Book of Baruch

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ABOUT:

 

The Book of Baruch is part of what is considered the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical writings and appears in the Old Testament of Catholic Bibles. Except for some Episcopal or Lutheran Bibles, the Book of Baruch and other books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant Bibles. Apocrypha means “hidden,” and Deuterocanonical means “second-listed.” Books of the Apocrypha were mainly written in the roughly 400 years between the composition of the books in the Old and New Testaments, the so-called intertestamental period. Baruch is one of 12-15 books generally recognized as comprising the Apocrypha.

Controversy surrounds the Apocrypha regarding whether these books are from God or divinely inspired. For example, some biblical scholars point out that Jesus never quoted any verses from the Apocrypha, although He quoted with great frequency from many Old Testament books. Many books of the Apocrypha contain historical or geographical inaccuracies.

In response to the Reformation, the Catholic Church, after centuries of not acknowledging these writings fully, canonized the Apocrypha at the Council of Trent in 1546 in part to provide “biblical” justification for some doctrines not found in originally canonized works, e.g., praying for the dead, purgatory, salvation by almsgiving, etc. It was during the Reformation that doctrinal validity was judged against the principle of sola scriptura (Scripture alone). So, by accepting writings in the Apocrypha that mentioned the above practices not found in original Scripture, the Catholic Church could support its theological position and the validity of these doctrines during this tempestuous time.

The Catholic Church uses Baruch 3:9-38 as part of its Holy Saturday liturgy during Passiontide (Easter Season). This portion of the book, which speaks of obtaining and desiring wisdom, concludes with a verse referencing Christ’s living among us. The Eastern Orthodox Church uses Baruch among its Old Testament readings during Christmas Eve services. Some early Christian theologians quoted from Baruch, including Thomas Aquinas, St. Clement of Alexandria, and St. Hilary of Poitiers.

The Bible records that Baruch was Jeremiah’s secretary, who wrote the prophet’s words on a scroll (Jeremiah 36:4). Within the Book of Baruch, the central themes are Israel’s disobedience to God, God exiling Jews to Babylon due to their behavior, God’s just action, the need to repent and honor and obey God’s Word, and begging for God’s mercy. In the first chapter of Baruch, it is stated that Baruch read this book aloud to Judah’s King Jeconiah (Baruch 1:3). Jeconiah is also mentioned in the Old Testament as someone who did “evil in the eyes of the Lord,” as did his father, Jehoiakim (2 Kings 25:8).

Baruch is considered a prophetic book and was found in the Septuagint and Vulgate Bible. In many versions, the Letter of Jeremiah is added as a sixth chapter. In other versions, however, Baruch concludes with a short, 9-verse fifth chapter.

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

Baruch 1 Good News Translation (GNT)

Introduction

This book was written by Baruch son of Neraiah, grandson of Mahseiah, and a descendant of Zedekiah, Hasadiah, and Hilkiah. It was written in Babylon on the seventh day of the month[a] in the fifth year after the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and burned it down. 3-4 Baruch read the book aloud to Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and to all the people who lived in Babylon by the Sud River. Everyone came to hear it read—nobles, children of royal families, elders, in fact, all the people, no matter what their status.

When the book was read, everyone cried, fasted, and prayed to the Lord. Then they all gave as much money as they could, and the collection was sent to Jerusalem to Jehoiakim the High Priest, son of Hilkiah and grandson of Shallum, and to the other priests and to all the people who were with him in Jerusalem.

On the tenth day of the month of Sivan, Baruch took the sacred utensils which had been carried away from the Temple and returned them to Judah. These were the silver utensils which Zedekiah son of King Josiah of Judah had ordered made after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had deported Jehoiachin, the rulers, the skilled workers,[b] the nobles, and the common people and had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon.

