Jeremiah 32 Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Jeremiah 32
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.
B. THE ELEVENTH DISCOURSE

CHAPTERS 32–33

WITH AN APPENDIX (JER 34:1–7)

The thirty-third chapter contains a revelation of somewhat later date than Jer 32. In 33:1 it is expressly stated that the contents of this chapter were communicated to the prophet separately, and subsequently to the revelation contained in Jer 32. The word second (שֵׁנִית) 33:1, however, designates this chapter as the second part or continuation of Jer 32, which also accords with its very similar purport. As Jer 32 shows us that the occupation of the Israelitish country by the northern foes does not prevent the Lord from commanding the prophet to purchase a piece of this very land, as a pledge that the time will come when the land can be bought and sold and inhabited and tilled in peace, so in Jer 33, in connection with the destruction of many houses in the city of Jerusalem for the purposes of defence it is predicted that the city apparently devoted to entire devastation shall be rebuilt, that joy and rejoicing shall again prevail in it, that in the country breeding of cattle shall again be followed with blessing, and especially that from the house of David a “righteous sprout” shall proceed, by whom righteousness and salvation shall be diffused through the land. The throne of Israel shall no more lack a prince of the house of David, nor the worship Levitical priests. This covenant shall stand everlastingly as the laws of nature; innumerable as the stars of heaven or the sand of the sea shore shall be the seed of David and Levi. In the midst of the present mourning the prophet makes known these promises, for—and this is the formal basis, which Jer 33 has in common with Jer 32—the Lord has the power to do this; nothing is too wonderful for Him (comp. 33:2, 3 with 32:17, 27). Without doubt these prophecies, proceeding from the court of the prison, are among the grandest which the prophet uttered. We shall see what a depth of misery this court of the prison involved for the prophet and for Israel. And in the very midst of this prophecy the abused prophet raises his voice in the most glorious prediction, that the wonder-working power of God may be recognized and praised, and faith, which rests not on the seen, but on the unseen (2 Cor, 4:18), may be thus confirmed and encouraged. The fulfilment of this prophecy runs through all the stages of development, from that first feeble beginning, which was made after the return from exile, to the consummation of the βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν which the future æon will bring us.

From what has been said, it is evident that the present discourse forms a parallel to the earlier consolatory discourse, chh. 30 and 31, and that both, being placed purposely at the close of the collection, may with propriety be called the Book of Consolation. Though the general purport of the two discourses is similar, some differences are also noticeable. While the first (chh. 30 and 31) may be compared to a picture which beams with light and color, and in which the shading is indicated only by a few though powerful strokes (comp 30:5–7, 11; 31:15, 16, 18, 19), the second seems tike a picture, in which the deepest shades and the brightest light are equally divided and displayed in vivid contrast. Not only does the promise in the second discourse rise from present distressing circumstances, but the guilt of Israel, which is the cause of this distress, is portrayed with a strong hand (32:29–35). Still as the shade is stronger in the second discourse than in the first, so is the light. That which may be called the crown of all theocratic promise, viz., the Messianic kingdom, together with the priesthood standing inseparably by its side as a necessary supplement, is in the second discourse set forth much more clearly, much more comprehensively, and in much more various relations. While in the first discourse the Messianic king is spoken of in a few words only, and with no special emphasis, 30:9, 21, in the second the most prominent passage is occupied in detail with the Messianic king and priesthood. The passage 33:14–26, which is evidently to form the crowning close of the whole discourse, is entirely devoted to that most important subject of Messianic prediction.

The time of the composition of chh. 32 and 33 is stated in the text. In 32:1 it is expressly mentioned that the events there narrated took place in the tenth year of Zedekiah, the eighteenth of Nebuchadnezzar (i. e., B. C., 587), during the siege by the Chaldeans, and while Jeremiah was a prisoner in the court of the gaol. Only a little later followed, as a continuation and completion of the consolatory prediction, the revelation communicated to us in the thirty-third chapter (comp. 33:1).

MOVERS, DE WETTE and HITZIG regard Jer 33 as worked over by the author of Isa 40-66. This view has been so thoroughly refuted by GRAF that it will suffice to refer to him (comp. GRAF, S. 369, 415).—J. D. MICHAELIS (Orient. Bibl., XVII., S. 172 sqq.), JAHN (Vatt. Messian., P. II., S. 112 sqq.) and HITZIG dispute the genuineness of 33:14–26. MOVERS (de utr. Rec., etc., S. 41) declares that Jer 32:18, 21 b-25 at least, are an interpolation. We may also appeal to GRAF for the refutation of this view (S. 369, 370, and his exposition of the passages in question). For a valuation of the circumstance that the section mentioned is wanting in the LXX, comp. GRAF, Einleitung, pag. XLVIII. GRAF himself however regards 33:2, 3 as interpolated. I refer on the other hand to my exposition of this passage.

