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The Book of Lamentations: The Days of Weeping
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The Book of Lamentations, attributed to the prophet Jeremiah in the Vulgate and closely connected with his prophetic writing, is a little-known and somewhat obscure Old Testament text. It has as its historical background the tragedy of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., when the capital was captured by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, after a long siege and completely devastated. The Temple was desecrated, plundered and burnt, and Judea lost its independence. The most important survivors were sent into exile, deported to Babylon; those who remained had to submit to the burden of foreign occupation. It was a total catastrophe. It dramatically affected the historical consciousness of the people, who experienced the destruction as a collapse of their religious and national identity.

The book depicts a time of mourning, desolation and death, yet a story of salvation is paradoxically grafted on to the disconsolate lament over a tragic course of events.

Not long ago a commentary on Lamentations was published by the biblical scholar Pino Stancari, entitled: Nei giorni del pianto. Lettura spirituale delle “Lamentazioni,” [In the Days of Weeping. A Spiritual Reading of “Lamentations.”] The quality of that commentary should be acknowledged, but above all the surprise occasioned by God’s word, which comes to us to shed light upon the times in which we are living. The book “has forced us to become aware of how mournful and tragic the history of humanity is, today as yesterday, in a great many countries of the world, as at present in Europe,” and now also in the Middle East.
© Union of Catholic Asian News 2024
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