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The Apocalypse of Baruch and The Assumption of Moses
By R.H. Charles, William John Ferrar
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2006 Red Wheel/Weiser
All rights reserved.
THE APOCALYPSE OF BARUCH
[Translated from the Greek into Syriac.]
I. I-IV. I. Announcement of the coming Destruction of Jerusalem to Baruch.
I. And it came to pass in the twenty-fifth year of Jeconiah king of Judah, that the word of the Lord came to Baruch the son of Neriah, and said to him: 2. "Hast thou seen all that this people are doing to Me, that the evils which these two tribes which remained have done are greater than (those of) the ten tribes which were carried away captive? 3. For the former tribes were forced by their kings to commit sin, but these two of themselves have been forcing and compelling their kings to commit sin. 4. For this reason, behold I bring evil upon this city, and upon its inhabitants, and it shall be removed from before Me for a time, and I will scatter this people among the Gentiles that they may do good to the Gentiles. 5. And My people shall be chastened, and the time will come when they will seek for the prosperity of their times.
II. "For I have said these things to thee that thou mayest bid Jeremiah, and all those who are like you, to retire from this city. 2. For your works are to this city as a firm pillar, and your prayers as a strong wall."
III. And I said: "O LORD, my Lord, have I come into the world for this purpose that I might see the evils of my mother? not (so) my Lord. 2. If I have found grace in Thy sight, first take my spirit that I may go to my fathers and not behold the destruction of my mother. 3. For two things vehemently constrain me: for I cannot resist Thee, and my soul, moreover, cannot behold the evils of my mother. 4. But one thing I will say in Thy presence, O Lord. 5. What, therefore, will there be after these things? for if Thou destroyest Thy city, and deliverest up Thy land to those that hate us, how shall the name of Israel be again remembered? 6. Or how shall one speak of Thy praises? or to whom shall that which is in Thy Law be explained? 7. Or shall the world return to its nature (of aforetime), and the age revert to primeval silence? 8. And shall the multitude of souls be taken away, and the nature of man not again be named? 9. And where is all that which Thou didst say to Moses regarding us?"
IV. And the Lord said unto me:
"This city shall be delivered up for a time, And the people shall be chastened during a time, And the world shall not be given over to oblivion.
IV. 2-7. The Heavenly Jerusalem.
2. [Dost thou think that this is a city of which I said: 'On the palms of My hands have I graven thee'? 3. This building now built in your midst is not that which is revealed with Me; that which was prepared beforehand here from the time when I took counsel to make Paradise, and showed it to Adam before he sinned, but when he transgressed the commandment, it was removed from him, as also Paradise. 4. And after these things I showed it to My servant Abraham by night among the portions of the victims. 5. And again also I showed it to Moses on Mount Sinai when I showed to him the likeness of the tabernacle and all its vessels. 6. And now, behold, it is preserved with Me, as also Paradise. 7. Go, therefore, and do as I command thee."]
V. 1-7. Baruch's Complaint, and God's Reassurance.
V. And I answered and said:
"So then I am destined to grieve for Zion, For Thine enemies will come to this place and pollute Thy sanctuary, And lead Thine inheritance into captivity, And make themselves masters of those whom Thou hast loved; And they will depart again to the place of their idols, And will boast before them. And what wilt Thou do for Thy great name?" 2. And the Lord said unto me: "My name and My glory have an eternal duration; And My judgement shall maintain its right in its own time. 3. And thou shalt see with thine eyes That the enemy will not overthrow Zion, Nor burn Jerusalem, But be the ministers of the Judge for the time. 4. But do thou go and do whatsoever I have said unto thee." 5. And I went and took Jeremiah, and Adu, and Seriah, and Jabish, and Gedaliah, and all the honourable men of the people, and I led them to the valley of Cedron, and I narrated to them all that had been said to me. 6. And they lifted up their voice, and they all wept. 7. And we sat there and fasted until the evening.
VI. I-VIII. 5. Invasion of the Chaldæans.
VI. And it came to pass on the morrow that, lo! the army of the Chaldees surrounded the city, and at the time of the evening I, Baruch, left the people, and I went forth and stood by the oak. 2. And I was grieving over Zion, and lamenting over the captivity which had come upon the people. 3. And, lo! suddenly a strong spirit raised me, and bore me aloft over the wall of Jerusalem. 4. And I beheld, and lo I four angels standing at the four corners of the city, each of them holding a torch of fire in his hands. 5. And another angel began to descend from heaven, and said unto them: "Hold your lamps, and do not light them till I tell you. 6. For I am first sent to speak a word to the earth, and to place in it what the Lord the Most High hath commanded me." 7. And I saw him descend into the Holy of Holies, and take from thence the veil, and the holy ark, and the mercy-seat, and the two tables, and the holy raiment of the priests, and the altar of incense, and the forty-eight precious stones, wherewith the priest was adorned, and all the holy vessels of the tabernacle. 8. And he spake to the earth with a loud voice:
"Earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the mighty God, And receive what I commit to thee, And guard thou them until the last times, So that, when thou art ordered, thou mayst restore them, So that strangers may not get possession of them. 9. For the time cometh when Jerusalem also shall be delivered up for a time, Until it is said, that it is again restored for ever. 10. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up."
