Why do bad things happen to good people? What might Israel and Judah have done wrong to warrant the Diaspora from a righteous God? What was God's special gift to Israel?
These questions and more are answered in Baruch, an Apocryphal book consisting of five chapters.
Brooke?!? Broke?!? Brick?!? Speak up!
Perhaps I can help. My name is Baruch, the son of Neriyahu. I lived in Jerusalem during the turbulent 6th century BCE, and hung around with some pretty powerful people. In fact, because I knew how to read and write, I was employed as the Prophet Jeremiah's scribe.
Sadly, I witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586 BCE, and was carried off to exile.
But you know what? I didn't write the book in the Apocrypha that bears my name.
So who did write it, Mr. Baruch?
I confess that I wrote the book. While I can't tell you my name, I can tell you I lived in the 1st century BCE, and originally wrote it in Hebrew, even though today all that survives is the Greek. I simply followed a common convention of the time, and attributed my words to a famous person who lived before me. So while the book purports to speak about Diaspora life for the Jewish community under the rule of Babylon Empire, it is actually commenting on the influences of Greco/Roman world.
Woooo! I'm freaking out. We have Baruch and Pseudo-Baruch in the same place? This reminds me of a Star Trek episode I once ...
Look Bibledudes. I'm a pretty busy guy, especially now that the PAASS season is starting.
Yeah, PAASS. The Pseudegraphical Apocryphal Author Speaker Series. They're celebrating their 2,000 anniversary in Antioch and I scored the keynote. If you wouldn't mind, just let me tell you the basic premises of the book I wrote and we'll all get on with our lives.
First, I argue that rather than God unrighteously punishing Israel, I claim that Israel is guilty and deserved the Diaspora. Why? Because they disobeyed God's commands, they didn't follow Moses' laws, or listen to the prophets God sent. But there is some hope. If Israel repents, God will take them back.
Then I switch over to poetry and argue that wisdom is God's gift to Israel. For example, I say:
"Why is it, O Israel, that you are in your enemies' land, that you are growing old in a foreign land, that you are defiled with the dead, that you are counted with those that go down to Hades? You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom. For if you had walked in the way of God, you would dwelled in peace for ever" (3:10-13).
Bibledudes, I'm outta here.
Catch you later Mr. Pseudo-Baruch hurry PAASS keynote guy!
Bibledudes, up next is the Letter of Jeremiah.
You mean my old buddy Jeremiah?
Well Baruch, I guess my best answer would be...