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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 46

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles;

He begins with Egypt, being the country to which he had been removed. Jeremiah 46:1-28 contains two prophecies concerning it-the discomfiture of Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish, by Nebuchadnezzar, and the long subsequent conquest of Egypt by the same king; also the preservation of the Jews (Jeremiah 46:27-28).

General heading of the next six chapters of prophecies concerning the Gentiles. The prophecies are arranged according to nations, not by the dates.

Verse 2

Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh-necho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.

Inscription of the first prophecy.

Pharaoh-necho. He, when going against Carchemish (Cerusium, near the Euphrates), encountered Josiah king of Judah (the ally of Assyria) at Megiddo, and killed him there (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20-24); but was four years subsequently overcome at Carchemish by Nebuchadnezzar, as is foretold here, and lost all the territory which had been subject to the Pharaohs west of the Euphrates, and between it and the Nile. The prediction would 'mitigate the Jews' grief for Josiah, and show his death was not to be unavenged (2 Kings 24:7). He is famed as having fitted out a fleet of discovery from the Red Sea, which doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and returned to Egypt by the Mediterranean.

Verse 3

Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle.

Derisive summons to battle. With all your mighty preparation for the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, when ye come to the encounter ye shall be "dismayed" (Jeremiah 46:5). Your mighty threats shall end in nothing.

Buckler - smaller, and carried by the light-armed cavalry.

Shield - of larger size, and carried by the heavily-armed infantry.

Verse 4

Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.

Harness the horses - namely, to the war-chariots, for which Egypt was famed (Exodus 14:7; Exodus 15:4).

Get up, ye horsemen - get up into the chariots. Maurer, because of the parallel "horses," translates, 'Mount the steeds.' But it is rather describing the successive steps in equipping the war-chariots: first harness the horses to them, then let the horsemen mount them.

Brigandines - cuirasses, or coats of mail.

Verse 5

Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith the LORD.

Wherefore have I seen them dismayed (note, Jeremiah 46:3). The language of astonishment that an army so well equipped should be driven back in "dismay." The prophet sees this in prophetic vision.

Fled apace - literally, fled a flight, i:e., flee precipitately.

Look not back - they do not even dare to look back at their pursuers.

Verse 6

Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates.

Let not the swift flee away - equivalent to the strongest negation. Let not any of the Egyptian warriors think to escape by swiftness or by might.

They shall ... fall toward the north - i:e., in respect to Egypt or Judea, In the northward region, by the Euphrates (see Jeremiah 46:2).

Verse 7

Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers?

Who is this that cometh up as a flood - (Jeremiah 47:2; Isaiah 8:7-8; Daniel 11:22). The figure is appropriate in addressing Egyptians, as the Nile, their great river, yearly overspreads their lands with a turbid, muddy flood. So their army, swelling with arrogance, shall overspread the region south of Euphrates; but it, like the Nile, shall retreat as fast as it advanced.

Verse 8

Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.

Egypt riseth up like a flood - answer to the question in Jeremiah 46:7.

His waters are moved like the rivers. The rise of the Nile is gentle; but at the mouth it, unlike most riven, is much agitated, owing to the sandbanks impeding its course, and so it rushes into the sea like a cataract.

Verse 9

Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.

Come up, ye horses ... let the mighty men come forth - ironical exhortation, as in Jeremiah 46:3. The Egyptians, owing to the heat of their climate and abstinence from animal food, were physically weak, and therefore employed mercenary soldiers.

Ethiopians - Hebrew, Cush: Abyssinia and Nubia.

Libyans - Phut, Mauritania, west of Egypt (cf. Genesis 10:6).

Shield. The Libyans borrowed from Egypt the use of the long shield extending to the feet (Xenophon, 'Cyropaedia,' 6: and 7:)

Lydians - not the Lydians west of Asia Minor (Genesis 10:22, "Lud"), but the Ludim, an African nation descended from Egypt (Mitsraim) (Genesis 10:13; Ezekiel 30:5. "Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia;" Nahum 3:9).

Handle and bend the bow. The employment of two verbs expresses the manner of bonding the bow-namely, the foot being pressed on the center, and the hands holding the ends of it.

Verse 10

For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.

