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Jeremiah Chapter 43
The Remnant goes down to Egypt in spite of Jeremiah's Warning.
Judah Moves to Egypt; taking Jeremiah and Baruch.
This is a sad, disturbing Chapter. Abraham's descendants returned to Egypt long after their deliverance from it. With such great suffering they had been delivered from their bondage in Egypt, only to return nearly nine hundred years later as a defeated, hopeless remnant!
There is possibly nowhere to be found a better comment upon the incredible blindness and stupidity of human politicians than the one mentioned in this Chapter.
The chapter divisions are: (1). Judah's leaders reject God's word (Jer.43:1-4); (2). Jeremiah and Baruch are taken to Egypt (Jer.43:5-7); (3). Prophecy of conquest of Egypt (Jer.43:8-11); and (4). Prophecy against the gods of Egypt (Jer.43:12-13).
Theme: Prophecies to the remnant in Egypt.
Chapters 43 and 44 contain Jeremiah’s words to the remnant in Egypt.
Judah's leaders reject God's word (Jer.43:1-4)
Jer. 43:1 And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words, (KJV)
And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people . . . the princes and the people, the whole body of them, who had wanted the prophet to seek the LORD for them, and whom he called together to give his answer, and declare God’s will. They heard him, but that was all they did; for as soon as he was done speaking, they rose up and confronted him . . . however, he faithfully did declare,
All the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God sent him to them, even all the words . . . which are related in Chapter 42, which were the words of the LORD, and so should have been regarded; and as they were the words of their God, whom they professed, and which He had sent His prophet to declare unto them; and who had kept back nothing, but had made known the whole; Jeremiah had told the truth, and nothing but the truth, and all the truth.
Jer. 43:2 Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there: (KJV)
Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah . . . possibly the same as Jezaniah, or a brother of his (Jer.42:1); he is mentioned first, because he was the plotter of this scheme to go into Egypt, advised it, and was all for it.
And Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men . . . the great men among them, were proud of their greatness; of their descent, family and blood; of their wealth and riches, and posts of honor. Maybe the captains of the forces are meant, who elsewhere are mentioned along with Johanan (Jer.40:13); these men were full of themselves, had a very high opinion of their own wisdom, and were cautious in their own eyes. They could not bear to be opposed or advised by the prophet, not even by the LORD Himself; and are rightly called wicked men by the Targum. Their pride was the cause of their rebellion against God, their disobedience to Him, and of their crude and brazen behavior to the prophet.
Saying unto Jeremiah, thou speakest falsely . . . you speak a lie, because it did not agree with their minds. So too the prophets of the LORD, the ministers of the God’s Word, and even the Word of God itself, is charged with falsehoods, when it does not agree to men's sentiments and desires.
The LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, go not into Egypt to sojourn there . . . they did not care to own that it was the word of the LORD. Whatever opinions of it they had in their minds; because they would not openly appear to be fighters against God, whom they professed to be their God; but deny that the prophet was sent by Him with any such message to them; when they should have believed all former prophecies, which had had their fulfilment, that Jeremiah was a TRUE prophet of the LORD, and that he had acted a very faithful part in the present situation: they themselves had sent him to the LORD to pray for them; he had done so, and the LORD had returned an answer by him; of which they had no reason to doubt, but their pride would not allow them to receive it.
*****Jeremiah says, that when he had finished speaking to the people, as God had commanded, then Johanan the son of Kareah, and Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, being the first among them, spoke up against him. As to Azariah, we cannot know for certain what or who he was. Gedaliah had a kind disposition, was courageous in protecting the people, was a man of integrity; and he was a father to the people, and so conducted himself when things were in a hopeless state, that beyond the expectation of all, he gathered together the remnant of the people; and we have also seen that by his efforts the prophet had been delivered from certain death. Johanan the son of Kareah had been an incredible helper to him, having come to him of his own accord, offering his assistance; and he faithfully and cautiously warned him to beware of the treachery of Ishmael (Jer.40:14-15), by whom he was afterwards killed. Gedaliah fell through extreme trust. Johanan the son of Kareah, had a greater appearance of merit than Gedaliah had shown. But, what does the Spirit of God now state about him and his associates? They are said to have been proud and obstinate. So, we see that although some men excel in greatness of mind, yet they have a rebellious disposition; and this reveals itself in a troubled state of life. Some come forth courageous; but when things do not fall in agreement with their wishes, they become fierce and vicious, and rebel against God and men, and they will never be brought under submission. Such then, was Johanan the son of Kareah: at one time he displayed extraordinary virtue, but in the end, it revealed what he really was.
