6. And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
6. Et dixit Jeremias, Fuit sermo Jehovae ad me dicendo,
7. Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum, thine uncle, shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it
7. Ecce Chanameel filius Sellum patrui tui yenit ad to (aut, venturus est ad to) qui dicet, Eme tibi agrum meum qui est in Anathoth; quia tibi jus affinitatis (vertunt, jus redemptionis, sed redemptio illa refertur ad affinitatem, vel cognationem, jus ignitur cognationis) ad emendum.
8. So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.
8. Et venit ad me Chanameel filius patrui mei, sicut loquutus fuerat Jehova, ad atrium custodiae, et dixit mihi, Eme agedum agrum meum qui est in Anathoth, quod oppidum est in terra Benjamin, quia tibi jus haereditatis (vel, possessionis; yrs significat proprie haereditario jure possidere) et tibi redemptio; eme tibi: tunc cognovi quod hic esset sermo Jehovae.
9. And I bought the field of Hanameel, my uncle's son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.
9. Et emi agrum ab ChanameeI filio patrui mei qui erat in Anathoth, et appendi ei pecuniam, septem siclos et decem nunmxos argentcos.
10. And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.
10. Et scripsi in libro et obsignavi, et contestatus sum testes, et appendi pecuniam in statem (vel, in lancibus; est in auribus, sed metaphorice trutinam in duali numero vocant aures)
11. So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open:
11. Et sumpsi librum emptionis obsignatum ex praescripto et ritu (vel, more, vel, statuto) et apertum.
12. And I gave the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the sight of Hanameel, mine uncle's son, and in the presence of the witnesses that subscribed the book of the purchase, before all the Jews that sat in the court of the prison.
12. EL dedi librum emptionis Baruch filio Neriae filii Maassiae coram oculis Chanameel patruelis mei, et coram oculis testium qui scripti erant in libro emptionis, coram oculis omnium Judaeorum qui sedebant in atrio custodiae;
13. And I charged Baruch before them, saying,
13. Et praecepi Baruch coram oculis ipsorum, dicendo,
14. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.
14. Sic dicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Sume Flbros istos, librum emptionis hunc et obsignatum et librum apertum (hoc est, tam obsignatum quam apertum hunt librum) et pone cos in vase testacco, ut perstent ad multos dies, (nunc sequitur applicatio visionis:)
15. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.
15. Quia sic elicit Jehova exercituum, Deus Israel, Adhuc ement domos et agros et vineas in terra hac.
The whole of this passage ought to be read together, for the Prophet at large explains how and by what symbol this prophecy had been confirmed. Now the purpose of the whole is to shew that after a long time the Jews would return to their own country, for God would restore them, and their captivity would have an end. God's design, then, was to give them a hope of deliverance, but yet they were admonished to wait patiently for the end of their exile.
Let us now come to the external symbol. The Prophet was commanded to buy a field of his uncle's son. Now this appeared strange, for the enemies had taken possession of that part of the country, and none of the Jews could then venture to go out to their own fields. As then they were deprived of the very sight of their own fields, the Prophet must have appeared to have been beside himself when he bought a field in the possession of enemies. But in this way God intended to shew, that after the Jews had for a time been deprived of the possession of the land, they would again return to it, so that every one would recover his own right, and thus everything would become completely their own, that is, after God had shewed them mercy.
But in the first place, let us see whether this was, as they say, a naked vision, or a real transaction. Some think that it was exhibited to Jeremiah by the prophetic Spirit; but it may be easily gathered from the context that the field was actually bought. It is first said, that the word came to Jeremiah; but shortly after it is added, that after his uncle's son came, Jeremiah was informed that the whole business was directed by God. God then foretold the Prophet what was to be, Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum, thine uncle, shall come to thee, and shall offer to sell his field to thee. This is what God said to the Prophet; and thus far we may say, that Jeremiah was informed of what was to be either by a dream or a vision; but when he afterwards adds, that Hanameel himself came, and that Jeremiah testifies that he now knew that it was from the Lord, there is no doubt but that it is a real narrative. God then inducedHanameel to come to Jeremiah and to offer him the field on sale, and to ask him to buy it, because he was the next heir, and therefore had the right of redemption. We then perceive that it was a communication from above, but then the reality was connected with it, for Hanameel came and sold the field before witnesses; and all this was necessary, not so much on account of Jeremiah as of the whole people, and especially of the faithful, for whom this prophecy was particularly designed; for God did not intend this to be a common treasure, but laid it up for his chosen people, as we may gather from the conclusion.
