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Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah, 3where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him. Zedekiah had said, “Why do you prophesy and say: Thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4King Zedekiah of Judah shall not escape out of the hands of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5and he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I attend to him, says the Lord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”
6 Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came to me: 7Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.” 8Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the Lord, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales. 11Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; 12and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13In their presence I charged Baruch, saying, 14Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. 15For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.
Jeremiah Prays for Understanding
16 After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18You show steadfast love to the thousandth generation, but repay the guilt of parents into the laps of their children after them, O great and mighty God whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings. 20You showed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all humankind, and have made yourself a name that continues to this very day. 21You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror; 22and you gave them this land, which you swore to their ancestors to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23and they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or follow your law; of all you commanded them to do, they did nothing. Therefore you have made all these disasters come upon them. 24See, the siege ramps have been cast up against the city to take it, and the city, faced with sword, famine, and pestilence, has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has happened, as you yourself can see. 25Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans.
God’s Assurance of the People’s Return
26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? 28Therefore, thus says the Lord: I am going to give this city into the hands of the Chaldeans and into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, and he shall take it. 29The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall come, set it on fire, and burn it, with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal and libations have been poured out to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30For the people of Israel and the people of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; the people of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, says the Lord. 31This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built until this day, so that I will remove it from my sight 32because of all the evil of the people of Israel and the people of Judah that they did to provoke me to anger—they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets, the citizens of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33They have turned their backs to me, not their faces; though I have taught them persistently, they would not listen and accept correction. 34They set up their abominations in the house that bears my name, and defiled it. 35They built the high places of Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter my mind that they should do this abomination, causing Judah to sin.
36 Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, “It is being given into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence”: 37See, I am going to gather them from all the lands to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation; I will bring them back to this place, and I will settle them in safety. 38They shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for all time, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40I will make an everlasting covenant with them, never to draw back from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, so that they may not turn from me. 41I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
42 For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good fortune that I now promise them. 43Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, It is a desolation, without human beings or animals; it has been given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 44Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places around Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, of the hill country, of the Shephelah, and of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, says the Lord.
Jer 32:1-14. Jeremiah, Imprisoned for His Prophecy against Jerusalem, Buys a Patrimonial Property (His Relative Hanameel's), IN Order to Certify to the Jews Their Future Return from Babylon.
2. in … court of … prison—that is, in the open space occupied by the guard, from which he was not allowed to depart, but where any of his friends might visit him (Jer 32:12; Jer 38:13, 28). Marvellous obstinacy, that at the time when they were experiencing the truth of Jeremiah's words in the pressure of the siege, they should still keep the prophet in confinement [Calvin]. The circumstances narrated (Jer 32:3-5) occurred at the beginning of the siege, when Jeremiah foretold the capture of the city (Jer 32:1; Jer 34:1-7; 39:1). He was at that time put into free custody in the court of the prison. At the raising of the siege by Pharaoh-hophra, Jeremiah was on the point of repairing to Benjamin, when he was cast into "the dungeon," but obtained leave to be removed again to the court of the prison (Jer 37:12-21). When there he urged the Jews, on the second advance of the Chaldeans to the siege, to save themselves by submission to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 38:2, 3); in consequence of this the king, at the instigation of the princes, had him cast into a miry dungeon (Jer 38:4-6); again he was removed to the prison court at the intercession of a courtier (Jer 32:7-13), where he remained till the capture of the city (Jer 32:28), when he was liberated (Jer 39:11, &c.; Jer 40:1, &c.).
4. his eyes shall behold his eyes—that is, only before reaching Babylon, which he was not to see. Jer 39:6, 7 harmonizes this prophecy (Jer 32:4) with the seemingly opposite prophecy, Eze 12:13, "He shall not see."
though ye fight … shall not prosper—(Jer 21:4).
7. son of Shallum thine uncle—therefore, Jeremiah's first cousin.
field … in Anathoth—a sacerdotal city: and so having one thousand cubits of suburban fields outside the wall attached to it (Nu 35:4, 5). The prohibition to sell these suburban fields (Le 25:34) applied merely to their alienating them from Levites to another tribe; so that this chapter does not contravene that prohibition. Besides, what is here meant is only the purchase of the use of the field till the year of jubilee. On the failure of the owner, the next of kin had the right of redeeming it (Le 25:25, &c.; Ru 4:3-6).
8. Then I knew—Not that Jeremiah previously doubted the reality of the divine communication, but, the effect following it, and the prophet's experimentally knowing it, confirmed his faith and was the seal to the vision. The Roman historian, Florus (2.6), records a similar instance: During the days that Rome was being besieged by Hannibal, the very ground on which he was encamped was put up for sale at Rome, and found a purchaser; implying the calm confidence of the ultimate issue entertained by the Roman people.
9. seventeen shekels of silver—As the shekel was only 2s. 4d.., the whole would be under £2, a rather small sum, even taking into account the fact of the Chaldean occupation of the land, and the uncertainty of the time when it might come to Jeremiah or his heirs. Perhaps the "seven shekels," which in the Hebrew (see Margin) are distinguished from the "ten pieces of silver," were shekels of gold [Maurer].
10. subscribed—I wrote in the deed, "book of purchase" (Jer 32:12).
weighed—coined money was not in early use; hence money was "weighed" (Ge 23:16).
