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Book of Baruch

Book of Baruch
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

Another book, adjoining the books of Jeremias, is the Book of Baruch, written by Baruch the son of Neriah. Enumeration of the five generations of his ancestors shows the nobility of his descent. Indeed, his brother Seraiah was the chief of tax collectors and went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon to Nebuchadrezzar (Jer 51:59). The Holy Prophet Baruch was an inseparable companion, disciple, friend and scribe of the great Prophet Jeremias (May 1). Together with his teacher, Baruch grievously lamented the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and he taught and censured the Jews, and he suffered spite and vexation from them. He witnessed the stoning of the holy Prophet Jeremias, and buried his body. After that Baruch moved to Babylon where, as the tradition has it, he died in the twelfth year after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The book of Baruch was written out of the desire of the Jews from Babylon to encourage their compatriots, who had stayed in the devastated Judaea, with donations and an accompanying letter. The letter on behalf of the captives was compiled by Baruch. First he read this letter to the captured king Jehoiachin with the Jews that lived in Babylon, and then sent it to Joakim the high priest in Judaea.

In his letter Baruch explained to the Jews that the disasters that befell them did not mean final rejection, but were only a temporary punishment for the sins. Therefore the people had to grieve over their sins, not the captivity. Baruch prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, and the desolation of Babylon. He clearly prophesied the coming into the world of the Son of God, Who would "dwell with mankind." His prophecy begins with the words, "He is our God, and no other can compare with Him" (Bar 3:36). The book of Baruch showed how beneficial were the disasters for the Jews: many admitted their share of the guilt, repented and became more humble and obedient to God.

The Book of the Prophet Baruch is regarded as uncanonical and is appended to the Book of the Prophet Jeremias. On the eve of the Nativity of Christ it is read as one of the Old Testament readings, listed as a prophecy of Jeremias. His Feast Day is September 28th.

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Detailed Outline.

Chapter 1.

1:1-1:10 - A letter to Jerusalem
1:11-1:14 - Baruch and the Jews in Babylon
1:15-2:10 - Confession of Sins

Chapters 2-3:8.

2:11-2:26 - Prayer for Deliverance 2:27-3:8 - God's Promise Recalled

Chapters 3:9-4:4.

3:9-4:4 - In Praise of Wisdom

Chapters 4:5-5-9.

4:5-4:29 - Encouragement for Israel
4:5-5:9 - Message to those in captivity
4:30-5:9 - Jerusalem Is Assured of Help

Chapter 6: See Letter of Jeremias.

Our next biblical article turns to the Letter of Jeremias.

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