The Bible is a book written by men for men. That means women sometimes get ignored in its pages. The Book of Lamentations deals with a pretty masculine subject matter—a military defeat—but much of the imagery is feminine.
City names in Hebrew have the feminine gender, so it's appropriate that the poet imagines the city of Jerusalem in feminine terms. She's a princess and a virgin daughter before her fall from grace, God's abandoned beloved, a caring mother turned neglectful, and a weeping mourner. She sits begging on the streets, telling passersby to notice her children's suffering. The Poet's worried about what's happening to the women in the aftermath of the Babylonian invasion. Spoiler alert: it was not a good time to be a vulnerable and helpless woman living in a conquered patriarchal society.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- Why does the Poet think of Jerusalem as a woman?
- What do you imagine war and its aftermath would have been uniquely like for these women?
- Why do women get a lot of attention in Lamentations?
- Do you think a female Jerusalem elicits more compassion in the reader?