Book of Lamentations in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

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 Lam 1 and 2 the acrostic letters begin three such double lines; in Lam 4, however, two double lines. In Lam 3 a letter controls three pairs, but is repeated at the beginning of each line. In Lam 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 Lam 2; 3 and 4, the letter `ayin (`) follows pe (p), as is the case in Ps 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 BC. 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...

Link: https://bible-history.com/isbe/L/LAMENTATIONS,+BOOK+OF/