Bible Query from
Q: In Lam, did Jeremiah write this book?
A: While nothing in the book of Lamentations indicates either way, 2 Chronicles 35:25 says that Jeremiah composed laments over Josiah. However, since most of the Lamentations mention the fall of Jerusalem, either Jeremiah
a) Did not write Lamentations
b) Wrote all of Lamentations after Jerusalemís fall
c) Wrote part before and some after
d) Wrote about the fall of Jerusalem before it happened.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1207 says the following sources said it was written by Jeremiah: the Septuagint, the Aramaic Targum of Jonathan, the Babylonian Talmud, the Peshitta, and the Vulgate. See also 735 Baffling Bible Questions Answered p.181 and the discussion on 2 Chronicles 35:25 for more info.
Q: In Lam, when was this book written?
A: Most or all of it was likely written after the fall of Jerusalem in 7/18/587 or 586 B.C. If Jeremiah wrote it, then he probably wrote it prior to being taken to Egypt in 583/582 B.C.
Q: In Lam, what is unusual about the structure?
A: Lamentations is a highly structured book. It consists of five poetic dirges (or lamentations), and one poem per chapter.
1. Each poem except the middle one consists of exactly 22 verses. This is the structure in the Hebrew, not just the translation.
2. Each verse in chapters 1, 2, and 4 starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Another place in the Bible where this style of poetry is used is in Psalm 119. However, in chapters 2 and 4, the order of two letters is Ďayin-pe, when it is reversed in the Hebrew alphabet.
3. The middle poem has exactly 66 verses. The first three verses each start with Aleph (A), then next three verses start with Beth (B), etc.
4. Lamentations 4:1-6 is parallel with Lamentations 4:7-11.
Q: In Lam, what is the main message of the book?
A: From A to Z, God punished in full the sin of Jerusalem. As surely as one can remember the alphabet, one should remember that God lets people repent and return to Him.
Q: In Lam, why were acrostics used?
A: Lamentations does not say, but we can see at least three reasons.
1. Scripture was often memorized, and this would be an aid to memorization.
2. The high degree of structure alludes to the orderly, determined consequences God brought upon the people. There was nothing haphazard about Godís judgment.
3. This was a Hebrew poetic device, which shows us that this book was not a spontaneous outburst, but rather a well thought-out, designed communication of grief.
Q: In Lam, what is an outline of the book?
A: Here is a high-level outline.
Lam 1 Groaning over Zionís desolation and distress
...Lam 1:1-11 Desertion by God and man
...Lam 1:12-22 Why he weeps over sin
Lam 2 Who and Why: The Lord did this as He planned
Lam 3 Response to Godís discipline
Lam 4 Past and future of Judah
Lam 5 Appeal to Godís Mercy for Restoration
Q: In Lam, to which other book in the Bible is this most similar?
A: There are at least 12 clear similarities (plus 3 arguable ones) between Lamentations and chapter 28 of Deuteronomy. While there are many other things in Deuteronomy that are not in Lamentations, 15 similarities in 154 verses is about 1 similarity per 10 verses. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1209 for more info.
Q: In Lam, what are the similarities between Lamentations and the rest of the Old Testament?
A: Here are many of the parallels
|Concept or Phrase||Lamentations||Old Testament|
|Lovers of the adulterous Judah/Zion||Lam 1:2,19||Jer 30:14|
|No one to comfort Jerusalem||Lam 1:2,7,9,17,21||Ps 142:4|
|No resting place for the people||Lam 1:3||Dt 28:65|
|Their children given away to captives||Lam 1:5||Dt 28:32; 41|
|Have no strength to fight them||Lam 1:6||Dt 28:25|
|Nakedness and filthiness in clothes||Lam 1:8-9||Isa 4:4; 64:6|
|Eyes fail with tears||Lam 1:16; 2:11,18; 3:49||Jer 9:1,18|
|A devouring fire comes before God||Lam 2:3||Hab 3:5-6; Ps 50:3|
|God bends His bow||Lam 2:4; 3:12-13||Ps 7:12; 21:12; Isa 41:2|
|God casts off His altar||Lam 2:7||Jer 7; Ezek 8-10|
|Who can heal||Lam 2:13||Jer 8:22; Nah 3:19|
|False prophets did not warn the people||Lam 2:14; 4:13||Jer 29:23|
|Passersby clap their hands and hiss at Zion||Lam 2:15,16||Ezek 25:6|
|Mothers eating their young children||Lam 2:20||Dt 28:53; Jer 19:9; Ezek 5:10|
|Young and old die in the streets||Lam 2:21||Dt 28:50; Ezek 9:6|
|Drinking wormwood||Lam 3:15,19||Jer 9:15,19|
|Not cast off forever||Lam 3:31||Jer 3:5,12|
|Not desire to afflict people||Lam 3:32||Ezek 18:23,32; 33|
