Exposit The Word Lamentations Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse Paul Shirley

Lamentations Overview

Lamentations” was derived from a translation of the title as found in the Latin Vulgate (Vg.) translation of the Greek OT, the Septuagint (LXX), and conveys the idea of “loud cries.” The Hebrew exclamation ekah (“How,”which expresses “dismay”), used in 1:1; 2:1, and 4:1, gives the book its Hebrew title. However, the rabbis began early to call the book “loud cries” or “lamentations” (cf. Jer. 7:29). No other entire OT book contains only laments, as does this distressful dirge, marking the funeral of the once beautiful city of Jerusalem (cf. 2:15). This book keeps alive the memory of that fall and teaches all believers how to deal with suffering.

The prophetic seeds of Jerusalem’s destruction were sown through Joshua 800 years in advance (Josh. 23:15,16). Now, for over 40 years, Jeremiah had prophesied of coming judgment and been scorned by the people for preaching doom (ca. 645–605 B.C.). When that judgment came on the disbelieving people from Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army, Jeremiah still responded with great sorrow and compassion toward his suffering and obstinate people. Lamentations relates closely to the book of Jeremiah, describing the anguish over Jerusalem’s receiving God’s judgment for unrepentant sins. In the book that bears his name, Jeremiah had predicted the calamity in chaps. 1–29. In Lamentations, he concentrates in more detail on the bitter suffering and heartbreak that was felt over Jerusalem’s devastation (cf. Ps. 46:4,5). So critical was Jerusalem’s destruction, that the facts are recorded in 4 separate OT chapters: 2 Kin. 25; Jer. 39:1–11; 52; and 2 Chr. 36:11–21.

All 154 verses have been recognized by the Jews as a part of their sacred canon. Along with Ruth, Esther, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, Lamentations is included among the OT books of the Megilloth, or “five scrolls,” which were read in the synagogue on special occasions. Lamentations is read on the 9th of Ab (July/Aug.) to remember the date of Jerusalem’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar. Interestingly, this same date later marked the destruction of Herod’s temple by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16

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Bonus Resources

Will Cockham teaching series through Lamentations Here