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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 32

 

 

Verses 1-15

B. THE ELEVENTH DISCOURSE

Jeremiah 32-33

With An Appendix ( Jeremiah 34:1-7)

The thirty-third chapter contains a revelation of somewhat later date than Jeremiah 32. In Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32. The word second (שֵׁנִית) Jeremiah 33:1, however, designates this chapter as the second part or continuation of Jeremiah 32, which also accords with its very similar purport. As Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 33 has in common with Jeremiah 32the Lord has the power to do this; nothing is too wonderful for Him (comp. Jeremiah 33:2-3 with Jeremiah 32:17; Jeremiah 32:27). 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 Corinthians 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, chh30,31, 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 (chh30,31) 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 Jeremiah 30:5-7; Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 31:15-16; Jeremiah 31:18-19), 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 ( Jeremiah 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, Jeremiah 30:9; Jeremiah 30:21, in the second the most prominent passage is occupied in detail with the Messianic king and priesthood. The passage Jeremiah 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 chh32,33 is stated in the text. In Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 33:1).

Movers, De Wette and Hitzig regard Jeremiah 33 as worked over by the author of Isaiah 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 Jeremiah 33:14-26. Movers (de utr. Rec, etc., S. 41) declares that Jeremiah 32:18; Jeremiah 32:21 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 33may be regarded as a continuation and extension of Jeremiah 32, the two together may consequently be regarded as one prophetic discourse. They are not Song of Solomon, however, in a logical and rhetorical sense, since they did not originate contemporaneously. We shall therefore treat the two halves separately.

I. CHAPTER32

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, Jeremiah 32:1-15.

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

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

II. CHAPTER33

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 Jeremiah 32:16-25, and promise of a hearing, Jeremiah 33:1-3.

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

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

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

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

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

__________

1. CHAPTER32

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.

Jeremiah 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 3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up,[FN1] saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand 4 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 5 eyes 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, ye 6 shall 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 8 buy 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 9 this was the word of the Lord. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s Song of Solomon, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of 10 silver. [FN2] And I subscribed the evidence [deed], [FN3] 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 [FN4] the Jews that sat in13, 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 [FN5] which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them 15 in 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.”

Jeremiah 32:1-5. The word … shall not prosper. The superscription is again of the larger kind. It dominates chh32,33. The word of Jehovah which it announces, is not merely the next following brief revelation of Jeremiah 32:7, but all the revealed contents of both chapters. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 30:1.—In the tenth, etc. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 28:1. The numerical statements are in entire agreement with Jeremiah 39:1; Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 52:12.—Besieged. Comp. Jeremiah 21:4; Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 39:1; Deuteronomy 20:12, etcCourt of the prison. According to Jeremiah 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, Jeremiah 37:21 coll. Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 38:13; Jeremiah 38:28; Jeremiah 39:14-15). Accordingly this must have been at any rate a more tolerable place. The expression occurs, besides the passages mentioned, only in Jeremiah 33:1; Nehemiah 3:25; Nehemiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 21:4 sqq.; Jeremiah 34:2 sqq.; Jeremiah 37:17. The words from I will give to Zedekiah to Babylon agree almost verbatim with Jeremiah 34:2-3. From the slight differences we may infer that we have here two independent records, of which the passage Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:5 all that relates to this is comprised in the words, “and there shall he be until I visit him.” If we compare Jeremiah 34:4-5 with Jeremiah 39:7; Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 37:7; Jeremiah 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,” Jeremiah 34:5, admits of this double meaning.—Though ye fight, etc. These words are not found in the record, Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 27:8 sqq, as well as the introduction to Jeremiah 34:1-7, and the remarks on Jeremiah 34:1-5.