|Both good and calamity come from God||Lam 3:38||Jer 11:11; 18:11 Ezek 6:10; Am 3:6; 9:3; Jon 3:10|
|Asking for revenge||Lam 3:64-66||Jer 10:25; Ps 140:10,11; 141:10; 143:12|
|Relating them to Sodom||Lam 4:6||Jer 23:14; Isa 1:9|
|Mothers eating their own children||Lam 4:10||Dt 28:56-57|
|Pursuers were swifter than eagles||Lam 4:19||Jer 4:13; Hab 1:8|
|Edom too will be punished||Lam 4:21,22||Jer 49:7-22; Obadiah|
|Forced to drink a cup||Lam 4:21||Jer 39:12|
|Houses occupied by foreigners||Lam 5:2||Dt 28:30|
|They will find no rest in exile||Lam 5:5||Dt 28:65|
|They will go hungry||Lam 5:10||Dt 28:48|
|Foreigners will lie with their women||Lam 5:11||Dt 28:30|
|They will show older people no respect||Lam 5:12||Dt 28:50|
|None will drive the wild animals away||Lam 5:18||Dt 28:26|
Q: In Lam 1, which city is this?
A: This is Jerusalem, which was originally built on the mountain called Zion, according to Lamentations 1:7-8. Metaphorically, this could apply to any group of Godís people, who have been disobedient and then been crushed.
Q: In Lam 1:2,9,16,17,21, why do you think it says five times there was none to comfort Jerusalem?
A: None of these times said she was crying out to God. She trusted in Egypt, pagan gods, and others, and though she cried out, they did not come. But Isaiah 40:1-2 speaks of God comforting Godís sinful people, and so Lamentations is claiming that promise.
Q: In Lam 1:2,9,16,17,21, when people are unhappy because they donít have people to turn to, how do you encourage them to turn to God?
A: Sometimes people look solely to others for healing and to meet their emotional needs when they should be looking primarily to God. Be careful when you help them that you donít accidentally foster dependency or attachment to you. But your words, your example, your encouragement or maybe simply your being there for them, can encourage them not to give up but to seek the peace of God.
Q: In Lam 1:4 (KJV, NASB, NKJV), how were Zionís virgins afflicted?
A: This means Jerusalemís maidens were grieved, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1212, NIV, and NRSV. Regardless of whether rape was intended here, they were raped according to Lamentations 5:11.
Q: In Lam 1:6 (KJV), what is a "hart"?
A: A hart is an adult male deer.
Q: In Lam 1:7, how did people mock at Zionís Sabbaths?
A: Different texts have a different word here. The Masoretic text says, "her annihilations", the Greek Septuagint says, "her habitation". The Authorized text says, "her Sabbaths", and the Alexandrine text says, "her captivity"
If the word is Sabbaths, the people of Judah did not keep the Sabbath like they were supposed to do. It should be no surprise that others scoffed at Godís commands, when Godís people did not obey them either.
Q: In Lam 1:11; 2:3, how does a person become vile in Godís eyes?
A: People can be vile in at least three ways.
1. Vile because of vile actions. (vile on the outside)
2. Vile because of the character and desires. (vile on the inside)
3. Vile because they have no desire to change.
Q: In Lam 1:12, why would God be so angry against His own people?
A: They were stubbornly disobedient to God.
A Christian friend once asked if there were any proof that people have free agency, and are not robots, from Godís perspective of eternity. Yes there is, and for a just God, the proof is in three words: "man has responsibility". Godís people were wicked and disobedient to Him, and He gave them the responsibility to obey, and the freedom and grace to obey or disobey.
Some strict Calvinists have disagreed, saying we have responsibility without ability. It is true that we have the responsibility not to sin without the ability not to sin. However, if we had responsibility without any choice of respondability, it would be sort of like commanding your pet fish to play Mozart on the piano, and then killing your pet fish because he failed in his responsibility. God is not like that; God is just.
Q: In Lam 1:16,21, what is the appropriate role of mourning in society today?
A: Mourning is downplayed in society today, but prominent in the Bible. Outside of great disasters today, many in the church have forgotten the role of mourning in the Bible. After Davidís sin with Bathsheba, he mourned when their child was sick and dying in 2 Samuel 12:16-22. Nehemiah mourned over the consequences of the sin of his people in Nehemiah 1:4-11. In the church Paul said the Corinthians should be mourning over the sin of someone in their church in 1 Corinthians 5:2.