For this is ... a day of vengeance - for the slaughter of Josiah (2 Kings 23:29). The sword shall devour, and ... be ... drunk - poetical personification (Deuteronomy 32:42).

A sacrifice - typical of the last great destruction of the Lord's enemies at the Lord's second advent, which is described in the same figurative language (Isaiah 34:6, "The sword of the Lord is filled with blood; it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bosrah (in Edom, type of the Antichristian confederacy), and a great slaughter in Idumea;" Ezekiel 39:17). The slaughter of the Egyptians is represented as a "sacrifice" to satiate His righteous vengeance.

Verse 11

Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.

Go up into Gilead, and take balm - (note, Jeremiah 8:22) namely, for curing the wounds; but no medicine will avail, so desperate shall be the slaughter.

Virgin. Egypt is so called on account of her effeminate luxury, and as having never yet been brought under foreign yoke.

Thou shalt not be cured - literally, there shall be no cure for thee (Jeremiah 30:13; Ezekiel 30:21). Not that the kingdom of Egypt should cease to exist, but it should not recover its former strength: the blow should be irretrievable.

Verse 12

The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.

The mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together - their very multitude shall prove an impediment in their confused flight, one treading on the other.

Verse 13

The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt. The word that the Lord spare to Jeremiah ... how Nebuchadnezzar ... should ... smite ... Egypt - prophecy of the invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which took place 16 years after the taking of Jerusalem. Having spent 13 years in the siege of Tyre, and having obtained nothing for his pains, he is promised by God Egypt for his reward in humbling Tyre, (Ezekiel 29:17-20; Ezekiel 30:1-26; Ezekiel 31:1-18; Ezekiel 32:1-32.) The intestine commotions between Amasis and Pharaoh-hophra prepared his way (cf. Isaiah 19:1, etc., notes).

Verse 14

Declare ye in Egypt, and publish in Migdol, and publish in Noph and in Tahpanhes: say ye, Stand fast, and prepare thee; for the sword shall devour round about thee.

Declare ye in Egypt, and publish - as if giving sentence from a tribunal.

Migdol ... Noph ... Tahpanhes - East, South, and North. He mentions the three other quarters, but omits the West, because the Chaldeans did not advance there. These cities, too, were the best known to the Jews, as being in their direction.

The sword shall devour round about thee - namely, the Syrians, Jews, Moabites, and Ammonites (note, Jeremiah 48:1). The exhortation [`abiyrekaa] is ironical, as Jeremiah 46:4; Jeremiah 46:9.

Verse 15

Why are thy valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the LORD did drive them.

Why are thy valiant men. Manuscripts, the Septuagint, and Vulgate read ['ªbiyrªkaa] 'thy valiant one,' Apis, the bull-shaped Egyptian idol worshipped at Noph or Memphis. The contrast thus is between the palpable impotence of the idol and the might attributed to it by the worshippers; as also in contradistinction to Yahweh the true [`aabiyd] Mighty One. The Hebrew term, strong or valiant, is applied to bulls (Psalms 22:12). Cambyses in his invasion of Egypt destroyed the sacred bull.

Swept away - (cf. Jeremiah 46:5). The Hebrew word for "swept away" [nicchap] is used of a sweeping rain in Proverbs 28:3.

Verse 16

He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword.

He-Yahweh-made many to fall - literally, multiplied the faller, i:e., fallers.

One fell upon another - (Jeremiah 46:6; Jeremiah 46:12) even before the enemy strikes them (Leviticus 26:37).

Let us go again to our own people - the language of the confederates and mercenaries, exhorting one another to desert the Egyptian standard and return to their respective homes (Jeremiah 46:9; Jeremiah 46:21).

From the oppressing sword - from the cruel sword, namely, of the Chaldeans (cf. Jeremiah 25:38, note).

Verse 17

They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed.

They did cry there - in their own country severally, the foreign soldiers (Jeremiah 46:16) cry, "Pharaoh king of Egypt is," etc.

