Historical Introduction (Bar 6:1-6:1)

“A copy of a letter

That Jeremiah sent

To those

Who were to be taken

To Babylon

As exiles

By the king of the Babylonians.

This was

To give them

The message

That God

Had commanded him.”

This claims to be a letter written by Jeremiah as the people were about to be taken into exile. Was this the first exile in 597 BCE or the second exile in 587 BCE? This letter is probably around the second exile. How does this relate to the letter of Jeremiah in chapter 29 of his work? It has nothing to do with the letter in Jeremiah. It probably has nothing to do with Jeremiah at all, since it has strong traces of the later Hellenistic period. Finally, why is it here as chapter 6 at the end of the Book of Baruch? It is here because that was the place of this work in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate translation. This is a so-called copy of a letter that Jeremiah sent to those who were to be taken to Babylon as exiles. Jeremiah had been friendly to the Babylonians, so that does not seem to be a stretch.   This was a message that God commanded Jeremiah to give to exiles as they departed from Jerusalem. The verse numbering is one verse different in the Bible of Jerusalem because this was considered an introduction and not verse 1. This continues throughout this chapter.

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The accusation response of Jeremiah (Jer 4:10-4:10)

“Then I said.

‘O Yahweh God!

How utterly you have deceived

This people!

How utterly you have deceived

Jerusalem!

Saying.

‘It shall be well with you.’

Even while the sword

Is at their throat!”

Jeremiah seems to rebuke Yahweh, his God. He claims that Yahweh has deceived him, as well as the people of Judah and Jerusalem. God had told them that all would be well with them, even as the sword of the destroyer was at their throat.

There is no other God (Isa 43:10-43:13)

“‘You are my witnesses!’

Says Yahweh.

‘You are my servant

Whom I have chosen.

Thus you may know me.

You may believe in me.

You may understand

That I am he.

Before me

No god was formed.

There shall be none after me.

I!

I am Yahweh.

Besides me

There is no savior.

I declared.

I saved.

I proclaimed.

There was no strange god among you.

You are my witnesses!’

Says Yahweh.

‘I am God!

Henceforth I am he.

There is none

Who can deliver you

From my hand.

I work.

Who can hinder it?’”

In the strongest possible personal terms, first person singular, Yahweh proclaims that he alone is God. There is no other god. Yahweh claims that the Israelites are his witnesses, since they are his servant that he has chosen. Clearly, this servant is the Israelites. They know and believe in the Lord. They understand who he is. There was no other god before Yahweh and there will be none after him. There is no other savior who can deliver the Israelites, so that no one can hinder him. There were no strange gods among the Israelites. Once again, the Israelites are the witnesses for Yahweh. Yahweh is truly God.

The annoying righteous one (Wis 2:12-2:16)

“‘Let us lie in wait

For the righteous man.

Because he is inconvenient to us.

He opposes our actions.

He reproaches us

For sins against the law.

He accuses us of sins

Against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God.

He calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts.

The very sight of him is a burden to us.

Because his manner of life is

Unlike that of others.

His ways are strange.

We are considered by him

As something base.

He avoids our ways as unclean.

He calls the last end of the righteous happy.

He boasts that God is his father.’”

They are going to attack the righteous one (δίκαιον), because he opposes their actions. He has been reproaching them for their sins against the law (ἁμαρτήματα νόμου) and their training (παιδείας). He claims to have knowledge about God (γνῶσιν ἔχειν Θεοῦ). He says that he is a child of the Lord (παῖδα Κυρίου). He has rebuked their thoughts. His very presence is a burden to them. He is not like the others since his ways are strange. He thinks that they are base and unclean. He claims that God is his father (πατέρα Θεόν).

Please God (Eccl 2:24-2:26)

“There is nothing better for mortals

Than to eat and drink.

They should find enjoyment in their toil.

This also,

I saw,

Is from the hand of God.

Apart from him,

Who can eat?

Who can have enjoyment?

To the one who pleases him,

God gives wisdom.

God gives knowledge.

God gives joy.

However to the sinner,

He gives the work of gathering.

He gives the work of heaping.

He only gives to one who pleases God.

This also is vanity.

This is a chasing after wind.”

Qoheleth continues his comments with the philosophical argument of Epicurus (341-270 BCE). You should enjoy your life in eating, drinking, and working. Qoheleth claims that this is from the hand of God. How can anything happen without God? God is the one who gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy. This was the typical idea that the sinner worked and gathered but was not pleasing to God. Therefore the poor sinner did not get rich. The poor person gave his harvest over to those who pleased God. Once again, this is vanity and like chasing the wind for the poor person.

The personal lament (Ps 102:23-102:24)

“He has broken my strength in mid-course.

He has shortened my days.

‘O my God!’

I say.

‘Do not take me away,

At the midpoint of my life!

Your years endure

Throughout all generations!”

The psalmist claims that his strength has been broken in mid-life. His days have been shortened. He asked God not to take away his life that was only half lived. He wanted his years to endure just as God has endured from generation to generation.