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IV. Prophecies Directed Against Foreign Nations - Jeremiah 46-51
Like Amos, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, Jeremiah has uttered predictions concerning a number of heathen nations, and incorporated them with the collection of his prophecies regarding Judah and Israel. But while in Amos the utterances regarding six nations round about the kingdom of God, as representatives of the whole heathen world, merely pave the way for announcing judgment on Judah and Israel, and are given for the purpose of teaching the necessity for judgment on the whole world that is opposed to God, in order that the kingdom of God may be advanced; Isaiah, on the other hand, when the power of Assyria appeared against the kingdom of God, brought forward the thought, in a pretty long series of oracles against the nations, Jer 13-23, that all kingdoms and peoples, cities and men of the world that had apostatized from God, and still continued in apostasy, shall be humbled, and compelled by judgments inflicted on them to seek refuge with the God of Israel, - to submit to Him, and to offer their gifts for the establishment of His kingdom; and he concludes this announcement with an apocalyptic description of the judgment on the whole earth, and the consummation of the kingdom of God in glory, Jer 24-27. The object aimed at by Ezekiel and Jeremiah in their oracles against the heathen nations is more specific. Ezekiel, in view of the destruction of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah, directs a series of oracles against seven nations; and in these addresses he predicts the destruction of the heathen world, and the fall of all heathen powers into Sheol, in order that these may not exult over the fall of the people of God, but rather, in the judgment on Israel, recognise the omnipotence and justice of the Lord, the Judge of all the earth. And Jeremiah, in his addresses to the nations, Jer 46-51, merely brings out more fully the execution of that sentence which he had already proclaimed (Jer 25) to all the peoples and kingdoms of the earth, shortly before the appearance of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign. The multitude of nations and tribes, far and near, to which, in Jeremiah 25:17-26, he gives the cup of the divine wrath out of Jahveh's hand, is in Jer 46-51 reduced to nine nations; and these are named in such order, that here, as there (Jer 25), Egypt heads the list (Jer 46), while Babylon closes it (Jer 50; 51). Of the rest of these nations, those related to Israel, viz., Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, have special prophecies addressed to them, Jer 48 and Jer 49:1-22; but the others are more summarily addressed. Thus, in the oracle pronounced against the Philistines, the Phoenicians also (Tyre and Sidon) are threatened with extermination (Jeremiah 47:1-7); the many Arabian tribes severally named in Jer 25 are comprehended under the general designations "Kedar" and "the kingdoms of Hazor" (Jeremiah 49:28-33); while the kingdoms of the north are represented by Damascus (Jeremiah 49:23-27), and the distant nations of the east (Media and Elam) by Elam, Jeremiah 49:34-39.
Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, and Nהgelsbach would account for several smaller nations being taken together in one prophecy, on the ground that the prophet wished to make out the significant number seven, - just as Amos (Amos 1:1-2:5) brings forward seven kingdoms before his address is directed to Israel, and as Ezekiel also has arranged his prophecies against the nations in accordance with the number seven. But though the number seven plainly appears in Amos and Ezekiel, such an assumption cannot be established in the case of Jeremiah. To make out this number, the oracles against Elam and Babylon are viewed as later additions, on the ground that both of them are connected with the first years of the reign of Zedekiah. But the assertion that the first seven belong to the fourth year of Jehoiakim cannot be proved. The second prophecy regarding Egypt (Jeremiah 46:14-28), and that against the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:1-7), contain, in their headings, indications of the time of composition, which do not point to the fourth year of Jehoiakim. With this also accords the remark further brought to bear on the alleged composition of those seven prophecies in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, - that this follows, not merely from the general agreement of their contents with Jer 46 as well as with Jer 25, but also from the fact that "the same expressions which the prophet uses in Jer 25 with reference to the judgment of all nations, are re-echoed in Jer 46-49:33: e.g., cf Jeremiah 25:31, Jeremiah 25:34, with Jeremiah 46:10; Jeremiah 25:35 with Jeremiah 46:5-6; Jeremiah 25:29, Jeremiah 25:31, with Jeremiah 47:6-7; and particularly Jeremiah 25:28-29, with Jeremiah 49:12 (Caspari on Obadiah, p. 16): cf. also Jeremiah 25:27 with Jeremiah 48:26; Jeremiah 25:30 with Jeremiah 48:33; Jeremiah 25:34 with Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 25:38 with Jeremiah 49:19 and Jeremiah 46:16." For, of all these passages, none belongs to the second prophecy against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:14-28), and to that against the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:1-7), except the last-quoted passage, Jeremiah 46:16, in which the expression חרב agrees with Jeremiah 25:38, if in the latter passage we read חרב for חרון . But this expression is also repeated in the oracle against Babylon, Jeremiah 50:16; so that no proof can be drawn, from a consideration of the language employed, to show that the prophecies against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:14-28) and against the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:1-7) belong to the same time, as has been supposed. And the assertion that the prophecy against Elam forms an appendix to those which precede, could have been made only by a mind in a state of perplexity. Its position, after that against the Arabian tribes, and before that against Babylon, exactly agrees with the place occupied by Elam in Jeremiah 25:5.
(Note: From the above statement, the propriety and correctness of arrangement among these oracles in the Hebrew text will both be apparent. On the other hand, the transposition made in the Greek text of the lxx (already referred to in the note on p. 22) is characterized, even by Ewald and Hitzig, as "arbitrary" and "incorrect." Ewald remarks: "We cannot find that any other principle was acted upon in their arrangement than that the large portion about Babylon, Jer 50ff., should be made as prominent as possible; the small piece about the Elamites which precedes it, Jeremiah 49:34-39, was put the very first, probably because it was thought desirable that, seeing they were then under Persian rule, what plainly referred to Persia should be made conspicuous; the portion directed against the Babylonians was then placed immediately after that referring to Egypt; that referring to the Philistines was then put in its place, but that referring to Edom, as being longer, was inserted after it; then the three small pieces on Ammon, Kedar, and Damascus were put together, while the large one about Moab concluded this much-distorted series." But the assertion of Movers and Hitzig - that this arrangement in the Greek text did not originate with the translator, but was found in the original, and that, too (according to Movers), at the time of Alexander's campaign against Persia - rests on critical conjectures regarding Jeremiah 46:27-28, which are decidedly erroneous. Moreover, the insertion of these oracles into the middle of Jer 25, between Jeremiah 25:13 and Jeremiah 25:15, in the lxx text, is due to the arbitrary conduct of the Alexandrine translator, as even Hitzig allows that whoever arranged the chapter did not find it in a fragmentary condition, but had himself dismembered it. Yet Hitzig is of opinion that these oracles originally belonged to somewhere about Jer 25, - a view that rests on grounds which, in the note on p. 233, we have already shown to be untenable.)
