a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

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.

When God says that he would take pleasure in doing good to his people, he adopts the language of man, for fathers rejoice when they can do good to their children. God then, as the paternal love with which he regards his people could not have been otherwise expressed, made use of this similitude. Further, the contrast also ought to be noticed, even that God had rejoiced when he punished his people for their wickedness. For God delights in judgment as well as in mercy. God then for a time rejoiced when he punished the peopie; for as his judgment is right, he delights in it. But now he says that he would manifest his paternal affection, so as to take pleasure in doing them good.

He adds, I will plant them in this land He had indeed planted them, when, by Joshua, the possession of the land was given them, according to what is said in the 80th Psalm, where a similar expression is used, even that God had brought his vine out of Egypt, and planted it in the promised inheritance. (Psalm 80:8) But afterwards the people were plucked up by the roots. Hence the first possession of the land to the time of the exile was not, strictly speaking, a plantation, for the people did not then strike firm roots. God then promises here something new and unusual, when he speaks of a plantation. Nor is there a doubt but the perpetuity, of which mention has been made, is intended; for this plantation of the people depends on the covenant, and the covenant is not temporary as before the exile, but perpetual in its duration.

We now then understand what the Prophet means when he compares to a plantation the restoration of the people after their return from exile. We know, indeed, that the people from that time had not been banished, and that the Temple had ever stood, though the faithful had been pressed down with many troubles; but this was only a type of a plantation. We must therefore necessarily pass on to Christ, in order to have a complete fulfillment of this promise. The beginning, as we have said, and I am often compelled to repeat this, is to be taken from this return; but Christ is not to be excluded from that liberation which was like the morning star, before the sun of righteousness itself appeared in its own splendor. When Christians explain this passage and the like, they leave out the liberation of the people from Babylonish exile, as though these prophecies did not belong at all to that time; in this they are mistaken. And the Jews, who reject Christ, stop in that earthly deliverance. But the Prophets, as I have said, begin with the return of the people, but they set Christ also in the middle, that the faithful might know that that return was but a slight taste of the full grace, which was alone to be expected from Christ; for it was then, indeed, that God really planted his people.

Further, when the Jews were afterwards expelled from the land of Canaan, it was owing to their ingratitude; and it was a total abdication. In the meantime, however, God planted there his own vine until Jerusalem was extended and had its limits in the farthest parts of the earth: and we are said to be grafted in Christ and planted, when God adopts us into his Church; and hence that saying of Christ,

“Every tree which my Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” (Matthew 15:13)

Let us then know that the Church was planted in Judea, for it remained to the time of Christ. And as Christ has pulled down the wall of partition, so that there is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles, God plants us now in the holy land, when he grafts us into the body of Christ.

He says, in truth, that is, faithfully, so as never to pull them up again. And he adds, with my whole heart and with my whole soul The words are indeed singular, for God transfers to himself the affections and feelings of men; but it is necessary that he should in a manner transform himself, that he may be understood by us; for unless he prattled, where would be found so much understanding as would reach the immense altitude of his wisdom? As then the mysteries with which he favors us are incomprehensible, it is necessary that he should accommodate himself to our limited capacities. By the whole heart, then, and the whole soul, he means that faithfulness and constancy which will ever endure until the faithful shall obtain eternal life. Integrity in man is called the whole heart, because there may be a double heart. It cannot, it is true, be for this reason applied to God or to his nature. But as I have already said, he says by a similitude that he would do this with the whole heart, because he will do it so perfectly that there will be nothing wanting to render salvation complete, and the same thing is also meant by truth; though some philosophize more refinedly as to this word, for by truth they understand the firmness or veracity of the promises, 8383     The word אמת most commonly means reality in opposition to dissimulation or pretense, or what is only apparent; truth in opposition to falsehood, and stability in opposition to what is evanescent and temporary. The planting was to be a real planting, and not one in disguise or appearance. The following words explain the meaning, “with all my heart and with all my soul,” that is, with sincerity and earnestness, or, with the full purpose of mind and with the full assent of the will and affections. — Ed. But we know that according to the usage of the Hebrew language, that truth means often what is solid and perpetual. He means then that the plantation would be so firm and solid, that there would be no danger that the people would ever be removed elsewhere, even because there would be a living root, as we have explained: the Church was fixed in Judea until the coming of Christ, who brought in the real accomplishment of this plantation; for when we are grafted into him, we already in a manner possess eternal life and are become the citizens of heaven.

VIEWNAME is study