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The First Prophecy Against Egypt
v. 1. The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah, the prophet, by direct inspiration, against the Gentiles, this verse serving as a superscription of a series of prophecies directed against various foreign peoples.
v. 2. Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh-necho, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, a strongly fortified commercial center, on a peninsula between the Khaboor and the Euphrates, which, or whom, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah. This serves as a historical introduction to the prophecy which follows. Pharaoh-necho had landed in the Bay of Acco, his intention being to conquer all the countries between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates. When Josiah, king of Judah, dared to interfere with his progress, meeting him in battle at Megiddo, the army of the Jews was beaten and Josiah himself mortally wounded. Pharaoh then subjugated Phenicia and Syria and moved onward to Carchemish (Cercusium), where he was probably encamped at the time when this prophecy was first made, about in the year 606 B. C. before the forces of Nebuchadnezzar had entered upon their campaign against the Egyptian army.
v. 3. Order ye the buckler, the smaller protecting shield, and shield, the large shield, behind which the entire body could be hidden, and draw near to battle! It is a description picturing the preparations for battle, with a call to battle which enlivens the narrative.
v. 4. Harness the horses, a call addressed to the charioteers; and get up, ye horsemen, the cavalry mounting their steeds for the attack, and stand forth with your helmets, this being directed to the infantry; furbish the spears, sharpening them for offensive work, and put on the brigandines, the coats of mail which were essential in ancient warfare. But now the prophet sees the army, which was so eager for the attack, most miserably defeated.
v. 5. Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? the soldiers who set out so confidently for the attack being overcome with terror at their defeat. And their mighty ones are beaten down, broken to pieces, scattered and wounded, and are fled apace, literally, "fled a flight," that is, with the greatest haste, and look not back; for fear was round about, saith the Lord, this being the explanation for the precipitate flight of the Egyptians.
v. 6. Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape, such attempts would be utterly useless, all efforts along that line would avail them nothing; they shall stumble and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates. The prophet sees their defeat so vividly that the tottering and falling are accomplished facts before his eyes. A second scene of battle is now painted, more detailed, more concrete than the first.
v. 7. Who is this that cometh up as a flood, like the Nile overflowing its banks, whose waters are moved as the rivers? surging to and fro with irresistible force.
v. 8. Egypt riseth up like a flood, like the mighty Nile itself, and his waters are moved like the rivers, like the rush of water near its mouths; and he saith, I will go up and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city, that is, every city, and the inhabitants thereof. Such was the proud boast of Egypt in relying on its own strength.
v. 9. Come up, ye horses, rearing back with impatience; and rage, ye chariots, as in uncontrollable anger, and let the mighty men come forth, moving forward to battle; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield, these mercenary troops being chosen for their skill in using this weapon of defense in battle, and the Lydians, those of northern Africa, descendants of the Egyptians, that handle and bend the bow. Cf Genesis 10:13; Ezekiel 30:5. The Egyptians had made all preparations for a victorious campaign; they went forth confident of an early and complete victory. But they were soon to learn their mistake.
v. 10. For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, the great Commander of the heavenly armies, a day of vengeance, that He may avenge Him of His adversaries, the Egyptians belonging to this class, not only for the killing of Josiah and the subsequent humiliation of Judah, but since ancient times; and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate, filled to the point of being surfeited, and made drunk with their blood; for the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice in the North country by the river Euphrates, for the slaughter of the Egyptians at Carchemish would be like an offering made to satisfy His righteous anger. Therefore the Lord addresses Egypt in a final emphatic prediction of evil.
v. 11. Go up into Gilead and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt, hitherto not having been subject to any other power; in vain shalt thou use many medicines, for thou shalt not be cured, the wound inflicted upon her at this time would be beyond medical skill.
v. 12. The nations have heard of thy shame, the humiliation which would come upon her by this defeat, and thy cry hath filled the land, as the stricken ones made known their misery; for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, in the confusion of headless flight, and they are fallen both together. It is a most vivid description of the utter defeat which would strike the Egyptians by God's counsel, for His judgment invariably finds His enemies.
