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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on Baruch

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1.1–14 : Introduction.

By means of a pseudohistorical setting this section unites the liturgical prayers and pilgrimages of the Jews in the Diaspora with those of their ancestors in the Babylonian Exile (587–539 B.C.E.). Historical difficulties are many, such as the month intended in v. 2 . Too, Joakim the high priest (v. 7 ) is unknown to us except in the historical romance of Jdt. 4.6 (see n. there). The temple is presumed to be destroyed in v. 2 and to be already rebuilt by its devastator in v. 10 . Belshazzar (v. 11 ) was actually the son of Nabonidus, not of Nebuchadnezzar; see Dan. 1.1 n., 5.1 n., 5.2, 13, 18, 22 . (Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, reigned from 555–539 B.C.E.)

2 :

Jerusalem fell in July 587 B.C.E. and was burned to the ground by order of Nebuchadnezzar a month later (2 Kgs. 25.3, 8–9 ).

3 :

Jeconiah: King Jehoiachin, considered the legitimate king by fellow exiles (see Ezek. 1.2 ).

4 :

The river Soud was undoubtedly one of the many irrigation canals carrying water from the Euphrates.

5 :

Fasting became more frequent in postexilic times (Dan. 9.3; Zech. 7.1–5 ).

8 :

Sivan: third month (May-June).

11 :

This request to pray for the foreigner Nebuchadnezzar reveals a broad-minded spirit of prayer reaching beyond national prejudice as well as a monotheistic faith in one God for all people; see Rom. 13.1–7 .

14 :

Those Jews so fortunate as to be living in Jerusalem are directed to make their humble confession of sin in the name of the exiles on the feast day of Tabernacles (Booths), the final harvest festival and victory celebration of the Lord's sovereignty (Lev. 23.33–43; Zech. 14.16–21 ).

1.15–3.8 : Penitential prayer of the exiles.

From an original Heb. text, this prose lament recasts a popular prayer, preserved even more carefully in Dan. 9.4–19; see Ezra 9.6–15; Neh. ch. 9 . Because of 2.17 , this lament is to be dated around 180 B.C.E., the period of Ecclus., since both books are silent about the resurrection (Ecclus. 17.27–28; Ps. 6.5 ), which is explicitly stated in Dan. 12.1–3 and 2 Macc. ch. 7 . The principal theme is that of God's justice and God's merciful fidelity in fulfilling the promises to Israel; see 1.15; 2.6 .

20 :

Curse of Moses: Deut. 28.15–37 .

2.3 :

Eat the flesh of our children: see 2 Kgs. 6.28; Lam. 2.20 .

11 :

Transition from the lament to Israel's petition.

17–18 :

For the pious Jew the impossibility of praising God in Sheol is the greatest tragedy of death. Here it is given as a motive in asking God for deliverance. See Ps. 115.17–18 .

21–24 :

Jeremiah 7.34 and 27.12 are merged; to have rejected Jeremiah was to have disobeyed God. Jeremiah advised surrender to the Babylonians while the city was under siege, and was considered a traitor; see Jer. 26.16–19; 38.1–13 .

35 :

Everlasting covenant: see Jer. 31.31; Ezek. 37.26 . This expression of hope reverts to a more primitive stage of “messianism,” for it is silent about David and Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7.12–16; 1 Chr. chs. 28–29 ) and the glorious rule (Amos 9.11–15 ) over all nations (Isa. 2.1–4 ).

3.5–8 :

Here reappears the old theology which held that social and religious solidarity implied collective guilt and demanded collective punishment (Josh. ch. 7 ) so that children were punished for all the sins of their ancestors. This view was condemned in its excessive form by Jeremiah ( 31.29 ) and Ezekiel (ch. 18 ). Compare Jn. 9.2 .

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