Q: In Lam 1:20; 2:10, (KJV) how were the writerís bowels troubled, and his liver spilled on the ground?
A: This was a literal translation from the Hebrew. These idioms meant the writerís felt sick to his stomach (NRSV has his stomach churned) and he was heartbroken over Israelís sin.
Q: In Lam 1:22, how does some sin come before God before other sin, and why?
A: People can heap up sins "up to the limit" in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 Seriousness, visibility to others, effects of the sin, can all be factors in God choosing some sins to judge more quickly or severely than others in this life. James 3:1-2 says not to have many of us become teachers, because teachers will be judged with greater strictness.
Q: Lam 2:1 what does it mean not to "topple from your splendor"?
A: Casting down from heaven to earth means more than just hurting your witness before others. For believers it implies a loss of rewards that they would have had.
Q: In Lam 2:1,2,3,4,6 why do you think God was angry towards Jerusalem, more so than the Babylonians that destroyed her?
A: It was not so much because of wickedness, but rather wicked rebellion. Unlike the Babylonians who did not know Godís law, and never claimed to follow God, the Jews knew well Godís law and claimed to follow it. Actually when the Babylonians captured Jerusalem they did not destroy it, initially. But after Jerusalem rebelled once they had surrendered, then Jerusalem was leveled after a siege of 30 months.
God had "fierce anger" towards Jerusalem in Lamentation 4:11. For those who had much knowledge, much was required. (See 2 Peter 2:21). God gave them the land and the city, and since they were turning their back on God as they did, and trusted in both their idols and God protecting their city, God was going to destroy the city that He gave them.
It is one thing not to follow God. It is another to claim to follow God and then subsequently turn your back on Him.
Q: Lam 2:3 says that God has cut off their strength (horn in Hebrew). To what extent does our strength/success in natural means depend on God?
A: Some atheists make fortunate decision in the stock market, or get lucky as a casino. Christians can gain or lose money in financial investments. God does not promise Christians material success, but rather His power to live well for Him, regardless of our finances. God does not promise us that we will never have rough times; but that God will be there and take us through the rough times.
God wants us to have a "successful" life; but it is by His definition of success, not the worldís.
Q: In Lam 2:5, why is God the enemy of some people, since God has compassion on all in Ps 145:9,16?
A: The answer is found in Psalm 145:20: While God has compassion on all He has made in Psalm 145:9,16, that does not negate that He will destroy the wicked in Psalm 145:20.
God is merciful even to those going to Hell, as He gives them a delay in their judgment and gives them time to repent, as 2 Peter 3:9 says.
Q: In Lam 2:5 what do you think of the statement, "the rebellious Israelites did not have to worry primarily about the Babylonians, they had to worry about God."?
A: God did not use allow the Babylonians to invade and punish Judah; he actively sent them. If they had been more concerned about obeying God more, and less on world events, they would have repented and turned back to God, and God would have taken care of the Babylonians. Many other nations besides Judah were overrun by the Babylonians too. Being Godís people, when you are in rebellion against Him, can be a costly blessing. See the New International Bible Commentary p.803 for more info.
Q: In Lam 2:6, there were probably many happy occurrences in Godís place of meeting. How bad would things have to be for God to want to destroy it?
A: While scripture does not tell exactly, it gives us some examples we can observe. Idolatry, double-minded loyalty, and just plain apathy were serious enough that God finally said, "Iím done here". People can sin up to the limit (1 Thessalonians 2:16).
Q: In Lam 2:13, what is a burden here?
A: A burden was a word for a prophetís vision. It was a "burden" from God that he had to carry to the people. But it was a heavy message.
Q: In Lam 3:1-3, why does God sometimes seem to reverse His actions?
A: God miraculously saved Jerusalem in Hezekiahís time. Then the people trusted in Jerusalem. God warned them in an entire sermon (Jeremiah 7) not to trust in Jerusalem. They did not change, so Godís favor towards their city did. Likewise, when an individual or a people move towards God, but then stop and refuse to keep on moving, Godís favor towards them might change too.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1217 for more info.
Q: In Lam 3:4,16, why did the writer say God made his skin old and broke his bones and teeth?
A: If Jeremiah was the author of this book, after the fall of Jerusalem he would have been over 90 years old.
Q: In Lam 3:15,19, what is wormwood?
A: A very bitter-tasting drink was made from wormwood. Drinking it would rid the body of intestinal worms and other parasites. Sometimes it was fermented, and the resulting alcoholic drink is called absinthe. Absinthe is one of the few alcoholic drinks whose import is prohibited in the United States. It is banned because repeated drinking causes insanity. Wormwood is also mentioned in Revelation 8:11 as the name of a fallen star.
