An Introduction to the Apocrypha-Part Five
THE BOOK OF BARUCH
by Jared L. Olar
Every summer on the ninth day of Ab, the fifth month of the Hebrew year, the Jewish people solemnly fast and pray in mournful commemoration of the destruction of the Temple and their banishment from the Holy Land at the hands of Gentile enemies. Though Christians do not fast on the ninth of Ab, the events commemorated through that fast have always been of signal importance in Christianity-both because of historical consequences stemming from those events, and because of the deep spiritual lessons that can be drawn from them.
This fast, known in Hebrew as Tisha b'Ab, originally commemorated the day Nebuchadnezzar's vizier Nebuzaradan set fire to Solomon's Temple and the other large buildings of Jerusalem (II Kings 25:8-10). Significantly, Flavius Josephus records that it was also on Tisha b'Ab that the army of Titus Caesar destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D. In addition, according to Jewish tradition it was on Tisha b'Ab that the rebellious scouts violated the commission Moses had given them. The scouts presented a report intended to encourage Israel to reject the land that God had promised them, which resulted in God sentencing Israel to 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai (Num. 13:17-33; 14:26-35).
On the ninth of Ab, observant Jews read the Lamentations of Jeremiah, a series of acrostic poems that mourn the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah. According to the preface of the Greek Septuagint's version of Lamentations, ``... after Israel was carried into captivity and Jerusalem was desolate, Jeremiah the Prophet sat weeping, and mourned with this lamentation over Jerusalem ... with a sorrowful mind, sighing and moaning ...''
Before composing the poems of Lamentations, Jeremiah had uttered prophecies that the Exile would be a temporary punishment, to be followed by the return of the exiles and the restoration of Jerusalem. But as an eyewitness of the disaster he'd foretold, he was overwhelmed with grief-in Lamentations, God's promises of restoration are entirely overshadowed by the depiction of Judah's misery. Similarly, on Tisha b'Ab the Jews in the synagogues listen in dread silence as the lector whispers the terrible curses that Moses prophesied would befall Israel if they were to break the Covenant. The blessings for obedience are omitted, and there is no proclamation of any hoped-for redemption. The ninth of Ab is given over to fasting and mournful remembrance-on that day the Jewish hope for redemption remains in the background.
The mournful spirit of Lamentations and Tisha b'Ab can also be found in the Book of Baruch, a short Jewish prophetic book said to have been written by Jeremiah's secretary Baruch ben Neriah. 1 However, the spirit of Tisha b'Ab does not dominate Baruch-lamentation makes up only a part of Baruch. As we shall see, this book also offers encouragement and powerful hope to Israelites who were confronted by the catastrophic destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian Captivity. In this article we shall examine the message of Baruch to see what lessons may be drawn from it. In so doing, we will see how this book's prophecies of redemption turn the sorrow of Tisha b'Ab into a festival of joy.
Basic Textual Details
The earliest surviving textual version of the Book of Baruch is the Greek Septuagint translation. However, the Greek text displays ample evidence that Baruch was written originally in Hebrew-though the poetry of Baruch was apparently translated rather freely from either Hebrew or Aramaic. According to Baruch 1:1-2, it was written by Jeremiah's secretary Baruch in Babylon on the anniversary of the burning of Jerusalem, presumably in the year 582 B.C.-though, as we shall see, the exact year is uncertain. We shall also find that there are strong reasons to believe that the introductory verses of Baruch do not in fact relate authentic history. And in that case it would be next to impossible to determine the true author of the book and exactly when the book was written. In any event both the original Hebrew text and the Greek translation apparently predate the birth of Christ.
