This is the text of the book written in Babylon by Baruch, son of Neraiah, son of Mahseiah, son of Zedekiah, son of Hasadiah, son of Hilkiah,
In the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldaeans had captured Jerusalem and burned it down.
Baruch read the text of this book aloud to Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and to all the people who had come to hear the reading,
To the nobles and the sons of the king, and to the elders; to the whole people, that is, to the least no less than to the greatest, to all who lived in Babylon beside the river Sud.
On hearing it they wept, fasted and prayed before the Lord;
And they collected as much money as each could afford
And sent it to Jerusalem to the priest Jehoiakim, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, and the other priests, and all the people who were with him in Jerusalem.
Also on the tenth day of Sivan, he was given the utensils of the house of the Lord, which had been removed from the temple, to take them back to the land of Judah; these were silver utensils which Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, had had made
After Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had carried away Jeconiah from Jerusalem to Babylon, together with the princes, the metalworkers, the nobles and the common people.
Now, they wrote, we are sending you money to pay for burnt offerings, offerings for sin, and incense. Prepare oblations and offer them on the altar of the Lord our God;
And pray for the long life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of his son Belshazzar, that they may endure on earth as long as the heavens endure;
And that the Lord may give us strength and enlighten our eyes, so that we may lead our lives under the protection of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of his son Belshazzar, and that we may serve them for a long time and win their favor.
Also pray to the Lord our God for us, because we have sinned against Him, and the anger, the fury of the Lord, has still not turned away from us.
Lastly, you must read the booklet which we are sending you, publicly in the House of the Lord on the feastday and appropriate days.
You must say, "Saving justice is the Lord's, we have only the look of shame we bear, as is the case today for the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
For our kings and princes, our priests, our prophets, and for our ancestors,
Because we have sinned before the Lord,
Have disobeyed Him, and have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God telling us to follow the commandments which the Lord had ordained for us.
From the day when the Lord brought our ancestors out of Egypt until today we have been disobedient to the Lord our God, we have been disloyal, refusing to listen to His voice.
And we are not free even today of the disasters and the curse which the Lord pronounced through His servant Moses the day He brought our ancestors out of Egypt to give us a land flowing with milk and honey.
We have not listened to the voice of the Lord our God in all the words of those prophets He sent us;
But, each following the dictates of our evil heart, we have taken to serving strange gods, and doing what is displeasing to the Lord our God.
And so the Lord has carried out the sentence which He passed on us, on our judges who governed Israel, on our kings and leaders and on the people of Israel and of Judah;
What He did to Jerusalem has never been paralleled under the wide heavens - in conformity with what was written in the Law of Moses;
We were each reduced to eating the flesh of our own sons and daughters.
Furthermore, He has handed them over into the power of all the kingdoms that surround us, to be the contempt and execration of all the neighbouring peoples among whom the Lord scattered them.
Instead of being masters, they found themselves enslaved, because we had sinned against the Lord our God by not listening to His voice.
Saving justice is the Lord's; we and our ancestors have only the look of shame we bear today.
All those disasters which the Lord pronounced against us have now befallen us.
And yet we have not tried to win the favor of the Lord by each of us renouncing the dictates of our own wicked heart;
So the Lord has been alert to our misdeeds and has brought disaster down upon us, since the Lord is upright in everything He had commanded us to do,
And we have not listened to His voice so as to follow the commandments which the Lord had ordained for us.
And now, Lord, God of Israel, who brought Your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand, with signs and wonders, with great power and with outstretched arm, to win Yourself a name such as You have today,
We have sinned, we have committed sacrilege; Lord our God, we have broken all Your precepts.
Let Your anger turn from us since we are no more than a little remnant among the nations where You have dispersed us.
Listen, Lord, to our prayers and our entreaties; deliver us for Your own sake and let us win the favor of the people who have cast us out,
So that the whole world may know that You are the Lord our God, since Israel and his descendants bear Your name.
