Baruch ben Neriah

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An image of Baruch from Gustave Dore's illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours. Baruch.jpg
An image of Baruch from Gustave Doré's illustrations for La Grande Bible de Tours.

Baruch ben Neriah (Hebrew: ברוך בן נריה Bārūḵ ben Nêrîyāh, "'Blessed' (Bārūḵ), son (ben) of 'My Candle is Jah' (Nêrîyāh)"; c. 6th century BC) was the scribe, disciple, secretary, and devoted friend of the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. He is traditionally credited with authoring the deuterocanonical Book of Baruch. [1]

Scribe person who writes books or documents by hand as a profession

A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing.

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Prophet person claiming to speak for divine beings

In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on that entity's behalf, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

Contents

Life

According to Josephus, Baruch was a Jewish aristocrat, a son of Neriah and brother of Seraiah ben Neriah, chamberlain of King Zedekiah of Judah. [2] [3]

Josephus First-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer

Titus Flavius Josephus, born Yosef ben Matityahu, was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian who was born in Jerusalem—then part of Roman Judea—to a father of priestly descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry.

Aristocracy (class) person who either possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch or are related to such people

The aristocracy is a social class that a particular society considers its highest order. In many states, the aristocracy included the upper class of people (aristocrats) with hereditary rank and titles. In some—such as ancient Greece, Rome, and India—aristocratic status came from belonging to a military caste, although it has also been common, notably in African societies, for aristocrats to belong to priestly dynasties. Aristocratic status can involve feudal or legal privileges. They are usually below only the monarch of a country or nation in its social hierarchy. In modern European societies, the aristocracy has often coincided with the nobility, a specific class that arose in the Middle Ages, but the term "aristocracy" is sometimes also applied to other elites, and is used as a more generic term when describing earlier and non-European societies.

Neriah is the son of Mahseiah, and the father of Baruch and Seraiah ben Neriah. He is mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah of the Hebrew Bible.

Baruch became the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah and wrote down the first and second editions of his prophecies as they were dictated to him. [4] Baruch remained true to the teachings and ideals of the great prophet, although like his master he was at times almost overwhelmed with despondency. While Jeremiah was in hiding to avoid the wrath of King Jehoakim, he commanded Baruch to read his prophecies of warning [5] to the people gathered in the Temple in Jerusalem on a day of fasting. The task was both difficult and dangerous, but Baruch performed it without flinching and it was probably on this occasion that the prophet gave him the personal message. [6]

Temple in Jerusalem one of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem

The Temple in Jerusalem was any of a series of structures which were located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. These successive temples stood at this location and functioned as a site of ancient Israelite and later Jewish worship. It is also called the Holy Temple.

Fasting is the willing abstinence or reduction from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast or dry fasting is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period. Other fasts may be partially restrictive, limiting only particular foods or substances, or be intermittent.

Both Baruch and Jeremiah witnessed the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem of 587–586 BC. In the middle of the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah purchased an estate in Anathoth on which the Babylonian armies had encamped (as a symbol of faith in the eventual restoration of Jerusalem), [7] and, according to Josephus, Baruch continued to reside with him at Mizpah. [8] Reportedly, Baruch had influence on Jeremiah; on his advice Jeremiah urged the Israelites to remain in Judah after the murder of Gedaliah. [9]

Siege of Jerusalem (587 BC) Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC

In 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC.

Anathoth

Anathoth is the name of one of the Levitical cities given to "the children of Aaron" in the tribe of Benjamin. Residents were called Antothites or Anetothites.

Mizpah was a city of the tribe of Benjamin referred to in the Hebrew Bible.

He was carried with Jeremiah to Egypt, where, according to a tradition preserved by Jerome, [10] he soon died. Two other traditions state that he later went, or was carried, to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II after the latter's conquest of Egypt.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country in the northeast corner of Africa, whose territory in the Sinai Peninsula extends beyond the continental boundary with Asia, as traditionally defined. Egypt is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Babylon Kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to 6th centuries BC

Babylon was a key kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to 6th centuries BC. The name-giving capital city was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon was originally a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire c. 2300 BCE.

