The worship of idols (Bar 6:4-6:7)

“Now in Babylon

You will see gods

Made of silver,

Or made of gold,

Or made of wood.

People carry them

On their shoulders.

This inspires fear

Among the heathens.

Take care!

Beware of becoming at all

Like the foreigners!

Do not let fear

Of these gods

Possess you,

When you see the multitude

Before and behind them

Worshiping them!

But say in your heart!

‘It is you!

O Lord!

Whom we must worship!’

My angel

Is with you!

He is watching

Over your lives.”

The author of this letter has a warning for the exiles while they are in Babylon. They will see gods made of silver, gold, and wood that will be carried on people’s shoulders to inspire fear. They should be careful to not become like these foreigners. They should not fear these gods. Even when they see the multitudes before and behind these gods in possessions or parades, they should not be intimidated. They were to remember in their hearts that they were to only worship the Lord. To help them out, an angel would be watching over their lives.

The captivity in Babylon (Bar 6:2-6:3)

“Because of the sins

That you have committed

Before God,

You will be taken

To Babylon

As exiles

By King Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of the Babylonians.

Therefore

When you have come

To Babylon,

You will remain there

For many years,

For a long time,

Up to seven generations.

After that,

I will bring you

Away from there

In peace.”

This letter presents the traditional view that they were being sent into exile because of the sins that they had committed. King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonians was going to take them to Babylon where they might stay for a long time, many years, possibly 7 generations, and not 70 years as in Jeremiah, chapter 29. After that they would leave in peace.

The return to Jerusalem (Jer 29:14-29:14)

“‘I will restore your fortunes.

I will gather you

From all the nations,

From all the places,

Where I have driven you.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will bring you back

To the place

From which

I sent you into exile.’”

Yahweh is very clear in this letter of Jeremiah that he will restore their fortunes. He will gather them up from all the countries and places that he has driven them into. He was going to bring them back to the exiled places where they started from.

The 70 year captivity (Jer 29:10-29:10)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Only when Babylon’s seventy years

Are completed,

I will fulfill to you

My promise.

I will bring you

Back to this place.’”

Clearly Yahweh says, via this letter of Jeremiah, that the captivity will last 70 years. 70 years from 598 BCE, the first exile, would be 528 BCE, while 70 years from the second exile in 587 BCE would 517 BCE. Yahweh definitely was going to fulfill his promise to bring them back to Jerusalem, but not right now.