Jeremiah buys a field.
1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when Zedekiah, king of Judah, had ruled for 10 years. Nebuchadnezzar had ruled for 18 years. 2 The army of the king of Babylon was all round Jerusalem at that time. They would not let anybody take food into the city. Jeremiah was in a prison in the soldiers' yard. That was in the king's house.
3 Zedekiah had put Jeremiah there. He did not like this message that the Lord had given to him by Jeremiah: ‘I will give power over this city to the king of Babylon. And he will win the city. 4 Zedekiah, the king, will not be able to run away. They will take him to the king of Babylon and he will see his face. They will speak to each other. 5 Then he will take Zedekiah to Babylon. He will stay there until I come to see him. If you fight against the soldiers from Babylon, you will not win.’ The Lord had said that to Zedekiah.
6 Jeremiah said, ‘The Lord has spoken to me. 7 He told me that Hanamel, the son of my uncle Shallum, will come to see me. He will ask me to buy his field in Anathoth. I should do that because I am the cousin nearest to his family. It is the right thing for me to do.’
8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to the prison in the soldiers' yard where they kept me. He said, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. It is in the land of Benjamin. You must do that because it is right for you to buy it. You are the nearest cousin. So buy it back and keep it for yourself.’
I knew that this was the Lord's message. 9 So I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel. I weighed 17 shekels of silver. 10 I wrote my name on a special piece of paper and I closed it up. The paper showed that the field was mine. I did that in front of other men who put their names on it. Then I gave to Hanamel the silver that I had weighed. 11 I took the paper that I had closed up and a copy of that piece of paper. 12 I gave both pieces of paper to Baruch, the son of Neriah. Neriah was the son of Mahseiah. I did that in front of Hanamel and the other men who had written their names. And I did it in front of all the people of Judah who were sitting in the soldiers' yard.
13 The men watched me as I spoke to Baruch. I said to him, 14 ‘The great and powerful Lord of Israel says this: Take these two pieces of paper. Take the piece that is closed and the piece that is open. Put them in a jar of clay to keep them safe. They will be safe there for a long time. 15 The great and powerful Lord, the Lord of Israel, says, “Men will again buy houses, fields and fields of vines in this country.” ’
16 After I had given the important paper to Baruch, the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord.
17 I prayed, ‘Lord, king of all people, you have made the earth and the sky by your great power. Your hands have made them. Nothing is too difficult for you to do. 18 You teach thousands of people to understand that you love them. But you punish children for the sins that their ancestors did in past times. Great and powerful Lord, your name is the Lord Almighty.
19 You are so wise that you do very great things. You see everything that men do. You give good things to those who give pleasure to you. Those who do good things give pleasure to you. And you punish everyone who has done wrong things. 20 You did miracles in Egypt. And you continue to do miracles in Israel and for all people. So your name is great and all people know it. 21 You brought your people out of Egypt with many great miracles. You put out your strong hand and arm to save them. So you caused men to be afraid of you. 22 You gave this country to your people as you had promised to their ancestors. It was a land where there was plenty of food and drink, enough for everyone. 23 Your people came in and they got power over this country. But they did not obey you. They did not obey the law that you had given to them. They did not do the things that you wanted them to do. So you caused them to have this great trouble. You sent it to them.
24 You can see the great hills that enemies have built to attack the city. Because of their sharp knives, they will win the fight. And because we are hungry and ill, they will win the fight. The soldiers from Babylon who are attacking the city will get power over it. You said that it would happen. You can see that all those things have happened. 25 The soldiers from Babylon will get power over the city. But you still told me that I must buy this field. You told me that I must buy it with silver. And men must see certainly that I had bought it.’
26 Then the Lord spoke to Jeremiah. He said, 27 ‘I am the Lord, the God of all people. Nothing is too difficult for me to do. 28 So I say this: I will give this city to the soldiers from Babylon. I will give it to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. They will get power over it. 29 The soldiers from Babylon who are attacking it will come in. And they will burn it with fire. They will burn down the houses where people made me angry. There they burned oils that smell nice on their roofs for Baal. They made me angry because they gave gifts to other gods.’
30 ‘The people in Israel and Judah have done only evil things from the time when they were young. Israel's people have always done the things that made me angry. They did that with the things that they have made with their hands,’ says the Lord.
31 ‘This city has made me angry from the time when they built it even until this day. So I must destroy it. 32 The people in Israel and in Judah have made me very angry. I became angry because of all the evil things that they and their kings and their officers have done. And the men in Judah and Jerusalem and their prophets and priests did many evil things. 33 They turned away from me and they would not look at me. They would not listen to me when I punished them. And they would not turn back to me. Again and again, I taught them the right things to do. 34 People have made the temple that is called by my name disgusting. They have a put a “god” that is not God in my house. 35 They have built high places to worship Baal in Ben-Hinnom Valley. There they kill their sons and daughters to offer them to Molech. I never told them to do such a bad thing. I never thought that they would do such a wrong thing. It caused Judah's people to sin.’
God promises his people that they can continue to trust him.
36 ‘You are hungry and you do not have any food. So you say that swords and illness will cause the king of Babylon to get power over this city. But the Lord, Israel's God says, 37 “I am very angry with them. So I will send them to countries that are far away. But I will certainly bring my people back to this place. I will let them live here and they will be safe. 38 They will be my people and I will be their God. 39 I will give the same purpose to all the people. I will do that so that their lives and their children's lives can be good. They will always give honour to me. 40 I will make a covenant with them that will last for all time. I will never stop doing good things for them. I will cause them to want to give honour to me so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will be happy when I do good things for them. I really want to plant them in this country to grow, like trees. Nobody wants to do anything more than I want to do that.” ’
42 The Lord says, ‘I have caused much trouble to this people. In the same way, I will give great riches to them, as I promised. 43 People will buy fields in this country again. You say, “It is an empty country, without people or animals. The soldiers from Babylon have taken everything.” 44 But I tell you that people will pay silver to buy fields again in this country. They will write on paper to show who the land belongs to. They will carefully put seals on the paper to keep it safe. There will be witnesses who say that it is true. Yes, people will buy fields again in the land of Benjamin and in the villages round Jerusalem. They will buy land in the towns of Judah. And they will buy it in the low hills in the west and in the Negev region in the south. At that time, I will give back to them the good things that they lost. I, the Lord, tell you that this is true!’