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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.

Jeremiah 32:8

Context
32:8 Now it happened just as the Lord had said! My cousin Hanamel 4  came to me in the courtyard of the guardhouse. He said to me, ‘Buy my field which is at Anathoth in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. Buy it for yourself since you are entitled as my closest relative to take possession of it for yourself.’ When this happened, I recognized that the Lord had indeed spoken to me.

Jeremiah 32:12

Context
32:12 I took both copies of the deed of purchase 5  and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. I gave them to him in the presence 6  of my cousin 7  Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase, and all the Judeans who were housed in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

Jeremiah 33:1

Context
The Lord Promises a Second Time to Restore Israel and Judah

33:1 The Lord spoke 8  to Jeremiah a second time while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse. 9 

Jeremiah 37:21

Context
37:21 Then King Zedekiah ordered that Jeremiah be committed to the courtyard of the guardhouse. He also ordered that a loaf of bread 10  be given to him every day from the baker’s street until all the bread in the city was gone. So Jeremiah was kept 11  in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

Jeremiah 38:6

Context
38:6 So the officials 12  took Jeremiah and put him in the cistern 13  of Malkijah, one of the royal princes, 14  that was in the courtyard of the guardhouse. There was no water in the cistern, only mud. So when they lowered Jeremiah into the cistern with ropes he sank in the mud. 15 

Jeremiah 38:12

Context
38:12 Ebed Melech 16  called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags and worn-out clothes under your armpits to pad the ropes. 17  Jeremiah did as Ebed Melech instructed. 18 

Jeremiah 38:28

Context
38:28 So Jeremiah remained confined 19  in the courtyard of the guardhouse until the day Jerusalem 20  was captured.

The Fall of Jerusalem and Its Aftermath

The following events occurred when Jerusalem 21  was captured. 22 

Jeremiah 39:14-15

Context
39:14 sent and had Jeremiah brought from the courtyard of the guardhouse. They turned him over to Gedaliah, 23  the son of Ahikam and the grandson of Shaphan, to take him home with him. 24  But Jeremiah stayed among the people. 25 

Ebed Melech Is Promised Deliverance because of His Faith

39:15 26 Now the Lord had spoken to Jeremiah while he was still confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse, 27 

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.

4 tn Heb “And according to the word of the Lord my cousin Hanamel came to me to the courtyard of the guardhouse and said, ‘…’” The sentence has been broken down to conform better with contemporary English style.

5 tn Heb “the deed, the purchase.” This is a case of apposition of species in place of the genitive construction (cf. GKC 423 §131.b and compare the usage in Exod 24:5).

6 tn Heb “I took the deed of purchase, both that which was sealed [and contained] the order and the regulations and that which was open [i.e., unsealed], and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch…in the presence of my cousin Hanamel and in the presence of…and in the presence of….” It is awkward to begin a sentence with “I took…” without finishing the thought, and the long qualifiers in v. 12 make that sentence too long. The sentence is broken up in accordance with contemporary English style. The reference to the “deed of purchase” in v. 12 should be viewed as a plural consisting of both written and sealed copies as is clear from v. 11 and also v. 14. Part of the confusion is due to the nature of this document which consisted of a single papyrus scroll, half of which was rolled up and sealed and the other half which was left “opened” or unsealed. J. Bright (Jeremiah [AB], 237-38) is probably incorrect in assuming that the copies were duplicate since the qualification “containing the order of transfer and the regulations” is only applied to the appositional participle, “the sealed one [or copy].”

sn Aramaic documents from a slightly later period help us understand the nature of such deeds. The document consisted of a single papyrus sheet divided in half. One half contained all the particulars and was tightly rolled up, bound with strips of cloth or thread, sealed with wax upon which the parties affixed their seal, and signed by witnesses. The other copy consisted of an abstract and was left loosely rolled and unsealed (i.e., open to be consulted at will). If questions were raised about legality of the contract then the sealed copy could be unsealed and consulted.

7 tc The translation follows a number of Hebrew mss and the Greek and Syriac version in reading “the son of my uncles (= my cousin; בֶּן דֹּדִי, ben dodi).” The majority of Hebrew mss do not have the word “son of (בֶּן).”

8 sn The introductory statement here ties this incident in with the preceding chapter which was the first time that the Lord spoke to him about the matters discussed here. There is no indication of how much time passed between the two incidents though it appears that the situation has worsened somewhat (cf. v. 4).

9 tn Heb “And the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time…, saying.”

10 tn Heb “And/Then King Zedekiah ordered and they committed Jeremiah to [or deposited…in] the courtyard of the guardhouse and they gave to him a loaf of bread.” The translation has been structured the way it has to avoid the ambiguous “they” which is the impersonal subject which is sometimes rendered passive in English (cf. GKC 460 §144.d). This text also has another example of the vav (ו) + infinitive absolute continuing a finite verbal form (וְנָתֹן [vÿnaton] = “and they gave”; cf. GKC 345 §113.y and see Jer 32:44; 36:23).

