1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Baruch

BARUCH, the name (meaning “Blessed” in Hebrew) of a character in the Old Testament (Jer. xxxvi., xxxvii., xliii.), associated with the prophet Jeremiah, and described as his secretary and spokesman.

Book of Baruch. This deutero-canonical book of the Old Testament is placed by the LXX. between Jeremiah and Lamentations, and in the Vulgate after Lamentations. It consists of several parts, which cohere so badly that we are obliged to assume plurality of authorship.

Contents.—The book consists of the following parts:—

i. 1-14. The historical preface with a description of the origin and purpose of the book.

i. 15–ii. 5. A confession of sin used by the Palestinian Remnant. This confession was according to i. 14 sent from Babylon (i. 4, 7) to Jerusalem to be read “on the day of the feast and on the days of the solemn assembly.” The confession is restricted to the use of the remnant at home (see next paragraph). In this confession there is a national acknowledgment of sin and a recognition of the Exile as a righteous judgment.

ii. 6–iii. 8. A confession of the captives in Babylon and a prayer for restoration. This confession opens as the former (in i. 15) with the words found also in Daniel ix. 7, “To the Lord our God belongeth righteousness, &c.” The confession is of the Exiles and not of the remnant in Palestine, as Marshall has pointed out. Thus it is the Exiles clearly who are speaking in ii. 13, “We are but a few left among the heathen where thou hast scattered us”; ii. 14, “Give us favour in the sight of them which have led us away captive”; iii. 7, “We will praise thee in our captivity”; iii. 8, “We are yet this day in our captivity where thou hast scattered us.” On the other hand the speakers in the confession in i. 15–ii. 5 are clearly the remnant in Jerusalem. i. 15, “To the Lord our God belongeth righteousness, but unto us confusion of face . . . to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” The Exiles are mentioned by way of contrast to the speakers; ii. 4, 5, “He hath given them to be in subjection to all the kingdoms that are round about us to be a reproach among all the people round about where the Lord hath scattered them. Thus were they cast down . . . because we sinned against the Lord our God.”[1]

iii. 9–iv. 4. The glorification of wisdom, that is, of the Law. Israel is bidden to walk in the light of it; it is the glory of Israel and is not to be given to another.

iv. 5–v. 9. Consolation of Israel with the promise of deliverance and lasting happiness and blessing to Jerusalem.

Integrity.—From the foregoing description it seems clear that the book is derived from a plurality of authors. Most scholars, such as Fritzsche, Hitzig, Kneucker, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, agree in assuming that i.–iii. 8 and iii. 9–v. 9 are from distinct writers. But some critics have gone farther. Thus Rothstein (Kautzsch, Apok. und Pseud. i. 213-215) holds that there is no unity in iii. 9–v. 9, but that it is composed of two independent writings—iii. 9–iv. 4 and iv. 5–v. 9. Marshall (Hastings’ Bible Dictionary, i. 251-254) gives a still more complex analysis. He finds in it the work of four distinct writers: i. 1-14, i. 15–iii. 8, iii. 9–iv. 4, iv. 5–v. 9. The evidence for a fourfold authorship is strong though not convincing. In any case i.–iii. 8 and iii. 9–v. 9 must be ascribed to different authors.

