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

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Commentary on Lamentations

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1.1–11a :

A poet laments Jerusalem. As in many prophetic books (Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel), Jerusalem is personified * as a woman. In a striking series of contrasts, she who was great is now destitute like a widow; once a princess, she is now a vassal, the underling in a political relationship.

2 :

Political allies are called Jerusalem's lovers (Hos 2.7 ).

3 :

Exile, the conquering strategy of the neo-Babylonian empire, involved moving large groups of people out of their homelands into new locations.

4 :

Public activities (festivals and gates, where people gather) have ceased. Priests and young girls are among the many categories of people that the book shows as suffering.

5 :

The book repeatedly claims that the L ORD has made her suffer.

8–10 :

Nakedness may have a sexual connotation (Lev 18.6 ). Uncleanness refers to menstruation (Lev 15.16–24 ). These conditions intensify her shame, considered by the author to be as significant as physical suffering. The immediate mention of precious things and the invasion of her sanctuary, while on the surface referring to the Temple, * may have sexual connotations as well.

1.11b–22 :

Jerusalem herself speaks. The speaker changes at the end of v. 11 , as the woman Jerusalem speaks in the first person. She repeats themes of the first speaker: She is shamed, and the devastation is punishment from God.

13–15 :

Net, fire: Punishments are described generically (Ps 10.9; Isa 63.3 ). The weight of Israel's sin is compared to a yoke worn by captives of war (Isa 9.4 ).

16 :

The lack of a comforter is a repeated theme of the book.

17 :

The voice shifts back to third person briefly. Zion * (the mountain on which Jerusalem is set), Jacob (the ancestor of the Israelites), and Jerusalem are used as synonyms. Filthy thing is the menstrual uncleanness of 1.9 .

18 :

The voice of Jerusalem returns, acknowledging her sin yet lamenting the pain she has experienced.

20 :

Jerusalem's lament * resembles that of Jeremiah (Jer 8.18–9.1 ).

21–22 :

Again concerned with being shamed in the face of others, Jerusalem asks that they, too, be treated according to their deeds. Day you have announced refers to the Day of the LORD, envisioned as a day of vindication against enemies (Isa 13.6–16 ).

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