Look down, Lord, from Your holy dwelling place and think of us, bow Your ear and listen,
Open Your eyes, Lord, and look; the dead down in Sheol, whose breath has been taken from their bodies, are not the ones to give glory and due recognition to the Lord;
Whoever is overcome with affliction, who goes along bowed down and frail, with failing eyes and hungering soul, that is the one to give You glory and due recognition, Lord.
We do not rely on the merits of our ancestors and of our kings to offer You our humble plea, Lord our God.
No, You have sent down Your anger and Your fury on us, as You threatened through Your servants the prophets when they said,
'The Lord says this, 'Bend your necks and serve the king of Babylon, and you will remain in the country which I gave to your ancestors.
But if you do not listen to the voice of the Lord and serve the king of Babylon,
Then I shall silence the shouts of rejoicing and mirth and the voices of bridegroom and bride in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, and the whole country will be reduced to desert, with no inhabitants.'
But we would not listen to Your voice and serve the king of Babylon, and so You carried out what You had threatened through Your servants the prophets: that the bones of our kings and of our ancestors would be dragged from their resting places.
They were indeed tossed out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. And people died in dreadful agony, from famine, sword and plague.
And so, because of the wickedness of the House of Israel and the House of Judah, You have made this House, that bears Your name, what it is today.
And yet, Lord our God, You have treated us in a way worthy of all Your goodness and boundless tenderness,
Just as You had promised through Your servant Moses, the day You told him to write Your Law in the presence of the Israelites, and said,
'If you do not listen to My voice, this great and innumerable multitude will certainly be reduced to a tiny few among the nations where I shall scatter them-
For I knew that, being an obstinate people, they would not listen to Me. But in the country of their exile, they will come to themselves
And acknowledge that I am the Lord their God. I shall give them a heart and an attentive ear,
And they will sing My praises in the country of their exile, they will remember My name;
They will stop being obstinate and, remembering what became of their ancestors who sinned before the Lord, will turn from their evil deeds.
Then I shall bring them back to the country which I promised by oath to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and make them masters in it. I shall make their numbers grow; they will not dwindle again.
And I shall make an everlasting covenant with them; so that I am their God and they are My people. And never again shall I drive My people Israel out of the country which I have given them.'"
Almighty Lord, God of Israel, a soul in anguish, a troubled heart now cries to You:
Listen and have pity, Lord, for we have sinned before You.
You sit enthroned forever, while we are perishing forever.
Almighty Lord, God of Israel, hear the prayer of the dead of Israel, of the children of those who have sinned against You and have not listened to the voice of the Lord their God; hence the disasters which dog us.
Do not call to mind the misdeeds of our ancestors, but remember instead Your power and Your name.
You are indeed the Lord our God and we will praise You, Lord,
Since You have put respect for You in our hearts to encourage us to call on Your name. We long to praise You in our exile, for we have rid our hearts of the wickedness of our ancestors who sinned against You.
Look, today we are still in exile where You have scattered us as something contemptible, accursed, condemned, for all the misdeeds of our ancestors who had abandoned the Lord our God.
Listen, Israel, to commands that bring life; hear, and learn what knowledge means.
Why, Israel, why are you in the country of your enemies, growing older and older in a strange land,
Defiling yourselves with the dead, reckoned with those who go to Sheol?
It is because you have forsaken the fountain of wisdom!
Had you walked in the way of God, you would be living in peace forever.
Learn where knowledge is, where strength, where understanding, and so learn where length of days is, where life, where the light of the eyes and where peace [is].
But who has found out where she lives, who has entered her treasure house?
Where now are the leaders of the nations and those who ruled even the beasts of earth,
Those who sported with the birds of heaven, those who accumulated silver and gold on which all people rely, and whose possessions had no end,
Those who worked so carefully in silver - but of whose works no trace is to be found?
They have vanished, gone down to Sheol. Others have risen to their places,
More recent generations have seen the day and peopled the earth in their turn, but the way of knowledge they have not found;
They have not recognised the paths she treads. Nor have their children had any grasp of her, remaining far from her way.
