BARUCH (Heb. בָּרוּךְ; "blessed"), son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, scribe and trusted companion of the prophet jeremiah , who set down in writing all the latter's prophecies and may have composed the biographical narrative about Jeremiah (Jer. 36:4). Baruch's brother Seraiah was the quartermaster of Zedekiah (51:59), the last king of Judah. In the fourth year (or possibly the fifth) of the reign of jehoiakim , Baruch wrote down, at Jeremiah's dictation, all of the prophet's oracles and read them in the temple court before the entire community, which had assembled for a fast day proclaimed in Kislev of that year. Baruch then read them before the king's ministers   (36:4ff.). When the king was informed of these events, he ordered the scroll to be read before him. When he heard the prophet's message forecasting doom, Jehoiakim tore the scroll, cast it into the fire, and ordered Jeremiah and Baruch to be placed under arrest; they, however, succeeded in hiding from him. Then Jeremiah redictated the contents of the destroyed scroll and added to it (36:32). As a reward for Baruch's loyalty, Jeremiah declared that he would be saved (45:1ff.). In the tenth year of Zedekiah's reign, when Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians, Jeremiah bought a field from Hanamel, his uncle's son. He entrusted the deeds of purchase to Baruch, asking him to place them in an earthenware vessel for safekeeping "that they may last for a long time" (32:1–16). The Babylonian commanders released Baruch together with Jeremiah and did not force him to go into exile to Babylon (40:1–7). Baruch apparently exerted a great influence over Jeremiah. When gedaliah son of Ahikam was killed and the remnant of the population that had escaped exile, fearing the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar, asked Jeremiah whether they should stay in the country or go down to Egypt, he advised them to remain. But they suspected him of acting under Baruch's instigation, thinking that Baruch, out of hatred for them, planned to place them at the mercy of the Babylonian king. Baruch was then taken along with Jeremiah and the remnant of the population to Egypt. -In the Aggadah Baruch is held to be a priest as well as a prophet and one of the descendants of Rahab (Meg. 14b; SOR, 20). He is identified with Ebed-Melech the Ethiopian, who saved Jeremiah from the dungeon (Sif. Num., on 12:1). Five years after the destruction of the Temple, Baruch (with Jeremiah) was taken from Egypt to Babylon, where he died (Meg. 16b; SOR 26:1; cf. Jos. Ant., 10:181–2). He is also said to have prophesied there in the second year of the reign of Darius, but was unable to return to Judah because of his advanced age. According to this tradition, Ezra was his pupil (Song. R. 5:5; Meg. 16b). In the Middle Ages the Iraqi Jews possessed several legends about Baruch's grave, which was said to be near that of Ezekiel in Mushid Aʾli. A certain Arab ruler in Baghdad – at the time of the exilarch Solomon – wished to see the graves of Ezekiel and Baruch. When the grave was opened, Baruch's body was found in a marble coffin, looking as if alive. It was decided to transport him some distance from Ezekiel's grave, but, after a mile-long journey, the cart stopped and would not move, and he was buried at that spot (Travels of R. Petachia of Ratisbonne…, ed. and tr. by A. Benisch (1856), 21, 23, 49, 51). Jewish tradition extolled Baruch's piety and several apocalypses were attributed to him as well as an apocryphal letter. Baruch came to have considerable importance in the apocryphal literature where a number of books were attributed to him. Moreover, there are apparently fragments of Baruch and Jeremiatic apocryphal literature among the Dead Sea Scrolls. According to the apocryphal books he received many visions and revelations of an apocalyptic nature. In II Baruch his assumption is foretold (II Bar. 25.1, 76:1). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Yeivin, in: Tarbiz, 12 (1940/41), 260; de Vaux, Anc. Isr, 49, 120, 168; Noth, Personennamen, 183; EM, 2 (1965), 337–8 (includes bibliography); Ginzberg, Legends, index. (Yehoshua M. Grintz)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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