Since both chapters are so far of similar import, that Jer 33 may be regarded as a continuation and extension of Jer 32, the two together may consequently be regarded as one prophetic discourse. They are not so, however, in a logical and rhetorical sense, since they did not originate contemporaneously. We shall therefore treat the two halves separately.

I. CHAPTER 32

The most glorious future warranted in the midst of the most gloomy present by the purchase of a piece of ground in the enemy’s hands.

1. The transaction of the purchase, 32:1–15.

2. A prayer of praise and inquiry, 32:16–25.

3. Nothing is impossible to the Lord, 32:26–44.

II. CHAPTER 33

Promise of the most glorious future, given at the moment when the destruction of Jerusalem was already begun by its own inhabitants in the interest of defence.

1. Brief transition: summons to new prayer in the sense of 32:16–25, and promise of a hearing, 33:1–3.

2. Destruction in the present. Glorious internal and external rebuilding in the future not-withstanding, 33:4–9.

3. The glorious city-life of the future, 33:10, 11.

4. The glorious country-life of the future, 33:12, 13.

5. The glorious kingdom and priesthood of the future, 33:14–18.

6. The kingdom and priesthood of the future eternal, 33:19–26.

__________

1. CHAPTER 32

The most glorious future warranted in the midst of the most gloomy present by the purchase of a piece of ground in the hands of the enemy.

1. The transaction of the Purchase.

32:1–15.

1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah, 2king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison [or guard] which was in the king of Judah’s house. 3For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up,1 saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand 4of 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 5eyes 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, ye6shall not prosper. And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 7Behold, 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 8buy it. 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 9this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of 10silver. 2 And I subscribed the evidence [deed], 3 and sealed it, and took witnesses, 11and weighed him the money in the balances. So I took the evidence [deed] of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom [or 12(containing) the assignment and limitation], and that which was open: And I gave the evidence [deed] 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 4 the Jews that sat in 13, 14the 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 5 which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them 15in 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.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In the tenth year of king Zedekiah, during the siege of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, at a time when all hope of deliverance had vanished and the overthrow of the kingdom was certain to all those who were not blinded, Jeremiah, who was then on account of his prophecy of inevitable ruin held a prisoner in the prison court, received a divine revelation, which announced that the lot of ground of his uncle Shallum at Anathoth would be offered him for sale on account of his right of redemption. Hanameel, the son of Shallum, really came with this offer to Jeremiah. The latter recognizing the Lord’s will, buys the lot, carefully observing all the formalities, as a sign that “houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in the land of Judah.”

Jer 32:1-5. The word … shall not prosper. The superscription is again of the larger kind. It dominates chh. 32 and 33. The word of Jehovah which it announces, is not merely the next following brief revelation of Jer 32:7, but all the revealed contents of both chapters. Comp. rems. on 30:1.—In the tenth, etc. Comp. rems. on 28:1. The numerical statements are in entire agreement with 39:1; 25:1; 52:12.—Besieged. Comp. 21:4; 37:5; 39:1; Deut. 20:12, etcCourt of the prison. According to 37:15, Jeremiah was incarcerated by the princes in בֵּית הָאֵסוּר [prison, literally: house of bonds]. When the king had him brought out for an audience, he besought that he might not be taken back to that prison. The king granted his request and had him kept in the court of the guard, (הֲצַר חַמַּטָרָה, 37:21 coll. 38:6, 13, 28; 39:14, 15). Accordingly this must have been at any rate a more tolerable place. The expression occurs, besides the passages mentioned, only in 33:1; Neh. 3:25: 12:39. מַטָּדָה is custodia and may mean watch as well as custody. As his detention here afforded him relief, as he received visits and was supported from without (37:21), we may with the greater probability suppose that it was the closed court in which the palace-watch was stationed.—Wherefore dost thou prophesy. Comp. 21:4 sqq.; 34:2 sqq.; 37:17. The words from I will give to Zedekiah to Babylon agree almost verbatim with 34:2, 3. From the slight differences we may infer that we have here two independent records, of which the passage 34:2–5 is in so far to be regarded as the more complete, as it gives the particulars of Zedekiah’s fate after his captivity, while in 32:5 all that relates to this is comprised in the words, “and there shall he be until I visit him.” If we compare 34:4, 5 with 39:7; 52:11, we shall see that in the first passage the fate of the king is portrayed from its favorable, in the latter passages from its unfavorable side. The representations are by no means contradictory. In 34:4, 5 it is merely stated that the king will not die by a violent, but in peace by a natural death, and after his death will receive an honorable interment. This by no means excludes the cruel treatment, which he received according to 37:7; 52:11. The indefinite-ness of the expression visit and the prospective, leaving it open either to deliverance or death, was perceived even by Jerome, who says “visitatio et consolationem significat et supplicium.” It should also be not unobserved that the expression “die in peace,” 34:5, admits of this double meaning.—Though ye fight, etc. These words are not found in the record, Jer 34. Coming after the positive prediction of calamity they do not make the impression of being intended for an admonition, but appear to have the meaning of a statement of reason: if you fight with the Chaldeans it certainly cannot result otherwise; ye cannot then prosper. The prophet does not want to call forth a subjective volition, but merely to present the objective nexus rerum. On the subject-matter, comp. 21:9; 27:8 sqq., as well as the introduction to 34:1–7, and the remarks on 34:1–5.

