Jeremiah 32


This chapter records another historical incident in the life of Jeremiah.

The time?

In the final months of the Fall of Jerusalem, when the city and the temple were destroyed. It was the 10th year of the reign of Zedekiah. It was the 18th reign of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. So, it was around 588-587 B.C.

Jeremiah is a prisoner of Zedekiah

Zedekiah had been so distressed by the many prophecies of Jeremiah that he had him imprisoned. Jeremiah had requested to be moved from the dungeon, and Zedekiah had granted that request. So, Jeremiah was now a prisoner in the stockade area of the palace, and it seems that he was accorded certain privileges.

For those who like outlines, here is a rough outline of this chapter.

1. A statement of the present situation. Jeremiah 31:1-5.

2. Jeremiah is told by God to purchase a field in his hometown, Anathoth, which he did. Jeremiah 32:6-15.

3. Seemingly doubting what God had asked him to do, his long prayer to God. Jeremiah 32:16-25.

4. God’s initial answer. Jeremiah 32:26-35, and

5. God’s second answer. Jeremiah 32:36-44.

‘This is 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. The army of the king of Babylon was then besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was confined in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah. Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him there, saying, ‘Why do you prophesy as you do? You say, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will capture it. Zedekiah king of Judah will not escape the Babylonians but will certainly be given into the hands of the king of Babylon, and will speak with him face to face and see him with his own eyes. He will take Zedekiah to Babylon, where he will remain until I deal with him, declares the LORD. If you fight against the Babylonians, you will not succeed.’ Jeremiah 32:1-5

The details of Jeremiah being confined to prison are in these verses. But, as we have seen, these conditions weren’t as harsh as they could have been. The king is told what is to become of him. He was going to see Nebuchadnezzar face to face, and be led away as a captive. Remember, this is the 10th year of Zedekiah’s reign, and in the 11th year, all of this is going to happen. The Babylonians are already knocking at the door.

Why did Zedekiah imprison Jeremiah?

Well, we see in verse 3 that it is Zedekiah who is repeating the prophecies that Jerimiah had made, and it is because of these prophecies that Zedekiah puts him away. Just picture the situation here. The Babylonians are already attacking them. In the final months of the siege. Much of what Jeremiah had been prophesying was actually taking place before the king’s eyes, and yet he still doesn’t believe what Jeremiah is telling him!

‘Jeremiah said, ‘The word of the LORD came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.’ ‘Then, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.’ ‘I knew that this was the word of the LORD; so, I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales. I took the deed of purchase—the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, as well as the unsealed copy—and I gave this deed to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and of the witnesses who had signed the deed and of all the Jews sitting in the courtyard of the guard. ‘In their presence I gave Baruch these instructions: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Take these documents, both the sealed and unsealed copies of the deed of purchase, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. For this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’ Jeremiah 32:6-15

God tells Jeremiah that his cousin, Hanamel, is going to offer Jeremiah a piece of property, and Jeremiah was to purchase it.

What was the cost?

17 shekels of silver. Perhaps not much money, but a lot of money when you consider that the land was destined to be destroyed.

As coinage was not introduced until about the 6th century B.C., the amount due was weighed. This was usual, Genesis 26:18ff, where Abraham did the same. The purchasing of the land is then documented. All the legal procedures took place, just as they would have done had peace prevailed in the land.

Remember, the siege is already on. With great faith Jeremiah obeyed God. He bought the land. What is God’s message to Jeremiah here? That the land of Judah would one day be repossessed by the people.

God says that it was Jeremiah’s ‘right and duty’ to buy the land, and we read that Hanamel arrives and says that it is Jeremiah’s right to ‘redeem it and possess it’. Leviticus 25:24-25.

This indicates that the Pentateuch was well known by the Jews at this time and that these regulations were still being observed. The book of Ruth tells of the marriage of Ruth, and the redemption of a piece of land that had belonged to Ruth’s husband.

The deed was signed, sealed and witnessed, and he took the sealed and unsealed copies to Baruch. This provides us with a valuable example of the legal procedures for purchasing land in those times. Jeremiah says that the deed of purchase should be put ‘in a clay jar so that they will last a long time.’

The placing into a clay jar or earthen vessel is interesting because the Dead Sea Scrolls were preserved in this same manner.

