Lamentations 1

The Sorrows of Zion

1 How 1lonely sits the city That was 2full of people! She has become like a 3widow Who was once 4great among the nations! She who was a princess among the [a]provinces Has become a 5forced laborer!
2 She 6weeps bitterly in the night And her tears are on her cheeks; She has none to comfort her Among all her 7lovers. All her friends have 8dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies.
3 9Judah has gone into exile [b]under affliction And [c]under [d]harsh servitude; She dwells 10among the nations, But she has found no rest; All 11her pursuers have overtaken her In the midst of [e]distress.
4 The roads [f]of Zion are in mourning Because * 12no one comes to the appointed feasts. All her gates are 13desolate; Her priests are groaning, Her 14virgins are afflicted, And she herself [g]is 15bitter.
5 Her adversaries have become [h]her masters, Her enemies [i]prosper; For the LORD has 16caused her grief Because of the multitude of her transgressions; Her little ones have gone away As captives before the adversary.
6 All her 17majesty Has departed from the daughter of Zion; Her princes have become like deer That have found no pasture; And they have [j]18fled without strength Before the pursuer.
7 In the days of her affliction and homelessness 19Jerusalem remembers all her precious things That were from the days of old, When her people fell into the hand of the adversary And 20no one helped her. The adversaries saw her, They 21mocked at her [k]ruin.
8 Jerusalem sinned 22greatly, Therefore * 23she has become an unclean thing. All who honored her despise her Because they have seen her nakedness; Even 24she herself groans and turns away.
9 Her 25uncleanness was in her skirts; She [l]did not consider her 26future. Therefore she has [m]27fallen astonishingly; 28She has no comforter. "29See, O LORD, my affliction, For the enemy has 30magnified himself!"
10 The adversary has stretched out his hand Over all her precious things, For she has seen the 31nations enter her sanctuary, The ones whom You commanded That they should 32not enter into Your congregation.
11 All her people groan 33seeking bread; They have given their precious things for food To 34restore their [n]lives themselves. "See, O LORD, and look, For I am 35despised."
12 "Is 36it nothing to all you who pass this way? Look and see if there is any [o]pain like my [p]pain Which was severely dealt out to me, Which the 37LORD inflicted on the day of His 38fierce anger.
13 "From on high He sent fire into my 39bones, And it [q]prevailed over them. He has spread a 40net for my feet; He has turned me back; He has made me 41desolate, [r]Faint all day long.
14 "The 42yoke of my transgressions is bound; By His hand they are knit together. They have 43come upon my neck; He has made my strength [s]fail. The Lord 44has given me into the hands Of those against whom I am not able to stand.
15 "The 45Lord has rejected all my strong men In my midst; He has called an appointed [t]time against me To crush my 46young men; The Lord has 47trodden as in a wine press The virgin daughter of Judah.
16 "For these things I 48weep; [u]My eyes run down with water; Because far from me is a 49comforter, One who restores my soul. My children are desolate Because the enemy has prevailed."
17 Zion 50stretches out her hands; There is no one to comfort her; The LORD has 51commanded concerning Jacob That the ones round about him should be his adversaries; 52Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.
18 "The LORD is 53righteous; For I have 54rebelled against His [v]command; Hear now, all peoples, And 55behold my [w]pain; 56My virgins and my young men Have gone into captivity.
19 "I 57called to my lovers, but they deceived me; My 58priests and my elders perished in the city While they sought food to 59restore [x]their strength themselves.
20 "See, O LORD, for I am in distress; My [y]60spirit is greatly troubled; My heart is overturned within me, For I have been very 61rebellious. In the street the sword [z]slays; In the house it is like death.
21 "They have heard that I 62groan; There is no one to comfort me; All my enemies have heard of my [aa]calamity; They are 63glad that You have done it. Oh, that You would bring the day which You have proclaimed, That they may become 64like me.
22 "Let all their wickedness come before You; And 65deal with them as You have dealt with me For all my transgressions; For 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 65