Jer 32:6 and 7. And Jeremiah … to buy it. After that in Jer 32:1–5 the general situation had been portrayed in which the following event took place, Jer 32:6 begins the narrative of the event itself. This narrative is given as the report of a third person. From the word in Jer 32:6, to the close of the prayer in Jer 32:25, it is Jeremiah who speaks. It is, however, a third person who tells us that Jeremiah spoke all these things, as is seen from the words and Jeremiah said, Jer 32:6. This form of presentation is not unusual in this book. Comp. 19:14, 15; 26:7–9; 28:5–7 coll. Jer 32:1; Jer 37 etc.—Song of Solomon of Shallum thine uncle. That the uncle was named Shallum is seen from Jer 32:8 and 9. Though Hanameel is also designated דּוֹר, uncle, this is explained by the possibility of using this word in the wider sense. The meaning of “patruus” is the innermost of a series of concentric circles, which represent a progress from general to particulars. From the Canticles we unquestionably obtain the radical meaning of “caritas, amor” (1:2, 4, etc.). From this is derived the meaning of “carus, amicus” (abstr. pro concreto as inמוֹדַעַת), comp. Isa. 5:1; Cant. 1:13, 14, 16, etc. Now though the father’s brother is especially called the dear one, the friend of the family, this is an honorable distinction, which may of course in certain circumstances be transferred to another relative, as is doubtless the case here for the sake of brevity with respect to the son of the דּוֹר.—Right of redemption. According to Lev. 25:25 in the case of an impoverished Israelite wishing to sell his piece of ground, his nearest of kin have the right of purchase. Comp. SAALSCHUETZ, Mos. Recht, S. 147 sqq.; 483, 808 sqq.—The members of the tribe of Levi also, according to Numb. 35:2 coll. Josh. 21 owned real estate, viz., so much as was included in the precincts of the cities allotted to them (מִגְרָשׁ, comp. 1 Chron. 6:40, 41). The statement in Lev. 25:34, that this real estate could not be sold appears simply to mean that the sale of priests’ property to those who are not priests was forbidden. Among the family the sale must have been possible, otherwise an illegal act would have been demanded of Jeremiah, not only by his cousin but by the Lord Himself. The right of redemption (גְאֻלָּה) had moreover its two sides. Towards the seller it was a duty, towards the more distantly related it was a right. Comp. Ruth 4