VII. And after these things I heard that angel saying unto those angels who held the lamps:
"Destroy, therefore, and overthrow its walls to its foundations, lest the enemy should boast and say: 'We have overthrown the wall of Zion, And we have burnt the place of the mighty God.'"
2. And ye have seized the place where I had been standing before.
VIII. Now the angels did as he had commanded them, and when they had broken up the corners of the walls, a voice was heard from the interior of the temple, after the wall had fallen, saying:
2. "Enter, ye enemies, And come, ye adversaries; For He Who kept the house hath forsaken (it)." 3. And I, Baruch, departed. 4. And it came to pass after these things that the army of the Chaldees entered and seized the house, and all that was around it. 5. And they led the people away captive, and slew some of them, and bound Zedekiah the king, and sent him to the king of Babylon.
IX. I-XII. 4. First Fast. Baruch's Dirge over Jerusalem.
IX. And I, Baruch, came, and Jeremiah, whose heart was found pure from sins, who had not been captured in the seizure of the city. 2. And we rent our garments, and wept, and mourned, and fasted seven days.
X. And it came to pass after seven days, that the word of God came to me, and said unto me: 2. " Tell Jeremiah to go and support the captivity of the people unto Babylon. 3. But do thou remain here amid the desolation of Zion, and I will show to thee after these days what will befall at the end of days." 4. And I said to Jeremiah as the Lord commanded me. 5. And he, indeed, departed with the people, but I, Baruch, returned and sat before the gates of the temple, and I lamented with the following lamentation over Zion and said:
6. " Blessed is he who was not born, Or being born hath died. 7. But as for us who live, woe unto us, Because we see the afflictions of Zion, And what hath befallen Jerusalem. 8. I will call the Sirens from the sea, And ye Lilin, come ye from the desert, And ye Shedim and dragons from the forests: Awake and gird your loins unto mourning, And take up with me the dirges, And mourn with me. 9. Ye husbandmen, sow not again; And thou, earth, wherefore givest thou the fruits of thy produce? Keep within thee the sweets of thy sustenance. 10. And thou, vine, why further dost thou give thy wine? For an offering shall not again be made therefrom in Zion, Nor shall first-fruits again be offered. 11. And do ye, O heavens, withhold your dew, And open not the treasuries of rain; 12. And do thou, O sun, withhold the light of thy rays; And do thou, O moon, extinguish the multitude of thy light; For why should light rise again Where the light of Zion is darkened? 13. And you, ye bridegrooms, enter not in, And let not the brides adorn themselves with garlands; And, ye women, pray not that ye may bear. 14. For the barren shall rejoice more, And those who have no sons shall be glad, And those who have sons shall have anguish 15. For why should they bear in pain Only to bury in grief? 16. Or wherefore, again, should mankind have sons; Or wherefore should the seed of their nature again be named, Where this mother is desolate, And her sons are led into captivity? 17. From this time forward speak not of beauty, And discourse not of gracefulness. 18. Moreover, ye priests, take ye the keys of the sanctuary, And cast them into the height of heaven, And give them to the Lord, and say: 'Guard Thy house Thyself, For lo! we are found false stewards.' 19. And you, ye virgins, who spin fine linen And silk with gold of Ophir, Hasten and take all things And cast (them) into the fire, That it may bear them to Him Who made them, And the flame send them to Him Who created them, Lest the enemy get possession of them."
XI. Moreover, I, Baruch, say this against thee, Babylon: "If thou hadst prospered, And Zion had dwelt in her glory, It would have been a great grief to us That thou shouldst be equal to Zion. 2. But now, lo! the grief is infinite, And the lamentation measureless, For lo! thou art prospered And Zion desolate. 3. Who will be judge regarding these things? Or to whom shall we complain regarding that which hath befallen us? O Lord, how hast Thou borne (it)? 4. Our fathers went to rest without grief, And lo! the righteous sleep in the earth in tranquillity; 5. For they knew not this anguish, Nor yet had they heard of that which had befallen us. 6. Would that thou hadst ears, O earth, And that thou hadst a heart, O dust, That ye might go and announce in Sheol, And say to the dead: 7. 'Blessed are ye more than we who live.'" XII. But I will say this as I think; And I will speak against thee, O land, which art prospering. 2. The noonday doth not always burn; Nor do the constant rays of the sun always give light. 3. Do not expect [and hope] that thou wilt always be prosperous and rejoicing; And be not greatly uplifted and boastful; 4. For assuredly in its own season wrath will awake against thee, Which now in long-suffering is held in as it were by reins.
