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45. Message to Baruch

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, 2Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; 3Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.

4Thus shalt thou say unto him, The Lord saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land. 5And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.

He afterwards adds, Thus shalt thou say to him, etc. Here the Prophet shews that he was not roused against Baruch through any private displeasure, but that he had only conveyed to him God’s message. Behold, what I have built I pull down, and what I have planted I root up. Here it is evident that the cause of the reproof was, that Baruch loved himself too much, and wished to evade dangers when God ordered him to engage in the conflict. Jeremiah sets forth what would be to the whole people. The comparison shews what I have stated, that Baruch, disregarding the public safety, was too cautious, and was thus timid and tender as to his own life. This is the reason why God mentions the whole people, as though he had said, “Dost thou wish to be deemed of more importance than the whole people? Is thy life of more value than the wellbeing of the whole community?” It was a disgrace to Baruch to prefer himself to the whole people, and even to the Temple and the worship of God. When, therefore, the severity of God was now ready to fall on the whole people, though Baruch might have endangered his life a hundred times, yet he ought not to have made so much account of his life. Then the Prophet shews here that Baruch was too delicate as to himself; and because he was blinded by the love of himself, he did not consider the public safety of the people, nor did he regard the Temple and the holy land.

These metaphors of building and planting often occur in Scripture, I shall not therefore dwell on them here. But we must observe, that though God be the creator of the whole world, yet the people of Israel were peculiarly his work, and also the land of Israel. For God had consecrated that land to himself that he might be served in it, and had adopted the people. Hence he often compares that people to a vineyard.

“O my vineyard, I have planted thee.”
(Jeremiah 2:21; Isaiah 5:1-7.)

I will not multiply quotations, for in a thing so easy it would be a foolish ostentation to heap together many texts. God, then, had built his people, because they dwelt there as in their own habitations, and the land was called his rest He had also planted his people. We may remark, in short, that the building mentioned here and also the plantation, refer to those special favors which God had bestowed on that people. For though he had planted the whole world and all nations, yet the people of Israel was especially his planting, as it is said by Isaiah,

“The planting of the Lord is for glory,”

that is, this people had been planted, that God through them might manifest his own glory. (Isaiah 61:3)

Let us come now to what is here declared; he says, I pull down what I have built, I root up what I have planted; as though he had said, “I have hitherto adorned this people with singular endowments; for I chose them as a heritage to myself, it is a holy race, it is a priestly kingdom, I dwell in the midst of them, I have undertaken the care of defending them, I am their Father, they are to me not only as a son, but also as a first-born; and titan this land is holy, because I have set my name in it: I have therefore built and planted this people and this land; but now, he says, I am pulling down and rooting up.”

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