Megillat Eicha, The Book of Lamentations, was written in response to the calamity that befell Judea in 586 BCE, when the Babylonian Empire destroyed Jerusalem and exiled its inhabitants.
Four of the five chapters in Megillat Eicha are built on the structure of the “Aleph-Beit,” the “alphabet” of the Hebrew Language, with chapter 3 constructed on the structure of a triple “Aleph-Beit,” while the fifth chapter is not alphabetic, but contains the same number of verses as the letters in the alphabet of the Hebrew Language. It is as if the Hebrew Language, the Language of the Torah and of Jewish Prayer, is in mourning for the City and its People.
Megillat Eicha Book: Critical Topics
Below are the critical topics in the book, illustrating the intersection between emotions and theology and outlining a blueprint for coping with pain and loss. These questions relate to God’s nature and to the manner of the relationship between the community and God.
- Can humans understand God’s ways?
- Is God an ally or an enemy?
- Are the people’s sins responsible for the calamity or is it disproportionate and unjust?
- Is the nation defiant or remorseful? Ashamed or outraged?
The structure of the Megillat Eicha book both reflects and encourages theological complexity, offering two divergent approaches to suffering. In one approach, humans come to terms with God’s actions and recognize God’s justness. In the other, humans resist reconciliation and maintain a defiant posture of incomprehension and outrage.
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