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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.

The Prophet in this verse confesses that. God’s vengeance was just, when the people were cast out of the land and driven into exile, because they, after having entered into the land, did not obey the voice of God. The very sight of the land ought to have made the people obedient to God; for they could not have eaten a crumb of bread, without being always reminded whence their food came, even because God had expelled the Gentiles from that land. When, therefore, they were filled with all kinds of good things, and at the same time despised God, no excuse could have been pretended; for if they made ignorance their pretense, the very land itself was before their eyes, which recalled them to the fear of God. This, then, is the reason why the Prophet joins those two things together, that the Israelites entered into the land, and that they disobeyed the voice of God

Now, by this clause he intimates that they had not fallen through ignorance, because God had sufficiently made known his will. God had indeed spoken, but it was to the deaf. The Prophet then here shews that there was no other cause for the sin of the people, but that they obstinately refused to attend to the voice of God.

Then he adds for the same purpose, that they had not walked in his Law The Law is often compared to a way; for except God prescribes to us what his will is, and regulates all the actions of our life according to a certain rule, we should be perpetually going astray. God’s Law, then, is justly said to be like a way, according to what Moses also speaks,

“This is the way, walk ye in it.”
(Deuteronomy 5:33; see also Isaiah 30:21)

Then Jeremiah, after having shewn that the people had been taught, mentions this, — that the way had been made known to them, so that they went astray knowingly and wilfully; for they could not have turned aside either to the right hand or to the left without being called back by the doctrine of the Law.

He says, in the third place, What thou hast commanded them to do they did not He explains here the same thing more clearly and without any figurative expression, even that they had been unwilling to obey God, while yet they sufficiently understood what was right; for the Law suffered them not to go astray, and God had included in it everything necessary to be known. The Prophet then shews that they had not turned aside except through perverseness, because they knew what God required. As a certain Lacedaemonian said, that the Athenians knew what was right, but were unwilling to do it; so the Prophet in this place distinguishes the open impiety and contempt of the people from ignorance and inadvertence, and does not mean that the people did not satisfy all the precepts of the Law.

And this passage also Jerome explains very absurdly; for he says that the Israelites did not stand to their promises, because they had said that they would do whatever God commanded. But the Prophet here does not condemn them as to one thing only, as though he had said that there had been some defect, but he says that they had been wholly disobedient, for they had not despised only one precept of the Law, but had as it were designedly cast aside the whole Law, and obeyed none of God’s commandments. Then this negative sets forth the defection of the people as to the whole law, and as to every precept of it.

And this passage is worthy of special notice, because the Prophet advisedly repeats the same thing, — that the people had not walked in the Law, — that they had not obeyed the voice of God, that they had done nothing of what had been commanded; 6767     There is this difference between these three things: the “voice” was that of God by his prophets, — the “law” was the ten commandments, — and “all which” had been “commanded” were the statutes and ordinances, the civil and ceremonial appointments. To “hearken to his voice,” rather than to obey it, is what is meant: so far from obeying it, they would not hear the Prophets. This had been throughout their sin. — Ed. for a heavier condemnation and vengeance await those who have been faithfully taught what pleases God and what is right, and yet follow their own will, and are carried away by the passions and lusts of the flesh. In a word, Jeremiah points out the highest pitch of impiety, that is, when people clearly and familiarly know what the will of God is, and yet disregard it and shake off the yoke, and thus shew manifestly a contempt for the whole Law.

It follows, Therefore thou hast made to come on them all this evil The Prophet here testifies that whatever had happened to the people, was not by chance, but that a reward was rendered to their sins. Men in some measure acknowledge God’s judgments, but this acknowledgment presently vanishes. Wisely then does the Prophet here shew that God’s vengeance is evident in adversities, and that the people thus received the reward which they had deserved. It now follows, —

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