76 Sermons on the Old Testament

48 Baruch and the Prophet's Book.


Baruch and the Prophet's Book

I am here, Jesus:

In the year of Egypt's defeat at Carchemish, 605 B.C., when Jehoikim realized that his new master was to be Babylonia, Baruch ben Neriah became a scribe for Jeremiah. He began to write down sermons which the prophet spoke for the turning away of evil in their deportment. The next year, Jeremiah was instructed spiritually to write a scroll that would bring to the people of Judah the things which he had been given to write through his closeness to God, and this was done. For Jeremiah hears the spiritual voice as of God say:

"It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I
purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his
evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
(Jeremiah, Chapt. 36, verse 3).

The book of Jeremiah was therefore the work of dictation that Baruch had begun to write. Now at this time Jeremiah had been forbidden by Temple decree from giving sermons in the Lord's House, because of the excitement which his reading of the sermons produced among the hearers there. The idea was to read the book or portions thereof on a day of atonement, when fasting was prescribed, so that the people would have a fresh reminder of Judah's sins and thus intensify the appeal to return to righteousness and worship of Jehovah. This book took a considerable period of time to write and edit, and it was not until the next year, 604 B. C., that it was ready for the reading. In those days several fast days could be called during the year instead of the fixed one, Yom Kippur, of later days, and the nearest one was in winter; scripture tells us this was the 9th month, a reckoning different from the later Hebrew Calendar.

All the people came from Judah as well as Jerusalem, as was customary with the Passover, which Josiah had instituted, and they heard the contents of Jeremiah's book read to them by Baruch ben Neriah in the Chamber of Gemariah, one of the sons of Shaphan the Scribe, at the entry of the New Gate of the Temple. The book itself was not very long, being less than one half of what it is today, inasmuch as there have been many additions, not only by Baruch himself, but by others, and it created a strong impression on all; especially the officials and elders, as well as the publicans of Jerusalem. Miciah, Gemariah's son, had reported the contents of the book to the princes, (Elishama the scribe of the royal seed, Delaiah ben Shemaiah, Elnathan hen Achbor, Gemariah ben Shaphan, Zedekiah ben Hananiah among others). They sent Jehudi ben Nethaniah to Baruch to have him read the work to the princes of Judah. The denunciations upon the people and the land, due to ritual abominations and conduct in violation of the Ten Commandments and Deuteronomy filled these men with trepidation, and their conclusion was to tell Jehoikim the King. They advised Baruch to hide with Jeremiah, fearful lest the wrath of Jehoikim seek vengeance on the writer and his scribe. Jehudi read Jeremiah's book to the King, who with his pen knife ferociously cut the scrolls and threw them into the fire of the brazier which was burning to keep the king comfortable that winter day. And thus, after hearing Jeremiah's words, the king burned it in wrath, despite the pleas of Elnathan and Delaiah to preserve the scroll. In fact, Jehoikim ordered Terahmeel, one of his sons, and two officers, (Seraiah ben Azriel and Shelinaiah ben Abdul) to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but these had taken refuge out of the city beyond the Mount of Olives and, as the Old Testament says, "The Lord hid them."

Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens


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