Jeremiah 32:6-7. And Jeremiah … to buy it. After that in Jeremiah 32:1-5 the general situation had been portrayed in which the following event took place, Jeremiah 32:6 begins the narrative of the event itself. This narrative is given as the report of a third person. From the word in Jeremiah 32:6, to the close of the prayer in Jeremiah 32:25, it is Jeremiah who speaks. It Isaiah, however, a third person who tells us that Jeremiah spoke all these things, as is seen from the words and Jeremiah said, Jeremiah 32:6. This form of presentation is not unusual in this book. Comp. Jeremiah 19:14-15; Jeremiah 26:7-9; Jeremiah 28:5-7 coll. Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 37 etc.—Son of Shallum thine uncle. That the uncle was named Shallum is seen from Jeremiah 32:8-9. 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” ( Jeremiah 1:2; Jeremiah 1:4, etc.). From this is derived the meaning of “carus, amicus” (abstr. pro concreto as inמוֹדַעַת), comp. Isaiah 5:1; Song of Solomon 1:13-14; Song of Solomon 1:16, 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 Leviticus 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 Numbers 35:2 coll. Joshua 21owned real estate, viz., so much as was included in the precincts of the cities allotted to them (מִגְרָשׁ, comp. 1 Chronicles 6:40-41). The statement in Leviticus 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

Jeremiah 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, Leviticus 25:15-16, were not unobserved. The year of manumissio, spoken of in Jeremiah 34, was not a jubilee. Comp. rems, on Jeremiah 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 Hebrews, the prisoner, for whom a daily scanty subsistence was furnished ( Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:9, the particulars of the transaction are specially enumerated in Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:12, where it is expressly stated that the witnesses “subscribed the book of the purchase.” As now in Jeremiah 32:11, Jeremiah 32:12 init., Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:12 also designate both documents; they may therefore have both been subscribed by the witnesses.

Jeremiah 32:11-12. So I took … of the prison. The words הַמְִצְוָה וְהַחֻקִּים, in Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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. Deuteronomy 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 ( Jeremiah 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.

Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 32:3.—אשׁר כלאר. The Nota relationis is to be regarded as in the accusative. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 70, b; Numbers 13:27; Isaiah 64:10; Psalm 84:4.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 32:9.—On the accus. הַָכּֽסֶף. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 70, g.—On the article. I b. 71, 4 a.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 32:10.—The article in בַּסֵּפֶּר is again general. Naegelsb. Gr., § 71, 4 a.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 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.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 32:14.—ואת–ואת. The two Vaus here as in Jeremiah 32:20=both, and also comp. Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 32:11-12); 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.


Verses 16-25

2. A Prayer of Praise and Inquiry.

Jeremiah 32:16-25

16Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of 17 Neriah, 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 Isaiah 18 nothing too hard for thee [hid from thee]:[FN6] Thou shewest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom[FN7] of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts [Jehovah 19 Zebaoth] is his name. Great in counsel, and mighty in work[FN8]: 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][FN9] hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and 21 hast 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 hand 22 and 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 23 and honey; And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law[FN10]; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst 24 them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them.[FN11] 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 25 spoken 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] [FN12] 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. Jeremiah 32:17-19; Jeremiah 2, Jeremiah 32:20-23; Jeremiah 3, Jeremiah 32:24-25. In the first part God’s omnipotence is shown from the creation ( Jeremiah 32:17), then His justice from His providence in history ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 32:20-22), then His justice from the terrible calamity which has now come upon the disobedient nation ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 32:21 sqq.), gives the key for the solution of that riddle.

Jeremiah 32:16-19. Now when … fruit of his doings On Jeremiah 32:17 comp. Jeremiah 27:5; Deuteronomy 29:9.—Thou shewest loving-kindness, etc. Comp. Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:10. For לַֽאֲלָפִים we find in Deuteronomy 7:9לְאֶלֶף דִּוֹר. If we compare with this the phrase in the parallel clause שִׁלֵשִׁים,רִבֵּעִם ( Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 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 Jeremiah 31:29-30.—The mighty God. Comp. Deuteronomy 10:17.—Jehovah Zebaoth. Comp. Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 31:15, etc.—Great in counsel. etc. Comp. Isaiah 28:29; Psalm 66:5.—To give every one, etc. Comp. Jeremiah 17:10.

