A message came to me from the Lord. It came in the 10th year that Zedekiah was king of Judah. It was in the 18th year of the rule of Nebuchadnezzar.
The armies of the king of Babylonia were getting ready to attack Jerusalem. I, the prophet Jeremiah, was being held as a prisoner. I was kept in the courtyard of the guard. It was part of Judah's royal palace.
Zedekiah, the king of Judah, had made me a prisoner there. He had said to me, "Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, 'The LORD says, "I am about to hand this city over to the king of Babylonia. He will capture it.
" ' "Zedekiah, the king of Judah, will not escape from the powerful hands of the armies of Babylonia. He will certainly be handed over to the king of Babylonia. Zedekiah will speak with him face to face. He will see him with his own eyes.
Nebuchadnezzar will take Zedekiah to Babylon. Zedekiah will remain there until I deal with him," announces the Lord. "Suppose you fight against the armies of Babylonia. If you do, you will not succeed." ' "
I said, "A message came to me from the Lord. He said,
'Hanamel is going to come to you. He is the son of your uncle Shallum. Hanamel will say, "Buy my field at Anathoth. You are my closest relative. So it's your right and duty to buy it." '
"Then my cousin Hanamel came to me. I was in the courtyard of the guard. It happened just as the LORD had said it would. Hanamel said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth. It is in the territory of Benjamin. It is your right to buy it and own it. So buy it for yourself.' "I knew that this was the LORD's message.
So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out seven ounces of silver for him.
I signed and sealed the deed of purchase. I had some people witness everything. And I weighed out the silver on the scales.
"There were two copies of the deed. One was sealed and the other wasn't. The deed included the terms and conditions of the sale.
I gave Baruch the copies of the deed. My cousin Hanamel saw me do it. The witnesses who had signed the deed were there too. So were all of the Jews who were sitting in the courtyard of the guard. Baruch was the son of Neriah. Neriah was the son of Mahseiah.
"I gave Baruch directions in front of all of them. I said,
'The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "Take this deed of purchase. Take the sealed and unsealed copies. Put them in a clay jar. Then they will last a long time."
The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land." '
"I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch, the son of Neriah. Then I prayed to the Lord. I said,
" 'LORD and King, you have reached out your great and powerful arm. You have made the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too hard for you.
" 'You show your love to thousands of people. But you punish children for the sins of their fathers. Great and powerful God, your name is The LORD Who Rules Over All.
Your purposes are great. Your acts are mighty. Your eyes see everything people do. You reward each one of them in keeping with his conduct. You do it based on what he has done.
" 'You performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt. And you have continued to do them to this very day. You have done them in Israel and among all people. You are still known for doing them.
You brought your people Israel out of Egypt. You did it with miraculous signs and wonders. You reached out your mighty hand and powerful arm. You did great and wonderful things.
" 'You gave Israel this land. Long before that, you took an oath. You promised to give their people a land that had plenty of milk and honey.
They came in and took it over. But they did not obey you. They didn't follow your law. They didn't do what you commanded them to do. So you brought all of this trouble on them.
" 'See how ramps are built up against Jerusalem's walls to attack it. The city will be handed over to the armies of Babylonia. They are attacking it. It will fall because of war, hunger and plague. What you said would happen is now happening, as you can see.
LORD and King, the city will be handed over to the armies of Babylonia. In spite of that, you tell me to buy a field. You say, "Pay for it with silver. And have the sale witnessed." ' "
Then a message came to me from the Lord. He said,
"I am the Lord. I am the God of all people. Is anything too hard for me?"
So the LORD says, "I am about to hand this city over to the armies of Babylonia. I will give it to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia. He will capture it.
The armies of Babylonia are now attacking this city. They will come in and set it on fire. They will burn it down. They will burn up the houses where the people made me very angry. They burned incense on their roofs to the god Baal. And they poured out drink offerings to other gods.
"The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight. They have done it since the nation was young. In fact, they have done nothing but make me very angry. They have worshiped statues of gods their own hands have made," announces the Lord.
"This city has always stirred up my burning anger. It has done it since the day it was built. Now I must remove it from my sight.
"The people of Israel and Judah have made me very angry. They have done many evil things. They, their kings and officials have sinned. So have their priests and prophets. And the people of Judah and Jerusalem have also sinned.
They turned their backs to me. They would not face me. I taught them again and again. But they would not listen or pay attention when they were corrected.
"They set up statues of their gods. They did it in the house where I have put my Name. They made my house 'unclean.' I hate those statues.
"The people built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. That is where they sacrifice their children to Molech in the fire. That is something I did not command. It did not even enter my mind. They did something I hate. They made Judah sin."
You people of Judah are saying about this city, "By war, hunger and plague it will be handed over to the king of Babylonia." But the Lord, the God of Israel, says,
"You can be sure that I will gather my people again. I will bring them from all of the lands where I send them when my burning anger blazes out against them. I will bring them back to this place. And I will let them live in safety.
"They will be my people. And I will be their God.
I will give them a single purpose in life. Then, they will always have respect for me. I will do it for their own good. And it will be for the good of their children after them.
"I will make a covenant with them that will last forever. I promise that I will never stop doing good to them. I will cause them to respect me. Then they will never turn away from me again.
I will take pleasure in doing good things for them. I will certainly plant them in this land. I will do those things with all my heart and soul."
The LORD says, "I have brought all of this horrible trouble on these people. But now I will give them all of the good things I have promised them.
"Once more fields will be bought in this land. It is the land about which you now say, 'It is a dry and empty desert. It doesn't have any people or animals in it. It has been handed over to the armies of Babylonia.'
Fields will be bought with silver. Deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed. That will be done in the territory of Benjamin. It will be done in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah. It will also be done in the towns of the central hill country. And it will be done in the towns of the western hills and the Negev Desert. I will bless their people with great success again," announces the Lord.