אֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה בָדָד. יִרְמְיָה כָתַב סֵפֶר קִינוֹת, הִיא הַמְּגִלָּה אֲשֶׁר שָׂרַף יְהוֹיָקִים עַל הָאֵשׁ אֲשֶׁר עַל הָאָח, וְהָיוּ בָהּ שָׁלשׁ אָלֶ"ף בֵּיתוֹ"ת: "אֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה", "אֵיכָה יָעִיב", "אֵיכָה יוּעַם". שׁוּב הוֹסִיף עָלָיו "אֲנִי הַגֶּבֶר" שֶׁהוּא שָׁלשׁ אָלֶ"ף בֵּיתוֹ"ת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, "וְעוֹד נוֹסַף עֲלֵיהֶם דְבָרִים רַבִּים כָּהֵמָּה", שָׁלשׁ כְּנֶגֶד שָׁלשׁ:
How can it be that she sits in isolation. Yirmiyahu wrote the book of Lamentations. 1Because Chapter 3 of Eichah begins with Yirmiyahu writing, “I am the man,” one might mistakenly think that is the beginning of Yirmiyahu’s writing, therefore Rashi states that he wrote the entire Book of Lamentations [=Eichah]. (Sifsei Chachomim) This is the scroll that Yehoyakim burned on the hearth.2See Yirmiyahu 36:23. It contained three3The three acrostics respond to the three tragedies that occurred: the physical exile of the Bnei Yisroel, the departure of the Shchinah and the loss of Eretz Yisroel. (Yalkut Me’am Lo’ez) alphabetical acrostics:4The alphabetical acrostic symbolizes the Bnei Yisroel’s transgression of the Torah which was written with the letters of the Aleph Beis. (Sifsei Chachomim) “Oh how can it be that she sits [in isolation],”5Eichah 1:1. “How can it be [that God] has cast a gloom,”6Ibid., 2:1. [and] “How dim can it be [that the golden glow] has paled.”7Ibid., 4:1. He added to it, “I am the man...”,8Ibid., 3:1. which contains three sets of alphabetical acrostics, as it is stated, “and many more words were added similar to those [of the original scroll],”9Yirmiyahu 36:32. three corresponding to three.10He also added Chapter 5. See Eichah Rabbah, Pesichta 28.
בָדָד. גַּלְמוּד מִיּוֹשְׁבֶיהָ:
In isolation. Devoid of her inhabitants.
רַבָּתִי עָם. יוּ"ד יְתֵרָה, כְּמוֹ "רַבַּת עָם", שֶׁהָיְתָה עַמָּהּ רַב. יֵשׁ מִדְרְשֵׁי אַגָּדָה הַרְבֵּה, וַאֲנִי בָאתִי לְפָרֵשׁ לְשׁוֹן הַמִּקְרָא כְּמַשְׁמָעוֹ:
Teeming with people. The yud of רַבָּתִי is superfluous;11Palgei Mayim explains that the yud is not superfluous because the prophet is speaking in [first person singular] God’s Name, saying, “How can it be that the city that ‘I’ made great and that ‘I’ made important, etc.” [it means the same] as, רַבָּתִי עָם, that her people were many.12Alternatively, ‘the city whose people were so wise’ yet they were unable to prevent its destruction. (Eichah Rabbah); or, ‘the city with great people.’ (Ibn Ezra) There are many Aggadic midrashim, but I have come to explain the Scripture according to its literal meaning.
הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה. וְלֹא אַלְמָנָה מַמָּשׁ, אֶלָּא כְאִשָּׁה שֶׁהָלַךְ בַּעְלָהּ לִמְדִינַת הַיָּם וְדַעְתּוֹ לַחֲזוֹר אֶצְלָהּ:
Has become like a widow. But not really a widow; rather, like a woman whose husband went abroad and he intends to return to her.13See Maseches Sanhedrin 104a.