The Exceedingly Wise Scribe Baruch
Damien F. Mackey
Fixing a Time for Baruch
- Fitzgerald (F.S.C.), writing his commentary on “Baruch” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, appears to have made a pretty good fist of pinning down, to 593 BC (conventional dating used in this article for convenience), the year when Baruch wrote his book, or scroll, “on the seventh day of the month in the fifth year after the Babylonians captured Jerusalem” (Baruch 1:2) – 593 BC being the fifth year of king Zedekiah, when the Temple was still standing. For, those who would assign Baruch’s “fifth year” here to 582 BC, the fifth anniversary of the Temple’s destruction by Nebuchednezzar II in 587 BC, run into the acute difficulty of there being no Temple standing in Jerusalem to receive the silver vessels referred to a few verses further on.
Thus (vv. 8-9):
On the tenth day of the month of Sivan, Baruch took the sacred utensils which had been carried away from the Temple and returned them to Judah. These were the silver utensils which Zedekiah son of King Josiah of Judah had ordered made after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia had deported Jehoiachin, the rulers, the skilled workers, the nobles, and the common people and had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon.
According to Fitzgerald (37:8-9):
As 1:1b-2a stand, they indicate that the prayer [of Baruch] was composed “in Babylon, in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month”. The absence of a number before “month” is strange, but it is generally agreed that the fifth month is intended …. The fifth year referred to is not the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, but the fifth year of the exile of Jeconiah [Jehoiachin], i.e., the fifth year of Zedekiah. Another fifth year with no month given is found in Ez 1:2. Here clearly 593, the fifth year of Zedekiah is the date indicated. If Jer 28:1-3 and 29:1-2 are the source of the incident recounted in 1:8 about the return of the silver vessels, we have another reason for understanding the date of 1:2 as 593 (Jer 28:1). In any case, such an understanding of the problem presented by 1:2b harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the introduction.
A second date usually assigned to Baruch that I now think needs seriously to be questioned is this one that we find with reference to Baruch in the Book of Jeremiah (36:1-2, 4):
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations …’.
…. So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll.
Whilst the 4th year of king Jehoiakim of Judah is a most crucial biblico-historical date, combining as it does in Jeremiah 25:1 the biblical fourth year of a king of Judah with the first year of a known secular ruler: “The word came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, which was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” – not to mention a date from Jeremiah’s own prophetic career (v. 3): ‘For twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day—the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened’, I think that this date may need to be – in the case of Jeremiah 36:1 – amended to read the fourth year of Zedekiah.
Thus, instead of the traditional year of c. 605 BC for the 4th year of Jehoiakim, I think that we are, in reality for Jeremiah 36:1, in the year c. 594 BC, the fourth year of Zedekiah [*].
So, when immediately after 36:1, in Jeremiah 36:4, “Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll”, we are now moving speedily towards our very starting point of 593 BC which greets us again in v. 9, “In the ninth month of the fifth year the fifth year”.
But not only our same year, because the “ninth month” referred to here just happens to be the very same month, Sivan, as that referred to when Baruch returned the scared vessels to Judah.
* Different versions of Scripture present, now Jehoiakim, now Zedekiah, for Jeremiah 27:1.
Jeremiah himself was restricted as to his movements at the time (Jeremiah 36:5): “Then Jeremiah told Baruch, ‘I am restricted; I am not allowed to go to the Lord’s Temple’,” and hence he was quite dependent upon Baruch (v. 6): ‘So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated’. Whilst Baruch faithfully carried out the task assigned to him, it was in itself a most dangerous act – so, little wonder do we read of this hostile reaction from the king (v. 26): “… the king commanded Jerahmeel, a son of the king, Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet. But the Lord had hidden them”. Hence we can easily excuse Baruch for his agony at this time (45:1-5):
When Baruch son of Neriah wrote on a scroll the words Jeremiah the prophet dictated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah said this to Baruch: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life’.”
This Divine encouragement no doubt gave new heart to both Jeremiah and to his junior scribal assistant (vv. 27-28, 32):
After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up’. ….
So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them.
Baruch 5:9 and 6:1-72 actually comprises: “A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those about to be led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what he had been commanded by God”.
Just some five years later, with the Babylonians now besieging Jerusalem, we read of a very similar situation of dangerous tension between the prophet and the king (Jeremiah 32:1-2):
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah.
And, once again, the restricted prophet is dependent upon the aid of Baruch. The year is:
Jeremiah had famously at the time bought a field in Anathoth (32:6-25), and he had chosen Baruch to preserve the deed of purchase of the field (vv. 11-15):
I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy— and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard.
