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The book of Lamentations is a series of poems about the troubles which came upon Israel when Jerusalem was overthrown by the Babylonians in 586BC. The city and the temple lay in ruins.

The writer of the book was probably Jeremiah who saw all the horrible results of the Babylonian invasion. He knew that those things had happened because of Israel's sins. The book is also a prophecy of further desolation to come on Israel.

The words of chapter 1 tell vividly the plight of the Jews, who were to be despised and rejected by the world, just as God had been despised and rejected by His people.

Chapter 2 shows that Israel's sins had brought their troubles. Chapter 3 has a more hopeful section - right at the centre of the book - showing that God will show mercy to His people. Chapter 4 looks back to better days and chapter 5 is a prayer to God for His forgiveness and aid.

The book of Lamentations was written in an acrostic form. Chapters 1,2 and 4 have 22 verses, each verse beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in order, from aleph to tau. Chapter 3 has 66 shorter verses, and groups of three verses start with the same letter. Chapter 5, although it also has 22 verses, does not follow an alphabetical pattern.

The lamentations about God and His people are reflected in the sorrows and sufferings of Christ. He "bore the yoke in his youth" (3:27) and "gave his cheek to the smiters" (3:30) for the transgressions of others (Isaiah 53:8).


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