Study Guide

Lamentations The Widow

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The Widow

Jerusalem is described in Lamentation as a widow. Poor Jerusalem.

  • How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations! (1.1)
  • We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. (5.3)

How is Jerusalem like a widow? Well, she's lost her soulmate God, at least temporarily, and she's feeling abandoned. But the Hebrew term that's used here—almanah—has a more specific meaning than "widow." A Bible scholar at Columbia University, Chayim Cohen, has pointed out that almanah refers to a woman who was once married, but now has no means of financial support, and who needs to be under the special protection of someone else.

So Cohen's conclusion is that by using widow in this sense to describe Jerusalem, the Poet's saying that Jerusalem is a once independent city that's now dependent on another nation for its support, that it's become a vassal of Babylon and has no resources of its own. So it's not only alone, it's broke (source).

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