Original Language.—(1) Some scholars, as Ewald, Kneucker, Davidson, Rothstein and König, believe that the whole book was originally written in Hebrew; (2) Fritzsche, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, Gifford, Schürer, and Toy advocate a Hebrew original of i.–iii. 8 and a Greek original of the rest; (3) Marshall argues that i.–iii. 8 is translated from a Hebrew original, iii. 9–iv. 4 from an Aramaic, and the rest from the Greek; (4) and lastly, Bertholdt, Havernick and Nöldeke regard the Greek as the primitive text. The last view must be put aside as unworkable. For the third no convincing evidence has been adduced, nor does it seem likely that any can be. We have therefore to decide between the two remaining theories. In any case we can hardly err in admitting a Hebrew original of i.–iii. 8. For (1) we have such Hebraisms as οὗ . . . ἐπ’ αὐτῷעליו. . . אשר (ii. 26); οὗ . . . ἐκεῖאשר . . . שׁם (ii. 4, 13, 29; iii. 8); ὧν . . . τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτῶνאשר . . . רוחם (ii. 7). (2) We have meaningless expressions which are really mistranslations of the Hebrew. It is noteworthy that these mistranslations are for the most part found in Jeremiah—a fact which has rightly drawn scholars to the conclusion that we owe the LXX of Baruch i.–iii. 8, and of Jeremiah to the same translator. Thus in i. 9 we have δεσμώτης, “prisoner,” where the text had מַסְגֵר and the Greek should have been rendered “locksmith.” The same mistranslation is found in Jer. xxiv. 1, xxxvi. (xxix.) 2. Next in ii. 4 we have ἄβατον, “wilderness,” where the text had שׁמה and the translation should have ἔκστασιν. The same misrendering is found several times in Jeremiah. Again ἐργάζεσθαι is used in i. 22, ii. 21, 22, 24 as a translation of עבד in the sense of “serving,” where δουλεύειν ought to have been the rendering. So also in Jer. xxxiv. (xxvii.) 11, xxxvii. (xxx.) 8, &c. Again in πόλεων Ἰούδα καὶ ἔξωθεν Ἰερουσαλήμ the ἔξωθεν is a misrendering of בחוצות as in Jer. xi. 6, xl. (xxxiii.) 10, &c., where the translator should have given πλατειῶν.[2] For βόμβησις (ii. 29) המון we should have πλῆθος. (3) Finally there are passages where by re-translation we discover that the translator either misread his text or had a corrupt text before him. Thus μάννα in i. 10 is a corrupt translation of מנחה as elsewhere in a dozen passages of the LXX. In iii. 4 τεθνηκότωνמֵתֵי—which the translator should have read as מתִיἀνθρώπων.

From the above instances, which could be multiplied, we have no hesitation in postulating a Hebrew original of i.–iii. 8.

As regards iii. 9–v. 9 the case is different. This section is free from such notable Hebraisms as we have just dealt with, and no convincing grounds have been advanced to prove that it is a translation from a Semitic original.

Date.—The dates of the various constituents of the book are quite uncertain. Ewald, followed by Gifford and Marshall, assigns i.–iii. 8 to the period after the conquest of Jerusalem by Ptolemy I. in 320 B.C.; Reuss to some decades later; and Fritzsche, Schrade, Keil and Toy to the time of the Maccabees. Hitzig, Kneucker and Schürer assume that it was written after A.D. 70. Ryle and James (Pss. of Solomon, pp. lxxii.–lxxvii.) hold that iv. 31–v. 9 is dependent on the Greek version of Ps. xi., and that, accordingly, Baruch was reduced to its present form after A.D. 70. The most probable of the above dates appears to be that maintained by Fritzsche, that is, if we understand by the Maccabean times the early decades of the 2nd cent. B.C. For during the palmy days of the Maccabean dynasty the Twelve tribes were supposed to be in Palestine. The idea that the Jewish Kingdom embraced once again the entire nation easily arose when the Maccabees extended their dominion northwards over Samaria and Galilee and eastwards beyond the Jordan. This belief displaced the older one that the nine and a half tribes were still in captivity. With the downfall of the Maccabean dynasty, however, the older idea revived in the 1st cent. A.D. To the beginnings of the 2nd cent. A.D. the view of the dead given in ii. 17 would point, where it is said that those whose spirits had been taken from their bodies would not give glory unto the Lord. The statement as to the desolate condition of the Temple in ii. 26a is with Kneucker to be rejected as an interpolation.

Canonicity.—The Book of Baruch was never accepted as canonical by the Palestinian Jews (Baba Batra 14b), though the Apostolic Constitutions, v. 10, state that it was read in public worship on the 10th day of the month Gorpiaeus, but this statement can hardly be correct. It was in general use in the church till its canonicity was rejected by the Protestant churches and accepted by the Roman church at the council of Trent.

Literature. Versions and Editions.—The versions are the two Latin, a Syriac, and an Arabic. The Latin one in the Vulgate belongs to a time prior to Jerome, and is tolerably literal. Another, somewhat later, was first published by Jos. Maria Caro in 1688, and was reprinted by Sabatier, side by side with the ante-Hieronymian one, in his Bibliorum Sacrorum Latinae Versiones Antiquae. It is founded upon the preceding one, and is less literal. The Syriac and Arabic versions, printed in the London Polyglot, are literal. The Hexaplar-Syriac version made by Paul, bishop of Tella, in the beginning of the 7th century has been published by Ceriani.

