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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 45

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-5

Jer 45:1-5

Jeremiah 45:1-5


The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these word in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch: Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for Jehovah hath added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest. Thus shalt thou say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up; and this in the whole land. And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not; for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith Jehovah; but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

In the fourth year of Jehoiachim...

(Jeremiah 45:1). This prophecy is dated 604 B.C. when the first roll (’these words’) was written (Jeremiah 36 :ff).

I am weary with my groaning...

(Jeremiah 45:3). There were three grounds, probably, for Baruch’s discouragement: (1) he was overwhelmed with the prophet’s words on the seriousness of the peoples’ sin and the shattering consequences of it; (2) he had probably already suffered some indignities because of his association with the ’prophet of doom,’ and may have anticipated more to come; and (3) he saw his own personal air castles of ambition and advancement come crashing down around him.

And this in the whole land...

(Jeremiah 45:4). God’s reply reveals that when a whole society is being destroyed, there will certainly be hardship and disaster for many individuals, and warns Baruch to give up his thoughts of ambition and self-advancement. They could not come in that situation where God was plucking up and tearing down the kingdom of Israel.

But thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest...

(Jeremiah 45:5). Nevertheless would bless his faithful children, not with the prosperity and peace for which they longed; but he would grant them life, when all around them were perishing. What a precious gift is life, under whatever conditions!

For a prey...

(Jeremiah 45:5). This means that God will allow Baruch to escape with his life, as in Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 28:2, and Jeremiah 39:18. However, the words, In all places whither thou shalt go, are somewhat ominous, indicating that, Baruch will be obliged to avoid destruction by flight, but that God will thereby save his life.

The discerning comment of Albert Barnes is a fitting conclusion to my comments on this little chapter.

"The long catalog of calamities pronounced against Israel by Jeremiah made a painful impression upon Baruch’s mind. He was ambitious, of noble birth, being the grandson of Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem during the times of Josiah; he was a scribe and probably looked forward to high office of state. This short prophecy commands Baruch to give up his ambitions and to be satisfied with being able to escape with his life. When the last memorials of Jeremiah’s life were added to the history of the fall of Jerusalem, Baruch added this chapter in his old age; and then, being humbled by the weight of years, and by the sorrows of private and public ,disasters, he probably read this little chapter with far different feelings from those which he had when first Jeremiah revealed to him what the Lord had prophesied concerning his faithful scribe."


Chapter 45 dates back to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This is the third time the fourth year of Jehoiakim has been mentioned (cf. Jeremiah 25:1, Jeremiah 36:1). That was the crucial year in the political history of Judah and in the ministry of Jeremiah. It was in that year that Nebuchadnezzar was able to defeat the Assyrian-Egyptian coalition and assume control of the Near East. That was also the year in which the words of Jeremiah were first put into written form.

Chronologically chapter 45 would have fitted much better after Jeremiah 36:8 or at least at the conclusion of that chapter. Why has it been placed in its present location? It is impossible to say precisely. If Baruch was, as has been plausibly suggested, Jeremiah’s biographer and the editor of his master’s messages, it could well be that he has placed this chapter here for a definite purpose. Perhaps this chapter serves as his personal signature at the end of the biographical section of Jeremiah. It is only here that Baruch reveals himself as a person. Throughout the rest of the Book of Jeremiah he is content to remain in the background and simply record the message of his master. Whatever the reason for the placement of chapter 45 here, it is like a quiet meadow in the midst of a tumultuous battlefield. After the rumbling of chariot wheels, the carnage of battle, the fall of cities and nations the reader is ready for something more mild. Here the focus shifts from international conflict to the problems of a single individual. God is just as concerned about the troubled mind of one of His faithful as about the course of international politics. After an introductory word (Jeremiah 45:1) chapter forty-five contains a gentle rebuke (Jeremiah 45:2-4) and a gracious promise (Jeremiah 45:5).

A Gentle Rebuke Jeremiah 45:2-4

The gentle rebuke contained in Jeremiah 45:2-4 is in the form of a vivid contrast, In Jeremiah 45:3 the self-pity of Baruch is indicated. In contrast to this, in Jeremiah 45:4, the genuine and justifiable grief of God is indicated.

1. The self-pity of Baruch (Jeremiah 45:3)

Baruch had been complaining. He was disturbed, weary and tired. “Woe is me now! for the Lord has added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest” (Jeremiah 45:3). There is no indication as to why Baruch felt this way. But since the incident is associated with the writing of the scroll there is probably some relationship between Baruch’s state of mind and what he had just written. Perhaps Baruch had become discouraged and depressed as he recorded from the lips of Jeremiah that long series of charges and threats against his people. For the first time he saw the deplorable spiritual condition of the nation. The thought of that impending catastrophic destruction brought anguish to his heart even as to the heart of his master. His city, the Temple and all he held dear would be swept away. His own personal hopes and aspirations would be dashed to the ground. As he contemplated these bitter prospects his depression grew into despondency.

