Baruch Book I
The First Book of Baruch
The book of Baruch, is an ancient text said to have been written by Baruch, secretary and friend of Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet. The text still exists in Greek and in several translations from Greek into Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopian and other languages. Although the book of Baruch was incorporated into the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) and the Vulgate (the Latin version of the Bible officially promulgated in 1590 by the Catholic Church as the Sistine Vulgate), it is apocryphal to the Hebrew and Protestant canons. In the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, the book of Baruch is included in the prophetic books. It is named after Baruch, who was the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 36:4 So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and at the dictation of Jeremiah, Baruch wrote on a scroll all the words that the LORD had spoken to Jeremiah.
These are the words of the book written by Baruch, the son of Neriah, de - scended from Massiah, from Sedekiah, from Hasadiah, from Hilkiah.
They were written in the fi fth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldeans had taken Jerusalem and burned it.
Baruch read the words of this book to Jeconiah, the son of Joachim, the king of Judah, in the presence of all the people who had come together to hear it read.
He read it in the hearing of the nobles and the king’s sons, of the elders and all the people, from the smallest to the greatest— that is, all those who were living in Babylon near the river Sudi.
Then the people wept and fasted and prayed before the Lord.
They also collected money according to what each one could afford.
And this, they sent to Jerusalem, to the priest Jehoiakim, son of Hilkiah, the son of Shallum, and to the other priests and people who dwelt in Jerusalem with him.
This same Baruch had undertaken to carry back to Judea, on the tenth day of the month of Sivan, the sacred vessels which had been taken away from the temple of the Lord.
These were the silver vessels made by Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah, after Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had carried off Jeconiah, the artisans, the nobles and the people of the land and had taken them captive to Babylon.
The letter said: Look, we are sending you money; buy with it victims for the holocaust and for sin offerings and incense; prepare oblations and offer them on the Altar of the Lord our God.
Pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of Balthasar, his son, so that they may be successful in all that they do.
Thus the Lord will give strength and light to our eyes. We will live under the protection of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of his son, Balthasar. We shall have a long life serving them and we shall find favor before them.
Pray to the Lord our God for us also, for we have sinned against the Lord our God; even to this day the anger of the Lord and his fury have not been turned away from us.
Finally, read this book which we are sending to you, so that you can read it publicly in the house of the Lord on the day of the Feast and on other suitable days.
You will say: May everyone recognize the justice of our God but, on this day, shame and confusion befit the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem— our kings and princes, our priests, our prophets, and our fathers,
Because we have sinned before the Lord.
We have disobeyed him and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, nor have we followed the commandments which the Lord had put before us.
From the day that the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until this day, we have disobeyed the Lord our God and we have rebelled against him instead of listening to his voice.
Because of this, from the day on which the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, so as to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, the evils and the curse which the Lord pronounced by Moses, his servant, have dogged our footsteps right down to the present day.
We did not listen to the voice of the Lord our God speaking through the words of the prophets whom he sent to us.
But each one of us followed his perverted heart, serving false gods and doing what displeases the Lord our God.
That is why the Lord our God has carried out the word which he spoke against us, against the judges who have governed Israel, against our kings, our princes and the people of Israel and Judah.
No one under the sky has ever seen the like of what happened in Jerusalem, according to what is written in the Book of Moses.
For people among us came to eat their son’s and daughter’s flesh.
And he handed them over into the power of all the surrounding kingdoms, so that they were cursed and humiliated among the neighboring peoples among whom the Lord had scattered them.
Submission and not command has been our lot, because we have sinned against the Lord our God and have not listened to his voice.
Just is the Lord our God, whereas shame and confusion befit us and our ancestors right down to this day.
All those evils which the Lord prophesied concerning us have fallen upon us.
And we have not begged the Lord to make each of us turn away from the thoughts of our evil hearts.
Then the Lord kept watch over the evils and allowed them to come upon us, for the Lord is just in all that he has commanded us to do.
We have not listened to his voice nor followed the commands which the Lord has ordered us to keep.
And now, Lord God of Israel, you who brought your people out of Egypt with a strong hand, with miracles and wonders and great power, you who stretched out your arm and made for yourself a name such as you have today, we have sinned.
