The purchase of the field (Jer 32:9-32:11)

“I bought the field

At Anathoth

From my cousin Hanamel.

I weighed out

The money to him,

Seventeen shekels of silver.

I signed the deed.

I sealed it.

I got witnesses.

I weighed the money on scales.

Then I took

The sealed deed of purchase,

That contained the terms

With the conditions,

As well as the open copy.”

This is a very unusual section that contains explicit first person details of this property field sale. However, there is no indication of the exact size of this field. Nowhere else in the biblical works is there such a specific indication of how financial transactions took place. First, Jeremiah bought the land. Most times, there would be no more details other than that. However, here Jeremiah next weighs out the money, 17 silver shekels, which was not a lot of money, about a couple of hundred USA dollars. Where he got the money is not indicated here. Then he signed the deed, probably on papyrus, sealed it, and had witnesses also sign it. There must have been some kind of official seal used here, but we do not know what kind. Finally there seems to be 2 copies of this transaction. The sealed deed contained all the terms and conditions of the sale, while the open copy or city file copy might just have the statement that the sale was made, much like current open records in USA, which generally adds the dollar amount of the sale. Thus these transactions were stored or kept in jars of some kind.

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Yahweh is great (Ps 135:5-135:7)

“I know that Yahweh is great.

Our Yahweh is above all gods.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In heaven and on earth.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In the seas and all depths.

He makes the clouds rise

At the end of the earth.

He makes lightning

For the rain.

He brings forth the wind

From his storehouses.”

Yahweh is great, above all gods. He does whatever he pleases in heaven, on earth, and in the seas, no matter how deep they are. He makes the clouds rise, lightning for rain, and brings the winds out of his storehouses. The assumption was that Yahweh stored up his winds and then released them as he saw fit.

Yahweh questions Job about the weather (Job 38:22-38:24)

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?

Have you seen the storehouses of the hail?

I have reserved these for the time of trouble.

I have reserved these for the day of battle and war.

What is the way to the place where the light is distributed?

Where is the east wind scattered upon the earth?”

Yahweh then wants to know where the snow and the hail are stored up for the times of trouble, battle, and war. Where is the light kept? Where is that east wind when it is not blowing. Once again, this is a static view of the world. There was considered to be one place where snow and hail were stored for bad days. Light was kept hidden in some undisclosed place, while the wind was held back waiting for just the right moment. Of course, Job would not know the answer to these questions.

Timothy and Bacchides are defeated (2 Macc 8:30-8:33)

“In encounters with the forces of Timothy and Bacchides, they killed more than twenty thousand of them. They got possession of some exceedingly high strongholds. They divided a very great amount of plunder. They give it to those who had been tortured, to the orphans, widows, and aged, shares equal to their own. They collected the arms of the enemy. They carefully stored them all of them in strategic places. They carried the rest of the spoils to Jerusalem. They killed the commander of Timothy’s forces, a most unholy man, one who had greatly troubled the Jews. While they were celebrating the victory in the city of their ancestors, they burned those who had set fire to the sacred gates, Callisthenes and some others. They had fled into one little house. Thus they received the proper recompense for their impiety.”

This is loosely connected to stories and battles in 1 Maccabees, chapters 5 and 7. Timothy was a leader of the gentiles on the east side of the Jordan River. Bacchides was a governor and general of King Demetrius I. Both of them were considered the enemy. These enemy troops had lost 20,000 men. The spoils had been taken and distributed to the tortured, the widows, the orphans, and the aged. However, they always kept some for themselves as they had done with the spoils from the defeat of Nicanor. Here it says that they had killed the commander of the troops of the unholy man Timothy. When they were celebrating in Jerusalem, they also burned the house of this unknown man named Callisthenes and others because they had been impious. Perhaps these were the Hellenizing Jews in Jerusalem.

The preparations for the invasion (Jdt 4:4-4:8)

“The Israelites sent word to every district of Samaria, especially to Kona, Beth-horon, Belmain, Jericho, Choba, Aesora, and the valley of Salem. They immediately seized all the high hilltops. They fortified the villages on them. They stored up food in preparation for war, since their fields had recently been harvested. The high priest Joakim, who was in Jerusalem at the time, wrote to the people of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which faces Esdraelon opposite the plain near Dothan. He ordered them to seize the mountain passes, since by them Judea could be invaded. It would be easy to stop any who tried to enter, for the approach was narrow, only wide enough for two at a time to pass. So the Israelites did as they had been ordered by the high priest Joakim and the senate of the whole people of Israel, in session at Jerusalem.”

The Israelites were aware that Holofernes was coming. They warned the people of Samaria. However, Judah was always separate from Samaria and Holofernes was already there in northern Israel. There were a series of towns in Benjamin named, some of which are difficult to locate except for Beth-horon and Jericho. The valley of Salem may refer to the area around Jerusalem since that might have been ancient name, Jeru-Salem. They took all the high places and fortified them. They stored up food since the harvest had just taken place. The 2 towns of Bethulia and Betomesthaim are difficult to find. They must have been near Dothan, which as far as any identification is possible, was north of Shechem in Manasseh territory. Their high priest Joakim is also hard to identify, since the only priest with that name was after the exile in Nehemiah, chapter 12. This would put it 200 years after King Nebuchadnezzar. There also was no Senate in Jerusalem until the 2nd century BCE. Thus the story has a lot of problematic areas when it comes to specifics about places, peoples, and events in any sort of timeframe.