Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Buying the Field of Hanameel

Jeremiah 32:1-27

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.  For then the king of Babylon's army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah's house.” (Jeremiah 32:1-2)

Traditionally historians have set the date of Nebuchadnezzar’s coming to power and defeat of Judah as 605 BC.  Records excavated in Babylon between the mid 1800’s and 1960 indicate that he that he probably came to power about 570 BC instead.  About 565 BC, he defeated Judah, and for three years allowed Jehoiachim to continue as king.  When they rebelled again, he took Jehoiachim captive placing his sun Jehoiachin in power.  Three months later, because they continued to rebel, Jehoiachin was also taken captive and Zedekiah was made king, reigning eleven years, before Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Babylonians for their continual rebellion.  It took the Babylonians about a year to take Jerusalem that last time, during Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year as king, around 552-550 BC.  Zedekiah had had Jeremiah placed in prison, accusing him of treasonous behavior for what he was preaching.

“For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes; And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the LORD: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper. “ (Jeremiah 32:3-5)

For years, Jeremiah had been warning the Jews they should submit to Babylon and not fight them because God was going to allow them to be conquered.  He continued to preach that even as the Babylonian forces surrounded the city, warning the Zedekiah would be taken captive and carried to Babylon where he would be held prisoner until the Lord freed him.  Fighting the Babylonian forces would only make things worse. 

“And Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 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.  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.” (Jeremiah 32:6-8)

With Jerusalem surrounded by the Chaldean army, the Jews were not able to harvest their crops and shortages were driving the price of food through the roof.  Under Jewish law the land could only be leased to those outside the family, and since they were unable to work their fields, no one wanted to lease them.  Jeremiah’s cousin was needing money and approached Jeremiah about buying his field, since he was family and could legally buy it.  Despite the fact that he knew they would be defeated and carried away, unable to work the fields for many years, God directed him to go ahead and buy it. 

“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.  And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the money in the balances.  So I took the evidence of the purchase, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open: 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.” (Jeremiah 32:9-12)

Because he knew it was the Lord directing him, Jeremiah bought the field.  They had the closing right there in the prison with the prison officials and prisoners to serve as witnesses and oversee the transaction and notarize the papers.   The deed was given to Baruch the son of Neriah to hold for safe keeping. 

“And I charged Baruch before them, saying, 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.  For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:13-15)
 Jeremiah then directed Baruch to place the deed and other records in a sealed clay pot where they would be protected from the elements for a long period.  Eventually, the Jews would again possess and work those fields

“Now when I had delivered the evidence of the purchase unto Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed unto the LORD, saying, Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: Which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made thee a name, as at this day; And hast brought forth thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with great terror; And hast given them this land, which thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them: Behold the mounts, they are come unto the city to take it; and the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans, that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence: and what thou hast spoken is come to pass; and, behold, thou seest it.  And thou hast said unto me, O Lord GOD, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.” (Jeremiah 32:16-25)

After closing the deal, Jeremiah prayed.  He remembered that God had done exactly as h promised, delivering them from Egypt and giving them the land of Israel, fighting their battles for them, often miraculously.  As he had warned them, their continued disobedience would result in the land being taken from them and it was in the process of happening, but God had directed him to buy a piece of land because one day they would reoccupy it.  Jeremiah is spending a lot of money for a piece of land that he cannot use at the moment.  It was a little troubling even though he believed God. 

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:26-27)

God reminded him that he is God and nothing is too hard for him.  Even though it seemed impossible at the time, he would enable Jeremiah and his heirs to enjoy the fruits of that field.   

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