Jeremiah Chapter 32: Zedekiah’s Fate, Jeremiah’s deed

Nov 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 32: Zedekiah’s Fate, Jeremiah’s deed

Jer. 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.

The time setting was now the tenth year of Zedekiah, just one year before the fall of Jerusalem in 606 BC. The time, which was very near the end of Zedekiah’s reign, was equated to the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.

Jer. 32:2 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.

“For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was under siege for a little more than a year. Accounts of this time period are also found in the books of Ezekiel, Kings, and Chronicles. To a certain extent, the multiple accounts help to synchronize Jeremiah and Ezekiel with the chronology recorded in Kings and Chronicles.

Chapter 32 opens with a specific point in time in Jewish history, which coincided with the start of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem. In this setting and background, Jeremiah was shut up in prison, which was in Zedekiah’s own house, i.e., in his own part of the courtyard complex.

Jer. 32:3 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;

At the order of King Zedekiah, Jeremiah was imprisoned for prophesying the defeat of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Of course others had accused Jeremiah of being a traitor and had urged his imprisonment, but the king made the decision.

Zedekiah could not understand why Jeremiah prophesied as he did. “Why are you saying these things?” he asked the prophet. Hence the RSV has a question mark at the end of verse 5.

With regard to the antitype, Jeremiah (picturing the feet members) prophesied that God would give the city (Christendom) to the king of Babylon. (In later chapters, this symbolism will change under a new circumstance, and Babylon will represent Christendom.) At the end of the age, the “king” will apprehend the Jeremiah class because they prophesy defeat. Also, they will advise the unconsecrated to seek righteousness and meekness and to hide themselves, that is, to stay out of the way of the Lord’s chariot. “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph. 2:3).

Q: Was Jeremiah specifically shut up in the court of the prison at this time, or is the account just saying that when Nebuchadnezzar began the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was already in prison?

A: The situation was the latter. Jeremiah was put in a cistern. Then he was pulled out of the  cistern and confined to house arrest in the prison quarters of the king’s house (or complex), for adjoining buildings were on the king’s premises.

Jer. 32:4 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 to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;

Jer. 32:5 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 prophesied not only that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed but also that King Zedekiah would be taken to Babylon. The king considered the prophecy about himself to be a personal affront. There was a time when he assumed more of a listening mode, but when he heard this personal prophecy, his attitude changed radically.

The fact there was a Nebuchadnezzar I and a Nebuchadnezzar II in the original Chaldean has caused confusion in the chronology in certain cases. In addition, some manuscripts spell the name of the father of Nebuchadnezzar the same way. Just like “Pharaoh,” “Caesar,” etc., the word “Nebuchadnezzar” is an office, not the king’s personal name. (Incidentally, “Kaiser” and “Czar” are a variation of “Caesar.”) Thus it is easy to mix up the son, the father, and the grandfather. The two names are definitely confused in the manuscripts.

Comment: There are a couple of hints here concerning Zedekiah’s eyes. When handed over to the king of Babylon, Zedekiah would see this event with his own eyes, but subsequently Nebuchadnezzar would lead him to Babylon. Zedekiah saw his own sons being killed, but his eyes were put out before he made the trip to Babylon.

Reply: Yes, the texts about Zedekiah’s fate harmonize. The fact that he tried to escape through a gate in the southeast corner of Jerusalem instead of submitting willingly to capture shows how little faith he had in Jeremiah as a prophet. In other words, Zedekiah tried to run away from the fulfillment that God had spoken through Jeremiah.

“Zedekiah … shall speak with him [Nebuchadnezzar] mouth to mouth” as well as eye to eye. “And he [Nebuchadnezzar] shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I [Jehovah] visit him.” How did God “visit” Zedekiah? After his sons were put to death, Zedekiah was sent immediately to Babylon, but Nebuchadnezzar did not return to Babylon until later. Thus Zedekiah was put in captivity until Nebuchadnezzar (and the Lord) visited him. Zedekiah died in prison (Jer. 52:11).

Jer. 32:6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

Jer. 32:7 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.

Jer. 32:8 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.

Jeremiah was given advance notice of what would happen and how he should respond.

God told Jeremiah that Hanameel, his cousin, would come to him with a proposition: “Buy my field which is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours” (RSV). Had the Lord not previously informed Jeremiah, the prophet would have declined the offer, saying in effect, “What do you mean? With the property you are trying to sell me being under siege, the land is worthless!” However, Jeremiah was to respond favorably to this seemingly quirky deal. Remember, Jeremiah was under house arrest in the king’s court at this time.