Before Hanameel then came, the Prophet was instructed that nothing was done unadvisedly, but that God had arranged and ordered the whole. He was then commanded to buy the field, and as it were to cast away his money; for who would not have said that it was the same thing as to throw it away? And then we are to notice a circumstance as to the time; for the Prophet was then in danger of his life, to what purpose then was the field to him? We have also said that he could not have a free access to it, had he not been shut up in prison; for he could not have ventured to go out of the city. It was then a most strange and ridiculous purchase according to the judgment of the flesh; for Jeremiah squandered away his money, and the possession of the field was only imaginary. But yet as God would have him to buy it, he spared not his money, but purchased the field from his uncle's son.
He then says, that Hanameel his uncle's son came, as Jehovah had spoken, that he came into the court of the prison, and that he spoke to him as God had foretold. As to the end of the verse, it may seem strange that the Prophet says, that he now knew that the word came from God: for if he before doubted, where would be the certainty as to the prophetic spirit? He had already received a vision; he ought to have embraced what he knew had been foretold to him from above, even without any hesitation: but it appears that he was in suspense and perplexity. It then seems an evidence of unbelief, that he did not put a full and all entire trust in God's testimony, and was not fully persuaded as to the heavenly oracle, until he saw the whole thing really accomplished. But it is right to distinguish between the knowledge received from the revelation of the Spirit and experimental knowledge, as they say. The Prophet therefore did not then for the first time learn that God had spoken, but as he was confirmed in the certainty of his faith, and in the thing itself, there is no inconsistency; for nothing is taken away from the credit and authority of God's word, when the reality and experience confirm us; and thus God often has a regard to the weakness of his people. Jeremiah then relied on God's oracle, and was fully persuaded that he was directed from above to buy the field; but afterwards, when Hanameel came to him, the event was as it were the sealing of the vision: then the truth of God was more and more confirmed in the heart of the Prophet. This, as I have said, was experimental knowledge, which detracts nothing from the credibility of the word, but is rather a help and a comfort to human infirmity. In this sense it was that he said, that he now knew it; and thus he intended also to make others to believe the prophecy. For when the faithful compare a vision with its accomplishment, this consent and harmony, so to speak, avails not a little to confirm their faith, that as when in one part they hear that God had spoken, and when in another they see that what the Prophet had been taught was really fulfilled.
He afterwards adds, that he bought the field of Hanameel his uncle's son, which was in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin There is nothing superfluous in these words, for though the Prophet speaks of places well known, yet he had a regard to the time of the purchase, for the land of Benjamin was then in the power of enemies: the Jews had been reduced to such straits that they were not safe at Jerusalem. Anathoth was a village, as it was well known, exposed to the ravages of enemies, and was seized on as a prey at their first coming. And he adds, in the land of Benjamin, for it was nigh the borders of Judah, but it had been forsaken by its inhabitants, and all had fled to Jerusalem. As then the land of Benjamin had no inhabitant, it was by no means reasonable for the Prophet to pay even the smallest sum for a field there.
It may now be asked, how could Hanameel, who was of the Levitical order, sell a field, for we know that fields did not belong to the Levites, and that they had tithes for their inheritance. (Numbers 18:21) But this is to be taken for a suburban field, for they had the suburbs, and each had a meadow: they neither ploughed nor reaped, nor was it indeed lawful for them, according to the law, to labor in agriculture, but they fed cattle and sheep: and this is proved by the smallness of the sum given; for what was the field sold for? for seven shekels and ten pieces of silver. We hence see that it was not a large field, but only a meadow like a garden; for the price would have been larger, had it been some acres of land. Then the difficulty here is easily removed, for Hanameel sold to Jeremiah a small meadow, as every Levite had in the suburbs a meadow to feed his sheep or his cattle; at the same time none of them had large herds, but each had a cow or two. This, then, is what we are to understand by the field.
