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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.

It afterwards follows, And seekest thou great things for thyself? We now see clear enough why he reproved Baruch, it was, because he was too careful as to himself, and too timid; and thus it was that he was impeded in his duty. He then says, And dost thou seek for thyself? The particle לך, lac, for thyself, is put here emphatically; for here God sets Baruch in the balance, and the whole people together, with the temple and divine worship. “Dost thou,” he says, “outweigh them? Is thy life of more value than the temple, the safety of the people, and all my gifts which so much excel?” It was then God’s purpose in this way to make Baruch ashamed of himself, because he preferred a frail life to so many things and so glorious. Dost thou, then, he says, seek great things, גדלות, gidalut, for thyself? that is, “Shall thy state be eminent while the temple is burnt with fire, while the land is laid waste, while most men perish, and the remnant are driven into exile and captivity? Art thou then alone to be deemed sacred? Art thou alone to be exempt from loss and trouble? See, is all this right?” Here then he made Baruch himself the judge.

But as Baruch might as yet flatter himself, he immediately restrains him; Seek not, he says, for we know how men from self-love seek their own indulgence. That Baruch then might not persist in his course, God puts a check on all his ambitious feelings; Seek not, he says. He afterwards adds a ground of consolation. Baruch has been thus far severely reproved, as he deserved, on account of his self-indulgence; but God now forgives him, and adds a comfort which might in part alleviate his sorrow; For behold, he says, I will bring evil on all flesh, and 1 will give thee thy life for a prey in all p1aces whither thou goest Here God frees Baruch from that distressing fear by which he had been debilitated, so as not to possess suitable firmness for his work. he then says, “Fear not, for thy life shall be safe to thee while all around thee are destroyed.” Baruch thought that he should perish while the people were safe and secure; but God declares that none of the people would be safe, and that he would be safely preserved while all the rest were perishing.

I will bring evil, he says, on all flesh He speaks indeed briefly, but Baruch must have well considered what he had received from the mouth of the Prophet, for he ought to have been fully persuaded as to the faithfulness and immutable purpose of God. God then assumes this fact, that ruin was nigh as to the whole people and other nations. He afterwards adds, Thy life will I give thee as a prey Of this kind of language we have before spoken. To give one his life for a prey was to deliver him as it were from instant death. As when all things are exposed to plunder, if one snatched this or that and escaped, he would have something saved; or as if one plucked anything from the burning, he would have it preserved; so when all things were thrown into such a confusion, that death would beset men on every side, he who could escape in safety would have his life as a prey when removed from all danger. Then God bids Baruch to be content with the benefit of being safe, while others, as I have said, were perishing. Now follows, —


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