Baruch, scribe of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32)

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Illustration: The seal of Baruch

Baruch, a well-known figure in the book of Jeremiah, was Jeremiah’s secretary, representative and advisor, with an official title of “scribe” (Jeremiah 36:26, 32). Evidence suggests that he was a royal scribe from a prominent family involved in this profession. Jeremiah 32 describes how Baruch drew up and filed a deed of purchase for the prophet (32:6-15). Jeremiah also dictated his prophesies to Baruch, who wrote them down on leather scrolls with pen and ink (36:4, 18). Baruch was forced to hide with Jeremiah because of official opposition to Jeremiah’s prophecies (36:26). Curiously, after the fall of Jerusalem, when Jeremiah told the Jews left behind in Judah that God forbade them to flee into Egypt, the angry Jews blamed Baruch for that message (42:1-43:7, especially 43:3). Jeremiah 45 gives us a glimpse of the man Baruch. He was distraught over all that had happened and wondered what would become of him, but God responded with both an admonition and a promise.

Two seal impressions of Baruch, both made from the same seal, have been acquired on the antiques market in Israel. One of them is on display in the Israel Museum (pictured above). The three-line inscription on each of them reads “Belonging to Berekyahu, son of Neriyahu, the scribe”. Berekayahu is a longer form of Baruch’s name; it includes the divine element “Yahu”, or Yahweh. The other seal, including a fingerprint (no doubt that of Baruch himself) is held in a private collection.



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