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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 32

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 32:1. The word that came to Jeremiah — As the date of the following transaction and prophecy is here stated to have been in the tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign, while the Chaldeans invested the city, and Jeremiah was confined in the court of the prison, it must have been after the Egyptians had retreated back to their own land, and the Chaldeans had renewed the siege a second time. Jeremiah at the beginning, it seems, of the siege foretold to Zedekiah that the city should be taken, and the king sent captive to Babylon, Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 34:7. The king, or his princes rather, irritated at his freedom, put him in prison, or, at least, in the court of the prison, which was in the palace. And it was in this place that the transaction here recorded happened. As Nebuchadnezzar came to besiege Jerusalem in the ninth year of Zedekiah, it is probable Jeremiah had now been confined a year or more in prison. The siege, it may be observed, lasted from the tenth month of that year to the fourth month of the eleventh year of that king’s reign.


Verses 3-5

Jeremiah 32:3-5. Jeremiah was shut up in the court of the prison — He was afterward put in the dungeon, Jeremiah 37:16; and Jeremiah 38:6. But now he was not under so severe a restraint. Compare Jeremiah 32:26; Jeremiah 32:28 of that chapter. For Zedekiah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy and say, &c. — This refers to the prophecy recorded Jeremiah 34:2, &c., the particulars there mentioned being, in order of time, before the passages related in this chapter. We nowhere read that Zedekiah himself immediately commanded Jeremiah to be imprisoned: he seems rather to have been favourable to him, and to have been averse to his confinement; but God accounts princes to do that which their ministers or subordinate magistrates do with their connivance, or without their prohibition. Behold, I will give this city, &c., and Zedekiah shall not escape — Jeremiah prophesies that both the city and the court should fall into the hands of the king of Babylon: for God, whose city it was, in a peculiar manner would put it out of his protection, and give it into their hands; that, though Zedekiah should attempt to make his escape, he should be overtaken, and brought as a prisoner into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence, to his great confusion and terror, he having made himself particularly obnoxious to him by breaking his faith with him; that he should hear the king of Babylon pronounce his doom, and see with what fury and indignation he should look upon him, his eyes, as it is expressed, beholding Nebuchadnezzar’s eyes. He further prophesies that Zedekiah should be carried to Babylon, and continue a miserable captive there until God should visit him — That is, till God should put an end to his life by a natural death, as Nebuchadnezzar had long before put an end to every comfort of his life by putting out his eyes. And, lastly, he foretels that all their attempts to force the besiegers from their trenches would be ineffectual; for though they should fight with the Chaldeans, they should not prosper. For prophesying thus, that is, for bearing testimony to the truth, and giving them faithful warning of impending judgments, he is imprisoned.


Verses 6-8

Jeremiah 32:6-8. The word of the Lord came unto me — “Jeremiah, after having just informed us why he was put in prison, returns to his design, and tells us that God had advised him, probably in a dream or vision, that Hanameel, his cousin, should come to him with the offer of a field in Anathoth; the right of redeeming whereof was in him. Jeremiah might have given up this right, as not being in a situation to make the purchase; but, understanding from the revelation of the Lord, that this affair had a mystical reference, and that he ought to accept the offer of his cousin, he purchased the field, as is afterward related, with the full process and meaning of the affair.” — Dodd. The field, being in Anathoth, near Jerusalem, was consequently at this time actually in the possession of the Chaldean army. And the design of God in directing Jeremiah to purchase it was to signify, that though Jerusalem was now besieged, and the whole country was likely to be laid waste, yet the time should come when houses, and fields, and vineyards should be again possessed in that land, Jeremiah 32:15. As God appointed Jeremiah to confirm his predictions of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by his own practice in living unmarried, so he now appointed him to confirm his predictions of the future restoration of Jerusalem by his own practice in purchasing this field. The Roman historian, Florus, relates, as a great instance of the bravery of the Roman citizens, that in the time of the second Punic war, when Hannibal besieged Rome, and was very near making himself master of it, a field, on which part of his army lay, being offered for sale at that time, was presently purchased, in a firm belief that the Roman valour would raise the siege, lib. 2. cap. 6. And have not we much more reason to venture our all upon the word of God, and to embark in Zion’s interests, which will undoubtedly be the prevailing interests at last?


