1 Now these are the words of the book#tn Or “letter” or “scroll” (so NAB). So also in v. 14. See J. Lust et al., Lexicon of the Septuagint, 1:80. that Baruch#sn The name Baruch in Hebrew means “blessed.” Baruch is described in the Hebrew Bible as an associate and secretary of the prophet Jeremiah. He is mentioned in three major sections in the Book of Jeremiah. First, it was Baruch who copied down the prophecies of Jeremiah and read them before the people. When the king subsequently burned the scroll and sought to apprehend both Jeremiah and Baruch, the two of them hid and rewrote the scroll (Jer 36:4-12; 45:1-2). Second, Baruch was involved in helping Jeremiah in the redemption of Hanamel’s field (Jer 32:12-16). Finally, Baruch is mentioned along with Jeremiah as being taken by those who fled to Egypt contrary to Jeremiah’s counsel to remain in the land (Jer 43:3-6; cf. Josephus Ant. 10.9.6). wrote in#tc The Syriac Peshitta has lbbyl (“to Babylon”), which would imply that the author’s location at the time of writing was somewhere outside of Babylon. The Greek text locates the author in Babylon at the time of writing. (Since the Leiden edition of the Syriac text of Baruch is not yet available, references to the Syriac text of Baruch will be based on the Lee edition.) Babylon. This Baruch was the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, son of Zedekiah, son of Hasadiah, son of Hilkiah.#tn In the Greek text v. 1 is part of a single sentence that continues to the end of v. 2. In the translation this single sentence has been broken into three sentences for the sake of clarity. The words “This Baruch was” and “he wrote this” are not in the Greek text but have been added for readability in the translation. 2 He wrote this in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month,#tc A number of scholars suspect that a numeral is missing before “month,” since the statement as it stands is ambiguous. Moore, for example, inserts “fifth” before “month” and argues that the letter was written in 581 B.C., five years to the very day after Jerusalem’s destruction by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 2 Kgs 25:8). See C. A. Moore, The Additions, AB 44, 269. However, there is no textual support for this emendation. Moreover, as Moore points out, if the emendation is accepted there is then a contradiction with Jer 52:12, which indicates that the temple was burned on the tenth day, not the seventh. There is also a problem with harmonizing this statement with the following section of Baruch, where the temple seems to still be functioning (Bar 1:7, 10, 14; 2:16). In the translation of v. 2 presented above we have therefore refrained from emending the Greek text, although the interpretive problems should not go unnoticed. at the time that the Chaldeans overthrew#tn Or “took.” Jerusalem and set it on fire.#tn Grk “set it on fire with fire.”
3 Baruch read the words of this book in the hearing#tn Grk “ears.” The expression “to read in the ears of” means to read aloud. Cf. 2 Kgs 23:2; 2 Chr 34:30. of Jeconiah#sn Jeconiah is an alternate name for Jehoiachin (cf. 2 Kgs 24:15; Jer 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2; Esth 2:6; Add Esth 11:4; 1 Chr 3:16-17; Matt 1:11-12). Jehoiachin was also called Coniah (Jer 22:24, 28; 37:1). the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and in the hearing of all the people who were coming to hear#tn The word “hear” is not in the Greek text but has been added in the translation for clarity. the book 4 (that is,#tn The words “that is” are not in the Greek text but have been added in the translation for clarity. So also in v. 8. in the hearing of the powerful#tn Or “influential.” So also in v. 9. and the royal descendents,#tn Grk “sons of the kings.” These are not just the sons of Jeconiah, who is mentioned in v. 3, but other royal figures as well. The expression might be translated “princes” (so RSV, NRSV) or “royal princes” (so Knox) or “children of royal families” (so TEV). in the hearing of the elders, and in the hearing of all the people, from the lowly to the prominent,#tn Grk “from small to big.” all those who were residing in Babylon by the river Sud#tc The location of this river is uncertain, and it is possible that the text is corrupt at this point. Moore, following J. A. Bewer, emends the name of the river from Sud to Ahava, suggesting that the Greek word soud is a mistake for eoua written in uncial script. However, as Moore points out, 4QpJer has sur, which makes the emendation more unlikely. See C. A. Moore, The Additions, AB 44, 270.).