Jer 32:8-10. So Hanameel … in the balances. The right of inheritance was generally and especially among the priests the basis of the right of redemption. For it was indeed the sense of the whole institution, that the real estate should remain in the family. Accordingly it was always the next heir who was in the first place entitled and obligated to the גְאֻלָּה. We find no intimation in the Law what the relation of the גֹּאֵל was to the מֹּכֵד (comp. SAALSCHUTZ, Mos. R. S. 811). After all it appears to me that this was left to the friendly understanding of the two relatives, and the loyal disposition of the goel was reckoned upon. From the fact that the visit announced to him by revelation was really received, Jeremiah knew that the proposal, which his visitor made him, and of which the Lord had not yet said anything, was also an expression of the divine will.—The price seems small. This has been explained by supposing that the seller was driven to the sale by urgent need and that the property was depreciated by the war. Both may be correct, but I do not think that the small price is thus explained. This would have been unworthy of the prophet. Could Jeremiah buy as a speculator? LIVY relates (XXVI. 11) that when Hannibal was before the gates of Rome the very field on which his camp stood was sold, “nihil ob id dimiunto pretio.” Comp. FLORUS, II. 6 (Parva res dictu, sed ad magnanimitatem populi Romani probandam sails efficax, quod its ipsis quibus obsidebatur diebus ager, quem Hannibal castris insederat, venalis Romœ fuit hastæque subjectus invenit emtorem).—Can the proud assurance of the Romans have produced a greater effect than the trust reposed by our prophet on the divine promise? I therefore think that seventeen shekels was the nominal price. Its smallness may be explained, apart from the possible smallness of the object purchased, by the nearness of the jubilee year. Though we have no data by which to determine how far distant the jubilee was from the time of sale, it may be safely assumed that the provisions of the law, Lev. 25:15, 16, were not unobserved. The year of manumissio, spoken of in Jer 34, was not a jubilee. Comp. rems, on 34:14 and HERZOG, R.-Enc. XIII., S. 212. Seventeen shekels in our money was little more than ten dollars. Comp. HERZ. R.-Enc., IV., S. 764.—Whence did Jeremiah obtain the money? Had he, the prisoner, for whom a daily scanty subsistence was furnished (37:21), pecuniary means at command? His silence on this point shows that he regarded it as of little moment. There was probably more money than bread in the city. Baruch also might have procured him the funds.—After the account of the purchase and the price in Jer 32:9, the particulars of the transaction are specially enumerated in Jer 32:10. First the writing and sealing. From what follows we see that the deed of purchase was written in duplicate. One copy remained open, the other was closed with seals. “Quæ emtionum consuctudo hucusque servatur, ut quod intrinsecus clausum signacula continent, hoc legere cupientibus apertum volumen exhibeat,” JEROME on Jer 32:14. Whether the open copy also bore a seal cannot be definitely ascertained from the text. The object of the writing in duplicate appears to me to have been twofold. First, that which duplicates generally have, viz., to have a second copy in case the first is lost; secondly (and this is especially the destination of the sealed deed), in case of injury or defacement, which the open deed might suffer either by accident or design, to have an intact original. The circumstance that Jeremiah does not mention the witnesses till after the sealing is not to be explained, with HITZIG, as though the contents of the closed deed and the price were concealed from them. Evidently the prophet does not wish to confuse the three points in Jer 32:10. He therefore relates first of the deed (ספר), then of the witnesses, then of the weighing of the money. The order of subjects then prevails, not however excluding the order of time, since the weighing out the money at any rate came last. If we should argue as HITZIG does, we should come to the conclusion that the witnesses had nothing at all to do with the documents. This, however, is contradicted by Jer 32:12, where it is expressly stated that the witnesses “subscribed the book of the purchase.” As now in Jer 32:11, Jer 32:12init., Jer 32:14סֵפֶר הִמִּקְנָה appears to be a general conception, to which the specifications given in the second half of the verse are subordinate, the word may in Jer 32:12 also designate both documents; they may therefore have both been subscribed by the witnesses.

Jer 32:11 and 12. So I took … of the prison. The words הַמְִצְוָה וְהַחֻקִּים, in Jer 32:11, are difficult. Those explanations do violence both to grammar and context which (a) assume an accusative of the norm; according to the law and customs, for which no instance can be adduced; (b) consider these words to indicate the contents of a third ספר. The enumeration in Jer 32:14 is opposed to this, and the difficulty of perceiving what laws and customs were observed in a third deed, and why this was drawn. Only one explanation is grammatically possible and in agreement with the context, viz., that which takes the words as in apposition to הַחָתוּם. Then the question arises, what are we to understand by the words themselves? The respective definitions of the Mosaic law (comp. ex. gr. Deut. 5:28)? But why should these be written out in detail and be designated as the main contents of the חָיוּם? It is better then to take מִצְוָה in the sense of statutum, establishing, settling, and חֻקִים in the sense of stipulation. The main thing established, i. e. the object of the purchase and the price, as well as the special stipulations or conditions of sale were then fully contained only in the חָתּוכ. Yet I confess that this explanation also is not perfectly satisfactory. We must wait for further illumination.—Baruch is here mentioned for the first time. Hence the more exact statement of his lineage. Josephus (Antt. X. 9, 1) calls him ἐξ επισήμου σφόδρα οἰκίας ὄντα καὶ τη πατρώῳ γλώττῃ διαφερόντως πεπαιδευμένον . The high position of his brother Seraiah at court (51:59) seems to prove that he was of a respectable house.—Before all the Jews. The prophet intimates that two circles of witnesses are to be imagined surrounding the central point, formed by Jeremiah and Baruch, a narrower and a wider. The wider circle testifies to the witness of the narrower.

Jer 32:13-15. And I charged … in this land.—In an earthen vessel. To keep the deeds from damp, moths or dirt. Can the earthen vessel have survived the abomination of destruction? It matters not. The main thing was the establishment of the fact that the Lord in the midst of their dread of destruction, at a moment when all hope for the future seemed to have fled, gave the promise of a glorious restoration, as indicated in Jer 32:15. The object of this promise was on the one hand to comfort those who were involved in the present ruin, and on the other hand to prove that the Lord had fore willed, foreknown and foretold the predicted favorable turn of affairs. Comp. rems. on 30:1. To attain the latter object the transaction had certainly to be brought to the knowledge of posterity in an authentic manner. For this purpose the documents themselves relating to the purchase, which would hardly contain any account of the accompanying circumstances, would be less useful than on the one hand oral tradition based on the declaration of many eye and ear witnesses, and on the other hand the written report of the prophet.