Baruch is only six chapters long, and can be divided into four sections. It opens with fourteen verses of introduction followed by a prayer of repentance, all in prose (ch. 1:1 to ch. 3:8). Then comes a poem that exalts the Torah as the earthly manifestation of God's Wisdom (ch. 3:9 to ch. 4:4). Next is a beautiful poem of consolation, encouragement, and hope (ch. 4:5 to ch. 5:9). The book's sixth and final chapter is technically not a part of Baruch at all, but originally was a wholly separate document-a prose letter said to have been written by Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon exhorting them to remain faithful to God and to reject the idolatry of their captors. As a whole, the Book of Baruch's main concerns are to protect and preserve Jewish faith during the Babylonian Captivity, to warn against and to denounce idolatry, and to announce the sure promise of the coming restoration and return from exile. 2
Historical Problems in the Book of Baruch
Baruch opens with fourteen verses that depict the exiled Jews in Babylon and the remnant of Jews left behind in Jerusalem in the year 582 B.C. The situation here apparently reflects the ancient Jewish tradition that Jeremiah was stoned to death in Egypt by the unfaithful and idolatrous Jews living in exile there (cf. Jer. 43-44), because Jeremiah himself is nowhere in sight,3 while his secretary Baruch has escaped from Egypt and joined the exiles in Babylon (cf. Jer. 45:2-5). There on the tenth day of the month of Sivan, Baruch somehow managed to retrieve ``the vessels of the House of the LORD that had been removed from the Temple, in order to restore them to the land of Judah.'' These were silver vessels that King Zedekiah had had consecrated for the Temple service to replace the ones that Nebuchadnezzar had looted from the Temple in 598 B.C.
Then Baruch wrote a scroll of prophecy-the Book of Baruch-on the seventh day of the month of Ab, anniversary of the day that Nebuzaradan set fire to the Temple, palace, and houses of Jerusalem (II Kings 25:8-10). Baruch read this scroll to Jeconiah, the exiled former King of Judah, and to an assembly of Jewish exiles. The assembled exiles responded to Baruch's prophecy with fasting, prayer, and repentance, and were moved to collect money to send to the contingent of Jews who remained in Jerusalem with the priest Joiakim (younger brother of Seraiah the High Priest, who had been executed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C.).
Accompanying the money was a letter for Joiakim and the Jews with him, instructing them to use the money for sacrifices on the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem. In particular the exiles told them to offer sacrifices and prayers for King Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar, and to remain in loyal submission to them. Joiakim and the Jews with him were also told to pray that God would soon forgive Judah's sins and bring an end to the Babylonian Captivity. Finally, the exiles directed that the Book of Baruch should be publicly read in the Temple and synagogues on festivals and holy days.
Essentially, the first fourteen verses of this book show us an attempt by Baruch (probably an abortive attempt) to reestablish some kind of sacrificial worship in Jerusalem to help speed the day when the exiles repent and return to the land of Israel. Sacrifices in Jerusalem would serve to encourage the repentance that the rest of the book repeatedly calls for.
However, a number of facts related in the Book of Baruch's introduction present difficulties to the reader. First of all, the reference to Baruch obtaining King Zedekiah's silver Temple vessels in order to restore them to the land of Judah seems to contradict II Kings 25:14-15, Dan. 5:1-4, and Ezra 1:7-11, which seem to indicate that all of the Temple vessels remained in Babylon until 538 B.C. On the other hand, the vessels of Baruch 1:8-9 are apparently just a small part of the Temple vessels carried off by the Babylonians. Given the fact that Jeremiah and Baruch were on good terms with Nebuchadnezzar and his vizier Nebuzaradan, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility that Baruch obtained from them a small portion of the Temple implements in order to enable the few remaining Jews in the Holy Land to maintain the sacrifices prescribed by the Law of Moses. However, it should be noted that Baruch is only said to have received the silver vessels-we are not told that he actually succeeded in returning them to Judah, though that is presumably implied.
Another difficulty is the reference to the priest Joiakim4 and the Jews in Jerusalem being told to offer sacrifices on an altar. With Jerusalem in ruins, the Temple a heap of charred rubble, and almost all Jews scattered or exiled, it would seem unlikely that in 582 B.C. a member of the high priestly dynasty would even be living in Jerusalem with a community of Jews, let alone offering sacrifices ``on the altar of the LORD our God.''5 For one thing, II Kings 25:12 says only members of the lower classes were left in Judah by the Babylonians, so it would be very strange to find the younger brother of the late High Priest still in the Holy Land (but then the High Priest himself remained in Jerusalem even after the events of II Kings 25:13-16). Furthermore, II Kings 25:22-26 and Jer. 43:4-7 tell us that ``all'' of the remaining Jews of Judah were taken to Egypt by Johanan ben Kareah. True, in Jer. 44:28 it says a remnant of Jews would return to Judah from Egypt, but Jer. 44:29-30 indicates that would not happen until Pharaoh Hophra was overthrown-an event that did not take place until 570 B.C., twelve years after the purported writing of the Book of Baruch.