Anathoth, Jeremiah’s hometown, was the place where the priests lived, including Jeremiah’s own family. The priests, even his relatives, were prejudiced against him, yet they had to follow the procedure under the Law for the purchase of land. No doubt the uncle told his son about the procedure and what to say to Jeremiah.

From a practical standpoint, with Jerusalem under siege and the property in Anathoth being outside the city walls, this land was worthless. The army of Babylon was tightening the siege but had not yet taken Anathoth. Nebuchadnezzar was now in the suburbs, and this land that Jeremiah’s cousin wanted to sell was between the suburbs and the city proper.

Q: In regard to the “right of redemption,” Boaz was a kinsman redeemer for Ruth. Does the concept here have a similar spiritual significance?

A: Being natural-minded, the Jews are not interested in the spiritual promises. Therefore, the deed pertained to literal land in Israel, and instead of being worthless, it will be reactivated in some future day.

Under the Law, a person could not transfer property to another tribe. For example, if a person in Issachar had property, he could not sell it to someone in Zebulun. Jerusalem was in between two “shoulders,” the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, although the city was mostly in Benjamin (Deut. 33:12). Anathoth was in that area but more in Benjamin. The tribe of Benjamin was north of the city.

Comment: It seems that the first right of redemption was almost like a first right of refusal. Before Boaz could get the right of redemption, it had to be refused by the first person in line. If Jeremiah had declined to buy the land, Hanameel could have looked elsewhere for a purchaser.

Reply: However, if Jeremiah had refused, Hanameel would not have gotten another purchaser with the siege already in effect and coming closer to Anathoth. The property was worthless because it was a buffer zone between Jerusalem and Nebuchadnezzar’s huge army from Chaldea and several nations.

“Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.” When the prophets of the Old Testament  were instructed, various methods were used. In this instance, Jeremiah may have received avision as he slept at night. In the dream, he heard words being spoken but was not sure at first what to do because the instruction did not seem to make sense with the enemy just outside the city. Hearing that his cousin would come and offer to sell him land seemed very unreal to Jeremiah, but when Hanameel actually came, the prophet realized God had been speaking to him. At that point, Jeremiah did not question further, for he knew he had heard “the word of the LORD.”

In daylight hours, the technique of communicating to the prophets was usually the hearing of a voice in the ear rather than receiving a vision. God used various techniques. He spoke both to and by the prophets at different times in bits and pieces. Thus Jeremiah was probably instructed in a vision about purchasing the land. As soon as Hanameel appeared on the scene, Jeremiah knew without question that he had indeed heard “the [authentic] word of the LORD.”

Jer. 32:9 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.

Jer. 32:10 And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.

Because of what the Lord had said, Jeremiah bought from his cousin this apparently worthless land in Anathoth, which was just outside the north side of Jerusalem. Jeremiah “weighed … the money.” It is interesting that a scale was available while Jeremiah was under house arrest. Even though Zedekiah was not disposed to Jeremiah, the prison would have been quite nice because it was in the king’s court. The sale was conducted while the city was under siege by a large army. Of course Hanameel wanted to get the money and flee; he did not intend to remain in Jerusalem with a bag of silver.

Q: How would Jeremiah have had money, 17 shekels of silver, while under house arrest?

A: Baruch, a respected person in all of his dealings with Jeremiah, was probably in the picture more than the account informs us. Similarly, Theophilus sponsored Luke in the writing of the Gospel and the Book of Acts (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1). We do not know much about this generous benefactor and patron of Luke. It is possible that Jeremiah himself had gotten an inheritance, but we are inclined to think that Baruch provided for his finances and his writings, making sure the latter were preserved for posterity.

In regard to the purchase price, 17 is a mystical number that we do not want to go into.

However, all of the details are significant, and some of them will be explained correctly in the future. We surmise on the details only where we have two or three other clues in Scripture. Sometimes we make statements that may sound positive and bold, but they are predicated on several other circumstances. With numbers, we are more hesitant to make suggestions. The saying “Numbers do not lie, but liars figure” is true. A person with a mathematical mind can be led astray if he trusts in his own wisdom. When we are immersed in the thinking of God, we are helped, but even then, we have to be careful not to go too far.

Comment: For verse 10, the NASB reads, “And I signed and sealed the deed, and called in witnesses, and weighed out the silver on the scales.”

Reply: The deed was witnessed (notarized, as it were) and sealed with a wax or paraffin of some kind that hardened.

