Lamentations 1

1 How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
2 Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.
3 After affliction and harsh labor, Judah has gone into exile. She dwells among the nations; she finds no resting place. All who pursue her have overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
4 The roads to Zion mourn, for no one comes to her appointed festivals. All her gateways are desolate, her priests groan, her young women grieve, and she is in bitter anguish.
5 Her foes have become her masters; her enemies are at ease. The LORD has brought her grief because of her many sins. Her children have gone into exile, captive before the foe.
6 All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer.
7 In the days of her affliction and wandering Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old. When her people fell into enemy hands, there was no one to help her. Her enemies looked at her and laughed at her destruction.
8 Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away.
9 Her filthiness clung to her skirts; she did not consider her future. Her fall was astounding; there was none to comfort her. “Look, LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed.”
10 The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary— those you had forbidden to enter your assembly.
11 All her people groan as they search for bread; they barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. “Look, LORD, and consider, for I am despised.”
12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?
13 “From on high he sent fire, sent it down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet and turned me back. He made me desolate, faint all the day long.
14 “My sins have been bound into a yoke[a] ; by his hands they were woven together. They have been hung on my neck, and the Lord has sapped my strength. He has given me into the hands of those I cannot withstand.
15 “The Lord has rejected all the warriors in my midst; he has summoned an army against me to[b] crush my young men. In his winepress the Lord has trampled Virgin Daughter Judah.
16 “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed.”
17 Zion stretches out her hands, but there is no one to comfort her. The LORD has decreed for Jacob that his neighbors become his foes; Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.
18 “The LORD is righteous, yet I rebelled against his command. Listen, all you peoples; look on my suffering. My young men and young women have gone into exile.
19 “I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive.
20 “See, LORD, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death.
21 “People have heard my groaning, but there is no one to comfort me. All my enemies have heard of my distress; they rejoice at what you have done. May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me.
22 “Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my 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 75

  • 1. S Leviticus 26:43
  • 2. S Jeremiah 42:2
  • 3. S Isaiah 47:8
  • 4. S 1 Kings 4:21
  • 5. Isaiah 3:26; S Jeremiah 40:9; Ezekiel 5:5
  • 6. Psalms 6:6
  • 7. S Jeremiah 3:1
  • 8. S Jeremiah 4:30; Micah 7:5
  • 9. ver 16; S Jeremiah 30:14
  • 10. S Jeremiah 13:19
  • 11. Deuteronomy 28:65
  • 12. S Exodus 15:9
  • 13. S Psalms 137:1
  • 14. S Isaiah 27:10; S Jeremiah 9:11
  • 15. ver 21; Joel 1:8-13
  • 16. S Isaiah 22:5; S Jeremiah 30:15
  • 17. S Psalms 5:10
  • 18. S Jeremiah 10:20; S Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:28-30
  • 19. S Psalms 137:3; Lamentations 2:17
  • 20. S Psalms 9:14; Jeremiah 13:18
  • 21. S Leviticus 26:36
  • 22. S 2 Kings 14:26; S Jeremiah 37:7; Lamentations 4:17
  • 23. S Jeremiah 2:26
  • 24. ver 20; Isaiah 59:2-13
  • 25. S Jeremiah 2:22
  • 26. S Jeremiah 13:22,26
  • 27. ver 21,22; S Psalms 6:6; S Psalms 38:8
  • 28. Deuteronomy 32:28-29; Isaiah 47:7; Ezekiel 24:13
  • 29. Jeremiah 13:18
  • 30. S Ecclesiastes 4:1; S Jeremiah 16:7
  • 31. Psalms 25:18
  • 32. S Isaiah 64:11
  • 33. Psalms 74:7-8; Psalms 79:1; Jeremiah 51:51
  • 34. Deuteronomy 23:3
  • 35. S Psalms 6:6; S Psalms 38:8
  • 36. S Jeremiah 37:21; S Jeremiah 52:6
  • 37. S Jeremiah 18:16
  • 38. ver 18
  • 39. S Isaiah 10:4; Isaiah 13:13; S Jeremiah 30:24
  • 40. S Job 30:30; Psalms 102:3
  • 41. S Job 18:8
  • 42. S Jeremiah 44:6
  • 43. Habakkuk 3:16
  • 44. S Deuteronomy 28:48; S Isaiah 47:6; S Jeremiah 15:12
  • 45. S Jeremiah 32:5
  • 46. Jeremiah 37:10
  • 47. Isaiah 41:2
  • 48. Isaiah 28:18; S Jeremiah 18:21
  • 49. S Judges 6:11
  • 50. S Isaiah 5:5
  • 51. Jeremiah 14:17
  • 52. S Job 7:3; S Psalms 119:136; S Isaiah 22:4; Lamentations 2:11,18; Lamentations 3:48-49
  • 53. S Psalms 69:20; Ecclesiastes 4:1; S Jeremiah 16:7
  • 54. S ver 2; Jeremiah 13:17; Jeremiah 14:17
  • 55. S Jeremiah 4:31
  • 56. S Exodus 23:21
  • 57. Jeremiah 2:22
  • 58. S Leviticus 18:25-28
  • 59. S Exodus 9:27; S Ezra 9:15
  • 60. S 1 Samuel 12:14
  • 61. ver 12
  • 62. Deuteronomy 28:32,41
  • 63. S Jeremiah 22:20
  • 64. S Jeremiah 14:15; Lamentations 2:20
  • 65. S Jeremiah 4:19
  • 66. Lamentations 2:11
  • 67. S Job 20:2
  • 68. S ver 8
  • 69. S Deuteronomy 32:25; Ezekiel 7:15
  • 70. S ver 8; S Psalms 6:6; S Psalms 38:8
  • 71. ver 4
  • 72. Lamentations 2:15
  • 73. Isaiah 47:11; Jeremiah 30:16
  • 74. Nehemiah 4:5
  • 75. S ver 8; S Psalms 6:6

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Most Hebrew manuscripts; many Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint "He kept watch over my sins"
  • [b]. Or "has set a time for me" / "when he will"

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

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