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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter VII

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Text Commentary

1,2And Baruch got up and left the tomb. 1 So ab Eth.: c adds ‘and he found the eagle sitting outside the tomb’. Clearly something has dropped out at some stage. And the eagle answered in a human voice and said, Hail, Baruch, steward of the faith. 3And Baruch said to him, Chosen you are, you who now speak, out of all the birds of heaven; for this is plain from the light in your eyes. 4,5Tell me, then, what you are doing here. And the eagle said to him, I was sent here so that you could send any message you wanted by me. 6And Baruch said to him, Can you take this message to Jeremiah in Babylon? 7And the eagle said to him, This is why I was sent. 8And Baruch picked up the letter, and fifteen figs from Abimelech's basket, and tied them round the eagle's neck. 9And he said to him, I tell you, king of birds, go in peace, and carry my message safely. 10Do not be like the raven, which Noah sent out, and which never returned to him in the ark again; but be like the dove, which on the third occasion brought back a message to that good man. 11So do you too take this message of encouragement 2 Lit. ‘this good message’. to Jeremiah and those with him, and fare you well: take this letter 3 Lit. ‘this piece of paper’. to the chosen people of God. 12Even if all the birds of heaven gather round you, and all the enemies of truth set themselves in array against you, fight them; and may the Lord give you strength. Fly straight as an arrow, without deviating either to right or to left, in the strength of God. 13Then the eagle flew off with the letter and made his way to Babylon, and he alighted on a tree outside the city in an unfrequented spot. 14And he stayed there in silence until Jeremiah came by, accompanied by some others of the people, coming out to bury a man who had died. (For Jeremiah had asked Nebuchadnezzar, saying, Give me a place where I can bury my people's dead. 15And he had given him one.) So they were coming out of the city and weeping over the dead man, and they came up to where the eagle was; and the eagle cried out, saying, I tell you, Jeremiah, God's chosen one, go and gather together all the people, and bring them here to hear the good news I have brought you from Baruch and Abimelech. 16When Jeremiah heard this, he gave praise to God; and he went off and gathered the people together, with the women and the children, and came where the eagle was. 17And the eagle flew down upon the man that was dead, and he came to life again (this happened so that they should believe). 18And all the people were amazed at what had happened, saying, Is not this the God who appeared to our fathers in the wilderness through Moses? Did he not then refer to himself as if he were an eagle? 4 Cp. Exod. xix. 4; Deut. xxxii. 10–11 . Has he not now appeared to us through this great eagle here? 5 Lit. ‘… Moses, and he made himself in the form of an eagle, and appeared to us through this great eagle?’ 19And the eagle said to Jeremiah, Come, untie this letter, and read it to the people. 20So he untied the letter and read it to the people. And when the people heard it, they wept and put dust on their heads. 21And they said to Jeremiah, Help us, and tell us what we must do to regain our city. 22And Jeremiah answered and said to them, Do everything you have been told to do in the letter, and God will bring us to our city. 23And Jeremiah also wrote a letter to Baruch as follows,

Do not neglect, my dear son, to make petition for us in your prayers that God may prosper our way till we escape from the control of this lawless king; for you were found righteous before him and he did not let you come here with us, so that you might not see the affliction that has befallen the people at the hands of the Babylonians. 4For just as anyone who is anxious to do what he can for a father, whose only son has to undergo punishment, will put something over the father's face so that he cannot see the son actually being punished and thus be mortified even more than he was before, so God had pity on you and did not let you come to Babylon, so that you might not see the people's affliction; for since we came to this city we have been afflicted continuously, for sixty-six years to the very day. 5For often enough when I have come out of doors I have found some of the people about to be hanged by king Nebuchadnezzar, and they would be in tears, saying, Have mercy upon us, thou god Zar. 6 So a and b. ‘Zar’ is a transliteration of the common Hebrew word zar = ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ (for its use in the phrase ‘strange god’ see Pss. xliv. 20 and lxxxi. 9 ). c reads ‘Sabaoth’. The Eth. MSS vary between ‘Zar’, ‘Sorot’, and ‘Sarot’. 6When I heard this I was distressed and made a double lamentation, not only because they were being hanged, but also because they were invoking a foreign god, saying, Have mercy on us. 7And I would remember the feast days we kept in Jerusalem before we were made captives. And when I remembered them, I would groan and turn back to my house in anguish and in tears. 8So now make petition in 7 Lit. ‘to’ (acc.). the place where you are, you and Abimelech, on this people's behalf, that they may listen to me and the instructions that I give them, and that we may escape from here. 9For I tell you, the whole time we have been here the Babylonians 8 Lit. ‘they’. Cp. Ps. cxxxvii. 3 . have pestered us and said, Sing us one of the songs of Zion, even the song of your God. And we would answer them, How can we sing to you, seeing we are in a foreign land?

10And after this Jeremiah tied the letter to the eagle's neck, saying, Go in peace, and may the Lord watch over both of them. 11And the eagle flew off, and carried the letter, and gave it to Baruch. And Baruch untied it, and he read it and kissed it, and when he heard about the distresses and afflictions of the people he wept. 12And Jeremiah took the figs and distributed them among the people who were ill. And he remained there teaching them to keep themselves from the pollutions of the Gentiles of Babylon.

Notes:

1 So ab Eth.: c adds ‘and he found the eagle sitting outside the tomb’. Clearly something has dropped out at some stage.

2 Lit. ‘this good message’.

3 Lit. ‘this piece of paper’.

4 Cp. Exod. xix. 4; Deut. xxxii. 10–11 .

5 Lit. ‘… Moses, and he made himself in the form of an eagle, and appeared to us through this great eagle?’

6 So a and b. ‘Zar’ is a transliteration of the common Hebrew word zar = ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’ (for its use in the phrase ‘strange god’ see Pss. xliv. 20 and lxxxi. 9 ). c reads ‘Sabaoth’. The Eth. MSS vary between ‘Zar’, ‘Sorot’, and ‘Sarot’.

7 Lit. ‘to’ (acc.).

8 Lit. ‘they’. Cp. Ps. cxxxvii. 3 .

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