We have been godless and unjust, Lord, careless about all your commands.
May your fury be turned away from us, for there are very few of us left among the nations in which you have scattered us.
Hear our supplication and our prayer, O Lord, deliver us, for your own honor and let us find favor with those who deported us.
Let all the earth know that you are the Lord our God, because Israel and its people bear your name.
Lord, look down from your holy dwelling place and think of us; Lord, incline your ear and listen;
Lord, open your eyes and consider: it is not the dead, lying in the netherworld, who will praise your glory and justice, since their spirit has been taken from their breast.
Grieving under his burden, and walking bowed down and exhausted, the man with eyes sore from weeping and who is hungry—these are they, who can give you glory and justice, O Lord.
For it is not on account of the merits of our ancestors and of our kings that we pour out our cry for pity before you, O Lord our God.
You have sent down on us your fury and your anger as you announced through your servants, the prophets, saying:
“Thus says the Lord: Bend your shoulders and serve the king of Babylon and you will dwell in the land that I gave to your ancestors.
But if you do not listen to the voice of the Lord your God and serve the king of Babylon.
I will bring to an end in the towns of Judah and in Jerusalem the song of joy and gladness, the song of the bridegroom and the bride, and the whole country will become a desert without inhabitants.
We did not listen to your invitation to serve the king of Babylon and so you carried out what you had foretold by your servants, the prophets, that the bones of our kings and our ancestors would be taken from their graves.
See, they have been exposed to the heat of the day and the cold of the night; they died in cruel sufferings, by famine, by the sword and by plagues.
And you have reduced the nation which bears your name to the state in which it is today because of the wickedness of the people of Judah.
However, you have acted towards us, O Lord our God, indulgently and with great tenderness.
As you foretold by your servant Moses, the day you ordered him to write down your law in the presence of the children of Israel saying,
If you do not listen to my voice, this great and vast multitude will be reduced to a small remnant among the nations where I shall scatter them.
For I know well that they will not listen to me because they are a stiff-necked people. But in the land of their exile their hearts will be converted 31 and they will know that I am the Lord their God.
And I will give them a heart and listening ears, that they may praise me in the land of their exile and remember my name.
They will repent of their stiff-necked obstinacy and their evil deeds, because they will remember what happened to their ancestors who had sinned before the Lord.
And I will lead them into the land which I have promised by oath to their ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and they will take possession of it. I will increase their number and it will no longer diminish.
I will make with them an everlasting Covenant; I will be their God and they shall be my people. I will no longer drive my people Israel from the land which I have given them.
Almighty Lord, God of Israel, a soul in anguish and a discouraged spirit cries out to you.
Listen, Lord, and have pity, for we have sinned against you.
For you reign forever, while we perish forever.
Lord, all powerful God of Israel, listen, then, to the prayers of the dead of Israel. We are the sons of those who sinned against you, who did not listen to the voice of their God; and this is why disgrace has come upon us.
Do not remember any longer the wrongdoing of our fathers, but remember at this time your power and your name.
For you are the Lord, our God and we will praise you, Lord.
That is why you have put your fear into our hearts and we call upon your name. And we will praise you in our exile for we have removed from our hearts all the wrong of our fathers who sinned against you.
We are here today, in our exile, where you have scattered us, to be insulted, cursed and condemned for the wrongdoing of our fathers, who separated themselves from the Lord our God. Who has found wisdom?
Listen, Israel, to the commands of life, give ear so as to learn prudence.
Why, Israel! Why are you in the land of your foes? Why are you growing old in a foreign country, contaminated by pagans?
Counted among those who go to the pit?
You have abandoned the source of Wisdom.
If you had walked in the way of God, peace would be your dwelling place forever.
Learn where is Wisdom, where is Strength and Understanding, that you may know, at the same time, where are length of days and life, light of the eyes and Peace.
Who will fi nd Wisdom’s dwelling? Who will enter her storage rooms?
Where are the leaders of the nations, those who commanded the beasts of the earth?
Who played with the birds of the heavens, who piled up silver and gold—in which people put their trust— and who never tired of collecting it?
Amassing money was their only concern, their business beyond measure.
But they have disappeared, they have gone down to the dead and others have risen in their place.
