Jeremiah 32:10
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)
(10) 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.

32:1-15 Jeremiah, being in prison for his prophecy, purchased a piece of ground. This was to signify, that though Jerusalem was besieged, and the whole country likely to be laid waste, yet the time would come, when houses, and fields, and vineyards, should be again possessed. It concerns ministers to make it appear that they believe what they preach to others. And it is good to manage even our worldly affairs in faith; to do common business with reference to the providence and promise of God.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.

10. subscribed—I wrote in the deed, "book of purchase" (Jer 32:12).

weighed—coined money was not in early use; hence money was "weighed" (Ge 23:16).

I went through with the purchase, setting my hand to and sealing the deed, and taking witnesses to it, as is usual.

And I subscribed the evidence,.... Or, "wrote in a book" (u); the instrument or bill of sale, the deed of purchase; which described the field sold, and expressed the condition on which the purchase was made; and by subscribing it he agreed to it, and laid himself under obligation to perform it:

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.

(u) "et scripsi in libro", V. L. Munster, Pagninus, Montanus; "in libello", Cocceius.

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 32:10The purchase was concluded in full legal form. "I wrote it (the necessary terms) in the letter (the usual letter of purchase), and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed out the money on the balance" (it was then and still is the custom in the East to weigh money). חתם means here, not to append a seal instead of subscribing the name, or for attestation (cf. 1 Kings 21:8; Nehemiah 10:1; 2), but to seal up, make sure by sealing (Isaiah 29:11, etc.). For, from Jeremiah 32:11, Jeremiah 32:12, we perceive that two copies of the bill of purchase were prepared, one sealed up, and the other open; so that, in case the open one were lost, or were accidentally or designedly injured or defaced, a perfect original might still exist in the sealed-up copy. Then "Jeremiah took the bill of purchase, the sealed one," - the specification and the conditions - "and the open one." The words המּצוה והחקּים are in apposition with 'את־ספר וגו. The Vulgate renders stipulationes et rata; Jerome, stipulatione rata, which he explains by stipulationibus et sponsionibus corroborata. מצוה, usually "a command, order," is probably employed here in the general sense of "specification," namely, the object and the price of purchase; חקּים, "statutes," the conditions and stipulations of sale. The apposition has the meaning, "containing the agreement and the conditions." Both copies of this bill, the prophet-before the eyes of Hanamel, his cousin (דּדי, either in the general sense of a near relation, since the relationship has been stated exactly enough already, or בּן־ has been inadvertently omitted), and before the eyes of, i.e., in the presence of "the witnesses, who wrote in the letter of purchase," i.e., had subscribed it as witnesses in attestation of the matter, and in the eyes of all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the prison, and in whose presence the transaction had been concluded - delivered up to his attendant Baruch, son of Nerijah, the son of Mahsejah, with the words, Jeremiah 32:14 : "Thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these letters, this sealed-up letter of purchase and this open letter, and put them into an earthen vessel, that they may remain a long time there. Jeremiah 32:15. For thus saith Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses, and fields, and vineyards shall still be bought in this land." - The second utterance of the Lord (Jeremiah 32:15) declares the reason why the letters were to be preserved in an earthen vessel, in order to protect them from damp, decay, and destruction, namely, because one could make use of them afterwards, when sale of property would still be taking place. There is also implied the intimation, that the present desolation of the land and the transportation of its inhabitants will only last during their time; and then the population of Judah will return, and enter again on the possession of their land. The purchase of the field on the part of Jeremiah had this meaning; and for the sake of this meaning it was announced to him by God, and completed before witnesses, in the presence of the Jews who happened to be in the court of the prison.
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