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Jeremiah Buys a Field

32 The Lord spoke to me in the tenth year that Zedekiah[a] was king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year that Nebuchadnezzar[b] was king of Babylonia. At that time, the Babylonian army had surrounded Jerusalem, and I was in the prison at the courtyard of the palace guards. Zedekiah had ordered me to be held there because I told everyone that the Lord had said:

I am the Lord, and I am about to let the king of Babylonia conquer Jerusalem. King Zedekiah will be captured and taken to King Nebuchadnezzar, who will speak with him face to face. Then Zedekiah will be led away to Babylonia, where he will stay until I am finished with him. So, if you people of Judah fight against the Babylonians, you will lose. I, the Lord, have spoken.

Later, when I was in prison, the Lord said:

Jeremiah, your cousin Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will visit you. He must sell his field near the town of Anathoth, and because you are his nearest relative, you have the right and the responsibility to buy it and keep it in the family.[c]

Hanamel came, just as the Lord had promised. And he said, “Please buy my field near Anathoth in the territory of the Benjamin tribe. You have the right to buy it, and if you do, it will stay in our family.”

The Lord had told me to buy it from Hanamel, and so I did. The price was seventeen pieces of silver, and I weighed out the full amount on a scale. 10-11 I had two copies of the bill of sale written out, each containing all the details of our agreement. Some witnesses and I signed the official copy, which was folded and tied, before being sealed shut with hot wax.[d] Then I gave Hanamel the silver. 12 And while he, the witnesses, and all the other Jews sitting in the courtyard were still watching, I gave both copies to Baruch son of Neriah.[e]

13-14 I told Baruch that the Lord had said:

Take both copies of this bill of sale, one sealed shut and the other open, and put them in a clay jar so they will last a long time. 15 I am the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, and I promise you that people will once again buy and sell houses, farms, and vineyards in this country.

Jeremiah Questions the Lord

16 Then I prayed:

17 Lord God, you stretched out your mighty arm and made the sky and the earth. You can do anything. 18 You show kindness for a thousand generations,[f] but you also punish people for the sins of their parents. You are the Lord All-Powerful. 19 With great wisdom you make plans, and with your great power you do all the mighty things you planned. Nothing we do is hidden from your eyes, and you reward or punish us as we deserve.

20 You are famous because you worked miracles in Egypt, and you are still working them in Israel and in the rest of the world as well. 21 You terrified the Egyptians with your miracles, and you reached out your mighty arm and rescued your people Israel from Egypt. 22 Then you gave Israel this land rich with milk and honey, just as you had promised our ancestors.

23 But when our ancestors took over the land, they did not obey you. And now you have punished Israel with disaster. 24 Jerusalem is under attack, and we suffer from hunger and disease. The Babylonians have already built dirt ramps up to the city walls, and you can see that Jerusalem will be captured just as you said.

25 So why did you tell me to get some witnesses and buy a field with my silver, when Jerusalem is about to be captured by the Babylonians?

The Lord Explains about the Field

26 The Lord explained:

27 Jeremiah, I am the Lord God. I rule the world, and I can do anything!

28 It is true that I am going to let King Nebuchadnezzar[g] of Babylonia capture Jerusalem. 29 The Babylonian army is already attacking, and they will capture the city and set it on fire. The people of Jerusalem have made me angry by going up to the flat roofs of their houses and burning incense to Baal and offering wine sacrifices to other gods. Now these houses will be burned to the ground!

30-33 The kings and the officials, the priests and the prophets, and everyone else in Israel and Judah have turned from me and made me angry by worshiping idols. Again and again I have tried to teach my people to obey me, but they refuse to be corrected.

I am going to get rid of Jerusalem, because its people have done nothing but evil. 34 They have set up disgusting idols in my temple, and now it isn’t a fit place to worship me. 35 And they led Judah into sin by building places to worship Baal in Hinnom Valley, where they also sacrificed their sons and daughters to the god Molech. I have never even thought of telling them to commit such disgusting sins.

