Jeremiah’s Lamentation’s Greek Verse One

Silly image of Donatello's figure of Prophet Jeremiah saying he laments the Greek treatment of his Hebrew acrostics in Lamentations.

Jeremiah’s Lamentation’s Greek Verse One
Lamentations 1:1 and Greek Preface; All of Lamentations; Jeremiah 52

When Israel was brought into captivity, and Jerusalem left deserted, the prophet Jeremias sat down there and wept, with this mournful lamentation following. And as he spoke, ever he sighed and moaned in the bitterness of his heart. (Knox Translation, Lamentations verse 1:1 preface)

The book of Lamentations is a sequel to the book of Jeremiah. Both are traditionally credited to the primary authorship of prophet Jeremiah, with perhaps some ghost-writing and editing performed by his scribal assistant, Baruch, and perhaps a few additional editors along the way.

The first of the two books is Jeremiah’s lengthy prophetic and vision-filled record of God’s pronouncements against the wicked practices of unGodly Judah and His consequent promises of coming destruction. The context is Jeremiah’s first-hand witness of late seventh / early sixth century (~615 BC and forward over the next thirty years) geopolitic. It is Jeremiah’s Godly view of the failure of Judah’s final few kings to look to God rather than playing weakening Egypt off of ascendant Babylon, or relying on their shrinking temple treasures for protection. Jeremiah sees Babylon’s ongoing conquest of the region, including incursions into Judah itself, and he sees the certainty Nebuchadnezzar’s coming sack of Jerusalem and God’s temple. Not only does he see it coming, he knows the reason why. God himself is moving the hand of Nebuchadnezzar against His wayward Jewish people, the wayward Jewish yes-men phony prophets (and de facto foreign policy advisors), and the wayward remaining Jewish kings.

Amidst the ongoing and coming terror, Jeremiah urges the political state to accept the inevitable, let Nebuchadnezzar have his conquest, and to, as it is said, “let go and let God.”

Jerusalem is gonna be sacked, says the prophet Jeremiah: It is God’s will, but it is your fault, and you are best-advised to get used to the idea of making yourself at home in Babylon. And oh, by the way, repent of your wicked unGodliness because God is — after all this — nevertheless merciful to His ungrateful people. Plant yourself a nice Babylonian herb garden, focus on our collective Jewish faith, focus on our Jewish God, and make the most of it. Let the Babylonian takeover and concomitant exile proceed and take its seventy-year course.

That is the lengthy book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah’s second book, Lamentations, is a shorter and this time lyrical statement of grief made after the fact — after Judah’s final fall via the takeover of Jerusalem. It is Jeremiah’s statement in poetic verse grieving the terrible condition of God’s land and people now that Jerusalem has been crushed by the Babylonians and the bulk of Jewish leadership has been hauled off to parts east. Jeremiah laments the Godlessness of his fellow Hebrews as he now contemplates his personal uncertain future with those remaining for now in former Judah. Or perhaps he has already been hustled off to Egypt with those Judeans looking to make a future in in Egypt.

So now, with all this in mind, look in your Bible at the first verse of Lamentations. Does it declare that Jeremiah wrote it? Or mention his name? Or mention any name of any author?

Does it look something like this?

Lexham English Bible:
1 How desolate the city sits that was full of people! She has become like a widow, once great among the nations! Like a woman of nobility in the provinces, she has become a forced laborer.

Or does it provide an opening line prior to verse one, or as part of verse one, stating that Jeremiah is the writer and times are dark for the prophet:

Septuagint in American English:
1 And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, [that] Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented [with] this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,
ALEPH. How does the city that was filled with people sit solitary! she is become as a widow: she that was magnified among the nations, [and] princess among the provinces, has become tributary.

The second example has an additional opening line. A preface of sorts. This one sentence preface is straight prose, while the remainder of the five chapters, beginning in verse one with “How does the city…” is line-pair Hebrew poetry. Publishers online and on paper vary the way they place and print this Septuagint-sourced preface line, some making it part of verse one and others placing it a an unlabelled “verse zero” of sorts above verse one.

The second example also has the curious insertion of the word “aleph” used as a label of sorts for the first line of poetry, which begins “How does the city….” You might recognize “aleph” as the name of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which in the Hebrew is א, the equivalent to our western letter A.

Continuing with the Greek-origin Septuagint in American English, here is the entirety of Lamentations chapter 1. You will observe that there are 22 of these odd Hebrew letter name labels in Lamentations 1, in alphabetic order:

1 And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,
ALEPH. How does the city that was filled with people sit solitary! she is become as a widow: she that was magnified among the nations, and princess among the provinces, has become tributary.
2 BETH. She weeps sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; and there is none of all her lovers to comfort her: all that were her friends have dealt deceitfully with her, they are become her enemies.
3 GIMEL. Judea is gone into captivity by reason of her affliction, and by reason of the abundance of her servitude: she dwells among the nations, she has not found rest: all her pursuers have overtaken her between her oppressors.
4 DALETH. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the feast: all her gates are ruined: her priests groan, her virgins are led captive, and she is in bitterness in herself.
5 HE. Her oppressors are become the head, and her enemies have prospered; for the Lord has afflicted her because of the multitude of her sins: her young children are gone into captivity before the face of the oppressor.
6 VAU. And all her beauty has been taken away from the daughter of Sion: her princes were as rams finding no pasture, and are gone away in weakness before the face of the pursuer.
7 ZAIN. Jerusalem remembered the days of her affliction, and her rejection; she thought on all her desirable things which were from the days of old, when her people fell into the hands of the oppressor, and there was none to help her: when her enemies saw it they laughed at her habitation.
8 HETH. Jerusalem has sinned a great sin; therefore has she come into tribulation, all that used to honor her have afflicted her, for they have seen her shame: yes, she herself groaned, and turned backward.
9 TETH. Her uncleanness is before her feet; she remembered not her last end; she has lowered her boasting tone, there is none to comfort her. Behold, O Lord, my affliction: for the enemy has magnified himself.
10 JOD. The oppressor has stretched out his hand on all her desirable things: for she has seen the Gentiles entering into her sanctuary, concerning whom you did command that they should not enter into your congregation.
11 CHAPH. All her people groan, seeking bread: they have given their desirable things for meat, to restore their soul: behold, Lord, and look; for she is become dishonored.
12 LAMED. All you that pass by the way, turn, and see if there is sorrow like to my sorrow, which has happened to me. The Lord who spoke by me has afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.
13 MEM. He has sent fire from his lofty habitation, he has brought it into my bones: he has spread a net for my feet, he has turned me back: he has made me desolate and mourning all the day.
14 NUN. He has watched over my sins, they are twined about my hands, they have come up on my neck: my strength has failed; for the Lord has laid pains on my hands, I shall not be able to stand.
15 SAMECH. The Lord has cut off all my strong men from the midst of me: he has summoned against me a time for crushing my choice men: the Lord has trodden a wine-press for the virgin daughter of Juda: for these things I weep.
16 AIN. Mine eye has poured out water, because he that should comfort me, that should restore my soul, has been removed far from me: my sons have been destroyed, because the enemy has prevailed.
17 PHE. Sion has spread out her hand, and there is none to comfort her: the Lord has commanded concerning Jacob, his oppressors are round about him: Jerusalem has become among them as a removed woman.
18 TSADE. The Lord is righteous; for I have provoked his mouth: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my grief: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.
19 KOPH. I called my lovers, but they deceived me: my priests and my elders failed in the city; for they sought meat that they might restore their souls, and found it not.
20 RHECHS. Behold, O Lord; for I am afflicted: my belly is troubled, and my heart is turned within me; for I have been grievously rebellious: abroad the sword has bereaved me, even as death at home.
21 CHSEN. Hear, I pray you, for I groan: there is none to comfort me: all my enemies have heard of my afflictions, and rejoice because you have done it: you have brought on the day, you have called the time: they are become like to me.
22 THAU. Let all their wickedness come before your face; and strip them, as they have made a gleaning for all my sins: for my groans are many, and my heart is grieved.
(Septuagint in American English, 1851/2012. This is the 1851 Brenton LXX with modifications made for 2012 public domain publication.)

Look in your personal printed Bible at the book of Lamentations. We are confident, for those of you who are Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, that your personal Bible includes neither the verse 1 preface nor any of the odd Hebrew letter name labels, as does the Greek-based Septuagint translations we show above.

This is because your personal Bible is probably based on Hebrew language sources, and because Lamentations is, in the original Hebrew, poetry exploiting an alphabetic acrostic device. Let us explain:

In the Hebrew source manuscripts, the book of Lamentations has no verse one preface. In some of the Greek language manuscripts, it does. How did it make its way into the Greek? Nobody knows for sure, but tradition indicates that the original translators (around 200 BC) of Hebrew sources into the Greek Septuagint placed the preface into their Greek language output.

The Septuagint, by the way, was the go-to Bible of Jesus, the four gospel writers, Paul and Jews and Christians of the New Testament era in the first century.

Regarding the letter name labels, we do know that in the Hebrew, all five chapters of Lamentations are individual works of poetry. Or rather, Lamentations is a collection of five works of poetry, and the chapter numbers (added centuries after the original writing), conveniently coincide with the five poems.

Furthermore, the first four poems out of the five are alphabetic acrostics. That is, in the Hebrew, each line-pair of verse begins with a word which starts with the letters, aleph through tau, from the Hebrew alphabet in alphabetic order. There are 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in poems (and chapters) one, two, and four, the poems are 22 line-pairs in length, with starting words beginning with the alphabetic letters in order.

The third poem (of chapter 3) follows this same form, except that the 22 letter form is executed in triplicates, with three alephs, then three bets, then three gimels and so on until the piece ends with three taus.

The fifth poem of Lamentations continues the poetic line-pair verse form, but is not an acrostic. Nevertheless, chapter 5 does have 22 lines.

None of this alphabetic acrostic stuff makes its way naturally into the Greek. Or into English. While translators can replicate the Hebrew line-pair mechanics into another language by simply translating the text and inserting line break formatting (or inserting semicolons, etc.), the acrostic technique can’t happen without unnatural force. (But see the Ronald Knox version in English at the end of our post!)

And so, if you are a Greek and Hebrew scholar in 200 BC, and a devout Jew, and you’ve been asked to translate your Hebrew scripture of Lamentations into the more widely used Greek, what do you do? You’d like to capture the acrostic essence of the Hebrew source.

We do not have physical manuscript evidence of Septuagint documents from their origins 200 years before Christ. The earliest Greek texts of the Old Testament we have in hand date from about 500 years later. Here, from one of the earliest and best, is the Codex Sinaiticus production of the final lines of Jeremiah and the first lines of Lamentations. Here is the Greek of 350 AD, and the solution to the Hebrew acrostic challenge of that day:

The clever translators of the Greek Septuagint (really we should use the plural Septuagints, as multiple manuscripts and versions rolled out from the process) decided to add labels to the Greek text at the beginning of every line pair. Because they did not use Greek words starting with letters alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and so on, in the actual translation, they instead inserted the labels aleph, bet, gimmel, and so on, at the beginning of line-pairs, showing the alert reader of Greek that something was going on in the Hebrew original.

These Hebrew letter name labels, and the opening preface line, made their way into subsequent English language translations of the Greek Septuagint. You probably do not have one of these on your bookshelf because your Christian bookstore, unless it is very well-stocked, does not sell them. In the mean time, translations into English from Hebrew source materials do not present the preface or these labels because they are not present in those Hebrew source manuscripts. The twenty or thirty Bible publications in your Christian bookstore probably all use translations which are based on the Hebrew sources. And so, your personal Bible likely does not show these insertions.