Footnotes:

[1]Jer 32:3.—אשׁר כלאר. The Nota relationis is to be regarded as in the accusative. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 70, b; Num. 13:27; Isa. 64:10; Ps. 84:4.

[2]Jer 32:9.—On the accus. הַָכּֽסֶף. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 70, g.—On the article. I b. 71, 4 a.

[3]Jer 32:10.—The article in בַּסֵּפֶּר is again general. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 71, 4 a.

[4]Jer 32:12.—כל־ לעיני. Misled by the Atnach, many suppose that וְ is wanting here. But this לעיני does not belong to וָאֶתֵּן, init. ver., but to הֵכֹּתְבִים.

[5]Jer 32:14.—ואת–ואת. The two Vaus here as in Jer 32:20=both, and also comp. 5:24. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 110, 3. The construction would certainly be simpler and clearer, if וְאֵת were wanting before הֶחָתוּם, and it would certainly not be impossible that, as GRAF thinks, this וְאֵת may have been repeated from Jer 32:11 by an oversight. A certain solemn breadth may, however, also have been intended. Then first the quantitative multiplicity or duplicity of the deeds may be generally set forth, then their qualitative unity (they form together only one dead of sale. Comp. Jer 32:11 and 12); finally the multiplicity is specified: there are two deed, one sealed, the other open. The הַזֶה and גָלוּי can then both be referred at the same time to הֶחָתוּם.

Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,
2. A Prayer of Praise and Inquiry.

32:16–25

16Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of 17Neriah, 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 18nothing too hard for thee [hid from thee]:6 Thou shewest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom7 of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts [Jehovah 19Zebaoth] is his name. Great in counsel, and mighty in work8: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, 20and according to the fruit of his doings. Which [who]9 hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and 21hast made thee a name, as 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 hand22and 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 23and honey; And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law10; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst 24them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them.11 Behold the mounts [ramparts], 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 [οί in con sequence of] the sword and the famine and of the pestilence: and what thou hast 25spoken is come to pass; and, behold thou seest it. And thou hast said unto me, O LORD GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for [and yet] 12 the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The main thought of this prayer is praise of the omnipotence, justice and grace of God. It consists of three parts: 1. Jer 32:17-19; 2, Jer 32:20–23; 3, Jer 32:24 and 25. In the first part God’s omnipotence is shown from the creation (Jer 32:17), then His justice from His providence in history (Jer 32:18, 19). In the second part God’s omnipotence is shown from His leading of the people of Israel, as it was especially glorified in the deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Jer 32:20–22), then His justice from the terrible calamity which has now come upon the disobedient nation (Jer 32:23). In the third part, which is least in extent, but the most important, a problem or unsolved riddle appears to be proposed. It is said that the Lord sees this calamity, and yet commands the prophet to buy the lot of ground (Jer 32:24). All however which has been previously said of the Lord’s omnipotence, especially “nothing is too hard for thee,” in union with that which must be extolled of the Lord’s grace towards Israel (Jer 32:21 sqq.), gives the key for the solution of that riddle.

Jer 32:16-19. Now when … fruit of his doings On Jer 32:17 comp. 27:5; Deut. 29:9.—Thou shewest loving-kindness, etc. Comp. Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Deut. 5:10. For לַֽאֲלָפִים we find in Deut. 7:9לְאֶלֶף דִּוֹר. If we compare with this the phrase in the parallel clause שִׁלֵשִׁים ,רִבֵּעִם (Exod. 20:5; 34:7; Numb. 14:18; Deut. 5:9) which can only signify the off spring of the third and fourth generation, it is clear that the phrase in the text is taken in such a general signification that the idea of “thousands, belonging to the thousandth generation” is included.—And recompensest, etc. Comp. rems. on 31:29, 30.—The mighty God. Comp. Deut. 10:17.—Jehovah Zebaoth. Comp. 10:16; 31:15, etc.—Great in counsel. etc. Comp. Isa. 28:29; Ps. 66:5.—To give every one, etc. Comp. 17:10.

Jer 32:20-23. Who hast set … evil to come upon them. It is as though it were said, thou who in Egypt didst set in operation a wonder working power, which continues to operate until this day.—The antithesis of Israel and other men, as in Isai. 43:4; Ps. 73:5.—As at this day. Comp. 25:18.—With signs. Comp. Deut. 4:34; 26:8.—Which thou didst swear. Comp (Gen. 12:7; rems. on 11:5.