Jer. 32:11 So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:

Jer. 32:12 And I gave the evidence 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 the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.

Comment: For verses 11 and 12, the NASB reads, “Then I took the deeds of purchase, both the sealed copy containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy; and 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.”

Reply: Jeremiah “took the evidence of the purchase, both [1] that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and [2] that which was open,” suggesting that a duplicate copy of the deed was made. In other words, there were two deeds: the original sealed one and an open one.

The deed was made out in a formal, legalistic fashion and then witnessed by a number of individuals. (The Lord set the stage for many witnesses.) In the resurrection, it will be meaningful for these witnesses to come forth and tell what happened.

Verse 12 tells us that Jeremiah gave Baruch what we would call an envelope containing the two deeds. Thus the well-respected Baruch, whose lineage is given, was like Jeremiah’s secretary and treasurer. Evidently, too, he was a person of influence who backed up the prophet. Baruch was given the original deed (and the copy) in the sight of Hanameel and in the presence of the witnesses who had signed it and also of the Jews who sat in the prison courtyard. Zedekiah did not like Jeremiah, yet he permitted this transaction. The king was not taking any chances just in case there was something of substance going on here, so at this time, he treated Jeremiah quite well as a prisoner. (Earlier, however, Jeremiah was at the bottom of a cistern, in mire and water, until the eunuch pulled him out.)

Jer. 32:13 And I charged Baruch before them, saying,

Jer. 32:14 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

Jer. 32:15 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

Verses 13-15 tell what God’s purpose was. The deed was made out in duplicate. The official notarized, sealed deed, as well as the open one, was put in an earthen vessel to be hidden by Baruch. But why were there two deeds? One reason was to have two witnesses—the land purchase was confirmed and reaffirmed. Another reason was for the dramatic effect that will occur when the deeds are found in the Kingdom. The deeds will no doubt be found because the account states explicitly that they were put in an earthen vessel so that they would “continue many days,” suggesting the deeds were recorded for posterity.

When the vessel is found in the Kingdom, the open deed will be seen right away. Subsequently the sealed deed will be opened officially in a legal environment. If there had been only one deed, the sealed one, the seal might have been broken prematurely, rather than to wait for a legal opening with formal recognition by society. Moreover, the unsealing of the original deed will authenticate the duplicate.

Comment: Jeremiah did not charge Baruch privately in the name of God but conspicuously in front of multiple witnesses.

Reply: Yes. Incidentally, three individuals had special protection in Jeremiah’s day: the prophet himself, the Ethiopian eunuch who pulled Jeremiah out of the cistern, and Baruch.

Since the city was under siege, Baruch probably hid the deeds quickly, thinking he could come back later and retrieve the earthen vessel. A logical place to secrete them would be in what is called today Jeremiah’s Grotto, which was not exposed to public view until 200 BC, when the Hasmoneans dug an east-west trench on the north side of the Damascus Gate. In the Garden Tomb area, which includes Golgotha, there are two grottoes, the large cistern that is exposed and a smaller one that is not exposed. When the cover on this grotto is removed, people can look down into it, but all they see is darkness. At present, the Garden Tomb area is so built up with gardens and places for prayer groups that the setting is quite changed.

When the deeds are found in the Kingdom, they will convince the Arabs and the Muslims of the legitimacy of Israel, for the property purchase was recorded more than a thousand years before there were any Arabs or Muslims of recognition. As an Ancient Worthy, Jeremiah will be on the scene at the start of the Kingdom. Therefore, the deeds will probably be found early in the Kingdom. It is nice to think that the prophet himself will have the privilege of producing the deed. Time will tell.

Jer. 32:16 Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying,

Jer. 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

Jer. 32:18 Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name,

After purchasing land from his uncle’s son while in prison (under house arrest) in the king’s court and delivering the deed to Baruch, Jeremiah prayed majestically and eloquently “unto the LORD” (the prayer continues through verse 25). With the mention of “signs and wonders” in Egypt and in Israel in verse 20, this prayer was like an inspirational prophecy, but what gave birth to Jeremiah’s feeling of exhilaration?

Comment: He was impressed with God’s foreknowledge that the signs and wonders in Egypt and Israel were being preserved unto the future day to convince all of the greatness of Almighty God.