Nebuchadnezzar II king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire

Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, was the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

Baruch's prominence, by reason of his intimate association with Jeremiah, led later generations to exalt his reputation still further. To him were attributed the Book of Baruch and two other Jewish books. [11]

Book of Baruch Baruch is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible in some Christian traditions.

The Book of Baruch is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible in some Christian traditions. In Judaism and most forms of Protestant Christianity, it is considered not to be part of the Bible. It is named after Baruch ben Neriah, Jeremiah's well-known scribe, who is mentioned at Baruch 1:1, and has been presumed to be the author of the whole work. The book is a reflection of a late Jewish writer on the circumstances of Jewish exiles from Babylon, with meditations on the theology and history of Israel, discussions of wisdom, and a direct address to residents of Jerusalem and the Diaspora. Some scholars propose that it was written during or shortly after the period of the Maccabees.

Historicity

BaruchBulla.jpg

In 1975, a clay bulla purportedly containing Baruch's seal and name appeared on the antiquities market. Its purchaser, a prominent Israeli collector, permitted Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad to publish the bulla. [12] Although its source is not definitively known, it has been identified as coming from the "burnt house" excavated by Yigal Shiloh. The bulla is now in the Israel Museum. It measures 17 by 16 mm, and is stamped with an oval seal, 13 by 11 mm. The inscription, written in the ancient Hebrew alphabet, reads: [13]

LineTransliterationTranslation
1lbrkyhw[belonging] to Berachyahu
2bn nryhwson of Neriyahu
3hsprthe scribe

In 1996, a second clay bulla emerged with an identical inscription; presumably stamped with the same seal. This bulla also was imprinted with a fingerprint; [14] Hershel Shanks, among others, speculated that the fingerprint might be that of Baruch himself; [15] [16] the authenticity of these bullae however has been disputed.ibid.

Scholarly theories

In the second edition of Richard Elliott Friedman's book Who Wrote the Bible?, in which he defended the documentary hypothesis, he put forth the claim that the Deuteronomist, who is generally thought to have either written or edited the books from Deuteronomy to II Kings, was Baruch ben Neriah. He defended this assertion by comparing a number of different phrases in the Book of Jeremiah with phrases in other books. Some reject this claim on the grounds that it goes beyond the evidence.

Religious traditions

Rabbinical literature

Statue of Baruch by Aleijadinho Aleijadinho8.jpg
Statue of Baruch by Aleijadinho

The rabbis described Baruch as a faithful helper and blood-relative of Jeremiah. According to rabbinic literature, both Baruch and Jeremiah, being kohanim and descendants of the proselyte Rahab, served as a humiliating example to their contemporaries, inasmuch as they belong to the few who harkened to the word of God. [17] A Midrash in the Sifre regarded Baruch as identical with the Ethiopian Ebed-melech, who rescued Jeremiah from the dungeon; [18] and states that he received his appellation Baruch ("blessed") because of his piety, which contrasted with the loose life of the court, as the skin of an Ethiopian contrasts with that of a white person. [19] According to a Syriac account, because his piety might have prevented the destruction of the Temple, God commanded him to leave Jerusalem before the catastrophe, so as to remove his protective presence. [20] According to the account, Baruch then saw, from Abraham's oak at Hebron, the Temple set on fire by angels, who previously had hidden the sacred vessels. [21]

The Tannaim are much divided on the question whether Baruch is to be classed among the Prophets. According to Mekhilta, [22] Baruch complained [23] because the gift of prophecy had not been given to him. "Why," he said, "is my fate different from that of all the other disciples of the Prophets? Joshua served Moses, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him; Elisha served Elijah, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. Why is it otherwise with me?" God answered him: "Baruch, of what avail is a hedge where there is no vineyard, or a shepherd where there are no sheep?" Baruch, therefore, found consolation in the fact that when Israel was exiled to Babylonia there was no longer occasion for prophecy.