Verse 9

Jeremiah 32:9. I weighed him the money — In ancient times all money was paid by weight, a custom still used in several countries; even seventeen shekels of silver — A sum which, in our money, is not much above forty shillings; a small price for a field or piece of ground. It must be considered, however, “that the quantity of land is uncertain, and that the circumstances of the times must have greatly tended to lessen the value of land. The field in question was at the time of the purchase in the enemy’s possession; and the purchaser well knew that he or his heirs had no chance of entering upon it till after the expiration of the seventy years’ captivity. Besides, the seller, it is likely, was in the immediate want of the money, and could get no one else to purchase in the precarious situation things were in. He might therefore be glad to take what the prophet, who, doubtless, was not rich, was able to give, and who would not have thought of making the purchase at any rate had he not acted under the divine direction for a special purpose.” — Blaney.


Verses 10-14

Jeremiah 32:10-14. I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it — I wrote down an account of the transaction in a book. The method it appears then in use among the Jews when any purchase was made was, that the purchaser, as well as those who sold, testified his consent by some writing signed before witnesses. I took the evidence, both that which was sealed and that which was open — The open, or unsealed writing, was either a copy of the sealed one, or else a certificate of the witnesses, in whose presence the deed of purchase was signed and sealed. I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch — “Baruch was a scribe by profession, and it may be concluded that the attendance of such a one, skilled in the forms of law, was necessary on those occasions, both to draw up the writings and to officiate in the character of a notary public. And to his custody, as being a public officer, the custody of the title-deeds was intrusted.” I charged Baruch, to put them in an earthen vessel — To preserve them from fire and moisture. It was common with the ancients to put their writings into earthen vessels. Origen found at Jericho a version of the Scriptures hid in an earthen pot. That they may continue many days — When hid under ground for greater security, to be produced when the land should be re-inhabited.


Verses 16-22

Jeremiah 32:16-22. When I had delivered the evidence, I prayed unto the Lord — What he prayed for we learn in the following verses: by which it appears that he was not without some doubts and perplexities in this business. And though he yielded a ready and absolute obedience to God’s command, yet he prays for a clearer revelation of his meaning in the matter. Saying, Ah Lord God! &c. — He begins his prayer with an acknowledgment of God’s infinite power, made manifest in his works, both of creation and providence, whereby he shows himself wonderful in his mercies, and terrible in his judgments. It is observable that God himself makes use of these instances to confirm his people’s faith in his ability to do whatever he pleases, Jeremiah 27:5. And the servants of God are often represented in holy writ as giving God such names and titles, and ascribing to him such attributes, as were calculated to strengthen their faith in prayer. And there is nothing too hard for thee — Hebrew, לא יגלאּ מאךְ, too wonderful for thee, or, hidden from thee, as some render the clause: that is, out of the reach of thy wisdom and power to bring to pass. Thou showest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensed, &c. — This name God gave himself, Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9-10, where see the notes; and concerning the latter clause, the note on Jeremiah 31:29-30. The great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts — The God of infinite majesty, of boundless power, and of universal dominion, and therefore worthy of all adoration and praise, of all reverence and fear, of all subjection and obedience. Great in counsel, and mighty in work — Who art infinitely wise in ordering all events, and powerful in putting thy decrees in execution. Thine eyes are open upon all the ways, &c. — Beholding the evil and the good, and that not as an unconcerned spectator, but as an observing judge; to give every one according to his ways — To reward or punish men according to their actions, and the principles from which they proceed. Who hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt — Who didst wonders of justice in the land of Egypt, which remain, if not in the marks, yet in the memorials of them, unto this day. And in Israel — And wroughtest wonders of mercy in Israel, bringing them out of Egypt through the Red sea, raining down manna upon them, and quails from heaven, and fetching water out of the rock for them; and among other men — And hast also done many wondrous works in other places, by which thou hast made thyself a glorious name.


