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Jeremiah 32:2

Context

32:2 Now at that time, 1  the armies of the king of Babylon were besieging Jerusalem. 2  The prophet Jeremiah was confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse 3  attached to the royal palace of Judah.

1 sn Jer 32:2-5 are parenthetical, giving the background for the actual report of what the Lord said in v. 7. The background is significant because it shows that Jeremiah was predicting the fall of the city and the kingdom and was being held prisoner for doing so. Despite this pessimistic outlook, the Lord wanted Jeremiah to demonstrate his assurance of the future restoration (which has been the topic of the two preceding chapters) by buying a field as a symbolic act that the Israelites would again one day regain possession of their houses, fields, and vineyards (vv. 15, 44). (For other symbolic acts with prophetic import see Jer 13, 19.)

2 sn According to Jer 39:1 the siege began in Zedekiah’s ninth year (i.e., in 589/88 b.c.). It had been interrupted while the Babylonian army was occupied with fighting against an Egyptian force that had invaded Judah. During this period of relaxed siege Jeremiah had attempted to go to his home town in Anathoth to settle some property matters, had been accused of treason, and been thrown into a dungeon (37:11-15). After appealing to Zedekiah he had been moved from the dungeon to the courtyard of the guardhouse connected to the palace (37:21) where he remained confined until Jerusalem was captured in 587/86 b.c. (38:28).

map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 tn Heb “the courtyard of the guarding” or “place of guarding.” This expression occurs only in the book of Jeremiah (32:2, 8, 12; 33:1; 37:21; 38:6, 12, 28; 39:14, 15) and in Neh 3:25. It is not the same as an enclosed prison which is where Jeremiah was initially confined (37:15-16; literally a “house of imprisoning” [בֵּית הָאֵסוּר, bet haesur] or “house of confining” [בֵּית הַכֶּלֶא, bet hakkele’]). It is said to have been in the palace compound (32:2) near the citadel or upper palace (Neh 3:25). Though it was a place of confinement (32:2; 33:1; 39:15) Jeremiah was able to receive visitors, e.g., his cousin Hanamel (32:8) and the scribe Baruch (32:12), and conduct business there (32:12). According to 32:12 other Judeans were also housed there. A cistern of one of the royal princes, Malkijah, was located in this courtyard, so this is probably not a “prison compound” as NJPS interpret but a courtyard adjacent to a guardhouse or guard post (so G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 [WBC], 151, and compare Neh 12:39 where reference is made to a Gate of the Guard/Guardhouse) used here for housing political prisoners who did not deserve death or solitary confinement as some of the officials though Jeremiah did.



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