A. Historical Setting
1Now these are the words of the scroll which Baruch, son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, son of Zedekiah, son of Hasadiah, son of Hilkiah, wrote in Babylon,a 2in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month,* at the time the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and destroyed it with fire.b 3c Baruch read the words of this scroll in the hearing of Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the people who came to the reading:d 4the nobles, kings’ sons, elders, and all the people, small and great—all who lived in Babylon by the river Sud.*
5They wept, fasted, and prayed before the Lord, 6and collected such funds as each could afford.e 7These they sent to Jerusalem, to Jehoiakim the priest, son of Hilkiah, son of Shallum, and to the priests and the whole people who were with him in Jerusalem. 8(At the same time he* received the vessels of the house of the LORD that had been removed from the temple, to restore them to the land of Judah, on the tenth of Sivan. These silver vessels Zedekiah, son of Josiah, king of Judah, had had made 9f after Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, carried off as captives Jeconiah and the princes, the skilled workers, the nobles, and the people of the land from Jerusalem, and brought them to Babylon.)
B. Confession of Guilt
10The message was: “We send you funds, with which you are to procure burnt offerings, sin offerings, and frankincense, and to prepare grain offerings; offer these* on the altar of the LORD our God,g 11and pray for the life of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of Belshazzar, his son,* that their lifetimes may be as the days of the heavens above the earth.h 12Pray that the LORD may give us strength, and light to our eyes, that we may live under the protective shadow of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and of Belshazzar, his son, to serve them many days, and find favor in their sight. 13Pray for us to the LORD, our God, for we have sinned against the LORD, our God. Even to this day the wrath of the LORD and his anger have not turned away from us. 14On the feast day and during the days of assembly, read aloud in the house of the LORD this scroll that we send you:i
15* “To the Lord our God belongs justice; to us, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, to be shamefaced, as on this day—j 16to us, our kings, rulers, priests, and prophets, and our ancestors. 17We have sinned in the LORD’s sight 18and disobeyed him. We have not listened to the voice of the LORD, our God, so as to follow the precepts the LORD set before us. 19From the day the LORD led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt until the present day, we have been disobedient to the LORD, our God, and neglected to listen to his voice. 20Even today evils cling to us, the curse the LORD pronounced to Moses, his servant, at the time he led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt to give us a land flowing with milk and honey.k 21For we did not listen to the voice of the LORD, our God, in all the words of the prophets he sent us, 22but each of us has followed the inclinations of our wicked hearts, served other gods, and done evil in the sight of the LORD, our God.
* [1:2] In the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month: Jerusalem fell on the seventh day of the fifth month in 587 B.C.; cf. 2 Kgs 25:8; Jer 52:12. Either the text read originally “the fifth month,” or it refers to the observance of an anniversary of the fall of Jerusalem.
* [1:8–9] He: apparently Baruch; less likely Jehoiakim the priest (v. 7). The silver vessels here described are distinct from the vessels referred to in 2 Kgs 25:14 and Ezr 1:7–9. The author of this note may have thought of the fifth year (v. 1) of Zedekiah, in view of Jer 28:1; 29:1–3. A “fifth year,” again with no month mentioned, is given in Ez 1:2 for the inaugural vision of Ezekiel’s prophetic career.
* [1:10] Offer these: since 2:26 suggests that the Temple is destroyed, the mention of sacrifices here may be an anachronism. Nevertheless, Jer 41:5 indicates that some people continued to worship at the Temple site after Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the Temple.
* [1:11] Nebuchadnezzar…Belshazzar, his son: Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, not of Nebuchadnezzar, the destroyer of Jerusalem. Belshazzar was co-regent for a few years while his father was away in Arabia. Later Jewish tradition seems to have simplified the end of the Babylonian empire (cf. Dn 5:1–2), for three kings came between Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus.