Bar 61 This is a copy of the letter that Jeremiah sent to those who would be taken captive into Babylon by the king of Babylon, so as to prophesy to them according to the warning he had received about them from God. “Because of the sins which you have sinned before God, you will be carried away into the captivity of Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. 2 And so, having been taken into Babylon, you will be there many years and for a long time, even to seven generations, yet after this, I will lead you away from there with peace. 3 But now, you will see in Babylon gods of gold and of silver, and of stone and of wood, carried upon shoulders, an awful display for the peoples. 4 See to it, then, that you do not in effect become like these strangers and become afraid, so that in awe you would be carried away into their midst. 5 And so, seeing the turmoil, behind you and in front of you, as they are worshiping, say in your hearts, ‘You ought to be adored, O Lord.’ 6 For my angel is with you. And I myself will examine your souls. 7 For their tongue is polished by the craftsman, and they themselves are even inlaid with gold and silver, yet they are false and unable to speak. 8 And, just like a virgin who loves to decorate herself, so do they take up gold and make designs with it. 9 Their gods have crowns of certified gold upon their heads, from which the priests subtract gold and silver, and spend it on themselves. 10 Moreover, they even give from it to prostitutes, and use it to adorn kept women, and when they receive it back from the kept women, they use it to adorn their gods. 11 But these cannot be freed from rust and moths. 12 Although they are covered with a purple garment, they must wipe off their face, because of the dust of the house, which is very great around them. 13 Yet he who holds a scepter like a man, like the judge of the region, cannot put to death one who sins against him. 14 And though he holds in his hand a sword and an axe, yet he cannot free himself from war and robbers. From this let it be known to you that they are not gods. 15 Therefore, do not fear them. For just as the vessel a man uses becomes useless when broken, so also are their gods. 16 When they are set up in a house, their eyes are full of dust from the feet of those who enter. 17 And like one who has offended the king and is surrounded at every door, or like a corpse about to be carried to the grave, so do the priests secure the doors with bars and locks, lest they be plundered by robbers. 18 They light candles to them, and in great number, and still they are unable to see, for they are like logs in the house. 19 It is truly said that the creeping things, which are of the earth, gnaw their hearts, and yet when these devour them and their garments, they do not feel it. 20 Their faces are made black by the smoke that is made in the house. 21 Over their bodies and over their heads fly owls and swallows and birds, and similarly, even cats. 22 From this you should understand that they are not gods. Therefore, neither should you fear them. 23 Furthermore, the gold which they have is shiny, but unless someone wipes off the rust, they will not shine. And even when they were molten, they did not feel it. 24 They acquire all kinds of costly things, yet there is no breath in them. 25 Without feet, they are carried upon shoulders, showing their unworthiness to all men. And so, may those who worship them be confounded. 26 Because of this, if they fall to the ground, they do not get up by themselves; and if someone sets it upright, they will not stand firm on their own; yet, just like the dead, offerings are placed next to them. 27 The priests themselves sell their sacrifices, and they spend it wastefully; and, in like manner, their wives take part of it, never sharing anything with the sick or the beggars. 28 Fertile and menstruous women contaminate their sacrifices. And so, knowing from this that they are not gods, you should not fear them. 29 For what reason are they called gods? It is because the women serve before the gods of silver and gold and wood, 30 and the priests sit in their houses, with torn garments, and their heads and beards shaven, and nothing on their heads. 31 But they roar, shouting out to their gods, just as at a feast for the dead. 32 The priests take away the garments of their gods, and clothe their wives and their sons. 33 And whether they endure evil from someone, or good, they are not able to repay it. They can neither establish a king, nor remove him. 34 Similarly, they can neither give riches, nor avenge evil. If anyone makes a vow to them, and does not keep it, they cannot require it. 35 They cannot free a man from death, nor rescue the weak from the strong. 36 They cannot restore sight to the blind, nor free a man from need. 37 They will not have mercy on the widow, nor do good to orphans. 