Here is an 1808 English translation from Greek Septuagint sources by Charles Thomson. Thomson includes the preface line and but not the Hebrew letter name labels. Note also that Thomson and the publisher declare Lamentations to be the work of Jeremiah, and that the poetry of post-Jerusalem Lamentations is reasonably placed immediately following the prose and prophecy of pre-destruction Jeremiah:

The Thomson document shown above is based on the Greek. As we noted earlier, your Bible almost certainly begins Lamentations with neither the extra preface nor the aleph, bet, gimel labels. Instead, your Hebrew-based Bible’s Lamentations almost certainly begins like this:

NIV: How deserted lies the city…
NLT: Jerusalem, once so full of people…
ESV: How lonely sits the city…
Berean: How lonely lies the city…
KJV: How doth the city sit solitary…
NKJV: How lonely sits the city…
NASB: How lonely sits the city…
New English Bible: How solitary lies the city…

Here’s the entirety of the first poem as presented by the Lexham English Bible. Like other translations based on the Hebrew, the Lexham presents the 22 verses of chapter 1 without the Greek preface or the Hebrew letter name labels:

How desolate the city sits
that was full of people!
She has become like a widow,
once great among the nations!
Like a woman of nobility in the provinces,
she has become a forced laborer.
She weeps bitterly in the night,
her tears are on her cheeks;
she has no comforter
among all her lovers.
All her friends have been unfaithful to her;
they have become her enemies.
Judah has gone into exile with misery
and under hard servitude;
she lives among the nations,
she has not found a resting place;
all her pursuers have overtaken her
amidst her distress.
The roads of Zion are mourning
because no one comes to the festival.
All her gates are desolate,
her priests groan;
her young women are worried,
and she herself suffers bitterly.
Her foes have become her master,
her enemies are at ease;
Yahweh has made her suffer
because of the greatness of her transgressions.
Her children have gone away,
captive before the foe.
All her majesty has gone away
from the daughter of Zion;
her princes have become like young stags
that have not found pasture;
they have gone away without strength,
before the pursuer.
Jerusalem remembers
the days of her misery and wanderings,
all her treasures
that were from the days of long ago.
When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,
there was no one helping her;
the enemies saw her, they mocked
at her destruction.
Jerusalem sinned grievously,
thus she became an objection of derision;
all those who honored her despise her
because they have seen her nakedness.
She herself groans
and turns away.
Her uncleanness was in her skirts;
she did not remember her future,
she has descended beyond understanding,
there is no comforter for her.
See, O Yahweh, my persecution!
My enemy has been made great!
The enemy has stretched out his hand
over all her treasures;
for she has seen the nations,
they entered her sanctuary,
those whom you commanded not to enter
in your assembly.
All her people groan,
they are searching for bread.
They give their treasures for food,
to bring back life.
See, O Yahweh, and look,
how I am despised.
Is it nothing to you, all who pass by?
Look and see
if there is sorrow like my sorrow,
which was dealt to me,
which Yahweh inflicted
on the day of his wrath.
From heaven he sent fire,
into my bones he let it descend.
He spread out a net for my feet;
he turned me back,
he gave me devastation,
fainting all day.
My rebellion was bound as a yoke,
with his hand it was fastened together;
it was put on my neck
and caused my strength to fail.
The Lord gave me into the hands
of those whom I cannot withstand.
The Lord has rejected
all my mighty ones in my midst.
He called an assembly against me,
to crush my young men;
like in a wine press,
the Lord has trodden on
the virgin daughter of Judah.
For these things, I am weeping,
my eyes flow with tears;
because a comforter is far from me,
one to restore my life.
My sons are desolate
because the enemy has prevailed.
Zion stretches out her hands;
there is no one to comfort her.
Yahweh has commanded against Jacob,
that those surrounding him should be his enemies;
Jerusalem has become
a defilement among them.
Yahweh is righteous;
I have rebelled against his word.
Please hear, all the nations,
And see my pain;
My young women and young men
went into captivity.
I have called to my lovers,
they themselves deceived me;
my priests and elders perished in the city
when they sought food for themselves
to revive their life.
See, O Yahweh, that I am in distress;
my stomach is in torment,
my heart has turned inside me
because I have certainly rebelled.
From outside a sword brings bereavement,
inside the house it is like death.
They hear that I was groaning;
there is no comforter for me.
All my enemies have heard my misery,
they are pleased that you have done it.
Bring that day that you have proclaimed,
And let them be like me.
Let all their evil come before you;
and deal with them
just as you have dealt with me
because of all my crimes;
for my groaning is much and my heart is faint.
(Lexham English Bible)

No preface and no labels here.

The last few hundred years of Bible printing produced only a handful of Greek Septuagint releases, whether in Greek or subsequent English forms. The first (if we have our facts straight) was by Charles Thomson and the second, which has been used ever since until very recent years, was by Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton. Here:

Charles Thomson Septuagint (1808):
1 After Israel was carried into captivity, and Jerusalem was laid waste; Jeremias sat down and wept, and sung this song of woe over Jerusalem, and said.
How solitary sitteth the city which was full of people! she who was abundant among nations is become like a widow! the empress of provinces is become tributary!

Brenton Septuagint (1851):
And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,
How does the city that was filled with people sit solitary! she is become as a widow: she that was magnified among the nations, and princess among the provinces, has become tributary.

But then one comes across this:

New Brenton Septuagint in English:
{And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremias sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said}
How does the city that was filled with people sit solitary! she is become as a widow: she that was magnified among the nations, and princess among the provinces, has become tributary.

This “New Brenton Septuagint” above is the 2012 product of Paul Ingram at the Katapi website, and reflects Ingram’s modifications of English wordings. And, apparently, his decision (we think) to enclose the preface in { } curly brackets

Next we find Adam Boyd’s “Updated Brenton Septuagint” which we find at If we understand things correctly, both Ingram and Boyd started with Brenton’s 1851 English and modified wordings while making the text available for online study.

Updated Brenton Septuagint
And it came to pass, after Israel was taken captive, and Jerusalem made desolate, that Jeremiah sat weeping, and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and said,
1 How does the city that was filled with people sit solitary!
She is become as a widow:
She that was magnified among the nations,
And princess among the provinces,
Has become tributary.

A recent and more rigorous translation of the Septuagint, completed as part of the NET Bible project’s Septuagint translation effort, includes Peter J. Gentry’s work on Lamentations. The NETS project and Gentry’s piece includes analysis of the best Greek source material and the latest scholarship:

NETS (New English Translation Septuagint, 2009):
And it happened, after Israel was taken captive and Ierousalem was laid waste, Ieremias sat weeping and gave this lament over Ierousalem and said:
1 How the city sat alone,she who was full of peoples! She has become like a widow—multiplied among the nations! A ruler among the countries, she has become tribute.
2 Weeping she wept in the night, and her tears were on her cheeks; of all those who love her there is no one to comfort her. All that were her friends dealt treacherously with her; they became enemies to her.

