Lamentations 1

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Lamentations 1
The first page of Book of Lamentations in a codex of the Kethuvim in the Babylonian Hebrew Masoretic tradition (10th century).
BookBook of Lamentations
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part6
CategoryThe five scrolls
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part25

Lamentations 1 is the first chapter of the Book of Lamentations in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible,[1][2] part of the Ketuvim ("Writings").[3][4] This book contains the elegies of prophet Jeremiah, as he laments the former excellence and present misery of Jerusalem (Lamentations 1:1-11), complaining of her grief (Lamentations 1:12-17); he confesses the righteousness of God's judgments and prays to God (Lamentations 1:18-22).[5]


The Greek text of Lamentations 1:1–1:11 on the first page of Book of Lamentations in Codex Sinaiticus (330–350 CE).

The original text was written in Hebrew language. The chapter is acrostic, divided into 22 stanzas or verses. The stanzas consist of triplets of lines (except Lamentations 1:7a, which contains four lines) each beginning with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in regular order (twenty-two in number).[5]

Textual versions[edit]

Some early witnesses for the text of this chapter in Hebrew are of the Masoretic Text, which includes Codex Leningradensis (1008).[6][a] Fragments containing parts of this chapter in Hebrew were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, i.e., 4Q111 (4QLam; 30‑1 BCE) with extant verses 1–15, 17, 16, 18[8][9][10] and 3Q3 (3QLam; 30 BCE–50 CE) with extant verses 10‑12.[9][11][12]

There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. The Septuagint translation added an introductory line before the first stanza:

And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,[13]

Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Sinaiticus (S; BHK: S; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[14]

Verse 1[edit]

How doth the city sit solitary,
that was full of people!
how is she become as a widow!
she that was great among the nations,
and princess among the provinces,
how is she become tributary![15]
  • "How" (Hebrew: איכה Eichah): the Hebrew word (the first word of the book, starting with "Aleph", the first letter of Hebrew alphabet) is the title more frequently given by the Jews to these Elegies.[5] In the Septuagint the initial word is Greek: πως, pós.[16] This is the characteristic introductory word of an elegy (cf. Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 14:4,12), and adopted as the title of the Book of Lamentations. It is repeated at the opening of chapter 2 and chapter 4.[17]
  • "Sit solitary": The city of Jerusalem here is "poetically personified and distinguished from the persons who accidentally compose her population". The word "solitary" does not mean "into solitude", but "deserted by her inhabitants" (the same word as in the first clause of Isaiah 27:10: the fortified city is solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken in the Revised Standard Version).[17]
  • "Great among the nations": one that "ruled over many nations" and, in the times of David and Solomon, received tribute from the Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Syrians, but later was forced to pay tribute herself, e.g. to Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, then, in the times of Jehoiakim until Zedekiah, to the king of Babylon.[18][19]
  • "Tributary" has the sense of "personal labor" Joshua 16:10.[20]

Verse 7[edit]

Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction
and of her miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old,
when her people fell into the hand of the enemy, and none did help her:
the adversaries saw her, and did mock at her sabbaths.[21]

Mockery at her "sabbaths" reflects the wording in the Vulgate: deriserunt sabbata ejus.[22] "Mocking over her downfall" is the standard translation in modern English versions.[23] There is an alternative reading in 4QLam (4Q111),[24][25] which reads:

Remember O YHWH [al]l our pains that existed from days of old.
When her [people] fell in/by the hand of a foe and there was no helper,
her foes laughed about [ ] her ruins.[24]

Verse 9[edit]

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;
She did not consider her destiny;
Therefore her collapse was awesome;
She had no comforter.
“O Lord, behold my affliction,
For the enemy is exalted!” [26]

This verses introduces a transition to the first person, similarly in verse 11b. "Such movement from one grammatical person to another, found throughout the book, is not at all unusual in Hebrew poetry".[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Since 1947 the whole book is missing from Aleppo Codex.[7]


  1. ^ Collins 2014, pp. 365–367.
  2. ^ Hayes 2015, Chapter 20.
  3. ^ Metzger, Bruce M., et al. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  4. ^ Keck, Leander E. 2001. The New Interpreter's Bible: Volume: VI. Nashville: Abingdon.
  5. ^ a b c Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible. "Lamentations 1". 1871. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 35-37.
  7. ^ P. W. Skehan (2003), "BIBLE (TEXTS)", New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2 (2nd ed.), Gale, pp. 355–362
  8. ^ Ulrich 2010, pp. 749–752.
  9. ^ a b Dead sea scrolls - General Info - Lamentations
  10. ^ Fitzmyer 2008, p. 43.
  11. ^ Ulrich 2010, p. 750.
  12. ^ Fitzmyer 2008, p. 28.
  13. ^ Brenton, C., Brenton Septuagint Translation of Lamentations 1, accessed 19 June 2019
  14. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  15. ^ Lamentations 1:1 KJV
  16. ^ Lamentations 1:1: Swete's Septuagint
  17. ^ a b Exell, Joseph S.; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice (Editors). "Lamentations 1". 23 volumes. First publication: 1890. Accessed 24 April 2018.
  18. ^ Targum states, "she that was great among the people, and ruled over the provinces that paid tribute to her, returns to be depressed; and after this to give tribute to them." as quoted in Gill, Lamentations 1.
  19. ^ Gill, John. Exposition of the Entire Bible. "Lamentations 1". Published in 1746-1763. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ Barnes, Albert. Notes on the Bible - "Lamentations 1". James Murphy (ed). London, Blackie & Son, 1884. Reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ Lamentations 1:7 KJV
  22. ^ Lamentations 1:7 Vulgate
  23. ^ E.g. Lamentations 1:7: New Revised Standard Version
  24. ^ a b Kotzé, Gideon. "Text-Critical Analysis of Lamentations 1:7 in 4QLam and the Masoretic Text," Old Testament Essays 24/3 (2011): 590-611. Quote: "4QLam preserves a large number of variant readings and is, therefore, a unique representative of the wording and content of this chapter. The wording of Lam 1:7 in 4QLam is a good example of this manuscript’s unique character...
    זכו֯רה יהוה [כו]ל מכאובנו אשר היו מימי קדם
    בנפל [עמ]ה ביד צר ואין עוזר צריה שחקו על
    [ ]ל משבריה

    English: Remember O YHWH [al]l our pains that existed from days of old. When her [people] fell in/by the hand of a foe and there was no helper, her foes laughed about [ ] her ruins."

  25. ^ James VanderKam, Peter Flint. "The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity", A&C Black, 2005. Page 135-137. ISBN 9780567084682
  26. ^ Lamentations 1:9
  27. ^ Joyce, P. M., Lamentations in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 530

Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]