When was the book of Lamentations written?
So I was researching about 587 and 607 and couldn't help but notice that the WBTS states that the writing of the book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah near Jerusalem and was completed in 607 bc. Chapters 2 and 4 of this book describe Jehovah's anger towards Jerusalem and the terrible effects of Jerusalem's siege taking place in chapter 4. Can someone clear this up? Was this book written in 607? I always find conflicting information that contradicts what I discover.
There is no way to date Lamentations to a specific year. Doing so is, from a historian's point of view, unethical. Even dating Lamentations to the event is problematic. My personal opinion is that it contemporary to Jerusalem's fall. But my steely-eyed historian's approach would not let me write that it is positively so because there is no way to unfailingly prove it so.
The book is important for its content. It does not support a date.
The prophet Jeremiah began to prophesy about 626 bce during the reign of the Judaean king Josiah. From the town of Anathoth and probably from the priestly family of Eli, this prophet, who may have been instrumental in the Deuteronomic reform, dictated his oracles to his secretary Baruch. Only a youth in his late teens when he experienced the call by Yahweh to be a “prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah was a hesitant reforming prophet, experiencing deep spiritual struggles regarding his adequacy from the very beginning of his call and throughout his prophetic ministry. After the death of Josiah in 609 bce, however, he became an outspoken prophet against the national policy of Judah, a policy that he knew would lead to the disaster that came to be called the Babylonian Exile. Because of his prophecies, which were unpopular with the military and the revolutionists against the Babylonians, Jeremiah was kidnapped by conspirators after 586 and taken to Egypt, where he disappeared.
The Book of Jeremiah is a collection of oracles, biographical accounts, and narratives that are not arranged in any consistent chronological or thematic order. One 20th-century German biblical scholar, Wilhelm Rudolph, has attempted to arrange the chapters of the book according to certain chronological details. He has divided the work into five sections: (1) prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem, chapters 1–25, during the reigns of kings Josiah (640–609) and Jehoiachim (609–598), and the period after Jehoiachim (597–586); (2) prophecies against foreign nations, chapters 25 and 66–61; (3) prophecies of hope for Israel, chapters 26–35 (probably after the death of Josiah in 609); (4) narratives of Jeremiah’s sufferings, chapters 36–45 (from a post-586 period), and (5) an appendix, chapter 52. Jeremiah’s own prophetic oracles are found particularly in chapters 1–36 and 46–52. Baruch’s writings about Jeremiah are found primarily in chapters 37–45, 26–29, and 33–36.
During the reign of Josiah, after his call, Jeremiah preached to the people of Jerusalem and warned them against the sin of apostasy. Recalling the prophecies of the 8th-century Israelite prophet Hosea, Jeremiah reproached the Judaeans for playing harlot with other gods and urged them to repent. He prophesied that enemies from the north would be the instruments of Yahweh’s judgment on the apostate land and Jerusalem would suffer the fate of a rejected prostitute. The idolatry and immorality of the Judaeans would inevitably lead to their destruction. Because of the impending threat from the north, Jeremiah warned the people to flee from the wrath that was to come.
At the beginning of Jehoiachim’s reign, Jeremiah preached in the temple that because of Judah’s apostasy “death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family in all the places where I have driven them, says the Lord of hosts.” Because he spoke words that were unpopular, his own townsmen of Anathoth plotted against his life. To symbolize the fate of Judah, Jeremiah adopted some rather bizarre techniques. He buried a waist cloth and wore it when it was spoiled to illustrate the fate of Jerusalem, which had worshipped other gods than Yahweh.
Throughout his career Jeremiah had moments of deep depression, times when he lamented that he had become a prophet. Because of the uncertainty of the times, Jeremiah did not marry.
A master of symbolic actions and the use of symbolic devices, Jeremiah used a potter’s wheel to show that Yahweh was shaping an evil future for Judah; and he bought a flask, after which he broke it on the ground to illustrate again the fate of Judah. Because of such words and actions, Jeremiah often found himself in trouble. Pashur, a priest, had Jeremiah beaten and placed in stocks. When released, Jeremiah told Pashur he would go into captivity and die. Despite the plots against him, Jeremiah continued to rely on the grace of Yahweh. He was brought to trial for prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem, but his defense attorneys—“certain of the elders”—pointed out that King Hezekiah had not punished the prophet Micah of Moresheth in the 8th century for similar statements.
Continuing to prophesy against the moral and religious corruption of Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah (597–586), Jeremiah became even more unpopular for his advocacy to surrender to Babylon.
In spite of his apparent failure to win over the people to his cause, Jeremiah inaugurated a reform that had lasting effects. He helped to bring about a change in religion from the view that primarily accepted corporate responsibility to one that held that religion is more individualistic in terms of responsibility. His words in chapter 31, verse 33, are a summation of his reform: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
It happens obviously after Jerusalem's destruction. Since WT NEEDS it to be in 607, there you have their date for this book.
Lamentations? after sitting through a four day convention and going home with stomach upset.
There's no way to know when any of the Old Testament books were written. Most evidence points to the Greeks having the books written during the time when they were in control of Egypt and Judah.
What does the book "Equipped For Every Good Work " published by the WT in about the 1950`s say about this ?
or is that where you got your information from ?
Just curious Jules.
No I just noticed that it says this in the back of the New World Translation, particularly the 2013 revision, in the back where it says where every book was written, when and by who
Lamentations is one of the few books I feel is complementary with the events it records. It likely has a historical core. Other city laments were added on later to make the acrostic style.
I am with those who say it is impossible to say with certainty when it was written, but it has the feel of a work contemporaneous with the events, or rather written shortly after, as the prophet who wrote it ends on a high note, at least in the penultimate verse.
We have to remember though that all of the Bible has been edited/redacted, bits added etc. The oldest manuscripts we have are only 2nd century B.C.
So this may be another example of a contrived Work made to look earlier than it was, like Daniel, though I fail to see the purpose of that, apart from the hopeful thing coming true after the return from Babylon.