of Jeremiah
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The Old Jerusalem Wall


A Plea for Mercy

Remember, O LORD, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to strangers, our houses to aliens. We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows. We have drunken our water for money; our wood is sold unto us. Our necks are under persecution: we labour, and have no rest. We have given the hand to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread.

Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities. Servants have ruled over us: there is none that doth deliver us out of their hand. We gat our bread with the peril of our lives because of the sword of the wilderness. Our skin was black like an oven because of the terrible famine. They ravished the women in Zion, and the maids in the cities of Judah.

Princes are hanged up by their hand: the faces of elders were not honoured. They took the young men to grind, and the children fell under the wood. The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick. The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning. The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim.

Because of the mountain of Zion, which is desolate, the foxes walk upon it. Thou, O LORD, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time? 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. (Lamentations 5:1-22)


Lamentations was originally part of the Book of Jeremiah. It was later isolated because it was read publicly at one of the feasts of Israel and included in the Five Megilloth (or scrolls; see introduction to the Book of Ruth). Lamentations is read each year at Tisha B'av, a fast commemorating the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 25:8, 9) in both 586 B.C. and A.D. 70.

The style and content leave no doubt that Jeremiah, the "weeping prophet," is the author. The book focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem as observed by an eyewitness (cf Jer.37 -39) Jeremiah alternates between horrible accounts of the destruction of thecity to the confessions of the people's deep sins, and then to his appeals to God for mercy.

Each of the five chapters of the book is a separate poem of mourning. The first four are acrostics (each of the 22 letters of the Hebr. alphabet are used to begin each stanza of the poem). The acrostic is a literary device that makes it easier to remember and abstractly suggests that the author has covered his subject from beginning to end.
It may also be that Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, made himself conform to this method to keep his grief from overwhelming him. Lamentations is a valuable commentary on sin and the consequences, and about the return to God for mercy (Lam. 3:22 -24).  [Source for Introduction of chapter: Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible KJV edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 37422]

Lamentations 1
Lamentations 2
Lamentations 3
Lamentations 4
Lamentations 5
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