The Second Prophecy Against Egypt
v. 13. The word that the Lord spake to Jeremiah, the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, should come and smite the land of Egypt, this prophecy belonging to a later period than that of the first part of the chapter.
v. 14. Declare ye in Egypt, in a formal proclamation throughout the country, and publish in Migdol and publish in Noph and in Tahpanhes, that is, in the regions along the northeastern boundary and in Memphis, the capital of the northern part of the country; say ye, Stand fast and prepare thee, for the sword shall devour round about thee, the prophet even then seeing the surrounding nations devastated by the advancing Chaldeans.
v. 15. Why are thy valiant men swept away? Why this complete overthrow of Egypt's ruler? They stood not because the Lord did drive them, the king with all his mighty men was powerless against the attack of the Lord, against the punishment meted out by Him through the Chaldean king.
v. 16. He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another, Jehovah Himself causing them to stumble and to sink to the ground; and they said, Arise and let us go again to our own people, since they were but visitors and strangers in Egypt, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword, to escape its murderous fierceness. Thus the confederates and mercenaries of Egypt would make ready to save their own lives in the general destruction.
v. 17. They did cry there, namely, the people who were in Egypt at the time of this great calamity, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is but a noise, or "is destruction, ruin," since his overthrow was evidently a matter of only a short time; he hath passed the time appointed, it was now too late to avert the Lord's judgment.
v. 18. As I live, saith the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts, the supreme Ruler of the universe, in a most solemn oath by His own life, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, looking down upon all the lower hills, and as Carmel by the sea, standing out as a bold promontory, so shall he come, namely, the destroyer of Egypt, the Chaldean conqueror.
v. 19. O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, the entire Egyptian people, furnish thyself to go into captivity, by getting ready vessels and containers for food on the journey into exile; for Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant, such being the fate of the proud capital according to the judgment of God upon it.
v. 20. Egypt is like a very fair heifer, occupying a fine and fertile land and therefore well nourished, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the North, the direction from which the Chaldeans would approach, like stinging gad-flies.
v. 21. Also her hired men, the mercenaries in her employ, are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks, provided with the best of everything, in order to keep them favorably inclined; for they also are turned back, even they lost all their former courage, 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, when God would visit His anger upon them.
v. 22. The voice thereof, of the daughter of Egypt, shall go like a serpent, hissing from her thicket as she hears some one approaching; for they shall march with an army and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood. As the human forest of Egypt would be hewn down, she would flee with a noise as that of rustling leaves, weakly hissing out her protest, but without power effectually to resent it.
v. 23. They shall cut down her forest, saith the Lord, though it cannot be searched, it was impossible to estimate the number of the enemy; because they are more than the grasshoppers, whose swarms contain countless insects, and are innumerable. The gist of the prophecy is now given without pictures.
v. 24. The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the North, of the Chaldean hordes.
v. 25. The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saith, Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, literally, "the Amon of No," the chief idol of Egypt, and Pharaoh, and Egypt with their gods and their kings, all the people of the country, great and small, together with their idols; even Pharaoh and all them that trust in him;
v. 26. and I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants; and afterward, when its power would be broken and its ambition for world influence would no longer be in evidence, it shall be inhabited as in the days of old, saith the Lord, the Messianic idea finding its expression at this point. This is evident especially from the concluding verses of the chapter, which are addressed to the spiritual Israel.
v. 27. But fear not thou, O My servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel, both expressions referring to the Lord's people in the highest and best sense of the term; for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, bringing back His own children from the far distances to which they had been carried, and thy seed from the land of their captivity, this word finding its application particularly in the spiritual sense; and Jacob shall return and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid, since he would be entirely in the care and under the protection of Jehovah.
v. 28. Fear thou not, O Jacob, My servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee, the world-powers of that day being symbolical of the powers of evil which beset the believers of all times. But I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure, with a chastisement of mercy, not tempting His children above that they are able; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished, for the visitation of the Lord is intended to lead men to repentance. All this is figurative of the one great deliverance by which the Lord saved His people from all their enemies and established His Church of the New Testament.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany