Notes on the Book of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy

Baruch was the scribe of Jeremiah, the prophet of ancient Israel during the rule of Babylon. The Book of Baruch is a scattered collection of writings attributed to Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch. It contains two chief parts (Chapter 1-3, and Chapters 4-5) followed by the letter of Jeremiah which is included as Chapter 6. The Epistle, or Letter, of Jeremiah (“Jeremy”) is sometimes included at the end of the second part of the text, and in other cases the book and the letter are separated.

The book is announced as the words of Jeremiah in Babylon. It reads like a confession. Israel has sinned and thus they must serve Nebuchadnezzar and his son Balthasar. The Israelites have held evil in their hearts, and have worshiped strange gods.

The second part of Baruch begins abruptly in Chapter 4, a memorial of Israel and its promise as well as a plea to the Israelites to remember their God. Chapter 6 is an encouraging letter (the so-named “Epistle of Jeremy”) to the Israelites being led away into captivity, telling them to worship the Lord and hold fat in their faith while in Babylon.

Though Jeremiah is the “weeping prophet” of ancient Israel, the text reflects a sense of hope for the future of the coming of the Lord when they are released from captivity, while at the same time warning of the dangers of idol worship. As with other apocryphal texts, Baruch is not included among Hebrew nor Protestant canons. All modern translations are derived from a central Greek book, as Jerome stated there was no authoritative Hebrew text of Baruch in existence, thus he controversially did not include it in his Vulgate.

For this reading I used an internet-based Project Gutenberg translation.

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