36 Jeremiah, what you said is true. The people of Jerusalem are suffering from hunger and disease, and so the king of Babylonia will be able to capture Jerusalem.

37 I am angry at the people of Jerusalem, and I will scatter them in foreign countries. But someday I will bring them back here and let them live in safety. 38 They will be my people, and I will be their God. 39-41 I will make their thoughts and desires pure. Then they will realize that, for their own good and the good of their children, they must worship only me. They will even be afraid to turn away from me. I will make an agreement with them that will never end, and I won’t ever stop doing good things for them. With all my heart I promise that they will be planted in this land once again. 42 Even though I have brought disaster on the people, I will someday do all these good things for them.

43 Jeremiah, when you bought the field, you showed that fields will someday be bought and sold again. You say that this land has been conquered by the Babylonians and has become a desert, emptied of people and animals. 44 But someday, people will again spend their silver to buy fields everywhere—in the territory of Benjamin, the region around Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, and in the hill country, the foothills to the west, and the Southern Desert. Buyers and sellers and witnesses will sign and seal the bills of sale for the fields. It will happen, because I will give this land back to my people. I, the Lord, have spoken.

The Lord Promises To Give the Land Back to His People

33 1-2 I was still being held prisoner in the courtyard of the palace guards when the Lord told me:

I am the Lord, and I created the whole world.[h] Ask me, and I will tell you things that you don’t know and can’t find out.

4-5 Many of the houses in Jerusalem and some of the buildings at the royal palace have been torn down to be used in repairing the walls to keep out the Babylonian attackers.[i] Now there are empty spaces where the buildings once stood. But I am furious, and these spaces will be filled with the bodies of the people I kill. The people of Jerusalem will cry out to me for help, but they are evil, and I will ignore their prayers.

Then someday, I will heal this place and my people as well, and let them enjoy unending peace.[j] I will give this land to Israel and Judah once again, and I will make them as strong as they were before. They sinned and rebelled against me, but I will forgive them and take away their guilt. When that happens, all nations on earth will see the good things I have done for Jerusalem, and how I have given it complete peace. The nations will celebrate and praise and honor me, but they will also tremble with fear.

10 Jeremiah, you say that this land is a desert without people or animals, and for now, you are right. The towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem are deserted, and people and animals are nowhere to be seen. But someday you will hear 11 happy voices and the sounds of parties and wedding celebrations. And when people come to my temple to offer sacrifices to thank me, you will hear them say:

“We praise you,
    Lord All-Powerful!
You are good to us,
    and your love never fails.”

The land will once again be productive. 12-13 Now it is empty, without people or animals. But when that time comes, shepherds will take care of their flocks in pastures near every town in the hill country, in the foothills to the west, in the Southern Desert, in the land of the Benjamin tribe, and around Jerusalem and the towns of Judah.

I, the Lord, have spoken.

The Lord’s Wonderful Promise

14 The Lord said:

I made a wonderful promise to Israel and Judah,[k] and the days are coming when I will keep it.

15 I promise that the time will come
when I will appoint a king
    from the family of David,
a king who will be honest
    and rule with justice.
16 In those days,
    Judah will be safe;
Jerusalem will have peace
and will be named,
    “The Lord Gives Justice.”

17 The king of Israel will be one of David’s descendants, 18 and there will always be priests from the Levi tribe serving at my altar and offering sacrifices to please me and to give thanks.[l]

19 Then the Lord told me:

20 I, the Lord, have an agreement with day and night, so they always come at the right time. You can’t break the agreement I made with them, 21 and you can’t break the agreements I have made with David’s family and with the priests from the Levi tribe who serve at my altar. A descendant of David will always rule as king of Israel, 22 and there will be more descendants of David and of the priests from the Levi tribe than stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach.

23 The Lord also said:

24 You’ve heard foreigners insult my people by saying, “The Lord chose Israel and Judah, but now he has rejected them, and they are no longer a nation.”