11. evidence … sealed … open—Two deeds were drawn up in a contract of sale; the one, the original copy, witnessed and sealed with the public seal; the other not so, but open, and therefore less authoritative, being but a copy. Gataker thinks that the purchaser sealed the one with his own seal; the other he showed to witnesses that they might write their names on the back of it and know the contents; and that some details, for example, the conditions and time of redemption were in the sealed copy, which the parties might not choose to be known to the witnesses, and which were therefore not in the open copy. The sealed copy, when opened after the seventy years' captivity, would greatly confirm the faith of those living at that time. The "law and custom" refer, probably, not merely to the sealing up of the conditions and details of purchase, but also to the law of redemption, according to which, at the return to Judea, the deed would show that Jeremiah had bought the field by his right as next of kin (Le 25:13-16), [Ludovicus De Dieu].
12. Baruch—Jeremiah's amanuensis and agent (Jer 36:4, &c.).
before all—In sales everything clandestine was avoided; publicity was required. So here, in the court of prison, where Jeremiah was confined, there were soldiers and others, who had free access to him, present (Jer 38:1).
14. in an earthen vessel—that the documents might not be injured by the moisture of the surrounding earth; at the same time, being buried, they could not be stolen, but would remain as a pledge of the Jews' deliverance until God's time should come.
16. Jeremiah, not comprehending how God's threat of destroying Judah could be reconciled with God's commanding him to purchase land in it as if in a free country, has recourse to his grand remedy against perplexities, prayer.
17. hast made … heaven—Jeremiah extols God's creative power, as a ground of humility on his part as man: It is not my part to call Thee, the mighty God, to account for Thy ways (compare Jer 12:1).
18. (Ex 34:7; Isa 65:6). This is taken from the decalogue (Ex 20:5, 6). This is a second consideration to check hasty judgments as to God's ways: Thou art the gracious and righteous Judge of the world.
19. counsel … work—devising … executing (Isa 28:29).
to give … according to … ways—(Jer 17:10).
20. even unto this day—Thou hast given "signs" of Thy power from the day when Thou didst deliver Israel out of Egypt by mighty miracles, down to the present time [Maurer]. Calvin explains it, "memorable even unto this day."
among other men—not in Israel only, but among foreign peoples also. Compare for "other" understood, Ps 73:5.
as at this day—a name of power, such as Thou hast at this day.
22. given … didst swear—God gave it by a gratuitous covenant, not for their deserts.
a land flowing with milk and honey—(See on Nu 14:8).
23. all … thou commandedst … all this evil—Their punishment was thus exactly commensurate with their sin. It was not fortuitous.
24. mounts—mounds of earth raised as breastworks by the besieging army, behind which they employed their engines, and which they gradually pushed forward to the walls of the city.
behold, thou seest it—connected with Jer 32:25. Thou seest all this with Thine own eyes, and yet (what seems inconsistent with it) Thou commandest me to buy a field.
25. for the city, &c.—rather, "though," &c.
27. Jehovah retorts Jeremiah's own words: I am indeed, as thou sayest (Jer 32:17), the God and Creator of "all flesh," and "nothing is too hard for Me"; thine own words ought to have taught thee that, though Judea and Jerusalem are given up to the Chaldeans now for the sins of the Jews, yet it will not be hard to Me, when I please, to restore the state so that houses and lands therein shall be possessed in safety (Jer 32:36-44).
29. burn … houses upon whose roofs … incense unto Baal—retribution in kind. They burnt incense to Baal, on the houses, so the houses shall be burnt (Jer 19:13). The god of fire was the object of their worship; so fire shall be the instrument of their punishment.
to provoke me—indicating the design, not merely the event. They seemed to court God's "anger," and purposely to "provoke" Him.
30. have … done—literally, "have been doing"; implying continuous action.
only … evil … only provoked me—They have been doing nothing else but evil; their sole aim seems to have been to provoke Me.
their youth—the time when they were in the wilderness, having just before come into national existence.
31. provocation of mine anger—literally, "for mine anger." Calvin, therefore, connects these words with those at the end of the verse, "this city has been to me an object for mine anger (namely, by reason of the provocations mentioned, Jer 32:30, &c.), that I should remove it," &c. Thus, there will not be the repetition of the sentiment, Jer 32:30, as in English Version; the Hebrew also favors this rendering. However, Jeremiah delights in repetitions. In English Version the words, "that I should remove it," &c., stand independently, as the result of what precedes. The time is ripe for taking vengeance on them (2Ki 23:27).
from the day that they built it—Solomon completed the building of the city; and it was he who, first of the Jewish kings, turned to idolatry. It was originally built by the idolatrous Canaanites.
35. cause … pass through … fire—By way of purification, they passed through with bare feet (Le 18:21).
Molech—meaning "king"; the same as Milcom (1Ki 11:33).
36. And now therefore—rather, "But now, nevertheless." Notwithstanding that their guilt deserves lasting vengeance, God, for the elect's sake and for His covenant's sake, will, contrary to all that might have been expected, restore them.
ye say, It shall be delivered into … king of Babylon—The reprobate pass from the extreme of self-confidence to that of despair of God's fulfilling His promise of restoring them.
37. (See on Jer 16:15). The "all" countries implies a future restoration of Israel more universal than that from Babylon.
for … good of them—(Ps 34:12-15).
not depart from me—never yet fully realized as to the Israelites.
I will not turn away from them … good—(Isa 30:21). Jehovah compares Himself to a sedulous preceptor following his pupils everywhere to direct their words, gestures.
put my fear in … hearts … not depart from me—Both the conversion and perseverance of the saints are the work of God alone, by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
42. (Jer 31:28). The restoration from Babylon was only a slight foretaste of the grace to be expected by Israel at last through Christ.
43. (Jer 32:15).
whereof ye say, It is desolate—(Jer 33:10).
44. Referring to the forms of contract (Jer 32:10-12):
Benjamin—specified as Anathoth; Jeremiah's place of residence where the field lay (Jer 32:8), was in it.