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Jeremiah 32:7-12

Context
32:7 ‘Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will come to you soon. He will say to you, “Buy my field at Anathoth because you are entitled 1  as my closest relative to buy it.”’ 2  32:8 Now it happened just as the Lord had said! My cousin Hanamel 3  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. 32:9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed out seven ounces of silver and gave it to him to pay for it. 4  32:10 I signed the deed of purchase, 5  sealed it, and had some men serve as witnesses to the purchase. 6  I weighed out the silver for him on a scale. 32:11 There were two copies of the deed of purchase. One was sealed and contained the order of transfer and the conditions of purchase. 7  The other was left unsealed. 32:12 I took both copies of the deed of purchase 8  and gave them to Baruch son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah. I gave them to him in the presence 9  of my cousin 10  Hanamel, the witnesses who had signed the deed of purchase, and all the Judeans who were housed in the courtyard of the guardhouse.

1 tn Heb “your right.” The term מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) here and in v. 8 refers to legal entitlement for the option to purchase a property (BDB 1049 s.v. מִשְׁפָּט 5; cf. Deut 21:17).

2 sn Underlying this request are the laws of redemption of property spelled out in Lev 25:25-34 and illustrated in Ruth 4:3-4. Under these laws, if a property owner became impoverished and had to sell his land, the nearest male relative had the right and duty to buy it so that it would not pass out of the use of the extended family. The land, however, would not actually belong to Jeremiah because in the year of Jubilee it reverted to its original owner. All Jeremiah was actually buying was the right to use it (Lev 25:13-17). Buying the field, thus, did not make any sense (thus Jeremiah’s complaint in v. 25) other than the fact that the Lord intended to use Jeremiah’s act as a symbol of a restored future in the land.

3 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.

4 tn Heb “I weighed out the money [more literally, “silver”] for him, seventeen shekels of silver.”

sn Coins were not in common use until the postexilic period. Payment in gold and silver was made by cutting off pieces of silver or gold and weighing them in a beam balance using standard weights as the measure. A shekel weighed approximately 0.4 ounce or 11.4 grams. The English equivalents are only approximations.

5 tn The words “of purchase” are not in the text but are implicit. The qualification is spelled out explicitly in vv. 11, 12, 13. These words are supplied in the translation for clarity. An alternative translation would be “I put the deed in writing.” However, since the same idiom כָּתַב בְּסֵפֶר (catav bÿsefer) is used later in v. 12 with respect to the witnesses, it is likely that it merely refers to signing the document.

6 tn The words “to the purchase” are not in the text but are implicit in the idiom “I had some witnesses serve as witness.” The words are supplied in the translation for clarity.

7 tn There is some uncertainty about the precise meaning of the phrases translated “the order of transfer and the regulations.” The translation follows the interpretation suggested by J. Bright, Jeremiah (AB), 237; J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah (NICOT), 586, n. 5; and presumably BDB 349 s.v. חֹק 7, which defines the use of חֹק (khoq) here as “conditions of the deed of purchase.”

8 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).

9 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.

10 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).”



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