Jeremiah 32:11
So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
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(11) Both that which was sealed . . . and that which was open.—We are left to conjecture why there were two documents, and why one was sealed and the other open. Possibly, as in modern transactions, one was simply a duplicate copy of the other, the sealed document being the formal evidence of purchase kept by the buyer, and the other left with the vendor for reference. The more probable explanation, however, is that the unsealed document, which the witnesses did not subscribe or see, contained details which did not concern the witnesses, the price paid (though the mention of the witnesses before the weighing of the money militates against this view), the conditions of resumption by the vendor, possibly some reference to the period of seventy years, at the end of which, and not before, the heirs of Jeremiah might expect to enter on possession.

According to the law and custom.—Better, to wit, the agreement and the conditions. The whole transaction may be compared, as an example of ancient conveyancing, with the transfer of the field and cave of Machpelah in Genesis 23

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.

11. evidence … sealed … open—Two deeds were drawn up in a contract of sale; the one, the original copy, witnessed and sealed with the public seal; the other not so, but open, and therefore less authoritative, being but a copy. Gataker thinks that the purchaser sealed the one with his own seal; the other he showed to witnesses that they might write their names on the back of it and know the contents; and that some details, for example, the conditions and time of redemption were in the sealed copy, which the parties might not choose to be known to the witnesses, and which were therefore not in the open copy. The sealed copy, when opened after the seventy years' captivity, would greatly confirm the faith of those living at that time. The "law and custom" refer, probably, not merely to the sealing up of the conditions and details of purchase, but also to the law of redemption, according to which, at the return to Judea, the deed would show that Jeremiah had bought the field by his right as next of kin (Le 25:13-16), [Ludovicus De Dieu]. It is most probable that, upon such bargains and sales amongst the Jews, two instruments were made, the one sealed up, to be kept by the purchaser, the other open, to be showed to the judges, and by them ratified, and that this was the law and custom ordinarily amongst the Jews upon purchases; both which Jeremiah kept, the one for his use, the other to produce in court for ratification. There is no certainty in the guesses that some others make why there were two copies: nothing appeareth but that the prophet bought this little purchase with the same rites and circumstances that men ordinarily in that country made purchases in times of peace and civil order. So I took the evidence of the purchase,.... The deed of purchase, the book or bill of sale, the instrument of the bargain, as before mentioned:

both that which is sealed, according to the law and custom; which was both sealed by the buyer and seller, and was sealed up, and not to be looked into by everyone, only when there might be a necessity; this was the original copy:

and that which was open; the counter part or copy of the former, which though signed and sealed as the other, yet not sealed up, but was open and exposed to view; either for the relations to see what was done, as some; or for the judges, as others, to ratify and make authentic: or, as is most probable, this copy was laid up in some public register, to have recourse unto upon any occasion; however it was, it was according to the laws and customs of those times, which Jeremiah carefully attended to: or, as others, it lay open for the witnesses to sign; so there are three distinct things; first the written contract; then that as signed and sealed by buyer and seller, according to law; and then as signed, but not sealed, by the witnesses.

So I took the deed of the purchase, both that which was sealed {g} according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

(g) According to the custom the instrument or evidence was sealed up with the common seal and a copy of it remained which contained the same in effect but was left open to be seen if anything should be called into doubt.

11. both that which was sealed … and that which was open] but not implying two documents to be kept separate. They were the two parts of a whole. See on Jeremiah 32:10.

according to the law and custom] better, with mg. containing the terms and conditions. The former Dr. however renders the injunction, viz. to the seller, bidding him hand over the property, while the latter are the conditions on which it is purchased.The time and the circumstances of the following message from God. - The message came to Jeremiah in the tenth year of Zedekiah, i.e., in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar (cf. 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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