Reply: Yes. The King James marginal alternate for “There is nothing too hard [or impossible] for thee [O God]” is, “There is nothing hid from thee.” Not only was the Great Pyramid a sign, but with the deed being hidden for posterity to show God’s foreknowledge, Jeremiah exulted that he was identified with a feeling of history. He realized that his ministry would be brought into recognition because he was tied in with this deed, which would later be discovered. He felt he was now a part of history—and good history! Starting only with chapter 30 did he have good news to prophesy. He praised God for kindly allowing him to be associated with history.

Jeremiah also marveled that the transaction of the property purchase had occurred exactly as foretold. In addition, the preceding chapter had just told of the New Covenant. A little earlier he was blessed with a sweet dream about the Kingdom and the restoration of Israel. Therefore, Jeremiah was very happy under his current circumstance, even though Jerusalem was under siege. He saw that justice had to be requited but that nationally in due time, Israel would be restored to favor. With overflowing joy, he was exulting in the greatness of God.

Another reason for his joy is that the surrounding of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar justified the predictions of judgment he had uttered as the mouthpiece of the Lord. The Chaldeans were about to take over the city, yet the deed was like a surety, an emblem, or a pledge that the land would be returned to Israel in the future. The deed would be preserved for later retrieval, that is, in the Kingdom.

Comment: The prayer was like the culmination of the moment for Jeremiah. For years, he had been the prophet with the hard forehead, and he was like an iron pillar and brazen walls against the whole land in proclaiming Jehovah’s words (Jer. 1:18). Then, when he was told to give a good prophecy of the future Kingdom and to purchase the field in Anathoth, he was overwhelmed with the greatness of God.

Reply: He was unburdening his heart with joy and the vindication of God’s promises.

Similarly, the death and resurrection of Jesus are a seal, a surety—our guarantee, our anchor of hope—that the promises of the resurrection of the saints, the establishment of the Kingdom, etc., will be fulfilled. Jeremiah was exulting because God means what He says. Whether prophecies are favorable or unfavorable, they carry through to the grandchildren. Notice that Jehovah is called “the Mighty God” in verse 18. He is called “the Almighty God” when contrasted with other gods or Jesus. “The Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work” (verse 19).

“Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm.”

A “stretched out arm” can be for good or for evil, for punishment. Here the context pertains to creation. To say that Jesus is God’s stretched-out arm in this sense limits God in doing things, not only in the past but also in the present and the future. When God’s feet stand on the Mount of Olives, He will be in the picture. Unfortunately, there has been a misunderstanding of the Greek prepositions in the New Testament. To thoroughly study those prepositions would take many months because the Greek has so many uses. Not only are we simple-minded in our thinking, but the English language is very pinpointed. For example, when we say “to,” “for,” or “because,” the vocabulary is ample for making our meaning very clear, but many nuances are misunderstood, even by the translators, in the older language of the New Testament. The exception would be the Reformers and the apostles. Certainly Arius saw the difference between Jesus and God, and so did Paul and John and the seven messengers to the Church.

Q: Jeremiah included in his prayer, “Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them.” Since this prayer came after the purchase of the field in Anathoth, did Jeremiah realize the eventual significance of the purchase of the land?

A: Yes. The purchase will happen under the New Covenant. Except for a few sprinkles of good news, Jeremiah preached for many years nothing but trouble and condemnation for the unrighteous acts of the nation and their need to repent and return to the old paths of righteousness. He understood that he was participating in a historical act. The sealed deed given to Baruch for hiding would someday be discovered to show what is stated in the Word about God’s making a New Covenant with the house of Israel and about this property belonging to him. In the final analysis, the deed will shut the mouths of critical disbelievers.

It is helpful that “LORD” is in all capital letters in the Old Testament when referring to Jehovah.

That distinction is not made in the New Testament. As Rotherham said, it would have been better to leave the names untranslated, and the same is true with the Hebrew sheol, which is variously translated as “grave,” “hell,” and “pit.” The “scapegoat,” too, is better left as “Azazel” (Lev. 16:8,10,26). Such words are mostly nouns. Rotherham himself had to make some very uncomfortable changes of a former understanding where he was warped by traditional thinking. As he matured, he tried, as a Jew, to rectify the situation by being very accurate in his translation, particularly of the Old Testament.

Jer. 32:19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

Jer. 32:20 Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day;

Jeremiah’s mention of “signs and wonders in the land of Egypt … and in Israel” shows he had studied in great detail the Scriptures that were available to him from his predecessor Isaiah.

Jeremiah was a Bible student, as it were. Many people, especially evangelists, get so involved in their work that personal Bible study is neglected. They are so captivated by trying to either evangelize or criticize that throughout their ministry, they forget the need to be built up spiritually as an individual. Isaiah 19:19,20 reads, “In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt.”

