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Jeremiah 32 is a continuation of the “Book of Encouragement.”
Jeremiah 32 Commentary | Background: Jeremiah in Prison, Judah 2 Years from Exile
Jeremiah starts this chapter by giving us some background. He’s going to relate to us a story of something that happened to him. So, just like with all stories we need to have the scene set for us.
We’ll read verses 1 through 5.
KJV Jeremiah 32:1 ¶ The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.
By the way, Nebuchadnezzar’s final siege of Jerusalem happened in Zedekiah’s 11th year in the 5th month. We just heard that the events in Jeremiah 32 are happening in Zedekiah’s 10th year. So the events of this chapter are a mere year and a half – at most – away from Jerusalem’s final blow from the Babylonians.
Now, leading up to that fateful final siege of Jerusalem, we witness the following happening…
2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem:
So Babylon took several months to gain access to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Jerusalem was “shut up” so to speak within its own walls.
Jeremiah also was “shut up” somewhere…
and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.
Why was the prophet incarcerated?
3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying,
Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say,
Thus saith the LORD,
Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;
4 And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him [mouth/face] to [mouth/face], and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
5 And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD:
though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper.
Jeremiah was incarcerated because he was telling a king who was under God’s judgement a message from the Lord, which the king did not want to hear.
And – brothers and sisters – to the extent that we are delivering God’s message to this nation which is under God’s righteous judgement, we can expect the same treatment. In the coming days, resolve to suffer well for Jesus Christ and his message – wherever the Lord might have you suffer.
Well, that’s the background to this story in Jeremiah 32.
Jeremiah is in a pretty discouraging place in his life. He’s been ministering to his people for at least a few decades. He’s been delivering a very unpopular message to people who are violently opposed to what he’s preaching. And by the way, the people who are so opposed to God’s message are the very people that are supposedly “God’s people.” Now Jeremiah has been imprisoned by the vacillating king Zedekiah for doing only what God had commanded him to do. And to make matters worse, the army of the most powerful country in the world is outside of the city in which he is currently incarcerated.
Imagine your mindset in a situation like that. If you do, then you’ll be better acquainted with the temptations and struggles that Jeremiah likely would have been facing at this time in his life.
Jeremiah 32 Commentary | God Tells Jeremiah to Buy Land from his Cousin
Now, in the midst of this chaos and uncertainty and discouragement, God comes to Jeremiah with a message of hope and encouragement.
He tells the prophet to buy some land from his cousin in Jeremiah 32:6-7.
6 ¶ And Jeremiah said,
The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying,
Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.
Anathoth – if you recall – is the city in Benjamin from which Jeremiah hailed. His family lived there. And so God tells Jeremiah that one of his cousins is going to come to him and offer some land for him to buy.
Now, let’s get the picture right in our minds. Jeremiah is in jail. Jerusalem is under siege by Babylon. We’re less than 2 years away from the utter destruction and exile of Judah from their land. And somehow this cousin is supposed to get through all of that and offer Jeremiah a piece of land for him to purchase.
Could God make that happen?
Jeremiah 32 Commentary | Jeremiah’s Cousin Comes
Yes, he could. And that’s what we see come to pass in verse 8.
8 So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me,
Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself.
Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
There are a few things that are remarkable here.
First, that this cousin of Jeremiah’s actually got to him! Maybe Babylon had to withdraw for a few weeks from the siege. That wasn’t an unknown event to have happen in those days and under those circumstances.
The other possibility is that maybe Jeremiah’s cousin actually lived in Jerusalem at that time, though his field was in Anathoth. I tend to think this is more likely the case because as Babylon swept through the land to arrive at Jerusalem I would assume that they would have captured anyone who was out in the open and not in a walled city.
So, I think either possibility could work. And in the end I don’t think we have enough data to be conclusive. But at least those possibilities could be in our minds as we read the story to try to get an idea of what was actually happening.
The other noteworthy thing in this 8th verse is Jeremiah’s last statement. He says that the coming of his cousin made him conclusively convinced that God’s word was … God’s word. Jeremiah struggled to really accept God’s promise of his cousin coming until … his cousin came.
It’s this statement along with another reality or two in this chapter that make me think that Jeremiah needed some convincing by the Lord at this stage in his life.
I imagine Jeremiah here almost like John the Baptist when he sent the message to Jesus, asking him whether he was the one they’d been looking for or if they should keep looking. At that time in John’s life, he was imprisoned just like Jeremiah. He had been serving God faithfully all of his life, just like Jeremiah. And yet he was experiencing some really dark times in his life. And he needed convincing by God himself.
And in both the case of John and of Jeremiah, God was pleased to convince his servant. And the Lord is still able and we might find him also willing to do this same thing for anyone like that here right now.
Jeremiah 32 Commentary | Jeremiah Buys Land
Well, the cousin came and offered his land to Jeremiah for him to purchase. And so, Jeremiah goes ahead, now convinced that this was indeed God’s will, and he buys the land from his cousin in Jeremiah 32:9-12.
9 ¶ And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
10 And I [subscribed/signed] the [evidence/deed of purchase], and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
11 So I took the [evidence/deed] of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
12 And I gave the [evidence/deed] of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel mine uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses that [subscribed/signed] the [book/deed] of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.
This sounds a lot like what I did a few years ago when I purchased a home. Signing deeds. Making copies of them. Bringing payment or something to substitute for it. Having people there to witness the transaction. Doing everything according to law and custom. Some things don’t change very much over the centuries and even from culture to culture.
And by the way, this is the first we hear of Baruch, who turns out to be something of an assistant to the prophet Jeremiah. His name shows up in this chapter as well as chapters 36, 43, and 45.
Jeremiah 32 Commentary | Jeremiah Charges Baruch
And in this situation, Baruch happens to be the one that Jeremiah charges with keeping these two copies of the deed of purchase that Jeremiah just signed. We see that in verses 13-15.
13 And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
14 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;
Take these [evidences/deeds], this [evidence/deed] of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may [continue/last/be preserved] [many days/a long time].
Why does God through Jeremiah want these two copies of this deed put in an earthen vessel?
15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;
Houses and fields and vineyards shall be [possessed/bought] again in this land.
That’s the punch line – if you will – of the story up to this point. God is going to develop his message from here. But all that precedes verse 15 is really leading up to the promise that is contained in that verse.
Houses, fields, and vineyards will again be possessed in the land of Israel – from the perspective of Jeremiah’s day.
And don’t miss the shock that this message would have been to the people of that time – even to the prophet Jeremiah. Remember what’s happening all around the Jews at this moment. The Babylonians are there. They’ve laid siege to the city. It’s only a matter of months before it all comes crashing down. It would seem to most Jews at that time that life as they knew it was over.
And, really, it was. But God now is looking past their current tragedy that they brought on their own selves and is telling them of a future for their land and their descendants. Not because of what they themselves did and how they were behaving themselves – but in spite of their sin and rebellion against the Lord.