of the personal sufferings that are here described. Compare especially Lamentations 3:14, 37, 53;, 61, 63. What other person was during the period of this catastrophe the cynosure of all eyes as was the prophet, especially, too, because he was guiltless? The claim that here, not an individual, but the personified nation is introduced as speaking, is altogether improbable, and in some passages absolutely impossible (Lamentations 3:14, 48).

This little book must accordingly be closely connected with the person of Jeremiah. If he himself is the author, he must have composed it in his old age, when he had time and opportunity to live over again all the sufferings of his people and of himself. It is, however, more probable, especially because of the language of the poems, that his disciples put this book in the present shape of uniform sentential utterances, basing this on the manner of lamentations common to Jeremiah. In this way the origin of Lamentaions 3 can be understood, which cannot artificially be shaped as his sayings, as in this case the personal feature would be more distinctly expressed. It was probably compiled. from a number of his utterances.

In the Hebrew Canon this book is found in the third division, called kethabhim, or Sacred Writings, together with the Psalms. However, the Septuagint adds this book to Jeremiah, or rather, to the Book of Baruch, found next after Jerusalem. The Hebrews count it among the 5 meghilloth, or Rolls, which were read on prominent anniversary days. The day for the Lamentation was the 9th of Abib, the day of the burning of the temple. In the Roman Catholic church it is read on the last three days of Holy Week.


Comms. of Thenius, Ewald, Nagelsbach, Gerlach, Keil, Cheyne, Oettli, Lohr, Budde; article by Robertson Smith on "Lamentations" in EB.

C. von Orelli



2351. thorubos -- an uproar
... times. They performed public lamentations so the haunting sound of the flute
became synonymous with death (tragedy, mourning). [Professional ...
// - 7k
Strong's Hebrew
7015. qinah -- an elegy, dirge
... Word Origin from the same as qayin Definition an elegy, dirge NASB Word Usage dirge
(3), lament (1), lamentation (11), Lamentations (1), lamentations (2). ...
/hebrew/7015.htm - 6k

56. abal -- to mourn
... root Definition to mourn NASB Word Usage caused lamentations (1), grieve (1), grieved
(1), lament (1), mourn (13), mourned (7), mourning (3), mourns (10 ...
/hebrew/56.htm - 6k

2201. zeaqah -- a cry, outcry
... Word Origin from zaaq Definition a cry, outcry NASB Word Usage cry (5), cry of
distress (2), crying (1), lamentations (1), outcry (7). crying. ...
/hebrew/2201.htm - 6k


... LAMENTATIONS. The book familiarly known as the Lamentations consists of
four elegies[1] (i., ii., iii., iv.) and a prayer (v.). The ...
/.../mcfadyen/introduction to the old testament/lamentations.htm

Lamentations of the Soldiery and their Officers.
... Book IV. Chapter LXV."Lamentations of the Soldiery and their Officers.
Immediately the assembled spearmen and body-guard rent ...
/.../pamphilius/the life of constantine/chapter lxv lamentations of the soldiery.htm

Jeremiah and Lamentations.
... For the Outline Study of the Bible by Books. * * * * Chapter XVI. Jeremiah and
Lamentations. Chapter XVI. Jeremiah and Lamentations. The Author. ...
/.../chapter xvi jeremiah and lamentations.htm

St. Ambrose Teaches Out of the Prophet Isaiah what they must do ...
... Jeremiah knew that penitence was a great remedy, which he in his Lamentations took
up for Jerusalem, and brings forward Jerusalem itself as repenting, when he ...
/.../ambrose/works and letters of st ambrose/chapter vi st ambrose teaches.htm

Number and Order of the Separate Books.
... the teachers of the Greek Church, and is even in Nicephorus's stichometry.(83) The
enumeration in question has Ruth with Judges, and Lamentations with Jeremiah ...
/.../davidson/the canon of the bible/chapter iv number and order.htm

The Later Hebrew Histories.
... The Psalms. The Proverbs. Job. The Song of Solomon. Ruth. Lamentations. Ecclesiastes.
Esther. Daniel. Ezra. Nehemiah. 1 Chronicles. 2 Chronicles. ...
/.../gladden/who wrote the bible/chapter vi the later hebrew.htm

The Poetical Books.
... The poetical books of the Old Testament now invite our attention,""The Lamentations,"
"Proverbs," "Ecclesiastes," "The Song of Solomon," "Job," and "The ...
/.../gladden/who wrote the bible/chapter vii the poetical books.htm

... q Job 39:16, 17. r 1 Kings 17:18. s Lamentations 3:22. t Ezra 9:13. u Job 5:24.
w Ibid. xxix.5. x Lamentations 3:19, 20. y Hebrews 13:22. z Lamentations 3:40. ...
/.../submission to divine providence in the death of children/footnotes.htm

The Manner in which Josephus Mentions the Divine Books.
... 13. Isaiah. 14. Jeremiah and Lamentations. 15. Ezekiel. 16. ... [Twelve Minor Prophets
(Rufinus).] 17. Isaiah. 18. Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Epistle. 19. Daniel. ...
/.../pamphilius/church history/chapter x the manner in which.htm

The Objection from the Unchangeableness of God is Answered from ...
... the working out of forgiveness, for these are His words: "If thou shalt turn and
lament, thou shalt be saved." [2942] He waits for our lamentations here, that ...
/.../ambrose/works and letters of st ambrose/chapter v the objection from.htm

Lamentations (6 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Lamentations, Book of. ... It is the first word of the book
(see 2 Samuel 1:19-27). The LXX. adopted the name rendered "Lamentations" (Gr. ...
/l/lamentations.htm - 20k