In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’
And once again we find the king, too, now Jehoiakim, now Zedekiah – but my argument is that it were all just Zedekiah – berating the prophet Jeremiah for his pessimistic predictions.
Also tell Jehoiakim king of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You burned that scroll and said, “Why did you write on it that the king of Babylon would certainly come and destroy this land and wipe from it both man and beast?” Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened’.
Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, “Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the Lord. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed’.”
Everything that Jeremiah, with the assistance of Baruch, had prophesied or proclaimed to the king and his officials, and to the people of Judah, would soon be fulfilled. For, the very next year, Jerusalem and its Temple fell to the Babylonians. And the king was taken into captivity.
And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon. When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed toward the Arabah.
But the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.
2 Kings 25:8-10:
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the House of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
Not long after all of this had occurred, there was a rebellion against Babylonian authority, despite the warnings of Jeremiah against escaping to Egypt, and Baruch son of Neriah – apparently also still in the land – was accused of “inciting” the people along the same lines (Jeremiah 43:1-3):
When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon”.
The next is the last that we hear of Baruch, whose combined floruit in the books of Jeremiah and Baruch I have estimated to have been only about (593-587 =) 6 years – depending on when the exile to Egypt occurred (Jeremiah 43:6-7): “And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes”.
So, what happened to Baruch after that?
There appear to be quite different traditions. “[Baruch] was carried with Jeremiah to Egypt, where, according to a tradition preserved by Jerome … he soon died. Two other traditions state that he later went, or was carried, to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar II after the latter’s conquest of Egypt” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_ben_Neriah).
Another interesting observation upon the fate of the prophet Jeremiah and of Baruch that I personally would be inclined to accept, in preference to death in Egypt, can be found here https://www.cai.org/bible-studies/what-happened-jeremiah-and-his-company:
“Didn’t the move to Egypt mean they would all die there, including Jeremiah?”
Jeremiah had prophesied to the group that the plan to go to Egypt was fatal since they would die there (JEREMIAH 42:10-22). Yet we know from subsequent scriptures that Baruch would DEFINITELY SURVIVE (JEREMIAH 45:5). It is also highly unlikely that Jeremiah would have died in Egypt as then his commission (JEREMIAH 1:10) could never have been completed and the LORD’S OWN PLAN WOULD HAVE BEEN RUINED. Furthermore, the Lord chose a very special man for the task of “pulling down and replanting” … WOULD THE LORD HAVE ALLOWED this special man with such a special commission to die prematurely in Egypt WITHOUT COMPLETING THE TASK?
Interestingly, when Jeremiah was called by the Lord, he received a PROMISE OF DELIVERANCE: “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to DELIVER thee, saith the LORD.” (JEREMIAH 1:7-8). God, in his foresight, predicted Jeremiah’s afflictions and these were MANY. Jeremiah was put into stocks, cast into dungeons, conspired against and threatened, but we read how “the LORD hid them” (JEREMIAH 36:26) and, in the times of Chaldean invasion, he found some degree of safety “in the court of the prison” (JEREMIAH 37-38). Jeremiah often found himself in life-threatening danger, YET GOD PROMISED DELIVERANCE TO JEREMIAH and this, as we see from the context of the first point, was in order to fulfil his commission “TO BUILD AND TO PLANT”. Jeremiah, himself, was NOT subject to the prophecy of impending death in Egypt, but rather stood under the care and shelter of God. .…
[End of quote]
That Jeremiah actually lived to fight another day after his sojourn in Egypt, “to build and to plant”, after all of his necessarily ‘negative’ work – his often pessimistic preaching, for instance – prior to the Babylonian Exile, I have argued for in my articles,
A Case for Multi-identifying the Prophet Jeremiah
and (briefly in Part Three of)
Listening to what Saint Matthew has to say
But my focus here is upon Baruch, who was younger than Jeremiah. What happened to him?
Well, according to what will follow in the remainder of this article, as we consider Baruch under some other proposed guises, his exciting career was far, far, from spent by its phase of sojourn in Egypt.
Firstly, though, when, and under what circumstances, was Baruch brought from Judah to the “Babylon” where we find him at the beginning of the Book of Baruch (1:1)?