Arguably even these facts are not irreconcilable to the depiction of Jerusalem in Baruch 1:7-14, but finding Joiakim with a community of Jews in Jerusalem in 582 B.C. is certainly not what one would expect. As a matter of fact, it is possible that the year 582 B.C. is an erroneous interpretation of Baruch 1:1-2. The text says ``in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and burned it with fire.'' That is a somewhat irregular way to mention a date. The seventh day of which month? According to II Kings 25:8 and Jer. 52:12 it was the fifth month, Ab. It is possible that the date suffers from a textual corruption-compare ``the fifth year'' to Ab, the fifth month. Furthermore, we really can't be sure that it means the fifth year since the fall of Jerusalem, though that seems to be the most likely interpretation. For all we know it was, say, the fifth year since Baruch had arrived in Babylon. In light of the uncertainty of the interpretation of Baruch 1:1-2, the introductory verses of Baruch could depict the historical situation as it stood in the years following the downfall of Pharaoh Hophra in 570 B.C.
Yet another apparent problem is the reference to Jeconiah in Baruch 1:3-4, which seems to attribute to Jeconiah a degree of freedom he did not have until 561 B.C., the first year of the reign of Evil-Merodach, son of Nebuchadnezzar (II Kings 25:27-30). That could be a problem if Baruch 1:2 refers to the year 582 B.C., though if it refers to some year after 570 B.C. the problem disappears. On the other hand we cannot be sure what Jeconiah's confinement in Babylon was like prior to 561 B.C.-and in any event Baruch and the other Jewish exiles in Babylon could have assembled at Jeconiah's prison for the reading of the scroll of prophecy.
From what we have seen so far, the Book of Baruch's historical difficulties are hardly insuperable. Looking only at the problems we've discussed above, one could conclude that nothing stands in the way of accepting Baruch's introduction as an accurate representation of Jewish history during the Babylonian Captivity.
But then there are the two references to Nebuchadnezzar's ``son'' Belshazzar in Baruch 1:11-12. King Belshazzar is mentioned in the fifth chapter of Daniel, where he is also called the ``son'' of Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar is the Bel-shar-usur of Babylonian cuneiform documents and the younger Labunetos (recte Nabunetos) of the writings of Herodotus, reigning over Babylon as co-regent with his father King Nabonidus (Nabu-naid). When the Book of Daniel calls Nebuchadnezzar the ``father'' of Belshazzar, it means Nebuchadnezzar was the predecessor or ancestor of Belshazzar. But when the Book of Baruch calls Belshazzar the ``son'' of Nebuchadnezzar, it simply cannot be interpreted in a figurative or metaphorical sense. The Book of Baruch shows Belshazzar alive during Nebuchadnezzar's reign and already regarded as his ``son.'' However, Nebuchadnezzar died in 561 B.C., while Belshazzar's non-royal father Nabonidus did not seize the throne of Babylon until 556 B.C. Therefore, even if Belshazzar was born during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar-which is quite possible-Belshazzar could not have been regarded as Nebuchadnezzar's ``son'' until his biological father Nabonidus had become king and appointed him co-regent over Babylon.
The Vexed Question of Authorship
In light of the above facts, Baruch 1:1-14 was probably written by a Jew who was influenced by the fifth chapter of Daniel, but who was unfamiliar with the details of Babylonian history prior to the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. Whoever that Jew was, he could not have been Jeremiah's secretary Baruch, who-assuming Belshazzar was even born before the death of Baruch-would never have called him ``son'' of Nebuchadnezzar. Nor would any Jewish exiles of Baruch's day ever have committed the historical anachronism of advising others to ``pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and that of Belshazzar, his son.'' That is, not unless there was another Belshazzar who is otherwise unknown to history, a Belshazzar who was literally a son of Nebuchadnezzar but predeceased his father and thereby enabled his brother Evil-Merodach to inherit the throne on Nebuchadnezzar's death. But that is so unlikely that it is unworthy of serious consideration.
