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Jeremiah Buys a Field During the Siege


The word that came to Jeremiah from the L ord 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 L ord: 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 L ord; though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed?”

6 Jeremiah said, The word of the L ord 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 L ord, 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 L ord.

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 L ord 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 L ord 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 L ord, saying: 17Ah Lord G od! 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 L ord 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 G od, 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 L ord came to Jeremiah: 27See, I am the L ord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? 28Therefore, thus says the L ord: 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 L ord. 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 L ord, 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 L ord: 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 L ord.

Though the Prophet was discharging his own office, yet he confesses that he was himself perplexed at the vision. It hence appears that God’s counsel was not always made known in everything to the Prophets, but as far as it was expedient. However, the Prophets were not seized with ecstasies like heathen soothsayers, who pretended they were carried away beyond all their senses. There was not then this fanaticism in the Prophets, so that they spoke like sounding brass, or like the ass of Balaam; but the Lord discovered to them what they taught. They were then disciples, so that they delivered faithfully to the people, as if it were from hand to hand, what was committed to them. But the knowledge with which they were endued was not inconsistent with ignorance as to some things; as when the Prophet said, Houses, and fields, and vineyards shall yet be bought, he knew that God promised the restitution of the land and of the people, nor was the vision itself an obscure enigma; but yet the reason was hid from him, and hence the perplexity of which he now speaks; for being astonished at so wonderful a thing, he had recourse to prayer, and confessed that his mind was perplexed. The wonder then of the Prophet proceeded from his ignorance; but that ignorance was not incompatible with prophetic knowledge. For as far as it was necessary, and the office of a teacher required, he no doubt understood the counsel of God; but such was the height or the depth of this mystery, that he was constrained to confess that it was a work of God which surpassed all his thoughts.

We now then perceive how these two things are consistent, — the prophetic knowledge with which Jeremiah was endued, and the ignorance which compelled him to make this exclamation. He knew with certainty what had been shewn to him in the vision, but what was the design and how the work could be done by God, seemed incomprehensible, and hence his astonishment. He therefore says that he prayed: and by this we are taught, that whenever thoughts creep into our minds, which toss us here and there, we ought to flee to prayer. For many increase their anxieties by fomenting them, while they turn themselves to all quarters, and indulge their own thoughts, and weary themselves without any benefit. Whenever, therefore, any anxiety stealthily lays hold on our minds, let us know that the remedy ought to be in due time applied, that is, to pray to God; so that he may relieve us, and not suffer us to sink into the deep, as it usually happens to all who are curious, and give loose reins to their own imaginations.

We now see that the Prophet was greatly astonished, and yet in such a way as not to look for more than what was profitable; but he immediately prayed, that God would make him to understand what grieved his mind. His prayer follows, which, however, does not immediately discover the mind of the Prophet, for he does not shew the purpose of his prayer until he comes to the 25th verse (Jeremiah 32:25). But he seems here to refer to many things unconnected with his subject. His design must be ascertained from the conclusion of his prayer, “O Lord,” he says, “why hast thou bidden me to buy the field which is now in the hand of enemies? the Chaldeans possess it; and thou hast bidden me to throw away my money.” This was substantially his prayer.

But Jeremiah seems to wander and take long circuits when he says, “Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and stretched-out arm; nothing is wonderful to thee; thou shewest mercy to thousand generations; thou repayest the iniquity of fathers to their children; thy name is Jehovah of hosts; thou art great in council and excellent in work; thine eyes are open,” etc. These things seem not to belong in any degree to the present subject. But the Prophet’s object, no doubt, was to restrain himself, as it were, by putting on a bridle, so that he might acquiesce in the counsel of God, though it was hid and incomprehensible to him: for if he had immediately rushed into prayer, he might, at the first burst of his feelings, have contended with God; for such is the disposition and character of man, when he suddenly addresses God, that he boils over beyond all moderation. The Prophet then, who well understood that there is no such moderation in men as to judge rightly and calmly of God’s works, set up against himself these fences, and placed, as it were, barriers around him, that he might not take more liberty than what was right. Let. us then know that these high terms in which the Prophet spoke were designed for this end, — that he might produce moderation and humility in himself, so that he might check all those roving thoughts by which men are wont to divert themselves. Let us come now to the words:

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