Jeremiah, with the authority of a judge, declares that Johanan and his associates were proud.
Then Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, said, A falsehood dost thou speak. This was extremely insolent and reproachful; for they had recently testified that they regarded Jeremiah as God’s faithful servant, and that they would receive whatever he might bring as God’s true revelation; but now they charge him with falsehood! How sinful their opinion was! Think about how deep and tortuous the depths are in the hearts of men; for at one time they speak pleasing words, and afterwards they utter nothing but bitter, hostile meanness. So from the same mouth, comes forth what is sweet; and what is bitter. Jam.3:10-12 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (KJV)
So, let us learn that the heart of man is full of every kind of deceit (Jer.17:9), until it is cleansed by the Spirit of God. We also see, that when wickedness comes to a boil, to what extremes it will proceed; for these men were not only brazen and reproachful toward Jeremiah, but also toward Almighty God Himself. And here, they did not make avoidances as before, nor did they raise objections; but they openly thundered against Jeremiah.
Jer. 43:3 But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon. (KJV)
But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us . . . first they charge the prophet with a lie, then deny his mission is from the LORD; and now they lay the blame on Baruch, as if he, out of ill will to them, had prompted the prophet to deliver such a message; which was not so. Baruch is charged with inciting Jeremiah to speak as he did is odd. Johanan and his colleagues, as military men, would likely have been executed for not protecting Gedaliah. Then too, with them out of the way, Baruch, because of his status as a scribe who was likely attached in some way to the previous administration (Jer. 32:12), may have been elevated to a position of leadership by the Babylonians. If this was the case, Johanan and Azariah's suspicions of Baruch are easy to understand.
That Baruch should be prevailed upon by a younger person, and Jeremiah’s secretary, to take such a step: nor can it be thought that Baruch would have any interest to serve by it; for both he and the prophet were good men, and would never declare a falsehood in the Name of the LORD. The end planned, they suggest,
For to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon . . . either that Baruch or the prophet might deliver them into the hands of the Chaldeans, to be put to death by them, or be carried captive; which is not at all probable, it being inconsistent with that piety and humanity which was obvious in them both, and with their conduct, who chose rather to abide in their own land, with this small, shameful handful of people, than to go and live in the court of Babylon, where good care would have been taken of them.
*****They afterwards throw the blame on Baruch, who had been the prophet’s faithful servant. As they could not find any reason why Jeremiah should speak falsely, they turned their fury against Baruch. They did not spare Jeremiah for honor’s sake, but as they had no reason to speak evil of him, they fixed the blame on Baruch, who was just as innocent as Jeremiah. Baruch, they said, excites thee against us. Jeremiah NEVER prophesied through the influence of another, yet his crime might have been at least less serious. Now they said that he was dishonest, and brought forth nothing to prove it; but the ungodly do not regard what they say, for the devil drives them on recklessly. They charged Baruch with a very great crime, that he wanted to betray them to the Chaldeans, and then to expose them to slaughter, and to deliver them that they might be driven into exile. All this would have been the greatest cruelty. But when we consider what kind of man Baruch was, and how openly he had conducted himself, how he had endangered his life in defending the TRUE worship of God and prophetic doctrine, there was surely no reason to load him with so great a condemnation.
What had Baruch to do with the Chaldeans? Had he fled to them? Was he anxious to gain influence for himself? Did he want to obtain favor for himself? NO! He simply followed Jeremiah wherever he went. Jeremiah had actually obtained some favor; but this was to be ascribed to the free grace of God. Baruch, had gotten permission from the Chaldeans to remain with the Prophet; for the condition of both was the same. But yet he had not followed the Chaldeans, when the option was given to him. For when the Chaldeans offered quietness and rest to Jeremiah, Baruch might have also gone to that fertile country; but he chose to remain in the land. So from this, we see that he had removed from himself every suspicion, and yet he could not stop the mouths of the wicked ones as they slandered him. We see from this that God’s servants prove their firmness and loyalty, when they are assailed on every side by the slanders of men, and yet are satisfied with the testimony of their own conscience, looking forward to the judgment of God, and care not what men think or speak, provided God approves of them, and is their Judge in Heaven.