The last twenty years or so has seen Septuagint efforts by teams at Lexham and at Göttingen. We would have liked to include these two output products on Lamentations here, but these works have not yet made it into the world of freely available items on the internet.

The NETS / Gentry translation (above) of Lamentations into English was made using a critical edition of the Greek text by Joseph Ziegler, which is part of the relatively recent, scholarly, Göttingen Septuagint. If our understanding of Gentry’s notes are correct, Ziegler includes the preface as authentic, but not the Hebrew letter labels. Gentry however, as you see above, finds other scholarly work demonstrating to his satisfaction that the Hebrew letter labels are authentic. Unfortunately, we do not have this Göttingen Greek to show you, but we do have other Greek products:

From William Barclay Swete, the preface is included but the labels are not:

William Barclay Swete (1887):
ΚΑΙ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὸ αἰχμαλωτισθῆναι τὸν Ἰσραὴλ καὶ Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐρημωθῆναι ἐκάθισεν Ἰερεμίας κλαίων, καὶ ἐθρήνησεν τὸν θρῆνον τοῦτον ἐπὶ Ἰερουσαλὴμ καὶ εἶπεν Ἄλεφ.
Πῶς ἐκάθισεν μόνη ἡ πόλις ἡ πεπληθυμμένη λαῶν; ἐγενήθη ὡς χήρα πεπληθυμμένη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἄρχουσα ἐν χώραις ἐγενήθη εἰς φόρον.

From Blue Letter Bible and their use of a University of Pennsylvania-supplied Septuagint text, here is the Lamentations opening in the Greek. Again, the preface is included but letter labels are not.

Blue Letter Bible/U.Penn:
καὶ ἐγένετο μετὰ τὸ αἰχμαλωτισθῆναι τὸν Ισραηλ καὶ Ιερουσαλημ ἐρημωθῆναι ἐκάθισεν Ιερεμιας κλαίων καὶ ἐθρήνησεν τὸν θρῆνον τοῦτον ἐπὶ Ιερουσαλημ καὶ εἶπεν
πῶς ἐκάθισεν μόνη ἡ πόλις ἡ πεπληθυμμένη λαῶν ἐγενήθη ὡς χήρα πεπληθυμμένη ἐν ἔθνεσιν ἄρχουσα ἐν χώραις ἐγενήθη εἰς φόρον

And from the Alfred Rahlfs / Robert Hanhart (2006) critical text, made available by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft in Stuttgart, no preface and no labels:

1 Πῶς ἐκάθισεν μόνη ἡ πόλις ἡ πεπληθυμμένη λαῶν; ἐγενήθη ὡς χήρα πεπληθυμμένη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἄρχουσα ἐν χώραις ἐγενήθη εἰς φόρον.
2 Κλαίουσα ἔκλαυσεν ἐν νυκτί, καὶ τὰ δάκρυα αὐτῆς ἐπὶ τῶν σιαγόνων αὐτῆς, καὶ οὐχ ὑπάρχει ὁ παρακαλῶν αὐτὴν ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἀγαπώντων αὐτήν· πάντες οἱ φιλοῦντες αὐτὴν ἠθέτησαν ἐν αὐτῇ, ἐγένοντο αὐτῇ εἰς ἐχθρούς.
3 Μετῳκίσθη ἡ Ιουδαία ἀπὸ ταπεινώσεως αὐτῆς καὶ ἀπὸ πλήθους δουλείας αὐτῆς· ἐκάθισεν ἐν ἔθνεσιν, οὐχ εὗρεν ἀνάπαυσιν· πάντες οἱ καταδιώκοντες αὐτὴν κατέλαβον αὐτὴν ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν θλιβόντων.

Now, if the Hebrew to Greek to English minutia of one-line prefaces and letter label insertions isn’t head-scratching enough, let’s take a quick look at the Latin language path of these things.

Latin language Bibles are referred to collectively as the Vulgate (in the same manner as the Greek Septuagint is not a particular document but a stream of manuscripts and publications over time). And so, editors and publishers and printers (on paper or electronic streams) of these Vulgate releases made decisions regarding the handling of the Lamentations preface and letter labels.

See here a public domain version of the Lamentations opening in the Latin Vulgate, as rendered by an online site:

Biblia Sacra Vulgata:
[Prologus.] Et factum est, postquam in captivitatem redactus est Israel, et Jerusalem deserta est, sedit Jeremias propheta flens, et planxit lamentatione hac in Jerusalem: et amaro animo suspirans et ejulans, dixit:
[Aleph.] Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.
2 [Beth.] Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae ejus in maxillis ejus: non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris ejus; omnes amici ejus spreverunt eam, et facti sunt ei inimici.

But then again, from another online site:

Biblia Sacra Vulgata
1 ALEPH quomodo sedit sola civitas plena populo facta est quasi vidua domina gentium princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo
2 BETH plorans ploravit in nocte et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius omnes amici eius spreverunt eam et facti sunt ei inimici

One of these has the preface, the other does not. One places the Hebrew letters in brackets, the other does not. The one which includes the preface does not place it in brackets, but places the label “Prologus” in brackets.

The origins of both trace back to something written on a piece of paper, but we suspect the views shown here may reflect decisions made at the point of placing the text and character stream online and in electronic storage, as much as they reflect printed and handwritten source materials on paper. Bible content storage for electronic device display demands placing the content in computer database tables, where every item of content — every line, every verse, every bracket symbol, every odd but original label — must be placed in a numbered data cell in a database table, and then must be tagged with regard to formatting it’s display on the computer screen display.

Placing the Biblical text online in database table cells is a technical matter which works well when Bible books and chapters and verses are well-behaved, and well-numbered, but doesn’t lend itself to oddball quirks in numbering, chunks of material added or missing from a particular translation, and unnumbered preface and labelling material as is the case in many Psalms and here in our Lamentations passage.

