The Word Made Fresh
1This is the word that came from the LORD to the prophet Jeremiah in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah and the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2The army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard at the palace of the king of Judah 3where he had been confined by king Zedekiah, who said, “Why do you prophesy that the LORD says, ‘I am going to give this city to the king of Babylon? 4King Zedekiah shall not escape from his hands but shall speak to him face to face and eye to eye. 5But he will be taken to Babylon and remain there until I deal with him. He will not succeed in the war against them.’”
6Jeremiah said, “The LORD’s word came to me, telling me that 7Hanamel, the son of my uncle Shallum, is going to come to me and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. You have the right of redemption and are free to purchase it.’ 8Then Hanamel did indeed come to me in the court of the guard just as the LORD said, and told me, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in Benjamin. The right of possession and purchase is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew this was the word of the LORD, 9and I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out seventeen shekels of silver to him. 10I got witnesses to see me sign and seal the deed of purchase and weighed the money on the scales. 11Then I took the sealed deed of purchase and the open copy which contained the terms and conditions of the sale, 12and gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses who also signed the deed. It was witnessed by the Judeans who sat in the court of the guard. 13They witnessed my charge to Baruch. 14I said, “Thus says the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, the sealed deed of purchase and the open copy and put them in a clay jar so that they will be preserved for a long time to come. 15The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says, ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’”
16After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch, the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying, 17“You made the heavens and the earth with your great strength and outstretched arm. Nothing is beyond your ability. 18Your steadfast love is shown to thousands but you lay the guilt of parents into the laps of their children. Great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, 19your counsel is great and your deeds are mighty, and you see all the ways of mortals, rewarding everyone in accordance with their actions and the outcome of their deeds. 20You demonstrated signs and wonders in Egypt. To this day in Israel and among all people you have made yourself a name that has continued. 21You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, with your strong hand and outstretched arm and with great fear. 22You gave them this land which is what you swore to their ancestors. It is a land flowing with milk and honey. 23They entered the land and took possession of it. But they didn’t obey you; they refused to follow your law. They didn’t do the things you commanded them to do. That is why you made all these disasters overtake them. 24Look! The siege ramps have been erected against this city to capture it. The city, faced with the sword and with famine and with pestilence, has been placed into the hands of the Babylonians. What you said would happen has happened, as you can see. 25Still, LORD God, you have said to me, ‘Buy the field and present the money in the presence of witnesses,’ even though the city has already been given into the hands of the Babylonians.”
26The word of the LORD came again to Jeremiah: 27“I am the LORD, the God of all who live. Is anything too hard for me? 28This is what I say: I am going to give this city to the Babylonians and King Nebuchadnezzar, and he shall possess it. 29They will set the city on fire and it will be burned, along with the houses on whose roofs offerings have been made to Baal, and drink offerings have been poured out to other deities to stir up my anger. 30All this will happen because the people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil before me from their youth. The people of Israel have done nothing but provoke my anger by the works of their hands,” says the LORD. 31“This city has aroused my anger from the day it was built until today, and I will remove it from my sight 32because of the wickedness of the people of Israel and Judah that has provoked my wrath. All of them – their kings and officials, their priests and their prophets, the citizens of Judah and those who dwell in Jerusalem. 33They have turned their backs on me and will not face me. Even though I steadily taught them, they would not listen and accept any correction. 34They displayed their abominations and defiled the very house that bears my name. 35They built altars to Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and offered up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never told them to do it, nor did it ever enter my mind that they should.
36“So,” says the LORD God of Israel, “concerning this city that you say is being forcefully given to the king of Babylon by sword and famine and pestilence, 37look and see that I am going to gather them all from the lands to which I drove them in anger and with great indignation; I will bring them back to this place and settle them in safety. 38They shall be my people and I will be their God. 39I shall give then a common heart and a common goal and they will respect me from now on, for their own good and for the good of their children who will come after them. 40I will make a permanent agreement with them that I will never again refuse to do good to them, and respect for me will be in their hearts so that they might not turn away from me ever again. 41I will gladly do good to them, and faithfully settle them in this land with all my heart and soul.
42“This is what I say: Just as I brought all these disasters upon the people, so I will bring good fortune as well; this is my promise. 43You will buy and sell fields in this land, even though you are saying it is desolated and unfit for people or animals and has been handed over to the Babylonians. 44Fields shall be bought for money and deeds shall be signed and sealed and properly witnessed in the land of Benjamin and in and around Jerusalem, and in the towns of Judah including the hill country of the Shephelah and the Negeb. I will restore their fortunes,” says the LORD.
1-5: The siege of Jerusalem began in the ninth year of King Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:1), so it has been in progress for perhaps the better part of a year. At this point, the siege is not yet an all-out attack, but a relentless step-by-step process by which the city will inevitably be taken. Earthen ramps have been placed against the city walls (see verse 24). The noose is tightening, and Zedekiah can’t have Jeremiah running around pronouncing doom and destroying what little morale remains among the people, so he has Jeremiah confined.
6-8: God tells Jeremiah his cousin Hanamel will come and entreat him to buy a field from him, and that’s exactly what happens. Jeremiah knows it is the word of the LORD because it happens just as God said it would (that is proof that God has spoken to a prophet – what God says will happen, happens).
9-15: Jeremiah buys the field and has it properly probated as a sign of his faith in the word he has received from the LORD that “houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in the land.”
16-25: Jeremiah repeats all of Israel’s history in a prayer to God, and asks God why, in the face of the consummation of God’s wrath, would he want Jeremiah to buy a field, for heaven’s sake?
26-35: God confirms what is going to happen: the Babylonians will indeed capture and then burn the city, because of the sins in which the people and the leaders have persisted — particularly the worship of other gods. “The people of Israel and the people of Judah have done nothing but evil since their youth (verse 30)” – this passage reminds me of God’s judgment on the whole human race in Genesis 6:5.
36-41: However, God has every intention of bringing the people back from their exile, setting them up in their land again and changing their hearts so that they can no longer do evil, but will do good. And they will live happily ever after.
42-44: Fields shall be bought again, God says, and therefore Jeremiah’s purchase of his cousin’s field is a statement of faith that God will do what God says God will do.
When we are faithful to God, God is faithful to us. Just as a parent must often say to a child, “no,” God tries to steer us through life safely and faithfully. We learn this through prayer and worship and studying together with others who believe in God.