11 tn Heb “Stayed/Remained/ Lived.”

12 tn Heb “they.”

13 sn A cistern was a pear-shaped pit with a narrow opening. Cisterns were cut or dug in the limestone rock and lined with plaster to prevent seepage. They were used to collect and store rain water or water carried up from a spring.

14 tn Heb “the son of the king.” See the translator’s note on Jer 36:26 for the rendering here.

15 tn Heb “And they let Jeremiah down with ropes and in the cistern there was no water, only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” The clauses have been reordered and restructured to create a more natural and smoother order in English.

16 tn Heb “Ebed Melech the Ethiopian.” The words “the Ethiopian” are unnecessary and are not repeated in the translation because he has already been identified as such in vv. 7, 10.

17 tn Heb “under the joints of your arms under the ropes.” The two uses of “under” have different orientations and are best reflected by “between your armpits and the ropes” or “under your armpits to pad the ropes.”

18 tn Or “Jeremiah did so.” The alternate translation is what the text reads literally.

19 tn Heb “And Jeremiah stayed/remained in the courtyard of the guardhouse…” The translation once again intends to reflect the situation. Jeremiah had a secret meeting with the king at the third entrance to the temple (v. 14). He was returned to the courtyard of the guardhouse (cf. v. 13) after the conversation with the king where the officials came to question him (v. 27). He was not sent back to the dungeon in Jonathan’s house as he feared, but was left confined in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

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

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

22 tc The precise meaning of this line and its relation to the context are somewhat uncertain. This line is missing from the Greek and Syriac versions and from a few Hebrew mss. Some English versions and commentaries omit it as a double writing of the final words of the preceding line (see, e.g., REB; W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:268). Others see it as misplaced from the beginning of 39:3 (see, e.g., NRSV, TEV, J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 245). The clause probably does belong syntactically with 39:3 (i.e., כַּאֲשֶׁר [kaasher] introduces a temporal clause which is resumed by the vav consecutive on וַיָּבֹאוּ (vayyavou; see BDB 455 s.v. כַּאֲשֶׁר 3), but it should not be moved there because there is no textual evidence for doing so. The intervening verses are to be interpreted as parenthetical, giving the background for the events that follow (see, e.g., the translation in D. Barthélemy, ed., Preliminary and Interim Report on the Hebrew Old Testament Text Project, 4:280). The chapter is not so much concerned with describing how Jerusalem fell as it is with contrasting the fate of Zedekiah who disregarded the word of the Lord with the fate of Jeremiah and that of Jeremiah’s benefactor Ebed Melech. The best way to treat the line without actually moving it before 39:3a is to treat it as a heading as has been done here.

23 sn Gedaliah. This is the first reference to this individual whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed governor over the people who were left to live in Judah (cf. 40:5; 2 Kgs 25:22). His father was the man who spoke up for Jeremiah when he was accused of being a false prophet by some of the priests and prophets (26:24). His grandfather was the royal secretary under Josiah who brought the discovery of the book of the law to Josiah’s attention, read it to him, and was involved in helping Josiah institute his reforms (2 Kgs 22:8-10).

24 tn The meaning of the last phrase is uncertain. An alternate translation is “to take him home with him.” The text reads literally “to bring him into the house.” However, it is unclear whether “the house” refers to Jeremiah’s house or to Gedaliah’s. The fact that Nebuzaradan later offers Jeremiah the option of going back to Gedaliah (40:5) suggests that the house is here Gedaliah’s where Jeremiah would be looked out for in accord with Nebuchadnezzar’s command (v. 12).

25 tn Many translate this last clause as a conclusion or summary remark, “So Jeremiah stayed…” However, it is better to translate it as an adversative because it probably refers to the fact that rather than staying with Gedaliah in the governor’s residence Jeremiah stayed among the people. That is how he wound up being led off as a prisoner to Ramah. See further the study note on 40:1. According to IBHS 550 §33.2.1d the vav (ו) consecutive can have either of these values (see examples 11 and 12 for the adversative or contrastive nuance).

26 sn Jer 39:15-18. This incident is out of chronological order (see Jer 38:7-13). It is placed here either due to a desire not to interrupt the sequential ordering of events centering on Jeremiah’s imprisonment and his release (38:1439:14) or to contrast God’s care and concern for the faithful (Ebed-Melech who, though a foreigner, trusted in God) with his harsh treatment of the faithless (Zedekiah who, though informed of God’s will, was too weak-willed in the face of opposition by his courtiers to carry it out).

27 tn Heb “Now the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah while he…saying.” The form of this clause is disjunctive showing that it does not follow the preceding events in either chronological or logical sequence. For a discussion of the form and function of such disjunctive clauses see IBHS 650-52 §39.2.3. This example most closely fits the description and function of example 12, Ruth 4:18, 21-22 on p. 652.



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