Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CERTIFY TO THE
1. tenth year--The siege of Jerusalem had already begun, in the tenth
month of the ninth year of Zedekiah
2. in . . . court of . . . prison--that is, in the open space occupied
by the guard, from which he was not allowed to depart, but where any of
his friends might visit him
Jer 38:13, 28).
Marvellous obstinacy, that at the time when they were experiencing the
truth of Jeremiah's words in the pressure of the siege, they should
still keep the prophet in confinement [CALVIN].
The circumstances narrated
occurred at the beginning of the siege, when Jeremiah foretold the
capture of the city
Jer 34:1-7; 39:1).
He was at that time put into free custody in the court of the prison.
At the raising of the siege by Pharaoh-hophra, Jeremiah was on the
point of repairing to Benjamin, when he was cast into "the dungeon,"
but obtained leave to be removed again to the court of the prison
When there he urged the Jews, on the second advance of the Chaldeans to
the siege, to save themselves by submission to Nebuchadnezzar
(Jer 38:2, 3);
in consequence of this the king, at the instigation of the princes, had
him cast into a miry dungeon
again he was removed to the prison court at the intercession of a
where he remained till the capture of the city
when he was liberated
&c.; Jer 40:1,
4. his eyes shall behold his eyes--that is, only before reaching
Babylon, which he was not to see.
Jer 39:6, 7
harmonizes this prophecy
with the seemingly opposite prophecy,
"He shall not see."
5. visit him--in a good sense
referring to the honor paid Zedekiah at his death and burial
(Jer 34:4, 5).
Perhaps, too, before his death he was treated by Nebuchadnezzar with
though ye fight . . . shall not prosper--
6. Jeremiah said--resuming the thread of
which was interrupted by the parenthesis
7. son of Shallum thine uncle--therefore, Jeremiah's first cousin.
field . . . in Anathoth--a sacerdotal city: and so having one thousand
cubits of suburban fields outside the wall attached to it
(Nu 35:4, 5).
The prohibition to sell these suburban fields
applied merely to their alienating them from Levites to another tribe;
so that this chapter does not contravene that prohibition. Besides,
what is here meant is only the purchase of the use of the field till
the year of jubilee. On the failure of the owner, the next of kin had
the right of redeeming it
&c.; Ru 4:3-6).
8. Then I knew--Not that Jeremiah previously doubted the reality of
the divine communication, but, the effect following it, and the
prophet's experimentally knowing it, confirmed his faith and was the
seal to the vision. The Roman historian,
FLORUS (2.6), records a similar
instance: During the days that Rome was being besieged by Hannibal, the
very ground on which he was encamped was put up for sale at Rome, and
found a purchaser; implying the calm confidence of the ultimate issue
entertained by the Roman people.
9. seventeen shekels of silver--As the shekel was only
2s. 4d.., the whole would be under £2, a rather
small sum, even taking into account the fact of the Chaldean occupation
of the land, and the uncertainty of the time when it might come to
Jeremiah or his heirs. Perhaps the "seven shekels," which in the
Hebrew (see Margin) are distinguished from the "ten
pieces of silver," were shekels of gold
10. subscribed--I wrote in the deed, "book of purchase"
weighed--coined money was not in early use; hence money was
11. evidence . . . sealed . . . open--Two deeds were drawn up in a
contract of sale; the one, the original copy, witnessed and sealed with
the public seal; the other not so, but open, and therefore less
authoritative, being but a copy.
GATAKER thinks that the purchaser
sealed the one with his own seal; the other he showed to witnesses
that they might write their names on the back of it and know the
contents; and that some details, for example, the conditions and time of
redemption were in the sealed copy, which the parties might not
choose to be known to the witnesses, and which were therefore not in the
open copy. The sealed copy, when opened after the seventy years'
captivity, would greatly confirm the faith of those living at that time.
The "law and custom" refer, probably, not merely to the sealing up of
the conditions and details of purchase, but also to the law of
redemption, according to which, at the return to Judea, the deed would
show that Jeremiah had bought the field by his right as next of kin
12. Baruch--Jeremiah's amanuensis and agent
before all--In sales everything clandestine was avoided; publicity
was required. So here, in the court of prison, where Jeremiah was
confined, there were soldiers and others, who had free access to him,
14. in an earthen vessel--that the documents might not be injured by
the moisture of the surrounding earth; at the same time, being buried,
they could not be stolen, but would remain as a pledge of the Jews'
deliverance until God's time should come.
Jer 32:24, 25, 37, 43, 44).
16. Jeremiah, not comprehending how God's threat of destroying Judah
could be reconciled with God's commanding him to purchase land in it as
if in a free country, has recourse to his grand remedy against
17. hast made . . . heaven--Jeremiah extols God's creative power, as
a ground of humility on his part as man: It is not my part to call Thee,
the mighty God, to account for Thy ways (compare
God's reply exactly accords with Jeremiah's prayer
This is taken from the decalogue
(Ex 20:5, 6).
