PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)
|Jeremiah Imprisoned||Jeremiah Buys a Field||Jeremiah Purchases Land in Anathoth||Jeremiah Buys a Field||Jeremiah Buys a Field in Token of Future Prosperity|
|Jeremiah Prays and God Explains||Jeremiah Prays For Understanding||Jeremiah's Prayer|
|God's Assurance of the People's Return||32:24-25|
|A Promise of Hope||32:28-35|
READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. Chapters 30-33 form a literary unit commonly referred to as "the Book of Consolation."
1. chapters 30 and 31 describe God's new covenant with His people
2. chapters 32 and 33 describe the symbolic act which assures His people of future restoration
B. From other parts of Jeremiah we learn the exact historical setting of chapter 32.
1. From 39:1 we know the exact date that the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar began, in the ninth year of Zedekiah in the tenth month. This means that we can date chapter 32 around the year of 588 or 587 b.c.
2. From Jer. 37:5 we learn that there was a brief respite in the siege of Jerusalem because of the appearance of the Egyptian army in Palestine. However, the Egyptians and Babylonians never fought and the siege of Jerusalem was renewed quickly.
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:1-5
1The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2Now at that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard, which was in the house of the king of Judah, 3because Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, "Why do you prophesy, saying, 'Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will take it; 4and Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but he will surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye; 5and he will take Zedekiah to Babylon, and he will be there until I visit him," declares the Lord. "If you fight against the Chaldeans, you will not succeed"'?"
32:1 "the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar" This would make the date 587 b.c. Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar (626 - 605 b.c.), was the founder of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. When the last strong king of Assyria (Ashurbanipal) died in 626 b.c., Nabopolassar rebelled. He started a new empire which was very successful. In 605 b.c., after the death of Nabopolasser, Nebucahdnezzar II (605-562 b.c.) returned to Babylon. This was after his successful battle at Carchemish, where he defeated the remnant of the Assyrian army and Pharaoh Necho's Egyptian army at the headwaters of the Euphrates. After being crowned king he returned to this area to subdue Palestine.
32:2 This new place of imprisonment (cf. 38:13,28; 39:14) was an improvement of the prophet's situation. He had originally been placed in a cistern and was in danger of death (cf. chapter 38).
32:3 This summarizes Jeremiah's prophetic message inside Jerusalem as the Babylonian army lay siege to the city (cf. 21:3-7; 27:12-15).
32:4 "but he will surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon" The verb (BDB 678, KB 733, Niphal imperfect) is intensified by the addition of the infinitive absolute of the same root.
The term "hand" is a Hebrew idiom for "power." See Special Topic at 1:9.
The term "Chaldean" has several possible meanings.
1. an ethnic group
2. a language
3. a group of Babylonian wise men
See full note at Daniel 1:4 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
▣ "and he will speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye" This Hebrew idiom speaks of a personal encounter (cf. 39:5). We learn from II Kgs. 25:4-7 that Zedekiah's family was put to death before his eyes and then his eyes were blinded and he was taken into exile.
32:5 "until I visit him" This verb (BDB 823, KB 955, Qal infinitive construct) is used several times in Jeremiah as both positive and negative constructions. YHWH's "visit" means His presence.
1. positive (i.e., care for)
- 23:2 (negated but the action is positive)
- Ruth 1:6
- Psalm 65:10; 106:4
2. negative (i.e., punish)
- 5:9,29; 6:6,15; 9:9,28; 11:22; 14:10; 21:14; 23:34; 25:12; 27:8; 29:32; 30:20; 32:5; 36:31; 44:13,29; 46:25; 49:8; 50:18,31; 51:44,47,52
Zedekiah was blinded after he was forced to watch his sons killed, along with the princes of Judah. He was exiled to Babylon, where he died in prison (cf. 52:10-11).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:6-8
6And Jeremiah said, "The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 7'Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, "Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it."' 8Then Hanamel my uncle's son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the Lord and said to me, 'Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.' Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.
