The Chaldaeans were already besieging the city, the prophet was in prison for foretelling its certain capture, and yet he bought with all the proper legal solemnities an estate, of which Leviticus 25:25 he had the right of redemption. The price apparently was small, but was more than the land commercially was worth. Jeremiah was now verging on 60, and only 10 of the 70 years of the captivity had passed by. But though the estate was not worth the purchase, the opportunity was precious as a means of assuring the people that (God would certainly bring them back. Jeremiah records, Jeremiah 32:16-25 how his heart misgave him, upon which Jeremiah 32:26-44 God unfolds to hint the full meaning of the sign, and assures him of the certainty of Israel's restoration.
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.The siege of Jerusalem began in Zedekiah's ninth year Jeremiah 39:1, but was temporarily raised upon the approach of an Egyptian army. See Jeremiah 37; 38.
For 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.The prison - Or, the guard, a part of the king's palace, probably where the royal guard had its quarters.
For 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;For the prophecies on which the charge was grounded see Jeremiah 21:4-7, Jeremiah 21:9.
And 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;
And 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?I visit - In the sense of punishment. See Jeremiah 39:6-7; Jeremiah 52:11.
And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Behold, 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.Hanameel was strictly the first-cousin of Jeremiah. In Hebrew all the terms of relationship are used in a more loose way than with us.
So 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.The right of inheritance is thine - Hanameel therefore had no children, and at his death the land would have been Jeremiah's by right of birth. According to the Law Numbers 35:5, it must have been part of the suburbs of Anathoth, within less than a mile, which was all the priests and Levites might cultivate.
And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.Seventeen shekels of silver - literally, as in the margin, probably a legal formula. Jeremiah bought Hanameel's life-interest up to the year of Jubilee, and no man's life was worth much in a siege like that of Jerusalem. As Jeremiah had no children, at his death the land would devolve to the person who would have inherited it had Jeremiah not bought it. He therefore bought what never was and never could have been of the slightest use to him, and gave for it what in the growing urgency of the siege might have been very serviceable to himself. Still, as the next heir. it was Jeremiah's duty to buy the estate, independently of the importance of the act as a sign to the people; and evidently he gave the full value.
And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.Translate: And I wrote the particulars of the purchase in the deed ... And I took the purchase-deed, both that which was sealed containing the oiler and the conditions, and that which was open etc. There were two indentures, of which one was called the purchase-deed, and was signed by the purchaser and the witnesses. It was then sealed, not in our sense of appending a seal in place of signatures, but to close it up. The open deed was probably an exact copy, and was that intended for common use. In case its authenticity was called in question, the sealed copy would have to be produced before the judge, the seal opened, and if its contents agreed with those of the open deed, the decision would be in the buyer's favor.
By the offer is probably meant the specification. The conditions, literally, the statutes, would be the stipulations and terms of the sale, e. g. as to its restoration at the year of jubile, its price etc. The placing of the deeds in jar was of course intended to preserve them from damp during the long years of the exile.
So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
And 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.
And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
Thus 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.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.Possessed - bought.
Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,
Ah 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:(27). Too hard - literally, too wonderful.
Thou 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,Recompensest - The recompence is placed in the bosom, because, in the East, the garments are so arranged as to form a pocket there. Thus then, men must receive and carry with them God's requital for their deeds.
Great 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:
Which 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;The sense is, who hast set, i. e., performed Exodus 10:2 signs etc., and hast continued working them unto this day, both in lsrael and among men (i. e., the pagan).
And 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;
And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;
And 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:Possessed - See Jeremiah 8:10 note.
Behold 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.The mounts - See Jeremiah 6:6 note.
And 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.For - See the margin. It is enough to place the command side by side with the state of Jerusalem to show how contrary it is to all the rules of human prudence. The prophet is sure that God will explain to him his difficulty.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,The answer is divided into two parts;
(a) Jeremiah 32:26-35, the sins of Judah are shown to be the cause of her punishment:
(b) Jeremiah 32:36-44, this punishment was not for Judah's destruction, but for her amendment.
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Therefore 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:I will give - Or, I am giving.
And 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.
For 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.From their youth - God's mighty deeds for Israel began in Egypt Jeremiah 32:20, and so did Israel's sin.
For 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,
Because 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.
And 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.
But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.These verses are repeated from Jeremiah 7:30-31, but with two important variations. Baal is put for Tophet, and to Molech instead of in the fire. Molech the king and Baal the lord are different names of the sun-god, but in altered relations. Molech is the sun as the mighty fire, which in passing through the signs of the Zodiac burns up its own children. It is an old Canaanite worship, carried by the Phoenicians to all their colonies, and firmly established in Palestine at the time when the Israelites conquered the country.
And 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.
And 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;
Behold, 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:
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
And 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:One heart, and one way - Compare Jeremiah 3:13. Under the new covenant they will with one consent walk in the one narrow path of right-doing Matthew 7:14. Forever, i. e., every day, constantly.
And 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.God's new covenant Jeremiah 31:31 is on God's side, I will not turn away from them to do them good, i. e., I will never cease from doing them good. On their side, I will put My fear in their hearts that they depart not from Me. In these two conditions consists the certainty of the eternal duration of the covenant Matthew 28:20.
Yea, 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.Assuredly - literally, in truth, i. e., in verity, in reality. It refers to God's firm purpose, rather than to the safety and security of the people. The new covenant is one of grace, indicated by God's rejoicing over His people, and "planting them with His whole heart."
For 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.
And 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.Fields - literally, The field, the open unenclosed country Jeremiah 4:17. In Jeremiah 32:44 fields refers to the several portions of it which belonged to individuals, and of which the boundaries were shown by landmarks.
Men 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.Subscribe evidences - See Jeremiah 32:10. In order to bring the certainty of the return from exile more vividly before the mind, the prophet enumerates the several subdivisions of the territory of the kings of Judah.