If Baruch was not the author of the first fourteen verses of this book, he also may well have not been the author of the rest of the book. Still, most of the book could in fact be the work of Baruch, written in Babylon after Baruch's escape from Egypt, just as the introduction says. A later scribe who knew the traditional circumstances of the composition of Baruch's prophecy, but who was unfamiliar with certain details of Babylonian history, could have penned the introductory verses to explain to the reader the background of the prophecies in the book. 6 On the face of it, the actual prophecies of the Book of Baruch appear to arise directly from the circumstances of the Babylonian Captivity-Baruch's abovementioned attempt to resume sacrifices in Jerusalem to encourage the exiles to repent, to remain true to the God of Israel, and to abhor the idols of their pagan neighbors.
On the other hand, the entire book could have been written in Baruch's name-just as we have seen the Book of Wisdom written as though it were King Solomon delivering a discourse on wisdom. It's not impossible that a later Jewish writer wrote this book as a literary reflection upon the circumstances of the Babylonian Captivity. All the same, even if the entirety of Baruch was in fact written long after the 500s B.C., nothing in the book gives us any clear hints about the historical circumstances that might have led a later pre-Christian Jewish writer to pen a work of prophecy under the name of Baruch. Unfortunately we cannot finally say whether or not Baruch had anything directly to do with the writing of the book that bears his name.
The Prayer of the Exiles
Following the fourteen introductory verses, we find a lengthy prayer of repentance that extends to ch. 3:8, a humble and honest confession of the many sins of Israel and Judah that led to their downfall and exile from the Holy Land. This prayer recalls many of the prophecies and prayers of men like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. More than once it explicitly mentions Moses' prophecies of the curses that would befall Israel for breaking the Covenant, and quotes directly from Jer. 7:34 (Baruch 2:23), as would be most fitting for Jeremiah's scribe Baruch. But the prayer also calls on God to remember that, beginning with Moses himself, He promised a restoration of Israel following their exile (e.g. Deut. 30:1-10; Baruch 2:30-35). God would give the exiles a proper fear of the Lord and bring them back to the land which He swore on oath would always belong to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Praise of Torah as Divine Wisdom Made Manifest
After the conclusion of the prayer comes a hymn or poem, written in the style of Hebrew Wisdom literature, that explains why God drove Israel out of the land He had promised to their fathers: Israel forsook the wisdom of God, and suffered the consequences of their folly. Just as Baruch 1:14-3:8 drew heavily on Moses' words in Deuteronomy, especially Deut. 30, so this poem in Baruch 3:9-4:4 also draws heavily on Deuteronomy, both Deut. 30 and Deut. 4. According to this poem, the very wisdom of God Himself was given to the people of Israel-wisdom that could never be found among the sages of the Gentiles. Baruch 3:29-30 obviously takes its inspiration from Deut. 30:11-14. Again, Deut. 30:15-20 and Deut. 4:5-8 can be detected behind Baruch 3:36-4:4, which is worth quoting here:
A similar identification of Wisdom with the Torah, along with a comparable praise of Wisdom-Torah, can be seen in the 24th chapter of The Wisdom of Ben-Sirach (Ecclesiasticus). By rejecting the divine wisdom, the Torah, the people of Israel doomed themselves to exile. Therefore, only by ``turning''-i.e. the Hebrew concept of teshuvah or repentance-and ``receiving'' the divine wisdom would the promised restoration of Israel take place.
The Consolation of Mother Jerusalem and Her Children
From Baruch 4:5 to the end of chapter 5 is a long hymn that portrays the ruined city of Jerusalem as the mother of the Israelite people, mourning in grief at the loss of her children. Jerusalem figuratively calls on the exiles, her children, to repent of the sins that caused their downfall, and to patiently await the promised restoration. Three times in this hymn Jerusalem tells her children ``Be not afraid!'' or ``Fear not!'' (ch. 4:5, 21, 27)-for God in His love would watch over them in the lands of their exile, and would in time bring them the salvation He'd promised them.