Added to the burden which future prospects laid upon his heart was his present predicament. He was in hiding with Jeremiah under the threat of execution by the tyrant Jehoiakim. It seemed to him that ever since he had volunteered his scribal services to Jeremiah that one heartache, disappointment and sorrow had been added to another. The burden had become too great. He was utterly weary because of his own sighing. He could find no rest for his soul. Somewhere along the difficult way he had lost that quiet trust and confidence in the Lord. “why?” he would ask. “Why must this be my lot?” Baruch had to learn as Jeremiah before him had learned that the immediate persecution was only the beginning of his personal suffering. Between 605 and 587 B.C. Baruch was to suffer much as the companion and scribe of the weeping prophet.

2. The genuine grief of God (Jeremiah 45:4)

To the tired and weary Baruch God sent His messenger with a word of comfort. It is not a word of sympathy for this would merely have added fuel to the tormenting flames of self-pity within the soul of Baruch. Nor does God promise this secretary immunity from the difficulties of the time. Rather God deals with the despondency of Baruch by revealing to him the depths of the divine agony. The thought of the passage may be paraphrased as follows: “You, O Baruch, are experiencing the very worst form of self-pity. Well, now, consider! What I Myself built I am about to tear down. What I planted, I am about to uproot.” In other words God is saying to Baruch “What is your hurt compared to mine?” The amazing teaching of this little chapter is that God too experiences pain. One can sense the pathos in the words “What I Myself built I am about to demolish.” Perhaps here in Jeremiah 45 is the antidote to the self-pity of those who labor in the vineyard of the Lord today. Perhaps if more preachers and teachers and even church secretaries like Baruch would only stop to contemplate that God knows pain perhaps they would be able then to view their own trials and troubles in the proper perspective. When one begins to meditate on the Scripture “God is not willing for any to perish but that all should come to repentance” surely the magnitude of the divine hurt must be impressed upon the mind. When the modern Baruch comes to mentally grasp the depth of divine agony over lost mankind he must come to realize how trivial and superficial are the circumstances which cause him to feel discouraged and despondent. There are many Baruchs in the Bible. Elijah sat for a time under his Juniper tree (1 Kings 19:4); Jonah became terribly despondent over the loss of a shade-giving plant. Some of the Psalmists are in this category and above all there is Job. What they all needed to learn is the lesson of this chapter. Their grief was more than matched by that of God.

A Gracious Promise Jeremiah 45:5

Having pointed out to Baruch His own genuine grief, the Lord seems to chide this scribe by saying “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!” What were these great things to which Baruch aspired? One can only guess. Did he aspire to preach the word of the Lord in the masterful style of Jeremiah? Did he anticipate that the nation would heed the cry for repentance, recognize Jeremiah for the man of God he was, and give Baruch the recognition he deserved as the right hand man of this great prophet? Did he have his sights set on some position of political power? The truth will never be known. It is sufficient to note that the ambitions of the human heart often run counter to the plan and purposes of God. Baruch should have been praying “Not my will but Thine be done!” But like so many of his kind today, this secretary wanted to pour the purposes of God into the mold of his own ambition. All wishful thinking and hopeful dreams to the contrary, the judgment upon all flesh is coming. God’s purpose will be carried out regardless of who it affects.

There is a note of consolation for Baruch in this verse. In the day of destruction and death God promises, “I will give you your life for a prey.” This expression, which occurs several times in Jeremiah(Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 35:2; Jeremiah 39:18.), probably originated in the army. Victorious soldiers customarily brought home the booty they had seized. A soldier returning after a defeat when asked where his share of the booty was might well have replied that his life was all the “booty” that he could bring away. Baruch would escape from the forthcoming conflagrations with his life. That would be his reward. Instead of continuing to gaze upon the wreckage of his own ambitions Baruch should rejoice in the promise that through all those days of trouble God would spare him for the task of being the secretary of a prophet.

That fourth year of Jehoiakim marked a turning point in the life of Baruch. It was indeed “the moment of truth” for him. Baruch had been brought low by the circumstances of life. He had been melted down and now he was being poured into a new mold. He was able to triumph over despondency and alter ambition to conform to the divine will. Through thick and thin he stayed close to Jeremiah during all those long years of ridicule and abuse. In the many passages which record the events subsequent to 604 B.C. there is never any hint that Baruch ever faltered again.