Jer. 43:4 So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah. (KJV)
So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people . . . they all agreed, all were of the same mind, and all in the same sentiment and practice: and so, they,
Obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah . . . it was the command of the LORD they should dwell there in Judah, NOT to go to Egypt; but they refused to believe this was the Voice of the LORD, but was only a scheme planned between the prophet and Baruch. Therefore they did not pay attention to it. They were determined they would go to Egypt, as they did.
*****The Prophet had sufficiently shown that Johanan the son of Kareah and the rest had no faith in the Prophet, nor what the will of God was. When they saw that God’s counsel did not agree with their wicked desire, they rose up against the prophet. But now, he more clearly condemns their stubbornness in not obeying God. It is said forcefully, that they did NOT obey the Voice of the LORD, because they denied that God had spoken. Jeremiah on the other hand declares, that he was a TRUE interpreter of God’s will, that he had announced nothing except what had come from the LORD. He then brings them all in as guilty, the leaders and the people, that they were all connected in the same sin, since the leaders alone did not resist the prophecy, but also all the people.
Jeremiah and Baruch are taken to Egypt (Jer. 43:5-7)
Jer. 43:5 But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah; (KJV)
But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces . . . who were united in their determination to go to Egypt, which opposed the declared will of God.
Took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah . . . those who were left in the land, when the rest were carried captive to Babylon, more precisely mentioned in verse 6 . . . and those, who on the invasion of the land, and siege of Jerusalem, had fled to other countries, but now were returned from there, in order to settle in it; having heard that a governor from among the Jews was appointed over it; as from Moab, Ammon, Edom and other countries (Jer.40:11); these, some of their own accord, others by persuasion, and others by force, went along with, or were taken and carried by the above captains into Egypt.
*****Jeremiah says that Johanan and the rest of the leaders took the remnant of the people, who were there alive, and those who had returned from various countries; for many had become fugitives among the Moabites and the Idumeans, when they saw the city surrounded by the forces of King Nebuchadnezzar. They fled to different places, but after Nebuchadnezzar had departed, and permission had been given to Gedaliah to collect what remained of the people and to place them in cities and towns, many returned to the land, which was now desolate; for they had dwelt with foreigners, and had been treated miserably. Since they could not find any quiet habitation, they returned, as it is usual with men who have no settled home. They returned, that they might live under the protection of Gedaliah.
Jeremiah says, that they were taken by Johanan and brought to Egypt. This then was the way in which they shewed their stubbornness. We see how daring these leaders must have been, that they did not hesitate to go to Egypt, although it was told it would be a fatal step. There was not at that time any army of Nebuchadnezzar in Judea, although his vengeance might have been dreaded. Then, having fled to Egypt, they might have been ill-treated there, and not warmly received. But we see, that when men once shake off the yoke of God, they hurry on by a diabolical madness, so that nothing is impossible to them. Wickedness is always full of boldness and haste. The ungodly rush headfirst into ruin, even when the LORD pronounces a curse on their counsels and proceedings. Let us learn to never disobey God; for He promises a joyful and blessed way at all times when we follow the ways pointed out by Him. These people deserved such a reward, because they preferred to obey the command of the perverse and obstinate, rather than to obey the Voice of the LORD speaking by His prophet.
Jer. 43:6 Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah. (KJV)
Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters . . . this explains who they were that were taken into Egypt, persons of every sex, age and rank; although this describes persons separate from the former, that came out of other countries (Jer.41:10).
And every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan . . . even the poor of the land to till it; and to whom he gave fields and vineyards, and committed them to the care and government of Gedaliah, when the rest were carried captive to Babylon; and now these, in some way, may be said to be carried captive by their own brethren into Egypt.
And Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah . . . whom they forced with them, partly to punish them, and partly to give face to their conduct; but not without the will of God, who so ordered it in His wisdom, that they might have the prophet with then, to reprove them of their sins, and warn them of their danger and ruin, and so leave them inexcusable.
*****The prophet also mentions who they were; they were mainly men, women and children. Then Johanan and his associates took children; and he adds, the daughters of the king. The probability is that they were these daughters were by his concubines; and that they had been put in some safe place, so that if any great evil happened, they might not fall into the hands of enemies. Then these daughters of the king had returned with the other exiles, and were afterwards carried into Egypt.
Jer. 43:7 So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes. (KJV)
So they came into the land of Egypt . . . they set out from the habitation of Chimham, where they were (Jer.41:17); and proceeded on their journey, until they entered the land of Egypt.
For they obeyed not the voice of the LORD . . . to continue in Judea, NOT go into Egypt; and though the prophet of the LORD, who was with them, might, as they went along, advise them to go back, but they refused to listen, still going on.
Thus came they even to Tahpanhes . . . Tahpanhes (Jer.2:16), the same as Hanes (Isa.30:4); and might be so called, as here, from a queen of Egypt of this name (1 Ki. 11:19). It was a seat of the king of Egypt, as appeals from verse 9; and no less a place would these proud men stop at, or take up with, but where the king's palace was.
***** Egypt at this time, though it was humbled by the king of Babylon, by an inroad he had made into it (2 Ki.24:7), yet it was a separate kingdom, and being near Canaan, the Jews often fled there for refuge, and asked for help against their enemies from them. Of this city of Tahpanhes, we read little except in God’s Holy Word. We read of a queen of Egypt called Taphenes, in honor to whom probably this city was built, after whose name this city was called, of which the Scripture saith nothing, except in this Book, in this Chapter, and Jer. 44:1; 46:14; it appears by verse 9 that it was at this time the place where the king of Egypt made his residence, or at least had a palace there. It was there these captains and the Jews came, forcing Jeremiah and Baruch along with them.
Prophecy of conquest of Egypt (Jer.43:8-11)
Jer. 43:8 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, (KJV)
Then came the word of the LORD to Jeremiah, at Tahpanhes . . . where Jeremiah was with the captains that carried them there. As soon as he and they had gotten there, the word of the LORD came unto him, declaring the destruction of this place and of the whole land. It is here that some say Jeremiah was stoned to death.
Saying; as follows:
*****This shows that the prophet was by force taken away with others, so that he became an exile in Egypt against his own wishes; for he did not go there on his own, in that we have seen how strict Jeremiah was, forbidding them all to go down to Egypt. He was, however, forced to go there, just as though he had been bound with chains. He did not then go there intentionally, nor did he want to follow those men; for he would have preferred to die through famine and lack in the land of Judah rather than to have this way to lengthen his life. It seems that he was driven there as it were by enemies.
But since nothing happens except through God’s will, so from this prophecy it appears that God ordered the going down to Egypt of his servant, and that he was not so subjected to the will of the wicked, but that he was always guided by the hidden influence of the LORD; for it was God’s will to have His messenger even in the midst of Egypt, that he might declare to the Jews what was to be. His doctrine was not of any benefit to them; but it was God’s purpose to drive them as it were into madness, inasmuch as their wickedness was entirely irreclaimable; for it is a harder for the wicked to hear God’s Voice when He threatens vengeance, than to feel His Hand. When the unbelieving avoid the word of God, they are still forced, willing or unwilling, to hear what they knowingly reject, inchuding that God will be their Judge. The prophet was sent, according to the hidden purpose of God, into Egypt, that he might there perform his usual calling and there carry on his prophetic work.
This prophecy was greatly disliked; because the Jews had been already much annoyed, this threat was still going to kindle their fury; and Jeremiah also did create danger to himself from the Egyptians, for he not only threatened the Jews, but also the whole kingdom of Egypt. We see how unshakable Jeremiah’s courage was, for he marched through certain deaths, and was not terrified by dangers, but performed the office entrusted to him by the LORD. Some think that he was on this account stoned by the Jews; but this is not likely, for it may be gathered from other places that he died a natural death. However this may have been, his perseverance and firmness were remarkable, for he struggled to the end, and without weariness, with those wild beasts, whose savageness he had so often experienced.
