BARUCH, APOCALYPSE OF


BARUCH, APOCALYPSE OF
BARUCH, APOCALYPSE OF (Syriac) (abbr. II Bar.), an apocalyptic work ascribed to Jeremiah's scribe Baruch and purportedly containing the visions of Baruch on the eve of and subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem. The work has been preserved partly in Greek and all of it in Syriac. -Contents Chapters 1–4: In the 25th year of Jeconiah, king of Judah, Baruch is commanded to leave Jerusalem as its hour of destruction has come, and as long as he and his righteous companions are in the city, God is unable to destroy it. Baruch is informed in a vision that the destruction will be temporary, affecting only the earthly Jerusalem, the reflection of the heavenly and eternal Jerusalem. Chapters 5–8: The following day Baruch sees four angels with torches setting fire to the city at its four corners, while a fifth angel descends and stores away the sacred vessels of the Temple until the end of days. Chapters 9–12: After seven days Baruch is commanded to beg Jeremiah to accompany the exiles to Babylonia, but he himself is to remain with the ruined Temple. Baruch laments that Zion is destroyed whereas Babylonia is preserved. Chapters 13–20: Seven days later a mysterious voice informs Baruch that he will survive until the end of days. Chapters 21–30: After Baruch has fasted for seven days, the voice answers his question: "When will the messianic age come?" He is told that it will come in due time, but not before all the souls destined to be born will have been created. Chapters 31–34: Baruch prophesies to the people that the Temple will be rebuilt, destroyed again, and once more rebuilt for all eternity. Chapters 35–41: While Baruch sits on the ruins of the Temple, a vision is revealed to him. He sees a forest planted in a valley and surrounded by mountains. Opposite the forest is a vine, below which flows a spring. Rising to a mighty stream, the spring overturns the forest, leaving only a cedar standing, but it, too, is soon swept away by the waters of the spring. The interpretation of the vision is: The mountains and the forest are four future kingdoms, the forest being the fourth one; the spring represents the messianic age; the vine is the Messiah; and the cedar is the last ruler of the wicked kingdom (Rome). Chapters 42–52: Baruch goes to Hebron and after he fasts there for seven days, he is informed by the voice that the righteous will be resurrected at the end of days and exalted above the angels. Chapters 53–74: In a final vision, which the angel Ramiel explains to him, Baruch sees a cloud rising from the sea and shedding 12 times alternately dark and bright waters. Lightning, flashing above the black cloud, restores the places destroyed by the dark waters. Twelve rivers arise, but submit to the lightning. The interpretation of the vision is as follows: The six dark waters refer to the sins of man (those of Adam, the Egyptians, the Canaanites, Jeroboam, Manasseh,   and the Babylonians), while the six bright waters represent the elect of the nation (Abraham and his progeny; Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb; David and Solomon; Hezekiah; Josiah; the restoration of Jerusalem in the Second Temple era). The last dark waters refer to the interval between the Second Temple and the advent of the Messiah, a period of causeless hatred and social revolutions, the final flash of lightning being the messianic kingdom. Chapters 75–87: Baruch thanks God for the revelations he has received and writes two letters, one to the ten tribes and the other to the two and a half tribes. Only the contents of the former are given. In this letter, carried by an eagle to the captives in Babylonia, Baruch promises a speedy redemption, if they make full repentance. -The Apocalypse of Baruch and Talmudic Literature There are many parallels between the Apocalypse of Baruch and aggadot in the Talmud and Midrash. According to the aggadah (PR 26:131) God likewise commands Jeremiah to leave Jerusalem on the eve of its destruction (II Bar. 2:1); angels set fire to the city (ibid., chs. 6–8); the priests hand over the keys of the Temple to Heaven (Ta'an. 29a; Lev. R. 19:6; PR ibid.; ARN1 4, 12; II Bar. 10:18); Baruch enters Paradise alive (II Bar. 13:3–4; cf. Sif. Num. 99). There are several other features common to the Apocalypse of Baruch and the aggadah, such as that Manasseh made an idol with five faces (II Bar. 64:3; Sanh. 103b; Deut. R. 2:13 (20); that he was burnt to death by the Assyrians (II Bar. 64:7; PdRK 162); that some sacred articles of the Temple (missing subsequently in the Second Temple) were swallowed up by the earth (II Bar. 6:7–8; Yoma 21b; Num. R. 15:10); that the patriarchs knew the Torah (Yoma 28b); and that Abraham, when eating secular meals, observed the rules of levitical cleanness required for sacred food (BM 87a). There are further parallels between the Apocalypse of Baruch and the aggadah: The Heavenly Jerusalem (the counterpart of the earthly Temple), revealed to Adam (II Bar. 4:3; Sif. Deut. 37) and to Abraham in "the covenant between the pieces" (Gen. R. 44:21; 56:10; II Bar. 4:4); the souls in the "treasury" (II Bar. 30:2; Yev. 62a; Sif. Num. 139; ARN ch. 12; Shab. 152b); and the abundance and fertility that would be in time to come (Ket. 100a–b). The language of many ancient prayers is very similar to that of Baruch (cf. 11:4 "those that sleep in the dust"; 54:13 – which resembles the language in the nishmat prayer). In form and purpose the Apocalypse of Baruch is close to IV ezra , but it is impossible to determine which was composed first. In any event the Apocalypse of Baruch was written shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple (see II Bar. 20:2–4) and before the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Syriac version, which is derived from the Greek translation, was published in 1861 in Latin by A.M. Ceriani (Monumenta sacra et profana, t. 12, I–IV, 73–98), as well as in facsimile (1876–83). The work was undoubtedly written originally in Hebrew (see II Bar. 21:14; see greek apocalypse of baruch ; rest of the words of baruch ). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Rosenthal, Vier apocryphische Buecher aus der Zeit und Schule R. Akibas (1885); Ryssel, in: Kautzsch, Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen, 2 (1900), 404ff.; M. Kmosko, Patriologia Syriaca, 2 (1907); Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 305–15; Charles, Apocrypha, 2 (1913), 470–526; Perles, in: REJ, 73 (1921), 182–3; B. Violet, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch (1924); P. Riessler, Altjuedisches Schrifttum ausserhalb der Bibel (1928), 55–113; A. Kahana, (ed.), Ha-Sefarim ha-Ḥiẓonim, 1 (1936), 362–407; J. Klausner, Ha-Ra'yon ha-Meshiḥi be-Yisrael (19503); Klausner, Bayit Sheni, 5 (19512), 291–4. (Yehoshua M. Grintz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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