The book of Jeremiah (Jer 51:60-51:62)

“Jeremiah wrote

In a scroll

All the disasters

That would come

Upon Babylon.

All these words

Were written

Concerning Babylon.

Jeremiah said

To Seraiah.

‘When you come

To Babylon,

See that you read

All these words.

Say!

‘Yahweh!

You yourself threatened

To destroy this place.

Neither human beings

Or animals

Shall live in it.

It shall be desolate forever.’”

Jeremiah or his secretary Baruch wrote on a scroll about all the disasters that would come to Babylon. Then Jeremiah told Seraiah to read all these words in Babylon. Then he was to say that Yahweh has threatened to destroy Babylon so that no humans or animals would live in it. It would become desolate forever. Thus Seraiah was to bring this bad news to Babylon, even though they still had not invaded Judah or Jerusalem at this time.

They refuse to accept the words of Jeremiah (Jer 43:1-43:3)

“Thus Jeremiah finished speaking

To all the people

All these words

Of Yahweh their God,

With which Yahweh their God

Had sent him to them.

Then Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

With all the other insolent men,

Said to Jeremiah.

‘You are telling a lie.

Yahweh our God

Did not send you

To say.

‘Do not go to Egypt

To settle there!’

But Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Is inciting you

Against us.

He wants to hand us over

To the Chaldeans.

Thus they may kill us.

Or they may take us

Into exile in Babylon.’”

During the 10 days that Jeremiah waited for Yahweh, there must have been a change of heart in the camp. Some people think that this section should have been in the preceding chapter. This chapter equivalent in the Greek Septuagint is chapter 50, not chapter 43 as here. So once that Jeremiah had finished speaking the words that Yahweh, their God, gave him, both the leaders of this insolent remnant group, Azariah and Johanan, called into question Jeremiah’s veracity. They said that Jeremiah was lying. Yahweh did not say to him that they should not settle in Egypt. It must have been his secretary Baruch who incited Jeremiah against the main group. They said that Baruch wanted them to be captured or killed by the Chaldeans, if they stayed in this Judean territory. They might he sent into captivity in Babylon, if they were caught there. Basically, it was a fight between the interests of Egypt versus the interests of Babylon.

Jeremiah and Baruch write a new scroll (Jer 36:32-36:32)

“Then Jeremiah

Took another scroll.

He gave it

To his secretary Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

He wrote on it,

At Jeremiah’s dictation,

All the words of the scroll

That King Jehoiakim

Of Judah

Had burned in the fire.

Many similar words

Were added to them.”

Jeremiah took a new scroll and gave it to his secretary Baruch. While Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on this scroll all the things that were in the first scroll that King Jehoiakim of Judah had burned. However, they also added more similar words. Many believe that this is the scroll that comes down to us as the first 25 chapters of the current Book of Jeremiah.

Baruch writes things down (Jer 36:4-36:4)

“Then Jeremiah

Called Baruch,

The son of Neriah.

Baruch wrote

On a scroll,

At Jeremiah’s dictation,

All the words

Of Yahweh

That he had spoken to him.”

Jeremiah then called his secretary Baruch to write things down on this scroll, although Yahweh had asked Jeremiah to do it himself. However, Jeremiah was going to dictate to Baruch all the words that Yahweh had spoken to him. This is the same Baruch from chapter 32, who took the deed from Jeremiah. Thus, he was a disciple, friend, and secretary of Jeremiah. He has been considered the writer of the Book of Baruch, one of the lesser prophets. He was also the son of Neriah, whose father was Mahseiah.

Baruch gets the deed (Jer 32:12-32:12)

“I gave the deed of purchase

To Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

The son of Mahseiah.

This was done

In the presence

Of my cousin Hanamel,

As well as in the presence

Of the witnesses who signed

The deed of purchase.

This was also done

In the presence

Of all the Judeans

Who were sitting

In the court of the guard.”

Jeremiah gave the deed to Baruch, a disciple and friend of Jeremiah. Baruch also was his secretary or scribe who may have written down most of the oracles of Jeremiah. He has been considered the writer of the Book of Baruch, one of the lesser prophets. Baruch was the son of Neriah, whose father was Mahseiah. Somehow he had some relationship with the reigning King Zedekiah of Judah. Watching Jeremiah hand over the deed was his cousin Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed, and all those other people of Judah who were sitting near the royal prison, where Jeremiah was being held.

The officials meet in Jerusalem (Is 36:2-36:3)

“The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh

With a great army,

From Lachish

To King Hezekiah at Jerusalem.

He stood by the conduit of the upper pool,

On the highway to Fuller’s Field.

There came out to them Eliakim,

Son of Hilkiah,

Who was in charge of the palace,

Shebnah the secretary,

With Joah son of Asaph,

The recorder.”

This is a lot like 2 Kings, chapter 18, except that there is no mention of the Tartan General Rabsaris here.   The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh, who was his chief steward or cup bearer, from Lachish to Jerusalem with a big army. King Hezekiah sent out the man in charge of his palace, Eliakim, his secretary, Shebnah, and his recorder, Joah. They met at the upper pool near Fuller’s Field. This Fuller’s Field on the northwest side of Jerusalem must have been well known. A “fuller” is someone who works with cloth to get it the right color. Thus near a pool sounds about right. The names Eliakim and Joah refer to 4 other people in biblical literature, other than these two men. However, the name Shebnah only appears in this story.