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A Word of Comfort to Baruch


The word that the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Baruch son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah: 2Thus says the L ord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: 3You said, “Woe is me! The L ord has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.” 4Thus you shall say to him, “Thus says the L ord: I am going to break down what I have built, and pluck up what I have planted—that is, the whole land. 5And you, do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for I am going to bring disaster upon all flesh, says the L ord; but I will give you your life as a prize of war in every place to which you may go.”


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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