2 Baruch and the Fall of Jerusalem

Baruch-and-Jeremiah2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch appears to have been written in the late first century, probably around A.D. 100. Like 4 Ezra, the book is a response to the recent fall of Jerusalem. Using the persona of Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch, the author of this book is answering a theological question, why has god allowed the Temple to be destroyed a second time? Has God cancelled his promises to his people? Is there any future for Israel? Since it was written about the same time as the New Testament’s Revelation, it is one of the more significant Second Temple period apocalypses.

4 Ezra and 2 Baruch share many similarities, although the direction of the influence is hard to determine. Klijn is inclined to see 2 Baruch as dependent on 4 Ezra; he therefore dates the book to the first part of the second century (OTP 1:616-52). Collins argues for a date a bit earlier based on the fall of Jerusalem in the twenty-fifth year of king Jeconiah in the first verse of 2 Baruch. This is not historically accurate, so it is possible the author is referring to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, twenty-five years in the past (Apocalyptic Imagination, 212-3). The book was written in Palestine and most likely in Hebrew originally. The book is closely related to the rabbinic literature and seems to be exhorting diaspora Jews from the perspective of Palestinian Jews (OTP 1:617).

2 Baruch 1-4 forms an introduction to the book. The author takes on the guise of Baruch son of Neriah, the companion of Jeremiah. He is told by the Lord that all of the things which happened to the northern ten tribes will happen to the south as well. Jerusalem will fall and the people will be punished. Baruch agrees this punishment cannot be resisted, but asks the Lord what will happen after the city is destroyed. Are the promises of God ever to be fulfilled?  The Lord’s answer is that a New Jerusalem has been built, but it is in Paradise.

In chapter 5-9 Baruch prepares for the Babylonian invasion. He tells the people what the Lord has told him and they sit in the valley of Kidron and fast until evening. The city is surrounded the next day (ch. 6). Baruch sees four angels at the corners of the city with burning torches. He sees the temple and the Holy of Holies, including the ephod, precious stone and other temple items. These buildings are swallowed up by the earth, then the angels put their torches to the city and destroyed its foundations. Babylon enters the city and plunders it and kill many people.

The word of the Lord comes to Baruch and he is command to tell Jeremiah to go to support the captives in Babylon. Baruch delivers a lengthy lament for the city in chapter 9, striking many themes found in later apocalyptic (“better never to have been born,” verse 6, for example.) He condemns Babylon although it is not as brutal as it might be. He asks how the Lord has borne the destruction of the city (chapter 11-12).

As Baruch weeps for fallen Jerusalem, the Lord will answer his questions through a series of visions

8 thoughts on “2 Baruch and the Fall of Jerusalem

  1. the question of why the temple was destroyed again or if God kept His promise to the Israelites reminded me of the question why do bad things happen to good people? as human beings, we are not ultimately good because of sin. yes, we can do good this and mean good, but we are still imperfect with accordance with what Adam and Eve. Baruch asks God if the city will return after it has been destroyed and God replied that will be in Paradise. to me, this sounds like God is telling Baruch about the New Heaven and New Earth with the New Jerusalem that we can read in Revelation 21.

  2. God allowed the temple to be destroyed because he knew there was more to come from what the people already experienced. God does not cancel his promises to his people, I would say that the plans he has for us may take longer for us to get to if we don’t listen and follow him. I would not say he cancels his promises though. God’s promises are true and will always be there. There is a future for Israel, right now in the world it seems very hectic and chaotic but eventually everything will work out at the end for God’s plan for his people. God fulfills his promises, they may not be in our timing but they are in his timing. The Fall of Jerusalem was a big event that took place, there are a few opinions on what the fall of Jerusalem really represents and ultimately it was something that needed to happen to get everyone back on track with God’s plan. This Earth that we are on now is not forever (Rev. 21) it is coming soon. What happens between when God created the Earth to the end I believe is essentially already written in stone. In shorter terms, everything is temporary.

  3. The book of 2nd Baruch presents the scribe of Jeremiah, Baruch, on the eve of the destruction of the first Jerusalem temple in 586 BC, being addressed by Yahweh concerning the reasons for this destruction and what that means for the Israelites moving forward. The book, through the guise of the destruction of the first temple, attempts to understand why God would allow the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD. It addresses the concern for the future of Israel and God’s people, as questions naturally would arise from such an event. Does God still intend to follow through on his promises to Israel? What are the covenant people of God to make of this situation? The book attempts to create a renewed vision for the future of Israel and the people of God through the coming messianic age and then the establishment of the new incorruptible earth. It is through this message that Baruch urges his followers to remain steadfast to the law and Yahweh, as it is through this allegiance that they will be saved from judgment.
    2nd Baruch is composed of dialogues, prayers, lamentations, and visions, all contributing to the overall themes and message of the work. It follows an apocalyptic framework, as it is through the destruction of this earth and the current age that the new incorruptible world will rise. This serves as a response to the surrounding chaos concerning the destruction of the temple. Overall, the message and themes of the book provide the Jews of the early 2nd century hope despite the turmoil of the current circumstances, providing a new vision of community and an apocalyptic future for Israel and Yahweh’s people.

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