Then in ch. 4:30 we again find the words ``Be not afraid!''-only this time addressed to Mother Jerusalem herself. For the remainder of the hymn we see portrayed the miraculous deliverance of God's People from their captivity, and their return at long last to Jerusalem. Twice Jerusalem is told to look toward the east to see her children returning to her in glory and joy, once in ch. 4:36, and again in ch. 5:5, which says:
Here we find the same inspiration and images that we see in Isaiah 60, where Jerusalem is exhorted, ``Arise! Shine! for thy light has come, and the glory of the LORD has arisen upon you.'' Isaiah the Prophet's vision of the return of Jerusalem's sons and daughters is associated closely with the coming of the Messiah, as we see in Isaiah 55:3-5. Upon reflection it becomes clear that these visions of the return of the exiles do not merely foretell events of 538 B.C.. Even more, they look through Israel's experiences of exile and return to see Christ's salvation of His repentant people the Church, and look through the earthly Jerusalem to see the heavenly Jerusalem, ``the mother of us all'' (Gal. 4:26). It is fitting, then, to see the confident conclusion of this hymn-that even during the exile, "God is leading Israel in joy by the light of His glory, with His mercy and righteousness for company'' (Baruch 5:9). 8
The Letter of Jeremiah
The final chapter of the Book of Baruch is strictly speaking not a part of this book at all, but a separate document: ``a copy of the epistle which Jeremiah sent to them that were to be led away captives into Babylon by the king of Babylon.'' In certain features it resembles Jeremiah's letter to the exiles in Jer. 29, while incorporating a strong extended polemic against Babylon's idols and false gods, similar to Jer. 10 and Isa. 44. Assuming the letter is authentic-and there is no compelling reason to doubt its authenticity9-its contents would have been dictated by Jeremiah to his secretary Baruch. It fits quite well with the rest of the Book of Baruch, given the book's theme of the Babylonian Captivity being the result of Israel's sins (cf. Baruch 4:7). Were Israel to be seduced by the idols of Babylon, the prophesied restoration following Israel's repentance might be delayed, or perhaps never occur at all. ``Better therefore is the just man that hath no idols, for he shall be far from reproach.'' So this letter-and the Book of Baruch-concludes.
Influence of Baruch in Judaism and Christianity
Although this book is not a part of the Hebrew Scriptures, it obviously enjoyed great popularity among the Jews for a long time. This is shown by the fact that it was included in the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. However, following the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the suppression of Bar-Cochba's rebellion in 135 A.D., the Book of Baruch apparently began to fall out of favor with the Jews. The instructions in Baruch 1:10-12 to submit to and pray for the Babylonian kings would probably not have been welcome in the ears of those who had suffered defeat and persecution at the hands of Titus or Hadrian. Christian sources of the third and fourth centuries A.D. tell us that during synagogue worship on a certain date the Jews would publicly read the Book of Baruch along with the Lamentations of Jeremiah (perhaps it was Tisha b'Ab). The last reference to such Jewish use of Baruch comes from the latter half of the 300s A.D., when St. Ephraem Syrus attested to it as a current practice in the synagogues of Syria. However, by the early 400s A.D. we have St. Jerome's declaration that the Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah ``were not read among the Hebrews.''
But with Christians it was a very different story. Since the Greek Septuagint was the most popular Bible in the early Church, the Book of Baruch was accepted without question as canonical and authentic. In fact, the earliest Christians regarded Baruch as an appendix to the Book of Jeremiah, and apparently assumed that the Book of Baruch had been dictated to Baruch by Jeremiah just like the Book of Jeremiah itself. Consequently it was very common for early Church Fathers to quote the Book of Baruch under the name of Jeremiah. That is exactly what we see in one of the first times Baruch was cited by a Christian-around 180 A.D., St. Irenaeus of Lyons quoted Baruch 4:36-5:9 as the words of Jeremiah. Clement of Alexandria in the early 200s A.D. and St. John Chrysostom in the latter 300s A.D. also quoted several passages of Baruch as if it were Jeremiah.
Perhaps because Christians saw this book as an appendix to Jeremiah, it was accepted even by Christians such as Origen or St. Athanasius who otherwise had qualms about the other books of the Apocrypha. Other early Church Fathers who quoted this book as sacred scripture include Athenagoras of Athens, St. Hippolytus of Rome, Tertullian, St. Cyprian of Carthage, Dionysius of Alexandria, and Lactantius. For the early Church Fathers, one of the more popular passages of this book was the hymn in praise of wisdom in the Torah found in Baruch 3-4. Interestingly enough, that very hymn is one of the scripture readings for the annual Catholic liturgy for the vigil on the eve of Easter Sunday.
