The last chapter of Baruch is sometimes treated as it’s own book- The Epistle of Jeremiah. Because of this, I’m going to keep it as it’s own study away from the rest of Baruch.
In my last entry I mentioned that by the time I got through Chapter 5, I had flashbacks to Jeremiah 14. I would like to say that my Google-Fu is great, but I know it’s horrible. So in looking, I didn’t find anyone else who linked the two together. But the history of Baruch is interesting in and of itself.
Many scholars seem to believe that it’s a joining of 3 different documents (2 if you take out the Epistle) put together during or after the Maccabean era. Which would make it a later composition than the original, and most likely corrupt from whatever was originally put together. Still, I can’t shake the striking similarities of what was said in Jeremiah 14. That in and of itself challenges the idea that Jeremiah’s scribe was the one that wrote either portion found between 1-5. Let’s go back over the verses that I thought at the beginning of this journey might affirm Baruch (there were none in the Pauline, James or Jude books).
They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.
Lo, thy sons come, whom thou sentest away, they come gathered together from the east to the west by the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
These two verses, again, were looked at with a lazy eye. I’m probably going to find that this is the case multiple times throughout my exploration of the Apocrypha. But I’m willing to acknowledge where I’m making mistakes. And along the way, hopefully make it a grand standing point why we can’t just take one verse and turn it into a sermon!
Let’s got around these verses, shall we?
Take a good heart, O Jerusalem: for he that gave thee that name will comfort thee. Miserable are they that afflicted thee, and rejoiced at thy fall. Miserable are the cities which thy children served: miserable is she that received thy sons. For as she rejoiced at thy ruin, and was glad of thy fall: so shall she be grieved for her own desolation. For I will take away the rejoicing of her great multitude, and her pride shall be turned into mourning. For fire shall come upon her from the Everlasting, long to endure; and she shall be inhabited of devils for a great time.
O Jerusalem, look about thee toward the east, and behold the joy that cometh unto thee from God. Lo, thy sons come, whom thou sentest away, they come gathered together from the east to the west by the word of the Holy One, rejoicing in the glory of God.
Context is everything. By adding 6 verses, we can look at context clues and actually figure out what is being talked about- Jerusalem. Not only that, but it’s talking about being comforted. This is completely different in Christ’s painting, which reads:
Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
Christ’s story is one of despair. It’s even worse if you consider it from the prospective of someone who didn’t get the opportunity to get into the gate. You’d see people that were righteous before God altogether, and realize you didn’t make it. That’s bound to break any soul.
By reading the context clues, we can see that Christ wasn’t actually referencing Baruch at all.
So Should We Axe It? Or Keep It?
If I’m right, and let’s face it I can’t find any other scholarly piece (let alone another amateur like myself) that links the two, and Jeremiah 14 is actually talking about the pieces which were used to compose Baruch there may be value in reading this book purely to know what it was God was so angry about. But for the average Christian, and student, I believe it we should Axe It.
I’ll return to the Apocrypha later and continue this series when I’m up for it. For the time being I’m going to meander through a few other topics that have grabbed my interest recently.