The first readings this week have followed the history of the final days of the kingdom of Judah. In 597 B.C.E. king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon replaced Judah's king Jehoiachin with his uncle, king Zedechia.
Our readings this week have made no mention of the great prophet Jeremiah, but doing the reign of Zedechia he repeatedly warned the king and the people that God would bring Judah to a terrible end of the they did not reform their lives.
The people and king Zedexhia, far from heeding the warnings of Jeremiah, laughed at him; and to quiet his warnings, they dropped him into a dry well, encouraging all the people passing by to laugh and spit at him.
In 598 B.C.C. Nebuchadnezzar returned with an army to destroy Jerusalem. The people, wakened to the imminent danger, asked Jeremiah if there was any way for them to get God to protect them. Jeremiah pointed out to them that what God hated most about them was the way that when people fell into debt, they would enslave them in payment. People even turned relatives into their slaves.
Jeremiah told the people they could acquire God's protection if they released their slaves. Seeing that they could be turned into slaves, they released their slaves; and with that, Nebuchadnezzar's forces were attacked by the Egyptions, forcing them to leave off attacking Jerusalem.
Jerusalem's citizens, seeing that they were safe, went out and rounded up their former slaves. With that, Nebuchadnezzar's forces returned. They enslaved the people of Jerusalem, destroying their temple.
Today's first reading, by an unknown author, is the first of four laments over the ruins of Jerusalem.