Q: In Lam 3:22, Ps 145:9-10, and 2 Cor 1:4-7, how is God compassionate, since He did not pity the people, as Lam 2:2,17 says?
A: God has both love and wrath, as the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28 shows. In addition to having compassion on all creation, and having compassion on the righteous, God also has great compassion on the wicked who repent and turn to Him. See When Critics Ask p.281 for more info.
Q: Since Lam 3:31 says the Lord will not cast off forever, so will all eventually go to Heaven, as the heresy of universalism teaches?
A: No. God does not cast off His own people forever, but that does not mean He does not send others to the Lake of Fire forever. Any who would use this verse to try to prove the falsehood of universalism, should at least be honest and state they think that John (and/or Jesus) is wrong in Revelation 20:10.
Q: In Lam 3:38, does anything happen that is not decreed of the Lord, or do some things not enter Godís mind as Jer 5:29; 8:19; 12:8; 32:35 says?
A: The word "decreed" is understood in two ways.
1. Everything that happens is decreed in the sense that God permits it to happen. According to Charles Hodge, "God never decrees to do, or to cause others to do what He forbids. He may, as we see He does, decree to permit what He forbids. He permits men to sin, although sin is forbidden." (The History and Theology of Calvinism p.230). In Chosen by God p.97 R.C. Sproul writes, "[God] ordained the Fall in the sense that he chose to allow it, but not in the sense that he chose to coerce it."
2. Some things are not desired by God, and they are not decreed in the sense that God forces them to happen, or that God is the cause of their happening.
Q: In Lam 3:38, how does both good and evil come from the mouth of God?
A: Lamentations 3:39, as well as Jeremiah 18:11, show that "evil" meaning physical harm, is intended here, not moral evil. The entire book of Lamentations makes the point that God is not evil or unjust to bring on these punishments, but this was justly deserved, and warned about in Deuteronomy 28.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.312-313 and Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions p.219-220 for more extensive discussions of essentially the same answer.
Q: In Lam 3:40, how does a person search and try their ways?
A: Examining ourselves is an important thing, as 1 Corinthians 13:5 shows. One way is by asking these questions.
1. If you were to die and stand before God right now, would He would let you into His Heaven?
2. How is your relationship with God, and your devotional time in fellowship with Him?
3. Are you spending time taking delight in Godís word?
4. What are you doing that is not what God wants you to do?
5. What are you not doing, and not teaching others, that God wants you to do?
6. When is your attitude and desires not Christlike? Are you growing in Christlikeness?
7. What barriers do you see in your spiritual growth, and how can those be removed?
8. Where are you not giving God your best, but just a token effort? Like tithing you mint and spices, are you overdoing some minor things, and neglecting greater things.
Q: In Lam 3:43; 2:1, what does it mean for God to cover someone with anger?
A: The NRSV translates this as "You have wrapped yourself with anger". The NASB has the same meaning, but it shows the word "thyself/yourself" as italicized, so it could be either way. The NET Bible says, "shrouded yourself" but a footnote says it could be either "covered yourself [God]" or "covered us". Either way all the means for a wicked person to access God are covered with anger, or God has covered them with anger roughly analogous to a human bodyís antigens attaching to a foreign body so the white blood cells know to destroy it.
Q: In Lam 3:55, how did the writer call to God out of a dungeon or pit?
A: The Hebrew here literally is "lowest pit", and the Septuagint translated this as "dungeon". Jeremiah, and Godís faithful people, were acknowledging they were calling to God from the worst circumstances possible. They also acknowledged that their situation was just, because of their sins.
In addition, King Zedekiah was blinded and put in a dungeon in Babylon the rest of his life in Jeremiah 52:11 and 2 Kings 25:7. King Jehoiachin was taken prisoner in 2 Kings 24:12. Earlier, King Manasseh was imprisoned in Babylon in 2 Chronicles 33:11.
Q: In Lam 3:55, how do some believers feel like they are in a pit today?
A: Genuine believers can feel like they are in a dungeon for a few reasons.
1. Paul at one time felt like he despaired on life itself in 2 Corinthians 1:8.
2. Believers can feel down when God disciplines them for their own sins (Hebrews 12:5-11).
3. Believers can feel down when their people are in a bad situation due to the peopleís disobedience, even though the believer herself was obedient (Nehemiah 1:3-5).
4. God can allow calamity to happen to obedient believers, without their understanding why as happened to Job and David before reigning as king. It could be for a history-changing purposes that someone like Joseph could not see yet. Believers can still glorify God by their perseverance through this though.
