And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And I subscribed the evidence . . .—Literally, as in the margin, I wrote in the book—the last word being used for any kind of document, as for an indictment in Job 31:35, and here for a deed of conveyance. The minuteness with which the transaction is recorded is every way remarkable, partly as showing that the prophet was careful that no legal formality should be lacking to give validity to the purchase; partly, as the next verse shows, because there was a secret, unattested, unsealed (and in that sense “open”) document, which the witnesses did not subscribe, and with the contents of which they were probably not acquainted. The sealed document was one closed up as a safeguard against fraudulent alterations (comp. Isaiah 29:11). In the weighing of the money we see an indication of the old practice—probably consequent on the practice of “clipping” coined money—of dealing even with the current coin as if it were bullion, just as bankers weigh a parcel of sovereigns now before giving credit for the amount. (Comp. Genesis 23:16; Zechariah 11:12.)Jeremiah 32:10-14. I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it — I wrote down an account of the transaction in a book. The method it appears then in use among the Jews when any purchase was made was, that the purchaser, as well as those who sold, testified his consent by some writing signed before witnesses. I took the evidence, both that which was sealed and that which was open — The open, or unsealed writing, was either a copy of the sealed one, or else a certificate of the witnesses, in whose presence the deed of purchase was signed and sealed. I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch — “Baruch was a scribe by profession, and it may be concluded that the attendance of such a one, skilled in the forms of law, was necessary on those occasions, both to draw up the writings and to officiate in the character of a notary public. And to his custody, as being a public officer, the custody of the title-deeds was intrusted.” I charged Baruch, to put them in an earthen vessel — To preserve them from fire and moisture. It was common with the ancients to put their writings into earthen vessels. Origen found at Jericho a version of the Scriptures hid in an earthen pot. That they may continue many days — When hid under ground for greater security, to be produced when the land should be re-inhabited.
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.
weighed—coined money was not in early use; hence money was "weighed" (Ge 23:16).
and sealed it; for the further confirmation of it:
and took witnesses; to be present at the payment of the money, and to sign the deed likewise:
and weighed him the money in the balances; this he did a second time; he weighed it first before Hanameel himself, and then before the witnesses; everything was done fairly, and with great exactness.And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. And I subscribed the deed] The following will explain the particulars of Jeremiah’s action as given here and in the next vv. “Contracts stamped upon clay tablets have been found in Babylonia, enclosed in an envelope of clay, on the outside of which an exact duplicate of the contract was impressed (see an illustration in Maspero, The Dawn of Civilization, p. 732): if in course of time any disagreement arose, and it was suspected that the outside text had been tampered with, the envelope was broken in the presence of witnesses to see if the inside text agreed with it or not. Earthen jars containing such duplicate contracts have been excavated at Nippur (Peters, Nippur; II. 198).” Dr. ad loc. See further in Johns, Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts, and Letters, pp. 10 f.
sealed it] not in our sense of adding a seal to a signature (“under one’s hand and seal”), but sealed up, closed securely.Verses 10-14. - The Authorized Version is here so far wrong, on technical terms, that it seems best to retranslate the whole passage: "And I wrote (the circumstances) in the deed, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed the money in the balance. And I took the purchase deed, that which was sealed (containing the offer and the conditions), and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah (rather, Makhseiah), in the sight of Hanameel my uncle, and in the sight of the witnesses who subscribed the purchase deed, in the sight of all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard. And I charged Baruch before them, saying, Thus saith Jehovah Sabaoth, the God of Israel, Take these deeds, this sealed purchase deed, and this open deed; and put them into an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days." The deed was made in two copies, so that if the open one were lost, or suspected of having been tampered with, an appeal might always be made to the sealed copy. The latter was to be placed in an earthen vessel, to preserve it from injury by damp. It ought to be added that the words in ver. 11, rendered "containing the offer and the conditions," are difficult. "Containing" is not expressed in the Hebrew, and "offer" is not the ordinary meaning, though etymologically justifiable. Jeremiah 25:1 and Jeremiah 52:12), when the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was kept in confinement in the fore-court of the royal palace. These historical data are inserted (Jeremiah 32:2-5) in the form of circumstantial clauses: 'ואז חיל וגו, "for at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem." The siege had begun in the ninth year of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 52:4), and was afterwards raised for a short time, in consequence of the approach of an auxiliary corps of Egyptians; but, as soon as these had been defeated, it was resumed (Jeremiah 37:5, Jeremiah 37:11). Jeremiah was then kept confined in the court of the prison of the royal palace (cf. Nehemiah 3:25), "where Zedekiah, king of Judah, had imprisoned him, saying: Why dost thou prophesy, 'Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, so that he shall take it; Jeremiah 32:4. And Zedekiah, the king of Judah, shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall assuredly be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and his mouth shall speak with his mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; Jeremiah 32:5. 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 succeed?'" - We have already found an utterance of like import in Jeremiah 21:1-14, but that is not here referred to; for it was fulfilled at the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, and did not bring on Jeremiah the consequences mentioned here. From Jeremiah 37 we learn that Jeremiah, during the siege of Jerusalem, on till the time when it was raised through the approach of the Egyptian army, had not been imprisoned, but went freely in and out among the people (Jeremiah 37:4.). Not till during the temporary raising of the siege, when he wanted to go out of the city into the land of Benjamin, was he seized and thrown into a dungeon, on the pretence that he intended to go over to the Chaldeans. There he remained many days, till King Zedekiah ordered him to be brought, and questioned him privately as to the issue of the conflict; when Jeremiah replied, "Thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon." On this occasion Jeremiah complained to the king of his imprisonment, and requested that he might not be sent back into the dungeon, where he must soon perish; the king then ordered him (Jeremiah 37:11-21) to be taken into the court of the prison-house (חצר , Jeremiah 37:21), where he remained in confinement till the city was taken (Jeremiah 38:13, Jeremiah 38:28; Jeremiah 39:14). The statement in our verses as to the cause of this imprisonment does not contradict, but agrees with the notice in Jeremiah 37, as soon as we perceive that this account contains merely a brief passing notice of the matter. The same holds true of the utterance of the prophet in Jeremiah 32:3-5. Jeremiah, even at the beginning of the siege (Jeremiah 21:3.), had sent a message of similar import to the king, and repeated the same afterwards: Jeremiah 34:3-5; Jeremiah 37:17; Jeremiah 38:17-23. The words of our verses are taken from these repeated utterances; Jeremiah 32:4 agrees almost verbatim with Jeremiah 34:3; and the words, "there shall he remain עד־פּקדי אתו, till I regard him with favour," are based upon the clearer utterance as to the end of Zedekiah, Jeremiah 34:4-5. - The circumstances under which Jeremiah received the following commission from the Lord are thus exactly stated, in order to show how little prospect the present of the kingdom of Judah offered for the future, which was portrayed by the purchase of the field. Not only must the kingdom of Judah inevitably succumb to the power of the Chaldeans, and its population go into exile, but even Jeremiah is imprisoned, in so hopeless a condition, that he is no longer sure of his life for a single day.
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