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 purchase of the field (Jer 32:9-32:11)

“I bought the field

At Anathoth

From my cousin Hanamel.

I weighed out

The money to him,

Seventeen shekels of silver.

I signed the deed.

I sealed it.

I got witnesses.

I weighed the money on scales.

Then I took

The sealed deed of purchase,

That contained the terms

With the conditions,

As well as the open copy.”

This is a very unusual section that contains explicit first person details of this property field sale. However, there is no indication of the exact size of this field. Nowhere else in the biblical works is there such a specific indication of how financial transactions took place. First, Jeremiah bought the land. Most times, there would be no more details other than that. However, here Jeremiah next weighs out the money, 17 silver shekels, which was not a lot of money, about a couple of hundred USA dollars. Where he got the money is not indicated here. Then he signed the deed, probably on papyrus, sealed it, and had witnesses also sign it. There must have been some kind of official seal used here, but we do not know what kind. Finally there seems to be 2 copies of this transaction. The sealed deed contained all the terms and conditions of the sale, while the open copy or city file copy might just have the statement that the sale was made, much like current open records in USA, which generally adds the dollar amount of the sale. Thus these transactions were stored or kept in jars of some kind.

The false prophets and priests (Jer 8:10-8:12)

“Therefore I will give their wives to others.

I will give their fields to conquerors.

Because from the least to the greatest,

Everyone is greedy for unjust gain.

From prophet to priest,

Everyone deals falsely.

They have treated

The wound of my people carelessly.

Saying.

‘Peace!

Peace!’

When there is no peace.

They acted shamefully.

They committed an abomination.

Yet they were not at all ashamed.

They did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall

Among those who fall.

At the time that I punish them,

They shall be overthrown.’

Says Yahweh.”

This is a copy word for word of the same thing that was found in chapter 6. Yahweh was going to give away their wives and their fields, since he is not happy about the false priests and prophets. This goes for the least of the people to the most important ones in Jerusalem. All of them were greedy for monetary gain. They were all careless with his people. They pretended that there was peace when there was no peace there. They acted shamefully, but they were not ashamed since they didn’t even know how to blush. These priests and prophets would fall with all the others, as they will be overthrown at the time of punishment.

Building of the Temple (Wis 9:8-9:8)

“You have given a command

To build a temple

On your holy mountain.

You have given a command

To build an altar

In the city of your habitation.

This will be a copy

Of the holy tent

That you prepared from the beginning.”

God commanded Solomon to build a temple on his holy mountain (ὄρει ἁγίῳ σου). He was to build an altar in his city of Jerusalem. This was to be a copy of the holy tent that existed from the beginning at the time of the Exodus story, chapters 25-40.

The sending of the royal edict that favors the Jews (Esth 8:13-8:14)

“A copy of the document was to be issued as a decree in every province, and published to all peoples. The Jews were to be ready on that day to take revenge on their enemies. So the couriers, mounted on their swift royal horses hurried out, urged by the king’s command. The decree was issued in the citadel of Susa.”

Now we are back at the Hebrew text, which summarizes the letter. A copy of this decree was sent to every one of the 127 provinces so that all the people knew about this. The Jews were to be ready on the 13th of Adar to take revenge against their enemies. This word went out by the royal couriers with their swift royal horses. The king had urged them on, since this decree came from the Persian capital of Susa.

The title of the letter that favors the Jews (Greek text only)

“The following is a copy of this letter.

‘The Great King, Artaxerxes,

To the rulers of the provinces from India to Ethiopia,

One hundred and twenty-seven provinces,

And to those who are loyal to our government,

Greeting!’”

Once again we go to the Greek text. There is no “copy” of the letter that Mordecai sent out under the name of King Artaxerxes in the Hebrew text. This is much the same as the title of the Greek text decree that was inserted after chapter 3. They seemed proud to talk about the 127 provinces.