Jeremiah 32:1-2 in the tenth yea of Zedekiah… the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem
Jerusalem was surrounded by high walls to protect it from the enemy. The Babylonians surrounded the city to cut off supplies in the siege leading to a devastating famine inside the walls. The same technique was used by the Romans in their sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The plan was to weaken the city by starvation, build ramparts which would allow the soldiers to get over the walls, and conquer a beleaguered, starving population. The siege would last 18 months, from the 9th year, 10th month to the 11th year 4th month (Jer. 39:1-2).
Jeremiah 32:4-5 Zedekiah… shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king… and he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon
Jeremiah prophesied that Zedekiah would be taken to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Similarly, Ezekiel had prophesied the same thing but with a twist, “I will bring him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet he shall not see it” (Ezek. 12:13). Well, how is it that he shall not see Babylon? News may have reached Jerusalem that Ezekiel had prophesied that the king would never see Babylon while Jeremiah was prophesying he “shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king… and his eyes shall behold his eyes.” It may have seemed as if he prophecies were conflicting until Nebuchadnezzar put out Zedekiah’s eyes and took him to Babylon—his humiliated, blind prisoner—verifying the words of both prophets.
Jeremiah 32:8 Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me… and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth
The Lord had told Jeremiah that his cousin was coming to make this offer, and commanded him to buy it (v. 25). On the surface, the purchase of the field looks like a bad deal for Jeremiah. In about 1 year, Jerusalem and all the surrounding areas will belong to Nebuchadnezzar. The army already has Jerusalem under siege. Jeremiah has been prophesying this for decades. It is not time to buy real estate. This is not a good investment. If Jeremiah had financial advisors, they would have said, “Don’t do it!”
Jeremiah 32:9 I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anatoth
Jeremiah sees his opportunity to teach, to use this purchase as an object lesson for the Jews. He could have rejected the offer and said, “why would I buy land that is going to belong to King Nebuchadnezzar?” That is exactly the point. For decades, he had warned, “the Babylonians are coming, the Babylonians are coming!” Now the city is under siege and the people are starting to believe him—though not enough to repent.
So Jeremiah takes another approach. In addition to prophesying more doom (v. 28-35), he buys the field as a message of hope (v. 36-44)—hope that someday the land of Israel will belong to the Jews again. Someday, that field in Anatoth will be worth more than the seventeen shekels he paid for it. Jeremiah had an audience “before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison” (v. 12). It is time for him to make another dramatic, prophetic statement.
His prayer and soliloquoy, verses 16-44, recounts the Lord’s goodness to the Israelites, their rebellion, the impending capture of the city, etc. But the last and final point is the restoration of Israel in the latter days, “Men shall buy fields for money, and subscribe evidences, and seal them… For I will cause their captivity to return, saith the Lord.” Finally, Jeremiah’s field will be worth its weight—not in silver but in gold. The Lord sets up Jeremiah’s object lesson, his teaching moment, his metaphor for the redemption of scattered Israel, and he takes full advantage.
Jeremiah 32:10-15 I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses
The process for the purchase is interesting. Jeremiah signs the contract, seals it with a personalized wax seal, and then weighs out the money in front of witnesses. The witnesses were to be proof of an honest transaction in case the seller later claimed he was not paid. The contract was sealed but the witness documents were open for public view. The fine print of the transaction was public knowledge but the proof of payment was done, “before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.” Jeremiah couldn’t leave the prison, so he asked his trusted friend Baruch to take the documents and put them in an earthen vessel, much like the dead sea scrolls, that they could be preserved for a long time.
What is the point of this object lesson? That someday the land will be redeemed, “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”
Jeremiah 32:14 put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days
Even if the parchment paper was biodegradable, even if the ink was not going to last forever, the dry climate of Palestine and the earthen vessel to protect the documents from the elements could preserve them for a long time. Proof of this form of preservation is seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls, hidden caves and preserved in clay vessels. Some traditions say it was actually the sound of a rock hitting the clay pot that suggested to the Bedouin boy that he had found something special.
“Sometime in late 1946 or early 1947, Bedouins discovered some ancient leather manuscripts in a cave on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. Over the next decade ten more caves in the general area of Wadi Qumran were also found to contain ancient manuscripts. These Hebrew and Aramaic documents, now called the Dead Sea Scrolls, are the literary remains of an ancient Jewish sect that once lived at Qumran. Most scholars now identify this sect with the Essenes.
