Monday, July 20, 2015
The Unusual Pe Preceding Ayin Order in the Acrostics of the Book of Lamentations (Eikhah)
The first four chapters of the book of Eikhah (Lamentations) are alphabetical acrostics (each line or stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order). Surprisingly, in the acrostics in chapters 2, 3 and 4, the verses that begin with pe precede the verses that begin with ayin.
The Soncino commentary to Eikhah remarks: “This unusual order has never been satisfactorily explained.” In light of the archaeological discoveries of recent decades, it is time to provide this explanation. We are really dealing with two separate problems:
(1) Why does pe precede ayin in chapters 2, 3 and 4?
(2) Why is there a difference in the order between chapter 1 and chapters 2, 3 and 4?