When Jeremiah said that God “set signs and wonders [particularly] in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and [even] among other men [mankind],” one of those “signs and wonders” was his deed. Other signs and wonders include the stone of Eben-ezer (see 1 Sam. 7:10-12), Joshua’s stones at the crossing of the Jordan into the Promised Land, the Garden Tomb in Israel, and Sodom and Gomorrah under the Dead Sea. Among the signs and wonders in Egypt are the Great Pyramid with its top stone, the Abydos Tablet, various cities, Pharaoh’s chariots in the bottom of the Red Sea, and Noah’s pyramids. In Turkey are Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden. The list goes on and on.

Jesus said to the critical scribes and Pharisees, “I tell you that, if these [people] should hold their peace [and not cry out ‘Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord’], the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:38-40). Thus it is God’s purpose to have signs and wonders testify to His plan and verify the truthfulness of past Biblical events.

Jer. 32:21 And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror;

Jer. 32:22 And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey;

These “signs” included the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus.

After the third plague, all the plagues affected only the Egyptians. In addition, Moses gave signs to convince his own people, Israel, that God had appeared to him in Sinai through the angel in the burning bush.

The deed is symbolic of, or a token of, the greater land God will give to His “people Israel”; that is, the land of Israel will be deeded to the people of Israel. Notice that the land will flow with “milk and honey.” The land was rich in times past, and it will again be rich in the future. “Milk and honey” picture a horn of plenty, a fruitful land. Abundant crops will sustain many cattle for grazing and bees to produce honey. Verse 22 is a pastoral promise.

Jer. 32:23 And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them:

The Israelites came in and possessed the land flowing with milk and honey, but because of disobedience, the land lost its lushness. In the future, it will be even more lush than in the past. The rounded hills of Israel are naturally adapted to terraced farming, which produces more abundant food per square mile.

“They have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do.” What strong language! Jeremiah was speaking in general terms.

Jer. 32:24 Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it.

“Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it.” As Jeremiah continued his prayer, which started with verse 17, we see the time frame in which he got the deed for the land and offered this prayer. Jerusalem was surrounded by the Chaldeans.

Verse 24 provides another perspective as well. Jeremiah was encouraged that the things he had  predicted were coming to pass. He saw mounts and catapults and the preparation for the siege.

These were signs that the prophesied destruction would occur as predicted. “What thou [God] hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it.”

Jer. 32:25 And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

Jeremiah was outspoken: “And thou [God] hast said unto me, … Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses.” As the effects of the siege were felt, Jeremiah would have suffered privations along with the populace in Jerusalem. At least he was guaranteed bread and water by the king, for although Zedekiah was displeased with Jeremiah, he did not want to actually take the prophet’s life just in case there was some truth to the prophecies (Jer. 37:21).

The deed was a token of a future return to the land of Israel. God does avenge, but He will also restore for the nation. As for individuals, it will be up to each one to respond. Verse 25 concludes Jeremiah’s prayer.

Jer. 32:26 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,

Jer. 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Jer. 32:28 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and he shall take it:

God again assured Jeremiah in regard to the deed and the promise to restore the land. Even the best of people have their down periods. Consider Jesus, who was perfect. He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If permissible, I would like this cup to be taken way. Nevertheless, thy will be done.” Everyone has times of stress and momentary doubt. Therefore, God comforted Jeremiah with the words “Is there any thing too hard for me? I will give this city into the hand of the Chaldeans, and … Nebuchadnezzar … shall take it.”

Jeremiah was not fully aware of the time. Even Daniel probably thought for a while that the 1,335 and the 2,300 days were literal. No matter how wise a person is, understanding is developed as time goes by. With maturity, misconceptions get clarified. Nevertheless, Jeremiah’s character was remarkable and also his understanding, as will be seen in later chapters. We have already seen his obedience and courage, and now we are getting little glimpses into his understanding.

Jer. 32:29 And the Chaldeans, that fight against this city, shall come and set fire on this city, and burn it with the houses, upon whose roofs they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods, to provoke me to anger.

Jer. 32:30 For the children of Israel and the children of Judah have only done evil before me from their youth: for the children of Israel have only provoked me to anger with the work of their hands, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah continued to speak strong words. God foretold through him that Jerusalem and the houses would be burned. Punishment was coming because the people had burned incense unto Baal on the roofs of their houses. True, the custom was to pray on the roof, but they should have prayed to God.

