Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
Jer 32:1-14. Jeremiah, Imprisoned for His Prophecy against Jerusalem, Buys a Patrimonial Property (His Relative Hanameel's), IN Order to Certify to the Jews Their Future Return from Babylon.
1. tenth year—The siege of Jerusalem had already begun, in the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah (Jer 39:1; 2Ki 25:1).
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.
2. in … court of … prison—that is, in the open space occupied by the guard, from which he was not allowed to depart, but where any of his friends might visit him (Jer 32:12; Jer 38:13, 28). Marvellous obstinacy, that at the time when they were experiencing the truth of Jeremiah's words in the pressure of the siege, they should still keep the prophet in confinement [Calvin]. The circumstances narrated (Jer 32:3-5) occurred at the beginning of the siege, when Jeremiah foretold the capture of the city (Jer 32:1; Jer 34:1-7; 39:1). He was at that time put into free custody in the court of the prison. At the raising of the siege by Pharaoh-hophra, Jeremiah was on the point of repairing to Benjamin, when he was cast into "the dungeon," but obtained leave to be removed again to the court of the prison (Jer 37:12-21). When there he urged the Jews, on the second advance of the Chaldeans to the siege, to save themselves by submission to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 38:2, 3); in consequence of this the king, at the instigation of the princes, had him cast into a miry dungeon (Jer 38:4-6); again he was removed to the prison court at the intercession of a courtier (Jer 32:7-13), where he remained till the capture of the city (Jer 32:28), when he was liberated (Jer 39:11, &c.; Jer 40:1, &c.).
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;
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;
4. his eyes shall behold his eyes—that is, only before reaching Babylon, which he was not to see. Jer 39:6, 7 harmonizes this prophecy (Jer 32:4) with the seemingly opposite prophecy, Eze 12:13, "He shall not see."
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?
5. visit him—in a good sense (Jer 27:22); referring to the honor paid Zedekiah at his death and burial (Jer 34:4, 5). Perhaps, too, before his death he was treated by Nebuchadnezzar with some favor.
though ye fight … shall not prosper—(Jer 21:4).
And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
6. Jeremiah said—resuming the thread of Jer 32:1, which was interrupted by the parenthesis (Jer 32:2-5).
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.
7. son of Shallum thine uncle—therefore, Jeremiah's first cousin.
field … in Anathoth—a sacerdotal city: and so having one thousand cubits of suburban fields outside the wall attached to it (Nu 35:4, 5). The prohibition to sell these suburban fields (Le 25:34) applied merely to their alienating them from Levites to another tribe; so that this chapter does not contravene that prohibition. Besides, what is here meant is only the purchase of the use of the field till the year of jubilee. On the failure of the owner, the next of kin had the right of redeeming it (Le 25:25, &c.; Ru 4:3-6).
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.
8. Then I knew—Not that Jeremiah previously doubted the reality of the divine communication, but, the effect following it, and the prophet's experimentally knowing it, confirmed his faith and was the seal to the vision. The Roman historian, Florus (2.6), records a similar instance: During the days that Rome was being besieged by Hannibal, the very ground on which he was encamped was put up for sale at Rome, and found a purchaser; implying the calm confidence of the ultimate issue entertained by the Roman people.
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.
9. seventeen shekels of silver—As the shekel was only 2s. 4d.., the whole would be under £2, a rather small sum, even taking into account the fact of the Chaldean occupation of the land, and the uncertainty of the time when it might come to Jeremiah or his heirs. Perhaps the "seven shekels," which in the Hebrew (see Margin) are distinguished from the "ten pieces of silver," were shekels of gold [Maurer].
And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
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).
So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
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].
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.
12. Baruch—Jeremiah's amanuensis and agent (Jer 36:4, &c.).
before all—In sales everything clandestine was avoided; publicity was required. So here, in the court of prison, where Jeremiah was confined, there were soldiers and others, who had free access to him, present (Jer 38:1).
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.
14. in an earthen vessel—that the documents might not be injured by the moisture of the surrounding earth; at the same time, being buried, they could not be stolen, but would remain as a pledge of the Jews' deliverance until God's time should come.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.
15. (Compare Jer 32:24, 25, 37, 43, 44).
Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,
16. Jeremiah, not comprehending how God's threat of destroying Judah could be reconciled with God's commanding him to purchase land in it as if in a free country, has recourse to his grand remedy against perplexities, prayer.
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:
17. hast made … heaven—Jeremiah extols God's creative power, as a ground of humility on his part as man: It is not my part to call Thee, the mighty God, to account for Thy ways (compare Jer 12:1).
too hard—In Jer 32:27 God's reply exactly accords with Jeremiah's prayer (Ge 18:14; Zec 8:6; Lu 1:37).
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,
18. (Ex 34:7; Isa 65:6). This is taken from the decalogue (Ex 20:5, 6). This is a second consideration to check hasty judgments as to God's ways: Thou art the gracious and righteous Judge of the world.
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:
19. counsel … work—devising … executing (Isa 28:29).
eyes … open upon all—(Job 34:21; Pr 5:21).
to give … according to … ways—(Jer 17:10).