32:7 God tells Jeremiah what is going to happen even before the events occur so that he will have confidence in the strange purchase God demands (cf. v. 8).
▣ "the right of redemption" This is discussed in Lev. 25:25-31 and alluded to in Ruth 4:1-12. It is often called the right of the Go'el. It is interesting that Jeremiah's family would request that he purchase a field for the following reasons.
1. Jeremiah had no descendants
2. his family had betrayed and rejected him earlier
It is important for Jeremiah to accomplish this symbolic act of hope. The closer the fall of Jerusalem came to reality the more Jeremiah's prophecy turned to the hope of restoration (see chapters 30-33, the Book of Consolation).
32:8 "Hanamel my uncle's son" Jeremiah's cousin from Anathoth came to see him in the court of the guard (i.e., the place of his imprisonment). The very fact that this man could travel and enter Jerusalem shows that the siege had been lifted (i.e., because of the appearance of the Egyptian army). Some have asserted that he wanted to sell the land because
1. he was afraid of the obvious Babylonian defeat (cf. v. 25)
2. he was in great debt
3. he was testing Jeremiah's message about the future hope
4. the truth is that we do not know the psychological motivations of many of the activities of the Bible
▣ "Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord" I think we sometimes assume that the OT prophets did not have to live by faith since they were spoken to audibly by God. This is a good example that the prophet had to live by faith also and was not 100% sure that this was the word of God until it was fulfilled. This shows that any dogmatism as to exactly how God communicated with the prophets is probably unfounded.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:9-15
9"I bought the field which was at Anathoth from Hanamel my uncle's son, and I weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver. 10I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales. 11Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions and the open copy; 12and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the sight of Hanamel my uncle's son and in the sight of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, before all the Jews who were sitting in the court of the guard. 13And I commanded Baruch in their presence, saying, 14'Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time." 15For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land."'
32:9 "weighed out the silver for him, seventeen shekels of silver" See Special Topic at 13:12.
32:10-11 "I signed and sealed. . .and called in witnesses, and weighed out. . .the sealed copy. . .the open copy" This reflects the ancient legal procedures of buying a piece of property. This has been confirmed archaeologically from the Elephantine Papyri from the fifth century b.c., which was found in Egypt on an island in the Nile River.
32:12 "Baruch" This is the first mention of Jeremiah's private and personal secretary. He was probably the editor and recorder of most of Jeremiah's sermons and messages.
32:14 "put them in an earthenware jar" This method of preservation of documents has been confirmed archaeologically, not only by the elephantine papyri but also the Dead Sea Scrolls.
32:15 "Houses and fields and vineyards" It is interesting that "vineyards" are mentioned specifically. It took a number of years for a vineyard to grow and become productive. Judah will be destroyed but a restoration is coming after 70 years.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:16-25
16"After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, then I prayed to the Lord, saying, 17'Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, 18who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty God. The Lord of hosts is His name; 19great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds; 20who has set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and even to this day both in Israel and among mankind; and You have made a name for Yourself, as at this day. 21You brought Your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and with wonders, and with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with great terror; 22and gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law; they have done nothing of all that You commanded them to do; therefore You have made all this calamity come upon them. 24Behold, the siege ramps have reached the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword, the famine and the pestilence; and what You have spoken has come to pass; and behold, You see it. 25You have said to me, O Lord God, "Buy for yourself the field with money and call in witnesses"-although the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.'"
32:16-25 Jeremiah bought the field as a symbol of trust in God and His promises, but apparently he still had some degree of doubt. These verses are a strophe recording Jeremiah's prayer to God who tries to assure him:
1. by using the prophet's very same words from v. 17
2. by reminding him of God's gracious acts to the seed of Abraham (cf. Neh. 9:9-38).
32:17 This verse expresses the recurrent emphasis on YHWH as the creator Deity (i.e., monotheism, see Special Topic at 1:5). The idols cannot
1. act (v. 19)
2. predict (v. 19)
but YHWH can and does do all these things!
