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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 32
Jeremiah, in the siege of Jerusalem, being imprisoned by Zedekiah, buyeth a field, taketh witnesses, draweth a writing, sealeth and delivereth it to Baruch to preserve, as tokens of the people’s return, Jeremiah 32:1-15. He prayeth with admiration of God’s majesty and works; and representeth his own conflict, Jeremiah 32:16-25. God confirmeth the captivity for their sins, Jeremiah 32:26-35; but promiseth a gracious return, Jeremiah 32:36-44.
That is, something more than a year before the city was taken, for it was taken in the fourth month of the eleventh year of this king’s reign, Jeremiah 39:2. This tenth year concurred with the eighteenth year of the king of Babylon’s absolute reign, who began so to reign in the third and fourth year of Jehoiakim, Daniel 1:1; so as Jehoiakim’s last year was the seventh and eighth of Nebuchadrezzar, who is also sometimes called Nebuchadnezzar and Nabuchodonosor.
The king of Babylon (as appears from 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1) besieged Jerusalem in the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah, so as he had besieged it some time before the revelation of this prophecy came to Jeremiah. Jeremiah was at that time a prisoner, in a prison within the king’s house. The king could keep him from revealing God’s will to the people, but he could not keep God from revealing himself to him. Prisons hinder us from communion with men, but often contribute to God’s people freer and sweeter communion with him. In the mean time the desperate hardness of this prince and these people’s hearts appear, in that the fear of an enemy besieging them could not awe them from such outrageous acts of persecution.
We no where read that Zedekiah immediately commanded Jeremiah to be imprisoned, he seemeth rather to have been favourable to Jeremiah, and judicious interpreters think his present prison was a favourable prison; but God accounteth princes to do that which their ministers or subordinate magistrates do with their connivance, and without their hinderance. Though it be wild divinity for any to say, that inferior ministers or subjects are excused by the command of the superior, and the guilt lieth only on them; yet it is as wild to say they contract no guilt by the extravagant acts of subordinate magistrates, whom they put in place, and can punish and remove from their places.
Here the cause of the prophet’s imprisonment is expressed. The things were true which Jeremiah prophesied, and fulfilled, Jeremiah 39:5-7, and Jeremiah could not forbear speaking them, because he was sent of God upon the errand, Jeremiah 34:2,Jeremiah 34:3; yet the king and court could not bear his words.
There shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: interpreters are divided whether the visitation here mentioned were a visitation of judgment, and the same with until he die; or of mercy: it is certain Zedekiah was not put to death, only his eyes put out, and he carried into Babylon, Jeremiah 39:7, where some think he afterward found favour with the king of Babylon; certain it is that he died in Babylon, and had an honourable burial, but whether he met with any other favour, or no, the Scripture saith not. Some will have the words read, until I visit this people, and think that Zedekiah lived in prison in Babylon till the restoration; but he was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years, so as he was thirty-two years old when he was carried to Babylon, 2 Chronicles 36:11, and must be then ninety-two years old when he died, which is hardly probable, considering the delicate education and life of princes, that he, having lost his eyes, and seen so much misery, should continue sixty years longer.
Though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper; though ye make many sallies out upon the Chaldeans, that are now besieging you, yet you shall be beaten in all, and not be able to drive them from your walls, Hitherto hath been but the preface to the prophetical type and discourse in this chapter, which now followeth.
From hence may be concluded the certainty of future contingency in God’s eye; the coming of
Hanameel was a future contingency, yet certainly known to God, so as he could tell the prophet he would come. Anathoth (as appears from Joshua 21:18) was one of the cities of the Levites; hence ariseth a question, how it could be sold to Jeremiah, who by the law might not possess it, Numbers 18:20, being a Levite.
1. Some excuse it from the command of God, who might dispense with his own law; but this seemeth not enough, because it is said afterward, the right of redemption is thine.
2. Others therefore say the Levites might have some small possessions, though no ploughed land; they might have houses, and orchards, and gardens, in cities and suburbs. But that these might be sold seemeth contrary to the law, Leviticus 25:34. It is therefore rather thought to be meant of some small estate left to Hanameel from his ancestors.
The right of redemption belonged to the next of kin, Leviticus 25:25; Ruth 4:4.
Hanameel came freely, none drove or forced him, yet he came necessarily as to the event; he could not but go, else God had not told the prophet truth.
Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord; when I saw it came to pass, knowing that God alone knew what was in men’s hearts, told what they would do, I knew my former mentioned revelation was from God.
That is, about £21. 2s. 6d., a small purchase, which argues the field here mentioned to be but some orchard or garden; though we must allow the price of land strangely fallen at this time, when the enemy was besieging the chief city of the country. It should seem they were wont there to make their payments more by weight than by tale.
I went through with the purchase, setting my hand to and sealing the deed, and taking witnesses to it, as is usual.
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.