A younger generation is there on the earth and enjoys the light, but they have not known the ways of knowledge.
They have not seen his tracks nor have they met him, 21 and their children after them did not leave their paths.
No one in Canaan has heard of Wisdom, no one has seen her in Teman.
The sons of Agar, who seek knowledge of the earth, the traders of Midian and Teman, the tellers of fables and philosophers, they have not known the path of Wisdom, they have not discovered her ways.
O Israel, how great is the house of God, how vast his dominion!
It is great and has no limits. It is lofty, wide and immeasurable.
There were born the ancient and famous giants of high stature and skillful in war.
God did not choose them, he did not teach them the ways of Wisdom.
And they perished because of their folly, because they lacked knowledge.
Who has ascended to Heaven that he may lay hold of her and bring her down from the clouds?
Who has crossed seas and found her, and bought her with the purest of gold?
There is no one who knows her path, no one who thinks of her way.
But he who knows everything recognizes her. He has found her in his own intellect. He who created the earth, for all time, and has filled it with four-footed beings.
He who sends the light, and it goes, who recalls it, and trembling, it obeys.
The stars shine, full of joy, to keep their night watches. He calls them and they answer, “Here we are.” They shine with joy for their Creator.
It is he who is our God, no other can be compared with him.
He has found the way of understanding and has given her to Jacob his servant and to Israel his well-beloved.
Afterward did he shew himself upon earth, and conversed with men.
She herself is the book of the commands of God, the law which endures forever. All who hold fast to her will have life but those who abandon her will die.
Come back, Jacob, and embrace her, walk towards brightness under her light.
Do not give up what is your glory or sell your privileges to any strange nation.
We are fortunate, O Israel, for we know what pleases the Lord!
Take courage, my people, you who pre serve the memory of Israel.
You have been sold to the nations but not for your destruction; because you had aroused the anger of God, you were delivered to your enemies.
For you displeased your Creator in sacrificing to demons and not to God.
You have forgotten the Eternal God, the one who nourished you. You have filled Jerusalem with sadness, she who brought you up.
For she saw the anger of God fall on you and she said, “Listen, you neighboring cities of Zion, God has sent me a great sorrow.
I have seen the captivity of my sons and daughters, which the Eternal one brought on them.
I had nurtured them in joy; with tears and sadness I saw them leave.
Let no one rejoice on seeing me a widow and abandoned by all. Because of the sins of my children I am now alone, because they have turned away from the law of God.
They have not remembered its precepts; nor have they walked in the ways of his commandments, and followed the discipline which leads to uprightness.
Let them come, the neighbors of Zion, and remember the captivity which the Eternal One laid on my sons and daughters.
For he caused a distant nation to come against them, a ruthless nation with an unknown language. They had no respect for the old, and no pity for the infant.
They took away the only son of the widow, as well as her daughter, and left her alone.
But as for myself, how can I help you?
He who caused these evils to come upon you will deliver you from the hands of your enemies.
Well, my children, go on your way; as for me, I am left alone.
I have taken off the garment of peace and put on again the sackcloth of penance and prayer. I will cry out to the Eternal One all the rest of my days.
Come, take courage, my children, cry out to God. He will deliver you from the violence of the enemy.
Because I hoped for your salvation from the Eternal One, joy has come to me from the Holy One, because of the mercy that will come to you soon from the Eternal One, our Savior.
In tears and mourning, I saw you leave, but in joy and gladness God will bring you back to me forever.
As the neighbors of Zion have seen your captivity so they will soon see your salvation from God, when he manifests to you the great glory and the splendor of the Eternal God.
Children, bear patiently this punishment which came on you from God. The enemy has persecuted you, but you will soon see his downfall and you will trample him underfoot.
My well-beloved children have walked by difficult paths, carried off like a herd stolen by enemies.
Take courage, my children, cry out to God, for he who sent you into exile will remember you.
Thus, as you distanced yourself from God, return to him and seek him ten times more earnestly.
For he who caused these evils to fall on you will bring you salvation and eternal joy.
Take courage, Jerusalem. He who has named you will console you.
Cursed be those who did evil to you and rejoiced in your downfall.
Cursed be those cities in which your children were slaves, cursed the nation in which they had to live.
