The Literary Structure of Lamentations

Lamentations is a series of five poems – one per chapter. The first four are acrostic, i.e., each line begins with a subsequent letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Lamentations is also a chiasm. A chiasm is literary form in which the central point is placed right in the middle, on the middle stair as it were. In a chiasm, each step reinforces its opposite.

So, in Lamentations, we have:

A. Chapter 1: The cause of Israel’s trouble is sin, specifically idolatry

            B. Chapter 2: The result of their idolatry is the destruction of the nation

                        C. Chapter 3: Mercy and Grace (the main point of the book)

            B1Chapter 4: The result of their idolatry is the destruction of the nation

AChapter 5: The cause of Israel’s trouble is sin, specifically idolatry

Ancient Israel was in denial for centuries in spite of continuous warnings from her prophets. Her problems began with false gods. Worship of false gods led to gross injustice. The eventual and inevitable consequence was demise. 

In ancient times competing kingdoms occupied what is now Iraq – Babylon in southern Mesopotamia, Assyria in the north. Israel thought she could escape the jaws of Assyria by making a military alliance with Egypt. In 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon defeated Egypt at Carchemish.[1]Soon, Assyria was absorbed into the Babylonian Empire.  Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem in 598 BC – the first of three deportations of Jews into captivity. In 587 BC, Babylon crushed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jeremiah wept.

Lamentations is a funeral dirge for Jerusalem. God offered hope in the form of a cure, but Israel chose to deny until the nation was dead. 

The false gods of materialism, militarism, and nationalism bear the fruit of violence, disunity, and injustice in which the most vulnerable are most injured.

America: These be your gods. 


[1]Ancient Assyria and Babylon were about 500 miles east of Israel. Carchemish was a city in northern Syria. 

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist Jesus Freak Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, husband, father, grandfather

Posted on September 6, 2020, in anabaptist, Bible, Bible Teaching, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Prayer, Prophecy, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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