Baruch (as appeareth from Jeremiah 36:4,Jeremiah 36:26) was a scribe, and an attendant upon Jeremiah, and one who wrote things for him, and from his mouth. He made this purchase with all the usual formalities; to make it public, he signed and sealed it before witnesses, and delivered it to Baruch, to keep in the presence of them all, and in the presence of the Jews who casually were in the place when the thing was done.
Here is nothing of any seeming difficulty in these verses, but only why the prophet commandeth Baruch to put the evidences in an earthen vessel, which himself also expounds, that they might continue many days, that is, not defaced: had they been hid many days in the earth, they would have been rotten; had they been above ground in a box or chest, they might have been lost, or taken away by the soldiers plundering houses, or at least burnt with fire. Jeremiah 32:15, the prophet expounds God’s meaning in this command to him, and his own design, in so formal a buying of so small a purchase, especially considering, that, very probably, Jeremiah was no great purchaser, nor very greedy of purchases. He lets them know that all this was for a sign of the truth of what God had revealed to him concerning the people’s return, though after many days, (sixty years from this time,) and also of the firm assent he gave to that Divine revelation, that purchases should one day be enjoyed again in Judea, and houses, fields, and vineyards in it should be again possessed.
What he prayed for the matter of his prayer in the following verses will inform us; but it should seem by it that he was not without his perplexities; though he yielded an absolute obedience to God’s command, yet he prayeth for a clearer revelation of his meaning in this thing.
He beginneth his prayer with a recognition of God’s omnipotency, and the infiniteness of his power, which was showed in his first making the heaven and the earth, as we read, Genesis 1:1; Psalms 146:6. God himself used this instance to confirm his people’s faith in his ability to do what he pleased, Jeremiah 27:5. It is observable, that the servants of God in holy writ used in their prayers to give God such names as might help to confirm their faith as to what they asked. Nothing can further be necessary to confirm our faith that we shall have what we ask, than for us to be persuaded that the person is able to do it, and also willing. The prophet beginneth with a declaration of his faith in God as to the first, then goes on to the second.
Thou shewest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: this is the name which God gave himself, Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9,Deuteronomy 5:10, and of this latter clause, declarative of the vengeance of God in punishing children for their parents’ sins, are many instances in Scripture, Joshua 7:24; 1 Samuel 2:33,1 Samuel 2:34; 1 Kings 14:10,1 Kings 14:11; 1 Kings 21:24.
Who dost nothing but in infinite wisdom, as if thou hadst taken counsel upon it; and art mighty in thy works of providence, by which thou governest the world; whose eyes ran to and fro the earth, beholding the evil and the good; so that all things are naked before thee, and thou art not a mere curious and idle spectator of men’s actions, but lookest upon them for that end, that thou mightest reward or punish them, according as thou seest their actions good or bad in thy sight.
Who didst wonders of justice in the land of Egypt, such as are remembered and made matters of astonishing discourse even to this day; and wroughtest wonders of mercy in Israel, bringing them out of Egypt through the Red Sea, raining them down manna and quails from heaven, and fetching water out of the rock for them, &c.; and hast done also many wondrous works in other places, by which thou hast made thyself a glorious name.
The history of this we have in the eleven or twelve first chapters of Exodus. God sent ten plagues upon Egypt one after another, before Pharaoh would let them go; and when he pursued after them, divided the Red Sea for them, that they might pass through, and then brought the waters back upon the Egyptians, pursuing after them through the sea.
God owneth this oath, Exodus 6:8.
A land flowing with milk and honey; that is, abounding with all necessary things, and all pleasant things. Canaan is often thus described, Exodus 3:8,Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 33:3; Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 14:8; Numbers 16:13,Numbers 16:14; Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 11:9, &c.
In the former passage he acknowledged God’s goodness, here he owns his truth and faithfulness, in so conducting this people by his providence, that they came into the Promised Land and possessed it. Having acknowledged God’s power, omniscience, goodness, truth, and faithfulness, he comes to own his justice, confessing that this people for whom God had done so much had very ill requited him, not obeying his voice, which he expounds by not walking in his law; for the law was God’s voice to them. This he aggravateth by saying they had done nothing of what he had commanded, not breaking some particular law, but the whole law of God. Therefore God was righteous in bringing this sword, pestilence, and famine upon them.
Mounts; the word signifies ramparts, or rather battering rams, engines of war, which those nations used to batter walls, or to shoot great stones into places besieged.
They are come unto the city to take it; they are already besieging Jerusalem, and have been for some time; and the city is even ready to be taken, and cannot hold out; so many daily are killed, either with the sword of the enemy, or by famine for want of provision, or by the pestilence;
and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; thou art just and righteous in all this, and hast done but according to what thou threatenedst to do to a sinful people that would not obey thy voice.
In this verse again the particle is ill translated and, and for in the latter clause. The learned author of the English Annotations judgeth well, that it had been better translated whenas in the second place, as Genesis 4:11; Psalms 102:5, or albeit, or though, as it is translated, Joshua 17:18; Psalms 23:4; and yet instead of and in the beginning, as it is Jeremiah 23:21. Lord, saith the prophet, expound thy meaning to me, why, when the city is upon the matter ready to be yielded up to the Chaldeans, and cannot possibly hold out long, thou shouldest set me to make purchases for thine enemies to possess.
