Here, even before the woman symbol appears, the city is identified as female by feminine pronouns. It is more specifically designated as a widow, another female figure. Before the verse ends, it reflects back on an earlier time when she was a princess, another female figure, but now she is a slave.
In verse 3, the city morphs into Judah, the nation. Then in verse 4, an alternate name for Jerusalem, Zion, is used, and the female identity continues. In verse 6, the city becomes "the daughter of Zion." It is not until verse 7 that Jerusalem, the woman described throughout this context, is directly named. If one would read further, we would see that people have seen her nakedness, and her sin was in her skirts, referring to sins of idolatry, which God describes in sexual terms.
The New King James version uses feminine pronouns 28 times in those seven verses in reference to the entity variously called "a city," "Judah," "a widow," "the princess," "Zion, "the daughter of Zion," and "Jerusalem." Undoubtedly, a woman symbolizes a city, and city, a nation. Each of the female symbols depicts the same thing, Jerusalem and Judah, but from slightly different perspectives. Within this context, it is not depicting a church. Is there a parallel to the church in Lamentations? Yes, but it is indirect, imprecise, and at best secondary.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Four): Where Is the Woman of Revelation 17?
The symbol begins as a city. The city is obviously Jerusalem, and it is portrayed as a widow. Then Jerusalem is depicted as a princess whose friends have deceived her. Her lovers have rejected her, and she has become a slave. However, the symbol that represents the city is still female. It has gone from widow to princess.
In verse 3, Jerusalem next morphs into Judah the nation. Judah is clearly twice referenced as "she" in the middle of the verse. Jerusalem and Judah are then referenced as "Zion," and in verses 4, 5, and 6, is again referred to as "her." In verse 6, Jerusalem becomes the daughter of Zion, whose beauty has faded and is counterpoised with male princes who are of no help to her. In verse 7, we return full circle to Jerusalem, and again it is referenced as "her" five times, and as "she" once. Clearly, a woman symbolizes a city, and the city, its nation.
Each one of these female symbols is depicting the same thing—Jerusalem and Judah—but from slightly different perspectives. But within the context, it is not depicting a church. Is there any parallel with the church here in Lamentations? Yes, but it is indirect, and at best vague and secondary. Israel is never referred to as a church in the Old Testament. Why? Because there was no church. It is not until the New Testament that the Bible suggests that a woman symbolizes a church, and that symbol is restricted to the "Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16), which is important in reference to Revelation 17. Thus, when we understand Revelation 17, Babylon (the great woman, the harlot) cannot be the church under any circumstance.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 4)