Verses 23-25

Jeremiah 32:23-25. And they came in and possessed it — In the former two verses he acknowledges God’s goodness to Israel, here he owns his truth and faithfulness in bringing them into the land which he had promised them. But they obeyed not thy voice — Having borne testimony to God’s power, wisdom, and faithfulness, he comes now to own his justice, confessing that this people for whom he had done so much, had very ill requited him. They have done nothing at all that thou commandedst them, &c. — They have not only broken some particular laws, but thy whole law. Therefore thou hast caused all this evil, &c. — Therefore thou art righteous in bringing these judgments upon them. Behold the mounts — The ramparts raised against the walls for placing battering engines on, and engines to cast weapons against the defenders, or for the purpose of making a general assault and taking the city. And the city is given — Is ready to be given; into the hand of the Chaldeans, because of the sword, &c. — Such is the havoc that the sword, the famine, and the pestilence make among the people, that they cannot make head against the besiegers, but must be overcome by them. And thou hast said unto me, Buy thee the field for money — In this posture of affairs, when the city, and the country round about it, are in the power of the enemy, thou hast commanded me to make this purchase, which I have no prospect of ever enjoying. As if he had said, Lord I expound thy meaning to me, why thou shouldest set me to make purchases for thine enemies to possess.


Verses 26-35

Jeremiah 32:26-35. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah — To this difficulty of Jeremiah, between what was commanded him, and the prospect of its being, not only useless, but disadvantageous to him, the Lord answered, Behold, I am the God of all flesh — Of all men: is any thing too hard for me? — The difficulties which thou thinkest are not to be surmounted are not difficulties to me, who can do all things, and have the lives and actions of men wholly at my disposal. Therefore, thus saith the Lord — The Lord now proceeds to confirm again the predictions so frequently given, concerning both the destruction and the restoration of Jerusalem; and to explain more fully the reasons of his conduct toward the Jews and Israelites. The Chaldeans, that fight against this city shall burn it — Thou judgest right: this city shall be taken, and that by this very army of Chaldeans which now besieges it; who shall destroy it by fire; with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense, &c. — As if he had said, In the execution of my vengeance I shall not act by absolute power, but as a just and righteous judge, vindicating the honour of my violated laws. For they have polluted their houses by idolatrous worship upon the roofs of them, openly and publicly, in contempt of my authority, and defiance of my justice. For the children of Israel and Judah have only done evil before me, &c. — If they had offended me only by some particular acts of sin, or by omitting their duty in only some few instances, or but for a short time, I might have been thought to act with severity toward them; but from the time they first began to be a nation they have only provoked me to anger with the works of their hands — Passing from one course of sin, and from one species of idolatry, to another. For this city hath been a provocation of mine anger, &c. — The conduct of its inhabitants has been generally and long provoking: they began betimes, and have continued in the commission of the most daring wickedness from age to age. From the day that they built it — Or, that it was built, the verb personal being often used for the impersonal. Solomon completed the building of Jerusalem, having greatly enlarged and beautified it with the temple and other stately buildings, and he afterward greatly defiled it by idolatry, the sin here spoken of. See 1 Kings 11:7, compared with 2 Kings 23:13. And, except in David’s time, the worship of God could hardly be said to be preserved pure through the entire reign of any one king. That I should remove it from before my face — As if they had pursued these idolatrous practices on purpose to provoke me to destroy the city, and to cast its inhabitants out of it. As nothing can be more easy than for people to keep close to the divine rule, as to external acts of worship, so nothing is more provoking to God than their not doing so. And yet nothing has been more rarely done in any nation; as if men had set themselves to bid defiance to a jealous God. Because of all the evil of the children of Israel — Still God makes their destruction to be of themselves, provoking him to that wrath which he executed upon them. They, their kings, their princes, &c. — The whole head was sick, the whole heart faint. All orders of men were so corrupted that there was no hope of their reformation or amendment. They have turned unto me the back and not the face — They have behaved themselves contemptuously toward me, like men who, when they are admonished or instructed, instead of looking toward those who instruct or admonish them, turn their backs upon them: see note on Jeremiah 2:27. Though I taught them, rising up early. &c. — Their sin would not have been so great and heinous if I, by my prophets, had not so continually instructed and reproved them; and they as stubbornly refused to hearken to the instruction, and to be amended by the reproofs. They set their abominations — Their idols, which, above all things, the jealous God abhors; in the house which is called by my name — That is, in the temple, which was ordinarily called the house of the Lord. This they did under some of the idolatrous kings. And they built the high places of Baal, &c. — See the notes on Jeremiah 19:5-6, where all the clauses of this verse are explained.