Just as that nation rejoiced in your downfall and took pleasure in your destruction so will she be afflicted and destroyed.
I will take from her the joy of being a numerous people; her pride will be turned into mourning.
A fire will descend on her from the Eternal One and burn for many days. She will be inhabited by demons for a long time 36 Jerusalem, look towards the East, and see the joy which is coming to you from God.
Look, your children who were scattered are returning. They are assembling, coming together, from the East and from the West, at the voice of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Jerusalem, put off your garment of mourning and unhappiness, put on the splendor and glory of God forever.
Wrap yourself in the mantle of holiness that comes from God, put on your head the crown of glory of the Eternal One.
For God will show your splendor to every being under heaven.
He will call your name forever, “peace in justice” and “glory in the fear of the Lord.”
Rise up, Jerusalem, stand on the heights. Look towards the east and see your children gathered together from the setting of the sun to its rising, by the voice of the Holy One, rejoicing because God has remembered them.
They left you on foot, taken away by the enemy. God will lead them back, carried gloriously like royal princes.
For God has resolved to bring low every high mountain and the everlasting hills, to fill up the valleys and level out the ground, in order that Israel may walk in safety under the glory of God. 8 Even the forests and the fragrant trees will give shade to Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy by the light of his glory, escorting them with his mercy and justice.
A copy of an epistle, which Jeremy sent unto them which were to be led captives into Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to certify them, as it was commanded him of God.
Because of the sins which ye have committed before God, you shall be led away captives into Babylon by Nabuchodonosor king of the Babylonians.
So when ye be come unto Babylon, you shall remain there many years, and for a long season, namely, seven generations: and after that I will bring you away peaceably from thence.
Now shall you see in Babylon gods of silver, and of gold, and of wood, borne upon shoulders, which cause the nations to fear.
Beware therefore that you in no wise be like to strangers, neither be you and of them, when you see the multitude before them and behind them, worshipping them.
But say you in your hearts, O Lord, we must worship thee.
For mine angel is with you, and I myself caring for your souls.
As for their tongue, it is polished by the workman, and they themselves are gilded and laid over with silver; yet are they but false, and cannot speak.
And taking gold, as it were for a virgin that loveth to go gay, they make crowns for the heads of their gods.
Sometimes also the priests convey from their gods gold and silver, and bestow it upon themselves.
Yea, they will give thereof to the common harlots, and deck them as men with garments, [being] gods of silver, and gods of gold, and wood.
Yet cannot these gods save themselves from rust and moth, though they be covered with purple raiment.
They wipe their faces because of the dust of the temple, when there is much upon them.
And he that cannot put to death one that offended him hold a scepter, as though he were a judge of the country.
He hath also in his right hand a dagger and an ax: but cannot deliver himself from war and thieves.
Whereby they are known not to be gods: therefore fear them not.
For like as a vessel that a man uses is nothing worth when it is broken; even so it is with their gods: when they be set up in the temple, their eyes be full of dust through the feet of them that come in.
And as the doors are made sure on every side upon him that offended the king, as being committed to suffer death: even so the priests make fast their temples with doors, with locks, and bars, lest their gods be spoiled with robbers.
They light them candles, yea, more than for themselves, whereof they cannot see one.
They are as one of the beams of the temple, yet they say their hearts are gnawed upon by things creeping out of the earth; and when they eat them and their clothes, they feel it not.
Their faces are blacked through the smoke that cometh out of the temple.
Upon their bodies and heads sit bats, swallows, and birds, and the cats also.
By this you may know that they are no gods: therefore fear them not.
Notwithstanding the gold that is about them to make them beautiful, except they wipe off the rust, they will not shine: for neither when they were molten did they feel it.
The things wherein there is no breath are bought for a most high price.
They are borne upon shoulders, having no feet whereby they declare unto men that they be nothing worth.
They also that serve them are ashamed: for if they fall to the ground at any time, they cannot rise up again of themselves: neither, if one set them upright, can they move of themselves: neither, if they be bowed down, can they make themselves straight: but they set gifts before them as unto dead men.
As for the things that are sacrificed unto them, their priests sell and abuse; in like manner their wives lay up part thereof in salt; but unto the poor and impotent they give nothing of it.