▣ "Your outstretched arm" This is an anthropomorphic phrase. See Special Topic at 1:9.
▣ "Nothing is too difficult for You" This is asserting that YHWH can accomplish Judah's fall and rebuilding (cf. 31:28).
For the word "difficult" (BDB 810) see Special Topic: Wonderful Things at 21:5.
32:18 This is a wonderful list of the characteristics of God. Similar lists can be found in Exod. 34:6-7; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8). What a great God. He will not give up on His purpose of fellowship with His fallen human creatures! See Special Topic at 12:1.
▣ "shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them" This is an allusion to Deut. 5:9 and 7:9. Jeremiah is a prophet of the Mosaic covenant and his phraseology and theology reflect the book of Deuteronomy. This is a very important quote because it shows the relationship between the wrath of God and the love of God. The wrath of God, based on Deut. 5:9, goes to the third and fourth generations, while the love of God, Deut. 7:9, goes to the thousandth generation.
There is both a corporate aspect to sin and an individual aspect (cf. Ezekiel 18). Both sin and faith run through families!
▣ Notice the different phrases in this context for Israel's Deity (see Special Topic at 1:2).
1. Lord (i.e., YHWH), vv. 1,6,17,26,27,28,42,44
2. Lord of hosts, vv. 14,15,18
3. God of Israel (i.e., Elohim), vv.14,15,25,38
4. Lord (i.e., Adon), vv. 17,25
5. O great and mighty God, v. 18
6. the God of all flesh, v. 27 (cf. Num. 16:22; 27:16)
7. the Lord God of Israel (i.e., YHWH and Elohim), v. 36
One descriptive phrase that is unusual, "with all My heart and with all My soul." What a shocking physical (anthropomorphic) phrase to describe the trustworthy commitment of the eternal, ever-present, non-corporal Deity.
32:19 "giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds" This truth is also mentioned in Jer. 17:10 (see full note there). We reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7).
▣ In the OT this is the obvious outcome of a performance-based covenant. In the NT it becomes the evidence of a new relationship with God through Christ. Believers are new creatures in Christ, led by the Spirit into daily Christlikeness. Godly living is not the basis of that new relationship, but the natural outcome of a new heart, new mind, new spirit. The good works are the confirmation, the evidence of our free salvation! I believe Eph. 1:4 and 2:8-10 have helped me see this truth.
32:20-22 This is a reference to the major historical act of God's deliverance from Egypt and bringing the people into the Promised Land as He had promised their forefathers (cf. Gen. 15:12-21).
32:20 YHWH is active in the lives of the descendants of Abraham. However, He also has a wide interest and plan (i.e., "among mankind," see Special Topic at 1:5) for all people. He wants His name known among all the nations (cf. Ezek. 36:22-38) that they may come to Him (cf. Gen. 12:3; Exod. 19:5; Ps. 22:27; 66:1-4; 86:9-10; Isa. 2:2-4; 25:6-9; 42:6-10; 45:22-23; 49:5-6; 51:4-5; 56:7-8; 60:1-3; 66:23; Micah 4:1-4; Mal. 1:11).
▣ This same imagery used of the Exodus is found in Deut. 4:34; 7:19; 26:8.
32:22 "a land flowing with milk and honey" This is not only a descriptive phrase (cf. 11:5), but the title for Palestine found in Assyrian documents.
32:23 "but they did not obey Your voice or walk in Your law" This was the problem. There was a conditional covenant between God and Israel and Israel had failed to keep the conditions (i.e., 31:32). Therefore, the Judean exile reflects God's abrogating (or at least modifying) of this covenant, but He will inaugurate a "new covenant" (31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38).
32:24 "the siege mounds" In the ANE walled cities were captured by surrounding them, thereby cutting off the food supply. At the sign of danger the people fled to the walled cities. Therefore, the water, sanitation, and food systems were stressed. The enemy built dirt mounds against the wall(s). These mounds supported wooden, mobile A-frames which held a ramming mechanism (cf. 6:6; 33:4; Isa. 37:33). These rams would hit the stone/brick wall again and again in one place until they crumbled.