In the mean time, here is a printed Vulgate, the Vulgata Sixtina of 1590. At this point in its transmission history, this Vulgate by this editor and publisher has decided to remove the preface but include the Hebrew letter name labels. Keep in mind that the label inclusion decision may be either because the publisher believes they are original to the earliest Greek (or Hebrew?) or because the publisher adds them himself as helper devices to the reader, as in the case of margin notes, headings, page numbers, footnotes, artwork, and so on.

If we understand things correctly, Jerome used Hebrew language sources for his Latin translation of the Vulgate. Nevertheless, the Greek-origin preface made its way into the Vulgate at some point and in some manner. We have not run down how this happened. But then, as Roman Catholic-oriented Bibles made their way into English, the preface to Lamentations was deemed not original (we suppose), and English language Roman Catholic-based Bibles today mostly do not include the preface and letter labeling. We have not been able to run the details of this Latin path down to earth, and so maybe one of our readers can flesh this out for us. 🙂

The Douay-Rheims translation into English of the Old Testament was made from the Latin sources, and was first published in complete form over 1609 and 1610, with a major revision in 1750. Here below is a view of the 1609 release. The translators and publisher of this English document find reason to include the Greek (and Latin?) preface:

In the Douay-Rheims publication above, we note a few things:
— inclusion of the Greek word “threnes” into this English language document made (ostensibly) from a Latin source,
— the Latin’izing of Jeremiah’s name,
— a comment by the editor/publisher, stating that the preface is not the work of Jeremiah the prophet, but an addition of the seventy (by tradition) translators of the Septuagint from the Hebrew 150 to 200 years before Christ,
— but the editor’s belief that the preface is original to the earliest Greek (which 19th and 20th century scholars generally have not believed),
— and so, the preface is not placed inside verse 1, but above it,
–and likewise, the letter labels aleph, beth, ghimel, and so on are not printed as part of the verses proper, but instead are placed outside the flow of the proper, correct text as a reminder aid to the reader.

An online source for Douay-Rheims Bible displays the opening of Lamentations as:

Douay-Rheims as displayed by Bible Hub:
1 Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princes of provinces made tributary!
2 Beth. Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.

We aren’t sure where Bible Hub obtained their public domain D-R text. In any event, they choose to display the Hebrew letters both in Hebrew character form and spelled out transliteration of their Hebrew names. Our guess is that the Bible Hub team takes it upon themselves to add the Hebrew characters, and somehow gets their software to place them outside (before) the verse numbers. In the mean time, the team does not place the transliterated letter names in brackets (suggesting they believe they are early and original) and did place them inside the verses proper. All this decided given the reality of Bible content placed in data table cells.

Here’s what the Bible Hub treatment looks like on the computer screen:

But again, named versions of Bible translations go through revisions and printings. One such revision to the Douay-Rheims is the Challoner revision. The CCEL (wonderful site) website presents the Challoner Douay-Rheims as follows:

In these JEREMIAS laments in a most pathetical manner the miseries of his people, and the destruction of JERUSALEM and the temple, in Hebrew verses, beginning with different letters according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet.
Lamentations Chapter 1
PREFACE: And it came to pass, after Israel was carried into captivity, and Jerusalem was desolate, that Jeremias the prophet sat weeping, and mourned with this lamentation over Jerusalem, and with a sorrowful mind, sighing and moaning, he said:
And it came to pass, etc. . .This preface was not written by Jeremias, but was added by the seventy interpreters, to give the reader to understand upon what occasion the Lamentations were published.
1:1. Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princes of provinces made tributary!
1:2. Beth. Weeping, she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.

Compare this CCEL Challoner with the Douay-Rheims image we show above.

The Douay-Rheims is a Roman Catholic-oriented translation. Here is the opening of Lamentations from a few additional Roman Catholic audience translations, from recent decades, which have roots (more or less) in the Latin tradition:

New Jerusalem Bible: How deserted she sits, the city…
New American Bible (Revised Edition): How solitary sits the city…
New Catholic Bible: How deserted now is the city…
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition: How lonely sits the city

None of the above four mess around with the verse one preface, nor do they bother with the Hebrew letter insertions.

But then there is the Catholic Public Domain Version, a Vulgate-based product from the hand of Ronald L. Conte Jr.:

Catholic Public Domain Version:
1 Prologue And it happened that, after Israel was driven into captivity, and Jerusalem was deserted, the prophet Jeremiah sat weeping, and he wailed this lamentation in Jerusalem. And sighing with a bitter soul, and mourning, he said:
ALEPH. O how a city once filled with people now sits alone! The Governess of the Gentiles has become like a widow. The Prince of the provinces has been placed under tribute.
2 BETH. Weeping, she has wept through the night, and her tears are on her cheeks. There is no one to be a comfort to her and to all her beloved. All her friends have spurned her, and they have become her enemies.

And so, if you didn’t know it already, you now know that Bible translations involves some head-scratching and decision-making, especially when it comes to peculiarities such as the very beginning of the book of Lamentations.

If you’ve managed to make it through this thicket of minutia, without your eyes glazing over and rolling into the back of your head, then you have greater perseverance than Bible Bits.

Lamentations is a fairly short book. It has only five chapters, of 22 + 22 + 66 + 22 + 22 verses. You can peruse it quickly and see if Jeremiah’s name appears anywhere at all.

It doesn’t. Jeremiah’s name does not appear at all in the Hebrew text of his book of Lamentations. It appears only in the (unoriginal?) Greek-sourced Septuagint preface. Scholarship of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries doubts the authorship by Jeremiah, based on this lack of attribution, reasons of genre (poetry, not the same writing style as in the book of Jeremiah), and other reasons.

For what it’s worth, in the much lengthier book of Jeremiah, we count only five occurrences of Jeremiah’s name being explicitly written in the Hebrew text. English translations insert his name several more times for clarity, but the Hebrew uses his name only five times.

By the way, look also at where Lamentations is placed in your Bible. Does it follow the book of Jeremiah in the writings of the major prophets? Or does it appear later in order, being grouped with what your (Jewish) Bible might label as “the Kethuvim (Writings)?” And, by the way, does Jeremiah’s side-kick Baruch have a book of his own in your Bible’s collection? And where is this book of Baruch placed?