When we examine the contents of these nine oracles, we find that the one against Babylon differs from all the preceding in this, that it announces not merely the ruin of Babylon, but also the salvation of Israel; but this peculiarity is the very point in which it agrees with the prophecies against Egypt, of which the second ends with a promise in Israel's favour (Jeremiah 46:27-28). This correspondence shows us that we cannot separate the prophecy regarding Babylon from the others, or even place it in contrast with them. Egypt and Babylon were, at that time, the two great powers of this world which sought to oppress and destroy the kingdom of God. The fall of one or the other of these powers was thus for Israel a pledge that they would be preserved and saved. In the remaining oracles, the reference to the theocracy is quite placed in the background. Only in that against Ammon do we meet with the complaint that it had taken possession of the cities of Israel, as if Israel had no heir (Jeremiah 49:1). In the others there is no mention made of offence against the theocracy, but only of pride, arrogance, and carnal reliance on their earthly power, for which they shall be humbled and punished. Further, it is to be observed that the oracles against Egypt, Moab, Ammon, and Elam conclude with the promise of restoration at the end of the days, i.e., in the Messianic future (cf. Jeremiah 46:26; Jeremiah 48:47; Jeremiah 49:6 and Jeremiah 49:39). All these things plainly show that these oracles against the people merely repeat, in greater detail, the sentence already pronounced, Jer 25, against all nations: God the Lord has appointed the king of Babylon to execute this sentence, and for this end will give him, in the immediate future, and till his appointed time shall end, supremacy over the nations; after that, Babylon also shall succumb to the sentence of ruin passed on it; and for Israel, with the deliverance from Babylon, there will arise a state of prosperity in which all nations will afterwards participate. In giving details with regard to these announcements of judgment, Jeremiah throughout falls back on the expressions of the older prophet, just as he does in his prophecies regarding Israel and Judah; these expressions he reproduces in a manner suited to the circumstances of his time, and still further developes. Cf. the collection of these references in Kueper on Jeremiah, p. 79ff.; see further the proofs given in the following commentary on each particular case.
Superscriptions. - Jeremiah 46:1 contains the title for the whole collection of prophecies regarding the nations ( הגּוים , as contrasted with Israel, mean the heathen nations), Jer 46-51. As to the formula, "What came as the word of Jahveh to Jeremiah," etc., cf. the remarks on Jeremiah 14:1. - In Jeremiah 46:2, the special heading of this chapter begins with the word מצרים . למצרים is subordinated by ל to the general title, - properly, "with regard to Egypt:" cf. למואב , etc., Jeremiah 48:1; Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:7, Jeremiah 49:23, Jeremiah 49:28, also Jeremiah 23:9. This chapter contains two prophecies regarding Egypt, Jeremiah 46:2-12, and vv. 13-28. למצרים refers to both. After this there follows an account of the occasion for the first of these two prophecies, in the words, "Concerning the army of Pharaoh-Necho, the king of Egypt, which was at the river Euphrates, near Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah." נכו , as in 2 Chronicles 35:20, or נכּה , as in 2 Kings 23:29, in lxx Νεχαώ ; Egyptian, according to Brugsch ( Hist. d'Egypte, i. p. 252), Nekaaou ; in Herodotus Νεκώς , - is said by Manetho to have been the sixth king of the twenty-sixth (Saïte) dynasty, the second Pharaoh of this name, the son of Psammetichus I, and grandson of Necho I. Brugsch says he reigned from 611 to 595 b.c. See on 2 Chr. 23:29. The two relative clauses are co-ordinate, i.e., אשׁר in each case depends on חיל . The first clause merely states where Pharaoh's army was, the second tells what befall it at the Euphrates. It is to this that the following prophecy refers. Pharaoh-Necho, soon after ascending the throne, in the last year of Josiah's reign (610 b.c.), had landed in Palestine, at the bay of Acre, with the view of subjugating Hither Asia as far as the Euphrates, and had defeated the slain King Josiah, who marched out against him. He next deposed Jehoahaz, whom the people had raised to the throne as Josiah's successor, and carried him to Egypt, after having substituted Eliakim, the elder brother of Jehoahaz, and made him his vassal-king, under the name of Jehoiakim. When he had thus laid Judah under tribute, he advanced farther into Syria, towards the Euphrates, and had reached Carchemish on that river, as is stated in this verse: there his army was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 b.c.); see on 2 Kings 23:29. Carchemish is Κιρκήσιον , Circesium, or Cercusium of the classical writers,
(Note: See the opinion of Rawlinson in Smith's Bible Dictionary, vol. i. p. 278. - Tr.)
Arabic karqi=si=yat, a fortified city at the junction of the Chebar with the Euphrates, built on the peninsula formed by the two rivers (Ammian. Marc. xxiii. 5, Procop. bell. Pers. ii. 5, and Marasç. under Karkesija ). All that now remains of it are ruins, called by the modern Arabs Abu Psera, and situated on the Mesopotamian side of the Euphrates, where that river is joined by the Chebar (Ausland, 1864, S. 1058). This fortress was either taken, or at least besieged, by Necho. The statement, "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim," can be referred exegetically only to the time of the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish, or the year of the battle, and is actually so understood by most interpreters. No one but Niebuhr ( Gesch. Ass. u. Babl. S. 59, 86, 370ff.) alters the date of the battle, which he places in the third year of Jehoiakim, partly from consideration of Daniel 1:1, partly from other chronological calculations; he would refer the date given in our verse to the time when the following song was composed or published. But Daniel 1:1 does not necessarily require us to make any such assumption (see on that passage), and the other chronological computations are quite uncertain. Exegetically, it is as impossible to insert a period after "which Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon smote" (Nieb. p. 86, note 3), as to connect the date "in the fourth year of Jehoiakim" with "which word came to Jeremiah" (Jeremiah 46:10). The title in Jeremiah 46:1 certainly does not refer specially to the prophecy about Egypt, but to על־הגּוים . But if we wished to make the whole of Jeremiah 46:2 dependent on ' אשׁר היה דבר , which would, at all events, be a forced, unnatural construction, then, from the combination of the title in Jeremiah 46:1 with the specification of time at the end of Jeremiah 46:2, it would follow that all the prophecies regarding the nations had come to Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, - which would contradict what is said in the heading to the oracle against Elam (Jeremiah 49:34), not to mention the oracle against Babylon.