Nothing has been heard of her in Canaan, nothing has been seen of her in Teman;
The children of Hagar in search of worldly wisdom, the merchants of Midian and Teman, the tale-spinners and the philosophers, none of them have found the way to wisdom or remembered the paths she treads.
How great, Israel, is the House of God, how wide His domain,
Immeasurably wide, infinitely lofty!
In it were born the giants, famous from the beginning, immensely tall, expert in war;
God's choice did not fall on these, He did not show them the way of knowledge;
They perished for lack of wisdom, perished by their own folly.
Who has ever climbed the sky and seized her to bring her down from the clouds?
Who has ever crossed the ocean and found her to bring her back in exchange for the finest gold?
No one can learn the way to her, no one can understand the path she treads.
But the One who knows all discovers her, He has grasped her with His own intellect, He has set the earth firm forevermore and filled it with four-footed beasts,
He sends the light - and it goes, he recalls it - and trembling it obeys;
The stars shine joyfully at their posts;
When He calls them, they answer, 'Here we are;' they shine to delight their Creator.
It is He who is our God, no other can compare with Him. *19:65, *112:4
He has uncovered the whole way of knowledge and shown it to His servant Jacob, to Israel His well-beloved;
Only then did she appear on earth and live among human beings.
She is the Book of God's commandments, the law that stands forever; those who keep her shall live, those who desert her shall die.
Turn back, Jacob, seize her, in her radiance make your way to light:
Do not yield your glory to another, your privilege to a people not your own.
Israel, blessed are we: what pleases God has been revealed to us!
Take courage, my people, memorial of Israel!
You were sold to the nations, but not for extermination. You provoked God; and so were delivered to your enemies,
Since you had angered your Creator by offering sacrifices to demons, and not to God. *1 Corinthians 10:20
You had forgotten the eternal God who reared you. You had also grieved Jerusalem who nursed you,
For when she saw God's anger falling on you, she said, "Listen, you neighbours of Zion: God has sent me great sorrow.
I have seen my sons and daughters taken into captivity, which the Eternal brought down upon them.
I had reared them joyfully; in tears, in sorrow, I watched them go away.
Do not, any of you, exult over me, a widow, deserted by so many; I am bereaved because of the sins of my children, who turned away from the law of God,
Who did not want to know His precepts and would not follow the ways of His commandments or tread the paths of discipline as His justice directed.
Come here, neighbours of Zion! Remember my sons' and daughters' captivity, which the Eternal brought down upon them.
How He brought a distant nation down upon them, a ruthless nation speaking a foreign language, they showed neither respect for the aged, nor pity for the child;
They carried off the widow's cherished sons, they left her quite alone, bereft of her daughters.
For my part, how could I help you?
He who brought those disasters down upon you, is the One to deliver you from your enemies' clutches.
Go, my children, go your way! I must stay bereft and lonely;
I have taken off the clothes of peace and put on the sackcloth of entreaty; all my life I shall cry to the Eternal.
Take courage, my children, call on God: He will deliver you from tyranny, from the clutches of your enemies;
For I look to the Eternal for your rescue, and joy has come to me from the Holy One at the mercy soon to reach you from your Savior, the Eternal.
In sorrow and tears I watched you go away, but God will give you back to me in joy and gladness forever.
As the neighbours of Zion have now witnessed your captivity, so will they soon see your rescue by God, which will come upon you with great glory and splendor of the Eternal.
My children, patiently bear the anger brought upon you by God. Your enemy has persecuted you, but soon you will witness his destruction and set your foot on his neck.
My favourite children have travelled by rough roads, carried off like a flock by a marauding enemy.
Take courage, my children, call on God: He who brought this on you will remember you.
As by your will you first strayed from God, so now turn back and search for Him ten times harder;
For as He has been bringing down those disasters upon you, so will He rescue you and give you eternal joy."
Take courage, Jerusalem: He who gave you your name will console you.
Disaster will come to all who have ill-treated you and gloated over your fall.
Disaster will come to the cities where your children were slaves; disaster to whichever one received your children,
For just as she rejoiced at your fall and was happy to see you ruined, so will she grieve over her own desolation.