A Letter to Jerusalem

10 The people wrote:

Please use the money we are sending you to buy animals for the burnt offerings and the sin offerings, to buy incense, and to provide the grain offerings. Offer them on the altar of the Lord our God, 11 and pray for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his son Belshazzar, that they may live as long as the heavens last. 12 Then the Lord will strengthen us and be our guide. Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar will protect us, and we will be loyal to them as long as we live; then they will be pleased with us. 13 We ask you also to pray to the Lord God for us, because we have sinned against him, and he is still angry with us. 14 Please read this book that we are sending you and make your own confession of sin in the Temple on the first day of the Festival of Shelters and on other holy days of assembly.

A Confession of Sin

15 This is the confession you should make:

The Lord our God is righteous, but we are still covered with shame. All of us—the people of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, 16 our kings, our rulers, our priests, our prophets, and our ancestors have been put to shame, 17 because we have sinned against the Lord our God 18 and have disobeyed him. We did not listen to him or live according to his commandments. 19 From the day the Lord brought our ancestors out of Egypt until the present day, we have continued to be unfaithful to him, and we have not hesitated to disobey him. 20 Long ago, when the Lord led our ancestors out of Egypt, so that he could give us a rich and fertile land, he pronounced curses against us through his servant Moses. And today we are suffering because of those curses. 21 We refused to obey the word of the Lord our God which he spoke to us through the prophets. Instead, we all did as we pleased and went on our own evil way. We turned to other gods and did things the Lord hates.

 

Baruch 2 Good News Translation (GNT)

So the Lord carried out the threat he had made against us and against our judges, our kings, our rulers, and the people of Israel and Judah. Nowhere else on earth have such things happened as happened in Jerusalem when the Lord carried out the threats written in the Law of Moses. Things were so bad that we even ate the flesh of our own sons and daughters. The Lord scattered our people, handing us over to the control of all the nations around us, and they looked on us with reproach and horror. We sinned against the Lord our God and refused to obey him. Therefore, our nation was conquered, instead of being victorious. The Lord our God is always righteous, but we and our ancestors are still burdened with our guilt. Even though the Lord punished us as he had threatened, we still did not turn to him and pray that we would abandon our evil thoughts. 9-10 We did not obey him or live by his just commands, so the Lord brought on us all the punishments he had kept ready for us.

The Prayer for Deliverance

11 You, O Lord, are the God of Israel who brought your people out of Egypt with great power and with signs, miracles, and wonders. You showed your mighty strength and gained a glorious reputation, which is still recognized today. 12 O Lord our God, we have sinned; we have been unfaithful; we have disobeyed all your commands. 13 But do not be angry with us any longer. Here among the nations where you have scattered us, only a few of us are left. 14 Listen to our prayer of petition, Lord, and rescue us for the sake of your own honor. Let those who have taken us into exile be pleased with us. 15 Then the whole world will know that you are the Lord our God and that you have chosen the nation of Israel to be your own people. 16 O Lord, look down from heaven and see our misery. Listen to our prayer. 17 Open your eyes and look upon us. Those in the world of the dead with no breath left in their bodies cannot offer praises to you or proclaim how just you are. 18 Only the living, O Lord, can offer you praise and acknowledge your justice, even though they may be suffering greatly, bent and weak, hungry and with failing eyesight. 19 O Lord our God, we pray to you for mercy, but not because of any good things done by our ancestors and our kings. 20 You turned your anger and wrath against us, just as you had threatened to do when your servants the prophets spoke your word to us and said, 21 

Bend your backs and serve the king of Babylonia, and you can remain in the land that I gave to your ancestors. 22 But if you refuse to obey my command to serve him, 23 I will bring to an end every sound of joy and celebration in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem. Even the happy sounds of wedding feasts will no longer be heard. The whole land will be desolate and uninhabited.

24 But we did not obey your command to serve the king of Babylonia, so you carried out the threat that you had made when you spoke through your servants the prophets, when you said that the bones of our kings and of our ancestors would be taken from their tombs and scattered.25 And now here they lie exposed to the heat of the day and to the frost of the night. They died in torment from famine, war, and disease. 26 And because of the sin of the people of Israel and Judah, you have reduced your own Temple to ruins, even as it is today. 27 But, Lord, you have been patient with us and have shown us great mercy, 28 as you promised through your servant Moses on the day you commanded him to write your Law in the presence of the Israelites.