The Flight to Egypt - Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 45:5

Open It

1. Whom do you know who has been too trusting and suffered because he or she refused to believe ill of another person?

2. What traditional superstitions were you taught as you were growing up?

Explore It

3. How did the governor appointed by the Babylonians reassure the small fighting force that remained in the land after the Babylonians withdrew? (Jeremiah 40:7-10)

4.How did the remnant of people in the land of Judah grow and begin to prosper? (Jeremiah 40:11-12)

5. What warning did some of the commanders give to Gedaliah, the appointed governor? (Jeremiah 40:13-14)

6. How did Johanan propose to solve the threat against Gedaliah, which he perceived as potentially disastrous to the whole remnant? (Jeremiah 40:15)

7. How did Gedaliah respond to Johanan’s desire to protect him? (Jeremiah 40:16)

8. What devious plan was carried out by Ishmael and his followers? (Jeremiah 41:1-3)

9. What evil deeds did Ishmael add to his murder of Gedaliah? (Jeremiah 41:4-10)

10. What transpired when Johanan caught up to Ishmael? (Jeremiah 41:11-15)

11. What did Johanan assume the remaining faithful people would have to do since Gedaliah had been murdered? (Jeremiah 41:16-18)

12. What request did Johanan and the people with him make of the prophet Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 42:1-3)

13. What promises did Jeremiah and the people make to one another? (Jeremiah 42:4-6)

14. What positive commands and reassuring words did Jeremiah bring from God? (Jeremiah 42:7-12)

15. What warning did God have for the people in anticipation of their intended disobedience? (Jeremiah 42:13-18)

16. Of what fatal mistake did Jeremiah accuse the remnant of Judah? (Jeremiah 42:19-22)

17. How did Johanan and the other leaders rationalize their disobedience? (Jeremiah 43:1-3)

18. Who were the people who entered Egypt, some of them against their will? (Jeremiah 43:4-7)

19. When he was at Tahpanhes with the others, what symbolic action did God tell Jeremiah to take, and what was the meaning? (Jeremiah 43:8-13)

20. For what sin did God, through Jeremiah, remind the people that He had punished Judah and Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 44:1-6)

21. Why was Jeremiah amazed that the remnant had not learned a lesson from all that had happened before? (Jeremiah 44:7-10)

22. What did God say He would do to all those determined to go to Egypt for protection? (Jeremiah 44:11-14)

23. What superstitious belief did the people cite as they defied Jeremiah openly? (Jeremiah 44:15-19)

24. How did Jeremiah proceed to correct their thinking about the real cause of their misfortune? (Jeremiah 44:20-23)

25. With what vow did God answer the people’s vow to continue worshiping the "Queen of Heaven"? (Jeremiah 44:24-28)

26. What did God promise to do to the pharaoh of Egypt, whom the Israelites considered an ally against Babylon? (Jeremiah 44:29-30)

27. Why was the scribe, Baruch, feeling sorry for himself? (Jeremiah 45:1-3)

28. How did God respond to Baruch’s self-pity? (Jeremiah 45:4-5)

Get It

29. What mistake on the part of a well-meaning governor kept the remnant of poor people and fugitive soldiers from prospering after the Babylonian conquest?

30. How did reliance on their own wisdom and preconceptions about God’s answer get Johanan and his fellow leaders into trouble?

31. What (other than fear of the Babylonians) led the people to ignore God and His prophet, Jeremiah?

32. Why did Jeremiah call the disobedience of the people who insisted on fleeing to Egypt a fatal mistake?

33. Why do people swear oaths that they don’t really intend to keep?

34. Why are some people willing to attribute their misfortune to God’s indifference or powerlessness rather than to their own sins?

35. When have you felt discouraged because of how long you have endured hardship in doing the right thing?

36. What blessings will follow if we allow God’s loving-kindness to be our reward for faithfulness?

Apply It

37. In what area of your life do you need to pray for God’s perspective on human evil?

38. What initial steps can you take to refocus on the eternal rather than the earthly rewards when you face discouragement in serving the Lord?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapters Forty-Four & Forty-Five

By Brent Kercheville

1 Who is the prophecy of chapter 44 directed to (Jeremiah 44:1)?

2 What is God’s message to these people (Jeremiah 44:2-10)? What sin have they committed?

3 What is the result of their sin (Jeremiah 44:10-14)?

4 What is the response of the people to God’s message (Jeremiah 44:15-19)? What lesson do we learn?

5 What is Jeremiah’s response to the people’s reaction (Jeremiah 44:20-30)?

6 What is the message to Baruch (Jeremiah 45:1-5)? What lessons do we learn from this?


How does this relationship change your relationship with God?

What did you learn about him?

What will you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 45". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-45.html.
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