5. In the previous three situations, sometimes a believer mistakenly feels that God has abandoned them, or their people, and God will never draw near to them again.
Q: In Lam 3:64-66, Ps 140:10,11; 141:10, and 143:12, is it sometimes OK to ask for revenge?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
1. This was a prayer to God, and like the imprecatory Psalms, this shows that we should pray everything to God.
2. Even in Old Testament times, they were supposed to leave the vengeance to God.
3. In New Testament times, Jesus gave us a higher standard on many things. We are to love our enemies, and pray for (not against) those who persecute us.
Q: In Lam 4:3, why are jackals and ostriches contrasted here?
A: Many animals, from birds, to most mammals, even the ugly-looking jackal, take care of their young. Ostriches are known not to be very smart in that regard. They lay their eggs and then abandon them, occasionally even accidentally stepping on them. Many people take care of their kids, their spouses, family, friends, and even strangers. However, some people donít take care of anyone but themselves. Some people are evil in that they have no hesitation to lie, cheat, and steal for themselves and their family. But others are different. They are evil in that they will lie, cheat, and steal and take care of only themselves. "Ostrich" describes their love and concern for others.
You can be hurt being around these people, even when trying to help them. They donít think of gratitude, but only how that can get an advantage off of you. These people all might almost seem completely hopeless as far as the gospel goes, - but they are not. The Holy Spirit can pierce even a totally selfish and wicked heart, or more appropriately in this case, give them a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone, as Ezekiel 11:19 says.
Q: In Lam 4:6, how was their punishment greater than that of Sodom?
A: In one sense, the sins of Sodom were worse (Jude 5-7; 2 Peter 2:6), and while their destruction was total (Luke 17:28-29), the end was sudden with little suffering. On the other hand, the Israelites had much more knowledge than the people of Sodom had. The suffering of the Israelites on earth was much greater, though their destruction was not complete.
Q: In Lam 4:7, what does "her Nazirites were purer than snow" mean?
A: There is some text uncertainty here. The Hebrew text says "Nazirites", but the Greek Septuagint says "princes".
Nazirites were both men and women who made a special vow to God. The view was usually only for a period of time, though Samson was a Nazirite from birth.
Q: In Lam 4:10 (KJV), what does the word "sodden" mean?
A: The Hebrew word (as well as "sodden") means to boil or cook. The NASB and Greenís Literal translation say, "boil", and the NIV, NET, and NKJV say, "cooked".
Q: In Lam 4:10, Jer 19:9, and Ezek 5:10, did mothers really eat their own children?
A: Unfortunately, yes. The writer was recording just how severe the famine was when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem. Of course this says nothing to condone their wicked behavior.
Q: In Lam 4:13, how can even prophets have sins?
A: There are three kinds of prophets, and at least three ways prophets have sinned. Probably all of them occurred.
False prophets were telling the people to trust in idols, either pagan gods, or the city of Jerusalem itself that God had once miraculously preserver. Just a little before Lamentations was written Jeremiah 28 spoke about the false prophet Hananiah. Jeremiah 23:9-18,33-39 speaks of other false prophets who were lying.
Silent watchmen, who should have been prophets, but they said nothing. Ezekiel 3:17-21; 33:1-9 says that a watchman who fails to warn someone who is wicked or turning away from the Lord, will be accountable for their blood.
Even true prophets can be discouraged and stop talking to others. Jeremiah at one point was deeply discouraged in Jeremiah 20:7-18.
Q: In Lam 4:13-16, when things go bad, why do some people ask "Why?" less than others?
A: Some people donít think their actions usually have consequences, and some people donít think that any consequences every have reasons. They think life is meaningless and absurd, and wonder why they always seem to be victims.
A second reason is they already have a guess as to why, but they donít want to be honest with themselves. It is hard to find the answer when you are looking to avoid it.
Q: In Lam 4:16, why did God no longer regard them?
A: This can mean both that God no longer respects them, and the God no longer watches over them (as the NIV has). The people did not respect Godís priests or elders, so God is not respecting them either. When they are out of God care and favor, why should they expect God to watch over them? If a country today has experienced Godís favor in the past, and they no longer respect God, they should not take for granted God favor in the future.
Q: In Lam 4:17, 1:19, what is wrong with foreign alliances?
A: There are a number of things wrong.
1) God said not to trust in other nations in Jeremiah 37:6-10 and Ezekiel 26:6-7.
2) It often involves compromise. For the Assyrians it mean the king bowing to the Assyrian gods.