▣ "the sword, the famine and the pestilence" See full note at 14:12.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:26-35
26Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying, 27"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?" 28Therefore thus says the Lord, "Behold, I am about to give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will take it. 29The Chaldeans who are fighting against this city will enter and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses where people have offered incense to Baal on their roofs and poured out drink offerings to other gods to provoke Me to anger. 30Indeed the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah have been doing only evil in My sight from their youth; for the sons of Israel have been only provoking Me to anger by the work of their hands," declares the Lord. 31"Indeed this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My wrath from the day that they built it, even to this day, so that it should be removed from before My face, 32because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they have done to provoke Me to anger-they, their kings, their leaders, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 33They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction. 34But they put their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. 35They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
32:26-44 This is God's reply to Jeremiah's prayer. It covers several aspects of judgment and several wonderful promises of future hope.
32:27 "the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me" This is God's affirmation that Jeremiah's theology was accurate (i.e., monotheism) and his doubts were unfounded.
32:28 Jerusalem will fall to the Babylonians!
32:29 The city of Jerusalem will be burned because of its idolatrous practices (cf. v. 30), as the Canaanite cities were burned in the conquest (cf. Deut. 3:6).
▣ "Baal" The worship of Ba'al (the male fertility god of the Canaanites) was somehow connected with the astral deities (i.e., Babylonian, cf. 8:2; 19:13). See Special Topic: Fertility Worship of the ANE at 2:20. Possibly the Babylonian deities (which were called on by name and rituals) became known to Palestine through political alliance treaties.
32:31 This is a strange verse! It seems to imply that Jerusalem (and by implication, the temple) was not pleasing to YHWH, even from their beginnings. This is surely hyperbolic, but does clearly show YHWH's reaction to His people worshiping other gods (who are not gods).
32:32 The entire population, from king to peasants, were unfaithful, disobedient, and idolatrous. Even those who should have known better (priests, prophets) did not obey!
32:33-35 These verses describe how serious their rebellion was.
1. They turned their backs to God (no respect, cf. 18:17; no worship, cf. 2:27).
2. They should have faced Him (i.e., intimate, personal relationship illustrated in worship and life).
3. YHWH spoke (through His prophets) again and again (cf. similar idiomatic statements in 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3,4; 26:5,19; and also note Hos. 11:2).
4. They would not listen or heed the words of YHWH.
5. They put idols in YHWH's temple (cf. 7:30; II Kgs. 23:4; II Chr. 33; Ezekiel 8).
6. They built high places to Ba'al (cf. 19:5).
7. They worshiped, by child sacrifice, the fertility god, Molech (cf. 7:31; Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5).
32:34 "the house which is called by My name" This refers to the temple (cf. 7:10,11,14,30). This reflects the language of Deuteronomy, "the place I will cause My name to dwell" (cf. Deut. 12:5,11,14,18,21,26; 14:23,24; 15:20; 16:2,6,11,15; 17:8,10; 18:6; 26:2; 31:11).
For more information see Deut. 12:5 and 26:2 online at www.freebiblecommentary.org.
32:35 "which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination" Child sacrifice was part of the worship of Molech (cf. Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; Deut. 12:31; 18:10; II Kgs. 21:1-7). There may have been some confusion about the child sacrifice being the will of God because of the account of Abraham offering Isaac at God's command in Genesis 22 (or even the death of Job's children in Job 1). A reflection of this misunderstanding is seen in Micah 6:7.
YHWH clearly and emphatically rejects this false understanding of worship.
For "Ben-hinnom" see note at 31:40 (i.e., "the valley of dead bodies and of the ashes").