But since nothing happens except through God’s will, so from this prophecy it appears that God ordered the going down of his servant, and that he was not so subjected to the will of the wicked, but that he was always guided by the hidden influence of God; for it was God’s will to have His messenger in the midst of Egypt, that he might declare to the Jews what, was to be. His doctrine was not of any benefit to them; but it was God’s will to drive them as it were into madness, because their wickedness was totally condemned. It is a harder thing for the wicked to hear God’s Voice when He threatens vengeance, than to feel His Hand. When, the unbelieving avoid the word of God, they are still forced, willing or unwilling, to HEAR what they willfully reject, including that God will be their Judge. Jeremiah then was sent, according to the hidden purpose of God, into Egypt, that he might there perform his usual vocation and there carry on his prophetic work.
The word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah . . . let us now see what this prophecy is, and what the sum of it is, that the prophet was told not only to proclaim the vengeance of the LORD, but also to confirm it by a visible sign, since it was needed to arouse unbelieving men. So great was their stupidity, that unless the LORD roused all their senses, they would have never paid attention, for they were deaf. So the LORD set before their reluctant eyes to see what they refused to hear. For this reason Jeremiah was told to add an outward sign to this prophecy; according to what we have seen in other places, signs were often connected with the doctrine because of the stupidity of men.
Jer. 43:9 Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; (KJV)
Take great stones in thine hand . . . in both his hands, as big as he could carry.
And hide them in the clay in the brick kiln . . . God commanded the prophet to take these stones, and to place them in the clay, for a sign of what we shall meet with in the next verse. It is plain that the king of Egypt, called Pharaoh, either resided, or had a palace in Tahpanhes. There was much clay in Egypt, because of the Nile overflowing, and especially at Tahpanhes, and there was a brick kiln; not a place where bricks were burnt, but where they were foraged; so here was the clay of which the bricks were made, and in which these stones were to be hidden. This brick kiln stood not directly at the entrance into the king's palace, but at the door of a wall of a park or garden, which belonged to the palace, from where there was an opening to it. It was here the stones were to be laid.
Which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes . . . Jeremiah is told to place these stones at this entrance into this palace.
In the sight of the men of Judah . . . not in the sight of the Egyptians, who would not understand the plan of it, nor were they to be instructed by it; but in the sight of the Jews, who would at once see and know that something was intended, being familiar with such symbols, and would ask the meaning of it; and which is explained in verse 10.
*****Jeremiah was then commanded to take great stones, and to hide them in the clay, in a brick kiln. A kiln was where bricks were usually made, or where materials were taken to form them. And this place was not far from the palace of the king in the city of Tahpanhes. Since this place was near the palace, the prophet was told to hide the stones there, in the sight of the Jews. This was the sign. It is shown for what end God would have the stones to be fixed in the clay; for if the stones were only rolled there with great labor by the prophet, there would have been no instruction; and all signs mean nothing without the Word. It is God’s Word that gives life to signs, and applies them for the benefit and instruction of men. Therefore God’s command is added, that he was to speak to the Jews: Thou shalt say to them, Thus saith the LORD. Jeremiah brings in God as the Speaker, that the threat might be more effective, for if he had only relayed the words of God, he could not have gained their attention. This is the reason why Jeremiah speaks in the Person of God Himself.
Jer. 43:10 And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. (KJV)
And say unto them . . . the men of Judah, now in Egypt.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel . . . (Jer.42:15).
Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant . . . as all men are by Creation, and as the king was very well-known, being an instrument in the LORD’S Hand of performing His plans, both on the Jews and other nations; him the LORD would send for, to perform His will, and lay a train of wisdoms, and bring him to Egypt to do His will.
And will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid . . . which the LORD had ordered the prophet to hide, and which he did, indicating that the king at Babylon would come with his army against this city, and would take it, and set up his throne, and keep his court here. Upon these stones that I have hid . . . God owned the stones to be laid by Himself, because they were laid at His command.