Acrostic (2 Occurrences)
... There are twelve clear instances in the Old Testament: Psalms 25; 34; 37; 111; 119;
145; Proverbs 31:10-31, and Lamentations 1-4. There is probably an example ...
/a/acrostic.htm - 15k

Fail (130 Occurrences)
... frequent, meaning "to be consumed," "ended" (Job 11:20; Job 17:5 Psalm 69:3; Psalm
71:9, etc.; Proverbs 22:8 Isaiah 15:6, etc.; Jeremiah 14:6 Lamentations 2:11 ...
/f/fail.htm - 43k

Pitied (19 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 2:2 The Lord has swallowed up all the habitations of Jacob, and has
not pitied: He has thrown down in his wrath the strongholds of the daughter of ...
/p/pitied.htm - 12k

Attacker (14 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 1:5 Those who are against her have become the head, everything goes
well for her haters; for the Lord has sent sorrow on her because of the great ...
/a/attacker.htm - 10k

Maidens (40 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn assembly;
all her gates are desolate, her priests do sigh: her virgins are afflicted ...
/m/maidens.htm - 18k

Virgins (33 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn assembly;
all her gates are desolate, her priests do sigh: her virgins are afflicted ...
/v/virgins.htm - 16k

Foe (23 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 1:5 Her adversaries are become the head, her enemies prosper; for Yahweh
has afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her young ...
/f/foe.htm - 12k

Coral (3 Occurrences)
... to separate"; compare Arabic fanan, "a branch of a tree") occurs in Job 28:18 Proverbs
3:15; Proverbs 8:11; Proverbs 20:15; Proverbs 31:10 Lamentations 4:7. In ...
/c/coral.htm - 12k

Sigh (18 Occurrences)
...Lamentations 1:4 The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn assembly;
all her gates are desolate, her priests do sigh: her virgins are afflicted ...
/s/sigh.htm - 12k

Bible Concordance
Lamentations (6 Occurrences)

2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and singing women spoke of Josiah in their lamentations to this day; and they made them an ordinance in Israel: and behold, they are written in the lamentations.

Esther 9:31 to confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times, as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had decreed, and as they had imposed upon themselves and their descendants, in the matter of the fastings and their cry.
(See NAS)

Isaiah 43:14 The Lord, who has taken up your cause, the Holy One of Israel, says, Because of you I have sent to Babylon, and made all their seers come south, and the Chaldaeans whose cry is in the ships.
(See RSV)

Jeremiah 28:4 and I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, who went to Babylon, says Yahweh; for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Lamentations

Ezekiel 2:10 He spread it before me: and it was written within and without; and there were written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

Ezekiel 31:15 Thus says the Lord Yahweh: In the day when he went down to Sheol I caused a mourning: I covered the deep for him, and I restrained its rivers; and the great waters were stayed; and I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.
(See NAS)



Lamentations of David

Lamentations of Ezekiel

Lamentations of Jeremiah

Related Terms

Acrostic (2 Occurrences)

Fail (130 Occurrences)

Pitied (19 Occurrences)

Attacker (14 Occurrences)

Maidens (40 Occurrences)

Virgins (33 Occurrences)

Foe (23 Occurrences)

Coral (3 Occurrences)

Sigh (18 Occurrences)

Wormwood (10 Occurrences)

Comforter (14 Occurrences)

Attentively (35 Occurrences)

Gall (17 Occurrences)

Breathing (25 Occurrences)

Lamented (19 Occurrences)

Bitterness (37 Occurrences)

Desirable (49 Occurrences)

Imagination (20 Occurrences)

Relieve (14 Occurrences)

Pursuers (19 Occurrences)

Cry (431 Occurrences)

Attackers (41 Occurrences)

Eye (145 Occurrences)

Coal (7 Occurrences)

Refresh (18 Occurrences)

Streets (83 Occurrences)


Mocking (25 Occurrences)

Groan (32 Occurrences)

Decreed (33 Occurrences)

Grievously (17 Occurrences)

Gravel (3 Occurrences)

Drained (38 Occurrences)

Tears (58 Occurrences)

Watches (23 Occurrences)

Drunken (38 Occurrences)

Trodden (42 Occurrences)

Wrapped (40 Occurrences)

Relief (32 Occurrences)

Bone (35 Occurrences)

Revive (31 Occurrences)

Mock (43 Occurrences)

Backward (39 Occurrences)

Impurity (42 Occurrences)

Filthy (22 Occurrences)

Infants (71 Occurrences)

Bear (425 Occurrences)

Swallowed (43 Occurrences)

Faint (76 Occurrences)

Apple (8 Occurrences)

Lamentation (45 Occurrences)

Transgressions (64 Occurrences)

Kidneys (15 Occurrences)

Mourning (85 Occurrences)

Spared (45 Occurrences)

Esteemed (44 Occurrences)

Breach (55 Occurrences)

Quiver (9 Occurrences)

Visions (43 Occurrences)

Kindnesses (11 Occurrences)

Laments (4 Occurrences)

Lovingkindnesses (11 Occurrences)

Lamenteth (4 Occurrences)

Grind (12 Occurrences)

Gnash (12 Occurrences)

Wine-press (11 Occurrences)

Infant (14 Occurrences)

Imaginations (9 Occurrences)

Folded (19 Occurrences)

Fine (184 Occurrences)

Fox (2 Occurrences)

Rail (8 Occurrences)

Respite (8 Occurrences)

Remembereth (19 Occurrences)

Expose (12 Occurrences)

Dust (182 Occurrences)

Derision (24 Occurrences)

Plots (20 Occurrences)

Persecutors (14 Occurrences)

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