Lamentations 4

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Lamentations 4
Book of Lamentations Belarusian Skaryna.jpg
Image from "Book of Lamentations" of Francysk Skaryna (1517-1519)
BookBook of Lamentations
Hebrew Bible partKetuvim
Order in the Hebrew part6
CategoryThe five scrolls
Christian Bible partOld Testament
Order in the Christian part25

Lamentations 4 is the fourth 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 the prophet Jeremiah. In this chapter, Zion mourns her misery and confesses her sins (Lamentations 4:1-6); great miseries are recorded: women killed their own children (Lamentations 4:7-12), the sins of the false prophets and priests (Lamentations 4:13-19); the king was taken prisoner (Lamentations 4:20). In the final verses, Edom is threatened, but is Zion comforted (Lamentations 4:21,22).[5]


The original text was written in Hebrew language. This chapter is divided into 22 verses.

The chapter is acrostic, divided into 22 stanzas or verses. The stanzas consist of triplets of 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 were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls including 5Q6 (5QLama; 50 CE) with extant verses 5‑8, 11‑16, 19‑22;[8][9][10] and 5Q7 (5QLamb; 30 BCE‑50 CE) with extant verses 17‑20.[9][10][11]

There is also a translation into Koine Greek known as the Septuagint, made in the last few centuries BCE. Extant ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint version include Codex Vaticanus (B; B; 4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (A; A; 5th century) and Codex Marchalianus (Q; Q; 6th century).[12][b]

Verse 1[edit]

How is the gold become dim!
how is the most fine gold changed!
the stones of the sanctuary are poured out
in the top of every street.[14]

Verse 2[edit]

The precious sons of Zion,
comparable to fine gold,
how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers,
the work of the hands of the potter![17]
  • "The precious sons of Zion": The whole nation was consecrated to God, and formed "a kingdom of priests" Exodus 19:6; in this respect, a type of the Christian Church 1 Peter 2:5.[18]
  • "earthen pitchers" see Isaiah 30:14; Jeremiah 19:11.[5]
  • "The work of the hands of the potter": as earthen vessels with respect to their bodies, "frail, weak, and mortal"; but they are the work of God's hands, particularly as new creatures, and are a piece of his workmanship, and so valuable to him (see Psalm 31:12).[19]

Verse 3[edit]

Even the jackals present their breasts
To nurse their young;
But the daughter of my people is cruel,
Like ostriches in the wilderness.[20]

"Daughter" in the Hebrew text but "daughters" in the Septuagint.[21]

Verse 6[edit]

For the punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people
is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,
that was overthrown as in a moment,
and no hands stayed on her.[22]
  • "And no hands stayed on her" (NKJV: "With no hand to help her!"): An alternative ending based on the Septuagint is "no time for a man to wring his hands".[23]

Verses 16–17[edit]

In verses 16-17, two initial letters, "Ayin" and "Pe", are transposed.[5] This is found is three instances in the whole book (Lamentations 2:16–17; 3:46–51; and here).[5] Grotius thinks the reason for the inversion of two of the Hebrew letters, is that the Chaldeans, like the Arabians, used a different order from the Hebrews; in the first Elegy (chapter), Jeremiah speaks as a Hebrew, in the following ones, as one subject to the Chaldeans, but Fausset thinks it is doubtful.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Since 1947 the whole book is missing from Aleppo Codex.[7]
  2. ^ Only Lamentations 1:1–2:20 are extant in the Codex Sinaiticus.[13]


  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 d e f g h Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary On the Whole Bible. "Lamentations 4". 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. 752–754.
  9. ^ a b Dead sea scrolls - General Info - Lamentations
  10. ^ a b Fitzmyer 2008, p. 105.
  11. ^ Ulrich 2010, p. 753.
  12. ^ Würthwein 1995, pp. 73-74.
  13. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Codex Sinaiticus" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
  14. ^ Lamentations 4:1 KJV
  15. ^ Exell, Joseph S.; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice (Editors). On "Lamentations 4". In: The Pulpit Commentary. First publication: 1890. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote at Lamentations 4:1
  17. ^ Lamentations 4:2 KJV
  18. ^ Barnes, Albert. Notes on the Bible - "Lamentations 4". 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.
  19. ^ Gill, John. Exposition of the Entire Bible. "Lamentations 4". Published in 1746-1763. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ Lamentations 4:3 NKJV
  21. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote at Lamentations 4:3
  22. ^ Lamentations 4:6 KJV
  23. ^ Jerusalem Bible (1966), footnote at Lamentations 4:6
  24. ^ Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, Andrew Robert; Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary on the Whole Bible. "Lamentations 1: Introduction". 1871.


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