This is a second consideration to check hasty judgments as to God's
ways: Thou art the gracious and righteous Judge of the world.
19. counsel . . . work--devising . . . executing
eyes . . . open upon all--
to give . . . according to . . . ways--
20. even unto this day--Thou hast given "signs" of Thy power from
the day when Thou didst deliver Israel out of Egypt by mighty miracles,
down to the present time [MAURER].
CALVIN explains it, "memorable even
unto this day."
among other men--not in Israel only, but among foreign peoples also.
Compare for "other" understood,
made thee a name--
as at this day--a name of power, such as Thou hast at this day.
(Ps 136:11, 12).
22. given . . . didst swear--God gave it by a gratuitous covenant,
not for their deserts.
a land flowing with milk and
23. all . . . thou commandedst . . . all this evil--Their punishment
was thus exactly commensurate with their sin. It was not fortuitous.
24. mounts--mounds of earth raised as breastworks by the besieging
army, behind which they employed their engines, and which they gradually
pushed forward to the walls of the city.
behold, thou seest it--connected with
Thou seest all this with Thine own eyes, and yet (what seems
inconsistent with it) Thou commandest me to buy a field.
25. for the city, &c.--rather, "though," &c.
27. Jehovah retorts Jeremiah's own words: I am indeed, as thou sayest
the God and Creator of "all flesh," and "nothing is too hard for Me";
thine own words ought to have taught thee that, though Judea and
Jerusalem are given up to the Chaldeans now for the sins of the Jews,
yet it will not be hard to Me, when I please, to restore the
state so that houses and lands therein shall be possessed in safety
29. burn . . . houses upon whose roofs . . . incense unto Baal--retribution in kind. They burnt incense to Baal, on the houses, so
the houses shall be burnt
The god of fire was the object of their worship; so fire shall be the
instrument of their punishment.
to provoke me--indicating the design, not merely the
event. They seemed to court God's "anger," and purposely
to "provoke" Him.
30. have . . . done--literally, "have been doing"; implying
only . . . evil . . . only provoked me--They have been doing
nothing else but evil; their sole aim seems to have been to
their youth--the time when they were in the wilderness, having just
before come into national existence.
31. provocation of mine anger--literally, "for mine
anger." CALVIN, therefore, connects these words
with those at the end of the verse, "this city has been to me an
object for mine anger (namely, by reason of the provocations
&c.), that I should remove it," &c. Thus, there will not be the
repetition of the sentiment,
as in English Version; the Hebrew also favors this
rendering. However, Jeremiah delights in repetitions. In English
Version the words, "that I should remove it," &c., stand
independently, as the result of what precedes. The time is ripe for
taking vengeance on them
from the day that they built it--Solomon completed the building of
the city; and it was he who, first of the Jewish kings, turned to
idolatry. It was originally built by the idolatrous Canaanites.
32. priests . . . prophets--
(Ne 9:32, 34).
Hence, learn, though ministers of God apostatize, we must remain
(Jer 2:27; 7:13).
(Jer 7:30, 31;
35. cause . . . pass through . . . fire--By way of purification,
they passed through with bare feet
Molech--meaning "king"; the same as Milcom
I commanded . . . not--This cuts off from the superstitious the plea
of a good intention. All "will-worship" exposes to God's wrath
(Col 2:18, 23).
36. And now therefore--rather, "But now, nevertheless." Notwithstanding
that their guilt deserves lasting vengeance, God, for the elect's sake
and for His covenant's sake, will, contrary to all that might have been
expected, restore them.
ye say, It shall be delivered into . . . king of Babylon--The reprobate
pass from the extreme of self-confidence to that of despair of God's
fulfilling His promise of restoring them.
37. (See on
The "all" countries implies a future restoration of Israel more
universal than that from Babylon.
(Jer 30:22; 24:7).
39. one heart--all seeking the Lord with one accord, in contrast
to their state when only scattered individuals sought Him
(Eze 11:19, 20;
for . . . good of them--
(Jer 31:31, 33;
not depart from me--never yet fully realized as to the Israelites.
I will not turn away from them . . . good--
Jehovah compares Himself to a sedulous preceptor following his pupils
everywhere to direct their words, gestures.
put my fear in . . . hearts . . . not depart from me--Both the
conversion and perseverance of the saints are the work of God alone, by
the operation of the Holy Spirit.
41. rejoice over them--
Isa 62:5; 65:19;
plant . . . assuredly--rather, "in stability," that is, permanently,
The restoration from Babylon was only a slight foretaste of the grace
to be expected by Israel at last through Christ.
whereof ye say, It is desolate--
44. Referring to the forms of contract
Benjamin--specified as Anathoth; Jeremiah's place of residence where
the field lay
was in it.