Chapter four brings Jeremiah back to describing the state of Jerusalem. Gold and jewels, which were once valuable, were worthless (Lamentations 4:1). There was no food or water or shelter; cannibalism had become normal (Lamentations 4:4-5, 9-10). Disease was rampant (Lamentations 4:8), and no one was willing to help them (Lamentations 4:14-16).
In a slight departure from chapters one and two, where Jerusalem was personified, now the inhabitants of Jerusalem spoke (Lamentations 4:17-20). 1 Recalling the fateful days when Nebuchadnezzar was at their door, they remembered looking for help that did not come and running until there was nowhere else to go. Even the one they thought could save them – their “very life breath” – their king was unable to do anything.
The last two verses of the chapter seem out-of-place in this book about Jerusalem’s ruin. Jeremiah turned his attention to Edom (Esau’s descendants), who had been mentioned only briefly in his prophecies (Jeremiah 25:21; 27:3; 49:7-22). Essentially, he said, “Laugh now, Edom, because your turn is coming!” Israel would be restored, but Edom would be annihilated forever.
- In the first two chapters, “Jerusalem” always spoke in the first person singular (I, me, my), whereas the rest of the book uses the plural (we, us, our). ↩