Jeremiah buys a field. (1-15) The prophet's prayer. (16-25) God declares that he will give up his people, but promises to restore them. (26-44)
Verses 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.
Verses 16-25 Jeremiah adores the Lord and his infinite perfections. When at any time we are perplexed about the methods of Providence, it is good for us to look to first principles. Let us consider that God is the fountain of all being, power, and life; that with him no difficulty is such as cannot be overcome; that he is a God of boundless mercy; that he is a God of strict justice; and that he directs every thing for the best. Jeremiah owns that God was righteous in causing evil to come upon them. Whatever trouble we are in, personal or public, we may comfort ourselves that the Lord sees it, and knows how to remedy it. We must not dispute God's will, but we may seek to know what it means.
Verses 26-44 God's answer discovers the purposes of his wrath against that generation of the Jews, and the purposes of his grace concerning future generations. It is sin, and nothing else, that ruins them. The restoration of Judah and Jerusalem is promised. This people were now at length brought to despair. But God gives hope of mercy which he had in store for them hereafter. Doubtless the promises are sure to all believers. God will own them for his, and he will prove himself theirs. He will give them a heart to fear him. All true Christians shall have a disposition to mutual love. Though they may have different views about lesser things, they shall all be one in the great things of God; in their views of the evil of sin, and the low estate of fallen man, the way of salvation through the Saviour, the nature of true holiness, the vanity of the world, and the importance of eternal things. Whom God loves, he loves to the end. We have no reason to distrust God's faithfulness and constancy, but only our own hearts. He will settle them again in Canaan. These promises shall surely be performed. Jeremiah's purchase was the pledge of many a purchase that should be made after the captivity; and those inheritances are but faint resemblances of the possessions in the heavenly Canaan, which are kept for all who have God's fear in their hearts, and do not depart from him. Let us then bear up under our trials, assured we shall obtain all the good he has promised us.
Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 39:1 , 2 Kings 25:1 ).
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 ( Jeremiah 32:12 , Jeremiah 38:13 Jeremiah 38:28 ). 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 ( Jeremiah 32:3-5 ) occurred at the beginning of the siege, when Jeremiah foretold the capture of the city ( Jeremiah 32:1 , Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 38:2 Jeremiah 38:3 ); in consequence of this the king, at the instigation of the princes, had him cast into a miry dungeon ( Jeremiah 38:4-6 ); again he was removed to the prison court at the intercession of a courtier ( Jeremiah 32:7-13 ), where he remained till the capture of the city ( Jeremiah 32:28 ), when he was liberated ( Jeremiah 39:11 , &c. Jeremiah 40:1 , &c.).
4. his eyes shall behold his eyes--that is, only before reaching Babylon, which he was not to see. Jeremiah 39:6 Jeremiah 39:7 harmonizes this prophecy ( Jeremiah 32:4 ) with the seemingly opposite prophecy, Ezekiel 12:13 , "He shall not see."
5. visit him--in a good sense ( Jeremiah 27:22 ); referring to the honor paid Zedekiah at his death and burial ( Jeremiah 34:4 Jeremiah 34:5 ). Perhaps, too, before his death he was treated by Nebuchadnezzar with some favor.
though ye fight . . . shall not prosper--( Jeremiah 21:4 ).
6. Jeremiah said--resuming the thread of Jeremiah 32:1 , which was interrupted by the parenthesis ( Jeremiah 32:2-5 ).
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 ( Numbers 35:4 Numbers 35:5 ). The prohibition to sell these suburban fields ( Leviticus 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 ( Leviticus 25:25 , &c. Ruth 4:3-6 ).
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.
9. seventeen shekels of silver--As the shekel was only about fifty cents, the whole would be under $10, 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].
10. subscribed--I wrote in the deed, "book of purchase" ( Jeremiah 32:12 ).
weighed--coined money was not in early use; hence money was "weighed" ( Genesis 23:16 ).
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 ( Leviticus 25:13-16 ), [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU].