Baruch is mentioned for the first time. Baruch was the scribe who wrote a great deal of this book, at Jeremiah’s dictation, under the strict direction of Jeremiah.

‘After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD: ‘Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the parents’ sins into the laps of their children after them. Great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours. You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror. You gave them this land you had sworn to give their ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey. They came in and took possession of it, but they did not obey you or follow your law; they did not do what you commanded them to do. So, you brought all this disaster on them. ‘See how the siege ramps are built up to take the city. Because of the sword, famine and plague, the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians who are attacking it. What you said has happened, as you now see. And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign LORD, say to me, ‘Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.’ Jeremiah 32:16-25

In the knowledge of the future promises of a return, Jeremiah utters a prayer of joyful praise. Some scholars say that this passage shows the prophet’s humanity, that he has second thoughts about purchasing the property, and therefore is praying out of distress. I think perhaps there is a mixture of both of these here.

Jeremiah knows what is going to happen, but it is possible that he doesn’t quite understand why God wanted him to purchase this land.

Coffman says, ‘Jeremiah simply could not understand why, under the circumstances, God had ordered him to buy the field. Therefore, he went to his knees and laid the whole problem before the Lord. Inherent in such an action was the silent pleading for God to explain to the prophet that which was utterly beyond his understanding. God answered him in detail.’

So, you can take your choice, a joyful prayer or a prayer of questioning!

‘Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the Babylonians and to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who will capture it. The Babylonians who are attacking this city will come in and set it on fire; they will burn it down, along with the houses where the people aroused my anger by burning incense on the roofs to Baal and by pouring out drink offerings to other gods. ‘The people of Israel and Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; indeed, the people of Israel have done nothing but arouse my anger with what their hands have made, declares the LORD. From the day it was built until now, this city has so aroused my anger and wrath that I must remove it from my sight. The people of Israel and Judah have provoked me by all the evil they have done—they, their kings and officials, their priests and prophets, the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem. They turned their backs to me and not their faces; though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond to discipline. They set up their vile images in the house that bears my Name and defiled it. They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin. Jeremiah 32:26-35

There is a price to pay for rebellion. Jerusalem is to be burned as a result of Judah’s wrong deeds.

Her disrespect? She turned her back on God.

Her disregard? She had ears that did not hear.

Her decision? She accepted other gods, such as Molek and Ishtar, and slaughtered her own children in worshipping idols.

In this section, we have a shameful catalogue of their varied sins.

‘You are saying about this city, ‘By the sword, famine and plague it will be given into the hands of the king of Babylon’; but this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. ‘This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will give them all the prosperity I have promised them. Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, ‘It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.’ Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 32:36-44

Yet, despite all of this, the promise of a return is repeated. There are glorious promises here.

Do you remember what was read in Jeremiah 18:7-10?

Basically, God was saying, if any nation repents of its evil, I will relent, and not inflict disaster upon them. Or if I say that a nation is to be planted, and it does evil and does not obey Me, ‘I will reconsider the good I had intended for it.’

God’s promises are always the same, whether, for evil or good, they are subject to results, to obedience to His commands. Sadly, most of the wonderful things that God promised here never occurred because men did not heed the commands of God.

As time went on, during those long centuries before Jesus Christ was born, the whole Jewish nation fell into apostasy again. The name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles because of the shameful conduct of the Jews, Romans 2:24.

Their temple with its operators, now known in three separate groups as the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians, was called by Jesus Himself, ‘a den of thieves and robbers’.

The climax of their wickedness was when they crucified the Messiah, the Messiah that they had been waiting for centuries to arrive. History doesn’t record any fulfilment of the prosperity expected on their return from Babylon.

As Coffman says: ‘They deserved no prosperity, and they received none.’

God’s punishment for the rejection of the Messiah occurred a generation after His death. The nation was totally destroyed by Vespasian and Titus in A.D. 70. 1.100,000 people were executed.

Josephus even gives numbers of the dead by name of towns and villages. 30,000 men were crucified around the walls of Jerusalem. Their temple was destroyed, never to be rebuilt.

The daily sacrifices, the priesthood, the high priest, as they were, disappeared forever.

Go To Jeremiah 33