Moreover, there is nothing to prevent us from assuming that the first prophecy against Egypt was revealed to Jeremiah, and uttered by him, in the same fourth year of Jehoiakim in which Necho was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar. In this way, the argument brought forward by Niebuhr in support of his forced interpretation, viz., that all specifications of time in the addresses of Jeremiah refer to the period of composition, loses all its force. In Jeremiah 45:1 also, and in Jeremiah 51:9, the time when the event occurred coincides with the time when the utterance regarding it was pronounced. Although we assume this to hold in the case before us, yet it by no means follows that what succeeds, in Jeremiah 46:3-12, is not a prophecy, but a song or lyric celebrating so important a battle, "the picture of an event that had already occurred," as Niebuhr, Ewald, and Hitzig assume. This neither follows from the statement in the title, "which Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Jehoiakim smote," nor from the contents of the succeeding address. The superscription does not naturally belong to what Jeremiah has said or uttered, but must have been prefixed, for the first time, only when the address was committed to writing and inserted in the collection, and this not till after the battle had been fought; but it is evident that the address is to be viewed as substantially a prophecy (see Jeremiah 46:6 and Jeremiah 46:10), although Jeremiah depicts, in the most lively and dramatic way, not merely the preparation of the mighty host, Jeremiah 46:3, and its formidable advance, Jeremiah 46:7-9, but also its flight and annihilation, in Jeremiah 46:5 and in Jeremiah 46:10-12.
"Prepare shield and target, and advance to the battle. Jeremiah 46:4. Yoke the horses [to the chariots]; mount the steeds, and stand with helmets on; polish the spears, put on the armour. Jeremiah 46:5. Why do I see? they are terrified and turned back, and their heroes are beaten, and flee in flight, and do not turn: terror is round about, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 46:6. Let not the swift one flee, nor let the hero escape; towards the north, by the side of the river Euphrates, they stumble and fall. Jeremiah 46:7. Who is this that cometh up like the Nile? his waters wave like the rivers. Jeremiah 46:8. Egypt cometh up like the Nile, [his] waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, I will cover the earth; I will destroy the city, and those who dwell in it. Jeremiah 46:9. Go up, ye horses; and drive furiously, ye chariots; and let the heroes go forth; Cushites and Phutites, bearing the shield; and Lydians, handling [and] bending the bow. Jeremiah 46:10. But that day [belongs] to the Lord Jahveh of hosts, a day of vengeance for avenging Himself on His enemies: and the sword shall devour and be satisfied, and shall drink its fill of their blood; for the Lord Jahveh of hosts holdeth a slaying of sacrifices in the land of the north at the river Euphrates. Jeremiah 46:11. Go up to Gilead, and take balsam, O virgin, daughter of Egypt: in vain hast thou multiplied medicines; cure there is none for thee. Jeremiah 46:12. The nations have heard of thine ignominy, and thy cry hath filled the earth: for heroes stumble against heroes, both of them fall together."
This address falls into two strophes, Jeremiah 46:3-6 and Jeremiah 46:7-12. In both are depicted in a lively manner, first the advance of the Egyptian host to the battle, then their flight and destruction. The whole has been arranged so as to form a climax: in the first strophe, the admirable equipment of the armies, and their sudden flight and defeat, are set forth in brief sentences; in the second, there is fully described not merely the powerful advance of the host that covers the earth, but also the judgment of inevitable destruction passed on them by God: the reason for the whole is also assigned. Jeremiah 46:3. In order to represent the matter in a lively way, the description begins with the call addressed to the army, to make ready for the battle. "Make ready shield and target," the two main pieces of defensive armour. מגן was the small [round] shield; צנּה , scutum , the large shield, covering the whole body. "Advance to the fight," i.e., go forward into the battle. Then the address turns to the several portions of the army: first to those who fight from chariots, who are to yoke the horses; then to the horsemen, to mount the steeds. פּרשׁים are not horsemen, but riding-horses, as in 1 Kings 5:6; 1 Kings 10:26; Ezekiel 27:14. עלה is construed with the accus., as in Genesis 49:4. The rendering given by Dahler and Umbreit, "Mount, ye horsemen," and that of Hitzig, "Advance, ye horsemen," are against the parallelism; and the remark of the last-named writer, that "Mount the steeds" would be רכבוּ , does not accord with 1 Samuel 30:17. Next, the address is directed to the foot-soldiers, who formed the main portion of the army. These are to take up their position with helmets on, to polish the spears, i.e., to sharpen them, and to put on the pieces of armour, in order to be arrayed for battle. מרק , to rub, polish, remove rust from the spear, and thereby sharpen it. סריון , here and in Jeremiah 51:3 for שׁריון , a coat of mail, pieces of armour.
Thus well arrayed, the host advances to the fight; but suddenly the seer perceives the magnificent army terror-stricken, retreating, and breaking out into a disorderly flight. The question, "Why (wherefore) do I see?" points to the unexpected and incomprehensible turn in the progress of events. המּה חתּים is not an accus. dependent on ראיתי , but an independent clause: "What do I see? They are terror-stricken" ( חתּים , terrified, broken-spirited through terror). יכּתּוּ , Hoph. from כּתת , to be broken, here and in Job 4:20 applied to persons. מנוס is added to the verb instead of the inf. abs., to give emphasis to the idea contained in the word; cf. Ewald, §281, a. מגור מסּביב .a , "horror, terror around" (cf. Jeremiah 6:25), is taken by Ewald as the reply of Jahveh to the question, "Wherefore is this? On every side there is danger;" and this is appropriately followed by the imperatives in Jeremiah 46:6, "Let no one, then, attempt to flee; not one shall escape to Egypt, but they must fall at the Euphrates." The perfects כּשׁלוּ ונפלוּ are prophetic; the stumbling and falling are as certain as if they had already happened. The second strophe commences at Jeremiah 46:7. The description begins anew, and that with a question of astonishment at the mighty host advancing like the Nile when it bursts its banks and inundates the whole country. יאר is the name of the Nile, taken from the Egyptian into the Hebrew language; cf. Gen. 41ff., Exodus 1:22, etc. התגּעשׁ , dash about (Jeremiah 5:22), wave backwards and forwards: the Hithpa. is here interchanged with the Hithpo. without any difference of meaning.
brings the answer to the question of astonishment: "Egypt approaches, its hosts cover the land like the waves of the Nile, to destroy cities and men." On the form אבידה (with א contracted from אא ), cf. Ewald, §192, d; Gesenius, §68, Rem. 1. עיר is used in an indefinite general sense, "cities," as in Jeremiah 8:16. - In Jeremiah 46:9, the imperat. stands as in Jeremiah 46:3.: "Let the formidable army approach, - cavalry, chariots, and infantry, with all their splendidly equipped auxiliaries, - nevertheless it shall perish." עלוּ הסּוּסים does not here mean "Mount the steeds," which is against the parallelism, but "Get up (i.e., prance), ye horses;" this meaning is guaranteed by the Hiphil מעלה , as used in Nahum 3:3. התהללוּ הרכב is an imitation of Nahum 2:5. As auxiliaries, and very brave ones too ( גבּורים ), are mentioned "Cush," i.e., the Ethiopians; "Phut," the Libyans; and "Ludim," i.e., Hamitic, African Lydians, as in Ezekiel 30:5. On the double construct in תּפשׂי דר , "holding, bending bows," cf. Ew. §280, c.