And he shall spread his royal pavilion over them . . . his tent; he shall place here his beautiful one, as the word royal signifies; this should be set up where these stones were laid, as if they were designed for the foundation of it, though they were only a symbol of it; and would be a token to the Jews, when accomplished, of the certainty of the divine foresight, and of prophecy, with respect to future events, even those the most tiny and provisional.
*****The LORD now explains the meaning in His former command. He had ordered Jeremiah to take stones, and hide them in a place near the king of Egypt's palace; now he tells them that this was for a sign that Nebuchadnezzar would set his throne and spread his tent in that place. The LORD calls Nebuchadnezzar his servant (Jer.25:9; 27:6) because he would obey Him in what he would do, even though Nebuchadnezzar did not intend to do so. As a result, Assyria is called the rod of his anger (Isa.10:5); and Nebuchadnezzar is also so called (Jer.51:20-24).
God Himself did NOT appear from Heaven, but the army of Nebuchadnezzar was a living representation of God’s power, when He punished the Egyptians. When God came there armed, and carried on a warlike mission, all the idols would be destroyed; for God would show that the gods in whom the Egyptians trusted were false, that they were absolute falsehoods, which could give no help when things came to an extreme.
Jer. 43:11 And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword. (KJV)
And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt . . . when he comes, he shall smite; which rightly interprets of the army of Nebuchadnezzar. When Nebuchadnezzar would come with his army to Tahpanhes, he would not only take that city, but go through the land of Egypt, destroying the inhabitants of all that dwelt in it, sojourners as well as natives; and so the Jews that were come there to dwell, against the precise command of God, to whom this prophecy was delivered, and to whom it has a particular respect.
And deliver such as are for death to death . . . those who are appointed to death, either by pestilence or famine; he shall force them to flee to, or block them in places where they shall perish by one or the other of these.
And such as are for captivity to captivity . . . those who are intended to be carried captive, shall be taken by him, and carried captive into Babylon, and the provinces of it.
And such as are for the sword to the sword . . . those who are destined to fall by the sword, would be slain by the sword of Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers; so that by one way or another, a general destruction would be made.
*****This confirms the former verse by what he says here and in the two following verses to the end of the chapter. Since Egypt had well-fortified cities that were thought to be unconquerable, the Jews never thought that the Chaldeans could so easily penetrate them. First, that country is located in a plain; and second, it is in the midst of lakes: and it is in part surrounded by the Nile and the Red Sea. Since Egypt was on every side so well fortified, they thought that there would be a quiet place for them. But the LORD states that King Nebuchadnezzar would conquer the whole land; and He removes all objections when He says,
Those for death, to death; those for captivity, to captivity; those for the sword, to the sword; it is as though He had said, even though Egypt would be very heavily populated, yet the huge crowd of men will avail nothing, for they shall be conquered by their enemy; some shall perish by the sword, and some by various kinds of death, and some shall be driven into exile; and Egypt shall be destroyed, as though no one stood up in its defense. We see that this was added, that Jeremiah might shake off the false confidence of the Jews. The two following verses are for the same purpose.
Prophecy against the gods of Egypt (Jer. 43:12-13)
Jer. 43:12 And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace. (KJV)
And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt . . . not only men would not be spared, but their gods also, and their temples would be burned, as was usually done when cities were taken and destroyed. This is ascribed to God’s wrath and vengeance; because idolatry is a sin that highly displeases Him; and although the Chaldeans were the instruments in it, yet it was done by the order, direction and wisdom of God, so it is rightly accredited to Him.
And he shall burn them, and carry them away captives . . . meaning that Nebuchadnezzar would burn their temples, and carry away their idols of gold and silver. One adds, he shall burn their idols, such as are made of wood, or any base matter, not worth saving; and he shall carry away with him their idols, that are made of gold and silver, or any precious matter.
And he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment . . . the meaning is, that he shall load and cover himself and his army with the spoil of the land of Egypt, as a shepherd covers himself with his garment; and he shall do it as easily as a shepherd puts on his coat; and as completely as he shall roll up all the spoil, wealth, and riches of the land, and carry it off, even as a shepherd rolls up the covering of his tent. The sense is, he shall cover the land of Egypt with his forces, as a shepherd is covered and wrapped up in his garment against the inclemency of the weather; or the destruction of Egypt may be compared to an old worn out garment, or such a base and sordid garment as shepherds wear.
