7th century Before Christ
Epistle of Baruch
Baruch means “blessed”. The Epistle of Baruch, also known as the Letter of Baruch, is a book included in the Old Testament of the Orthodox Christian Bible. Written sometime after the siege of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the initial message was given in 581 (OSB). The beginning of the epistle has a deep penitential tone written by a Jewish community in exile, while the latter portion from 3:9 is attributed to Baruch, the scribe and close companion of the prophet Jeremiah.
The Epistle of Baruch is addressed to the exiled Jews in Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It serves as a message of comfort, exhortation, and hope for the Jewish people who are suffering in exile and evidence that at least some had initiated repentance seeking mercy and forgiveness from God. The book encourages them to repent of their sins and turn back to God, emphasizing the connection between obedience and restoration.
From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the Epistle of Baruch affirms the sovereignty and justice of God. It emphasizes that the exile and the destruction of Jerusalem were a consequence of the people’s disobedience and idolatry. The book calls for genuine repentance and a return to the covenant relationship with God, stressing the importance of humility, prayer, and a contrite heart.
The Epistle of Baruch also underscores the importance of wisdom and the study of God’s law. It presents wisdom as a treasure that is more valuable than material wealth and encourages the people to seek after it. It is also foretells the coming of Wisdom Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ:
“This is our God;
no other can be compared to him!
He found the whole way to knowledge,
and gave her to Jacob his servant
and to Israel whom he loved.
Afterward she appeared upon earth
and lived among men…
For I hope upon the Eternal One to save you,
and the joy from the Holy One comes to me,
because mercy will soon come to you
from the Eternal One, your Savior.“
– Baruch 3:35-37; 4:22
Furthermore, the Epistle of Baruch expresses hope in God’s faithfulness and promises of restoration. It assures the exiled Jews that God will bring them back to their homeland and restore Jerusalem. The book emphasizes the ultimate victory of God’s kingdom and the future redemption of His people.
In summary, the Epistle of Baruch, from an Orthodox Christian perspective, serves as a reminder of the consequences of disobedience and the need for repentance. References are also made to prayer for our civil authorities (1:11) and intercessions of the departed (3:4). The community in exile represents the Church, those who hear God’s word, confess their sins and return to Him (OSB). The book encourages the faithful to trust in God’s faithfulness and promises of restoration (2:35), providing hope to His people in times of suffering and exile.
- Orthodox Study Bible (OSB)
- chatGPT (with this writer’s validation and editing)
Troparion — Tone 8
You were worthy of the light of prophecy / becoming a companion to Jeremiah. / You foretold the self-emptying of God the Word / which he wrought for the salvation of the world. / Now all heirs of his kingdom honor you, O holy Prophet Baruch!
Kontakion — Tone 4
Enlightened by the Spirit, your pure heart became the dwelling place of most splendid prophecy; / for you saw things far off as if they were near. / Therefore, we honor you, blessed and glorious Prophet Baruch.
September 28th – Feast
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