29 If you do not obey me, you said,
you will be reduced to a handful among the nations where I will scatter you. 30 I know that you will not obey me, because you are a stubborn people. But when you are taken into exile in another land, you will come to your senses. 31 Then you will realize that I am the Lord your God, and I will give you a desire to know and a mind with which to understand. 32 There in the land of your exile you will praise me and remember me. 33 You will stop being so stubborn and wicked, for you will remember what happened to your ancestors when they sinned against the Lord. 34 Then I will bring you back to the land that I solemnly promised to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and it will be yours again. I will increase your population, and you will never again be reduced to a small number. 35 I will make an everlasting covenant with you; I will be your God and you will be my people. I will never again remove you, the people of Israel, from the land that I gave you.

 

Baruch 3 Good News Translation (GNT)

O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, from the depth of our troubled, weary souls we cry out to you. Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy on us, because we have sinned against you. You reign as king forever, but we die and are gone forever. O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear our prayer. We are no better off than the dead. Our ancestors sinned against you, the Lord their God. They refused to obey you, and we are suffering the consequences of their sin. Forget the sinful things that our ancestors did in the past; at a time like this, think only of your power and reputation, for you are the Lord our God, and we will praise you.You have made us fear you, so that we might pray to you. Here in exile we will praise you because we have turned away from the sins of our ancestors. You have scattered us among the nations, and you have made them despise and curse us. You are punishing us for the sins of our ancestors when they rebelled against you, the Lord our God.

In Praise of Wisdom

Listen, Israel, to the commands that promise life; pay attention, and you will become wise. 10 Why is it, Israel, that you find yourself in an enemy land? Why have you grown old in a foreign country? You are ritually unclean, like the dead; 11 you are already counted among the dead. But why? 12 It is because you have left the source of Wisdom! 13 If you had walked in God’s ways, you would have lived in peace forever.14 Learn where understanding, strength, and insight are to be found. Then you will know where to find a long and full life, light to guide you, and peace.

15 No one has ever found where Wisdom lives or has entered her treasure house, 16-17 and those who have tried have vanished: the rulers of the nations, those who hunted wild animals and birds for sport, those who accumulated vast fortunes of silver and gold, which everyone trusts and will do anything to get, 18 and those who worried and schemed to make money, but who left no trace of their work behind. 19 They have all disappeared and gone down to the world of the dead. Others have come along to take their place. 20 A later generation was born and lived in the land, but they too did not discover the way to knowledge. They did not find the path to Wisdom or ever reach her. 21 Their children also failed.22 Wisdom was not found by the Canaanites. It has not been discovered by the Edomites 23 although they search after knowledge. The way to Wisdom has not been found by the merchants of Merran and Tema or by those who relate fables or by any others who seek understanding.

24 O Israel, how great is the universe in which God dwells! How vast is all that he possesses! 25 There is no end to it; there is no way to measure how wide or how high it is. 26 Here in early times the famous giants were born, a mighty race skilled in war. 27 But God did not choose them to be his people or show them the way of knowledge. 28 They died out because they had neither understanding nor insight.

29 No one has ever gone up into heaven to get Wisdom and bring her down out of the clouds. 30 No one has sailed across the seas to find Wisdom or bought her with precious gold. 31 No one knows how to get to her or how to discover the path that leads to her.

32 The only one who knows Wisdom is God, and he knows all things. With his understanding he found her. He established the earth for all time and filled it with all kinds of animals. 33 The light trembled and obeyed when he called. He sent it forth, and it appeared. 34 He called the stars, and they promptly answered; they took their places and gladly shone to please the one who made them. 35 He is our God, and there is none like him. 36 He discovered the entire path leading to understanding and gave Wisdom to his servant Israel, whom he loved. 37 From that time on, Wisdom appeared on earth and lived among us.

 

…ETC…