XII. 5-XIII. 12. Second Fast. Judgement on the Heathen.
5. And when I had said these things, I fasted seven days.
XIII. And it came to pass after these things, that 1, Baruch, was standing upon Mount Zion, and lo! a voice came from the height and said unto me: 2. "Stand upon thy feet, Baruch, and hear the word of the mighty God, 3. Because thou hast been astonied at what hath befallen Zion, thou shalt therefore be assuredly preserved to the consummation of the times, that thou mayst be a testimony. 4. So that, if ever those prosperous cities say: 'Why hath the mighty God brought upon us this retribution?' 5. Say thou to them, thou and those like thee who shall have seen this evil: '(This is the evil) and retribution which is coming upon you and upon your people in its (destined) time, that the nations may be thoroughly smitten.' 6. And they shall be in anguish. 7. And if they say at that time: 'For how long?' 8. Thou shalt say to them:
'Ye who have drunk the strained wine, Drink ye also of its dregs, The judgement of the Lofty One Who hath no respect of persons,' 9. On this account He had before no mercy on His own sons, But afflicted them as His enemies, because they sinned. 10. They were, therefore, chastened then That they might be sanctified. 11. But now, ye peoples and nations, ye are guilty, Because all this time ye have trodden down the earth, And used the creation unrighteously. 12. For I have always benefited you; And ye have always been ungrateful for the beneficence."
XIV. I-XIX. 8. God's Judgements are incomprehensible.
XIV. And I answered and said: "Lo! Thou hast shown me the method of the times, and that which shall be after these things, and Thou hast said unto me, that the retribution, which hath been spoken of by Thee, shall come upon the nations. 2. And now I know that those who have sinned are many, and they have lived in prosperity, and departed from the world, but that few nations will be left in those times, to whom those words shall be said which Thou didst say. 3. For what advantage is there in this, or what (evil), worse than what we have seen befall us, are we to expect to see? 4. But again I will speak in Thy presence: 5. What have they profited who had knowledge before Thee, and have not walked in vanity as the rest of the nations, and have not said to the dead: ' Give us life,' but always feared Thee, and have not left Thy ways? 6. And lo! they have been carried off; nor on their account hast Thou had mercy on Zion. 7. And if others did evil, it was due to Zion, that on account of the works of those who wrought good works she should be forgiven, and should not be overwhelmed on account of the works of those who wrought unrighteousness.
8. But who, O Lord, my Lord, will comprehend Thy judgement, Or who will search out the profoundness of Thy path? Or who will think out the weight of Thy way? 9. Or who will be able to think out Thy incomprehensible counsel? Or who of those that are born hath found The beginning or end of Thy wisdom?
10. For we have all been made like a breath. 11. For as the breath ascends involuntarily, and again dies, so it is with the nature of men, who depart not according to their own will, and know not what will befall them in the end. 12. For the righteous justly hope for the end, and without fear depart from this habitation, because they have with Thee a store of works preserved in treasuries. 13. On this account also these without fear leave this world, and trusting with joy they hope to receive the world which Thou hast promised them. 14. But as for us,—woe to us, who also are now shamefully entreated, and at that time look forward (only) to evils. 15. But Thou knowest accurately what Thou hast done by means of Thy servants; for we are not able to understand that which is good as Thou art, our Creator. 16. But again I will speak in Thy presence, O Lord, my Lord. 17. When of old there was no world with its inhabitants, Thou didst devise and speak with a word, and forthwith the works of creation stood before Thee. 18. And Thou didst say that Thou wouldst make for Thy world man as the administrator of Thy works, that it might be known that he was by no means made on account of the world, but the world on account of him. 19. And now I see that as for the world which was made on account of us, lo! it abideth, but we, on account of whom it was made, depart."
XV. And the Lord answered and said unto me: " Thou art rightly astonied regarding the departure of man; but thou hast not judged well regarding the evils which befall those who sin. 2. And as regards what thou hast said, that the righteous are carried off and the impious are prospered, 3. And as regards what thou hast said: 'Man knoweth not Thy judgement'—4. On this account hear, and I will speak to thee, and hearken, and I will cause thee to hear My words. 5. Man would not rightly have understood My judgement, if he had not accepted the Law, and I had not instructed him in understanding. 6. But now, because he transgressed wittingly, yea, just on this ground that he wot thereof, he shall be tormented. 7. And as regards what thou didst say touching the righteous, that on account of them hath this world come, so also again shall that which is to come come on their account. 8. For this world is to them a strife and a labour with much trouble; and that accordingly which is to come, a crown with great glory."
XVI. And I answered and said: " O Lord, my Lord, lo! the years of this time are few and evil, and who is able in his little time to acquire that which is measureless?"
Excerpted from The Apocalypse of Baruch and The Assumption of Moses by R.H. Charles, William John Ferrar. Copyright © 2006 Red Wheel/Weiser. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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