Lamentations 1

Listen to Lamentations 1

How Lonely Sits the City

1 1How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like 2a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was 3a princess among the provinces has become 4a slave.
2 5She weeps bitterly in the night, with tears on her cheeks; 6among all her lovers she has 7none to comfort her; 8all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies.
3 9Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude; 10she dwells now among the nations, 11but finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.[a]
4 The roads to Zion mourn, for none come to 12the festival; 13all her gates are desolate; her priests 14groan; her virgins have been afflicted,[b] and she herself suffers bitterly.
5 15Her foes have become the head; her 16enemies prosper, because 17the LORD has afflicted her 18for the multitude of her transgressions; 19her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
6 From the daughter of Zion all her majesty has departed. Her princes have become like deer 20that find no pasture; they fled without strength before the pursuer.
7 Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and wandering 21all the precious things that were hers from 22days of old. When her people fell into the hand of the foe, and there was none to help her, her foes gloated over her; they 23mocked at her downfall.
8 24Jerusalem sinned grievously; therefore she became filthy; all who honored her despise her, 25for they have seen her nakedness; she herself 26groans and turns her face away.
9 Her uncleanness was 27in her skirts; 28she took no thought of her future;[c] therefore her fall is terrible; 29she has no comforter. "O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy has 30triumphed!"
10 The enemy has stretched out his hands over all her 31precious things; for she has seen 32the nations enter her sanctuary, those whom you 33forbade to enter your congregation.
11 All her people 34groan as 35they search for bread; they trade their 36treasures for 37food to revive their strength. "Look, O LORD, and see, for I am despised."
12 "Is it nothing to you, all 38you who pass by? 39Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which 40the LORD inflicted on 41the day of his fierce anger.
13 "From on high he 42sent fire; into my bones[d] he made it descend; 43he spread a net for my feet; he turned me back; 44he has left me stunned, faint all the day long.
14 "My transgressions were bound[e] into 45a yoke; by his hand they were fastened together; they were set upon my neck; he caused my strength to fail; the Lord gave me into the hands of those whom I cannot withstand.
15 "The Lord rejected all my mighty men in my midst; he summoned an assembly against me to crush my young men; 46the Lord has trodden as in a winepress the virgin daughter of Judah.
16 "For these things 47I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for 48a comforter is far from me, one to 49revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed."
17 50Zion stretches out her hands, but 51there is none to comfort her; the LORD has commanded against Jacob that his neighbors should be his foes; Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.
18 52"The LORD is in the right, 53for I have rebelled against his word; but hear, all you peoples, and see my suffering; 54my young women and my young men have gone into captivity.
19 "I called to 55my lovers, but they deceived me; my priests and elders perished in the city, while 56they sought food to revive their strength.
20 "Look, O LORD, for I am in distress; 57my stomach churns; my heart is wrung within me, because I have been very rebellious. 58In the street the sword bereaves; in the house it is like death.
21 "They heard[f]59my groaning, yet 60there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my trouble; 61they are glad that you have done it. You have brought[g] the day you announced; 62now let them be as I am.
22 63"Let all their evildoing come before you, and deal with them as 64you have dealt with me because of all my transgressions; for 65my groans are many, and 66my heart is faint."

Lamentations 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

It is evident that Jeremiah was the author of the Lamentations which bear his name. The book was not written till after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. May we be led to consider sin as the cause of all our calamities, and under trials exercise submission, repentance, faith, and prayer, with the hope of promised deliverance through God's mercy.

The miserable state of Jerusalem, the just consequences of its sins. (1-11) Jerusalem represented as a captive female, lamenting, and seeking the mercy of God. (12-22)

Verses 1-11 The prophet sometimes speaks in his own person; at other times Jerusalem, as a distressed female, is the speaker, or some of the Jews. The description shows the miseries of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem became a captive and a slave, by reason of the greatness of her sins; and had no rest from suffering. If we allow sin, our greatest adversary, to have dominion over us, justly will other enemies also be suffered to have dominion. The people endured the extremities of famine and distress. In this sad condition Jerusalem acknowledged her sin, and entreated the Lord to look upon her case. This is the only way to make ourselves easy under our burdens; for it is the just anger of the Lord for man's transgressions, that has filled the earth with sorrows, lamentations, sickness, and death.