The most convenient editions of the Greek text are Tischendorf’s in the second volume of his Septuagint, and Swete’s in vol. iii.; Fritzsche’s in Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Graece (1871). The best editions of the book are Kneucker’s Das Buch Baruch (1879); Gifford’s in the Speaker’s Apoc. ii. See also the articles in the Encyc. Biblica, Hastings’ Bible Dictionary; Schürer, History of Jewish People.

Apocalypse of Baruch. The discovery of this long lost apocalypse was due to Ceriani. This apocalypse has survived only in the Syriac version of which Ceriani discovered a 6th century MS. in the Milan library. Of this he published a Latin translation in 1866 (Monumenta Sacra, I. ii. 73-98), which Fritzsche reproduced in 1871 (Libri Apocryphi V. T., pp. 654-699), and the text in 1871 (Mon. Sacra. V. ii. 113-180), and subsequently in photo-lithographic facsimile in 1883. Chaps. lxxviii.–lxxxvi., indeed, of this book have long been known. These constitute Baruch’s epistle to the nine and a half tribes in captivity, and have been published in Syriac and Latin in the London and Paris Polyglots, and in Syriac alone from one MS. in Lagarde’s Libri V. T. Apocryphi Syr. (1861); and by Charles from ten MSS. (Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. 124-167). The entire book was translated into English by the last-named writer (op. cit. pp. 1–167), and into German by Ryssel (Kautzsch’s Apok. und Pseud., 1900, ii. pp. 413-446).

The Syriac is translated from the Greek; for Greek words are occasionally transliterated, and passages can be explained only on the hypothesis that the wrong alternative meanings of certain Greek words were followed by the translator. The Greek in turn is derived from the Hebrew, for unintelligible expressions in the Syriac can be explained and the text restored by retranslation into Hebrew. Thus in xxi. 9, 11, 12, xxiv. 2, lxii. 7 we have an unintelligible antithesis, “those who sin and those who are justified.” The source of the error can be discovered by retranslation. The Syriac in these passages is a stock rendering of δικαιοῦσθαι, and this in turn of צרק. But צרק means not only δικαιοῦσθαι but also δίκαιος εἶναι, and this is the very meaning required by the context in the above passages: “those who sin and those who are righteous.”[3] Again xliv. 12 the text reads: “the new world which does not turn to corruption those who depart on its beginning and has no mercy on those who depart to torment.” Here “on its beginning” is set over antithetically against “to torment,” whereas the context requires “to its blessedness.” The words “on its beginning”—כראשו, a corruption of באשרו—”to its blessedness.” Again in lvi. 6 it is said that the fall of man brought grief, anguish, pain, trouble and boasting into the world. The term “boasting” in this connexion cannot be right. The word=καύχημαתהלה(?), corrupt for מהלה, “disease.” A further ground for inferring a Hebrew original is to be found in the fact that paronomasiae not infrequently discover themselves in the course of retranslation into Hebrew. One instance will suffice. In xlviii. 35, “Honour will be turned into shame, strength humiliated into contempt . . . and beauty will become a scorn” contains three such: כבור יהפך לקלון עז יורר אל בוז וּופי יהיה לרופי (see Charles, Apoc. Bar. pp. xliv.–liii). The necessity of postulating a Hebrew original was first shown by the present writer, and has since been maintained by Wellhausen (Skizzen u. Vorarbeiten, vi. 234), by Ryssel (Apok. und Pseudepig. A. T., 1900, ii. 411), and Ginzberg (Jewish Encyclopaedia, ii. 555).

