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At an extraordinary, desperate moment for Jeremiah, Judah, Jerusalem, and Zedekiah, Jeremiah performed an astonishing, public act of redemption- and then questions God about its justice.

The Haftarah occurs during the devastating Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. In keeping with his prophetic role,[1] Jeremiah prophesied the imminent conquest and destruction of Judah and Jerusalem, and the exile of King Zedekiah if he continued to battle Babylon. Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah, accusing him of treason. Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel comes to the prison courtyard to ask Jeremiah to redeem, pay for, and take title to Hanamel’s ancestral field, already or soon-to-be worthless. This redemption roughly accords with the law in the Parashah (Lev. 25:25). Understanding this seemingly pointless act as God’s will, Jeremiah undertakes a halachically precise purchase and ensures that the sale documents will be preserved for years to come. He then publicly proclaims, in God’s name, that properties will, one day, be bought and sold in Judah.

After fulfilling Hanamel’s divinely sanctioned request, Jeremiah then challenges God in prayer. Surely, the omniscient and omnipotent Creator rightfully granted His land to His people after the Exodus. And surely the Judge of all humanity is justly bringing the Bablyonians to destroy the Land to punish His people for defiling it for generations with their sins- just as Jeremiah has proclaimed for decades in His name. What then is God’s purpose in having him redeem land amidst destruction? How is that divine justice?

The Haftarah concludes with the beginning of God’s answer. As Creator of all life, God can indeed perform wondrous deeds. In subsequent verses, God completes His reply. God is indeed justly punishing Judah for generations of sin and rejecting prophetic reproof. The inverse of the same covenant, however, requires God to use His power to redeem His people, return them from exile to dwell permanently and securely in the same Land He is now destroying to buy fields there, restore their hearts to the covenant, and rejoice in them. Jeremiah’s redemption of an individual’s worthless land showed the people the certainty of these divine promises and transformed him, at their darkest hour, from a prophet of destruction into a prophet of redemption and hope.

Haftarah Breakdown

Verses 32:6-7: God tells Jeremiah that his cousin, Hanamel, will visit him in jail to request that Jeremiah fulfill his duty to redeem Hanamel’s field in their nearby hometown, Anathoth.

Jeremiah 32:7

Hanamel, son of your uncle, Shallum, will come to you, saying, “Buy my field in Anathoth for yourself, for the redemption right to buy [it] is yours.”

הִנֵּ֣ה חֲנַמְאֵ֗ל בֶּן־שַׁלֻּם֙ דֹּֽדְךָ֔ בָּ֥א אֵלֶ֖יךָ לֵאמֹ֑ר קְנֵ֣ה לְךָ֗ אֶת־שָׂדִי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בַּעֲנָת֔וֹת כִּ֥י לְךָ֛ מִשְׁפַּ֥ט הַגְּאֻלָּ֖ה לִקְנֽוֹת׃

Verses 32:8-12: Recognizing God’s hand in Hanamel’s arrival, Jeremiah weighs out silver to buy the field. Before witnesses and others gathered at the jail courtyard, Jeremiah precisely fulfills all the transactional requirements and entrusts the sale documents to his scribe, Baruch ben Neriah.

Jeremiah 32:12

I gave the deed to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah in the presence of my kinsman Hanamel, of the witnesses who were named in the deed, and all the Judeans who were sitting in the prison compound.

וָאֶתֵּן אֶת־הַסֵּפֶר הַמִּקְנָה אֶל־בָּרוּךְ בֶּן־נֵרִיָּה בֶּן־מַחְסֵיָה לְעֵינֵי חֲנַמְאֵל דֹּדִי וּלְעֵינֵי הָעֵדִים הַכֹּתְבִים בְּסֵפֶר הַמִּקְנָה לְעֵינֵי כׇּל־הַיְּהוּדִים הַיֹּשְׁבִים בַּחֲצַר הַמַּטָּרָה

Verses 32:13-15: Jeremiah charges Baruch to bury the documents in an earthenware jar to preserve them. Jeremiah proclaims God’s astounding message: One day, land will once again be bought and sold in Judah.

Jeremiah 32:15

For thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be bought again in this land.”