For Solomon it meant marrying foreign prince4sses, who turned his heart from the Lord.
3) It demonstrates lack of faith in God. They thought it essential because they were not trusting in God to protect them.
4) Sometimes no hope is better than a false hope, that letís you down when you risk to put your trust in it.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1220 for more info.
Q: In Lam 4:21, why was Edom told to rejoice and be glad?
A: This is sarcasm here. They were rejoicing anyway over Jerusalemís destruction, and the writer told them to go ahead and rejoice for now, because soon it would be their turn to be destroyed, just like the city they were rejoicing over.
Q: In Lam 5, without downplaying the situation, and without being a nag, how do you encourage somebody to mourn and repent?
A: You canít argue someone into repentance. It is God who gives them a spirit of repentance but there are a few things you can do. First, pray for them that they repent. Second, talk with them, to help them get a clear picture of how things are. Rebuke them as needed, comfort them as needed, and encourage them as needed. Try to understand how things look from their point of view, for the purpose of helping them shift to see things from Godís point of view.
Q: In Lam 5:2, how can an inheritance be turned over to foreigners in a religious sense?
A: In this time, the Temple was destroyed and the land had high places to pagan gods, since pagans were living there. However, the idol high places were not originally put there by the pagans, but by the Israelites themselves, who were worshipping idols, either instead of God, or in addition to God
When Godís people worship or trust in something instead of God, eventually it can find its way into their life, family, churches, and schools. Some of the earliest American universities, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, were founded in part to train pastors. Harvard had a Unitarian president, and other Unitarian faculty. Yale, and then much later Princeton turned away from the Bible teaching later.
Church organizations, can have a small flaw, that uncorrected can cause great problems. Even Mission organizations, that were once bright stars in translating the Bible, can add non-Bible believing Christians to their board and then start making low fidelity translations to try to appease Muslims.
Q: In Lam 5:2-5, how should godly discipline work?
A: When a person is under discipline from God, many times their reaction is "I am so sorry that this is happening to me" or "I am so sorry for these consequences". But our attitude should be changed to be "I am so sorry for what I did", or "I am so sorry for displeasing God." Instead of looking at the consequences and saying, "why me", i.e., why did this happen to me, we should look at the situations "why me", why did I sin and do (or fail to do) those things.
When we bear up under Godís discipline, and praise Him anyway despite the circumstances, God can bless us through the situation. God promises to work all things, even discipline, together for those who love Him in Romans 8:28. The things we have lost due to Godís discipline we might get back, or we might never get back. But even in the latter case, God can "restore the years the locusts have eaten in Joel 2:25.
Q: In Lam 5:7, how do people bear their fatherís sins?
A: People are not guilty for their fatherís sins, as Ezekiel 18 and Deuteronomy 24:16 show. However, people often bear the consequences of othersí sins. In addition, if they are brought up to sin in the same way, and voluntarily share in the same sins as their parents, then they share the guilt too.
Q: In Lam 5:8, how did slaves rule over Israel and Judah now?
A: The people of Judah went from being ruled by a king to being ruled by lowly Babylonian governors. Their titles were "slaves of the king" according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.6 p.731.
Q: In Lam 5:11-13, how was Nebuchadnezzar brutal here?
A: Nebuchadnezzar killed did not torture those he though most guilty in Jeremiah 52:10-11, 24-27, so it is probably dishonoring the corpses of those he executed, as The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.6 p.731 says. Nebuchadnezzar did this to break peopleís trust in their former nobles, culture, and past. Today some are not so much trying to prove the Bible wrong as to ridicule it, so that people would be ashamed to say they are a Christian.
Q: In Lam 5:13, why would young men grind the millstones and boys carry loads of wood?
A: This was probably not due to Babylonian cruelty but rather practicality. Since most of the animals were probably eaten during the long siege, they used Jewish men to do the work that animals would usually do. Metaphorically, when you get rid of the things and people that were helping you, you have to do things yourself you might not really be well-suited for.
Q: In Lam 5:21, should someone ask God to turn to them?
A: Both the Masoretic text and Septuagint say, "turn/return us to you". The meaning is not to ask God to change and come back to us, but rather to ask God to turn them back to God. Even repentance is by Godís grace as Jeremiah 31:18,33-34 and Ezekiel 36:26-27 show in God giving people a new heart. As Jesus says in John 6:44, no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws Him. Pray for others, that God would draw them to be saved.
Q: In Lam, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) 4 separate fragments according to the Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.30 and the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.436-438. A photograph of the Dead Sea scroll 4QLam is in the New International Bible Dictionary p.580. One fragment in cave 3 (3Q3) contains Lamentations 1:10-12; 3:53-62 according to Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls p.22.