Before you begin to read the book of Lamentations, turn backwards one page and (if your Bible places the book of Jeremiah immediately prior to Lamentations) read chapter 52 of Jeremiah. This is in effect yet another preface to Lamentations. As a book of prophesy, Jeremiah contains a mix of narrative prose and more fanciful, visionary, prophet-speak. Chapter 52 of Jeremiah is straight prose narrative setting up the five works of poetry in Lamentations.

Four your enjoyment, we will include here the entirety of Lamentations in the Henry Knox version. Knox is remarkable in that he duplicates the alphabetic acrostic using English words and the alphabetic letters A, B, C, and so on. For what it’s worth, the Knox version is a Roman Catholic-based translations based on the Vulgate, but with consultation of the Hebrew and Septuagint.

The Holy Bible – Ronald Knox Translation (1948)
The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremias
Chapter 1
[preface and 22 line-pair acrostic]
When Israel was brought into captivity, and Jerusalem left deserted, the prophet Jeremias sat down there and wept, with this mournful lamentation following. And as he spoke, ever he sighed and moaned in the bitterness of his heart.
1 Alone she dwells, the city erewhile so populous; a widow now, once a queen among the nations; tributary now, that once had provinces at her command.
2 Be sure she weeps; there in the darkness her cheeks are wet with tears; of all that courted her, none left to console her, all those lovers grown weary of her, and turned into enemies.
3 Cruel the suffering and the bondage of Juda’s exile; that she must needs dwell among the heathen! Nor respite can she find; close at her heels the pursuit, and peril on either hand.
4 Desolate, the streets of Sion; no flocking, now, to the assembly; the gateways lie deserted. Sighs priest, and the maidens go in mourning, so bitter the grief that hangs over all.
5 Exultant, now, her invaders; with her enemies nothing goes amiss. For her many sins, the Lord has brought doom on her, and all her children have gone into exile, driven before the oppressor.
6 Fled is her beauty, the Sion that was once so fair; her chieftains have yielded their ground before the pursuer, strengthless as rams✻ that can find no pasture.
7 Grievous the memories she holds, of the hour when all her ancient glories passed from her, when her people fell defenceless before the invader, unresisting before an enemy that derided them.
8 Heinously Jerusalem sinned; what wonder if she became an outlaw?✻ How they fell to despising her when they saw her shame, that once flattered her! Deeply she sighed, and turned away her head.
9 Ill might skirts of her robe the defilement conceal; alas, so reckless of her doom, alas, fallen so low, with none to comfort her! Mark it well, Lord; see how humbled I, how exultant my adversary!
10 Jealous hands were laid on all she treasured; so it was that she must see Gentiles profane her sanctuary, Gentiles, by thy ordinance from the assembly debarred.
11 Kindred was none but went sighing for lack of bread, offered its precious heirlooms for food to revive men’s hearts. Mark it well, Lord, and see my pride abased!
12 Look well, you that pass by, and say if there was ever grief like this grief of mine; never a grape on the vineyard left to glean, when the Lord’s threat of vengeance is fulfilled.
13 Must fire from heaven waste my whole being, ere I can learn my lesson? Must he catch me in a net, to drag me back from my course? Desolate he leaves me, to pine away all the day long with grief.
14 No respite it gives me, the yoke of guilt I bear, by his hand fastened down upon my neck; see, I faint under it! The Lord has given me up a prisoner to duress there is no escaping.
15 Of all I had, the Lord has taken away the noblest; lost to me, all the flower of my chivalry, under his strict audit; Sion, poor maid, here was a wine-press well trodden down!
16 Pray you, should I not weep? Fountains these eyes are, that needs must flow; comforter is none at hand, that should revive my spirits. Lost to me, all those sons of mine, outmatched by their enemy.
17 Quest for consolation is vain, let her plead where she will; neighbours of Jacob, so the Lord decrees, are Jacob’s enemies, and all around they shrink from her, as from a thing unclean.
18 Right the Lord has in his quarrel; I have set his commands at defiance. O world, take warning; see what pangs I suffer, all my folk gone into exile, both man and maid.
19 So false the friends that were once my suitors! And now the city lacks priests and elders both, that went begging their bread, to revive the heart in them.
20 Take note, Lord, of my anguish, how my bosom burns, and my heart melts within me, in bitter ruth.✻ And all the while, sword threatens without, and death not less cruel within.
21 Uncomforted my sorrow, but not unheard; my enemies hear it, and rejoice that my miseries are of thy contriving. Ah, but when thy promise comes true, they shall feel my pangs!
22 Vintager who didst leave my boughs so bare, for my much offending, mark well their cruelty, and strip these too in their turn; here be sighs a many, and a sad heart to claim it.