It will be shown in the future that Jesus is the true Messiah and that other than the books of Moses, much of the Old Testament has been withheld. Not much exposition is given on the other books except for a little storytelling. In regard to our own Christian fellowship, we do not appreciate hearing many stories from the platform. Although stories have their place, they should be used minimally. Just as Jews changed from the Torah to Talmudic teaching, so some in our midst go from the Bible to “thus saith Pastor Russell.” And then from Talmudic teaching, there is a change to rabbinical sayings; i.e., Jews have other types of books in which humorists, artists, etc., are given supposed sanctified approval.

The Old Testament strongly denounces the sins of the Jews. Therefore, if Jews say the New Testament is anti-Semitic, we should point out to them the words of their own prophets.

Jer. 32:31 For this city hath been to me as a provocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day; that I should remove it from before my face,

Jerusalem was a thorn in Jehovah’s flesh from the day it was built. Hence it is good the current city will be leveled by an earthquake and rebuilt according to God’s directions.

Jer. 32:32 Because of all the evil of the children of Israel and of the children of Judah, which they have done to provoke me to anger, they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, and the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

All segments of society were evil. In light of all the sins and evils that have been committed down through history, either the Israelites will be greatly shamed when their eyes are opened to see the depth of their degradation, or they will become hardened in their sin. At that time, those who understand the enormity of their sins will be so humbled and crushed that God will be able to show His mighty power through them. That way nobody, including those who are more noble and would have done better, will get a big head. God does things in His own way to humble us as individuals, for His motives are higher than ours. The best thing we can do is to let Him chart the course in regard to our individual destinies.

Generally speaking, the Jews have blamed the Gentiles for their troubles, but the fault lies with them. The day will come when they will bear their shame. When the Gentiles see this attitude, they themselves will also be humbled. Ezekiel 36:6,7,15 has, “Prophesy therefore concerning the land of Israel, and say unto the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury, because ye have borne the shame of the heathen: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame…. Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.” The same principle applies to the truly repentant Christian. For example, when the townspeople saw the radically changed life of John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, compared to the reprobate life he had previously led, they were amazed. They were seeing the power of God at work, for John could not have raised himself out of the gutter.

Jer. 32:33 And they have turned unto me the back, and not the face: though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them, yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction.

God sent prophets who rose up early to instruct the people, but they did not hearken. With all the rejection and persecution Jeremiah received from his people, it is a testimony to his character that he did not get sour in his own thinking and actions.

Comment: This statement can also apply in principle to so-called Christians, the tare element. They may not be committing grievous sin, but they turn their back by not listening to the instruction of God’s Word.

Jer. 32:34 But they set their abominations in the house, which is called by my name, to defile it.

Abominations were even brought into the Temple. New implements of worship were introduced, and icons and statuary were added. One king brazenly replaced the altar with a more elaborate one.

Jer. 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 unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

If Scriptures such as verses 32-35 were seriously considered in the synagogues, Israel would want to repent, but the Jewish religious leaders do not stress these lessons. The nominal Jewish mass is inclined to be agnostic and atheistic. A great evil was the passing of their live infants and children through the fire in sacrifice to the god Molech while singing and clanging cymbals to drown out the sound of the screams. Deriving sadistic pleasure from this type of sacrifice, the offerers believed that the suffering and anguish of a child appeased the angry fire god. “I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination.”

Such an abomination never came into God’s mind. Hence “hellfire” is a man-made doctrine. “High places” were artificial mounds used to worship false gods.

Comment: This practice was specifically prohibited under the Law. “When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods” (Deut. 12:29-31).

Reply: Just like smoking, drinking, and drugs, which are developed habits, participating in such abominations can change a person’s character. Thus character can be influenced by environment. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we would become victims of our environment.

Jer. 32:36 And now therefore thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, whereof ye say, It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence;

Earlier the false prophets denied that the city would be captured. Now, with the siege mounts actually there, they believed it would occur. Similarly the people in Noah’s day scoffed until the Flood came; then all believed. At this point, the people knew Jeremiah was a true prophet.

Jer. 32:37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:

With the people now having a hearing ear and being concerned, God offered assurances of future blessings that would sink deeply into their memories and carry them over the experience of being deprived of their land (verses 37-44). In the future, God will gather back out of all countries those He had dispersed in anger. When they return in this sense, they will dwell safely.

Q: Was Jeremiah still in the courtyard of the prison?

A: We would think so.