“Archeologists have determined that Qumran was inhabited roughly between 130 B.C. and A.D. 68. This means that the Dead Sea Scrolls were being written in the period just before, and perhaps even during, the lifetime of Christ. Naturally, the scrolls add greatly to our knowledge of the ‘theological climate’ of the time.” (Stephen E. Robinson, “Background for the Testaments,” Ensign, Dec. 1982, 27)
Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord God!... there is nothing too hard for thee
Jeremiah has an audience in the court of the prison. He starts with a recitation of God’s great power (v. 17), unbounded mercy (v. 18), and wisdom (v. 19).
Jeremiah 32:27 I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
Spencer W. Kimball
“Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” he asked, when Sarah laughed when she was told that she would have a son (Gen. 18:14). She heard this in the tent door and knew that both Abraham at a hundred years and she at ninety years were past the age of reproduction. She could not bear children. She knew that, as well as it has been known that we could not open doors to many nations.
Brethren, Sarah did have a son from Abraham, the father of nations. Also, to Jeremiah the Lord said: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27).
If he commands, certainly we can fulfill.
· We remember the exodus of the children of Israel crossing the uncrossable Red Sea.
· We remember Cyrus diverting a river and taking the impregnable city of Babylon.
· We remember Father Lehi getting to the promised land across an uncrossable ocean.
· We remember the Revolutionary War in this land and the power of God that gave America triumph.
I believe the Lord can do anything he sets his mind to do. (“The Uttermost Parts of the Earth,” Ensign, July 1979, 9)
Harold B. Lee
Whenever there may be doubts in the minds of our people as to whether or not certain things can be done, I recall the answer the Lord made to Abraham and his wife Sarah when the Lord told him and his wife that they would have a son and that through that son there would come a great posterity. Abraham and his wife laughed, reminding the Lord that Sarah, at ninety years of age, was past the childbearing years. Then "the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?" And then listen to His question. "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:13-14.)
If we could just always remember that, that this is the Lord's work, and when He gives a commandment to the children of men, He provides a way by which that commandment can be realized. If His children will do all that they can to help themselves, then the Lord will bless their efforts. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 601)
Jeremiah 32: Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it
Now the king of Babylon was very intent and earnest upon the siege of Jerusalem; and he erected towers upon great banks of earth, and from them repelled those that stood upon the walls: he also made a great number of such banks round about the whole city, the height of which was equal to those walls. However, those that were within bore the siege with courage and alacrity, for they were not discouraged, either by famine or by the pestilential distemper. But were of cheerful minds in the prosecution of the war, although those miseries within oppressed them also: and they did not suffer themselves to be terrified, either by the contrivances of the enemy, or by their engines of war, but contrived still different engines to oppose all the other withal, till indeed there seemed to be an entire struggle between the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem, who had the greater sagacity and skill… and this siege they endured for eighteen months.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book X, 8:1)
Jeremiah 32:29 they have offered incense unto Baal, and poured out drink offerings unto other gods
Incense was burned in the temple of Solomon according to the Law of Moses (Ex. 30:1-10). Symbolically, the sweet smell of the incense rising from the temple represented the prayers of the righteous ascending to the throne of God (Rev. 8:3-4).
Unfortunately, in Jerusalem, there were many more altars of incense for Baal than there were for God. Unabashed, they would burn the incense from the housetops for their neighbors to see. Of course, they all loved Moses, but not Moses’ God. What is the 1st of the 10 commandments? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). They couldn’t even keep the first commandment which inevitably means they couldn’t keep the next nine.