Chapter 2
[22 line-pair acrostics]
1 Alas, what mantle of cloud is this, the divine anger has thrown over unhappy Sion? The pride of Israel cast down from heaven to earth; the ground where the Lord’s feet once rested, now, in his anger, forgotten?
2 Blessed abodes of Jacob, by the Lord’s unsparing vengeance engulfed; towers that kept Juda inviolable hurled to the ground in ruin; kingdom and throne dragged in the dust!
3 Crushed lay all the defences of Israel, under his displeasure; failed us, at the enemy’s onset, the protection of his right hand; Jacob must be hedged about, as by flames of a consuming fire.
4 Deadly his bent bow, steady the play of his right hand assailing us; all that was fairest in poor Sion’s dwelling-place needs must perish, under the fiery rain of his vengeance.
5 Enemies he counts us, and has engulfed the whole of Israel in ruin; gone the palaces, gone the strongholds; Alas, poor Sion! weeps man, weeps maid, with cowed spirits.✻
6 Fallen, as it had been some garden shed, his own tabernacle; his own trysting-place with men he would pull down! Feast-day and sabbath should be forgotten in Sion; for king and priest, only anger and scorn.
7 Grown weary of his altar, from his own sanctuary turning away in abhorrence, the Lord has given up yonder embattled towers to the enemy; their cries ring through the temple like shout of holiday.
8 Heedfully the Lord went about his work, to strip the inviolable city of her walls; exact his measuring-line, busy his hand with the task of overthrow, till wall and rampart should lament their common ruin.
9 Idly the gates of her sag towards earth, bars riven and rent; king and chieftain are far away, exiled among the heathen; tradition is dead, nor any prophet learns, in vision, the Lord’s will.
10 Jerusalem’s aged folk sit there in the dust, dumb with sorrow; dust scattered over their heads, and sackcloth their garb; never a maid shall you see but has her head bowed down to earth.
11 Keen anguish for the overthrow of an unhappy race, that dims eye with tears, that stirs my being to its depths, as my heart goes out in boundless compassion!✻ Child and babe lie fainting in the streets.
12 Listen, how they ask where all the bread and wine is gone to! Wound they have none, yet there in the open streets you shall see them faint away, sighing out their lives on their mothers’ bosoms.
13 Might I but confront thee with such another as thyself! What queen so unhappy as Jerusalem, what maid as Sion desolate? How shall I comfort thee? Sea-deep is thy ruin, and past all cure.
14 Never a true vision or a wise thy prophets have for thee, never shew thee where thy guilt rests, and urge thee to repentance; lies and lures are all the burden of their revealing.
15 Openly the passers-by deride thee, poor maid; clap hands, and hiss, and wag their heads at thee; So much, they cry, for the city that was once the nonpareil of beauty, pride of the whole earth!
16 Pale envy mops and mows at thee; how they hiss and gnash their teeth! Now to prey on her carrion! What fortune, that we should have lived to see this day, so long looked for in vain!
17 Quit is the Lord of his oath taken in times past; all his purpose is fulfilled; for thee, ruin relentless, for thy bitter enemy, triumph and high achievement.
18 Round those inviolable defences, cry they upon the Lord in good earnest. Day and night, Sion, let thy tears stream down; never rest thou, never let that eye weary of its task.
19 Sleepless in the night-watches raise thy song; flow thy heart’s prayer unceasingly; lift ever thy hands in supplication for infant lives; yonder, at the street corner, they are dying of famine.
20 Think well, Lord, is there any other people of whom thou hast taken such toll? Shall woman eat her own child, so tiny, hands can still clasp it? In the Lord’s sanctuary, priest and prophet be slain?
21 Untended they lie on the bare earth, the young and the aged; maid and warrior slain by the sword! This day of thy vengeance was to be all massacre, thou wouldst kill unsparingly.
22 Vengeance this day all around me; what mustering of thy terrors, as for a solemn assembly! Escape is none, nor any remnant left; of all I fondled and fostered, the enemy has taken full toll.

Chapter 3
[22 triplet lines]
1 Ah, what straits have I not known, under the avenging rod!
2 Asked I for light, into deeper shadow the Lord’s guidance led me;
3 Always upon me, none other, falls endlessly the blow.

4 Broken this frame, under the wrinkled skin, the sunk flesh.
5 Bitterness of despair fills my prospect, walled in on every side;
6 Buried in darkness, and, like the dead, interminably.

7 Closely he fences me in, beyond hope of rescue; loads me with fetters.
8 Cry out for mercy as I will, prayer of mine wins no audience;
9 Climb these smooth walls I may not; every way of escape he has undone.

10 Deep ambushed he lies, as lurking bear or lion from the covert;
11 Drawn aside from my path, I fall a lonely prey to his ravening.
12 Dread archer, of me he makes a target for all his arrows;

13 Each shaft of his quiver at my vitals taught to strike home!
14 Evermore for me the taunts of my neighbours, their songs of derision.
15 Entertainment of bitter herbs he gives me, and of wormwood my fill,

16 Files all my teeth with hard gravel-stones, bids me feed on ashes.
17 Far away is my old contentment, happier days forgotten;
18 Farewell, my hopes of long continuance, my patient trust in the Lord!

19 Guilt and suffering, gall and wormwood, keep all this well in memory.
20 God knows it shall be remembered, and with sinking of the heart;
21 Gage there can be none other of remaining confidence.

22 His be the thanks if we are not extinguished; his mercies never weary;
23 Hope comes with each dawn; art thou not faithful, Lord, to thy promise?
24 Heart whispers, The Lord is my portion; I will trust him yet.

25 In him be thy trust, for him thy heart’s longing, gracious thou shalt find him;
26 If deliverance thou wouldst have from the Lord, in silence await it.
27 It is well thou shouldst learn to bear the yoke, now in thy youth,

28 Just burden, in solitude and silence justly borne.
29 Joy may yet be thine, for mouth that kisses the dust,
30 Jeering of the multitude, and cheek buffeted in scorn, bravely endured.

31 Know for certain, the Lord has not finally abandoned thee;
32 Kind welcome the outcast shall have, from one so rich in kindness.
33 Kin of Adam he will not crush or cast away wantonly;

34 Let there be oppression of the poor under duress,
35 Law’s right denied, such as the most High grants to all men,
36 Lying perversion of justice, then he cannot overlook it.✻

37 Man may foretell; only the Lord brings his word to pass;
38 Mingled good and evil proceed both from the will of the most High;
39 Mortal is none may repine; let each his own sins remember.

40 Narrowly our path scan we, and to the Lord return;
41 Never hand or heart but must point heavenward this day!
42 Nothing but defiant transgression on our part; and shouldst thou relent?

43 Over our heads thy angry vengeance lowered; smiting, thou wouldst not spare.
44 Oh, barrier of cloud, our prayers had no strength to pierce!
45 Offscouring and refuse of mankind thou hast made us,

46 Put to shame by the mocking grimaces of our enemies.
47 Prophets we had, but their word was peril and pitfall, and ruin at the last.✻
48 Poor Sion, for thy calamity these cheeks are furrowed with tears;

49 Quell if thou wouldst the restless fever of my weeping,
50 Quickly, Lord, look down from heaven and pay heed to us,
51 Quite forspent, eye and soul, with grief Jerusalem’s daughters bear.✻

52 Relentless as hawk in air they pursued me, enemies unprovoked,
53 Reft me of life itself, sealed with a stone my prison door.
54 Round my head the waters closed, and I had given myself up for lost,

55 Save for one hope; to thee, Lord, I cried from the pit’s depth,
56 Sure of thy audience; wouldst thou turn a deaf ear to sighs of complaint?
57 Summoned, thou didst come to my side, whispering, Do not be afraid.