“I [God] will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely.” Those who were spared and taken captive to Babylon would remember this promise given through Jeremiah. Here was a guarantee that the Jews would one day return to Israel. Thus hope was kept alive, even when they were in exile.

Q: In the antitype, verses 37-44 have already started, referring to the regathering back to Israel in our day, although not until the second regathering will God “gather them out of all countries.” Was there also a partial past fulfillment in 536 BC?

A: Yes. Even among ourselves, there are different perspectives with regard to prophecy. Some tend to apply everything more along a natural line, and others emphasize a spiritual fulfillment. We advocate an in-between view. Also, some give past fulfillments to mystic Babylon, saying that it has already fallen and will never come back into power.

When Nebuchadnezzar came down with his army against Jerusalem shortly before 606 BC, other troops from the provinces of the empire were with him. These subservient satellite powers were represented in the central power of Babylon. When the Jews were released under Cyrus’s decree in 536 BC to return to the homeland, they came from the various satellite powers, or nations. Hence they applied their experience to the fulfillment of verse 37.

We are treating these verses from the natural standpoint. As we individually pray about these Scriptures in our leisure time at home, we will see the antitypical fulfillment more clearly. As a group, we spend more time studying the type, for if we do not first understand the literal picture, we will get a distorted view of the antitype. Also, to go into detail on the spiritual application in this study would be too time-consuming. In principle, it has already considered the spiritual picture in many places in the Reprints and the Volumes.

Jer. 32:38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:

The Jews who returned from Babylon in 536 BC under Joshua, Zerubbabel, and Ezra felt that verse 38 was being fulfilled, but that was only a partial fulfillment. They rejoiced and were looking for wonderful blessings. However, Daniel, who realized the time prophecies would be fulfilled way down the stream of time, was discouraged. We are very thankful for Daniel’s prophecies because they give time periods that help us to know where we are on the stream of time. He was told to go his way, for the time prophecies were locked in his day (Dan. 12:9).

However, the “wise” would understand in due time, and Daniel will understand when he is awakened from the tomb (Dan. 12:10,13). With so many of the time periods having expired, we know we are getting down near the very end of the age, but we still need to be informed by Holy Writ as to the duties and responsibilities of the hour we are living in.

Jer. 32:39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them:

In regard to those who acquiesce to the New Covenant and accept His will, God will give to every individual according to what is best, and they will reverence Him forever. Notice that children will be born in the Kingdom.

At the end of the Millennium, many will go into Second Death, but the new generation—the ones being born—will get life and thus make up for the void. With few exceptions, those born in future ages will not sin because the object lessons will be so great in viewing earth’s history and being schooled in righteousness. Fraternization with evil takes a terrific toll. The permission of evil occurs temporarily on this planet only.

Subconsciously, many of us exercise a love greater than God’s. To do so is wrong in God’s sight. Both our minds and our consciences need regulating.

Jer. 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

When the Jews returned from Babylon, they were inspired, but as time passed, they realized there was more to the fulfillment. Thus each generation had its hopes and its discouragements.

For example, after the French Revolution, Protestants were exhilarated, thinking the Kingdom was starting because dungeons were opened and Bibles were being printed in great quantities.

“Fear” has the thought of worship, reverence, awe, and respect. The obedient will fear God in this sense and appreciate the principle of His government. The entire Kingdom Age will be required to write God’s law in the people’s hearts.

Jer. 32:41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.

Here is an insight into God. He will rejoice over the Jews and plant them in their land with His “whole heart” and “whole soul.” God has emotions! He will be enthused and have great joy when these conditions come to pass—when the people are contrite and reformed.

God has emotion with principle. “Jasper” (the diamond) shows unchangeable principles, while the “sard” signifies a compassionate heart (Rev. 4:3). Both qualities must be operative; neither can be violated.

Comment: We are to love God with our whole heart, mind, strength, and soul, but here He Himself will have that love for Israel.

Reply: Yes, verse 41 is a reversal of the love that is commanded of us. We should recognize God as the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). He “so loved the world [and of course the Church too], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jer. 32:42 For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.

Comment: In regard to the statement “I bring upon them [Israel] all the good that I have promised them,” some of “the good” was fulfilled in 536 BC but not “all.”

Reply: Today we have hindsight and the Scriptures in their entirety, and hindsight is usually better than foresight as far as perceiving things in a more realistic sense. By our consecration and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can look at the pages of history in a new light, which was impossible for the Jews to perceive back there.

Jer. 32:43 And fields shall be bought in this land, whereof ye say, It is desolate without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.