For "abomination" see Special Topic at 2:7.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 32:36-44
36"Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, 'It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine and by pestilence.' 37Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. 38They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. 40I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. 41I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. 42For thus says the Lord, 'Just as I brought all this great disaster on this people, so I am going to bring on them all the good that I am promising them. 43Fields will be bought in this land of which you say, "It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans." 44Men will buy fields for money, sign and seal deeds, and call in witnesses in the land of Benjamin, in the environs of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the lowland and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes,' declares the Lord."
32:36-44 As so often occurs in the prophets, a judgment oracle is followed by a promise oracle. The judgment was horrible and deserved, but the restoration is glorious and sure (i.e., Ps. 103:8-14).
32:37 YHWH's mercy (v. 37c) does not dull His reaction to sin, disobedience, and rebellion.
1. in My anger
2. in My wrath
3. in great indignation
Sin can be forgiven (i.e., Manasseh on his deathbed, cf. II Chr. 33:12-13,15-16), but the consequences continue through time.
32:38 "They shall be My people, and I will be their God" This is covenant language (cf. 30:22; 33:1). This has always been YHWH's desire. This will be the culmination of the "new covenant."
32:39 "and I will give them one heart and one way" There is a tension between humans making a new heart, Ezek. 18:31, and God giving a new heart, Ezek. 36:26; Jer. 31:33. This paradoxical relationship is normative throughout the Bible (i.e., covenant). God always takes the initiative but humans must respond in faith, repentance, obedience, and perseverance. However, the Fall of Genesis 3 made it impossible for humans, even the faith seed of Abraham, to fulfill God's covenant desires. Therefore, the need of a new heart, new mind, new spirit!
▣ Notice what the visible outcome of a "new heart" is.
1. respect ("fear") of YHWH always
2. the abundance/prosperity/peace of those who know Him (cf. v. 41a, as a witness to the nations)
3. stable, happy societies, generation after generation
This was always the desire of God for humanity. We were created for fellowship with Him (cf. Jer. 31:34; Gen. 1:26-27; 3:8).
If there is no visible change, there is no new heart (cf. Matt. 7:15-27 and the NT books of James and I John)! God wants a people to reflect His character to a lost and needy world. Conversion demands transformation (cf. Matthew 13). Eternal life has observable characteristics! See Special Topic at 18:8.
32:40 "and I will make an everlasting covenant with them" The new term found here is the term "everlasting" (cf. Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26). The Hebrew here is rather ambiguous (see Special Topic at 7:7). We know from further history that the returning exiles do not faithfully fulfill the covenant either. There has always been a conditional element built into the covenant. God has always been willing to make the covenant permanent but mankind continues to rebel.
32:41 We see again an anthropomorphic phrase used for the intensity of God's love for Israel (cf. Hos. 11:8,9; Jer. 8:18-9:16).
The last part of this verse has three phrases which describe YHWH's commitment to His gracious acts toward a restored/repentant Judah.
1. "faithfully" - BDB 54, see Special Topic at 3:12
2. "with all My heart" - used only here in the OT, see SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at 4:15
3. "with all My soul" - this is another surprising use of a term which is used of humans (Gen. 2:4) and animals (Gen. 1:24; 2:19) - nephesh (BDB 659, KB 711)
YHWH is accommodating Himself to physical human language to make His point to Jeremiah.
32:42 God is the source of all things (i.e., one causality in the universe). If there is only one God (see Special Topic: Monotheism at 1:5), then basically He either allows or uses both good and evil. This is the affirmation of the OT. The OT recognized no secondary causes!
32:44 The promises of restoration are multi-fulfillment oracles. These promises were meant to be a reality to the post-exilic Judean community and, in one sense, they were. However, the "eternal covenant" was broken again as the interbiblical and Roman periods clearly demonstrate. For me these promises to national Israel must be re-evaluated in light of the life and teaching of Jesus. If the NT is revelation, then it must be noted that the national promises have been universalized, which was always YHWH's intent (see Special Topics at 1:5 and 30:3). Please look at these Special Topics; they show my biases and meta-narrative orientation.
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