This is a short book, only 5 chapters, so I’m just doing the one post on it. The author is unknown, according to my study Bible, but it takes place when Babylon comes and destroys Jerusalem.
Each chapter is a different “Lamentation” and seems to be written by a different author. Or perhaps written by the same author over time. The first chapter has quite a bit in the beginning with reference to women or using feminine pronouns or comparing Jerusalem to different types of women. It’s not exactly flattering but it does get balanced out a bit later with a man’s perspective of what’s going on. It focuses on the isolation of the devastation on Jerusalem and the way the nations around them seem to take joy in seeing the Judeans suffer.
From there the second chapter takes on a different tone and is upset about the lack of mercy that was shown by God to the people of Jerusalem during this time. More feminine pronouns, but that’s about it. The third chapter continues the feminine pronouns but the tone changes yet again. This time the author talks quite a bit about his own personal suffering but changes gears into the assurance that it is temporary and that God will come back to save them. Apparently this person was paying attention when Jeremiah was giving prophecy about God restoring them down the road.
Quite a bit of chapter four makes reference to women not doing what some might call our womanly duties during this time of great peril. It’s a little too sure of how great and innocent the old day’s were, as if prior behavior was not directly responsible for what they were presently going through. Chapter five is more of a plea for the promised restoration and is devoid of the assurance from chapter three. The author pleads with God, recounting the suffering of many groups, women included, and asks to be remembered, to be restored, to no longer be rejected.
Collectively, the impression that it leaves on the way women were treated is that it’s not really different from women today. There are “good” women who are respected and expected to carry out certain duties and there are “bad” women who deserve kinds of personal punishment that the Judeans are collective getting. That may be a bit dark for me, but it’s not exactly an unusual way to talk about or refer to women. It’s not like these are the words of God or His prophets. This is the lamentations of an unknown author about how it wasn’t great to be in Jerusalem while Babylon was destroying it. His views on women and which deserve what kind of treatment should not be taken as indicative of God’s opinion of us as a group. For that, I’ll refer back to Jeremiah and Isaiah and the comparisons made in prophecy, not that they tended to be particularly flattering either.