The Lord beginneth this revelation, for the prophet’s satisfaction, with the preface expressive of his power and universal dominion, from which Jeremiah might understand that he could do whatsoever he pleased, and man, that was but flesh, Genesis 6:3, could not hinder his effecting what he designed to do. God is also the God of the spirits of all flesh, Numbers 16:22; but he expresseth man here only under the notion of flesh, as Genesis 6:3, to denote his vileness and inconsiderableness as to any grappling with God, and encountering his purposes.
Thou judgest right, this city shall be taken, and that by this very army of Chaldeans which now besiegeth it, they shall set fire on it, and burn the houses; I have made all flesh, and I have power to dispose of it, I will give this city into their hands. But in this execution of my vengeance I shall not act by prerogative, but as a just and righteous judge, vindicating the violation of my laws: they have polluted their houses by idolatry upon the roofs of them, they have offered incense, paid a divine homage, to the idol Baal; and in them they have worshipped other gods; therefore I will watch over and protect them no longer, but send the Chaldeans by their fires to purge them.
If they had offended me only by some particular single acts, or by some few omissions, or but for a small time, I might have been judged too severe upon them; but from the time they first began to be a nation they have made it their business, course, and trade, passing from one idolatry to another, &c.
Solomon finished the building of Jerusalem, and he at least suffered idolatry in it, 1 Kings 11:4,1 Kings 11:8. People have always been so fond of worshipping God according to their own fancies and inventions, that even in Judah (except in David’s time) the worship of God could hardly be preserved pure during the entire reign of one king. As if they had done it on purpose to provoke me to destroy the city, and cast the people of it out. Nothing more easy than for people to keep close to the Divine rule, as to external acts in worship; nothing is more provocative of God than their doing the contrary. Yet nothing hath been more rarely done in any nation, as if men had set themselves to dare a jealous God.
Still God maketh their destruction to be of themselves, as the meritorious cause, provoking him to that wrath he executed upon them. The whole head was sick, the whole heart faint. All orders of men were corrupted, so as there was no hope of their reformation or growing better.
They have behaved themselves against me contemptuously, like men who, when they are spoken to, admonished, or instructed, instead of looking towards those who instruct or admonish them, turn their back upon them. Yet their sin had not been so great and heinous, if I by my prophets had not diligently instructed them, and they as stubbornly refused to be taught or amended by their instruction.
Their abominations; their idols, which above all things the jealous God abhorreth, and therefore he calleth them abominations, in the abstract, for abominable things, Deuteronomy 32:16; 1 Kings 11:5; 2 Kings 23:13.
In the house which is called by my name; that is, in the temple, which was ordinarily called the house of the Lord, and the temple of the Lord.
See Poole "Jeremiah 19:5", See Poole "Jeremiah 19:6", where all passages we meet with here are fully opened.
The Jews now began to see that the Chaldeans would take the city, and to be as dead-hearted as before they were full of courage, and to give over themselves for ever as lost.
Though the city shall be taken, and you shall go into captivity; yet you shall not be utterly lost, I will gather you again, and you shall have as quiet a habitation as ever.
I will renew my covenant with them, and keep my covenant towards them; they shall serve me more faithfully, and I will own them, and take care of them, and bless them.
I will give them one heart; I will give them union and concord, or a oneness of mind and judgment; as to the things of God, they shall not be some for superstitious and idolatrous worship, and some for my true worship. And one way; they shall all worship me according to the rule I have given them.
That they may fear me for ever; that they may worship me in truth, as a people that have a dread of me upon their hearts.
For the good of them, and of their children after them; this will be for the profit both of them and their posterity many days, even so long as they shall continue so to do.
This promise manifestly relateth to those Jews that should receive the Lord Jesus Christ, or that were Israelites indeed; for as to others, God did turn away from doing them good, when their city was taken by Titus; unless it be to be understood of a national conversion of the Jews, not yet effected.
I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not depart from me; my Spirit, which shall beget in them a dread of me, so as they shall not depart from me. Hence some conclude well, that when once the body of the Jews shall be converted, they shall never again apostatize from God. It may well from hence be concluded, that both conversion unto God, and perseverance in the ways of God, are the gifts of God; we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
I will not only do them good, but I will take pleasure and delight in doing them good; and I will certainly bring them to this land, and constantly and freely do them good when they shall be there.
You shall find me as true to my promises as you have found me to my threatenings.
Now, Jeremiah, thou understandest wherefore I commanded thee to buy the field offered thee by Hanameel in Anathoth in the lot of Benjamin; it was to assure thee, that though at present the Chaldeans shall prevail against Jerusalem, and the Jews shall be carried into captivity, and the Jews shall neither buy nor sell here at present, yet fields shall here be bought again; men shall buy, and sell, and seal evidences in all parts of Judea, as they were wont to do in former times, for they shall return again out of the captivity of Babylon into their own land, and have commerce one with another as formerly.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 32". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29