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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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the son of Neriah, and grandson of Maaseiah, was of illustrious birth, and of the tribe of Judah. He had a brother of the name of Seraiah, who occupied an important station in the court of King Zedekiah; but he himself adhered to the person of the Prophet Jeremiah, and was his most steady friend, though his attachment to him drew on himself several persecutions and much ill treatment. He appears to have acted as his secretary during a great part of his life, and never left him till they were parted by death. In the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, A.M. 3398, Jeremiah having been thrown into prison, the Lord commanded him to commit to writing all the prophecies that he had delivered until that time.

He accordingly sent for Baruch, and dictated them to him by word of mouth. Some time afterward he instructed the latter to go and read them to the people, who were then assembled in the temple; on which Michaiah, who happened to be present, and heard them, instantly gave notice of them to the king's counsellors. The latter immediately sent for Baruch, and commanded him to repeat to them what he had been reading to the people in the temple; which he accordingly did, to their great astonishment: and, finding that they contained some very unwelcome tidings respecting the fate of the kingdom, they inquired how he came into possession of them; intimating that their duty to the king required that they should make him acquainted therewith. Baruch was at the same time advised to consult his own safety, and to let no man know where he was to be found; after which they took from him the roll of his prophecies, and deposited it in the chamber of Elishama, the scribe. They next waited on the king, and told him what had passed. The latter sent Jehudi to fetch the book; which being brought, Jehoiakim commanded it to be read in his presence, and in the presence of his nobles who surrounded him. But Jehudi had not proceeded far before the king took the book, cut it with his secretary's penknife, and threw it into the fire, where it was consumed before their faces. He at the same time gave orders to have both Baruch and Jeremiah seized; but the hand of Providence concealed them from his fury.

Jeremiah was instructed a second time to commit his prophecies to writing; and Baruch wrote them as before, with the addition of several others which were not contained in the former book. In the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah, Baruch went to Babylon, carrying with him a long letter from Jeremiah, in which the Prophet foretold the judgments that should come upon Babylon, and promised the Jews, who were then captives in that country, that they should again be restored to their own land. The latter were exceedingly affected at hearing Jeremiah's letter read to them, and returned an answer to their brethren at Jerusalem. After his return to Jerusalem, Baruch continued his constant attendance on Jeremiah; and when Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, and Jeremiah thrown into prison, Baruch also was confined with him: but when the city had surrendered, Nebuzaraddan showed him much kindness, granted him his liberty, and permitted him to go with Jeremiah wherever he chose.

The remnant of the people who had been left in Judea under the care of Gedaliah, having adopted the resolution of going into Egypt, and finding that Jeremiah opposed their taking that journey, threw the blame upon Baruch; insinuating that the latter had influenced the Prophet to declare against it. They were, however, both of them at last compelled to follow the people into Egypt, where Jeremiah soon afterward died; on which Baruch retired to Babylon, where the rabbins say he also died in the twelfth year of the captivity, Jeremiah 36-43. The book of Baruch is justly placed among the apocryphal writings. Grotius thinks it a fiction written by some Hellenistic Jew; and St. Jerome gives as the reason why he did not write a commentary upon it, that the Jews themselves did not deem it canonical.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Baruch'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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