Baruch asks a further question about those who face woe and suffering in that time (chapter 52). He falls asleep and has a vision of a cloud coming up from a great sea (chapter 53). The cloud flashes lightning and great water begins to pour out of it. The water alternates between black and bright, finally pouring out a great amount of black water. The lightning grows in intensity and finally occupies the whole world. When he awakes, he asks the Mighty One for an explanation of this dream (chapter 54).
Baruch knows the dream concerns those who are in sin and about to be judged. Verses 19-20 are curious because they teach that Adam is responsible for his own sin and each of us, when we sin, become our own Adam. This is a semi-Pelagian if not Pelagian view of the imputation of sin and quite different than the view of Paul in Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15:24, in Adam we all sin.
The dream is interpreted by the Lord as encompassing all of the history of Israel in the alternating waters (Chapters 55-74). The great cloud was the length of the days of his world.
- The first black waters – Adam and the first sin (56:5-16).
- The second bright waters – Abraham and his generation, but also the hope of the “world which will be renewed” (57).
- The third black waters – the sins the nation committed in Egypt (58).
- The fourth bright waters – the coming of Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, and Caleb (59). Moses is said to have been shown all sorts of the “mysteries” of God such as the weight of the winds, the number of the raindrops, the height of the air and the greatness of Paradise along with the worlds to come. This makes Moses into a prototype of the apocalyptic prophet.
- The fifth black waters – the works of the Amorites, which polluted even Israel in those days (60).
- The sixth bright waters – David and Solomon and the building of Zion (61).
- The seventh black waters – The perversion of ideas in the rule of Jereboam (62).
- The eighth bright waters – The righteousness and integrity of Hezekiah (63).
- The ninth black waters – The sins of Manasseh (64-65).
- The tenth bright waters – The purity of the generation of Josiah (66). On account of Josiah “precious glories have been created and prepared.”
- The eleventh black waters – The disaster of the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (67).
- The twelfth bright waters – The world which is to come when Zion is rebuilt again and the nations will honor Zion, after the fall of many nations (68).
After the twelve waters, Baruch saw some “last black waters” which were blacker than all the others he had seen. These waters are a description of the days which are coming when the “world has ripened and the harvest of seed of the evil ones and the good ones has come . . .” (Chapters 69-72). It is a time when the poor will outnumber the rich, when the wise are silent that the fools speak, the impious will be exalted over the brave. There will be war; those who save themselves from war will die in an earthquake; those who save themselves from the earthquake will die in the fire; those who save themselves from the fire will die in the famine (70:8-9).