Overall, preserved in the Dead Sea scrolls are the following verses from Lamentations: 1:1-18; 2:5; 3:53-62; 4:5-8,11-20,19-22; 5:1-13,16-17. See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls for more details.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Lamentations.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) have each preserved all of Lamentations.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) has preserved all of Lamentations. It starts on the same page that Jeremiah ends. It ends the page before Joel starts.
Q: Which early writers referred to Lamentations?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Lamentations are:
X* Melito/Meleto of Sardis (170-177/180 A.D.) did not list Lamentation, Nehemiah, or Esther in his canon. However, some placed Lamentations as a part of Jeremiah, and Nehemiah as a part of Ezra. Fragment 4 From the Book of Extracts p.759.
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) quotes 7 out of 21 Greek words of Lamentations 4:20 in the Septuagint in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.10.3 p.423.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 1:1,2 as by Jeremiah. The Instructor book 1 ch.9 p.230
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) quotes the first half of Lamentations 4:7 "her Nazirites were whiter than snow;" Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.8 p.354
Origen (225-254 A.D.) "is not unknown in the older Scriptures. For thus, in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, it is said," and quotes Lamentations 3:27-28,30. Origen Against Celsus book 7 ch.25 p.621
Origen (225-254 A.D.) "which is in the opened heaven. Hence Jeremiah says," and quotes Lamentations 4:20. Commentary on John book 2 no.4 p.326
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (270-311/312 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 3:27 as by Jeremiah. Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 5 ch.3 p.326
Eusebius of Caesarea (318-339/340 A.D.)
Aphrahat (337-345 A.D.)
Athanasius (367,325-373 A.D.) lists Lamentations with the rest of the books of the Old Testament in Paschal Letter 39 ch.4 p.552.
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D.)
Ephraim the Syrian (350-378 A.D.)
Basil of Cappadocia (357-378/379 A.D.) alludes to Lamentations
Cyril of Jerusalem (c.349-385 A.D.)
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.)
Gregory Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Gregory Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.)
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 1:1 as scripture. Commentary on Zechariah 12 p.289
Syriac Liber Graduum (350-400 A.D.) quotes from Lamentations as scripture.
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.) put Lamentations at the end of his list of canonical books.
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.) translating Origen (225-254 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 3:25 as "in the Lamentations of Jeremiah" de Principiis book 2 ch.5.4 p.281
Orosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) refers to Lamentations as scripture
Jerome (393-420 A.D.)
Augustine of Hippo (338-430 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 4:20 as by Jeremiah in The City of God book 18 ch.33 p.379
The Semi-Pelagian John Cassian (419-430 A.D.) quotes from Lamentations.
Theodoret of Cyrus (423-458 A.D.)
Among spurious works
Pseudo-Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes Lamentations 2:18; 3:31,40 from the Septuagint. Exhortation to Repentance p.593
Marinus the Bardasene (c.300 A.D.) refers to Lamentation 3:34 as by Jeremiah. Adamantius' Dialogue on the True Faith Fifth part section 21 p.176
Q: In Lam, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.6 p.699 says, "The MT [Masoretic text] is well preserved, and little help for possible corrections can be obtained from the LXX [Septuagint] or Syriac. These seem to be based on the present MT. Indeed, variants in the LXX apparently are due mainly to corruption of the Greek text rather than to a difference in the Hebrew." Here are a few of the differences. The following is the Masoretic text wording, followed by variations. This example focuses on chapter 1, and a few places in other chapters.
Before Lam 1:1, in the Septuagint, is the following: "And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said. In the Septuagint the title of the book is "The Lamentations of Jeremiah"
Before each verse in the Septuagint is the Hebrew letter. Since the Hebrew acrostic structure would be lost in the Greek, apparently they felt it good to put the Hebrew letter to show the structure.