  • 1. Isaiah 3:26
  • 2. Isaiah 22:2
  • 3. Isaiah 54:4
  • 4. 1 Kings 4:21; Ezra 4:20; Jeremiah 31:7
  • 5. 2 Kings 23:35; Jeremiah 40:9
  • 6. Psalms 6:6; Psalms 77:2-6; Lamentations 1:16
  • 7. Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:1; Jeremiah 22:20-22
  • 8. Job 19:13, 14; Psalms 31:11; Micah 7:5
  • 9. Jeremiah 13:19
  • 10. Leviticus 26:39; Deuteronomy 28:64-67
  • 11. 2 Kings 25:4, 5
  • 12. Isaiah 24:4-6; Lamentations 2:6, 7
  • 13. Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22
  • 14. Lamentations 2:10, 21
  • 15. Joel 1:8-13
  • 16. Psalms 90:7, 8; Ezekiel 8:17, 18; Ezekiel 9:9, 10
  • 17. Jeremiah 13:18
  • 18. 2 Kings 25:4, 5
  • 19. Psalms 42:4; Psalms 77:5-9
  • 20. Jeremiah 37:7; Lamentations 4:17
  • 21. Psalms 79:4; Jeremiah 48:27
  • 22. Isaiah 59:2-13; Lamentations 1:5, 20
  • 23. Lamentations 1:17
  • 24. Lam 1:11, 21, 22
  • 25. Jeremiah 2:34; Ezekiel 24:13
  • 26. Deuteronomy 32:29; Isaiah 47:7
  • 27. Isaiah 3:8; Jeremiah 13:17, 18
  • 28. Ecclesiastes 4:1; Jeremiah 16:7
  • 29. Psalms 25:18; Psalms 119:153
  • 30. Psalms 74:23; Zephaniah 2:10
  • 31. Psalms 74:4-8; Isaiah 64:10, 11; Jeremiah 51:51
  • 32. Deuteronomy 23:3
  • 33. Jeremiah 38:9; Jeremiah 52:6
  • 34. 1 Samuel 30:12
  • 35. Jeremiah 15:19
  • 36. Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 48:27
  • 37. Jeremiah 30:23, 24
  • 38. Isaiah 13:13; Jeremiah 4:8
  • 39. Job 30:30; Psalms 22:14; Habakkuk 3:16
  • 40. Job 19:6; Psalms 66:11
  • 41. Jeremiah 44:6
  • 42. Proverbs 5:22; Isaiah 47:6
  • 43. Jeremiah 28:13, 14
  • 44. Jeremiah 32:3, 5; Ezekiel 25:4, 7
  • 45. Isaiah 41:2; Jeremiah 13:24; Jeremiah 37:10
  • 46. Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 18:21
  • 47. Malachi 4:3
  • 48. Jeremiah 14:17; Lamentations 2:11, 18; Lamentations 3:48, 49
  • 49. Psalms 69:20; Ecclesiastes 4:1; Lamentations 1:2
  • 50. Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 4:31
  • 51. 2 Kings 24:2-4; Jeremiah 12:9
  • 52. Lamentations 1:8
  • 53. Psalms 119:75; Jeremiah 12:1
  • 54. 1 Samuel 12:14, 15; Jeremiah 4:17
  • 55. Lamentations 1:12
  • 56. Deuteronomy 28:32, 41
  • 57. Job 19:13-19; Lamentations 1:2
  • 58. Jeremiah 14:15; Lamentations 2:20
  • 59. Lamentations 1:11
  • 60. Isaiah 16:11; Lamentations 2:11
  • 61. Jeremiah 14:20
  • 62. Lam 1:4, 8, 22
  • 63. Psalms 35:15; Jeremiah 50:11; Lamentations 2:15
  • 64. Isaiah 14:5, 6; Isaiah 47:6, 11; Jeremiah 30:16
  • 65. Nehemiah 4:4, 5; Psalms 137:7, 8

Footnotes 27

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

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.