And he shall go forth from thence in peace . . . there shall be none to molest and disturb him, none to stop him and take away the spoil from him, none to hinder his return to his own country; for he shall go in safety, and with great booty. Nebuchadnezzar shall suffer no interruption, nor endure any disaster in his return from his Egyptian expedition.
*****Nebuchadnezzar would do to Egypt what he had done to Judah. He would burn down the Egyptian temples and take people captive. He would capture Egypt as easily as a shepherd wraps himself with a garment, and he would depart from Egypt in safety. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt about568-567 B.C. and defeated Pharaoh Ahmose 570-526 B.C. (Eze.29:17-20) https://godcannotlie.org/book_of_ezekiel_ch29.htm
Jer. 43:13 He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire. (KJV)
He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt . . . Bethshemesh here means the house of the sun; either it intends the temple of the sun, or the city where it was worshipped, such as Heliopolis was famous for the worship of the sun, and for a magnificent temple in it, built for that purpose, and where abundance of persons went on that account. There were many images of the sun; and these now would be broken to pieces, when this city would become the city of destruction, as is foretold it would by Isaiah (Isa.19:18); where the Targum clearly calls it the city Bethshemesh, that is to be destroyed. This is the same city that was formerly called On, and had a priest in Joseph's time (Gen.41:45).
And the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire . . . which is repeated, that it might be taken notice of, and to confirm it.
*****Images, Hebrew is pillars. In Egypt this likely means obelisks which is pillars, especially since they were symbols in the Egyptian solar religion. Bethshemesh is literally the house of the sun, called by the Greeks Heliopolis; and by the Egyptians, it was called On (Gen. 41:45). On was the center of the worship of Atum-Re, the sun god. Today Heliopolis is the name of a suburb of Cairo. Little remains of the ancient city: some say that one lone pink granite obelisk stands surrounded by a cornfield, what is the reminder of the sun worship that dominated that area for thousands of years. Although King Nebuchadnezzar plundered Egypt, likely only the northern part, he did not seek to control it. This attack was in retaliation for Egyptian meddling in Nebuchadnezzar's affairs going back to 609 B.C. when Neco II occupied Carchemish.
As then this was the chief place where the gods of Egypt were found, the prophet, in order to show that the ruin of the whole land would be extreme, says that no temple would be there unaltered. So also Isaiah speaks of the ruin of Egypt. Isa.19:1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. (KJV)
The idolatry of Egypt is the main reason for the LORD’S condemnation on the nation. In the Book of Ezekiel, God states that every idol would disappear from Egypt.
Eze.6:4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. (KJV)
Eze.14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? (KJV)
Eze.30:13 Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause their images to cease out of Noph; and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt. (KJV)
Eze.37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. (KJV)
Idolatry is a very polluting sin, and the Jews in both kingdoms were very addicted to it, so stubborn in it, to the utter ruin of both kingdoms; but after the return from Babylon captivity, we find nowhere that they fell to idolatry.
Possibly there were no other people who were ever given over to idolatry more than the Egyptians, with the possible exception of Babylon (Rev.17) which was the fountainhead of idolatry. https://godcannotlie.org/rev_ch17.htm
Consider what the apostle Paul said: Romans 1:21-23 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (KJV)
Egypt had originally worshiped ONE God; but they gradually fell back into the worst kind of idolatry where every creature under heaven was worshiped: bulls, frogs, the scarab (a bug), fish, and all kinds of birds. When Moses was ready to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt, God had to carry on warfare, in which God, through Moses, brought down the plagues on Egypt (Ex.7:20; 8:6, 17, 24; 9:6, 10, 23; 10:13, 22; 12:29). The came down hard on all forms of idolatry in Egypt . . . from the sun in the heavens and the River Nile, to frogs and lice in the land. Each and every plague was directed against one of the gods or idols of Egypt.
Book of Jeremiah
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