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The book of Lamentations

Lamentations grieves over of Jerusalem’s fall. It’s believed to have been written by Jeremiah, but the only thing we can know for certain is that it was written by someone who was there during the siege and immediately afterwards.

The first four chapters is a series of acrostic poems, which means in the original Hebrew, each verse starts with consecutive letters of the alphabet. The final chapter has no acrostic pattern.

The article Lamentations: The Fall of Jerusalem paraphrases the first few verses to show how this could work in English:

1:1Alas the city that was full of people sits alone …
1:2Bitterly she weeps in the night and her tears are on her cheeks …
1:3Cast away under affliction and under harsh servitude, Judah has gone into exile …
1:4Desolation marks her gates, no one travels to Zion …
1:5Enemies prosper and have mastery over her …

The five chapters are brought together in a poetic structure called chiasm—developed to show a parallel structure of ideas:

  • Chapter1: The devastation of Jerusalem and her people
    • Chapter 2: The Lord’s anger and the devastating results
      • Chapter 3: Jeremiah’s response
    • Chapter 4: Devastation pays the people’s iniquity in full
  • Chapter 5: Devastation, but a hope for restoration

The article An Argument of the Book of Lamentations explores this in more detail.