Devotional Commentary to Jeremiah 45


This chapter is very short. The reason is that it is a personal chapter between God, Jeremiah and Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah. It is an exhausting task to be a prophet for God but very rewarding. It is equally an exhausting task to be a scribe or XEROX copier for the same prophet. As long as the prophecies are about other countries and people, it is easier to work since the conversation of God is always us and them distinction. But, it was not so with them messages of Jeremiah. “Us” did only include the faithful minority in Jeremiah’s days that included Gedaliah and some others who stood with him and those who stood faithful amid those who indulged in licentiousness, the “them”. The problem for young Baruch, is that he desired to be someone great one day and all the hard labor formed part of his future dream world. But, his future vision was shattered by all the messages of Jeremiah. He became very depressed “weary with my sighing and I have found no rest [the word NOAH]”. For those who do not know, the Assyrian bilingual dictionary in the Library at Niniveh dating to 650 BCE reads that the synonym for Sabbath is NOAH of the heart, “rest of the heart”. It is peace with God and a spiritual relationship with Him. Baruch said that he is so shocked by all the destructions God is going to bring over his society and country and this turn of events mean that the Lord “has added grief to my pain” (verse 3). The year is the fourth year of Jehoiakim in 605 BCE (verse 1).


Before one looks at the message of God to Baruch through Jeremiah, it is worth looking at some other aspect. Rabbis interpreted the words of Baruch differently. Abarbanel in 1508 said that Baruch is complaining because God did not give him the gift of prophecy. This is non-biblical. No one dictates to God whom He must choose for His instrumental functions. Rabbi Redak indicated that some said that the grief was because he was not given the gift of prophecy and that the pain is because the Jews were deriding him. Moses Maimonides in the Guide to the Perplexed Chapter 32 from Volume 2 indicated that Baruch was not fit for prophecy but some Rabbis later did not like this idea of his. It appears that all of them may be on the wrong track. Baruch is tired and in despair because of the velocity of the message that will have existential realities for him affecting his own future for a long time. 70 years is a long time for a scribe to find a new job in a new country. Any young University student would sigh.


The seal of Baruch was found. Below is the seal as presented by Nahman Avigad, whom I met in the Israel Museum and visited in his house for some lemon juice from his good wife". 

Seal BaruchBulla.jpg

The Bulla of “belonging to Baruchyahu the son of Neriyahu the scribe” [lbrkyhw bn nryhw hpr] was recognized in 1975 when it appeared in the Antiquities market. The purchaser took it to Nahman Avigad and he published the Bulla. It probably came from the “burnt house” which was excavated by Yigael Shiloh. It is in the Israel Museum and is stamped on an oval seal measuring 17-16 mm and by 13-11mm. In 1996 another one was found almost identical. It had a fingerprint and Hershel Shanks of Biblical Archaelogist suggested that it is the actual fingerprint of Baruch.

Is this not exciting. That God’s Word is absolutely confirmed as true and what Jeremiah wrote is not a concoction of propaganda but indeed by historical figures as mentioned. The reliability of Jeremiah is appreciated.


Then came the message to the despairing Baruch from the Lord through Jeremiah: Because young Baruch said “Woe alas to me!” he must pay attention at the overall plan of God. God works with schemes and a program of history that goes through corridors of generations trying to save as many as He can amid evil lurking around every corner. So here is God’s message. Baruch should not focus only on the immediate. He should raise his eyes to the horizon of eschatology when: “What I have built I will tear down, and what I have planted I will uproot, and it is all the earth”.


Some translations read “all the land” but it is contested by Keil in Volume II 1889 page 172 and rightly so. He explained verse 5 not in the context of exilic punishment but in eschatological terms. “The destruction regards the whole earth… ‘and as regards the whole earth, it is it,’” Keil further cited Ewald in paragraph 277 that verse 5 “does not mean ‘ the whole land,’ but the whole earth’” and the reason for this Keil and Ewald pointed out is the parallel in verse 5 “upon all flesh” as in Jeremiah 25:31.  Keil continued: “The sentence is passed on all the earth, in accordance with the announcement made in chap. xxv. 15 ff.”  Keil is not finished: “But when the judgment extends over the whole of humanity, an individual man cannot ask for anything great. “’to seek for great things,’ i.e. to ask for things which in general or under certain circumstances are unattainable.” When the whole world is visited with judgment, an individual man must not make great demands, but be content with saving his life.” Keil and Ewald stand out hand in hand with historicism here holding hands with Adventism.


God is telling Baruch that at that time He is going to destroy not only Israel but the whole earth. What value does the world have, what great vision is there to pursue on earth if one loses your soul and is also destroyed that day at His Second Advent? At that time the Resurrection will take place and the Lord will give Baruch the following: “I will give you your soul as prey in all the places where you will go” (verse 5) which is heavenly places and the universe unto eternity.


Dear God

Give also us our souls as prey to enable us also to go in all places where we want to go. In Jesus Name. Amen.