I shall deprive her of the joy of a populous city, and her insolence will turn to mourning;
Fire from the Eternal will befall her for many a day, and demons will dwell in her for ages.
Jerusalem, turn your eyes to the east, see the joy that is coming to you from God.
Look, the children you watched go away are on their way home; reassembled from east and west, they are on their way home at the Holy One's command, rejoicing in God's glory.
Jerusalem, take off your garment of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of God's glory forevermore,
Wrap the cloak of God's saving justice around you, put the diadem of the Eternal One's glory on your head,
For God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven,
And the name God gives you forevermore will be, "Peace through Justice, and Glory through Devotion."
Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east: see your children reassembled from west and east at the Holy One's command, rejoicing because God has remembered.
Though they left you on foot driven by enemies, now God brings them back to you, carried gloriously, like a royal throne.
For God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, *18:47, *20:106, *84:3, *89:21, *Shepherd of Hermas 3:4 of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level; *69:14 so that Israel can walk safely in God's glory.
And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel, at God's command;
For God will guide Israel in joy by the light of His glory, with the mercy and saving justice which come from Him. A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those about to be led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what he had been commanded by God:
"Because of the sins which you have committed before God you are to be carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians.
Once you have reached Babylon you will stay there for many years, as long as seven generations; after which I shall bring you home in peace.
Now in Babylon you will see gods made of silver, of gold, of wood, being carried shoulder-high, and filling the Gentiles with fear.
Be on your guard! Do not imitate the foreigners, do not have any fear of their gods
As you see their servants prostrating themselves before and behind them. Instead, say in your hearts, 'Master, it is You that we must serve.'
For My angel is with you; your lives will be in his care.
Overlaid with gold and silver, their tongues polished smooth by a craftsman, they are counterfeit and have no power to speak.
As though for a girl fond of finery, these people take gold and make crowns for the heads of their gods.
And sometimes, the priests filch gold and silver from their gods to spend on themselves, even giving some of it to the prostitutes on the terrace.
They dress up these gods of silver, gold and wood, in clothes, like human beings; on their own they cannot protect themselves from either tarnish or woodworm; *7:192, *7:197, *21:43, *36:74 - 75
When they have been dressed in purple cloaks, their faces have to be dusted, because of the temple dust which settles thick on them.
One holds a sceptre like the governor of a province, yet is powerless to put to death anyone who offends him;
Another holds sword and mace in his right hand, yet is powerless to defend himself against war or thieves. *7:192, *7:197, *21:43, *36:74 - 75
From this it is evident that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
Just as a pot in common use becomes useless once it is broken, so are these gods enshrined inside their temples.
Their eyes are full of dust raised by the feet of those who enter.
Just as the doors are locked on all sides on someone who has offended a king and is under sentence of death, so the priests secure the temples of these gods with gates and bolts and bars for fear of burglary.
They light more lamps for them than they do for themselves, and the gods see none of them.
They are like one of the temple beams, which are said to be gnawed away from within; the termites creep out of the ground and eat them and their clothes too, and they feel nothing.
Their faces are blackened by the smoke that rises from the temple.
Bats, swallows, birds of every kind perch on their bodies and heads, and so do cats.
From this, you can see for yourselves that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
The gold with which they are parading their futility before the world is supposed to make them look beautiful, but if someone does not rub off the tarnish, these gods will not be shining much on their own, and even while they were being cast, they felt nothing.
However much was paid for them, there is still no breath of life in them.
Being unable to walk, they have to be carried on men's shoulders, which shows how futile they are. It is humiliating for their servants, too, who have to stand them up again if they fall over.
Once they have been stood up, they cannot move on their own; if they tilt askew, they cannot right themselves; offerings made to them might as well be made to the dead.
Whatever is sacrificed to them, the priests re-sell and pocket the profit; while their wives salt down part of it, but give nothing to the poor or to the helpless. As to the sacrifices themselves, why, women during their periods and women in childbed are not afraid to touch them!
From all this you can tell that they are not gods; do not be afraid of them.