The Seder Olam (xx.), however, and the Talmud, [24] include Baruch among the Prophets, and state that he prophesied in the period following the destruction. It was in Babylonia also that Ezra studied the Torah with Baruch. Nor did he think of returning to Judea during his teacher's lifetime, since he considered the study of the Torah more important than the rebuilding of the Temple; [25] and Baruch could not join the returning exiles by reason of his age. [26]

Christian traditions

Some Christian legends (especially from Syria and Arabia) identify Baruch with Zoroaster, and give much information concerning him. Baruch, angry because the gift of prophecy had been denied him, and on account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, left Israel to found the religion of Zoroaster. The prophecy of the birth of Jesus from a virgin, and of his adoration by the Magi, is also ascribed to Baruch-Zoroaster. [27] It is difficult to explain the origin of this curious identification of a prophet with a magician, such as Zoroaster was held to be, among the Jews, Christians, and Arabs. De Sacy [28] explains it on the ground that in Arabic the name of the prophet Jeremiah is almost identical with that of the city of Urmiah, where, it is said, Zoroaster lived.

However, this may be, the Jewish legend mentioned above (under Baruch in Rabbinical Literature), according to which the Ethiopian in Jer. xxxviii. 7 is undoubtedly identical with Baruch, is connected with this Arabic–Christian legend. As early as the Clementine "Recognitiones" (iv. 27), Zoroaster was believed to be a descendant of Ham; and, according to Gen. x. 6, Cush, the Ethiopian, is a son of Ham. According to the "Recognitiones", [29] the Persians believed that Zoroaster had been taken into heaven in a chariot ("ad cœlum vehiculo sublevatum"); and according to the Jewish legend, the above-mentioned Ethiopian was transported alive into paradise, [30] an occurrence that, like the translation of Elijah, [31] must have taken place by means of a "vehiculum." Another reminiscence of the Jewish legend is found in Baruch-Zoroaster's words concerning Jesus: "He shall descend from my family", [32] since, according to the Haggadah, Baruch was a priest; and Maria, the mother of Jesus, was of priestly family.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church Baruch is venerated as a saint, and as such is commemorated on September 28 (which, for those who follow the traditional Julian Calendar, falls on October 11 of the Gregorian Calendar).

The Catholic Church considers Baruch as a Saint along with other biblical prophets. [33]

Grave

Baruch's grave became the subject of later legends. According to a Muslim tradition reported by sources including Petachiah of Ratisbon, an Arabian king once ordered it to be opened; but all who touched it fell dead. The king thereupon commanded the Jews to open it; and they, after preparing themselves by a three days' fast, succeeded without a mishap. Baruch's body was found intact in a marble coffin, and appeared as if he had just died. The king ordered that it should be transported to another place; but, after having dragged the coffin a little distance, the horses and camels were unable to move it another inch. The king, greatly excited by these wonders, went with his retinue to Muhammad to ask his advice. Arrived at Mecca, his doubts of the truth of the teachings of Islam greatly increased, and he and his courtiers finally accepted Judaism. The king then built a "bet ha-midrash" on the spot from which he had been unable to move Baruch's body; and this academy served for a long time as a place of pilgrimage.

Baruch's tomb is a mile away from that of Ezekiel, near Mashhad Ali; [34] and a Jewish rabbinic source reported that a strange plant, the leaves of which are sprinkled with gold dust, grows on it. [35] According to the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch , he was translated to paradise in his mortal body. [36] The same is stated in Derekh Eretz Zuta (i.) of Ebed-Melech. Those who regard Baruch and Ebed-melech as identical find this deduction is evident.