Jeremiah 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 Isaiah 43:4; Psalm 73:5.—As at this day. Comp. Jeremiah 25:18.—With signs. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 26:8.—Which thou didst swear. Comp ( Genesis 12:7; rems. on Jeremiah 11:5.

Jeremiah 32:24-25. Behold the ramparts … the Chaldeans. הסללות are ramparts set up by the besiegers. Comp. Jeremiah 33:4; Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 14:16; Jeremiah 25:16; Jeremiah 25:27; Jeremiah 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., Jeremiah 32:25 b, 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 Jeremiah 32:24. Comp. the translation and Textual Notes.

Footnotes:

FN#6 - Jeremiah 32:17.—–יפלא לא. Comp. Genesis 18:14; Deuteronomy 17:8 : Zechariah 8:6; Naegelsb. Gr., § 75, 2, 4.

FN#7 - Jeremiah 32:18.—Instead of חֵיק אֵל we find in Deuteronomy 7:10, פנים אל. Comp. besides Isaiah 65:6-7; Psalm 79:12.

FN#8 - Jeremiah 32:19.—The form עֲלִילִיּהָ is found here only.

FN#9 - Jeremiah 32:20.—The construction in the sentence שׂמת אשׁר to הזה היום עד, is as in Jeremiah 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.

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

FN#11 - Jeremiah 32:23.—ותקרא. Hiphil here only. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:29.

FN#12 - Jeremiah 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.


Verses 26-44

3. Nothing is impossible to the Lord.

Jeremiah 32:26-44

26, 27Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the 28 Lord, 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 29 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 [to] this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal and 30 poured 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;[FN13] for the children of Israel have only provoked Me to anger with the work 31 of 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 32 to this day; that I should remove it from before my face,[FN14] 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 34 and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. But they 35 set 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.[FN15]

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 37 sword, 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 to38, 39dwell safely; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart,[FN16] and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good 40 of them, and of their children after them: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them,[FN17] 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 as 42 suredly [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 43 I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them. And fields[FN18] shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without[FN19] man or beast; it Isaiah 44given into the hand of the Chaldeans. Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences [deeds][FN20] 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 ( Jeremiah 32:17): can anything be too wonderful for the Lord? ( Jeremiah 32:27). The answer Isaiah, No! Therefore Jerusalem shall indeed be destroyed by the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 32:28-29), as a well deserved punishment for the manifold abominations, by which Judah and Israel had provoked the Lord from the first ( Jeremiah 32:30-35), but therefore also a Revelation -assembling and bringing back of the people to their own country shall take place ( Jeremiah 32:36-37). Then will Israel be Jehovah’s people and Jehovah be Israel’s God ( Jeremiah 32:38); they will with unanimity serve the Lord to their own eternal welfare ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 32:41). With these two colors does the prophet paint the future of his nation, for ( Jeremiah 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 ( Jeremiah 32:42). Then will fields again be bought in the country, which is now called a desert ( Jeremiah 32:43); yea, with all the usual formalities will purchases be made, deeds drawn, sealed and witnessed in all parts of the country ( Jeremiah 32:44). The passage thus seems to be closely connected with the historical basis of Jeremiah’s purchase of a field ( Jeremiah 32:7 sqq.), as well as to be a logical exposition of the main thought of Jeremiah 32:27 b;—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.

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

Jeremiah 32:30-35. For the children … Judah to sin. These six verses express the reason of the punitive judgment announced in Jeremiah 32:28-29. Verses30, 31give the general reason, Jeremiah 32:32-35 the special. In Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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, Jeremiah 32:30, essentially to the prediction of destruction in Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:29 b. 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 Jeremiah 32:29 b incense was burned. Comp. Jeremiah 1:16; Deuteronomy 4:28; Deuteronomy 27:15. The prophet appears also to have had Deuteronomy 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 Jeremiah 32:28-29. The expression this city has been to Me, for My anger and for My fury (on which the passages Jeremiah 52:3; 2 Kings 24:3; 2 Kings 24:20 seem to be founded) is unusual. The sense can only be that the city became an object of anger to Me. On Jeremiah 32:33 comp. Jeremiah 2:27; Jeremiah 7:13; Jeremiah 7:25; Jeremiah 25:3-4. On Jeremiah 32:34-35 comp. Jeremiah 7:30-31; Jeremiah 19:5.—In Jeremiah 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.

Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 22:11; Jeremiah 28:8-9; Jeremiah 29:16; Jeremiah 29:21.—By the sword. Comp. because of the sword, Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:32 belong. On the subject-matter comp. Deuteronomy 30:3 sqq.; Jeremiah 3:18-20; Jeremiah 23:3; Jeremiah 29:14; Jeremiah 31:8; Jeremiah 31:10.—Cause them to dwell safely. Comp. Hosea 11:11; Ezekiel 36:11; Ezekiel 36:33.

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

Jeremiah 32:39. And I will give, etc. The restoration and return must necessarily be at the same time spiritual (comp. Jeremiah 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. Ezekiel 11:19; Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 31:34.—One way. An allusion to the division introduced by Jeroboam I. between Judah and Israel. Comp. Jeremiah 10:2; Amos 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 Deuteronomy 4:10.—For the good of them. A reminiscence from Deuteronomy 6:24 coll. Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 30:9-10.

Jeremiah 32:40. And I will make,etc. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 31:31-32; Jeremiah 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. Deuteronomy 17:20, Joshua 23:6.—Yea, I will rejoice, etc. Comp. Deuteronomy 28:63; Deuteronomy 30:9; Isaiah 62:5.—I will plant,etc. This נטע is the opposite of נתשׁ. Comp. Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 18:7 sqq.; Jeremiah 31:28.—In truth is explained in the following words. The first planting had been imperfect (comp. Jeremiah 2:21) as much so as the first covenant, ( Jeremiah 31:32). Because this was only hypothetical ( Jeremiah 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, Jeremiah 32:40 b), 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 Samuel 7:10.

Jeremiah 32:42-44. For thus saith … Jehovah. From Jeremiah 32:27 onwards a double inference is drawn from the general proposition that nothing is impossible to the Lord ( Jeremiah 32:28-35, and Jeremiah 32:36-41). From Jeremiah 32:42 onwards the argument is different. It is to demonstrate the certainty of the promise, Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 31:28.

Jeremiah 32:43. And fields, etc. Return to the historical point of departure. Comp. Jeremiah 32:15.—In the land of Benjamin. Comp. Jeremiah 17:26; Jeremiah 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. Joshua 10:40; Jude 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; Acts 5:4).” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#13 - Jeremiah 32:30.—On מִנְּעֻרֹתֵיהֶם (the fem. form here only). Comp. Jeremiah 3:24-25; Jeremiah 22:21.

FN#14 - Jeremiah 32:31.—The עַל is less surprising (since this preposition is frequently interchanged with אֵל, [comp. rems. on Jeremiah 10:1, Isaiah 29:11; Isaiah 29:14], and even לְ [comp. עַל־רָצוֹן Isaiah 60:7 with לְרצוֹן Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 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 Jeremiah 32:32-35 treat. In Jeremiah 32:32 first follows a specification of the subjects. comp. Jeremiah 2:26; Jeremiah 17:25. Then in Jeremiah 32:33; Jeremiah 32:35 a specification of the predicates.

FN#15 - Jeremiah 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. Jeremiah 19:15.

FN#16 - Jeremiah 32:39.—On the infinitive ירְאָה comp. Ewald § 238, a; Olsh245, d.

FN#17 - Jeremiah 32:40.—The construction with לְ as in Isaiah 55:3; Isaiah 61:8; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 37:26; Psalm 89:4.—אשׁר here is evidently a conjunction = that. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 109, 1 b.

FN#18 - Jeremiah 32:43.—השדה. The article is generic. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 32:9.

FN#19 - Jeremiah 32:43.—מאין. Comp. Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:9-12; Naegelsb. Gr., § 106, 5.

FN#20 - Jeremiah 32:44.—וכתוב. Comp. Naegelsb. Gr., § 92, 2, a.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 32:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-32.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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