This formidable army shall perish; for the day of the battle is the day of the Lord of hosts, on which He will take vengeance upon His enemies. Among these enemies are the Egyptians, who have grievously sinned against Israel, the people of the Lord, not merely of late, by making war upon and killing King Josiah, by carrying away Jehoahaz, and making Jehoiakim his vassal, but also from the earliest times. For this, Egypt is now to be brought low. The sword shall devour and be refreshed by drinking the blood of the Egyptians. For the Lord is preparing for a slaying of sacrifices ( זבח ) in the north, at the Euphrates. Isaiah 34:6 forms the basis of these words.
The blow which shall there come on the Egyptians is one from which they shall never recover, and the wound shall be one not to be healed by any balm. As to the balm of Gilead, see on Jeremiah 8:22; on רפאות and תּעלה , see Jeremiah 30:13. "Virgin daughter of Egypt" is equivalent to virgin-like people of Egypt, i.e., not hitherto forced, but now ravished, violated, so that all nations shall hear of the dishonour done them, and their cry shall fill the whole earth, for (as at the conclusion, the threat is added by way of confirmation) all the heroes of Egypt stumble and fall. גּבּור בּגבּור , "hero against hero," i.e., one against another, or over the others, as usually happens in a flight where confusion reigns; cf. Jer. 26:37.
The second prophecy regarding Egypt, with a message for Israel attached to it, was uttered after the preceding. This is evident even from the superscription, Jeremiah 46:13: "The word which Jahveh spake to Jeremiah the prophet of the coming of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon to smite the land of Egypt." The formula, "The word which," etc., agrees with that in Jeremiah 50:1; and דּבר , in contrast with היה , the word usually met with in headings, perhaps means that this prophecy, like that concerning Babylon, was not uttered in public by Jeremiah, but only written down. לבוא is used in reference to the coming of Nebuchadrezzar to smite the land. Graf puts down this heading as an addition, not made till a late edition of the prophecies was brought out, and even then added through a mistake on the part of the compiler. In support of this, he urges that the announcement in Jeremiah 46:14-26 does not form an independent prophecy, but merely constitutes the second portion of the description given in Jeremiah 46:3-12 of the defeat of the Egyptians. But the ground assigned for this view, viz., that if this prophecy formed a separate and distinct piece, written at another time, then Jeremiah would have predicted the conquest of the other countries, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, etc., in consequence of the battle of Carchemish; and as regards Egypt, would have contented himself with a triumphal song over its fall - which is in itself unlikely: this argument is utterly null. It has no meaning whatever; for Jeremiah 46:3-12 contain, not a triumphal song over a defeat that had already taken place, but a prophecy regarding the defeat about to take place. To this the prophet added a second prophecy, in which he once more announces beforehand to Egypt that it shall be conquered. In this way, more is foretold regarding Egypt than the neighbouring countries, because Egypt was of much greater consequence, in relation to the theocracy, than Philistia, Moab, etc. According to the superscription, this second prophecy refers to the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. According to Jeremiah 37:5, this did not take place so long as Zedekiah was king; and according to Jeremiah 43:8., it was foretold by Jeremiah, after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Jews were fleeing to Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah. From this, one might conclude, with Nägelsbach, that the piece now before us is contemporaneous with Jeremiah 43:8. But this inference is not a valid one. The threat uttered in Jeremiah 43:8. of a conquest to befall Egypt had a special occasion of its own, and we cannot well regard it in any other light than as a repetition of the prophecy now before us, for the Jews; for its contents seem to show that it was composed not long after that in Jeremiah 46:3-12, or soon after the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish. This address also falls into two strophes, Jeremiah 46:14-19 and Jeremiah 46:20-26, while Jeremiah 46:27, Jeremiah 46:28 form an additional message for Israel. The line of thought is this: Egypt may arm herself as she chooses, but her power shall fall, and her auxiliaries shall flee (Jeremiah 46:14-16). Pharaoh's fall is certain; the enemy shall come in force, and turn all Egypt into a desert (Jeremiah 46:17-19). The destroyer comes from the north, the mercenaries flee, and the enemy hews down countless hosts of men like trees in a forest (Jeremiah 46:20-23). Egypt will be given into the hand of the people out of the north; for Jahveh will punish gods, princes, and people, and deliver up Egypt to the king of Babylon. But afterwards, Egypt will again be inhabited as it was before (Jeremiah 46:24-26). On the other hand, Israel need fear nothing, for their God will lead them back out of their captivity (Jeremiah 46:27, Jeremiah 46:28).
"Tell ye it in Egypt, and make it to be heard in Migdol, and make it be heard in Noph and Tahpanhes: say, Stand firm, and prepare thee; for the sword hath devoured around thee. Jeremiah 46:15. Why hath thy strong one been swept away? he stood not, for Jahveh pushed him down. Jeremiah 46:16. He made many stumble, yea, one fell on another; and they said, Arise, and let us return to our own people, and to the land of our birth, from before the oppressing sword. Jeremiah 46:17. They cried there, Pharaoh the king of Egypt is undone; he hath let the appointed time pass. Jeremiah 46:18. As I live, saith the King, whose name is Jahveh of hosts, Surely as Tabor among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, shall he come. Jeremiah 46:19. Prepare thee things for exile, O daughter dwelling in Egypt: for Noph will become a desolation, and be destroyed by fire, without an inhabitant."