But a noise. He threatens great things, but when the need arises he does nothing; his threats are mere noise (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1). Maurer translates 'is ruined'-literally, (in appropriate abruptness of language), 'Pharaoh king, etc., ruin,' [ shaa'own (H7588), from shaa'aah (H7582), to desolate]. The context favours the English version, his vauntings of what he would do when the time of battle should come have proved to be empty sounds, mere bluster: he is nothing but bluster: he hath passed the time appointed (namely, for battle with the Chaldeans). He had appointed a time when he would engage in battle, but he failed to make good his word when the time came [Junius, shaa'aah (H7582), often means to be tumultuous, to move with great noise] (Buxtorf). What a magnificent contrast to "Pharaoh king of Egypt ... a noise," a mere empty bluster, does Jeremiah 46:18 present, "The KING, whose name is the Lord of hosts."

Verse 18

As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.

As Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come - as the mountains Tabor and Carmel tower high above the other hills of Palestine, so Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 46:26), when he comes, shall prove himself superior to all his foes. Carmel forms a bold promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean. Tabor is the higher of the two; therefore it is said to be "among the mountains," and Carmel "by the sea." The King ... Lord of hosts - (Jeremiah 48:15). In contarst to "Pharaoh king of Egypt ... but a noise" (Jeremiah 46:17), God, the true King, the Lord of hosts, shall cause Nebuchadnezzar to come. Whereas Pharaoh shall not come to battle at the time appointed, notwithstanding his noisy boasts; Nebuchadnezzar shall come, according to the prediction of the King who has all hosts in His power, however ye Egyptians may despise the prediction.

Verse 19

O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, furnish thyself to go into captivity: for Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant.

Furnish thyself - literally, make for thyself vessels (namely, to contain food and other necessaries for the journey) for captivity.

Daughter - so in Jeremiah 46:11.

Dwelling in Egypt - i:e., the inhabitants of Egypt, the Egyptians, represented as the daughter of Egypt (Jeremiah 48:18; 2 Kings 19:21, "The daughter of Zion-the daughter of Jerusalem;" i:e., the inhabitants of Zion and Jerusalem personified as a Virgin). "Dwelling" implies that they thought themselves to be securely fixed in their habitations, beyond the reach of invasion.

Verse 20

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

Egypt is like as very fair heifer - wanton, like a fat untamed heifer (Hosea 10:11). Appropriate to Egypt, where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with spots.

But destruction - i:e., a destroyer "cometh:" Nebuchadnezzar. The Vulgate translates 'a goader,' answering to the metaphor, 'one who will goad the heifer' and tame her. The Arabian idiom favours this (Rosenmuller).

Cometh ... cometh - the repetition implies, it cometh surety and quickly (Psalms 96:13).

Out of the north - (note, Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 47:2).

Verse 21

Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation.

Her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back - translated, 'Also her hired men (mercenary soldiers, Jeremiah 46:9; Jeremiah 46:16), who are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks, even they also are turned back' - i:e., shall turn their backs to flee. The same image, "heifer ... bullocks" (Jeremiah 46:20-21), is applied to Egypt's foreign mercenaries as to herself. Pampered with the luxuries of Egypt, they become as enervated for battle as the natives themselves.

Verse 22

The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood.

The voice thereof shall go like a serpent - the cry of Egypt, when invaded, shall be like the hissing of a serpent roused by the woodcutters from its lair. No longer shall she loudly roar Iike a heifer, but with a low complaint of fear, as a serpent hissing.

With axes - the Scythian mode of armour. The Chaldeans shall come with such confidence as if not about to have to fight with soldiers, but merely to cut down trees offering no resistance.

Verse 23

They shall cut down her forest, saith the LORD, though it cannot be searched; because they are more than the grasshoppers, and are innumerable.

They shall cut down her forest - (Isaiah 10:34, "He shall cut down the thickets of the forests with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one").

Though it cannot be searched - they cut down her forest, dense and unsearchable (Job 5:9; Job 9:10; Job 36:26,) as it my seem: referring to the thickly-set cities of Egypt, which were at that time a thousand and twenty. The Hebrew particle is properly for, because.

Because - the reason why the Chaldeans shall be able to cut down so dense a forest of cities as Egypt: they themselves are countless in numbers.

They are more than the grasshoppers - locusts (Judges 6:5).