Jer 32:24, 25. Behold the ramparts … the Chaldeans. הסללות are ramparts set up by the besiegers. Comp. 33:4; 6:6.—Given, etc. The Chaldeans are indeed still without the city, but according to the prophet’s idea this is as good as surrendered, and on the fall of the chief city naturally follows the exile and the impossibility of further cultivation of the soil.—In consequence of depends on given. Sword, famine and pestilence, bring the city into the hands of the enemies. Comp. 14:16; 25:16, 27; 38:9. The Lord sees the condition of the city and yet He commands the prophet to buy a field. The fact that the prayer closes with this paradox must be regarded as an expression of the most tormenting uncertainty and helplessness, if the prophet had not himself in the previous context accumulated the most ample material to dispel such doubts. This apparently unsatisfactory conclusion is thus in the highest degree skilful and elevated. He leaves it to the reader to find the solution of the problem, after giving him all the aid that he needs. The concluding sentence, and the city, etc., Jer 32:25b, viewed as spoken by the prophet, appears at first sight a tautological repetition. We might therefore be tempted to take it as spoken by Jehovah; buy the field although the city, etc. But although is not suitable in the mouth of Jehovah, for whom, in fact, the apparent contradiction is non-existent. The sentence is then spoken by the prophet; but it is not co-ordinate with buy thee, but an exclamation, in which the main point in the apparent contradiction is expressly repeated from Jer 32:24. Comp. the translation and TEXTUAL NOTES.

Footnotes:

[6]Jer 32:17.—–יפלא לא. Comp. Gen. 18:14; Deut. 17:8: Zech. 8:6; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 75, 2, 4.

[7]Jer 32:18.—Instead of חֵיק אֵל we find in Deut. 7:10, פנים אל. Comp. besides Isa. 65:6, 7; Ps. 79:12.

[8]Jer 32:19.—The form עֲלִילִיּהָ is found here only.

[9]Jer 32:20.—The construction in the sentence שׂמת אשׁר to הזה היום עד, is as in 11:7. In both cases עד is to be regarded as depending on the idea latent in the verb of “stretching, lasting.” It is accordingly a constructio prægnans. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 112, 7.

[10]Jer 32:23.—ובתרותך. The reading of the Chethibh which is תֹרוֹתֶךָ (38:22; comp. NAEGELSB. Gr. § 44, 4, Anm.) is probably to be explained by a mere oversight of the ו. Comp. rems. on 17:23.

[11]Jer 32:23.—ותקרא. Hiphil here only. Comp. Deut. 31:29.

[12]Jer 32:25.—והעיר. To obtain the meaning: although the city, as spoken by Jehovah, we should have to read כִּי גַם. On the וְ comp. EWALD, § 341 a; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 110, 4.

Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,
3. Nothing is impossible to the Lord.

32:26–44

26, 27Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the28LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me? Therefore thus saith the LORD: Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and 29into 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 [to] this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal and 30poured out drink offerings into 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;13 for the children of Israel have only provoked Me to anger with the work 31of their hands, saith the LORD. For this city hath been to Me as a provocation of Mine anger [or for My anger] and of my fury from the day that they built it even 32to this day; that I should remove it from before my face,14 because of all the evil of the children of Israel and the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke Me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, 33and the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And they have turned unto Me the back [neck] and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early 34and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. But they 35set their abominations in the house, which is called by My name, to defile it. And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom [or valley of Ben-Hinnom] to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded not, neither came it into My mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.15

36And 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 37sword, 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 38, 39dwell safely; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart,16 and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good 40of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them,17 that I will not turn away from [lit., behind] them, to do them good; 41but I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land as42suredly [or in truth] with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD: Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will 43I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields18 shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without19 man or beast; it is 44given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences [deeds]20 and seal them, and take witness 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.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

At the head of this discourse, the limpid but diffuse style of which is peculiar to the prophet’s later period, and is notably distinguished from that of the preceding discourse, we again find the thought, which the prophet has once before made the basis of a prayer (Jer 32:17): can anything be too wonderful for the Lord? (Jer 32:27). The answer is, No! Therefore Jerusalem shall indeed be destroyed by the Chaldeans (Jer 32:28, 29), as a well deserved punishment for the manifold abominations, by which Judah and Israel had provoked the Lord from the first (Jer 32:30–35), but therefore also a re-assembling and bringing back of the people to their own country shall take place (Jer 32:36, 37). Then will Israel be Jehovah’s people and Jehovah be Israel’s God (Jer 32:38); they will with unanimity serve the Lord to their own eternal welfare (Jer 32:39); the Lord will conclude an everlasting covenant with them, in consequence of which neither will He ever cease to do them good, nor will they ever again depart from the Lord (Jer 32:40); it will be a joy to the Lord to do them good, and with all His heart He promises them that from this time forward they shall be firmly planted and rooted in their land (Jer 32:41). With these two colors does the prophet paint the future of his nation, for (Jer 32:42) this is the very proof of His omnipotence, to which nothing is impossible, that as certainly as He has now brought destruction on Jerusalem, He will one day also perform His promise of blessing to the people (Jer 32:42). Then will fields again be bought in the country, which is now called a desert (Jer 32:43); yea, with all the usual formalities will purchases be made, deeds drawn, sealed and witnessed in all parts of the country (Jer 32:44). The passage thus seems to be closely connected with the historical basis of Jeremiah’s purchase of a field (Jer 32:7sqq.), as well as to be a logical exposition of the main thought of Jer 32:27b;—nothing is impossible to the Lord, therefore He destroys Jerusalem and restores it again. It is because He is almighty that He can do both.