Like the last prophecy, this one also begins with the summons to arms (Jeremiah 46:14), in order to prepare the way for the description given immediately afterwards of the defeat (Jeremiah 46:15.). The summons to make the proclamation is addressed to some persons not named, who are to announce through the country, particularly in the frontier towns and in the northern capital of Egypt, that the foe, in his devastating career, has advanced to the borders of the land. This is evident from the clause which states the reason: "The sword hath devoured what lay round thee." Regarding Migdol, i.e., Magdolos, and Tahpanhes, i.e., Daphne, the two frontier towns in the north, and Noph, i.e., Memphis, the northern capital of the kingdom, see on Jeremiah 2:16 and 54:1. התיצּב , to take up one's position for the fight; cf. Jeremiah 46:4. סביביך , "thy surroundings," are the frontier countries, but especially those on the north, - Judah, Philistia, Edom, - since the enemy comes from the north. However, we cannot with certainty infer from this, that by that time the kingdom of Judah had already fallen, and Jerusalem been laid waste. Immediately after Necho had been vanquished at the Euphrates, Nebuchadnezzar marched after the fugitive foe, pursuing him as far as the borders of Egypt; hence we read, in 2 Kings 24:7, "The king of Egypt went no more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken all that had belonged to the king of Egypt, from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates." Even at that time, in the fourth and fifth years of Jehoiakim, it could be said, "His sword hath devoured the countries contiguous to Egypt." And Nebuchadnezzar was prevented on that occasion from advancing farther, and penetrating into Egypt itself, only by hearing of his father's death at Babylon, in consequence of which he was compelled to return to Babylon as speedily as possible, for the purpose of assuming the reins of government, and to let his army with the prisoners follow him at their leisure (Berosus in Josephus, contra Ap. i. 19).
The prophet in spirit looks on the power of Egypt as already broken. This is shown by the question of astonishment, מדּוּע נסחף אבּיריך , which has been variously rendered. אבּירים .deredn e r ylsuo i rav neeb sa , "strong ones," is used in Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 47:3, and Jeremiah 50:11, of stallions, but elsewhere as an epithet of bulls, especially the strong bulls of Bashan; see on Jeremiah 8:16. In the present passage the reference may be to the mighty men of war, who do not maintain their position (Chald. and most of the old interpreters); the verb in the singular forms no sufficient objection to this view, the irregularity being due to the fact that the verb precedes its subject see Ewald, §316, t; Gesenius, §147]. It is more difficult to combine with this the singulars of the verbs עמד and הדפו which follow; these, and especially the suffix in the singular, appear to indicate that אבּידיך really refers to a noun in the singular. But the form of this noun seems against such a view; for the words adduced in support of the position that singular nouns sometimes assume plural suffixes, are insufficient for the purpose: thus, תּהלּתיך , Psalms 9:15, and שׂנאתיך , Ezekiel 35:11, are plainly nouns in the singular. And in support of the averment that, in pausal forms with Segol, the י is a mere mater lectionis , only כּפּיך , Proverbs 6:1, can be adduced: the other instances brought forward by Hitzig fail to establish his position. For איביך , Deuteronomy 28:48, may be plural; בּיני , Genesis 16:5, is far from being a case in point, for the preposition often takes plural suffixes; and even in the case of חסידיך , Psalms 16:10, the י is marked in the Qeri as superfluous; most codices, too, rather give the form חסידך . But even in the verse now before us, many codices, according to Kennicott and de Rossi, read אבּירך , so that the word should perhaps be taken as a singular. The singulars, however, which occur in the following clauses do not form conclusive proofs of this, since they may be taken in a distributive sense; and more generally the address often suddenly changes from the plural to the singular. In connection with the possibility of taking אבּיריך as a singular, the paraphrase of the lxx deserves mention and consideration, ὁ μόσχος ὁ ἔκλετός σου , to which a gloss adds ὁ But we cannot agree with Kennicott, J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, and Nägelsbach, in holding this as certainly the correct rendering; nor can we give to אבּיר the sense of "bull," for this meaning is not made out for the singular simply because the plural is used of strong bulls: this holds especially in Jeremiah, who constantly applies the plural to strong steeds. Still less ground is there for appealing to the fact that Jahveh is repeatedly called אבּיר ישׂראל or אבּיר יעקוב , Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 39:1-8:26 etc.; for this epithet of Jahveh (who shows Himself in or towards Israel as the Mighty One) cannot be applied to the helpless images of Apis. In Psalms 68:31, אבּירים means "strong ones" - bulls as emblems of kings. If the word be used here with such a reference, it may be singular or plural. In the former case it would mean the king; in the latter, the king with his princes and magnates. Against the application of the word to the images of Apis, there is the fact that Apis, a symbol of Osiris, was neither the only nor the chief god of Egypt, but was worshipped nowhere except in Memphis (Herodotus, ii. 153); hence it was not suited to be the representative of the gods or the power of Egypt, as the context of the present passage requires.
As the mighty one of Egypt does not stand, but is thrust down by God, so Jahveh makes many stumble and fall over one another, so that the strangers return to their own home in order to escape the violence of the sword. The subject of ויּאמרוּ is indefinite; the speakers, however, are not merely the hired soldiers or mercenaries (Jeremiah 46:11), or the allied nations (Ezekiel 30:5), but strangers generally, who had been living in Egypt partly for the sake of commerce, partly for other reasons (Hitzig, Graf). As to חרב היּונה , see on Jeremiah 25:38.
In Jeremiah 46:17, "they cry there" is not to be referred to those who fled to their native land; the subject is undefined, and "there" refers to the place where one falls over the other, viz., Egypt. "There they cry, 'Pharaoh the king of Egypt is שׁאון , desolation, destruction, ruin:' " for this meaning, cf. Jeremiah 25:31; Psalms 40:3; the signification "noise, bustle," is unsuitable here.
(Note: The word שׁם has been read by the lxx and the Vulgate as if it had been שׁם , ὄνομα , nomen; accordingly the lxx render, καλέσατε τὸ ὄνομα Φαραὼ Νεχαὼ βασίλεως Αἰγύπτου Σαὼν ̓Εσβεὶ ̓Εμωήδ (or ̓Εσβειὲ Μωὴδ e'd); Vulgate, vocate nomen Pharaonis regis Aegypti: Tumultum adduxit tempus . This reading is preferred by J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf, with this difference, that Hitzig and Graf take only שׁאון as a name. Hence Ewald translates, "They call Pharaoh's name 'Noise-which-a-wink-can-hush.' " This rendering is decidedly false, for מועד nowhere has the sense of "wink, nod," not even in Judges 20:38, where it means an agreement made. For the reading שׁם instead of שׁם there are no sufficient grounds, although such passages as Jeremiah 20:3 and Isaiah 30:7 may be adduced in support of the idea obtained by such a change in the word. The translation of the lxx is merely a reproduction of the Hebrew words by Greek letters, and shows that the translator did not know how to interpret them. The Vulgate rendering, tumultum adduxit tempus , is also devoid of meaning. Moreover, these translators have read קראוּ as the imperative קראוּ ; if we reject this reading, as all moderns do, then we may also lay no weight on שׁם instead of שׁם . Besides, the meaning is not materially affected by this reading, for the giving of a name to a person merely expresses what he is or will be.)