Different Elements in the Book and their Dates.—As there are undoubtedly conflicting elements in the book, it is possible to assume either a diversity of authorship or a diversity of sources. The latter view is advocated by Ryssel and Ginzberg, the former by Kabisch, de Faye, R. H. Charles and Beer (Herzog’s Realenc., art. “Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments,” p. 250). A short summary may here be given of the grounds on which the present writer has postulated a diversity of authorship. If the letter to the tribes in captivity (lxxviii.–lxxxvi.) be disregarded, the book falls into seven sections separated by fasts, save in one case (after xxxv.) where the text is probably defective. These sections, which are of unequal length, are—(1) i.–v. 6; (2) v. 7–viii.; (3) ix.–xii. 4; (4) xii. 5–xx.; (5) xxi.–xxxv.; (6) xxxvi.–xlvi.; (7) xlvii.–lxxvii. These treat of the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom, the woes of Israel in the past and the destruction of Jerusalem in the present, as well as of theological questions relating to original sin, free will, works, the number of the saved, the nature of the resurrection body, &c. The views expressed on several of the above subjects are often conflicting. In one class of passages there is everywhere manifest a vigorous optimism as to Israel’s ultimate well-being on earth, and the blessedness of the chosen people in the Messianic kingdom is sketched in glowing and sensuous colours (xxix., xxxix.–xl., lxiii.–lxxiv.). Over against these passages stand others of a hopelessly pessimistic character, wherein, alike as to Israel’s present and future destiny on earth, there is written nothing save “lamentation, and mourning, and woe.” The world is a scene of corruption, its evils are irremediable, its end is nigh, and the advent of the new and spiritual world at hand. The first to draw attention to the composite elements in this book was Kabisch (Jahrbücher f. protest. Theol., 1891, pp. 66-107). This critic regarded xxiv. 3–xxix., xxxvi.–xl. and liii.–lxxiv. as independent sources written before the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and his groundwork, which consists of the rest of his book, with the exception of a few verses, as composed after that date. All these elements were put together by a Christian contemporary of Papias. Many of these conclusions were arrived at independently by a French scholar, De Faye (Les Apocalypses juives, 1892, pp. 25-28, 76-103, 192-204). The present writer (Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. liii.–lxvii.), after submitting the book to a fresh study, has come to the following conclusions:—The book is of Pharisaic authorship and composed of six independent writings—A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3. The first three were composed when Jerusalem was still standing and the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom were expected: A1, a mutilated apocalypse=xxvii.–xxx. 1; A2, the Cedar and Vine Vision=xxxvi.–xl.; A3, the Cloud Vision=liii.–lxxiv. The last three were written after A.D. 70, and probably before 90. Thus B3=lxxxv. was written by a Jew in exile, who, despairing of a national restoration, looked only for a spiritual recompense in heaven. The rest of the book is derived from B1 and B2, written in Palestine after A.D. 70. These writings belong to very different types of thought. In B1 the earthly Jerusalem is to be rebuilt, but not so in B2; in the former the exiles are to be restored, but not in the latter; in the former a Messianic kingdom without a Messiah is expected, but no earthly blessedness of any kind in the latter, &c. B1=i.-ix. 1, xxxii. 2-4, xliii.–xliv. 7, xlv.–xlvi., lxxvii.–lxxxii., lxxxiv., lxxxvi.–lxxxvii. B2=ix.–xxv., xxx. 2–xxxv., xli.–xlii., xliv. 8-15, xlvii.–lii., lxxv.–lxxvi., lxxxiii. The final editor of the work wrote in the name of Baruch the son of Neriah.

The above critical analyses were attacked and rejected by Clemen (Stud. und Krit., 1898, 211 sqq.). He fails, however, in many cases to recognize the difficulties at issue, and those which cannot be ignored he sets down to the conflicting apocalyptic traditions, on which the author was obliged to draw for his subject-matter. Though Ryssel (Kautzsch, Apok. u. Pseud. des A. T. ii. 409) has followed Clemen, neither has given any real explanation of the disorder of the book as it stands at present. Beer (op. cit.) agrees that xxxvi.–xl. and liii.–lxx. are of different authorship from the rest of the book and belong to the earlier date.

Relation to 4 Ezra.—The affinities of this book and 4 Ezra are so numerous (see Charles, op. cit. 170-171) that Ewald and Ryle assumed identity of authorship. But their points of divergence are so weighty (see op. cit. pp. lxix.–lxxi.) that this view cannot be sustained. Three courses still remain open. If we assume that both works are composite, we shall perforce admit that some of the constituents of 4 Ezra are older than the latest of Baruch, and that other constituents of Baruch are decidedly older than the remaining ones of 4 Ezra. On the other hand, if we assume unity of authorship, it seems impossible to arrive at finality on the chronological relations of these two works. Langen, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Stähelin, Renan, Hausrath, Drummond, Dillmann, Rosenthal, Gunkel, have maintained on various grounds the priority of 4 Ezra; and Schürer, Bissell, Thomson, Deane, Kabisch, De Faye, Wellhausen, and Ryssel the priority of Baruch on grounds no less convincing.