כִּ֣י כֹ֥ה אָמַ֛ר ה' צְבָקוֹת אֱלֹקי יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל ע֣וֹד יִקָּנ֥וּ בָתִּ֛ים וְשָׂד֥וֹת וּכְרָמִ֖ים בָּאָ֥רֶץ הַזֹּֽאת׃{פ}

Verses 32:16-25: Jeremiah challenges God in prayer. As all-powerful Creator and Redeemer and as Judge of every person, how can God promise to redeem a people who sinned against Him for generations in the Land He gave them which He is presently and justly destroying? Buying land now is illogical and unjust!

Jeremiah 32:25

You, Lord God, said to me, “Buy the land for money and call in witnesses”- when the city [of Jerusalem] is already in the Chaldeans’ hands?!

וְאַתָּ֞ה אָמַ֤רְתָּ אֵלַי֙ אֲדֹנָ֣-י ה' קְנֵֽה־לְךָ֧ הַשָּׂדֶ֛ה בַּכֶּ֖סֶף וְהָעֵ֣ד עֵדִ֑ים וְהָעִ֥יר נִתְּנָ֖ה בְּיַ֥ד הַכַּשְׂדִּֽים׃ {ס}       

Verses 32:26-27: God begins His reply: As Creator of all living beings, He can do anything.

Jeremiah 32:27

Behold, I am the Lord, God of all flesh. Is there anything too wondrous for Me?

הִנֵּה֙ אֲנִ֣י ה' אֱלֹקי כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֑ר הֲֽמִמֶּ֔נִּי יִפָּלֵ֖א כׇּל־דָּבָֽר׃


The Talmud records that the Men of the Great Assembly wrote the Amidah. Its first blessing praises “the great, mighty, and awesome God.” The Talmud states that God’s “awesomeness” consists not of protecting the Temple from destruction- a view attributed to Jeremiah based on the Haftarah- but of protecting the Jewish people in exile.

Yoma 69b

R. Yehoshua b. Levi said: Why is their name, “The Men of the Great Assembly”? Because they returned [God’s] crown to its former [glory]. How so? Moses came and said (Deut. 10:17), “The great, the mighty, and the awesome God.” Jeremiah came and said, “[Babylonians] cackle in His sanctuary- where is His awesomeness?” So he did not say “awesome” in (Jer. 32:18), “O great and mighty God- the Lord of hosts is his name!” Daniel came and said, “Gentiles enslave His children- where is His might?” So he did not say “mighty in (Dan. 9:4), “The great and awesome God.”

[The Men of the Great Assembly] came and said: “On the contrary! His mightiness is that He conquers His inclination, having patience toward the wicked. And His awesomeness is that, were it not for [God]’s awe, how could one people [the Jews] survive among the nations?”

אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: לָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמָן אַנְשֵׁי כְּנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה — שֶׁהֶחְזִירוּ עֲטָרָה לְיוֹשְׁנָהּ. אֲתָא מֹשֶׁה, אָמַר: ״הָקל הַגָּדוֹל הַגִּבּוֹר וְהַנּוֹרָא״. אֲתָא יִרְמְיָה וַאֲמַר: גּוֹיִם מְקַרְקְרִין בְּהֵיכָלוֹ, אַיֵּה נוֹרְאוֹתָיו? לָא אֲמַר ״נוֹרָא״. אֲתָא דָּנִיאֵל אֲמַר: גּוֹיִם מִשְׁתַּעְבְּדִים בְּבָנָיו, אַיֵּה גְּבוּרוֹתָיו? לָא אֲמַר ״גִּבּוֹר״.

אֲתוֹ אִינְהוּ וְאָמְרוּ: אַדְּרַבָּה, זוֹ הִיא (גְּבוּרַת) גְּבוּרָתוֹ: שֶׁכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת יִצְרוֹ — שֶׁנּוֹתֵן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם לָרְשָׁעִים. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן נוֹרְאוֹתָיו — שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא מוֹרָאוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הֵיאַךְ אוּמָּה אַחַת יְכוֹלָה לְהִתְקַיֵּים בֵּין הָאוּמּוֹת?

1. Haftarah Helper for Parashat Pinchas details Jeremiah’s prophetic mission, including his duty to confront Judah’s leaders and endure their fearsome attacks against him.

With emendations, all translations are from To dedicate, comment, or subscribe, email