The meaning of העביר המּועד also is disputed; it is quite inadmissible, however, to join the words with שׁאון , as Ewald does, for the purpose of making out a name. No suitable meaning can be extracted from them. Neither שׁאון nor המּועד can be the subject of העביר ; the translation given by Schnurrer, "devastation that goes beyond all bounds," is still more arbitrary than that of Ewald given in the note. Since the Hiphil העביר is never used except with a transitive meaning, the subject can be none else than Pharaoh; and the words העביר המּועד must be intended to give the reason for this becoming a desolation: they are thus to be rendered, "he has allowed המּועד to pass by," not "the precise place," as Rosenmüller explains it ("he did not stop in his flight at the place where the army could be gathered again, on the return"), but "the precise time." The reference, however, is not to the suitable time for action, for self-defence and for driving off the enemy (Grotius, C. B. Michaelis, Maurer, Umbreit), because the word does not mean suitable, convenient time, but appointed time. As Hitzig rightly perceived, the time meant is that within which the desolation might still be averted, and after which the judgment of God fell on him (Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 30:18), - the time of grace which God had vouchsafed to him, so that Nebuchadnezzar did not at once, after the victory at Carchemish, invade and conquer Egypt. Pharaoh let this time pass by; because, instead of seeing in that defeat a judgment from God, he provoked the anger of Nebuchadnezzar by his repeated attacks on the Chaldean power, and brought on the invasion of Egypt by the king of Babylon (see above, p. 354). - In Jeremiah 46:18. there is laid down a more positive foundation for the threat uttered in Jeremiah 46:17. With an oath, the Lord announces the coming of the destroyer into Egypt. Like Tabor, which overtops all the mountains round about, and like Carmel, which looks out over the sea as if it were a watch-tower, so will he come, viz., he from whom proceeds the devastation of Egypt, the king of Babylon. the power of Nebuchadnezzar, in respect of its overshadowing all other kings, forms the point of comparison. Tabor has the form of a truncated cone. Its height is given at 1805 feet above the level of the sea, or 1350 from the surface of the plain below; it far surpasses in height all the hills in the vicinity, ad affords a wide prospect on every side; cf. Robinson's Phys. Geogr. of Palestine, p. 26f. Carmel stretches out in the form of a long ridge more than three miles wide, till it terminates on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, as a bold, lofty promontory, which rises in an imposing manner at least 500 feet above the sea; cf. Robinson, p. 26f. Then the inhabitants of Egypt will be driven into exile. כּלי גולה .e , "vessels of wandering;" outfit for an exile, as in Ezekiel 12:3. "Daughter of Egypt" is not a personification of the country, whose inhabitants are the people, but of the population, which is viewed as the daughter of the country; it stands in apposition to יושׁבת , like בּתוּלת בּת מצרי , Jeremiah 46:11. For Noph, i.e., Memphis, the capital, is laid waste and burned, so as to lose its inhabitants. With Jeremiah 46:20 begins the second strophe, in which the fate impending on Egypt is still more plainly predicted.
"Egypt is a very beautiful young heifer; a gadfly from the north comes - comes. Jeremiah 46:21. Her mercenaries, too, in her midst, are like fatted calves; for they also turn their backs, they flee together: they do not stand, for the day of her destruction is some on her, the time of her visitation. Jeremiah 46:22. Its sound is like [that of] the serpent [as it] goes; for they go with an army, and come against her with axes, like hewers of trees. Jeremiah 46:23. They cut down her forest, saith Jahveh, for it is not to be searched; for they are more numerous than locusts, and they cannot be numbered. Jeremiah 46:24. The daughter of Egypt is disgraced; she is given into the hand of the people of the north. Jeremiah 46:25. Jahveh of hosts, the God of Israel, saith, Behold, I will visit Amon of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, her gods, and her kings; Pharaoh, and all those who trust in him. Jeremiah 46:26. And I will give them into the hand of those who seek their life, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants; but afterwards it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith Jahveh."
In Jeremiah 46:20 the address begins afresh, in order to carry out further, under new images, the description of the desolation already threatened. Egypt is a very beautiful עגלה ; this feminine is chosen with a regard to "the daughter of Egypt." יפה־פיּה is an adjective formed from the Peal of יפה , "very beautiful," not "coquetting" (Hitzig, who follows the κεκαλλωπισμένη of the lxx). A very beautiful heifer is the people when carefully and abundantly fed in their beautiful and fertile land (Hitzig). Upon this heifer there comes from the north קרץ . This ἁπ. λεγ. is variously rendered. קרץ means, in the Hebrew, to pinch, nip (Job 33:6), to compress together, as in winking (Psalms 35:19), to bring the lips closely together (Proverbs 16:30), and to nip off; cf. Arab. qaras[a to pinch, nip, cut off. Hence A. Schultens ( Orig. Heb. ii. 34ff.), after Cocceius, and with a reference to Virgil, Georg. iii. 147, has rendered קרץ by morsus vellicans oestri. Hitzig (with whom Roediger, in his additions to Gesenius' Thesaurus, agrees) takes Arab. qârṣ , insectum cimici simile as his warrant for rendering it by oestrus , "the gadfly," which gives a more suitable meaning. Ewald, on the contrary, compares קרץ with Arab. qrs], and translates it "whale," a huge sea-monster; but this is quite arbitrary, for קרץ does not correspond to the Arabic qrs], and the whale or shark does not afford any figure that would be suitable for the context: e.g., Jeremiah 46:21, "her mercenaries also flee," shows that the subject treated of is not the devouring or destruction, but the expulsion of the Egyptians out of their land; this is put as an addition to what is said about exile in Jeremiah 46:19. Still less suitable is the general rendering excidium , destruction (Rabbins, Gesenius, Umbreit); and there is no lexical foundation for the Vulgate translation stimulator, nor for "taskmaster," the rendering of J. D. Michaelis and Rosenmüller. The old translators have only made guesses from the context. The figure of the gadfly corresponds to the bee in the land of Assyria, Isaiah 7:18. The repetition of בּא gives emphasis, and points either to the certainty of the coming, or its continuance.
The mercenaries, also, of the daughter of Egypt, well fed, like fatted calves, betake themselves to flight. שׂכרים are "mercenaries," as distinguished from the allies mentioned in Jeremiah 46:9. It was Carians and Ionians through whom Psammetichus attained the supremacy over all Egypt: these had settled down in στρατόπεδα of their own, between Bubastis and Pelusium, on both banks of the eastern arm of the Nile (Herodotus, ii. 152, 154), and were very well cared for, since the king relied on them (Herod. ii. 152, 163). Hence the comparison with fatted calves, which, moreover, are co-ordinated with the subject, as is shown by the resumption of the subject in גּם המּה . כּי stands in the middle of the sentence, with an asseverative meaning: "Yea, these also turn their back, they flee together, do not stand; for the day of their destruction is come." "The day of their destruction" is used as in Jeremiah 18:17. On "the time of their visitation" (which stands in apposition to the preceding expression (cf. Jeremiah 11:23; Jeremiah 23:12: it is not an accusative of time (Graf), for this always expresses the idea of continuance during a space of time.
