Baruch, the name (meaning "Blessed" in Hebrew) of a character in the Old Testament (Jer. xxxvi., xxxvii., xliii.), associated with the prophet Jeremiah, and described as his secretary and spokesman.

Book of Baruch. This deutero-canonical book of the Old Testament is placed by the LXX. between Jeremiah and Lamentations, and in the Vulgate after Lamentations. It consists of several parts, which cohere so badly that we are obliged to assume plurality of authorship.

Contents

The book consists of the following parts: -

i. 1-14. The historical preface with a description of the origin and purpose of the book.

i. 15-ii. 5. A confession of sin used by the Palestinian Remnant. This confession was according to i. 14 sent from Babylon (i. 4, 7) to Jerusalem to be read "on the day of the feast and on the days of the solemn assembly." The confession is restricted to the use of the remnant at home (see next paragraph). In this confession there is a national acknowledgment of sin and a recognition of the Exile as a righteous judgment.

ii. 6-iii. 8. A confession of the captives in Babylon and a prayer for restoration. This confession opens as the former (in i. 15) with the words found also in Daniel ix. 7, "To the Lord our God belongeth righteousness, etc." The confession is of the Exiles and not of the remnant in Palestine, as Marshall has pointed out. Thus it is the Exiles clearly who are speaking in ii. 13, "We are but a few left among the heathen where thou hast scattered us"; ii. 14, "Give us favour in the sight of them which have led us away captive"; iii. 7, "We will praise thee in our captivity"; iii. 8, "We are yet this day in our captivity where thou hast scattered us." On the other hand the speakers in the confession in i. 15-ii. 5 are clearly the remnant in Jerusalem. i. 15, "To the Lord our God belongeth righteousness, but unto us confusion of face ... to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem." The Exiles are mentioned by way of contrast to the speakers; ii. 4, 5, "He hath given them to be in subjection to all the kingdoms that are round about us to be a reproach among all the people round about where the Lord hath scattered them.

Thus were they cast down ... because we sinned against the Lord our God."[1]

iii. 9-iv. 4. The glorification of wisdom, that is, of the Law. Israel is bidden to walk in the light of it; it is the glory of Israel and is not to be given to another.

iv. 5-v. 9. Consolation of Israel with the promise of deliverance and lasting happiness and blessing to Jerusalem.

Integrity

From the foregoing description it seems clear that the book is derived from a plurality of authors. Most scholars, such as Fritzsche, Hitzig, Kneucker, Hilgenfeld, Reuss, agree in assuming that i.-iii. 8 and iii. 9-v. 9 are from distinct writers. But some critics have gone farther. Thus Rothstein (Kautzsch, Apok. und Pseud. i. 213-215) holds that there is no unity in iii. 9-v. 9, but that it is composed of two independent writings - iii. 9-iv. 4 and iv. 5-v. 9. Marshall (Hastings' Bible Dictionary, i. 251-254) gives a still more complex analysis. He finds in it the work of four distinct writers: i. 1-14, i. 15-iii. 8, iii. 9-iv. 4, iv. 5-v. 9. The evidence for a fourfold authorship is strong though not convincing. In any case i.-iii. 8 and iii. 9-v. 9 must be ascribed to different authors.