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;
20. even unto this day—Thou hast given "signs" of Thy power from the day when Thou didst deliver Israel out of Egypt by mighty miracles, down to the present time [Maurer]. Calvin explains it, "memorable even unto this day."
among other men—not in Israel only, but among foreign peoples also. Compare for "other" understood, Ps 73:5.
made thee a name—(Ex 9:16; 1Ch 17:21; Isa 63:12).
as at this day—a name of power, such as Thou hast at this day.
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;
21. (Ps 136:11, 12).
And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;
22. given … didst swear—God gave it by a gratuitous covenant, not for their deserts.
a land flowing with milk and honey—(See on Nu 14:8).
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:
23. all … thou commandedst … all this evil—Their punishment was thus exactly commensurate with their sin. It was not fortuitous.
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.
24. mounts—mounds of earth raised as breastworks by the besieging army, behind which they employed their engines, and which they gradually pushed forward to the walls of the city.
behold, thou seest it—connected with Jer 32:25. Thou seest all this with Thine own eyes, and yet (what seems inconsistent with it) Thou commandest me to buy a field.
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.
25. for the city, &c.—rather, "though," &c.
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
27. Jehovah retorts Jeremiah's own words: I am indeed, as thou sayest (Jer 32:17), the God and Creator of "all flesh," and "nothing is too hard for Me"; thine own words ought to have taught thee that, though Judea and Jerusalem are given up to the Chaldeans now for the sins of the Jews, yet it will not be hard to Me, when I please, to restore the state so that houses and lands therein shall be possessed in safety (Jer 32:36-44).
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:
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.
29. burn … houses upon whose roofs … incense unto Baal—retribution in kind. They burnt incense to Baal, on the houses, so the houses shall be burnt (Jer 19:13). The god of fire was the object of their worship; so fire shall be the instrument of their punishment.
to provoke me—indicating the design, not merely the event. They seemed to court God's "anger," and purposely to "provoke" Him.
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.
30. have … done—literally, "have been doing"; implying continuous action.
only … evil … only provoked me—They have been doing nothing else but evil; their sole aim seems to have been to provoke Me.
their youth—the time when they were in the wilderness, having just before come into national existence.
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,
31. provocation of mine anger—literally, "for mine anger." Calvin, therefore, connects these words with those at the end of the verse, "this city has been to me an object for mine anger (namely, by reason of the provocations mentioned, Jer 32:30, &c.), that I should remove it," &c. Thus, there will not be the repetition of the sentiment, Jer 32:30, as in English Version; the Hebrew also favors this rendering. However, Jeremiah delights in repetitions. In English Version the words, "that I should remove it," &c., stand independently, as the result of what precedes. The time is ripe for taking vengeance on them (2Ki 23:27).
from the day that they built it—Solomon completed the building of the city; and it was he who, first of the Jewish kings, turned to idolatry. It was originally built by the idolatrous Canaanites.
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.
32. priests … prophets—(Ne 9:32, 34). Hence, learn, though ministers of God apostatize, we must remain faithful.
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.
33. (Jer 2:27; 7:13).
But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.
34. (Jer 7:30, 31; Eze 8:5-17).
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.
35. cause … pass through … fire—By way of purification, they passed through with bare feet (Le 18:21).
Molech—meaning "king"; the same as Milcom (1Ki 11:33).
I commanded … not—This cuts off from the superstitious the plea of a good intention. All "will-worship" exposes to God's wrath (Col 2:18, 23).
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;
36. And now therefore—rather, "But now, nevertheless." Notwithstanding that their guilt deserves lasting vengeance, God, for the elect's sake and for His covenant's sake, will, contrary to all that might have been expected, restore them.
ye say, It shall be delivered into … king of Babylon—The reprobate pass from the extreme of self-confidence to that of despair of God's fulfilling His promise of restoring them.
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:
37. (See on Jer 16:15). The "all" countries implies a future restoration of Israel more universal than that from Babylon.
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
38. (Jer 30:22; 24:7).
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:
39. one heart—all seeking the Lord with one accord, in contrast to their state when only scattered individuals sought Him (Eze 11:19, 20; Zep 3:9).
for … good of them—(Ps 34:12-15).
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.
40. (Jer 31:31, 33; Isa 55:3).
not depart from me—never yet fully realized as to the Israelites.
I will not turn away from them … good—(Isa 30:21). Jehovah compares Himself to a sedulous preceptor following his pupils everywhere to direct their words, gestures.
put my fear in … hearts … not depart from me—Both the conversion and perseverance of the saints are the work of God alone, by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
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.
41. rejoice over them—(De 30:9; Isa 62:5; 65:19; Zep 3:17).
plant … assuredly—rather, "in stability," that is, permanently, for ever (Jer 24:6; Am 9:15).
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.
42. (Jer 31:28). The restoration from Babylon was only a slight foretaste of the grace to be expected by Israel at last through Christ.
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.
43. (Jer 32:15).
whereof ye say, It is desolate—(Jer 33:10).
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.
44. Referring to the forms of contract (Jer 32:10-12):
Benjamin—specified as Anathoth; Jeremiah's place of residence where the field lay (Jer 32:8), was in it.