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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.

He amplifies the sin of the people, that they never departed from their vices. And he mentions the ten tribes, and also the tribe of Judah. The ten tribes, we know, had departed from the pure worship of God, when as yet true religion continued at Jerusalem. By mentioning then the children of Judah, he no doubt aggravated their guilt, intimating that they had fallen together with the Israelites, while yet they had for a time been preserved. The Israelites had become degenerated, afterwards the whole seed of Abraham became implicated in the same defection, so that they forsook the true worship of God. But afterwards he mentions only the children of Israel, but he includes also the tribe of Judah. For it ought to be observed, that when Scripture connects Israel with Judah, Israel then means the ten tribes, and that for the sake of honor or reproach the house of Judah is referred to separately; from the kingdom of Israel; but that when Israel is alone mentioned, it includes generally all the children of Abraham without exception. So it is in this place, when he says that the children of Israel and the children of Judah had done nothing but provoked God. Afterwards he mentions only Israel, and includes the twelve tribes.

But he says that the children of Israel and of Judah had only provoked him from their youth The particle אך ak, is sometimes taken as an affinnative, and sometimes as an adversative, but, or nevertheless; and this latter sense would be suitable, were the context to allow it. I am inclined to agree with those who render it “only;” and the Prophet seems to have removed all ambiguity, for he not only says, that they had done, but that they had been doing evil, which is a mode of speaking that intimates a continued action; they had then been doing evil, that is, they never ceased. And he confirms this declaration by saying אך, ak, only, that is, their purpose had been nothing else, or all their study has been no other than to provoke me without end and measure. 6868     The particle אך means also truly, verily, surely. It is rendered “only,” by the Sept., — “continually,” by the Vulg., — “verily,” by the Targ., — and is omitted by the Syr; Its most proper meaning is, “nevertheless,” but is often rendered “surely” in our version: and it might be rendered here, surely or doubtless. — Ed. We hence see that every ground of complaint is taken away from the Jews, because God, by long forbearance, had deferred his vengeance, for he might have punished them many ages before. As then they had never ceased to provoke God, the rigor shewn to them could not have appeared too much, for he had, in his goodness, invited them to repentance, but with no effect.

And from their youth here is not to be understood of individuals, but is to be extended to the whole people; and so youth is to be taken for the time of their redemption, as we shall hereafter see. For the Church was in a manner then born, and in the desert, when they had been recently brought to the light, for God had delivered them from the darkness of death. In their very childhood they began to provoke God; from that time they had always been perverse in their wickedness.

The meaning then is, that the people of Israel had been of such a perverse disposition that it became necessary at length to punish them severely, for they ceased not to add evils to evils. And the particle אך ak, shews their aggravated guilt, because they applied their whole minds to provoke God, and had been ingenious in devising superstitions, by which they polluted the worship of God: They have then, he says, been only doing evil

And he adds, with the work of their hands This explanation is added, because the Israelites might have raised a clamor, and asked what that evil was. God had indeed shewn sufficiently that it availed them nothing to seek evasions, for he had made himself their judge when he said, before my eyes; for by these words the Prophets intimate that a right judgment cannot be formed of men’s works by themselves, for willing or unwilling, they must stand or fall according to the judgment of God. Whenever then God declares that men have sinned before his eyes, he means that it is in vain for them to seek subterfuges, by alleging their good intentions, as they are wont commonly to say, because with him is the authority to judge. But this truth he confirms, when he says, that they had provoked him by the work of their hands 6969     It appears evident, that the last clause of this is explanatory of the first, as Calvin shews. “The evil,” for the article precedes it, was “the work of their hands,” that is, idolatry:
   For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have doubtless been doing the evil before mine eyes from their youth; for the children of Israel have doubtless been provoking me with the work of their hands, saith Jehovah.

   The connection in this way appears more obvious. — Ed.
By the work of their hands the Prophet means the superstitions will tell the people had invented for themselves. And we must ever bear in mind the contrast between God’s commands and the works of our hands, for whatever we obtrude on God besides his Law is the work of our hands; but obedience is better than sacrifice. Then God here expressly condemns all the inventions of men, as though he had said, that however men may delight in their own superstitions, they are yet impious and detestable, for it is not lawful to devise anything. For God having given us his Law, has left nothing for us to do, except to follow what he has commanded; and when we turn aside and add something of our own, we do nothing but what is sacrilegious. It now follows —

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