12. Baruch--Jeremiah's amanuensis and agent ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 38:1 ).
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.
15. (Compare Jeremiah 32:24 Jeremiah 32:25 Jeremiah 32:37 Jeremiah 32:43 Jeremiah 32:44 ).
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.
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 Jeremiah 12:1 ).
too hard--In Jeremiah 32:27 God's reply exactly accords with Jeremiah's prayer ( Genesis 18:14 , Zechariah 8:6 , Luke 1:37 ).
18. ( Exodus 34:7 , Isaiah 65:6 ). This is taken from the decalogue ( Exodus 20:5 Exodus 20:6 ). This is a second consideration to check hasty judgments as to God's ways: Thou art the gracious and righteous Judge of the world.
19. counsel . . . work--devising . . . executing ( Isaiah 28:29 ).
eyes . . . open upon all--( Job 34:21 , Proverbs 5:21 ).
to give . . . according to . . . ways--( Jeremiah 17:10 ).
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, Psalms 73:5 .
made thee a name--( Exodus 9:16 , 1 Chronicles 17:21 , Isaiah 63:12 ).
as at this day--a name of power, such as Thou hast at this day.
21. ( Psalms 136:11 Psalms 136:12 ).
22. given . . . didst swear--God gave it by a gratuitous covenant, not for their deserts.
a land flowing with milk and
23. all . . . thou commandedst . . . all this evil--Their punishment was thus exactly commensurate with their sin. It was not fortuitous.
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 Jeremiah 32:25 . Thou seest all this with Thine own eyes, and yet (what seems inconsistent with it) Thou commandest me to buy a field.
25. for the city, &c.--rather, "though," &c.
27. Jehovah retorts Jeremiah's own words: I am indeed, as thou sayest ( Jeremiah 32: Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 32:36-44 ).
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 ( Jeremiah 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.
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.
31. provocation of mine anger--literally, "for mine anger." CALVIN, therefore, connects those 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, Jeremiah 32:30 , &c.), that I should remove it," &c. Thus, there will not be the repetition of the sentiment, Jeremiah 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 ( 2 Kings 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.
32. priests . . . prophets--( Nehemiah 9:32 Nehemiah 9:34 ). Hence, learn, though ministers of God apostatize, we must remain faithful.
33. ( Jeremiah 2:27 , 7:13 ).
34. ( Jeremiah 7:30 Jeremiah 7:31 , Ezekiel 8:5-17 ).
35. cause . . . pass through . . . fire--By way of purification, they passed through with bare feet ( Leviticus 18:21 ).
Molech--meaning "king"; the same as Milcom ( 1 Kings 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 ( Colossians 2:18 Colossians 2:23 ).
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.
restoration of Israel more universal than that from Babylon.
38. ( Jeremiah 30:22 , 24:7 ).
39. one heart--all seeking the Lord with one accord, in contrast to their state when only scattered individuals sought Him ( Ezekiel 11:19 Ezekiel 11:20 , Zephaniah 3:9 ).
for . . . good of them--( Psalms 34:12-15 ).
40. ( Jeremiah 31:31 Jeremiah 31:33 , Isaiah 55:3 ).
not depart from me--never yet fully realized as to the Israelites.
I will not turn away from them . . . good--( Isaiah 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.
41. rejoice over them--( Deuteronomy 30:9 , Isaiah 62:5 , 65:19 , Zephaniah 3:17 ).
plant . . . assuredly--rather, "in stability," that is, permanently, for ever ( Jeremiah 24:6 , Amos 9:15 ).
42. ( Jeremiah 31:28 ). The restoration from Babylon was only a slight foretaste of the grace to be expected by Israel at last through Christ.
43. ( Jeremiah 32:15 ).
whereof ye say, It is desolate--( Jeremiah 33:10 ).
44. Referring to the forms of contract ( Jeremiah 32:10-12 ):
Benjamin--specified as Anathoth; Jeremiah's place of residence where the field lay ( Jeremiah 32:8 ), was in it.