John T. Willis

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Jeremiah's Symbolic [Sign] Act of Buying a Field at Anathoth--Jeremiah 32:1-44

In essence, the hope oracle in Jeremiah 32 is identical to the message of the hope oracle in 31:31-37 discussed in the previous blog on the Book of Jeremiah. The hope oracle in Jeremiah 32 falls neatly into three parts: 32:1-15, 16-25, 26-44.

I. Yahweh instructs Jeremiah to buy of field at Anathoth. Jeremiah 32:1-15.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah dates the occurrence at which Yahweh comes to Jeremiah in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which is the same year as the eighteenth year of King Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon, that is, 588 BCE. 32:1.
b. More specifically, the Babylonians were besieging Jerusalem [which occurred from 589 to 587 BCE--see 2 Kings 25:1-2; Jeremiah 39:1-2], and Jeremiah was confined to the court of the guard by King Zedekiah--see Jeremiah 37:21. Zedekiah had reproved Jeremiah for declaring that Yahweh will give Jerusalem into the hand of the Babylonians, Zedekiak will not escape but will go into Babylonian exile. 32:2-5.
c. While confined in the court of the guard, Yahweh appeared to Jeremiah and told him his counsin Hanamel would come to him and offer to sell Hanamel his field in the legal way practiced at that time. This occurred, and then "Jeremiah knew that this was the word of the Lord." 32:6-8.
d. Jeremiah legally signs his purchase of Hanamel's field at Anathoth int the presence of his secretary Baruch, and presented the open copy for everyone to see and stored the sealed copy in an earthenware jar to be preserved for the future. 32:9-14.
e. Yahweh declares that this "symbolic [sign] act" means: "Houses and fields and vineyards shall again the bought in this land"=the land of Canaan. This is Yahweh's assurance that He will bring back penitent faithful Israelites from Babylon to the land of Canaan. This is the same promise discussed several times in Jeremiah 29-31.

II. Jeremiah responds to Yahweh's instructions by prayer. Jeremiah 32:16-25.
a. After giving the deed of purchase for the field at Anathoth to Baruch, Jeremiah prays to Yahweh, essentially going over Yahweh's works and words. 32:16.
b. Jeremiah extols Yahweh for his mighty works in the past.
1. Yahweh's creation of the heavens and the earth. Hence, it is obvious: "NOTHING is too hard for YOU." 32:17.
2. Throughout all centuries, Yahweh has demonstrated his STEADFAST LOVE. This is a clear reference to Yahweh's portrayal of himself in Exodus 34:6-7. 32:18-19.
3. Yahweh overthrew the Egyptians and brought his people Israel out of Egypt in the days of Moses. 32:20-21.
4. Yahweh brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan to conquer the Canaanites and possess the land. 32:22-23a.
5. But the Israelites did not obey Yahweh. So Yahweh has punished his people for several decades. 32:23b-d.
c. Finally, Yahweh has sent the Babylonians into the land of Canaan and is now besieging Jerusalem, as he had often warned. Now, Yahweh has brought "sword, famine, and pestilence" on his sinful people, and has now given God's people into the hands of the Chaldeans=Babylonians. 32:24.
d. But now, through Jeremiah, and in particular in the present chapter, Yahweh has promised that Yahweh will deliver the penitent exiles in Babylon to return to the land of Canaan and buy fields. 32:25.

III. Yahweh repeats the thoughts of Jeremiah's prayer, assuring Jeremiah that Yahweh will overthrow the Babylonians and bring penitent Israelite exiles from Babylon to the land of Canaan. Jeremiah 32:26-44.
a. Yahweh responds to Jeremiah and assures him that NOTHING is too hard for the Lord. 32:26-27. Recall Jeremiah's prayer in 32:17.
b. As Yahweh had often announced in previous oracles of Jeremiah, Yahweh repeats that he will cause the Babylonians to overthrow Judah and Jerusalem and carry many Judeans into Babylonian exile. This is because God's people have "done nothing but evil in Yahweh's sight." "The princes, the priests, the prophets, and the people" have all rebelled against Yahweh and turned to Baal and other gods. They went so far as to offer their children as sacrifices to the Ammonite god Molech= Milcom. 32:28-36.
c. After 70 years in Babylonian exile, Yahweh promises he will "gather" his penitent exiles from Babylon, and "bring them back" to the land of Canaan. 32:37.
d. At this point, Yahweh repeats the SAME PROMISES stated in 31:33-34. Note this careful comparison, which further verifies the thought described in the previous blog on the Book of Jeremiah.
1. The people of Israel will be Yahweh's people, and Yahweh will be their God. 32:38--just as in 31:33c.
2. Yahweh will give his people "one heart and one way"--32:39, the same thought as "I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts" in 31:33b.
3. Yahweh will make "an everlasting covenant" with his people North Israel and Judah--32:40, the same thought as "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah" in 31:31.
4. Yahweh will "plant" the returning exiles IN THIS LAND=the land of Canaan "in faithfulness." 32:41. This terminology is marriage language--see Hosea 2:19-20, and thus recalls the statement "though I [Yahweh] was their husband," in 31:32c.
e. Yahweh concludes by reassuring Jeremiah and his penitent faithful exiles that Yahweh will overthrow the Babylonians, bring his penitent exiles back from Babylon to the land of Canaan, and "restore the fortunes" of his people. Like Jeremiah purchasing the field of his cousin Hanamel, after 70 years, "fields shall be bought" in the land of Canaan. 32:42-44.
A careful study of Jeremiah 32 supports the correct meaning of 31:31-37, and earlier promises in Jeremiah 30-31.

Share YOUR insights and dreams with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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