In Jeremiah 46:22, Jeremiah 46:23, the annihilation of the power of Egypt is portrayed under another figure. A difficult expression is קולהּ כּנּחשׁ ילך , "her (viz., that of the daughter of Egypt) voice is like (the voice of) the serpent (which) goes." ילך must be taken as part of a relative sentence, since this verb is nowhere used of a voice or sound; hence it cannot be so joined here. Ewald, following the συρίζοντος of the lxx, would read שׁרק , "hissing," instead of ילך , and translates, "it makes a noise like the hissing serpent." He more fully defines the meaning thus: "Even though Egypt were hidden like a serpent in a thicket, yet it would be heard in its flight, like a nasty serpent hissing fiercely, while it hurries away from the axe of the wood-cutter." But, apart from the arbitrary change of ילך into שׁרק (the former word is used in Genesis 3:14 of the going, i.e., crawling, of a serpent), Ewald puts into the words an idea altogether foreign to them. The nasty, fierce hissing of the serpent that is forced to flee, is quite unsuitable; for there is no further mention made of the flight of the Egyptians, but Egypt is hewn down like a forest by woodcutters. Moreover, as Graf has already well remarked, Egypt is not compared to a serpent, but only its voice to the voice or hiss of a serpent. For קול signifies, not merely the voice, but any sound, even the rustling and rattling of leaves (cf. Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 26:36; 2 Samuel 5:24); hence it may denote the noise caused by a serpent crawling on its belly in the thicket. The comparison, as Graf has correctly observed, is like that in Isaiah 29:4. There it is the daughter of Zion, but here it is the daughter of Egypt that lies on the ground, deeply humbled; weeping softly and moaning, making a sound like that of a serpent in a moss among fallen leaves, fleeing before the woodcutters.
(Note: The old translators have quite misunderstood these words, and attempted to apply them, each one according to his own fancy, to the enemy. Thus the lxx translate: Φωνὴ αὐτῶν קולם ( ) ὡς ὄφεοως συρίζοντος, ὅτι ἐν ἄμμῳ בּחול ( for בּחיל ) πορεύσονται , κ.τ.λ. Chald.: vox collisionis armorum eorum est sicut vox serpentum repentium ; and similarly the Syriac. The Vulgate is: vox ejus quasi aeris נחשׁת ( for נחשׁ ) sonabit, quoniam cum exercitu properabunt et cum securibus venient . The translator of the Vulgate has thus read קולהּ , and referred the suffix to קרץ , which he renders stimulator. Luther follows the Vulgate: "Sie faren daher, das der Harnisch brasselt, und kommen mit Heeres Krafft ." Hitzig also seeks to change the text, after the lxx, turning קולהּ into קולם , and בּחיל into בּחול . But this alteration disturbs the order of the sentence. Not only in Jeremiah 46:20 and Jeremiah 46:21, but also in Jeremiah 46:23, Jeremiah 46:24, the first clause always treats of Egypt, and what befalls her is only stated in the clauses which follow: so is it in Jeremiah 46:22. Thus the alteration made affords a very trivial result, viz., that the enemy advancing on Egypt march through the very sandy desert between Gaza and Egypt, and make slow progress, like serpents, because they wade through the sand; so that they make their appearance suddenly and unexpectedly.)
Thus she lies on the ground, for the enemy comes in force, with axes like woodcutters, to hew down the forest of men in Egypt. The mention of the axes is occasioned by the comparison of the foe to woodcutters; we are not to think of battle-axes as weapons of the Massagetae, Scythians, Persians, and other nations (Herodotus, i. 215, iv. 70, vii. 64; Xenophon, Cyroped. i. 2, 9). Axes here form the type of murderous weapons generally. On the comparison of a multitude of people to a forest, cf. Jeremiah 21:14; Isaiah 10:18., Isaiah 10:33. The clause כּי לא יחקר is referred by L. de Dieu, J. D. Michaelis, Hitzig, Nägelsbach, etc., to the wood, "for it cannot be explored or penetrated;" thus a road must be made in order to get through it. However, the question is not about the enemy going or marching through Egypt, but about the destruction of Egypt and her powers. Rosenmüller and Graf, with Raschi, are more correct in referring the clause to the hostile army, "for it cannot be investigated," i.e., it is impossible to learn the number of them. It is no great objection to this interpretation that the verb occurs in the singular: this must be retained as it is, since it is not the individual enemies that cannot be searched out, but it is the number of the whole army that cannot be reckoned. On the employment of חקר in the Niphal in connection with the impossibility of counting a multitude, cf. 1 Kings 7:47, and the expression לא in Job 5:9; Job 9:10; 36:36. The clauses which follow, and conclude Jeremiah 46:23, explain the thought further: "more numerous than grasshoppers," i.e., innumerable.
