Who was the author? Like the book of Jeremiah, the Holy Spirit is usually thought to have inspired the book of Lamentations through the so-called "weeping prophet" Jeremiah, perhaps written down by his scribe Baruch.
What is the book? The book is a collection of five laments, prayers or cries to God in distressful situations, made in connection with the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
Where was it written? Jeremiah's laments were likely written down in or around Jerusalem.
When was it written? Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C., and the book was likely written shortly thereafter.
Why? One commentator seems to say at least somewhat rightly, "Lamentations describes Jerusalem's destruction not only for its own sake but also for the profound theological lessons to be learned from it." The Holy Spirit can use those lessons to speak words of law and Gospel to us today.
How? Comprised completely of poetry, although the line-lengths vary, Lamentations consists of five laments; the first, second, fourth, and fifth having 22 verses, while the third has 66 verses. All of the laments except for the fifth are acrostics, which means each successive stanza or line begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
For further reading on the book of Lamentations:
- Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume VIII: Jeremiah, Lamentations, translated by David Patrick and James Kennedy and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (There are some 120 pages on Lamentations.)
- Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume II, The Poetical and the Prophetical Books. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1924. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 11 pages on Lamentations.)