The poetry found in the book of Lamentations is an eloquent expression of one man’s, and one nation’s, despair. The poet is deep in mourning as a result of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in the sixth century BC. He looks to Israel’s own sins to explain the catastrophe, and yet he recites poignant examples of Israel’s suffering in wondering aloud if God has abandoned his people altogether. Thus his lament is both a confession and a prayer for hope in spite of the horrible defeat.
Lamentations is traditionally thought to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah; today the question is whether one man wrote it or many. In his introduction, Delbert Hillers gives the evidence against Jeremiah’s authorship and suggests that the poems should be treated as an intelligible unity, most likely written by an eyewitness to the events described.
The book of Lamentations has been taken up through history both as poetry and as an expression of boundless grief. It has become part of the Jewish and Christian liturgies, as well as a source of comfort far beyond the time in which it was written. This commentary fills in the book’s literary and historical background, and we emerge with a fresh respect for the artistry with which it was composed. The poetry itself demands this respect, with a translation here that carries the emotion and heartbreak of the original Hebrew.
This new edition by Delbert R. Hillers is a thorough revision of his earlier Anchor Yale Bible commentary, incorporating new literary theories and textual discoveries connected with the very latest Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship.
Logos Bible Software gives you the tools you need to use this volume effectively and efficiently. With your digital library, you can search for verses, find Scripture references and citations instantly, and perform word studies. Along with your English translations, all Scripture passages are linked to Greek and Hebrew texts. What’s more, hovering over a Scripture reference will instantly display your verse! The advanced tools in your digital library free you to dig deeper into one of the most important contributions to biblical scholarship in the past century!
“Lamentations was meant to serve the survivors of the catastrophe simply as an expression of the horror and grief they felt.” (Page 4)
“Poetic form serves to set off the words of a text from ordinary words, to remind us by its very artificiality that we are not dealing with reality directly, but as reshaped and structured by human invention and skill.” (Page 4)
“In addition, there is evidence within the book that makes it difficult to suppose that Jeremiah wrote it” (Page 13)
“The second tradition is that Jeremiah wrote the book. The LXX prefixes these words to the first chapter: ‘And it came to pass that Jeremiah sat weeping and composed this lament over Jerusalem and said—.’ This heading in the Greek translation may possibly go back to a Hebrew original, for it is Semitic rather than Greek in style, though it is equally possible that a Greek editor imitated biblical diction here.” (Page 11)
“in the third division of the Hebrew canon, the Writings (Ketubim)” (Page 8)