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Lamentations: How Lonely Lies the City…
Outline I. III. IV. V. Introduction. Structure and Style. Theological content. Food for Thought. Practical content.
I. Introduction: A. B. C. D. Authorship. Canonical Placement. Title. Historical Background.
A. Authorship • Jeremiah authorship according to the LXX, the Vulgate, Jewish tradition, and the KJV bible (external evidence). • Jeremiah authorship based similarities between some parts of Jeremiah and Lamentations (internal evidence). • II Chron 35: 25 could also be a proof of Jeremiah authorship though the lament referred to was a lament for Josiah.
B. Canonical Placement • The Hebrew Scriptures were probably originally canonized into a twofold division: the Law (Torah) and the Prophets (Nebhim), but a later division adds the sacred writings (Hagiographa). • The Hebrew canon places Lamentations just after Ruth in the Megilloth of Kethubhim (the rolls). • The LXX divides the Old Testament according to subject matter and is the basis of the modern four-fold classification of the: five books of Law, twelve books of History, five books of Poetry, and seventeen books of Prophecy. • This translation places Lamentations after the prophecy of Jeremiah, and this position was later adopted by the other versions, including the Vulgate and subsequent English translations.
C. Title • In the Hebrew text, the book is named after its first word hkya ('Ekhah), meaning “how” or “alas” or “oh”. This word also appears first in 2: 1 and 4: 1. (see also 2 Sam 1: 25 -27, Isa 1: 21 and Isa 42: 12) • The LXX reads threnoi (or qinoth in Hebrew meaning tears) “of Jeremiah” • The Vulgate retains the title “tears” in Latin- threni and adds “id est lamentationes Jeremiae prophetae”
D. Historical Background. • Shalmeneser V(727 -722 BC) invaded the Northern Kingdom in 725 B. C-II Kings 17. Sargon II deports the Israelites to Assyria sometime between 722 and 709 B. C. • Judah itself fell years later and Jerusalem was destroyed in the 9 th of Av 587 B. C (July/August in solar calendar). • This time should be identified with Jer 39: 1 -18. Other historical accounts are in 2 Kings 24 -25 and 2 Chron 36 • Interestingly, Lamentations was and is presently being used by Jews as public recitation on the ninth of Av at the western (wailing) wall, on the day Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans and later by the Romans in AD 70 centuries later.
II. Structure and Style • Although many forms of Hebrew poetry are used in Lamentations such as parallelisms, meters, and strophic arrangements our focus will be on the use of acrostic patterns in the book.
Focus on the use of an Acrostic Structure. • Each chapter of the book is • In chapter 3, one Hebrew comprised of a poem making alphabet begins three verses. five poems in all. For example, Aleph begins • 1, 2, 4, and 5 have 22 verses, verses 1, 2, and 3 and Beth while chapter 3 has 66 begins verses 4, 5, and 6 etc. • The poems use the literary style There is only one line per stanza. of an acrostic where the poem is • In chapter 5, the alphabets are built around the alphabet. not used but there are still 22 • In each of chapter 1 and 2, 22 verses for 22 alphabets. verses and 66 lines. Each Hebrew alphabet beginning a • However verses 19 -20 are verse. Three lines per stanza themselves mini-acrostic. • In chapter 4, same format as 1 and 2 but with two lines per stanza.
III. Theological Content A. Possible reasons for writing the book. B. Obvious themes found in Lamentations. C. Interesting parallelism between Lamentations and Deuteronomy.
A. Possible Reasons for Writing the Book • • To show that sin has consequences. To bring the readers to repentance. To ask for mercy in the midst of judgment. To offer hope of forgiveness and restoration to the readers. • To offer a portrait of Jesus’ suffering (chap 3 is similar to Ps 22).
B. Obvious Themes • • Fulfillment of indictment. - 2: 17 Retribution-1: 8, 9 Grace-3: 22, 55 -58 Judgment. Reprobation and Equal Ultimacy. - 2: 6; 5: 21 Misery of judgment. -2: 15, 3: 1 -20 Hope of restoration. -3: 25, 26; 31 -33; 5: 21
C. Interesting Parallelism… • Interestingly the book of Lamentations points to Deuteronomy 28. • Here God warns the Israelites about the impending retribution for disobedience. • Here God also anticipates their imminent apostasy.
Deuteronomy 28 • Lamentations • 1: 3 • Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 65 1: 5 She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress. Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. • 44 He will be the head, but you will be the tail. • 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation. • 1: 5 c Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe. • 25 The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 37 You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you. • 1: 6 c …in weakness they have fled before the pursuer. • 1: 18 c …My young men and maidens have gone into exile. • 2: 15 • • All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads
Lamentations Deuteronomy 28 • • Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. 30 You will build a house, but you will not live in it. 53 • 2: 20 • 5: 2 "Look, O LORD , and consider: Whom have you ever treated like this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have cared for? Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our homes to foreigners. • 65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. • 5: 5 • 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. • 5: 12 Those who pursue us are at our heels; we are weary and find no rest. Princes have been hung up by their hands; elders are shown no respect.
IV. Food for Thought • How can God make them forget their Sabbaths and appointed feasts and then punish them for it? 2: 6, II Chron 36: 15 -21. • Why couldn’t the people of Judah learn from the fall of the nation of Israel? • How does chapter 3 point to Christ? • How is God’s wrath so consuming yet his mercy so abounding? • For what atrocities was Edom to be punished? 4: 21, 22
V. Practical Content • It becomes necessary to avoid those things that led to God’s judgment on Judah. • Lessons are learned in the chastisement that brings on his children. • Jeremiah sets an example of love for Judah by warning them, and then offering up intercessory prayer on their behalf after the fall.