Menstruous women and women in childbed eat their sacrifices: by these things ye may know that they are no gods: fear them not.
For how can they be called gods? because women set meat before the gods of silver, gold, and wood.
And the priests sit in their temples, having their clothes rent, and their heads and beards shaven, and nothing upon their heads.
They roar and cry before their gods, as men do at the feast when one is dead.
The priests also take off their garments, and clothe their wives and children.
Whether it be evil that one doeth unto them, or good, they are not able to recompense it: they can neither set up a king, nor put him down.
In like manner, they can neither give riches nor money: though a man make a vow unto them, and keep it not, they will not require it.
They can save no man from death, neither deliver the weak from the mighty.
They cannot restore a blind man to his sight, nor help any man in his distress.
They can shew no mercy to the widow, nor do good to the fatherless.
Their gods of wood, and which are overlaid with gold and silver, are like the stones that be hewn out of the mountain: they that worship them shall be confounded.
How should a man then think and say that they are gods, when even the Chaldeans themselves dishonor them?
Who if they shall see one dumb that cannot speak, they bring him, and intreat Bel that he may speak, as though he were able to understand.
Yet they cannot understand this themselves, and leave them: for they have no knowledge.
The women also with cords about them, sitting in the ways, burn bran for perfume: but if any of them, drawn by some that passes by, lie with him, she reproaches her fellow, that she was not thought as worthy as herself, nor her cord broken.
Whatsoever is done among them is false: how may it then be thought or said that they are gods?
They are made of carpenters and goldsmiths: they can be nothing else than the workmen will have them to be.
And they themselves that made them can never continue long; how should then the things that are made of them be gods?
For they left lies and reproaches to them that come after.
For when there cometh any war or plague upon them, the priests consult with themselves, where they may be hidden with them.
How then cannot men perceive that they be no gods, which can neither save themselves from war, nor from plague?
For seeing they be but of wood, and overlaid with silver and gold, it shall be known hereafter that they are false:
And it shall manifestly appear to all nations and kings that they are no gods, but the works of men's hands, and that there is no work of God in them.
Who then may not know that they are no gods?
For neither can they set up a king in the land, nor give rain unto men.
Neither can they judge their own cause, nor redress a wrong, being unable: for they are as crows between heaven and earth.
Whereupon when fire falls upon the house of gods of wood, or laid over with gold or silver, their priests will flee away, and escape; but they themselves shall be burned asunder like beams.
Moreover they cannot withstand any king or enemies: how can it then be thought or said that they be gods?
Neither are those gods of wood, and laid over with silver or gold, able to escape either from thieves or robbers.
Whose gold, and silver, and garments wherewith they are clothed, they that are strong take, and go away withal: neither are they able to help themselves.
Therefore it is better to be a king that shows his power, or else a profitable vessel in an house, which the owner shall have use of, than such false gods; or to be a door in an house, to keep such things therein, than such false gods. or a pillar of wood in a a palace, than such false gods.
For sun, moon, and stars, being bright and sent to do their offices, are obedient.
In like manner the lightning when it breaks forth is easy to be seen; and after the same manner the wind blows in every country.
And when God commanded the clouds to go over the whole world, they do as they are bidden.
And the fire sent from above to consume hills and woods doeth as it is commanded: but these are like unto them neither in shew nor power.
Wherefore it is neither to be supposed nor said that they are gods, seeing, they are able neither to judge causes, nor to do good unto men.
Knowing therefore that they are no gods, fear them not,
For they can neither curse nor bless kings:
Neither can they shew signs in the heavens among the heathen, nor shine as the sun, nor give light as the moon.
The beasts are better than they: for they can get under a cover and help themselves.
It is then by no means manifest unto us that they are gods: therefore fear them not.
For as a scarecrow in a garden of cucumbers keepeth nothing: so are their gods of wood, and laid over with silver and gold.
And likewise their gods of wood, and laid over with silver and gold, are like to a white thorn in an orchard, that every bird sit upon; as also to a dead body, that is east into the dark.
And you shall know them to be no gods by the bright purple that rotteth upon then1: and they themselves afterward shall be eaten, and shall be a reproach in the country.
Better therefore is the just man that hath none idols: for he shall be far from reproach.