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32. Jeremiah Buys a Field

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. 2For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. 3For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; 4And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; 5And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper?

6And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 7Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it. 8So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. 9And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. 10And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances. 11So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: 12And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.

13And I charged Baruch before them, saying, 14Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days. 15For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

16Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the Lord, saying, 17Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: 18Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, 19Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: 20Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; 21And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; 22And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; 23And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them: 24Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it. 25And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

26Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, 27Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? 28Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it: 29And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger. 30For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the Lord. 31For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face, 32Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. 34But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it. 35And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

36And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; 37Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. 42For thus saith the Lord; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. 43And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans. 44Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.

God has hitherto been shewing that the Jews were worthy of that extreme punishment with which he had already visited the kingdom of Israel, and that they could not complain of extreme severity, though they were to rot in exile after the ruin of the city and the Temple, for they had polluted the land which ought to have been sacred to God, and had everywhere spread abroad their abominations, so that even the Temple was not free from their filth and defilements, and they had not thus offended for a short time, but, as we have seen, they had despised all warnings; and though God had been solicitous for their safety, they had yet proudly rejected and even extinguished his favor. As then they were of a disposition so wicked, and their impiety had become altogether incurable through so much hardness, God shews that he would render to them the reward due to their works, by wholly rejecting them. But now he adds the promise of favor, in order to shew that he would in such a manner be the avenger of wickedness, as ever to have a regard for the gratuitous covenant which he had made with Abraham.

We have already said often, that whenever God mitigates the bitterness of punishment with some hope of mercy, he has a peculiar respect to his chosen people. The word then is not indiscriminately addressed to all, when God declares that he will be at length merciful and propitious, for he encourages his chosen people alone, as I have said, to entertain hope. As then there were some godly seed remaining among the people, God intended to relieve them, so that they might not wholly despond.

We now see the Prophet’s object; and this truth ought to be carefully observed; for we shall be mistaken as to the doctrine taught by the Prophets, except we know, that after having threatened the wicked and the despisers of God, they then turn their discourse to the elect, to encourage them to bear patiently and with calm minds the punishment laid on them, as Jeremiah did in his own case when he exhorted the faithful to lay their mouth in the dust, and then patiently to wait for God, though he would for a time hide his face from Jacob, that is, from his Church. Jeremiah then, after having shewn that the Jews could not be too severely treated, because they had been wholly intractable, now adds,-

And now therefore, thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, concerning this city, or, to this city. The preposition אל al, signifies both, but it is more suitable to take it here in the sense of “concerning:” of which, it is added, ye say that it has been delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon 7878     “Ye are saying,” is the original, which betokens a habit at that time; they were continually saying this during the siege. — Ed. This does not seem to be consistent with facts, for the Jews themselves had not announced this sentence respecting Jerusalem, but on the contrary they sturdily rose up against the Prophets, and made a clamor whenever the ruin of the city was announced. What then is meant when God upbraids them with speaking in this manner? To this I answer, that this had indeed proceeded from the Spirit of God, and also that the Prophets had been the testifiers and heralds of this punishment; but when the Jews saw that they could not escape, they then had such a dreadful apprehension of God’s judgment, that they became wholly stunned with fear; and thus it always happens to the despisers of God, for except he presses hard on them, they scorn all his threatenings; or they think that fables are told them, when God announces that he will execute on them his vengeance. But when they come to extremities, they are filled with amazement, and without any hope confess only that God is angry with them; hence their despair. The Prophet then does not without reason upbraid them with this — that they said that the city was delivered up to the Chaldean king, even while he was not only assailing it with a strong army, but was also assisted by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence as his associates. For before the siege pressed hard on them, they esteemed as nothing, according to what we have seen, all that Jeremiah declared to them; for he lost all his labor for nearly forty years, though the prophecy concerning the ruin of the city, exile, the rejection of the people, and the abolition of all holy things, was proclaimed daily. But now when they saw that the affair was serious, and that they could not escape God’s vengeance, they went to another extreme, and said, that God was false in his promises, that his covenant was void and useless, that they had in vain worshipped him, that he had deceived them and had given them false hopes, when he promised that he would dwell in the midst of them. It is, then, in this sense that they said, that the city was delivered up into the hand of the king of Babylon; it was the same as though they had said, that the hope of return had been cut off. For they wholly cast away the favor held forth by God, and said that all that Jeremiah had promised was vain, because terrors had laid such hold on their minds and feelings, that they could not entertain any hope of God’s mercy.

I have said that the case with all the reprobate is, that they deride God while he spares and bears with them; but when they find that he is a judge, then they do not look to his mercy, but he prostrate in despair as though they were lifeless.


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