Q: Does the pronoun “ye” refer to the Jews in Babylonian captivity?

A: Yes. God can even read the mind of individuals in the future. An example is Psalm 22, which gives Jesus’ thoughts on the Cross hundreds of years in advance. God can foresee events and circumstances, but He does not always exercise that ability. He is omniscient, all powerful, and all wise, but He does not exercise all His power all the time everywhere. He can speak about an individual in the future, no matter who that person is, but if He used that capability all the time, His head would be filled with filth. How could He be a holy God with so many distracting thoughts? Therefore, by having safeguards in place, He shuts out certain things except where they might interfere with His plan. Thus He does not always exercise His omniscience with regard to every individual, but since He is more concerned with His people, He probably uses that power with the consecrated—and to a considerable extent with a few individuals prior to consecration. For example, Paul’s ministry was mapped out before his experience on the road to Damascus. The Lord said of Paul, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul was dealt with in advance because his consecration and dedication to do God’s will were perceived in advance. Some of us can trace God’s dealings before consecration, but only with apostles and special messengers are the dealings so elaborately plotted in advance.

Jer. 32:44 Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them, and take witnesses in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, and in the cities of the mountains, and in the cities of the valley, and in the cities of the south: for I will cause their captivity to return, saith the LORD.

Here the focus was on Judah, whereas Ezekiel brought in a lot about the ten-tribe kingdom. Jeremiah’s responsibility lay with Judah, for the ten tribes had already gone into captivity at the time of this prophecy. Chapter 32 pertains to the property Jeremiah bought (and the resultant deed) at the time the siege of Jerusalem was beginning to take place.

Legal bounds will be set in the Kingdom to give each man his own vine and fig tree. The people will be assigned to a portion of land, and that land will be deeded to them. That will be their home base, but they will be able (and permitted) to travel. For a small amount of “money,” the assigned land will be legally deeded; that is, there will be no “squatter’s rights.”

Q: Did the Jews buy fields when they came back with Ezra, or is verse 44 a future prophecy only?

A: There may have been some purchases, but the Jews were a tributary people in 536 BC.

While they were under Persian control, there were periods of brutality and anti-Semitism, but there were also very liberal rulers. As long as the rulers saw no threat, a lot of liberty was allowed, but the Jews were not permitted to buy fields for money and to sign and seal deeds.

Moreover, Persians lived in Israel, and they took whatever choice lands they desired. In other words, Jews were in the land, but they could be overruled.

Q: Then did the fulfillment of verse 44 start with Petatikva in 1878?

A: Yes, the door opened in 1878. Swamps were purchased, and suicide squads of dedicated young people went there and died of malaria in the early settlement of Israel. Thus land was purchased and a seal obtained, yet the Arabs today do not recognize the sale. The fulfillment of verse 44 continues, and we are now in the end-time period of prophecy.

Notice the mention of “the land of Benjamin, … the places about Jerusalem, and … the cities of Judah.” A person can walk out of one area of Jerusalem and be in Benjamin in minutes, and if he walks out of the city in the other direction, he is in Judah. Jerusalem is described as being in between the “shoulders” of Benjamin and Judah (Deut. 33:12).

The “land of Benjamin” is mentioned first because Anathoth, Jeremiah’s hometown, was there.

Thus verse 44 is another reference to the fact that Jeremiah’s deed is a token, or emblem.

Subsequently other areas are mentioned: Jerusalem, Judah, mountains, cities, the valley (Shephelah in the RSV), and the south (Negeb in the RSV). Sharon, the plain near water, is Carmel, a north-to-south strip. Shephelah is the next north-to-south strip going inland, and the Negeb (or Negev) is the south (Isa. 33:9; 65:10).

God “will cause their captivity to return.” The Israelites will be restored. The captives will return from captivity (death).

Q: God said, “I will cause their captivity to return,” but how many Jews survived the 70-year captivity?

A: For one thing, none of the females are mentioned. The Babylonians chose some of them as booty to be concubines and wives. The Muslims today are very much like the Babylonians of the past; they will kill any men, but they are careful with the women. Yes, they abuse their wives, but they do not usually kill them. The Jews multiplied greatly during the 70 years of captivity. Also, with the ten tribes going into captivity earlier, their multiplication occurred over a longer period of time. Of the total number, approximately 50,000 Jews, mostly from Judah, returned to Israel when Cyrus gave his decree in 536 BC. The majority of Jews remained in Babylon because they became comfortable in exile.

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