Jeremiah 32:35 cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech
“Perhaps the most dread deity to whom the children of Israel surprisingly turned at times was Molech, variously called Moloch, Melech, and Milcolm. His name means ‘the King.’ It was to him that children were sacrificed by fire, even by some Israelite kings: they caused ‘their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech.’ Such things, Jeremiah the prophet said, the Lord never did require of Israel. (See Jer. 32:35; also Jer. 7:31.) Why would Israel turn from the gracious benevolence of Jehovah to such a dread deity? No doubt it was for urgent economic, social, and political reasons.” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Dec. 1981, 63)
Jeremiah 32:38-39 they shall be my people, and I will be their God; And I will give them one heart, and one way… for the good of them
Neal A. Maxwell
In His selfless plan, the Lord doeth nothing save it be for the benefit of the children of men. (See 2 Ne. 26:24.) He labors, lovingly and constantly, as Moses and Jeremiah declared, “for our good always.” ( Deut. 6:24; see also Jer. 32:38–40.) In His grand design, His “work” and “glory” are “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” ( Moses 1:39.) Thus, even when we truly learn to love God, we must humbly acknowledge that He loved us first. (See 1 Jn. 4:19.)
For today’s spiritually attuned, the reassurances will be there, as with Elisha’s young servant. Encircled by an outnumbering enemy, the young man rightly sought reassurance from the prophet and seer, who told him, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” ( 2 Kgs. 6:16.) But the young man could count, and, clearly, it did not look that way to him—until after the prophet’s prayer in his behalf. Then, the young man’s eyes were opened, and he saw the mountain filled with horses and chariots of fire. (See 2 Kgs. 6:17.)
All will be well now, as anciently, because the Lord’s covenant keepers have His echoing assurance:
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God:
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:
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good. ( Jer. 32:38–40.)
I so testify and assure in Apostolic authority and in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen. (Ensign, Aug. 1984, 21, 23)
Russell M. Nelson
When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us… His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.
The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. (Ensign, Oct. 2011, 89)
Jeremiah 32:40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them
“Jeremiah foresaw the return of the Jews and the tribes of the Northern Kingdom to their respective lands of inheritance: ‘Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger. …
“’And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them’ (Jer. 32:37, 40). ‘They shall go, and seek the Lord their God … saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten’ (Jer. 50:4–5).
“Today, centuries later, the prophecies of a repentant bride and a loving, forgiving husband are coming to fruition. Reconciliation has taken place, and the wedding is at hand. As the bride awaits the coming of the Bridegroom, she continues to make herself ready. Under the direction of the Lord, ‘the people will be so perfected and purified, ennobled, exalted, and dignified in their feelings and so truly humble and most worthy, virtuous and intelligent that they will be fit, when caught up, to associate with that Zion that shall come down from God out of heaven.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 10:147)
“Since the sacred institution of marriage was well understood by the Hebrew people, the marriage metaphor appealed to their tradition of commitments by covenant and oath, and the metaphor further stressed the seriousness with which the subject was being approached. The point was underscored when the Lord reminded Israel that they were a chosen people who had committed themselves to him by covenant just as married couples commit to each other by covenant.” (Richard K. Hart, “The Marriage Metaphor,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 27)
Jeremiah 32:41-42 I will rejoice over them… with my whole heart and with my whole soul
The following is an excerpt from a letter (8/30/15), the author sent his missionary son:
“Working on the website tonight, I found some prophecies from Jeremiah that reminded me how amazing it will be when the Lord comes again. He is going to set Jerusalem up has his home base and he is going to enjoy being surrounded by people who love him. Jeremiah wrote, “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.” I don’t ever remember the Lord saying he would do anything with his whole heart and whole soul—that is something! The Lord further promises he will “bring upon them all the good that I have promised them” (Jer. 32:41-42). That is my thought for this e-mail. Don’t forget that the Lord will bring upon you all the good that he has promised you. Don’t be afraid to promise investigators that if they repent, the Lord will bring upon them all the good he has promised them. Not all of these promises apply to this life but my testimony is that they will all be fulfilled, either in this life or the next. So you are doing a work which has inestimable value. It seems mundane. Maybe the most exciting part of your day is to catch a lizard or play a practical joke on your companion, but someday the Lord will tell someone, “I sent you my messenger, Elder Benjamin Richards, to testify of these things and you rejected his message. He was my representative and he was willing to share my gospel with you. When you rejected him, you rejected me. Now you can’t complain that no one came to warn you. I sent him to your small town in Mexico to invite you to repent and be baptized. It’s not my fault you rejected him.”
Those who have been rejected in the service of the Lord have the right to receive the blessings promised. The Lord will someday bless them with “all the good that I have promised them.” And he will do it as he has said, “with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”