Pledge of Restoration.* 1The word came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah,* king of Judah, the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. 2At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, while Jeremiah the prophet was confined to the court of the guard, in the house of the king of Judah.a 3Zedekiah, king of Judah, had confined him there, saying: “How dare you prophesy: Thus says the LORD: I am handing this city over to the king of Babylon that he may capture it.b 4Zedekiah, king of Judah, shall not escape the hands of the Chaldeans: he shall indeed be handed over to the king of Babylon. He shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye.c 5He shall take Zedekiah to Babylon. There he shall remain, until I attend to him—oracle of the LORD. If you fight against the Chaldeans, you cannot win!”d
6* Jeremiah said, This word came to me from the LORD: 7Hanamel, son of your uncle Shallum, will come to you with the offer:e “Purchase my field in Anathoth, since you, as nearest relative, have the first right of purchase.”* 8And, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard and said, “Please purchase my field in Anathoth, in the territory of Benjamin; as nearest relative, you have the first right of possession—purchase it for yourself.” Then I knew this was the word of the LORD. 9So I bought the field in Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, weighing out for him the silver, seventeen shekels of silver.
10When I had written and sealed the deed, called witnesses and weighed out the silver on the scales, 11I accepted the deed of purchase, both the sealed copy, containing title and conditions, and the open copy.* 12I gave this deed of purchase to Baruch, son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase and before all the Judahites sitting around in the court of the guard.f
13In their presence I gave Baruch this charge: 14Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds of purchase, both the sealed and the open deeds, and put them in an earthenware jar,* so they can last a long time. 15For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: They shall again purchase houses and fields and vineyards in this land.
16After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch, son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD: 17Ah, my Lord GOD! You made the heavens and the earth with your great power and your outstretched arm; nothing is too difficult for you.g 18You continue your kindness through a thousand generations; but you repay the ancestors’ guilt upon their children who follow them. Great and mighty God, whose name is LORD of hosts,h 19great in counsel, mighty in deed, whose eyes are fixed on all the ways of mortals, giving to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their deeds:i 20you performed signs and wonders in the land of Egypt and to this day, in Israel and among all peoples, you have made a name for yourself as on this day.j 21You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and great terror. 22And you gave them this land, as you had sworn to their ancestors to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.k 23They went in and took possession of it, but they did not listen to your voice. They did not live by your law; they did not do anything you commanded them to do. Then you made all this evil fall upon them.l 24See, the siegeworks have arrived at this city to capture it; the city is handed over to the Chaldeans who are attacking it, with sword, starvation, and disease. What you threatened has happened—you can see it for yourself.m 25Yet you told me, my Lord GOD: Purchase the field with silver and summon witnesses, when the city has already been handed over to the Chaldeans!
26Then this word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 27I am the LORD, the God of all the living! Is anything too difficult for me? 28Therefore the LORD says: I am handing over this city to the Chaldeans and to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and he shall capture it. 29The Chaldeans who are attacking this city shall go in and set the city on fire, burning it and the houses, on whose roofs incense was burned to Baal and libations were poured out to other gods in order to provoke me.n 30From their youth the Israelites and the Judahites have been doing only what is evil in my eyes; the Israelites have been provoking me with the works of their hands—oracle of the LORD.o 31This city has so stirred my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, that I must put it out of my sight, 32for all the evil the Israelites and Judahites have done to provoke me—they, their kings, their princes, their priests, and their prophets, the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.p 33They turned their backs to me, not their faces; though I taught them persistently, they would not listen or accept correction.q 34Instead they set up their abominations in the house which bears my name in order to defile it.r 35They built high places to Baal in the Valley of Ben-hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech;* I never commanded them to do this, nor did it even enter my mind that they would practice this abomination, so as to bring sin upon Judah.s
36Now, therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city, which you say is being handed over to the king of Babylon by means of the sword, starvation, and disease: 37See, I am gathering them from all the lands to which I drove them in my rising fury and great anger; I will bring them back to this place and settle them here in safety.t 38They shall be my people, and I will be their God.u 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me always, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40With them I will make an everlasting covenant, never to cease doing good to them; I will put fear of me in their hearts so that they never turn away from me.v 41I will take delight in doing good to them: I will plant them firmly in this land, with all my heart and soul.w
42For thus says the LORD: Just as I have brought upon this people all this great evil, so I will bring upon them all the good I have promised them.x 43Fields shall be purchased in this land, about which you say, “It is a wasteland, without human beings or animals, handed over to the Chaldeans.”y 44They will purchase fields with silver, write up deeds, seal them, and have them witnessed in the land of Benjamin, in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, in the cities of Judah and of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah and the Negeb, when I restore their fortunes—oracle of the LORD.z
* [32:1–44] This chapter recounts a prophecy “in action.” At the Lord’s command, Jeremiah fulfills his family duty to purchase the land of his cousin, carrying out all the legal details, even putting the deed away for safekeeping against the day he will have to produce it to verify his ownership of the land. The Lord defines the meaning of this symbolic action: In the future, Judah will be restored and daily life will return to normal.
* [32:7] The first right of purchase: the obligation of the closest relative to redeem the property of a family member in economic distress so that the ancestral land remains within the family (Lv 25:25–28); see note on Ru 2:20.
* [32:11] The sealed copy…and the open copy: the legal deed of sale was written on a scroll, which was then rolled up and sealed; a second scroll containing a copy of the legal deed was then rolled around it and left unsealed so the contents of the legal deed would be accessible without destroying the original seal.
* [32:14] In an earthenware jar: to protect the scroll from drying out and disintegrating. Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in such jars.