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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Lamentations - Introduction

In five powerful, moving poems, Lamentations grieves for the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE by the Babylonian armies. It is like many of the Psalms of lament * in its mood and style, and it often speaks in general terms of the destruction, using metaphors * and images that focus more on the feelings provoked by the calamity than on the events themselves. It shares with the Deuteronomistic * History and some of the prophets * the dominant conviction that suffering is an indication of God's displeasure, and yet other voices emerge—protests that the community suffers for the sins of its ancestors, that some of those who suffer (especially children) are innocent, and that the punishment may be unjustifiably harsh. The first four poems are acrostics, * the first lines or stanzas beginning with the letters of the alphabet * in sequence; the last poem has twenty-two lines, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

After the destruction of the Second Temple * in 70 CE, Lamentations became part of the liturgy * for the Ninth of Ab, the date of the Temple's fall. Hence, the book is found in the Jewish Bible with the “Megilloth” or festival scrolls. * See sidebar on p. 1053 . The Christian canon, * following the Septuagint, * places the book after Jeremiah, whose strong expressions of emotion gained him the reputation of “the weeping prophet.” The shifts in voices and styles, as well as the various acrostic techniques, lead most scholars to conclude that the book is a compilation of various materials, brought together to serve as a community liturgy of lament.

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