Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO LAMENTATIONS\\

This book very properly follows the prophecy of Jeremiah, not only
because wrote by him, but because of the subject matter of it, the
deplorable case of the Jews upon the destruction of their city; and has
been reckoned indeed as making one book with it; so Dean Prideaux {a}
supposes it was reckoned by Josephus {b}, according to the number of
the books of the Old Testament, which he gives; but it does not stand
in this order in all printed Hebrew Bibles, especially in those
published by the Jews; where it is placed in the Hagiographa, and among
the five Megilloth; or with the books of Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes,
and Solomon's Song, read at their festivals, as this on their public
fast, on the ninth of Ab, for the destruction of their city; because
they fancy it was not written by the gift of prophecy, but by the Holy
Ghost, between which they make a distinction; and therefore remove it
from the prophets; but this is the most natural place for it. It is
sometimes called by the Jews "Echa", from the first word of it, which
signifies "how"; and sometimes "Kinoth", "Lamentations", from the
subject of it; and so by the Septuagint version "Threni", which
signifies the same; and which is followed by the Vulgate Latin, and
others, and by us. That Jeremiah was the writer of it is not
questioned; nor is the divine authority of it doubted of. The precise
place and time where and when he wrote it is not certain: some say he
wrote it in a cave or den near Jerusalem; and Adrichomius {c} makes
mention of a place, called

``the Prophet Jeremiah's pit, where he sat in the bitterness of
his soul, grieving and weeping; and lamented and described
the destruction of Jerusalem made by the Chaldeans, in a
fourfold alphabet in metre; where Helena the empress,
according to Nicephorus, built some wonderful works;''

but it rather seems that he wrote these Lamentations after he was
carried away with the rest of the captives to Ramah, and dismissed to
Mizpah, at one or other of these places. It is written in Hebrew metre,
though now little understood; and the first four chapters in an
alphabetical manner; every verse beginning in order with the letters of
the alphabet; and in the third chapter it is done three times over;
three verses together beginning with the same letter: this seems to be
done to make it more agreeable, and to help the memory. Jarchi thinks
that this is the same book, which, having been publicly read by Baruch,
was cut to pieces by King Jehoiakim, and cast into the fire {d} and
burnt; which consisted of the first, second, and fourth chapters, and
to which was afterwards added the third chapter; but it is without any
reason or foundation; seeing that contained all Jeremiah's prophecies,
not only against Israel and Judah, but against all the nations,
\\#Jer 32:2\\; which this book has nothing of; nor even the words, which
are particularly said to be in that, respecting the destruction of
Jerusalem by the king of Babylon, \\#Jer 32:29\\; Josephus {e} seems to
have been of opinion that this book of Lamentations was written by
Jeremy on account of the death of Josiah, \\#2Ch 35:25\\; and in which he
is followed by many; but the lamentation made in this book is not for a
single person only, but for a city, and even for the whole nation of
the Jews; nor is there anything suitable to Josiah, and his case; what
seems most plausible is in \\#La 4:20\\; and that better agrees with
Zedekiah than with him. It appears plainly to be written after the
destruction of the city and temple, and the sad desolation made in the
land of Judea, because of the sins of the priests and people; and the
design of it is to lament these things; to bring them to repentance and
humiliation for their sins, and to give some comfortable hope that God
will be merciful to them, and restore them again to their former
privileges, for which the prophet prays. The introduction to it, in the
Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, is,

``and it came to pass after Israel was carried captive, and
Jerusalem laid waste, Jeremiah sat weeping, and delivered out
this lamentation over Jerusalem; and said,''

what follows.

{a} Connexion, par. 1. p. 332.
{b} Contr. Apion. l. 1. sect. 8.
{c} Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 174. No. 224.
{d} Vid. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 26. 1.
{e} Antiqu. l. 10. c. 5. sect. 1.

\\INTRODUCTION TO LAMENTATIONS 1\\

This chapter contains a complaint of the miseries of the city of
Jerusalem, and the nation of the Jews; first by the Prophet Jeremiah,
then by the Jewish people; and is concluded with a prayer of theirs.
The prophet deplores the state of the city, now depopulated and become
tributary, which had been full of people, and ruled over others; but
now in a very mournful condition, and forsaken and ill used by her
lovers and friends, turned her enemies, \\#La 1:1,2\\; and next the state
of the whole nation; being carried captive for their sins among the
Heathens; having no rest, being overtaken by their persecutors,
\\#La 1:3\\; but what most of all afflicted him was the state of Zion; her
ways mourning; her solemn feasts neglected; her gates desolate; her
priests sighing, and virgins afflicted; her adversaries prosperous; her
beauty departed; her sabbaths mocked; her nakedness seen; and all her
pleasant things in the sanctuary seized on by the adversary; and all
this because of her many transgressions, grievous sins, and great
pollution and vileness, which are confessed, \\#La 1:4-11\\; then the
people themselves, or the prophet representing them, lament their case,
and call upon others to sympathize with them, \\#La 1:12\\; observing
the sad desolation made by the hand of the Lord upon them for their
iniquities, \\#La 1:13-15\\; on account of which great sorrow is
expressed; and their case is represented as the more distressing, that
they had no comforter, \\#La 1:16,17\\; then follows a prayer to God,
in which his righteousness in doing or suffering all this is
acknowledged, and mercy is entreated for themselves, and judgments on
their enemies, \\#La 1:18-22\\.