Oct 2 – 20 Pentecost
The Deserted City
Background: The book of Lamentations was produced in response to a historical disaster – the destruction of Jerusalem, occupation, and deportation of leading Jewish citizens to Babylon in 586 BCE. The book has been attributed to Jeremiah but that attribution is questionable.
Theme: This narrative is the opening portion of five poems detailing the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of Israel to Nebuchadnezzar. These first chapters recount the pain of the people of Israel who feel abandoned by God in their deportation and punishment at the hands of the foreign king and military.
Questions to Ponder:
* Please read Lamentations 1:1-6.
* Why might this book be attributed to Jeremiah?
* Who do you think the principle “she” character (identified initially in verses 1 and 2)?
* What might it mean to say that “she lives now among the nations…” in verse 3b?
* In verse 4, scholars state that the word “grieve” is uncertain. Why might they believe that word “grieve” is appropriate in that place in the text?
* Verse 5 implicates God as the one who let Israel and Jerusalem be punished by letting the Babylonians overthrow them. Why might the writer blame God for their failure?
* Apparently, the writer also acknowledges the “multitude of her transgressions” committed by Jerusalem/Israel. Why, then, might the author claim God was to blame? Does it matter why God is blamed by the author?
* What is the overall function of the Lamentation (note the selection of article)?
* What is a unique feature of the Lamentation?
* What is the scope of the Lamentation, i.e., where does the Lamentation focus – the past, the present, the future or somewhere else?
* Do you think the writer is claiming the nation of Israel is being unjustly punished?
* What is the gospel message present in this passage?
* Where is the hope affiliated with the story portrayed by the writer of Lamentations?
* How do we translate this passage into something that isn’t simply trite (God never gives us more than we can bear…) or defeatist?