Indeed, how can they even be called gods, when women do the offering to these gods of silver, gold and wood?
In their temples, the priests stay sitting down, their garments torn, heads and beard shaved and heads uncovered;
They roar and shriek before their gods as people do at funeral feasts.
The priests take robes from the gods to clothe their own wives and children.
Whether these gods are treated badly or well, they are incapable of paying back either treatment; as incapable too of making or unmaking kings,
Equally incapable of distributing wealth or money. If anyone fails to honor a vow he has made to them, they cannot call him to account.
They can neither save anyone from death nor rescue the weak from the strong,
Nor restore sight to the blind, nor save anyone in trouble,
Nor take pity on a widow, nor be generous to an orphan.
These wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are about as much use as rocks cut out of the mountain side. Their servants will be confounded!
So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
The Chaldaeans themselves do them no honor; if they find someone who is dumb and cannot speak, they present him to Bel, entreating him for the gift of speech, as though he could perceive it!
And they are incapable of drawing the conclusion and abandoning those gods - such is their lack of perception.
Women with strings round their waists sit in the streets, burning bran like incense;
When one of these has been picked up by a passer-by and been to bed with him, she then gloats over her neighbor for not having been thought as worthy as herself and for not having had her string broken.
Whatever is done for them is spurious. So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
Made by woodworkers and goldsmiths, they are only what those workmen decide to make them.
Their makers have not long to live themselves, so how can the things they make be gods?
Their legacy to their descendants is nothing but delusion and dishonour.
If war or disasters befall them, the priests discuss where best to hide themselves and these gods;
How can anyone fail to realise that they are not gods, if they cannot save themselves from war or from disasters? *7:192, *7:197, *21:43, *36:74 - 75
And since they are only made of wood overlaid with gold or silver, it will later become apparent that they are spurious; it will be obvious to everyone, to nations as to kings, that they are not gods but the work of human hands, and that there is no divine activity in them.
Does anyone still need convincing that they are not gods?
They can neither appoint a king over a country, nor give rain to humankind,
Nor regulate their own affairs, nor rescue anyone who suffers a wrong; they are as helpless as crows between sky and ground.
If fire falls on the temple of these wooden gods overlaid with gold or silver, their priests fly to safety while they for their part stay there like beams, to be burnt.
They cannot put up any resistance to a king or to enemies.
So how can anyone think or say that they are gods?
These wooden gods overlaid with gold or silver cannot evade thieves or marauders; strong men may rob them of their gold and silver and make off with the robes they are dressed in; yet they are powerless to help even themselves. *7:192, *7:197, *21:43, *36:74 - 75
Better to be a king displaying his prowess, a household pot of use to its owner, than to be these counterfeit gods; or merely the door of a house, protecting what is inside, than these counterfeit gods; or a wooden pillar in a palace than these counterfeit gods.
The sun, the moon and the stars, which shine and have been given work to do, are obedient;
Similarly, the lightning, as it flashes, is a fine sight; in the same way, the wind blows across every country,
The clouds execute the order God gives them to pass over the whole earth, and the fire, sent from above to consume mountain and forest, carries out its orders.
Now these gods are not their equals, either in beauty or in power.
So, no one can think or say that they are gods, powerless as they are to administer justice or to do anyone any good.
Therefore, knowing that they are not gods, do not be afraid of them.
For they can neither curse nor bless kings,
Nor produce signs in heaven for the nations, nor shine like the sun, nor shed light like the moon.
The animals are better off than they are, being able to look after themselves by making for cover.
There is not the slightest shred of evidence that they are gods; so do not be afraid of them!
Their wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are like a scarecrow in a field of cucumbers - protecting nothing.
Or again, their wooden gods overlaid with gold and silver are like a thorn-bush in a garden - any kind of bird may perch on it - or like a corpse thrown out into the dark.
From the purple and linen rotting on their backs you can tell that they are not gods; and in the end, eaten away, they will be the dishonor of the country.
Better, then, someone upright who has no idols; dishonor will never come near him."