The useless false wooden gods (Bar 6:70-6:73)

“Like a scarecrow

In a cucumber bed,

That guards nothing,

So are their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver.

In the same way,

Their gods of wood,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Are

Like a thorn bush

In a garden,

On which every bird perches.

They are

Like a corpse

Thrown out in the darkness.

From the purple

Or the linen

That rot upon them,

You will know

That they are not gods.

They will finally

Be consumed themselves.

They will be a reproach

In the land.

Better,

Therefore

Is someone upright.

Such a person

Will be far above reproach.”

This letter of Jeremiah found as the last chapter in this book of Baruch ends with a comparison of these false wooden gods covered with gold and silver. The author compared them to a scarecrow in a cucumber bed that guarded nothing. They were compared to a thorn bush in a garden where birds sat on it. They were compared to a dead corpse in the dark. All of these useless items were like these useless idol gods. Even with purple or linen on them, they would still rot. They would be finally consumed and become a reproach to all. It was much better to be an upright person beyond reproach than any of these gods. So ends the letter of Jeremiah in the Book of Baruch.

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The wild animals compared to the heavenly bodies (Bar 6:68-6:69)

“The wild animals

Are better

Than the idols are.

They can flee

To shelter.

They can help themselves.

So we have no evidence

Whatever

That they are gods.

Therefore do not fear them!”

Once again, there is a comparison of the living wild animals with the dead wooden idols. Obviously, the living animals are better than these false idols because they can flee to shelter and help themselves. Thus, there is no evidence whatsoever that these idols are gods. Therefore we should not be afraid of them.

Nature obeys (Bar 6:60-6:65)

“The sun,

The moon,

The stars

Are bright.

When sent

To do a service,

They are obedient.

So also the lightning.

When it flashes,

It is widely seen.

The wind likewise blows

In every land.

When God commands

The clouds to go

Over the whole world,

They carry out

His command.

The fire sent from above

To consume mountains

Or woods

Does what it is ordered.

But these idols

Are not to be

Compared with them

In appearance

Or power.

Therefore anyone

Must not think

That they are gods.

They are not called gods.

They are not able

Either to decide a case

Or to do good to anyone.

Since you know then

That they are not gods,

Do not fear them!”

This author notes that the sun, the moon, and the stars are bright. However, they do what they are told to do. The same is true about lightning flashes and the wind. It blows wherever God commands it. The clouds go all over the whole world as they carry out God’s commands also. Fire does what it is ordered to do. How can you compare these great works of obedient nature to these false idol gods, since they have no power. They cannot solve cases or do good for any humans. How can you call them gods, since you know that they are not gods? Thus there is no need to fear them.

Comparative value of these false idols (Bar 6:59-6:59)

“So it is better

To be a king

Who shows

His courage

Than to be

These false gods.

It is better to be

A household utensil

That serves

Its owner’s need,

Than to be

These false gods.

It is better to be

Even the door

Of a house

That protects its contents,

Than to be

These false gods,

It is better to be

Also a wooden pillar

In a palace,

Than to be

These false gods.”

This author draws a sense of the comparative value of these false idol gods. He explains that it is better to be a courageous king than a false god. That is pretty simple. It is better to be a household utensil that at least serves its owner’s needs than be a false god. It was even better to be a door in a house that protects its contents than be a false god. It was also better to be a wooden pillar in a palace than be false god. You are better off being a practical wooden item than a useless impractical false wooden god.

These false gods and robbers (Bar 6:57-6:58)

“Gods made of wood,

Overlaid

With silver

Or gold,

Are unable

To save themselves

From thieves

Or robbers.

Anyone,

Who can,

Will strip them

Of their gold

Or silver.

They will strip them

Of the robes

They wear.

They will go off

With this booty.

These gods

Will not be able

To help themselves.”

This author says that these wooden gods, overlaid with silver or gold, are unable to save themselves from thieves or robbers. Anyone can strip away their gold or silver. Anyone can take the robes that these gods wear. These robbers can vandalize and take things from these gods, because they are not able to help themselves.

The powerless idols (Bar 6:53-5:56)

“These false idols cannot

Set up a king

Over a country.

They cannot

Give rain

To people.

They cannot

Judge

Their own cause.

They cannot

Deliver anyone

Who is wronged.

They have no power.

They are like crows

Between heaven and earth.

When fire breaks out

In a temple

Of wooden gods,

Overlaid with gold

Or silver,

Their priests will flee.

They will escape.

But the gods

Will be burned up

Like timbers.

Besides,

They can offer

No resistance

To a king

Or any enemies.

Why then must

Anyone admit

Or think

That they are gods?”

This author maintains that these false idols cannot set up a king over a country. They cannot give rain to anybody. They cannot judge their own cause. They cannot deliver anyone that has been wronged, since they have no power. They are like crows in the sky. If a fire breaks out in a temple of wooden gods with gold and silver, their priests will flee and escape. However, these idol gods will be burned up like timbers. These weak false idols cannot offer any resistance to a king or any enemies. How then can you think or admit that they are gods?

The priests and the idols (Bar 6:48-6:52)

“When war

Or calamity

Comes upon them,

The priests consult together

As to where

They can

Hide themselves

With their gods.

How then can anyone

Fail to see

That these are not gods?

They cannot save themselves

From war

Or calamity.

They are made of wood,

Overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

It will afterward

Be known

That they are false.

It will be manifest

To all the nations,

To all the kings,

That they are not gods

But the work of human hands.

There is no work

Of God

In them.

Who then can fail

To know

That they are not gods?”

What happens when war or calamity comes to these priests and their idol gods? The priests consult together on where they can hide themselves with their gods. All can see that these are not gods. They cannot save themselves from either war or calamity, since they are made of wood, overlaid with gold or silver. Afterwards, everyone will know that these were false gods. It is will be clear to all the nations and all the kings that they are not gods. As they were the work of human hands, there is no work of God in them. This author asked the question, who would not recognize that these idols are not gods?