Jeremiah 32

Jeremiah 32:1-15 Jeremiah in prison and Purchase of field dialogue with Yahweh

Jeremiah 32:16-23 Favor toward the People

Jeremiah 32:24-25 Jerusalem delivered to Chaldeans

Jeremiah 32:26  Yahwehs reply

Jeremiah 32:28-35  Chaldean attack

Jeremiah 32:36-40  Glorious future

Zedekiah reigned from 597-586 BC.  According to Jeremiah 39:2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah on the fourth month and the ninth day the city was overthrown.  In the ninth year of Zedekiah in the tenth month Nebuchadnezzar began the siege of Jerusalem.  The siege of Jerusalem was two and a half years.  Jeremiah was shut up into prison in the tenth year of Zedekiah.  Sometime during this siege the army of Egypt was coming to the rescue of Jerusalem.  In fear of this assault Nebuchadnezzar withdrew from Jerusalem and met the Egyptians in battle.  (Jer. 37:11) 

32 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

It is thought that during this respite Jeremiah may have been going out of the city to complete the land transaction in Anathoth of his relative Hanamel.  The guard at the city gate recognized Jeremiah and arrested him.  He was arrested on treason for attempting to flee Jerusalem and defect to Babylon.  The guard who arrested Jeremiah was Irijah a grandson of Hananiah.  Hananiah was the priest who broke the yoke of Jeremiah which in the fourth year of Zedekiah.  As a punishment Jeremiah, in a prophesy from God, pronounced a death judgement on him.  He died in the same year as the prophesy.  Certainly Irijah was an enemy of Jeremiah, there might have been some payback in this arrest.

Jeremiah 32:1-15 is an emblematic action of a prophesy.  The transaction represents a sign that Israel will again return to Jerusalem.  Seventeen shekels of silver is about seven ounces of silver.  In todays monetary terms a silver round is one ounce which slightly larger than a silver dollar.  The size of land was not known but it may be inferred the land was sufficient to feed a family: perhaps an acre or two.

15 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”

Under the law of the Torah Lev. 25:25–34, the land was a right of possession in almost perpetuity for the individual families in Israel.  A poor man could sell his land to his next of kin but there is option to redeem the properties when his financial situation changed.  In the year of Jubilee (every 49th year) the property was expected to be returned to the one who sold it.  According to Ruth 4:1-2 the next of kin held a first right of refusal to purchase the property.  Both Hanamel and Jeremiah were Levites. There are special rules against Levites selling their land to non-Levites but apparently these sales could be done among fellow Levites.

Leviticus 4:23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me. 24 And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land. 25 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. 26 Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it, 27 then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession. 28 But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.

Jeremiah 32

6 And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 7 ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.” ’ 8 Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth,

Whatever the price or the quantity of land, the transaction was financially irresponsible.  Jeremiah was prophesying the return of Babylon to Jerusalem.  Anyone fleeing the invading army would want silver over land.  Jeremiah prophesied a return of Israel in seventy years from Babylon, Jeremiah was command not to marry, he had no heirs.  The victory of Babylon would negate any land transactions or development by Jeremiah.  The removal of a large population from Jerusalem and surrounding areas would make land prices cheap if not free for the taking.  It was intended to be a foolish transaction that would be a sign to Israel of their return. 

It is true that Jeremiah was not forced to captivity but allowed to live in Jerusalem.  He would have presumable farmed the land of Anathoth.  However, Jeremiah at the time of sale would not have known of his release.  Undoubtedly the victors would control the ownership of the land.

Two copies of the deed were produced.  One for Jeremiah to possess and the other was put into an earthen jar as a sort of a government copy in case the transaction was disputed.  He signed the deed in the presence of witnesses and the purchase price was verified on an official scale.  This is like today’s land deeds which are stored in a government office, verified by witnesses and proved with the transfer and recording of the monetary purchase price. 

9 So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. 10 And I signed the [b]deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales.

Jeremiah realizes the foolishness of the transaction in a prayer of complaint to God.  He begins his prayer in Jeremiah 32:16-25 in the appropriate manner of praise first and complaint last.  God is the maker of the heavens, he has caused great things to happen in the exodus from Egypt and the result is the possession of the land.  However, God, there are siege mounds out there against the city, Jerusalem is in the midst of famine and disease, the Chaldeans are about to take over, but remember how I bought the land in Anathoth.  How does that fit into your plans?

24 ‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it! 25 And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”!—yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ ”

God replies that nothing is too difficult for God but indeed Jerusalem will fall into the hands of the Chaldeans.  Then Jeremiah is presented with a list of offenses against God:

  1. On the roofs they offered incense to Baal
  2. They gave drink offerings to other Gods
  3. They have done only evil since the day Jerusalem was built
  4. They did not listen
  5. They set up idols in the temple
  6. They caused their sons and daughters to pass through fire

This passing through the fire is mentioned at least twelve times in the Old Testament. (Lev. 18:21, Deut. 18:10, 2 Kings 16:23, 17:17,  21:6, 23:10, 2 Chron. 33:6, Jer 32:35, Ezekiel 16:21, 20:26, 20:31 and 13:37)  In all cases it is very negative and if someone should think this was some sophomoric college stunt like walking over hot coals, Ezekiel 16:21 explains

“Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter,21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?

The Hebrew word for sacrifice means “to slaughter for sacrifice.” It is used regularly for animal sacrifices to the Lord in the Torah.  The Hebrew word “to be devoured” refers to consuming something in order to eat.  The word “to slaughter” means to kill.  This is what Abraham intended to do to Isaac when he was offering him as a sacrifice to God.

Just outside of Jerusalem in the valley of Hinnom they built high places to Baal and sacrificed children to Molech. The verb surrender is literally “to cause to pass,” that is, “to pass through the fire,” “to devote.” The cult of Molech involved child-sacrifice (2:23; 7:30–8:3; 19:5). It was unauthorized and calculated to lead Judah into sin.

Jeremiah 32:35

And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’

Jeremiah 7:30

30 For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight,” says the Lord. “They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to [e]pollute it. 31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.

This practice of passing through fire to Molech is mentioned from Moses to Jeremiah.  Surely God was aware this practice of child sacrifice could occur.  What does it mean “nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination?”

It never came into the mind of God to command the children of Israel to offer these kind of sacrifices.

Literal Standard Version
And they build the high places of Ba‘al that [are] in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come up on My heart to do this abomination, so as to cause Judah to sin.

The term “they” used on so many translations does not exist.  The literal translation is “it did not come into my mind to do this abomination.”  The subject of to do is not “they”.  What it means is that it did not come into God’s mind to command this abomination. 

The Literal Standard Version got this right.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s