Baruch Becomes an Exile to Babylon
- As Daniel
Baruch may well be the exceedingly wise prophet Daniel for the following reasons:
he is an exact contemporary of Daniel’s (all of the above dates also cover Daniel);
he is considered to have been a noble like Daniel (see Ant, X, ix, 1; compare Jer 51:59);
he is apparently likewise of the kingdom of Judah (see below);
he, like Daniel, is wise, Baruch being a writer of wisdom (see next page);
he was involved in fasting as was Daniel (cf. Baruch 1:5; Daniel 9:3);
he is an exile to Babylon at the time of king Nebuchednezzar II.
Moreover, Baruch’s magnificent Prayer (or “Confession of Sin”) (1:15-3:8), Fitzgerald considers to be most like that of Daniel 9 (op. cit., 37:10): “The prayer bears marked resemblances to the prayers of Ezr 9:6-15; Neh 1:5-11; 9:6-37, but especially to Dn 9:4-19”.
It would not be surprising for Ezra to have prayed like Baruch who is thought to have mentored the former and with whom Ezra is said to have studied the Torah in Babylonia. Nor would such ‘marked resemblance’ to Nehemiah’s praying be surprising if he were the same person as Ezra, as I have argued in:
Ezra the Scribe Identified as Nehemiah the Governor
As to wisdom for which Daniel is legendary: “Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you?” (Ezekiel 28:3; cf. Story of Susanna), Baruch wrote a magnificent discourse on it, his “In Praise of Wisdom” (Baruch 3:9-4:4), concluding with this magnificent exhortation:
Wisdom is the book of God’s commandments, the Law that will last forever. All who hold onto her will live, but those who abandon her will die. Turn to Wisdom, people of Israel, and take hold of her. Make your way toward the splendour of her light. Do not surrender our glorious privileges to any other people. How happy we are, people of Israel; we have the advantage of knowing what is pleasing to God!
Regarding the learning of Daniel and his three friends, we read in Daniel 1:17: “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds”. King Nebuchednezzar was so stunned by this last God-given ability of Daniel’s that he placed him over the king’s wise men (Daniel 2:48): “He made [Daniel] ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men”.
The greatness and nobility of Baruch is apparent from the unprecedented genealogy attributed to him in 1:1: “… Baruch son of Neraiah, grandson of Mahseiah, and a descendant of Zedekiah, Hasadiah, and Hilkiah”. Commenting on this, Fitzgerald writes (op. cit., 37:9): “For the genealogy of Baruch, see Jer 32:12; there is no parallel for the lengthy genealogy given here”. Daniel, on the other hand, completely lacks a genealogy. He and his three friends are simply introduced as being of Judah (Daniel 1:6-7): “Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego”. Thus the important Daniel is crying out for a genealogy. I suggest that Baruch 1:1 has provided it in spades.
That Daniel was a noble, however, is apparent from Daniel 1:3-4):
Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans.
That Baruch was someone important is also attested by archaeology. Thus:
In 1975 the first few pieces of 200 clay bullae were discovered in the shop of an antiquities dealer in East Jerusalem.1 Bullae are lumps of clay which were attached to documents and impressed with a seal. From the shape of its Hebrew characters (which vary throughout history) scholars date the collection to the 6th century BC, the time of Jeremiah. Within this collection are two bullae believed to have belonged to Baruch, and Jerahmeel ….
|Israel Museum, Jerusalem||Kyle Pope|
The three lines on the Baruch bulla read: “(Belonging) to Berekhyahu, the son of Neriyahu, the scribe.” The suffix -yahu was a common epithet attached to names in Judah, meaning, “blessed of Jehovah.”
While translations sometimes render it “-iah” (cf. Baruch’s father Ner-iah), some texts drop it altogether.2 The bulla is now displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The March/April 1996 issue of Biblical Archeology Review featured an article on another bulla belonging to a private collector from the same seal. What is unique about this is the clear impression of a fingerprint on the upper left of the bulla. The article suggested this was the “fingerprint of Jeremiah’s scribe.” 3 While it is presumptuous to assume this is Baruch’s fingerprint, at the very least discoveries such as this remind us that the people of the Bible were not imaginary figures from fairy tales, but real souls who served our God in the past.
[End of quote]
He Defers to Jeremiah
We read above how obediently Baruch carried out all the instructions of his older mentor, the prophet Jeremiah, writing down whatever Jeremiah dictated to him. And he was of great assistance to the prophet during his period of officially restricted movement.
Daniel makes reference to “Jeremiah the prophet” in Daniel 9:2: “… I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years”.
Baruch, the wise scribe, was both a contemporary of Daniel’s and a Judaean exile to Babylon, where he awaited the completion of his mentor Jeremiah’s prophecies. He, a man of true nobility, resembles Daniel in so many ways – and appears to bear no significant dissimilarities to him – that I think Baruch may well be this Daniel. And, since we do not have a genealogy for Daniel (qua Daniel), there is nothing to clash with Baruch’s extensive genealogy.
Though the names are different, Daniel (also his friends), who was forever blessing the Lord God (2:19; cf. 3:57-88) could truly be called Baruch, or Berekhyahu: “Blessed of the Lord”.
- As Mordecai
If Baruch were 1. Daniel, then he must also be 2. Mordecai (Mordechai), the Benjaminite, according to my series on the historicity of Queen Esther, but, most accessibly:
Belshazzar’s Feast in the Book of Esther?
Consequently, with all of the work largely done, this section will be short.
We are now in the Medo-Persian era, with Nebuchednezzar II no longer alive.
The Great King of “Belshazzar’s Feast” and of the Book of Esther (“king Ahasuerus”) is, according to what I have determined in the above article, Daniel’s “Darius the Mede”, who succeeded king Belshazzar (Daniel 5:31); the latter being none other than the evil Haman of the Book of Esther.
Mordecai, ‘a great man in the king’s palace’ (Esther 9:4), is first introduced to us as follows in Esther 2:5-6: “Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah”. Whilst “Jehoiachin” here should probably be amended to read “Jehoiakim” – names that can be the source of confusion as we read earlier in the case of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah – there is at least this Jewish tradition of two distinct exiles for Mordecai:
According to Targum Sheni (to Esth. ii. 6), Mordecai, after having been carried away by Nebuchadnezzar, returned to Jerusalem, and was again deported by Nebuchadnezzar in the second captivity (comp. II Kings xxiv. 14 et seq.; xxv. 11, 21).
Mordecai was, like Daniel, a man of visions or dream interpretation. We can compare, for instance, Daniel 1:17: “Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds”, often associated with terrifying creatures, or beasts (Daniel 7), with Mordecai’s own spectacular dream of “two great dragons” (Esther 11:2, 4, 6): “In the second year of the reign of Ahasuerus the Great, on the first day of Nisan, Mordecai … had a dream …. And this was his dream …. And behold, two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and they roared terribly”.
Like Daniel, a “man of desires” (Daniel 10:11), who would ‘set his heart on understanding and on humbling himself before God’ (v. 12), “Mordecai saw in this dream what God had determined to do, and after he awoke he had it on his mind and sought all day to understand it in every detail” (Esther 11:12).
Again Daniel, like Mordecai whose dream above is both dated to the year of the Great King and the month, will record both the year (Daniel 10:1) and the month (v. 4) of his visions.
The name “Mordecai” is simply the name of the Babylonian god, Marduk, which the Jewish exile would have been given in captivity (cf. Daniel 1:7). The full name may have been Marduk-balatšu-usur (“Marduk protect his life”), a variation of Daniel’s “Belteshazzar”, or [Bel]-balatšu-usur.
Whilst, once again, we do not have a genealogy of Daniel to complicate a comparison with Mordecai, the genealogy of Mordecai in itself has caused problems for commentators. Thus we read in the Jewish Ency, article:
Benjamite and Jew.
Targum Sheni (to Esth. ii. 5) traces the complete genealogy of Mordecai back to Benjamin through Shimei (identifying this Shimei with Shimei, son of Gera; comp. II Sam. xvi. 5-6, 13; I Kings ii. 8, 36-46), Jonathan, and Saul. Still the discrepancy in Esth. ii. 5, which makes Mordecai a descendant of both Judah and Benjamin, puzzled the Rabbis considerably, and various explanations of it are given, among others the following: (1) Mordecai, was on his father’s side a descendant of Benjamin, and on his mother’s a descendant of Judah. (2) He was a Benjamite; but his birth was caused through David, who was of Judah; for had David followed the advice of Abishai and killed Shimei (comp. II Sam. xvi. 7), Mordecai would never have come into existence. (3) Mordecai was the only Jew who did not come to the feast prepared by Ahasuerus; moreover, he endeavored to restrain the other Jews from coming to it. (4) The word must be read , meaning “one who declares God to be one” (Meg. 12b; Esther R. ii. 5; Midr. Megillah, in Jellinek, “B. H.” i. 22). Another theory makes Mordecai and Haman cupbearers at the feast (Meg. 12a).
Where I think that the genealogies of Mordecai and Baruch may have a common starting point is with the patronymic, respectively Jair and Neriah. Both have reference to “light”; Jair meaning “he shines” and Neriah, “lamp of the Lord”.
Neriah is also like Nair, hence Jair.
After that encouraging connection, Mordecai’s genealogy may then skip right back to the time of Shimei, David’s contemporary – if that Shimei be intended. Shimei was certainly a Benjaminite (2 Samuel 19:16): “Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David”. Baruch’s genealogy, on the other hand, proceeds backwards from the father, Neriah, to the grandfather, Mahseiah.
No need to be repetitive!
Baruch, who is Daniel and Mordecai, according to this article, must therefore belong to the tribe of Benjamin as we know that Mordecai did.
A Universal Influence?
As Plato and Zoroaster
I, in a recent article,
Church Fathers Were Right About Jewish Origins of Greek Philosophy
make reference to various articles in which I have pursued the line of some Church Fathers that Greco-Roman philosophy actually arose from a Hebrew (biblical) source. That article also recalls the view of saints Ambrose and Augustine – who then had to reject it on chronological grounds – that Plato had learned from the prophet Jeremiah in Egypt.
Now, we do know that Baruch, whose identity I have expanded above, was in Egypt with Jeremiah. And we know that he was also Jeremiah’s disciple. Moreover, Baruch was – according to Syro-Arabic traditions – the very Zoroaster (Zarathustra) himself, a significant philosophico-religious character in ancient folklore. According to Syro-Arabic tradition, Baruch, “on account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, left Palestine to found the religion of Zoroaster” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_ben_Neriah).
Could Daniel/Baruch then be the original ‘Plato’, this strange non-Greek name having arisen from, say, a Babylonian name such as Balatu, as discussed in our Mordecai section?
Daniel 9:24-27 may well be the source for another Syro-Arabic tradition about Baruch (Wikipedia article again), “The prophecy of the birth of Jesus from a virgin, and of his adoration by the Magi, is also ascribed to Baruch-Zoroaster”.
My connection of Baruch with Daniel perhaps makes less difficult, this next conundrum: “It is difficult to explain the origin of this curious identification of a prophet with a magician, such as Zoroaster was held to be, among the Jews, Christians, and Arabs”.
Most intriguing is this Jewish legend connecting Baruch with Ebed-Melech (Wikipedia’s “Baruch ben Neriah”):
A Midrash in the Sifre regarded Baruch as identical with the Ethiopian Ebed-melech, who rescued Jeremiah from the dungeon …. the Jewish legend … according to which the Ethiopian in Jer. xxxviii. 7 is undoubtedly identical with Baruch, is connected with this Arabic–Christian legend. As early as the Clementine “Recognitiones” (iv. 27), Zoroaster was believed to be a descendant of Ham; and, according to Gen. x. 6, Cush, the Ethiopian, is a son of Ham. According to the “Recognitiones”, the Persians believed that Zoroaster had been taken into heaven in a chariot (“ad cœlum vehiculo sublevatum”); and according to the Jewish legend, the above-mentioned Ethiopian was transported alive into paradise, an occurrence that, like the translation of Elijah, must have taken place by means of a “vehiculum.” Another reminiscence of the Jewish legend is found in Baruch-Zoroaster’s words concerning Jesus: “He shall descend from my family”, since, according to the Haggadah, Baruch was a priest; and Maria, the mother.
But these bits and pieces once again remind one of Daniel, in Jerusalem, or Babylon, or in Persia, like Baruch in the “Apocalypse … bewailing and lamenting the fall of Jerusalem”, and also being “addressed by an angel of God sent to reveal great mysteries to him”. Even the transportation into heaven of Baruch (or of Zoroaster, or of Ebed-melech) is reminiscent of Daniel’s wondrous vision of God in Heaven, after his having seen the vision of the four beasts (Daniel 7:1-10). For we read:
…. (ch. i). [Baruch] goes with the angel, and after crossing a stream at the place where heaven is fastened (not the ocean, but the “mayim ha’elyonim” [upper waters]; Gen. R. iv. 3; Ḥag. 15a; compare Abraham, Testament of), they reach the first heaven. The angel tells Baruch that the heaven’s thickness equals the distance from heaven to earth, or the distance from east to west (thus the Slavonic text: the Greek reads “from north to south”; Tamid 32a; Ḥag. 13a). Baruch sees men in animal form ….
As the Prophet Malachi
From the Jewish Ency. again: “Mordecai is identical with the prophet Malachi, the latter name having been given to him after he became viceroy. But all the Rabbis agree that Mordecai was a prophet and that he prophesied in the second year of Darius (Meg. 10b, 15a; Ḥul. 139b)”.