38 Their gods of wood, and of stone, and of gold, and of silver, are like stones from the mountain; and those who worship them will be confounded. 39 In what way, then, is it to be supposed or said that they are gods? 40 For even the Chaldeans themselves do not honor these, who, when they hear about a mute, unable to speak, they offer him to Bel, asking from him that he may speak, 41 as if these, who are unable to move, would be able to perceive. And even they themselves, when they shall understand this, will abandon them, for, having come to their senses, they do not consider them to be gods. 42 Yet the women, wrapped in cords, sit by the roads, burning olive-stones. 43 And when any one of them, having been attracted by someone passing by, would sleep with him, she reproaches her neighbor because she was not found worthy, as she was, nor was her cord broken. 44 But all things that occur with them are false; in what way, then, is it to be considered or said that they are gods? 45 Yet they have been made by the workmen and the goldsmiths. They will be nothing else but what the priests want them to be. 46 For the artisans themselves, who make them, do not exist for a long time. So then, can these things, which have been made by them, be gods? 47 Yet they have bequeathed falsehoods and disgrace after this to the future. 48 For when they are overcome by battle or evil, the priests consider among themselves where they may hide themselves with them. 49 Therefore, why would they be perceived to be gods, who can neither free themselves from war, nor rescue themselves from evils? 50 For, in as much as they are only wood, inlaid with gold and silver, so let it be known henceforth, by all nations and kings, that they are false; because it has been revealed that they are not gods, but the work of men’s hands, and there is no work of God in them. 51 For this reason, then, it has been accepted that they are not gods, but are works of the hands of men, and no work of God is in them. 52 They have not raised up a king in the region, nor will they give rain to men. 53 They will not discern a judgment for anyone, nor will they free a region from injury, because they can do nothing, like crows in the middle of heaven and earth. 54 And, indeed, when there happens to be a fire in the house of these gods of wood, silver, and gold, the priests will certainly run away and save themselves, but these will truly be burned up like logs in the midst of it. 55 Yet they cannot withstand a king and war. In what way, then, is it to be considered or accepted that they are gods? 56 These gods of wood and stone, inlaid with gold and silver, can free themselves neither from thieves nor from robbers; whoever is stronger than they are, 57 will take up these things, the gold and the silver, and the garments which cover them, and will get away; neither will they be able to help themselves. 58 Therefore, it is better to be a king displaying his power, or a useful vessel in a house, about which he who owns it will boast, or a door in the house, which keeps safe what is inside, than to be these gods of falsehood. 59 For the sun, and the moon, and the constellations, though they are brilliant and have been sent forth to be useful, are obedient. 60 Similarly, the lightning, when it appears and is evident, and, in like manner, the wind blowing in every region, 61 and the clouds, when God orders them to make their rounds over the whole world, each carries out what was commanded. 62 Furthermore, the fire, having been sent from above so that it may consume mountains and woods, does what it has been instructed to do. Yet these are not similar, neither in splendor, nor in power, to any one of them. 63 From this, it should neither be supposed, nor said, that they are gods; since they are neither able to give judgment, nor to accomplish anything for men. 64 And so, knowing that they are not gods, therefore, have no fear of them. 65 For they can neither curse kings, nor bless them. 66 Besides, they show no signs in heaven to the nations; they neither shine like the sun, nor give light like the moon. 67 Beasts are better than they are, for they can flee under a covering, and so protect themselves. 68 Therefore, in no way is it clear to us that they are gods; because of this, you should not fear them. 69 For just as a scarecrow in a cucumber field protects nothing, so are their gods of wood, and silver, and inlaid gold. 70 They are just the same as a white thorn in a garden, on which all the birds sit; they are even like a corpse thrown out into the darkness, just so are these gods of wood, and inlaid gold, and inlaid silver. 71 By the purple, and likewise the Royal purple, moth-eaten garments upon them, you will then know that they are not gods. And finally, they themselves are consumed and will be a disgrace in the region. 72 Better is the just man who has no such images, for he will be far from disgrace.”
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