The Prophet adds, that he wrote a book, that is, the writing of the purchase; for sphr sepher, means in Hebrew, not only a volume, but what we call a document, and the Latins tablets, (tabulas) Then he says that the writing of the purchase was made, and then it was sealed, not as we do by appending a seal to it, but it was closed up, as the custom then was. He also adds, according to the law and custom; and at last he says that another writing was made which remained open; and it is thought that the open writing means what we call a copy; and so the sealed writing was deposited in a chest, and the open copy could be referred to at any time. Though the Prophet alludes to a common custom, yet I doubt not but that he wrote this prophecy on rolls, one sealed and the other open, in order that those who were then living might receive some benefit from his doctrine, and also that the authentic copy, or the original itself, might remain for posterity, as we shall hereafter see. And doubtless God not only intended to strengthen the hope of the faithful after the completed time of exile, as this prophecy would he dormant for seventy years; but he designed also that it should be then of use, so as to be a support to them in their sufferings. There was also another benefit to be derived from this prophecy, even that the Jews while in exile might begin to entertain hope, and remembering this vision, might feel assured that God would be their Deliverer, according to what he had promised.
This then was the reason why two writings of the purchase were made, the sealed and the open. The open had a present benefit, as it would make the faithful to go more willingly into exile, and calmly to submit to the chastisement allotted to them by God; and for this reason the Prophecy was to be open to all. It was also sealed, in order that after the lapse of seventy years it might animate the godly, and inspire them with the hope of their promised deliverance. This, therefore, is the reason, as I think, why the Prophet relates that he made a writing and sealed it, and then that he made another writing which remained open.
He afterwards adds, that he gave both to his scribe Baruch, the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, in the presence of Hanameel, and in the presence of the witnesses who had subscribed the writings, and in the presence of all who stood there, that is, in the court of the prison. Hence we may again plainly conclude, that he is narrating a real history, and not a vision exhibited to him: the seller, Hanameel, was present together with witnesses and other Jews; and he says that he gave up the writing with certain orders, for otherwise it would have been merely the delivering up of a book. If he had only deposited it with Baruch, the people would have learnt nothing; but the orders are added, I charged Baruch, saying, etc. We hence may also conclude, that this oracle was given to the Prophet, not only that it might continue for posterity, even after the time of exile was completed, but that it might also be then published and made known to all the Jews. He then says, Thus saith Jehovah He had not yet shewn the design of the prophecy; but when he said that the affair was carried on by the command of God, he rendered them all attentive. Take, he says, these writings, and put them in an earthen or a potter's vessel It seems strange that he did not bid him to put them in another kind of vessel, for that vessel might become decayed, and so the writings might have perished. But we know that even the most precious treasures are deposited in earthen vessels. It is then no wonder that God commanded the prophecy to be put in an earthen vessel. Were any one disposed to understand something more refined, it might be said, that the promise, which apparently was not very firm, was an earthen vessel; for what is more frail than a voice which is dissipated into air? The Jews were driven into exile; they had heard from the mouth of Jeremiah, that the prefixed period was seventy years: but they might, in the meantime have despaired, since only the sound of the voice had reached their ears. However this may be, since the oracle, which was a pledge of deliverance, had been laid up in an earthen vessel, it remained safe and undecayed, because the treasure had been deposited there by God's command.
He says, That they may continue for many days By these words he intimates that the prophecy would not only be profitable to the Jews, who were to be driven soon after into captivity, but also to their posterity, who were not yet born, and that they might know that this prophecy would stand valid after their death, for we ought not to measure the faithfulness of God by the extent of our life. This, then, was the reason why this clause was added: the prophecy was to be preserved in earthen vessels, that it might remain safe and secure for many days, that is, until God delivered his people.