In Jeremiah 46:24. the result of the overthrow of Egypt, which has hitherto been set forth in figurative language, is stated in words which describe the exact realities: Egypt will be given up to ignominy, delivered into the power of a people from the north, i.e., the Chaldeans. The Lord of hosts, the Almighty God of Israel, punishes it for its sins. He visits, i.e., punishes, Amon of No, the chief idol of Egypt; Pharaoh, and the land, with all its gods and its kings, and with Pharaoh, all those who place their trust in his power. Words are accumulated for the purpose of showing that the judgment will be one which shall befall the whole land, together with its gods, its rulers, and its inhabitants. First of all is mentioned Amon of No, as in Ezekiel 30:14. נא is an abbreviation of נא אמון , i.e., dwelling of Amon, the sacred name of the royal city in Upper Egypt, famous in antiquity, which the Greeks called Διὸς πόλις , or Θήβη , or Θῆβαι it is supposed, after the vulgar Egyptian name Tapet or Tape (Throne or Seat); see on Nahum 3:8. Amon - in Greek ̓Αμμοῦν (Herodotus, ii. 42), ̓Αμοῦν (Plutarch, de Is. Ch. 9), ̓Αμῶν (Jamblichus, de myst. 5, 8) - was a sun-god (Amon-Râ), probably a symbol of the sun as it appears in the spring, in the sign of the Ram; hence he was represented with rams' horns. By the Greeks he was compared to Jupiter, or Zeus, and named Jupiter Ammon. The chief seat of his worship was Thebes, where he had a temple, with a numerous learned priesthood and a famous oracle (cf. Strabo, xvii. 1. 43; Justin. xi. 11), which Cambyses destroyed (Diodorus, Siculus, Fragm. Lib. x.). Under the expression "kings of Egypt" we are not to include governors or vassal-kings, but all the kings who ever ruled Egypt; for in the judgment now falling on Egypt, all the kings it ever had, together with all its gods, are punished. In the last part of the verse the name of Pharaoh is once more given, for the purpose of attaching to it the words "and all who trust in him;" these are intended for the Jews who expected help from Egypt. The punishment consists in their being all given into the hand of their enemies, namely ( ו explic.) into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants. This defeat, however, is not to be the end of the Egyptian kingdom. The threat of judgment concludes, in Jeremiah 46:26, with a promise for the future. "Afterwards, it shall be inhabited, as in the days of yore." שׁכן is used in a neuter sense, as in Jeremiah 17:6; Jeremiah 33:16, etc. Since this verb also signifies to settle down, be encamped (Numbers 24:2), and to lie quiet, to rest, or keep oneself quiet, inactive (Judges 5:17; Proverbs 7:11), Hitzig and Graf, with Kimchi, give the explanation: "because the power of Egypt shall be broken, it will keep quiet, and remain at home in its own country, instead of marching forth and fighting other nations, as it has lately begun again to do (Jeremiah 46:7) after centuries of peace." But although, in support of this view, we are pointed to Ezekiel 29:13, where the restoration of Egypt is predicted, with the further remark, "it will be an abject kingdom," yet this idea is not contained in the words of our verse. To render שׁכן by "to keep quiet, be inactive," does not suit the words "as in the days of old." In former days, Egypt was neither inactive nor remained at home in peace in its own land. From the remotest antiquity, the Pharaohs made wars, and sought to enlarge their dominions by conquest. Add to this, that we must view the concluding portion of this prophecy in a manner analogous to the closing thought of the prophecies regarding Moab (Jeremiah 48:47), Ammon (Jeremiah 49:6), and Elam (Jeremiah 49:39), where the turning of the captivity in the last times is given in prospect to these nations, and "afterwards," in Jeremiah 49:6, alternates with "in the latter days" found in Jeremiah 48:47 and Jeremiah 49:39. From this it follows that, in the verse now before us also, it is not the future in general, but the last time, i.e., the Messianic future, that is pointed out; hence שׁכן does not express the peaceful condition of the land, but its being inhabited, in contrast with its depopulation in the immediate future, in consequence of its inhabitants being killed or carried away. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see p. 351ff.
A promise for Israel. - Jeremiah 46:27. "But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, nor be dismayed: for, behold, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be at rest and secure, and no one shall make him afraid. Jeremiah 46:28. Fear thou not, my servant Jacob, saith Jahveh, for I am with thee; for I will make complete destruction of all the nations whither I have driven thee, but of thee will I not make complete destruction: yet I will correct thee in a proper manner, and I will not leave thee wholly unpunished." These verses certainly form no integral portion of the prophecy, but an epilogue; yet they are closely connected with the preceding, and are occasioned by the declaration in Jeremiah 46:26, that the Lord, when He visits Pharaoh, shall also visit all those who trust in Him. This word, which is directed to Judah, might be understood to declare that it is Judah chiefly which will share the fate of Egypt. In order to prevent such a misconception, Jeremiah adds a word for Israel, which shows how the true Israel has another destiny to hope for. Their deliverer is Jahveh, their God, who certainly punishes them for their sins, gives them up to the power of the heathen, but will also gather them gain after their dispersion, and then grant them uninterrupted prosperity. This promise of salvation at the close of the announcement of judgment on Egypt is similar to the promise of salvation for Israel inserted in the threat of judgment against Babylon, Jeremiah 50:4-7 and Jeremiah 50:19, Jeremiah 50:20, Jeremiah 51:5-6, Jeremiah 51:10, Jeremiah 51:35-36, Jeremiah 51:45-46, Jeremiah 51:50; and this similarity furnishes a proof in behalf of the genuineness of the verse, which is denied by modern critics. For, although what Nägelsbach remarks is quite correct, viz., that the fall of the kingdom of Babylon, through its conquest by Cyrus, directly brought about the deliverance of Israel, while the same cannot be said regarding the conquest of Egypt, yet even Egypt had a much greater importance, in relation to Judah, than the smaller neighbouring nations, against which the oracles in Jer 47-49 are directed; hence there is no ground for the inference that, because there is nothing said in these three chapters of such a connection between Egypt and Israel, it did not really exist. But when Nägelsbach further asks, "How does this agree with the fact that Jeremiah, on other occasions, while in Egypt, utters only the strongest threats against the Israelites - Jer 42-44?" - there is the ready answer, that the expressions in Jer 42-44 do not apply to the whole covenant people, but only to the rabble of Judah that was ripe for the sentence of destruction, that had fled to Egypt against the will of God. What Hitzig and Graf have further urged in another place against the genuineness of the verses now before us, is scarcely worth mention. The assertion that the verses do not accord with the time of the foregoing prophecy, and rather presuppose the exile, can have weight only with those who à priori deny that the prophet could make any prediction. But if Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, distinctly announces not merely the carrying away of Judah to Babylon, but also fixes the duration of the exile at seventy years, then he might well speak at the same time, or later, of the restoration of Israel from their captivity.
But there are two other considerations which support the genuineness of these verses: (1) The fact that Hitzig and Graf are obliged to confess it remains a problem how they came to form a part of the oracle against Egypt. The attempt made by the former writer to solve this problem partly rests on the assumption, already refuted by Graf, that the verses were written by the second Isaiah (on this point, see our remarks at p. 263, note), and partly on a combination of results obtained by criticism, in which even their author has little confidence. But (2) we must also bear in mind the nature of the verses in question. They form a repetition of what we find in Jeremiah 30:10-11, and a repetition, too, quite in the style of Jeremiah, who makes variations in expression. Thus here, in Jeremiah 46:27, נאם יהוה is omitted after יעקוב , perhaps simply because Jeremiah 46:26 concludes with נאם יהוה ; again, in Jeremiah 46:20, à תּה אל ־ תּירא is repeated with נאם יהוה , which is wanting in Jeremiah 30:11. On the other hand, להושׁיעך in Jeremiah 30:11, and אך in Jeremiah 30:11, have been dropped; הפיצותיך שׁם (Jeremiah 30:11) has been exchanged for הדּחתּיך שׁמּה . Hence Hitzig has taken the text here to be the better and the original one; and on this he founds the supposition that the verses were first placed here in the text, and were only afterwards, and from this passage, inserted in Jeremiah 30:10-11, where, however, they stand in the best connection, and even for that reason could not be a gloss inserted there. Such are some of the contradictions in which critical scepticism involves itself. We have already given an explanation of these verses under Jer 30.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany