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

Chapter LXXVII

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Text Commentary

1And I, Baruch, went away; and I came to the people, and I called them together, high and low alike. 2And I said to them, Listen, you sons of Israel: see how many there are of you who have survived, out of the twelve tribes of Israel. 3For it was to you and to your fathers that the Lord gave the law, and not to all peoples. 4And because your brothers disobeyed the Most High's commandments he brought retribution both on you and on them: he did not spare the one, and he caused the others to be led away as captives and left none of them behind. 5,6But you are here with me. If, then, you direct your ways aright, you will not go as your brothers went; but they will come to you. 7For he whom you worship is merciful, and he in whom you hope is gracious; and he can be relied on to do good and not evil. 8,9You have seen, have you not, what happened to Zion? Do you think, perhaps, that it was the place that sinned, and that it was because of this that it was overthrown? Or again, that the land had committed some outrage, and that was why it was delivered up? 10Are you not aware that it was because of you, who had sinned, that the city, which had not sinned, was overthrown, and that it was because of you evil-doers that the land, which had done no evil, was delivered up to its enemies? 11And the whole people answered and said to me, So far as we can recall the good things the Mighty One has done for us, we do recall them; and what we do not remember, he in his mercy knows. 12But do this for us, your people: write to our brothers in Babylon a letter on a scroll, a letter of instruction and encouragement, to reassure them also before you leave us.13

For the shepherds of Israel have perished, And the lamps that gave light have gone out, And the fountains have held back their streams, From which we used to drink. 14 And we are left in darkness, Amid the trees of the forest, and in the thirst of the wilderness.

15And I answered and said to them,

Shepherds and lamps and fountains come from the law; And though we depart, yet the law remains. 16 If, then, you respect the law and turn your hearts to wisdom, A lamp will not be wanting and a shepherd 1 Text ‘mind’. will not fail, And no fountain will dry up.

17But, as you asked me, I will write a letter to your brothers in Babylon, and I will send it by the hands of men; and I will write also a similar letter to the nine and a half tribes, and send it by means of a bird. 18And on the twenty-first day of the eighth month, I, Baruch, came and sat down under the oak 2 Cp. vi. 1. in the shade of its branches, and no one was with me – I was alone. 19And I wrote two letters: one I sent by an eagle to the nine and a half tribes; and the other I sent to those that were in Babylon by the hands of three men. 20,21And I called the eagle and said to it. The Most High created you to be the king of 3 Lit. ‘to be higher than’. all the birds. 22Go now: stop nowhere on your journey: neither look for any roosting-place, 4 Lit. ‘neither enter a nest’. nor settle on any tree, till you have crossed the broad waters of the river Euphrates, and come to the people that dwell there, and laid this letter at their feet. 23Remember how, at the time of the flood, a dove brought Noah back an olive, 5 Lit. ‘the fruit of an olive’. when he had sent it out from the ark. 24Ravens, too, waited on Elijah, and brought him food, as they had been commanded. 25Solomon also, when he was king, whenever he wanted to send a message or find out anything, would give instructions to a bird, and it obeyed his instructions. 26And now, never mind how tired you are: do not stray from your course, either to right or left, but fly straight there; and carry out the instructions of the Mighty One, as I have explained them to you.

The Letter of Baruch, the son of Neriah, which he wrote to the Nine and a Half Tribes.

Notes:

1 Text ‘mind’.

2 Cp. vi. 1.

3 Lit. ‘to be higher than’.

4 Lit. ‘neither enter a nest’.

5 Lit. ‘the fruit of an olive’.

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