Jer 32:26-29. Then came the word … provoke me to anger.—God of all flesh. The expression reminds us of Numb. 16:22; 27:16, where God is called the God of the spirits of all flesh.—Is there anything, etc. Comp. Jer 32:17.—Therefore. The blinded Israelites thought it impossible that the chosen place of the sanctuary could be destroyed (comp. rems. on 7:4; 21:13). They did not reflect that to the Lord nothing is impossible.—Set fire. Comp. 17:27; 21:10, 14; 34:22; 37:8.—Offered incense, etc. Comp. 7:9; 19:4, 13.

Jer 32:30-35. For the children … Judah to sin. These six verses express the reason of the punitive judgment announced in Jer 32:28, 29. Verses 30, 31 give the general reason, Jer 32:32–35 the special. In Jer 32:30, 31 we find three causal sentences beginning with for. In what relation do these stand to each other and to the preceding context? The first for might refer (1) to the acts of the Chaldeans, or (2) to Offered incense, etc., and poured out, etc., or (3) to to provoke me. It is not probable that it can refer to (2), for no one expects a reason in this connection for the Jews having offered incense to their idols, but for the Lord’s giving up the place of the sanctuary to destruction. (Comp. on therefore Jer 32:28). This for may then refer either to (1) or (3). Regarded according to the subject both amount to the same, for what produced the anger of the Lord also brought about the destruction. The ground of the one is also the ground of the other. Add to this that a special ground of the to provoke me is expressed in the sentence immediately preceding. We shall thus have to refer the first causal sentence, Jer 32:30, essentially to the prediction of destruction in Jer 32:28, 29. This will accordingly have for its motive the objective fact of the habitual sinfulness of the Jews and Israelites, since done evil further strengthened by only expresses the habitual state. The second and third causal sentences set forth more the subjective element of the Divine anger; Jerusalem must be destroyed, for they have provoked Jehovah. It must not however be overlooked that the words have only provoked me to anger by the work of their hands look back to Jer 32:29b. For (1) provoked is only a confirmation of to provoke; (2) the work of their hands is not their moral conduct in general (this would be only a tautological repetition of the first half-of the verse), but the idol images are to be understood by it in a concrete sense, to which according to Jer 32:29b incense was burned. Comp. 1:16; Deut. 4:28; 27:15. The prophet appears also to have had Deut. 31:29 generally in view.—The third causal sentence forms a climax with the second. He no longer uses the expression to provoke but the cumulative and stronger expressions for My anger and for My fury. Jerusalem has filled the measure of the divine anger, hence the total destruction announced in Jer 32:28, 29. The expression this city has been to Me, for My anger and for My fury (on which the passages 52:3; 2 Ki. 24:3, 20 seem to be founded) is unusual. The sense can only be that the city became an object of anger to Me. On Jer 32:33 comp. 2:27; 7:13, 25; 25:3, 4. On Jer 32:34, 35 comp. 7:30, 31; 19:5.—In Jer 32:35 the sentence neither came it, etc., does not depend on which, but is to be regarded as a new and independent sentence. Both sentences however, from which to abomination, are parentheses, and to cause … to sin is connected with cause … to pass.

Jer 32:36-41. And now therefore … my whole soul. By and now Jeremiah designates the joyful present in contrast with the mournful past, which he described in the previous context. This is indeed not yet real but ideal, yet none the less certain; for this ideal present is based on the word of Divine promise. Therefore, as already remarked, corresponds to therefore in Jer 32:28, and now draws the second inference from the proposition that nothing is too wonderful for God. As from this followed the destruction which appeared impossible to the Jews, so also follows the apparently equally impossible restoration.—אל העיר with respect to this city, comp. 22:11; 28:8, 9; 29:16, 21.—By the sword. Comp. because of the sword, Jer 32:24.—Behold I will gather them refers to the idea of “inhabitants, citizens” contained implicitly in the city, to which in the widest sense all those enumerated in Jer 32:32 belong. On the subject-matter comp. Deut. 30:3 sqq.; Jer. 3:18–20; 23:3; 29:14; 31:8, 10.—Cause them to dwell safely. Comp. Hos. 11:11; Ezek. 36:11, 33.

Jer 32:38. And they shall be, etc. Comp. rems. on 30:32.

