In the year 586BCE, the city of Jerusalem was overrun and destroyed by the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar. The destruction of the city followed a protracted two year siege, with the armies surrounding the city and restricting the flow of food and water into Jerusalem. Famine spread, and death was rife. When Jerusalem was finally conquered, the Babylonians destroyed the entire fabric of Judean society. People were killed, buildings were destroyed, the king, the leaders and all but the poorest members of society were exiled. The Temple, the sacred centre heart of the nation, was levelled and its treasures carried off by the victorious army. The social, political and religious life of the nation was totally destroyed.
We can gain some insight into the pain and grief of the Jerusalem community through the book of Lamentations, which is thought to have developed in the period following the destruction of Jerusalem. As its name implies, Lamentations is a collection of lament poems in which the worshipping community gives voice to its pain.
Boase, E. (2005). Many voices of lament: An exploration of the Book of Lamentations. Australian Journal of Liturgy, 10(1), 3-26.
Boase, E. C. (2005). The many voices of lament: An exploration of the Book of Lamentations. Paper presented at the Australian Academy of Liturgy: Singing Our Sorrows Conference. University of Notre Dame, Australia, Fremantle Campus, WA, 17-20 January, 2005.