Verse 24

The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 25

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him:

I will punish the multitude of No. The Hebrew for "multitude" is 'Amon' (Nahum 3:8, margin, 'No-amon'), the same as Thebes or Diospolis in Upper Egypt, where Jupiter Ammon had his famous temple. In the English version "multitude" answers to "populous No" (Nahum 3:8; and Ezekiel 30:15, "the multitude of No"). The reference to "their gods" which follows, makes the translation more likely 'Ammon of No' - i:e., No and her idol Ammon; so the Chaldean version. So called either from Ham the son of Noah; or the nourisher [ 'aaman (H539)], to nourish faithfully, as the word means.

Their kings - the kings of the nations in league with Egypt.

Verse 26

And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the LORD.

Afterward it shall be inhabited. Under Cyrus, forty years after the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, it threw off the Babylonian yoke, but has never regained its former prowess (Jeremiah 46:11; Ezekiel 29:11-15).

Verses 27-28

But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.

Fear not thou, O my servant Jacob ... for behold I will save thee from afar ... - repeated from Jeremiah 30:10-11. When the church (and literal Israel) might seem utterly consumed, there still remains hidden hope, because God as it were raises his people from the dead (Romans 11:15). Whereas the godless "nations" are consumed even though they survive, as the Egyptians after their overthrow; because they are radically accursed and doomed (Calvin).


(1) When God is against a people because of their wickedness, as He was against Egypt, they may make what preparation they may to insure their safety, all will be abortive (Jeremiah 46:3-4). "Fear" and "dismay" are "round about" transgressors, wheresoever they turn (Jeremiah 46:5). Conscience makes cowards of the most hardy, so that sinners, with all their boasted "might," flee when no man pursueth (Jeremiah 46:6), and stumble against one another, their very multitude proving to be not a help but a hindrance (Jeremiah 46:12; Jeremiah 46:16).

(2) "The day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance" on his adversaries, is coming ere long, when the slaughter of all the ungodly and unbelieving, as well as especially of the anti-Christian factions, shall be as a "sacrifice" to "satiate" His righteous indignation (Jeremiah 46:10). (Ezekiel 39:17; Isaiah 34:1-6). The incurable wound of Egypt politically (Jeremiah 46:11) is a faint type of the irremediable destruction awaiting the lost in the awful pit, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44; Mark 9:46; Mark 9:48).

(3) Foreign helps cannot avail the doomed sinner just as her mercenaries hired from abroad availed not to save Egypt in the day of God's wrathful visitation upon her (Jeremiah 46:9; Jeremiah 46:16; Jeremiah 46:21). Nay, so far from availing the unpardoned. sinner, earthly helpers shall only mock his misery, as Egypt's mercenaries mocked her "King Pharaoh" as being "but an empty noise" and mere bluster (Jeremiah 46:17). One alone can, not only help, but save all of us sinners who now seek Him-namely, "the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts" (Jeremiah 46:18).

(4) But, in order that we may receive His salvation, we must not be, as Egypt, like a heifer untamed (Jeremiah 46:20-21), but must bend our naturally stiff necks to the "easy yoke" of the Lord Jesus. As there was a promise of peace even to guilty Egypt in the end, after her sore chastisements had worked the desired effect (Jeremiah 46:26, end), so if the chastisements of God lead sinners to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, He will have mercy on them through the blood of atonement, and will exalt them in due time.

(5) Amidst the terrible judgments of God upon the nations, God remembers His elect people with love and consolations. He encourages the remnant of Israel after the flesh with those sweetly-assuring words, "Fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and Be not dismayed, O Israel: for behold I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid" (Jeremiah 46:27). The same promise belongs in all its fullness spiritually to Israel after the spirit, that is, all true believers. God is "with them:" and though He chastise them, as He has sorely chastened the literal Israel, yet He "will not make a full end of them," as He does of the impenitent reprobate, but will "correct them in measure," making their very chastisements an instrument of saving them from that eternal destruction which would be the consequence if He should "leave them wholly unpunished" (Jeremiah 46:28). Having therefore these promises, let us not despair when corrected, but rather thank Him for necessary correction, and put to the proof fully His gracious word, "cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God," (2 Corinthians 6:1-18.)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-46.html. 1871-8.
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