Jer 32:39. And I will give, etc. The restoration and return must necessarily be at the same time spiritual (comp. 31:18–20.) An essential element of this spiritual return is also the cessation of all enmity and discord among the members of the people, consequently the prevalence of a spirit of love and concord among them. Comp. Ezek. 11:19; Jer. 24:7; 31:34.—One way. An allusion to the division introduced by Jeroboam I. between Judah and Israel. Comp. 10:2; Am. 8:14.—That they may fear me. In this the unity of the way is manifested that they fear the Lord with one mind. The sentence is taken verbatim from Deut. 4:10.—For the good of them. A reminiscence from Deut. 6:24 coll. 10:13; 30:9, 10.

Jer 32:40. And I will make,etc. Comp. rems. on 31:31, 32; 50:5. According to the stipulations of the covenant the Lord promises two things: (1) that He will no more turn away behind the people in respect of doing them good, i. e., that as a faithful shepherd to His people He will always follow them with His protective and blessed guardianship; (2) that He will also give the people themselves the power no longer to turn away from Him. We see that the Lord takes the præstanda entirely upon Himself. Hence also the construction כרת ברית לְ, which does not occur elsewhere in Jeremiah.—That they shall not, etc. Comp. Deut. 17:20, Josh. 23:6.—Yea, I will rejoice, etc. Comp. Deut. 28:63; 30:9; Isai. 62:5.—I will plant,etc. This נטע is the opposite of נתשׁ. Comp. 1:10; 18:7 sqq.; 31:28.—In truth is explained in the following words. The first planting had been imperfect (comp. 2:21) as much so as the first covenant, (31:32). Because this was only hypothetical (7:5–7) and because the Lord knew that the condition would not be kept, He could not be in it with His whole heart. Now He knows (for He has Himself promised, Jer 32:40b), that the condition will be fulfilled; therefore He can designate the planting as done in truth (i. e., without the reservation that it is only for a short time), and also as one which He performs with a full and undivided heart. Comp. 2 Sam. 7:10.

Jer 32:42-44. For thus saith … Jehovah. From Jer 32:27 onwards a double inference is drawn from the general proposition that nothing is impossible to the Lord (Jer 32:28–35, and Jer 32:36–41). From Jer 32:42 onwards the argument is different. It is to demonstrate the certainty of the promise, Jer 32:36–41. This is done by pointing to the fulfilment of the minatory prophecy, which was indeed regarded as impossible by blinded Israel. As certainly as the Lord has brought great calamity on us, and so verified His word on the one hand, so certainly will He verify it on the other hand.—Like as I have brought, etc. Comp. 31:28.

Jer 32:43. And fields, etc. Return to the historical point of departure. Comp. Jer 32:15.—In the land of Benjamin. Comp. 17:26; 33:13. Benjamin is mentioned not because Anathoth belonged to this tribe, but because the tribes of Benjamin and Judah constituted the Jewish kingdom. Benjamin as the smaller part of this kingdom is named only in general, while Judah as the main part is characterized according to its chief constituents, as they are also enumerated elsewhere. (Comp. besides loc. cit.Josh. 10:40; Jud. 1:40). [“The New Testament mentions the sale of lands in Judea in Apostolic times, when Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, and the church was to be planted in all the world (Acts 4:34; 5:4).” WORDSWORTH.—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

[13]Jer 32:30.—On מִנְּעֻרֹתֵיהֶם (the fem. form here only). Comp. 3:24, 25; 22:21.

[14]Jer 32:31.—The עַל is less surprising (since this preposition is frequently interchanged with אֵל, [comp. rems. on 10:1, Isai. 29:11,14], and even לְ [comp. עַל־רָצוֹן Isai. 60:7 with לְרצוֹן 56:7; Jer. 6:20]) than the suffix in the following לִי. Accordingly the construction, which takes עַל in the causal sense and makes לֲהֲסִירָהּ depend immediately on הָיְתָה, on account of the pregnant sense in which הָיְתָה must then be taken, and on account of the suffix in הֲסִירָהּ is still more difficult. This latter word forms the transition to the special grounds of the judgments, of which Jer 32:32–35 treat. In Jer 32:32 first follows a specification of the subjects. comp. 2:26; 17:25. Then in Jer 32:33, 35 a specification of the predicates.

[15]Jer 32:35.—On the form הַהִטִי comp. OLSH., § 38, c.:192, f. OLSHAUSEN supposes a clerical error, which may certainly, as GRAF thinks, have been occasioned by the following א. Comp. 19:15.

[16]Jer 32:39.—On the infinitive ירְאָה comp. EWALD § 238, a; OLSH. 245, d.

[17]Jer 32:40.—The construction with לְ as in Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26; Ps. 89:4.—אשׁר here is evidently a conjunction = that. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 109, 1 b.

[18]Jer 32:43.—השדה. The article is generic. Comp. rems. on Jer 32:9.

[19]Jer 32:43.—מאין. Comp. 2:15; 4:7; 9:9–12; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 106, 5.

[20]Jer 32:44.—וכתוב. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 92, 2, a.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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