See also

Related Research Articles

Book of Jeremiah Book of the Bible

The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, and the second of the Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. The superscription at chapter Jeremiah 1:1–3 identifies the book as "the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah". Of all the prophets, Jeremiah comes through most clearly as a person, ruminating to his scribe Baruch about his role as a servant of God with little good news for his audience. His book is intended as a message to the Jews in exile in Babylon, explaining the disaster of exile as God's response to Israel's pagan worship: the people, says Jeremiah, are like an unfaithful wife and rebellious children, their infidelity and rebelliousness made judgement inevitable, although restoration and a new covenant are foreshadowed. Authentic oracles of Jeremiah are probably to be found in the poetic sections of chapters 1–25, but the book as a whole has been heavily edited and added to by the prophet's followers and later generations of Deuteronomists. It has come down in two distinct though related versions, one in Hebrew, the other known from a Greek translation. The date of the two can be suggested by the fact that the Greek shows concerns typical of the early Persian period, while the Masoretic shows perspectives which, although known in the Persian period, did not reach their realisation until the 2nd century BCE.

Book of Ezekiel book of the Bible

The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Tanakh and one of the major prophetic books in the Old Testament, following Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to the book itself, it records six visions of the prophet Ezekiel, exiled in Babylon, during the 22 years 593–571 BC, although it is the product of a long and complex history and does not necessarily preserve the very words of the prophet.

Ezra figure in early Jewish history

Ezra, also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe (sofer) and priest (kohen). In Greco-Latin Ezra is called Esdras. According to the Hebrew Bible he was a descendant of Sraya the last High Priest to serve in the First Temple, and a close relative of Joshua the first High Priest of the Second Temple. He returned from Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem. According to 1 Esdras, a Greek translation of the Book of Ezra still in use in Eastern Orthodoxy, he was also a High Priest. Rabbinic tradition holds that he was an ordinary member of the priesthood.

Ezekiel Old Testament saint

Ezekiel is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible.

Jeremiah Biblical prophet

Jeremiah, also called the "weeping prophet", was one of the major prophets of the Hebrew Bible. According to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah authored the Book of Jeremiah, the Books of Kings and the Book of Lamentations, with the assistance and under the editorship of Baruch ben Neriah, his scribe and disciple.

Major prophet collection of books in the Bible

The Major Prophets is a grouping of books in the Christian Old Testament, but not occurring in the Hebrew Bible. These books are centred on a prophet, traditionally regarded as the author of the respective book. The term "major" refers only to their length, in distinction to the Twelve Minor Prophets, whose books are much shorter and grouped together as a single book in the Hebrew Bible.

Baruch is a masculine name among Jews used from Biblical times to the present, which is sometimes used as surname. It is also found, though more rarely, among Christians—particularly among Protestants who use Old Testament names.

Josiah King of Judah

Josiah or Yoshiyahu was a seventh-century BCE king of Judah who, according to the Hebrew Bible, instituted major religious reforms. Josiah is credited by most biblical scholars with having established or compiled important Hebrew Scriptures during the "Deuteronomic reform" which probably occurred during his rule. Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, from 641/640 to 610/609 BCE. Josiah is known only from biblical texts; no reference to him exists in other surviving texts of the period from Egypt or Babylon, and no clear archaeological evidence, such as inscriptions bearing his name, has ever been found. Nevertheless, most scholars believe that he existed historically and that the absence of documents is due to few documents of any sort surviving from this very early period, and to Jerusalem having been occupied, conquered, and rebuilt for thousands of years.

Ebed-Melech

Ebed-Melech is mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah chapter 38 as an Ethiopian official at the palace of king Zedekiah of Judah during the Siege of Jerusalem. The name is translated as Servant/Slave of the King, and as such may not be his proper name but a hereditary title. The text relates that he was a Cushite and a eunuch.

Huldah biblical character

Huldah was a prophet mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in 2 Kings 22:14–20 and 2 Chronicles 34:22–28. According to Jewish tradition, she was one of the "seven prophetesses", with Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail and Esther. After the discovery of a book of the Law during renovations at Solomon's Temple, on the order of King Josiah, Hilkiah together with Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah approach her to seek the Lord's opinion.

Seriah ben Neriah was a Jewish aristocrat of the sixth century BCE. He was the son of Neriah and the brother of Baruch ben Neriah, the disciple of the biblical prophet Jeremiah.