25 Jeremiah, I will never break my agreement with the day and the night or let the sky and the earth stop obeying my commands. 26 In the same way, I will never reject the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or break my promise that they will always have a descendant of David as their king. I will be kind to my people Israel, and they will be successful again.

Jeremiah Warns Zedekiah

34 King Nebuchadnezzar[m] had a large army made up of people from every kingdom in his empire. He and his army were attacking Jerusalem and all the nearby towns, when the Lord told me to say to King Zedekiah:[n]

I am the Lord, and I am going to let Nebuchadnezzar capture this city and burn it down. You will be taken prisoner and brought to Nebuchadnezzar, and he will speak with you face to face. Then you will be led away to Babylonia.

Zedekiah, I promise that you won’t die in battle. You will die a peaceful death. People will mourn when you die, and they will light bonfires in your honor, just as they did for your ancestors, the kings who ruled before you.

I went to Zedekiah and told him what the Lord had said. Meanwhile, the king of Babylonia was trying to break through the walls of Lachish, Azekah, and Jerusalem, the only three towns of Judah that had not been captured.

The People Break a Promise

8-10 King Zedekiah,[o] his officials, and everyone else in Jerusalem made an agreement to free all Hebrew[p] men and women who were slaves. No Jew would keep another as a slave. And so, all the Jewish slaves were given their freedom.

11 But those slave owners changed their minds and forced their former slaves back into slavery.

12 That’s when the Lord told me to say to the people:

13 I am the Lord God of Israel, and I made an agreement with your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, where they had been slaves. 14 As part of this agreement, you must let a Hebrew slave go free after six years of service.

Your ancestors did not obey me, 15-16 but you decided to obey me and do the right thing by setting your Hebrew slaves completely free. You even went to my temple, and in my name you made an agreement to set them free. But you have abused my name, because you broke your agreement and forced your former slaves back into slavery.

17 You have disobeyed me by not giving your slaves their freedom. So I will give you freedom—the freedom to die in battle or from disease or hunger. I will make you disgusting to all other nations on earth.

18 You asked me to be a witness when you made the agreement to set your slaves free. And as part of the ceremony you cut a calf into two parts, then walked between the parts. But you people of Jerusalem have broken that agreement as well as my agreement with Israel. So I will do to you what you did to that calf. 19-20 I will let your enemies take all of you prisoner, including the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the royal officials, the priests, and everyone else who walked between the two parts of the calf. These enemies will kill you and leave your bodies lying on the ground as food for birds and wild animals.

21-22 These enemies are King Nebuchadnezzar[q] of Babylonia and his army. They have stopped attacking Jerusalem, but they want to kill King Zedekiah and his high officials. So I will command them to return and attack again. This time they will conquer the city and burn it down, and they will capture Zedekiah and his officials. I will also let them destroy the towns of Judah, so that no one can live there any longer.

Footnotes

  1. 32.1 Zedekiah: See the note at 1.3.
  2. 32.1 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
  3. 32.7 you have the right. . . in the family: See Leviticus 25.25-32.
  4. 32.10,11 signed the official copy, which was folded and tied, before being sealed shut with hot wax: The signing was actually done by pressing a carved clay stamp (called a “seal”) into the hot wax, leaving the design in the wax.
  5. 32.12 Baruch son of Neriah: Hebrew “Baruch son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah.”
  6. 32.18 for a thousand generations: Or “to thousands of people.”
  7. 32.28 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
  8. 33.1,2 the whole world: One ancient translation; Hebrew “it.”
  9. 33.4,5 have been torn down. . . Babylonian attackers: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  10. 33.6 let them enjoy unending peace: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  11. 33.14 Israel and Judah: See the note at 2.4.
  12. 33.18 sacrifices to please me and to give thanks: See the notes at 14.12.
  13. 34.1 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
  14. 34.2,8-10 Zedekiah: See the note at 1.3.
  15. 34.2,8-10 Zedekiah: See the note at 1.3.
  16. 34.8-10 Hebrew: An earlier term for Israelite and Jewish.
  17. 34.21,22 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.

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