Verses 36-39

Jeremiah 32:36-39. Now therefore, &c. — In this and the following verses God returns an answer to the prophet’s expostulation, Jeremiah 32:25. Or the words may be thus translated, But now, notwithstanding, [all this,] thus saith the Lord; concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand, &c. — Many of the Jews now began to see that the Chaldeans would certainly take the city, and they became as much dispirited as before they were full of courage. By the sword and by the famine, &c. — The famine and pestilence, as well as the sword, seemed to fight for the king of Babylon, by the great havoc they made of the besieged, which rendered the taking of the city so much easier. Behold I will gather them out of all countries, &c. — See notes on Jeremiah 23:3; Jeremiah 23:8; Jeremiah 29:14. I will bring them again, &c., and cause them to dwell safely — Though the city shall be taken, and the people shall go into captivity, yet they shall not be utterly lost, for I will gather them again, and they shall dwell here in quietness and safety as formerly. It is justly observed, however, by St. Jerome, in his notes on the place, that this promise, taken in its full extent, was not made good to those that returned from captivity, because they were frequently infested with wars, as well by the kings of Syria and Egypt, as by the rest of their neighbours, as appears from the history of the Maccabees; and were finally subdued and destroyed by the Romans. And they shall be my people, &c. — See note on Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 30:22. And I will give them one heart and one way — When the ten tribes set up a distinct kingdom from that of Judah, they stood divided, not only in their civil interests, but also in respect to their religious worship. These distinctions, God here says, he would entirely abolish, so that Israel and Judah should be united, and become one nation and one church, living under the same civil government, and using the same forms of divine worship, equally acknowledging and serving the one living and true God. That they may fear me for ever — That they may worship and obey me in truth, as a people that have a real reverence for and fear of offending me; for the good of them and of their children — Which will be for the great advantage and happiness of them and their posterity as long as they shall continue so to do. This promise, in its full sense, will not be accomplished till the general conversion of Judah and Israel to Christianity, and their restoration and reunion in the latter days. See notes on Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 30:3.


Verses 40-44

Jeremiah 32:40-44. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them — The Jewish covenant, even with respect to the ceremonial ordinances contained in it, is sometimes called an everlasting covenant; see Genesis 17:13; Leviticus 24:8; Isaiah 24:5; because those ordinances were to continue for a long succession of ages; but when this expression is applied to the gospel covenant, there is a peculiar emphasis contained in it, implying that it should never be abolished, or give way to any other dispensation. That I will not turn away from them to do them good — This clause manifestly shows, that this promise relates to those Jews and Israelites that should embrace the gospel, and become Jews inwardly, and Israelites indeed; for, as to others, God did turn away from doing them good, when their city was taken by Titus, and so many myriads of them perished by the sword, famine, and pestilence. But I will put my fear into their hearts — My Spirit shall beget in them a true reverence for, and genuine, loving fear of me, producing obedience to my laws, subjection to my authority, and perseverance in my ways, so that they shall not depart from me. Some justly infer from this declaration, that when once the body of the Jews shall be converted, they shall never again apostatize from God. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good — I will not only do them good, but will take pleasure therein. And I will plant them, &c., assuredly, with my whole heart — With a true and lasting affection. Like as I have brought all this great evil, &c. — They shall find me as true to my promises as to my threatenings. See Jeremiah 31:28. And fields shall be bought in this land, &c. — So that it was not without good reason that I sent Hanameel unto thee, Jeremiah 32:8. It was to assure thee that, though at present the Chaldeans shall prevail against Jerusalem, and the Jews shall be carried into captivity, and shall neither buy nor sell here, yet fields shall be bought here again. Men shall buy and sell, and seal evidences in all parts of this land, whereof you say, in despair, It is desolate without man or beast — Having no hope of the land being ever inhabited by your nation again. For I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord — The return of their captivity under Cyrus shall be an earnest of those greater blessings which I will bestow upon them at their general restoration.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 32:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-32.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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