5 They were weeping, fasting, and praying before the Lord. 6 They also collected money,#tn Grk “silver.” So also in v. 10. according to the ability#tn Grk “just as the hand of each one was able.” The expression is a Hebraism. of each one to give. 7 They sent this money#tn The words “this money” are not in the Greek text but have been added in the translation for clarity. to Jerusalem, to the priest#tn This mention of “the priest,” followed by a reference to “the priests,” is a bit confusing. Presumably what is meant is that the collection was entrusted to one priest who is specifically named in v. 7 and to other priests who are not named in this context. However, some scholars (cf. KJV, Knox, TEV, RSV, NRSV) understand the first reference to be to the high priest in particular, in which case the word “priest” is used in a pregnant sense. The Greek word hirea normally means “priest” and not “high priest.” Jehoiakim the son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, and to the other#tn The word “other” is not in the Greek text but has been added in the translation for clarity. priests and to all the people who were#tn Grk “were found.” with him in Jerusalem. 8 At that time, on the tenth of Sivan Baruch#tn Grk “he.” The antecedent of the pronoun is ambiguous. Presumably “he” refers to Baruch (so TEV, RSV, NRSV), although Knox (in a note attached to his translation) objects that the syntactical distance is too great to permit this linkage. That the pronoun refers to Jehoiakim does not seem likely. took the vessels of the temple#tn Grk “house.” So also in 2:16, 26. of the Lord which had been brought from the temple so that he might return them to the land of Judah (that is, those silver vessels that Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, had made#sn The Old Testament makes no mention of Zedekiah’s manufacturing vessels for the temple. This statement is either a historical blunder, or it presupposes a situation otherwise unmentioned in which the temple vessels had been removed from the Jerusalem temple by the Babylonians in an earlier deportation and had to be remade under Zedekiah’s direction. 9 after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had removed#tn Or “carried away.” Jeconiah, the rulers, the prisoners, the powerful, and the people of the land#sn The reference to “people of the land” apparently has in mind average common citizens, who in terms of social standing can be contrasted to the more powerful or influential strata of society. This expression has a diverse usage in Old Testament and postbiblical literature. In rabbinic literature the expression עַם הָאָרֶץ eventually became a pejorative expression used to describe those who were less zealous for their religion than they should have been, at least in the opinion of the rabbis. But the precise meaning of this expression in the Old Testament is disputed. Nicholson discusses the following interpretations of עַם הָאָרֶץ in the Hebrew Bible: (1) the expression designates a rural population as opposed to an urban one; (2) it refers to what was the equivalent of an ancient two-tier Hebrew parliament; (3) it refers to a group that consisted of the lay population as distinguished from the ruling elite; (4) it refers to the landed aristocracy of the population; (5) it was used in reference to the poorest commoners of the society; (6) it designated a group that consisted of property owning citizens who led the country politically, economically, or militarily. It is this latter view that, according to Nicholson, is the one most widely accepted. These views all share the belief that עַם הָאָרֶץ is a technical term for designating a particular societal group that was a subset of the general population. Nicholson, however, has questioned this assumption, maintaining that “. . . the term has no fixed and rigid meaning but is used rather in a purely general and fluid manner and varies in meaning from context to context.” See E. W. Nicholson, “The Meaning of the Expression עם הארץ in the Old Testament,” JSS 10 (1965): 66. See also the following discussions: S. Daiches, “The Meaning of עם הארץ in the Old Testament,” JTS 30 (1929): 245-49; M. Sulzberger, The Am Ha-Aretz, The Ancient Hebrew Parliament: A Chapter in the Constitutional History of Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Julius H. Greenstone, 1909); M. Sulzberger, “The Polity of the Ancient Hebrews,” JQR 3 (1912–1913): 1-81; E. Würthwein, Der ‘amm ha’arez im Alten Testament, BWAT, ed. A. Alt and G. Kittel, no. 69 (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1936); R. de Vaux, “Le sens de l’expression «peuple du pays» dans l’Ancien Testament et le rôle politique du people en Israël,” RA 58 (1964): 167-72; J. Weinberg, “The ‘Am Hā’āres of the Sixth to Fourth Centuries BCE,” in The Citizen–Temple Community, trans. D. L. Smith-Christopher, JSOTSup, vol. 151 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992), 62-74. De Vaux’s article has an especially helpful bibliography of prior research dealing with this expression. from Jerusalem and had brought them#tc Some manuscripts have “him.” to Babylon).