Verses 12-22 Jerusalem, sitting dejected on the ground, calls on those that passed by, to consider whether her example did not concern them. Her outward sufferings were great, but her inward sufferings were harder to bear, through the sense of guilt. Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ. Does he not from the cross speak to every one of us? Does he not say, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Let all our sorrows lead us to the cross of Christ, lead us to mark his example, and cheerfully to follow him.

Cross References 66

  • 1. [Jeremiah 7:34]
  • 2. [Jeremiah 15:8]
  • 3. [Lamentations 5:16; Ezra 4:20; Ecclesiastes 2:8]
  • 4. Isaiah 31:8
  • 5. Psalms 6:6; Jeremiah 9:1; Jeremiah 13:17
  • 6. ver. 19; Jeremiah 22:22; Jeremiah 30:14
  • 7. ver. 9, 16, 17, 21; Ecclesiastes 4:1
  • 8. See Ezekiel 23:22-26
  • 9. Jeremiah 52:27
  • 10. [Lamentations 2:9; Deuteronomy 28:64, 65]
  • 11. Jeremiah 45:3
  • 12. See Lamentations 2:6
  • 13. Jeremiah 14:2
  • 14. ver. 8, 11, 21, 22
  • 15. [Deuteronomy 28:13, 44; Jeremiah 13:21]
  • 16. Jeremiah 12:1
  • 17. ver. 12; Lamentations 3:33
  • 18. Jeremiah 30:14, 15; Daniel 9:16
  • 19. 2 Chronicles 36:17, 20; See Jeremiah 52:28-30
  • 20. [Jeremiah 14:6]
  • 21. ver. 10, 11
  • 22. Lamentations 2:17; Jeremiah 46:26
  • 23. Obad. 12, 13; [Psalms 119:51]
  • 24. [Zechariah 13:1]
  • 25. [Ezekiel 16:37]
  • 26. ver. 4, 21, 22
  • 27. [Jeremiah 13:22]
  • 28. [Deuteronomy 32:29; Isaiah 47:7]
  • 29. ver. 2
  • 30. Jeremiah 48:26
  • 31. ver. 7
  • 32. Psalms 79:1; Jeremiah 51:51
  • 33. [Deuteronomy 23:3; Nehemiah 13:1]
  • 34. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 35. Lamentations 2:12; Lamentations 4:4; [Jeremiah 38:9; Jeremiah 52:6]
  • 36. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 37. ver. 19
  • 38. Job 21:29; Psalms 80:12
  • 39. [Daniel 9:12]
  • 40. ver. 5
  • 41. See Jeremiah 12:13
  • 42. Psalms 102:3
  • 43. Psalms 9:15; Ezekiel 12:13; Ezekiel 17:20
  • 44. Lamentations 3:11; See Jeremiah 8:18
  • 45. Deuteronomy 28:48
  • 46. [Isaiah 63:2, 3]
  • 47. See Jeremiah 13:17
  • 48. ver. 2, 21
  • 49. [ver. 11]
  • 50. Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 4:31
  • 51. [See ver. 16 above]
  • 52. See Jeremiah 12:1
  • 53. 1 Samuel 12:14, 15
  • 54. [Deuteronomy 28:41]
  • 55. See ver. 2
  • 56. ver. 11
  • 57. Lamentations 2:11; Job 30:27; Isaiah 16:11
  • 58. Deuteronomy 32:25; Ezekiel 7:15; See Jeremiah 15:2
  • 59. ver. 4, 8, 11
  • 60. ver. 2, 16, 17
  • 61. [Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 50:11]
  • 62. [Lamentations 4:21; Jeremiah 50:11]
  • 63. Psalms 109:14, 15
  • 64. ver. 12; Lamentations 2:20
  • 65. [See ver. 21 above]
  • 66. See Jeremiah 8:18

Footnotes 7

Chapter Summary


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.


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.

Lamentations 1 Commentaries