Baruch 6New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)
IV. Letter of Jeremiah
1 A copy of the letter which Jeremiah sent to those led captive to Babylon by the king of the Babylonians, to tell them what God had commanded him:
For the sins you committed before God, you are being led captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians. 2 When you reach Babylon you will be there many years, a long time—seven generations;[a] after that I will bring you back from there in peace. 3 And now in Babylon you will see gods of silver and gold and wood, carried shoulder high, to cast fear upon the nations. 4 [b]Take care that you yourselves do not become like these foreigners and let not such fear possess you. 5 When you see the crowd before them and behind worshiping them, say in your hearts, “You, Lord, are the one to be worshiped!” 6 For my angel[c] is with you, and he will keep watch on you.
7 Their tongues are smoothed by woodworkers; they are covered with gold and silver—but they are frauds, and cannot speak. 8 People bring gold, as though for a girl fond of dressing up, 9 and prepare crowns for the heads of their gods. Then sometimes the priests filch the gold and silver from their gods and spend it on themselves, 10 or give part of it to harlots[d] in the brothel. They dress them up in clothes like human beings, these gods of silver and gold and wood. 11 Though they are wrapped in purple clothing, they are not safe from rust and corrosion. 12 Their faces are wiped clean of the cloud of dust which is thick upon them. 13 Each has a scepter, like the human ruler of a district, but none can do away with those that offend against it. 14 Each has in its right hand an ax or dagger, but it cannot save itself from war or pillage. Thus it is known they are not gods; do not fear them.
15 As useless as a broken pot 16 are their gods, set up in their temples, their eyes full of dust from the feet of those who enter. 17 Their courtyards are walled in like those of someone brought to execution for a crime against the king; the priests reinforce their temples with gates and bars and bolts, so they will not be carried off by robbers. 18 They light more lamps for them than for themselves, yet not one of these can they see. 19 They are like any timber in the temple; their hearts, it is said, are eaten away. Though crawling creatures from the ground consume them and their garments, they do not feel it. 20 Their faces become sooty from the smoke in the temple. 21 Bats and swallows alight on their bodies and heads—any bird, and cats as well. 22 Know, therefore, that they are not gods; do not fear them.
23 Gold adorns them, but unless someone wipes away the corrosion, they do not shine; they felt nothing when they were molded. 24 They are bought at whatever price, but there is no spirit in them. 25 Since they have no feet, they are carried shoulder high, displaying to all how worthless they are; even those who worship them are put to shame 26 because, if they fall to the ground, the worshipers must pick them up. They neither move of themselves if one sets them upright, nor come upright if they are tipped over; offerings are set out for them as for the dead. 27 [e]Their priests sell their sacrifices for their own advantage. Likewise their wives cure some of the meat, but they do not share it with the poor and the weak; 28 women ritually unclean or at childbirth handle their sacrifices. From such things, know that they are not gods; do not fear them.
29 How can they be called gods? Women set out the offerings for these gods of silver and gold and wood, 30 and in their temples the priests squat with torn tunic and with shaven hair and beard, and with their heads uncovered. 31 They shout and wail before their gods as others do at a funeral banquet. 32 The priests take some of the clothing from their gods and put it on their wives and children. 33 [f]Whether these gods are treated well or badly by anyone, they cannot repay it. They can neither set up nor remove a king. 34 They cannot give anyone riches or pennies; if one fails to fulfill a vow to them, they will not exact it. 35 They neither save anyone from death, nor deliver the weak from the strong, 36 nor do they restore sight to the blind, or rescue anyone in distress. 37 The widow they do not pity, the orphan they do not help. 38 These gilded and silvered wooden statues are no better than stones from the mountains; their worshipers will be put to shame. 39 How then can it be thought or claimed that they are gods?
40 Even the Chaldeans themselves have no respect for them; for when they see a deaf mute, unable to speak, they bring forward Bel[g] and expect him to make a sound, as though he could hear. 41 They themselves are unable to reflect and abandon these gods, for they have no sense. 42 [h]And the women, with cords around them, sit by the roads, burning chaff for incense; 43 and whenever one of them is taken aside by some passerby who lies with her, she mocks her neighbor who has not been thought thus worthy, and has not had her cord broken. 44 All that is done for these gods is a fraud; how then can it be thought or claimed that they are gods?
45 They are produced by woodworkers and goldsmiths; they are nothing other than what these artisans wish them to be. 46 Even those who produce them are not long-lived; 47 how then can the things they have produced be gods? They have left frauds and disgrace to their successors. 48 For when war or disaster comes upon them, the priests deliberate among themselves where they can hide with them. 49 How then can one not understand that these are not gods, who save themselves neither from war nor from disaster? 50 Beings that are wooden, gilded and silvered, they will later be known for frauds. To all nations and kings it will be clear that they are not gods, but human handiwork; and that God’s work is not in them. 51 Is it not obvious that they are not gods?
52 [i]They set no king over the land, nor do they give rain. 53 They neither vindicate their own rights, nor do they rescue anyone wronged, for they are powerless. 54 They are like crows in midair. For when fire breaks out in the temple of these wooden or gilded or silvered gods, though the priests flee and are safe, they themselves are burned up in the fire like timbers. 55 They cannot resist a king or enemy forces. 56 How then can it be admitted or thought that they are gods?
They are safe from neither thieves nor bandits, these wooden and silvered and gilded gods. 57 Anyone who can will strip off the gold and the silver, and go away with the clothing that was on them; they cannot help themselves. 58 How much better to be a king displaying his valor, or a handy tool in a house, the joy of its owner, than these false gods; better the door of a house, protecting whatever is within, than these false gods; better a wooden post in a palace, than these false gods! 59 [j]The sun and moon and stars are bright, obedient in the task for which they are sent. 60 Likewise the lightning, when it flashes, is a great sight; and the one wind blows over every land. 61 The clouds, too, when commanded by God to proceed across the whole world, fulfill the command; 62 and fire, sent from on high to burn up the mountains and the forests, carries out its command. But these false gods are not their equal, whether in appearance or in power. 63 So it is unthinkable, and cannot be claimed that they are gods. They can neither execute judgment, nor benefit anyone. 64 Know, therefore, that they are not gods; do not fear them.
65 Kings they can neither curse nor bless. 66 They show the nations no signs in the heavens, nor do they shine like the sun, nor give light like the moon. 67 The beasts are better than they—beasts can help themselves by fleeing to shelter. 68 Thus is it in no way apparent to us that they are gods; so do not fear them.
69 For like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, providing no protection, are their wooden, gilded, silvered gods. 70 Just like a thornbush in a garden on which perches every kind of bird, or like a corpse hurled into darkness, are their wooden, gilded, silvered gods. 71 From the rotting of the purple and the linen upon them, you can know that they are not gods; they themselves will in the end be consumed, and be a disgrace in the land. 72 Better the just who has no idols; such shall be far from disgrace!