Biblical Hebrew for All


The Hebrew title of the book comes from the first word in its incipit (the first few words of the text, employed as an identifying label).


The Book of Lamentations is a collection of poetic laments for the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. In the Hebrew Bible it appears in the Ketuvim ("Writings"), beside the Song of SongsBook of RuthEcclesiastes and the Book of Esther (the Megillot or "Five Scrolls"), although there is no set order; in the Christian Old Testament it follows the Book of Jeremiah, as the prophet Jeremiah is its traditional author. 

Author, Date

Jeremiah's authorship is still generally accepted even though authorship isn't specifically notated in the text. According to "Both Jewish and Christian tradition ascribe authorship to Jeremiah, and the Septuagint even adds a note asserting Jeremiah as the writer of the book.
In addition, when the early Christian church father Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, he added a note claiming Jeremiah as the author of Lamentations"
It is generally accepted that the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon in 586 BCE forms the background to the poems.


Lamentations consists of five distinct poems, corresponding to its five chapters. Two of its defining characteristic features are the alphabetic acrostic and its qinah meter. But few English translations capture either of these; even fewer attempt to capture both.


An acrostic is a poem (or other form of writing) in which the first letter (or syllable, or word) of each line (or paragraph) spells out a word, a message or the alphabet.
The first four chapters of this book are written as acrostics. Chapters 1, 2, and 4 each have 22 verses, corresponding to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 3 has 66 verses, so that each letter begins three lines.
The rest of this comprehensive Wikipedia article on the book can be read here.
An extract from the notes found in BHFA, Volume 5.

Lamentations 1:7d

 שָׂחֲקוּ          עַל        מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ׃

her annihilation    upon    they laughed 

  • KJB         did mock at her sabbaths.
  • DRB have mocked at her sabbaths.
  • NASB They laughed at her ruin.
The Greek LXX has επί τη μετοικεσία αυτής correctly meaning, "upon her displacement."
The source of the incorrect translation in the KJB and DRB is Jerome's Latin Vulgate, which translated the noun as sabbata eius, Latin for "her Sabbaths." This is an example of the powerful influence the Latin Vulgate had on the early English translators.