O Lord Almighty, thou God of Israel, hear now the prayers of the dead Israelites, and of their children, which have sinned before thee, and not hearkened unto the voice of thee their God: for the which cause these plagues cleave unto us.
I wonder what they mean by “dead” here. In the previous chapter they mention that the dead cannot praise God, nor give Him righteousness. It would be difficult for me to believe that in the same book two vastly different beliefs are present.
This passage may be something which can be used to support the theory of Intercession of the Saints. But I’m not so quick to draw that conclusion. Christ is quoted in Matthew 8:22 saying
Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead
Christ’s quote is intended to be metaphoric, not literal. It’s possible, this too, was intended to be metaphoric. I think this is a better understanding than a theory it may have anything to do with Intercession of the Saints based on the context clues of the sentence. The way the sentence is structured, it sounds as though they are talking about those which have sinned, but still haven’t done as God asks of them. This would preclude anyone that has died in righteousness, and would fall into the category of metaphor.
Remember not the iniquities of our forefathers: but think upon thy power and thy name now at this time. For thou art the Lord our God, and thee, O Lord, will we praise.
This verse reminds me of Moses-
And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
The Baruch version is clearly much shorter in its plea. But verse 6 seems to be encapsulating Moses’ point that if others see them as being forsaken, it will only detract from God’s glory. I’d argue that it’s a vain attempt, as Moses held a very special relationship with God. It would be one thing if it was the heartfelt plea of a prophet, God may be willing to hear a Prophet out. But this whole book was the plea of a nation, not Jeremiah himself. Though, even then, God explicitly tells Jeremiah not to pray for them-
Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.
Hear, Israel, the commandments of life: give ear to understand wisdom. How happeneth it Israel, that thou art in thine enemies’ land, that thou art waxen old in a strange country, that thou art defiled with the dead,
The chapter takes an interesting turn from here. It begins to address the nation of Israel, and recounts all the reasons they are in their predicament. It begins to explain why Israel should turn be loyal to God, and turn away from their sins. And it recounts their own sins.
In many ways, this reads like a fantastic Sunday Service. It begins with a prayer, opens up like a state of the union. Wonder what Chapter 4 holds for us.