We have already noted above that for Christians the vision of the consolation of Mother Jerusalem and her exiled children in Baruch 4-5 points beyond the events of 538 B.C. Ancient Israel's experiences of disobedience, exile, repentance, and return are types or allegories of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God brings sinners-both Jews and Gentiles-out of their spiritual exile and back to their true home, the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem. That is why Baruch 4:36-37 and Baruch 5:5 in particular have often inspired Christian hearts through the ages. The words of Baruch 5:5 even appear as the introductory verse of F. Flaxington Harker's sacred musical composition ``How Beautiful Upon the Mountains.''10 They instruct God's People to ``look toward the east''-that is, toward Christ the Light of the World (John 8:12; Mal. 3:20), the dawning new light and the morning star (II Pet. 1:19)-and to watch in excitement as God's exiled children are gathered from the east and from the west, in other words from every nation on earth. 11
In Zech. 8:19-23 it says the fast days that the Jews had begun to observe in commemoration of the calamities of 587 B.C. (including Tisha b'Ab) would someday be turned into festivals of joy. One thing we can learn from the Book of Baruch is that the sorrow and mourning that are characteristic of Tisha b'Ab should not be unremitting-because curses, grief, and exile are not the end of the story. The Book of Baruch gives vent to the sorrow at the Temple's destruction and the scattering of Israel and Judah-but then it moves on to visions of redemption and final salvation in the City of Peace, where God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes. On the other side of exile is a New Jerusalem, the habitation of God's Incarnate Son and of all the saints and angels.
1Besides this book, there are two spurious apocalypses, one in Aramaic and the other in Greek, that are purportedly the work of Baruch. Though they are unrelated to each other, the three books attributed to Baruch's authorship are often conveniently distinguished as I, II, and III Baruch.
2Similar concerns are prevalent in the Book of Daniel, which was, like the Book of Baruch, a product of the Babylonian Captivity.
3This tradition is recorded in a short work called The Lives of the Prophets, apparently written in the first century B.C. The legendary life of Jeremiah found in that work had a Jewish-Egyptian origin. However, it shows both Jeremiah and Baruch being stoned to death at the same time, in contradiction of Jer. 45:5. Another early source that mentions Jeremiah's death by stoning in Egypt is the Paralipomena of Jeremiah, a Jewish work of the first century A.D.
4Another priest in Jerusalem named Joiakim, one who is manifestly unhistorical, appears in the Book of Judith.
5On the other hand, it may be helpful to compare Baruch 1:10-12 to the historical circumstances of the Jews after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. According to Josephus in Against Apion ii. 6 ff., though all other sacrifices ceased in 70 A.D., the Jews in the Holy Land continued to offer sacrifices for the Emperors at least until the late first century A.D., when Against Apion was written: ``We willingly testify our respect to our Emperors and to the Roman people. We also offer perpetual sacrifices for them...although we offer no other such sacrifices at our common expense, not even for our own children, yet do we this as a special honor to the Emperors.''
6Indeed, more than one scribe could have written the introduction. Grammar and sentence structure make the meaning of some of the introductory verses difficult to interpret-those verses seem to show signs of interpolation by more than one writer.
7See Doug Ward's article, ``The Biblical Concept of Remembrance,'' on p. 2 of this issue to learn the significance of something or someone being ``remembered'' by God.
8The verses of Baruch 5 bear a close resemblance to Psalm 11 of the so-called Psalms of Solomon. What probably accounts for this resemblance is that both the author of Baruch and the compiler of the psalms of Solomon adapted the same ancient Hebrew psalm. Since we do not know when many of the psalms of Solomon were written, this resemblance is of no real help in determining when the Book of Baruch was written.
9A fragment of the Greek translation of this letter was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. This fragment is thought to have been written about 160 B.C. Also, it is interesting to note that both Baruch 6:42-43 and the Greek historian Herodotus, who visited Babylon in the 400s B.C., mention the abominable practice of forcing all native Babylonian women to play the part of a temple prostitute at least once in their lives. If one is unwilling to accept the authenticity of this letter, at the least one must accept that the Jewish author was familiar with pagan Babylonian religion.
10Performed as a baritone solo by Gerald Bieritz on the Worldwide Church of God's Festival of Music 2 (1985).
11cf. Mal. 1:11, a verse traditionally associated with the Eucharist since the late first century A.D.
Part 6 of this series
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