Relation to Rabbinical Literature.—A very close relation subsists between our book and rabbinical literature. Indeed in some instances the parallels are so close that they are almost word for word. The description of the destruction of Jerusalem by angels in vi.-viii. is found also in the Pesikta Rabbati 26 (ed. Friedmann 131a). By means of this passage we are, as Ginzberg has shown, able to correct the corrupt reading “the holy Ephod” (vi. 7), אפוד הקודש into “the holy Ark,” i.e. ארון הקודש. What might be taken as poetic fancies in our text are recounted as historical facts in rabbinical literature. Thus the words (x. 18):

And ye priests, take ye the keys of the sanctuary,
And cast them into the height of heaven,
And give them to the Lord and say:
‘Guard Thine own house; for lo we are found unfaithful stewards,’ ”

are given in various accounts of the fall of Jerusalem. (See Ta’anith, 29a; Pesiḳt. R., loc. cit.; Yalquṭ Shim ʽoni on Is. xxi; Aboth of Rabbi Nathan vii.). Even the statement that the bodies of Sennacherib’s soldiers were burned while their garments and armour remained unconsumed has its parallel in Sanh. 94a.

Integrity of the Book.—In lxxvii. 19 it is said that Baruch wrote two epistles, one to the nine and a half tribes and the other to the two and a half at Babylon. The former is found in lxxviii.–lxxxvi.; the latter is lost, but is probably preserved either wholly or in part in the Book of Baruch, iii. 9–iv. 29 (see Charles, op. cit. pp. lxv.–lxvii). On the other hand, it is not necessary to infer from lxxv. that an account of Baruch’s assumption was to be looked for in the book.

Authorities.—The literature is fully cited in Schürer, Gesch. iii. 223-232, and R. H. Charles, Apocalypse of Baruch, pp. xxx.-xliii. Ginzberg’s article in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, ii. 551-556, is a fresh and valuable contribution.

Rest of the Words of Baruch. This book was undoubtedly written originally by a Jew but was subsequently revised by a Christian, as has been shown by Kohler in the Jewish Quarterly Review (1893), pp. 407–409. It passed under a double name in the Abyssinian Church, where it was known both as “the Rest of the Words of Baruch” and “the Rest of the Words of Jeremiah.” Its Greek name is the latter—τὰ παραλειπόμενα Ἱερεμου προφήτου. It has been preserved in Greek, Ethiopic, Armenian and Slavonic. The Greek was first printed at Venice in 1609, next by Ceriani in 1868 in his Mon. Sacra, v. 11-18; by Harris, The Rest of the Words of Baruch, in 1889; and Bassiliev, Anec. Graeco-Byzantina, i. 308 sqq. (1893). The book begins like the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch with an account of the removal of the sacred vessels of the Temple before its capture by the Chaldees. Baruch remains in Jerusalem and Jeremiah accompanies the Exiles to Babylon. After 66 years’ exile Jeremiah brings back the Jews to Jerusalem, but refuses to admit such as had brought with them heathen wives. Then follows a vision of Jeremiah which is Christian.

Harris regards the book in its present form as an eirenicon addressed to the Jews by a Christian after the rebellion of Bar Cochba (Barcochebas) and written about 136. Though the original work was dependent on the Apocalypse of Baruch it cannot have been written much before the close of the 1st cent. A.D. Its terminus ad quem is at present indeterminable.  (R. H. C.) 

  1. Toy (Jewish Enc. ii. 556) thinks that the “them” in ii. 4, 5 may be a scribal slip and that we have here not the confession of the Palestinian remnant and that of the Exiles, but simply a juxtaposition of two forms of confession.
  2. In ii. 25 we have the word ἀποστολή with the extraordinary meaning of “plague” as in Jer. xxxix. (xxxii.) 36.
  3. Ryssel has adopted Charles’s restoration of the text in these passages and practically also in xliv. 12. but without acknowledgment.