58 Thine, Lord, to take my part; thine to rescue me from death;
59 The malice of my enemies to discover, my wrongs to redress.
60 Thrust away from thy sight, the grudge they bear me, the ill they purpose,

61 Unheard by thee their taunts, their whispered plottings?
62 Uttered aloud or in secret, their malice assails me from morn till night;
63 Up in arms, or met in secret conclave, ever against me they raise the battle-song.

64 Visit them with the punishment their ill deeds have earned;
65 Veiled be those blind hearts with fresh blindness of thy own making;
66 Vanish from the earth their whole brood, ere thy vengeance leaves off pursuing them!

Chapter 4
[22 line-pair acrostic]
1 All dim, now, and discoloured, the gold that once shone so fair! Heaped up at every street-corner lie hallowed stones.
2 Bright they shone once in all their renown, the men of Sion, and now what are they? Little regarded as common earthenware, of the potter’s fashioning.
3 Cub of jackal is fed at its dam’s breast; and has my people grown unnatural towards its own children, like some ostrich in the desert?
4 Dry throat and parching tongue for babe at the breast; children asking for bread, and never a crust to share with them!
5 Ever they fared daintily, that now lie starved in the streets; ever went richly arrayed, and now their fingers clutch at the dung-hill.
6 Faithless Juda! Heavier punishment she must needs undergo than guilty Sodom, that perished all in a moment, and never a blow struck.
7 Gone, the fair bloom of princely cheeks,✻ snowy-pure, cream-white, red as tinted ivory,✻ and all sapphire-clear;
8 Here is no recognizing them, out in the streets, coal-black, skin clinging to bones, dry as wood!
9 It were better to have fallen at the sword’s point than yield thus to the stab of hunger, wasted away through famine.
10 Juda brought low, and mother-love forgotten; that women should eat their own children, cooked with their own hands!
11 Kindled at last is the Lord’s anger; rains down from heaven the storm of his vengeance, lighting a flame that burns Sion to the ground.
12 Little dreamed they, king and common folk the world over, that any assault of the foe should storm Jerusalem gates;
13 Malice and lawlessness it was of priest and prophet, whereby innocent men came to their deaths, that brought such punishment.
14 Now, as they walk blindly through the streets, they are defiled with blood; no help for it, gather their skirts about them as they may;
15 Out of my way! cries one to another; Back, pollution, do not touch me! The very Gentiles protest in alarm, Here is no place for them!
16 Protection the Lord gives them no longer, they are dispersed under his frown; the priesthood no honour claims, old age no pity.✻
17 Quenched is the hope our eyes strained for, while hope was left us; looking for help so eagerly to a nation that had none to give!
18 Refuge for us in the treacherous highways is none; we are near the end; all is over, this is the end;
19 Swifter than flight of eagles the pursuit; even on the mountains they give chase, even in the desert take us by surprise.
20 Through our fault he who is breath of life to us, our anointed king, is led away captive;✻ under his shadow we hoped our race should thrive.
21 Until thy turn comes, shout on, Edom, triumph on, land of Hus; the same cup thou too shalt drink, and be drunken, and stripped bare.
22 Vengeful audit-day! Sion’s account closed, recovered her fortunes; Edom called to account, discovered her guilt!

Chapter 5
[22 verses but not an acrostic]
1 Bethink thee, Lord, of our ill case; see where we lie humiliated, and seeing take pity!
2 New tenants our lands have, our homes foreign masters;
3 orphaned sons of widowed mothers were not more defenceless.
4 Ours to buy the very water we drink, pay a price for every stick of fire-wood;
5 led hither and thither under the yoke, with no respite given,
6 we must make our peace with men of Egypt or Assyria, for a belly-full of bread.
7 So must we bear the guilt of our fathers, that sinned and are gone!
8 Slaves for our masters now, and none to ransom us;
9 bread won out in the desert, and at peril of our lives from the sword’s point!
10 What wonder if our skins are burnt dry as an oven, seared by long famine?
11 Never a woman in Sion, never a maid in all Juda’s cities, but has met with dishonour;
12 merciless hands hurry our princes to the gallows; reverence is none for grey hairs.
13 Toiling at the mill, the flower of our youth, or staggering under loads of wood;✻
14 never an old man left to sit at the gate, or a young man to wake the echoes of the harp;
15 gone, all our mirth, all our music drowned in sadness.
16 Alas, we are sinners; the wreath has faded from our brows;
17 there are sad hearts everywhere, and dim eyes.
18 What, does not the hill of Sion lie desolate, ravaged by the foxes?
19 Lord, thou abidest ever; age after age thy throne endures;
20 and wilt thou still be forgetful of us, through the long years leave us forsaken?
21 Bring us back to thee, Lord, and let us find our home; bring back to us the days of our youth;
22 wouldst thou altogether abandon us, shall thy indignation know no measure?
(Ronald Knox Translation, 1948)

Thanks to all the usual and other websites we go to find translations and commentary. Thanks go to Blue Letter Bible, Bible Gateway, eBible, Bible Hub, CCEL, the German Bible Society, and

Thanks to the Lexham English Bible.

The Septuagint in American English is the work of Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton (1851 translator) with modifications made by Michael Paul Johnson (2012), published into the public domain by Johnson and CrossReach Publications in 2012..

The Ronald Knox Translation text is in the public domain. Baronius Press however produces a lovely printing of this Roman Catholic-oriented Bible. Baronius describes Knox’s approach with Hebrew language acrostics as follows:

This was particularly so in his unique respect for the Hebrew Acrostics (starting successive verses with successive letters of the alphabet). Here Monsignor Knox respects the 22 letters of the Hebrew original but starts his verses with successive letters of the English alphabet, usually leaving off X, Y, and Z and one other letter, often Q.

In Lamentations 1, 2, and 4 he completely follows the English order and uses the letters A-V; and in Lamentations 3 he adheres to the tripled Hebrew verses (66 verses) and uses AAA-VVV, i.e. three A verses, then three B verses, etc. (When checking the Knox acrostic Psalms, remember that he is follows the Vulgate numbering of the Psalms which is generally one lower than the English and Hebrew numbering.)
(see the Baronius / Knox Bible website)

God’s blessings to you!

Please read the actual Bible for yourself, but try not to get too tangled up in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin issues, as we did in this post!

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