“In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah,” Jeremiah the prophet spoke a “word” or personal message from YHWH to his scribal secretary Baruch the son of Neriah. This was at the time Baruch wrote on a scroll “from the mouth of Jeremiah” or at the prophet’s dictation. The generally accepted date for the message is 605 BCE. (45:1 [51:31, LXX]; see chapter 36 and the Notes section.)
Jeremiah specifically identified the message as coming from YHWH. “Thus says YHWH, the God of Israel, to you, Baruch.” (45:2 [51:32, LXX]; see the Notes section.) Baruch is quoted as saying, “Woe [is] me, for YHWH has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I do not find rest.” He must have experienced pain when witnessing lawlessness, corruption, idolatry, and a hostile, stubborn and unrepentant attitude among the people. The sorrow or grief that Baruch felt YHWH had added to his pain apparently was the revelation that there would be no change for the better and that the territory of the kingdom of Judah would be desolated, that the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed, and that the survivors would be taken as exiles to Babylon. At the same time, Baruch recognized that his own position would not improve, adding grief to his personal pain. Therefore, he gave way to groaning or sighing to such an extent that it made him weary, and he found no rest or peace. (45:3 [51:33, LXX]; see the Notes section.)
To Jeremiah, YHWH made known the message he was to relate to Baruch. “Look, what I have built, I am tearing down; and what I have planted, I am uprooting.” YHWH had made it possible for the people to prosper on the land he had given them, but he purposed to bring everything he had done for them to an end. He had planted his people in the land that he had promised to their forefathers. On account of their waywardness, he would let the land be desolated and the people to be uprooted or exiled. The overturning and uprooting would not be limited to the land and the people residing in the territory of the kingdom of Judah. Other nations would be affected, and the developments would have an impact on “all the earth” or on bordering and distant lands. (45:4 [51:34, LXX])
In view of the overthrowing and uprooting, it was no time for Baruch to seek “great things” for himself. He may have desired a position of greater prominence and respect in the kingdom of Judah rather than to continue sharing in the hatred directed against Jeremiah for whom he functioned as the scribal secretary. The word of YHWH directed him to stop such seeking of “great things, for YHWH determined to bring calamity upon “all flesh” or all inhabitants of the land. They would be subjected to the horrors of warfare and the accompanying suffering from serious food shortage and the spread of infectious disease from the unsanitary conditions that siege would create. The reference to “all flesh” may indicate that the calamity would not be limited to the people of the kingdom of Judah but would include the people of other nations. Baruch was assured that he would not perish in the coming calamity. YHWH would give him his “soul” or his life as “booty” (or like spoils of war) wherever he might go. According to Josephus (Antiquities, X, ix, 1), Jeremiah desired that Nebuzaradan set Baruch free. That Baruch did survive is evident from his being taken to Egypt along with Jeremiah. (45:5 [51:35, LXX]; 43:6)
According to Josephus (Antiquities, X, ix, 1), Baruch came from a “very eminent family” and was exceedingly “skillful in the language of his country.”
In verse 32 of chapter 51, the Septuagint does not include the expression “God of Israel,” and the title “Lord” appears without the definite article.
The Septuagint, in verse 33 of chapter 51, repeats, “Woe [is] me; woe [is] me.”