According to Rashi, there were 49 prophets and seven prophetesses of Judaism. The last Jewish prophet is believed to have been Malachi. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the period of prophecy, called Nevuah, ended with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi at which time the "Holy Spirit departed from Israel".

Jeremiah 22 Book of Jeremiah, chapter 22

Jeremiah 22 is the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets.

Jeremiah 36 Book of Jeremiah, chapter 36

Jeremiah 36 is the thirty-sixth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is numbered as Jeremiah 43 in the Septuagint. This book contains prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. This chapter records the burning of a scroll of Jeremiah's prophecy by King Jehoiakim and the creation of another scroll by Baruch the scribe, acting on Jeremiah's instructions.

Jeremiah 38 Book of Jeremiah, chapter 38

Jeremiah 38 is the thirty-eighth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is numbered as Jeremiah 45 in the Septuagint. This book contains prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. This chapter is part of a narrative section consisting of chapters 37 to 44. Chapter 38 records the petition from the royal officials to punish Jeremiah, his confinement in the dungeon or cistern and his rescue from there, although he remains in captivity, a secret conversation between Jeremiah and King Zedekiah, and the inquiry of Jeremiah by the king's officials.

Jeremiah 45 Book of Jeremiah, chapter 45

Jeremiah 45 is the forty-fifth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. This book contains prophecies attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, and is one of the Books of the Prophets. This chapter closes the section comprising chapters 26-44 with the message that the prophetic word will survive through Baruch. In the New Revised Standard Version, this chapter is described as "a word of comfort to Baruch". Biblical commentator A. W. Streane calls it "a rebuke and a promise to Baruch".

References

  1. "Baruch". Catholic Encyclopedia . Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  2. Jer. li. 59
  3. Josephus, "Jewish Antiquities." x. 9, § 1
  4. Jer. xxxvi
  5. Jer. xxxvi. 1-8
  6. Preserved in Jer. xlv
  7. (Jer. xxxii)
  8. Josephus, "Ant." x. 9, § 1
  9. (Jer. xliii. 3)
  10. on Isa. xxx. 6, 7
  11. see Apocalypse of Baruch
  12. Avigad 114-118; Shanks, "Jerahmeel" 58-65
  13. Avigad 118
  14. Shanks, "Fingerprint" 36-38
  15. Goren, Yuval. "Jerusalem Syndrome in Biblical Archaeology". Society of Biblical Literature. Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  16. Rollston, Christopher A.; Vaughn, Andrew G. "The Antiquities Market, Sensationalized Textual Data, and Modern Forgeries: Introduction to the Problem and Synopsis of the 2004 Israeli Indictment". Society of Biblical Literature. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  17. Sifre, Num. 78 [ed. Friedmann, p. 20b], and elsewhere; compare also Pesikta xiii. 3b
  18. Jeremiah 38:7 et seq.
  19. Sifre, Num. 99
  20. Syriac Apoc. Baruch, ii. 1, v. 5
  21. ib. vi. vii.
  22. Bo, end of the introduction
  23. Jeremiah 45:3 et seq.
  24. Meg. 14b
  25. Meg. 16b
  26. Cant. R. v. 5; see also Seder Olam, ed. Ratner, xxvi.
  27. Compare the complete collection of these legends in Gottheil, in "Classical Studies in Honor of H. Drisler," pp. 24-51, New York, 1894; Jackson, "Zoroaster," pp. 17, 165 et seq.
  28. "Notices et Extraits des MSS. de la Bibliothèque du Roi," ii. 319
  29. iv. 28
  30. "Derek Ere? Zutta," i. end
  31. II Kings ii. 11
  32. Book of the Bee , ed. Budge, p. 90, line 5, London, 1886
  33. The patriarchs, prophets and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church's liturgical traditions. - Catechism of the Catholic Church 61
  34. "Baruch", Jewish Encyclopedia
  35. Gelilot Eretz Yisrael , as quoted in Heilprin's "Seder ha-Dorot," ed. Wilna, i. 127, 128; variant in "Itinerary" of Pethahiah of Regensburg, ed. Jerusalem, 4b
  36. xiii., xxv

Sources