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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah 43

Verse 2

THE JOURNEY TO EGYPT, Jeremiah 43:1-7.

2. Azariah See note on Jeremiah 42:1. Possibly the change in the order of the names of Johanan and Azariah or Jezaniah indicates that the latter was the leader in this opposition against the prophet. Johanan now comes before us in a new light. Before we knew him as the friend of Gedaliah and the avenger of his death, but now the opposer and persecutor of Jeremiah.

Verse 3

3. Baruch… setteth thee on Why Baruch is given this offensive pre-eminence does not appear. He was probably a younger man than Jeremiah, and was to some extent the medium of his communications. He may thus have given offence, and may have infused into the messages something of his own ardour and zeal.

Verse 5

5. Remnant… returned from all nations This language only describes the people in this company. It coming to be known that the administration of the Chaldeans was friendly and fostering, there was a tendency on the part of the people who had fled before the invading army and taken refuge among other peoples to return. Hence such a phrase as this of the text describes them much as “and all those who were still alive, having escaped the calamities of the time.”

Verse 7

7. Tahpanhes See Jeremiah 2:16. This was a frontier town on the Pelusian branch of the Nile. It is the Daphne of Herodotus. It is repeatedly mentioned by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and seems to have been a place of considerable importance, as in the passage above referred to “Noph and Tahpanhes” are made to represent Egypt, and in Jeremiah 43:9 we learn that Pharaoh had a palace there.

Verse 9


9. Hide them in the clay in the brickkiln The object of this symbolical action is perfectly plain; but to understand the action itself is exceedingly difficult. The great doubt is, as to the sense of the word translated “brickkiln.” The word is used in two other places, neither one of which sheds a very certain light upon the word. In 2 Samuel 12:31, it is said of David that “he made them (the Ammonites) to pass through the brickkiln.” In Nahum 3:14, the people are exhorted to prepare for the siege, and this language is employed: “Go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln.” Each one of these passages has its special difficulty, and so they cannot be appealed to with much confidence as settling the meaning of the word. Furst gives to the word in 2 Samuel 12:31, (Kethib,) the sense of a heathen deity; and this, though conjectural rather than ascertained, is possibly right. He gives to the word in Nahum 3:14, the sense of “brick,” such as would be used in closing up the breaches of the walls, and this sense perfectly fits the passage. In this place he gives the word the sense of “a brick-shaped quadrangle,” and understands it to be a pavement of brick or tile in front of the palace. This comes very nearly to the sense of the leading versions, the Vulgate rendering, “a brick wall,” the Syriac “a brick mould,” and the LXX “the propylaea.” Taking this sense, Jeremiah was instructed to take stones and conceal them in clay or mortar on the pavement in front of the palace. The clay represented the fragile power of the Egyptians, which would now fail; the stones the more enduring power of the Babylonians. The place was a suitable one for this act. That the prophet would be permitted to place stones and mortar in such a place for such a purpose is not incredible certainly not impossible. The place was suitable, indicating the establishing of a royal power. The clay was the material out of which the palace itself was built. Pharaoh’s dominion was as the crumbling clay; Nebuchadrezzar’s was symbolized by the more enduring stones.

There is but one other view of this passage entitled to consideration. Neumann prefers the sense “brickkiln,” and explains the difficulty that it should be found in front of the palace, on the supposition that it was there to supply material for the construction of the palace, and had not yet been removed. This view is approved by Keil and Nagelsbach. But, to say the least, while it is a possible, it is certainly not a probable, conjecture; and even if the sense “brickkiln” were established, the hiding in the clay in the brickkiln is hard to understand.

Verse 10

10. Royal pavilion The original word occurs nowhere else. Keil explains it as “the gorgeous tapestry with which the seat of the throne was covered;” Smith, as a “canopy” the parasol which was carried over the head of the monarch when exposed to the sun’s rays, and so was an emblem of royalty. See Rawlinson’s Ancient Monarchies, 1: 495. The sense favoured by Keil suits the language best.

Verse 11

11. Such as are for death to death No theological importance can be found in this peculiar phraseology. It is neither fatalistic nor predestinarian.

Verse 12

12. I will kindle… he shall burn Because of the difference in person here, many critics have conjectured a change of one letter in the text, so that the true reading would be he shall kindle. This is unwarranted. Such conjectural emendations of the text should be rarely ventured upon or accepted. The great majority of the corrections of the Masorites themselves are now seen to be mistakes and not corrections. God kindles the fire; Nebuchadrezzar applies it to its purpose of destruction. Both God and Nebuchadrezzar were concerned in this work. Men have their purposes, which are often low, selfish, and wicked; God has his purpose, always wise and just.

And he shall array “As easily as any shepherd in the open field wraps himself in his cloak, so will he take the whole of Egypt in his hand and be able to throw it round him like a light garment.” Ewald.

Verse 13

13. Images Obelisks. Two of these (of which there were several before the famous “temple of the sun”) were each one hundred and fifty feet high.

Beth-shemesh Literally, house of the sun; the name of the temple being given to the city. It is also called in the Old Testament “On:” it was also known to the Greeks as Heliopolis. It was situated about twenty miles northeast from Memphis. The one famous obelisk now marking the site of this city is dated about 2050 B.C.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 43". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.