The Baruch Book, also known as the 1 Baruch Book, is a deuterocanonical text of the Bible. Even though it is not included in the Jewish Bible, it forms a part of the Vulgate Bible, the Septuagint as well as the Eritrean Orthodox Bible. The book is grouped with other prophetical texts such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations. Named after Jeremiah’s scribe and friend Baruch ben Neriah, scholars are divided as to the exact writer of the book. Some are of the opinion that it was composed by Baruch himself, whereas others maintain that the book was written more than a hundred years after the demise of Baruch. The text of the Baruch book is comprised of five basic chapters, with an additional chapter six consisting of the Letter of Jeremiah.
For all purpose of scholarly research and study, the book is divided into three distinct parts. In the first part (from 1:1 through 3:8) a preface is presented in the form of a prayer of penitence by the exiled people in Babylon. This part forms as a sort of introduction to the second part. Here we see Baruch reading his prophecies aloud to the defeated King Jeconiah and all the other exiles from Judah in Babylon. As a response to Baruch’s prophecies, the exiles mournfully repent to Lord Almighty and send priest Jehoiakim to Jerusalem with a large amount of money to offer religious sacrifices at the Temple site. They also ask the priest to offer sacrifices for Babylonian kings Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Most importantly, they offer a heartfelt prayer for repentance, pleading to the Lord for His deliverance, asking Him for his mercy and finally reminding the God of His divine promises.
The second part of the Baruch Book is presented as a poetry wherein Baruch offers prayers of remembrance, praise and trust. It starts with a poem that reflects on God’s wisdom. The wisdom of the Lord is more precious over the riches of silver and gold and the light shining forth from such wisdom is definitely a divine gift. The lines here further go on to say that the wisdom of the Lord is same as Law of Moses. This is followed by a poem that acts as a voice for the city of Jerusalem herself. The city of Jerusalem speaks to her people and says that although she is lamenting over the sinful acts of Israel, she still urges them to look up to God and ask for His deliverance and mercy. The second part ends with a poem that speaks of the vindication of Zion, the defeat of the enemies of Israel and the joy and happiness that will eventually be bestowed on the people of Israel by God.
The third part of the Baruch Book includes the Letter of Jeremiah. It involves criticism of idol worship that was prevalent in Babylon and mocks the trend of holding with reverence powerless statues that were made out of gold-plated wood.
The Baruch Book reflects on the exile, considering it as a step necessary to restore people’s faith in the one true Lord. By acknowledging their sins, the people return to a way of life that is governed by the Lord’s wisdom and law.