Lam 1:3 "between the straits" vs. "between her oppressors"
Lam 1:4 "roads" vs. "ways"
Lam 1:4 "in mourning" vs. "mourn"
Lam 1:4 "gates are deserted" vs. "gates are ruined"
Lam 1:4 "virgins are afflicted" (Masoretic) vs. "virgins (parthenoi) are led captive / dragged away" (Septuagint and Old Latin)
Lam 1:4 "she is in bitterness" vs. "she is in bitterness in herself"
Lam 1:5 "have prospered" vs. "at ease"
Lam 1:6 "splendor has departed" vs. "beauty has been taken away"
Lam 1:7 "Jerusalem remembers" vs. "Jerusalem remembered the days of her affliction, and her rejection"
Lam 1:7 "foe" vs. "oppressor"
Lam 1:7 "her annihilations" (Masoretic) vs. "her habitation" (Septuagint) vs. "her Sabbaths" (Authorized version) vs. "her captivity" (Alexandrine text)
Lam 1:8 "vile" vs. "been moved/removed" vs. "come into great tribulation"
Lam 1:8 "ones knowing her despised her" vs. "all that used to honour her have afflicted her"
Lam 1:8 "nakedness" vs. "shame"
Lam 1:9 "in her skirts" vs. "before her feet"
Lam 1:9 "gone down astoundingly" vs. "lowered her (plural) tone"
Lam 1:9 "Look/Behold O Lord, on my affliction" (Masoretic, Septuagint) vs. "Look/Behold O Lord, on her affliction" (Old Latin, Bohairic Coptic)
Lam 1:11 "I have become vile" vs. "she is become dishonoured"
Lam 1:12 "nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which is done to me with which" vs. "All yet that pass by the way, turn, and see if there is sorrow like to my sorrow, which has happened"
Lam 1:13 "all the days faint" vs. "all the day".
Lam 1:14 "The yoke of my transgressions is bound by His hand; they intertwine," (Masoretic, Targums) vs. "He has watched over my sins, they are twined about my hands" (some Hebrew, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate)
Lam 1:14 "He caused my strength" vs. "my strength"
Lam 1:15 "trampled" vs. "cut off"
Lam 1:16 "My eye, my eye" (most Masoretic) vs. "Mine eye" (a few Hebrew, Septuagint, Syriac, Targum, Vulgate)
Lam 1:16 "is a comforter reviving my soul" vs. "he that should comfort me, that should restore my soul"
Lam 1:16 "are desolate the enemy prevails" vs. "have been destroyed because the enemy has prevailed."
Lam 1:17 "hands" vs. "hand"
Lam 1:17 "as an impure thing among them" vs. "as a removed woman."
Lam 1:18 "rebelled against His mouth" vs. "provoked His mouth"
Lam 1:19 "expired in the city" vs. "failed in the city"
Lam 1:20 "bereaves" vs. "has bereaved"
Lam 1:21 "They hear that" vs. "Here, I pray you"
Lam 1:21 "evil" vs. "afflictions"
Lam 1:22 "and do to them as You have done to me for all my transgressions" vs. "and strip them, as they have made a gleaning for all my sins"
Lam 2:6 "as/like a garden" (Masoretic) vs. "as/like a vine" (Septuagint)
Lam 2:13 "What can I say for you?" (Masoretic) vs. "What can I compare to you?" (Septuagint, Vulgate)
Lam 3:19 "Remember" (Masoretic) vs. "I remembered" (Septuagint)
Lam 3:22 "The kindness of Jehovah that we are not destroyed, for His mercies never fail/cease" (Masoretic) vs. " the mercies of the Lord, that he has not failed me, because his compassions are not exhausted. Pity us, O Lord, early every month: for we are not brought to an end, because his compassions are not exhausted." (Septuagint, one Hebrews, the Targum)
Lam 3:22 "Lord, we are not cut off" (Masoretic) vs. "Lordís mercies never cease/fail" (Syriac, Targum)
Lam 3:27 "in his youth" (Masoretic, some Septuagint) vs. "from his youth" (numerous Hebrew, some Septuagint, Old Latin, Vulgate)
Lam 3:34 "prisoners in the land" (Masoretic) vs. "prisoners of the earth" (Septuagint) vs. "captives bound of earth" (Marinus the Bardasene (c.300 A.D.) in Adamantius' Dialogue on the True Faith Fifth part section 21 p.176)
Lam 3:53 "silenced my life" (Masoretic) vs. "put to death" (Septuagint)
Lam 3:55 "lowest pit" (Masoretic) vs. "dungeon" (Septuagint)
Lam 3:56 "cry for help" (Masoretic) vs. "to my relief/salvation" (Septuagint, Symmachus) vs. absent (Vulgate)
Lam 4:7 "her princes" vs. "her Nazirites" (Septuagint)
Lam 4:16 "elders" (Masoretic and Alexandrine text) vs. "prophets" (Septuagint from Brentonís Septuagint)
Lam 5:5 "sword on our necks" (Masoretic, some Septuagint) vs. " sword of the wilderness" (some Septuagint) vs. "with a yoke/burden on our necks" (Symmachus)
Lam 5:13 "young men toil at the millstones" (Masoretic) vs. "The chosen men lifted up the voice in weeping" (Septuagint)
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Greenís Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brentonís translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositorís Bible Commentary and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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