My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lamentations 1

Poor Jerusalem...

The city is deserted like a widow. She cries. Judah is in exile. The highways weep, because no-one travels them to go to Jerusalem's festivals. She is controlled by others and has lost her beauty. Jerusalem remembers her hey-day, but is mocked for her sin. She was filthy and didn't plan ahead. Her people look for food, and she wonders why no-one helps her. She knows God is against her.

No-one comforts her. She knows she betrayed God, and her friends betrayed her. She wants God to deal with her enemies wickedness too!

Key verse:
22. Let all their wickedness come before you;
deal with them
as you have dealt with me
because of all my sins.

My thoughts:
I don't know too much about Lamentations. It's traditionally associated with Jeremiah, but modern scholarship doesn't put much weight behind this association. It's third chapter is most often quote, because the other four chapters are just full of depressing lamentation, but chapter three is all about hope (well, half of it). The entire book certainly isn't all about hope, but that's not what church-goers particularly want to hear.

If I remember rightly, chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 have 22 verses each, and chapter 3 (the middle chapter/hope chapter/climax) is a triple stanza of 66 verses. However, each verse is shorter in chapter three, so it turns out about the same. This is obviously deliberately structured.

Though admittedly the chapter divisions have nothing to do with the original script. Perhaps I have to look into that further...


Anonymous Deane said...

There's 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, too. They're acrostics.

"The first, second, fourth and fifth laments all contain 22 verses, reflecting the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. In the first and second laments each verse contains three poetic lines; in the fourth each verse contains two lines; and in the fifth each verse contains but one line. The first four laments are alphabetic acrostics (see NIV text notes on 1:1; 2:1; 3:1; 4:1). In the first, second and fourth, each numbered verse begins with the letter of the Hebrew alphabet dictated by the traditional order of that alphabet. The third (middle) lament is distinctive in that while it too is made up of 22 three-line units (like laments 1 and 2), in it the three lines of each unit all begin with the sequenced order of the letters of the alphabet (thus three aleph lines followed by three beth lines, etc.)—after the manner of Ps 119. The fifth lament continues to reflect the alphabetic pattern in its 22-line structure, but the initial letters of these lines do not follow the alphebetic sequence (see note on 5:1–22). Use of the alphabet as a formal structuring element indicates that, however passionate these laments, they were composed with studied care."

The poem about the good woman at the end of Proverbs and Ps 145 are acrostics, too, from memory. Although, I seem to remember that the 'nun'-line in Ps 145 has fallen out (or, alternatively, yet inexplicably, it was deliberately omitted in the first place).

Acrostics are fun.

9:15 am

Blogger Pete W said...

For all your flaws, you, Deane, are awesome.

12:07 pm


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