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Lamentations is the twenty-fifth book of the Old Testament and of the Bible. It is a composition of songs of sorrow or laments about the sad state of Jerusalem following its siege by the Babylonians.

In a collection of five poems, the first four being acrostic in nature, the writer records an eye witness to the downfall and destruction of the ancient capital city of Judah. Though sympathetic to the suffering, the author makes clear that he understands the nation and city had fallen due to its disregard of the Law of God.

The five songs cry for sympathy, for mercy, for vindication, for vengeance and for restoration.


The author of Lamentations is not known, though it is likely it was the prophet Jeremiah. He is known to have written lamentations[1] after King Josiah died. In addition, the language in both the book of Jeremiah and Lamentations is very similar in many places.[2]

The fact of its early acceptance by its Jewish readers is the apparent reason for its inclusion in the Old Testament scriptures. In the Hebrew scriptures the book is nevertheless placed within the Ketuvim, or "Writings," in the midst of the "five scrolls" (Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations and Esther).

Its affinity to Jeremiah earned the book placement following that prophet in the Latin version of the Old Testament, leading to its position and title in all modern English translations.


The Book of Lamentations is a collection of poetry, being lamentations, which are songs or poetry expressing great sadness or grief. Four of the five were written as acrostic poems, beginning each stanza with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with the exception of the inversion of pe and ayin in all but the first acrostic.


I. Suffering and Sympathy

A. Remembering the Suffering (1:1-11)
B. Crying for Sympathy (1:12-22)

II. Judgment and Mercy

A. Judgment for Sin (2:1-17)
B. Crying for Mercy (2:18-22)

III. Affliction and Vindication

A. Recounting the Affliction (3:1-20)
B. Remembering the Affection (3:21-39)
C. Repeating the Adoration (3:40-54)
D. Crying for Vindication (3:55-66)

IV. Pain and Vengeance

A. From glory to pain (4:1-12)
B. Punishment for sin (4:13-20)
C. Crying for Vengeance (4:21-22)

V. Comfort for Sinners

A. A Plea for Compassion (5:1-15)
B. A Prayer of Confession (5:15-18)
C. Crying for Restoration (5:19-22)

* Outline (modified) courtesy of The King James Study Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishing) p. 1185


  1. 2 Chronicles 35:25 (Link)
  2. e.g., Lam. 1:16, 2:11; Jeremiah 9:1, 18; 13:17 (Link)