The sacred vessels (Bar 1:8-1:9)

“At the same time,

On the tenth day

Of Sivan,

Baruch took

The vessels

Of the house

Of the Lord.

They had been carried away

From the temple.

He wanted

To return them

To the land

Of Judah.

These were

The silver vessels

That King Zedekiah,

The son of King Josiah,

King of Judah,

Had made.

This was done

After King Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of Babylon,

Had carried them away

From Jerusalem

With King Jeconiah,

With the princes,

With the prisoners,

With the nobles,

With the people of the land.

He brought them

To Babylon.”

Sivan was the 3rd month of the year, so that this was the 10th of that month. Baruch had somehow gotten hold of the sacred vessels from the Temple in Jerusalem that had been carried away with King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE) in 587 BCE. He had made these sacred vessels after the original sacred vessels had been taken away in 598 BCE when King Jeconiah (598 BCE) was taken captive. King Jeconiah had been taken captive with the princes, prisoners, nobles, and land owners to Babylon. Baruch wanted to return these sacred vessels to Jerusalem. Once again, it is not clear how this was going to happen.

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The reading of the book (Bar 1:3-1:4)

“Baruch read

The words

Of this book

To King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

King of Judah.

He read it

To all the people

Who came

To hear the book.

He read it

To the nobles,

To the princes,

To the elders,

To all the people,

Small and great,

All who lived

In Babylon

By the river Sud.”

Baruch was accustomed to reading aloud as he had done in Jeremiah, chapter 36. Here he is reading his book to King Jeconiah (598 BCE) in exile in 582 BCE, and not King Zedekiah (598-587 BCE). King Jeconiah was also known as King Coniah or King Jehoiachin, who ruled for less than a year after the death of his father King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE). As in Jeremiah, Baruch read this book publically to anyone who wanted to hear it. He also read it to all the important people in Babylon that included the nobles, the princes, and the elders, those great and small. There was no mention of the Babylonian king here. As for the Sud River, no one seems to know where that was.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.

The first exile of Judah (Jer 24:1-24:1)

“King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

King Jeconiah,

The son of Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

Together with

The officials of Judah,

The artisans

With the smiths.

He had brought them

To Babylon.”

This is the exile of King Coniah, King Jeconiah, or King Jehoiachin, as he was called. King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim was killed in 598 BCE. Thus his son, King Coniah, King Jeconiah, or King Jehoiachin, who was 18 years old, took over for 3 months as king, before he was taken away into the Babylonian captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE), where he lived for over 25 years there. His uncle, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) took over for him. At that time, they took some of the officials of Judah with some artisans or craftsmen as well as the blacksmiths and other skilled workers. They were all brought to Babylon. However, the final exile was not to happen until 11 years later, since King Jeconiah’s uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah ruled in Jerusalem from 598-587 BCE as a vassal of King Nebuchadnezzar.

The curse on King Coniah (Jer 22:28-22:30)

“Is this man

King Coniah

A despised,

Broken pot?

Is he a vessel

That no one wants?

Why is he

With his children hurled out?

Why are they cast away

In a land that they do not know?

O land!

O land!

O land!

Hear the word of Yahweh!

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Record this man as childless!

He is a man

Who shall not succeed in his days.

None of his offspring

Shall succeed

In sitting on the throne of David,

Ruling again in Judah.’”

Yahweh was very opposed to King Coniah or King Jehoiachin or King Jeconiah (598 BCE), as he was called. King Coniah was the son of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). Why was he a despised broken pot? Why were he and his family thrown out of Judah? They were sent to a land that they did not know. Yahweh cried out to the land. King Coniah should be recorded as having no children, although he actually had children. He was not successful. None of his offspring would ever rule or sit on the throne of David, a pretty strong promise or curse. Thus this seems like the end of Davidic rule in Judah. He had favored the Egyptians, but now was sent to Babylon as a captive during the first captivity of 598 BCE.

Mordecai and Esther (Esth 2:5-2:7)

“Now there was a Jew in Susa the capital, whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. The family of Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem, among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had captured. Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin. She did not have a father or mother. She was the daughter of his uncle, Aminadab. Esther was fair and beautiful in appearance. When her parents died, he brought her up to womanhood as his own daughter.”

Mordecai was a Benjaminite, the same as King Saul, and thus part of Judah. His family was brought into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon with the sitting king of Judah in 587 BCE. Things turned better for the captured Jews under the Persian kings, especially after King Cyrus in 539 BCE. This is about 50 years after that. Anyway, Mordecai’s uncle Aminadab and his wife had died, so that he took care of their young daughter Esther, who was his first cousin. He was either her foster father or adopted father, but really was a first cousin, since their father’s were brothers. Once again, there are slight differences between the Hebrew and Greek text. Aminadab was not mentioned in the Hebrew text, only in the Greek text. Also the Jewish name of Esther is only found in the Hebrew text as Hadassah, but not in the Greek text.