10 They said, “Look, we have sent money to you. Purchase with the money whole burnt offerings, sin offerings, and incense.#tn Or “frankincense” (so Douay, NAB). See J. Lust et al., Lexicon of the Septuagint, 2:281. Prepare a grain offering#tn The Greek word manaa is a loanword from the Hebrew minhah (“offering”), which usually refers to a grain-offering. and offer it on the altar of the Lord our God. 11 Pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and for the life of Belshazzar his son,#sn Presumably “son” is used here in the more general sense of descendent rather than in the sense of immediate offspring, since Belshazzar was not a son of Nebuchadnezzar in the strict sense. Moore, however, insists on a strict understanding of the word, concluding that we have “a serious anachronism here” (C. A. Moore, The Additions, AB 44, 273). But this does not seem to be a necessary conclusion. that their days on earth may be like the days of heaven.#sn The expression is hyperbolic, referring to an endless extension of life for these rulers. 12 The Lord will give us strength and illumine our eyes. We will live under the shadow of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and under the shadow of Belshazzar his son, and we will serve them for many days and find favor before them. 13 Pray for us to the Lord our God, because we have sinned against the Lord our God. The anger of the Lord and his wrath have not turned from us till this very day. 14 You will read this book that we have sent you, thereby making your confession#tn The syntactical function of the infinitive exagoreusai (“to make confession”) is difficult to determine. The infinitive could be taken to indicate purpose for the verb “sent,” but more likely it is epexegetical for the verb “read,” explaining what a proper reading of the book amounts to in this context. in the temple of the Lord on the feast days and at the appointed times.#tc The Syriac Peshitta has wbywmth dmry’ (“and on the days of the Lord”). As Moore points out, this is a misreading of kairou (“season”) for kyriou (“Lord”). See C. A. Moore, The Additions, AB 44, 274.
A Prayer of Confession#sn There are numerous similarities between the prayers of confession (Bar 1:15-3:8) and the prayer recorded in Dan 9:4-19.
15 “You will say, ‘Righteousness#tn Or perhaps “vindication.” belongs to the Lord our God, but shame of face belongs to us today#sn On the wording of this phrase cf. Dan 9:7 and Ezra 9:7.—to every individual#tn Grk “man.” of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 16 to our kings, to our rulers, to our priests, to our prophets, and to our ancestors.#tn Grk “fathers.” So also in vv. 19, 20; 2:6, 19, 21, 24, 33, 34; 3:5, 7, 8. It is, however, possible that the word retains its normal sense of “fathers” in v. 16, since a reference to familial leaders would not be out of place in this context. 17 We all#tn Grk “who.” The relative pronoun here is odd. Moore may be correct in thinking that the Greek hon is due to a mistranslation of the Hebrew asher, which can function as a causal conjunction or as a relative pronoun. In that case the Greek translator has opted for the relative pronoun when he should have preferred the causal idea (hoti in Greek, “because”). have sinned before the Lord 18 and disobeyed him. We have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God, to walk#tn Grk “go.” in the Lord’s commandments which he laid out#tn Grk “gave.” before us.#tn Grk “according to our face.” 19 From the day that the Lord brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt till this very day we have been disobedient to the Lord our God. We have acted carelessly,#tn Or “been negligent.” The Greek verb schediazo is found only here in the Septuagint. not paying attention to his voice. 20 Clinging to us to this very day are the misfortunes and curse which the Lord prescribed#tn Or “ordained,” “appointed.” to his servant Moses on the day that he brought our ancestors out of the land of Egypt in order to give us a land flowing with milk and honey. 21 We have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God as given in#tn Grk “according to.” all the words of the prophets whom he sent to us. 22 Each one of us followed the intent of his evil heart by serving#tn In place of the Greek verb ergazesthai (“to work”) we might have expected the verb doulein (“to serve”). other gods and by doing what is evil in the sight#tn Grk “eyes.” of the Lord our God.