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Jeremiah Chapter 44
This Chapter contains a sermon of Jeremiah to the Jews in Egypt, condemning them for their idolatry there; their answer to it, expressing their stubbornness to continue in their idolatrous practices; and their disapproval of judgments upon them, of which a sign is given. The sermon begins with seeing the destruction of Jerusalem, and the causes of it, idolatry and contempt of the prophets, Jer.44:1; then follows a disagreement with the present Jews for doing the same things, and exposing themselves and their posterity to the same punishment, Jer.44:7; upon which they are threatened with the sore judgments of God that would come upon them, and cut them off in general, Jer.44:11. Yet such was the impudence and obstinacy of this people, that they stated they would not listen to the prophet, but continue in their idolatry; it having been better with them when they practiced it than when they left it, Jer.44:15; to which the prophet replies by observing, that for the idolatry of their fathers their land was become a desolation and a curse, as at this day, Jer.44:20; and assures them that destruction would come from the LORD upon them, which he had sworn to, Jer.44:24; and a sign of it is given; the delivery of the king of Egypt into the hand of the king of Babylon, Jer.44:29.
The Remnant in Egypt Rejects God (44:2-17)
Chapter 44 records the absolute refusal of the remnant in Egypt to obey God. Again God patiently explains that He is the One responsible for the invasion and desolation of Judah.
In this chapter we have, (1). An awakening sermon which Jeremiah preaches to the Jews in Egypt, to reprove them for their idolatry, notwithstanding the warnings given them both by the word and the rod of God and to threaten the judgments of God against them for it (Jer.44:1-14). (2). The impudent and impious contempt which the people put upon this admonition, and their declared resolution to persist in their idolatries notwithstanding, in despite of God and Jeremiah (Jer.44:15-19). (3). The sentence passed upon them for their stubbornness, that they would all be cut off and perish in Egypt except a very small number; and as a sign or earnest of it, the king of Egypt would shortly fall into the hands of the king of Babylon and be unable any longer to protect them (Jer.44:20-30).
A Sermon to wake up the Jews in Egypt, and to
Reprove Them for Their Idolatry (Jer.44:1-14)
Jer 44:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, (KJV)
The word which came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt . . . unto all the Jews or against all the Jews; they having gone into Egypt when they disobeyed the will of God, and committing idolatry. The word or sermon is full of threats and judgments denounced upon them.
Which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros . . . this prophecy was delivered after the Jews came to Tahpanhes (Jer.43:7); and had divided themselves, and were settled in different parts of the kingdom: some continued at Tahpanhes, where were the king's court and palace: others went to Migdol, a place near the Red sea, just at the entrance into Egypt, from the land of Canaan (Ex.14:2); said to be about a mile or so from Pelusium, or Sin, the strength of Egypt (Eze.30:15); others took up their residence at Noph, generally thought to be the city of Memphis.
Jer. 44:2 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . in this same way, the prophecies of this book are frequently started (Jer.42:15). Thus saith the LORD of hosts is found 52 times in the Book of Jeremiah.
Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah . . . they saw it with their eyes; but they could not fix it in their minds; they had a knowledge of it; they suffered it in part, but could not be convicted in their own consciences that it was from the Hand of the LORD.
And, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein . . . Judah lie waste at that very time; the walls are broken down the houses are demolished; all the goods in them were carried off; no inhabitants were left, or very few, to rebuild the cities, cultivate the land, and dwell there.
Jer. 44:3 Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. (KJV)
Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger . . . the reason of this desolation was the wickedness they were guilty of . . . they provoked God’s anger to bring this destruction on them. Sin always provokes God; even though it was not done deliberately to provoke Him, yet in the end, it does, and sin is always the cause of punishment: God never punishes man without a cause, nor for anything but sin.
In that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods . . . the specific wickedness they were guilty of, and which was the cause of their ruin, was burning incense to idols, and worshipping those false gods, which nothing is more provoking to God.
Whom they knew not, neither they, you, nor your fathers . . . the cause of Judah's doom was her tendency to embrace Canaanite idolatry.
*****Sins of Judah:
(1). Provoking God to anger by sin (Jer. 44:3)
(2). Burning incense to other gods (Jer. 44:3,5)
(3). Serving other gods (Jer. 44:3)
(4). Not paying attention to God (Jer. 44:5)
(5). Refusing to turn from their wickedness.
Jer. 44:4 Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. (KJV)
Howbeit, I sent unto you all my servants the prophets . . . many prophets the LORD raised up, employing them in the work and service of prophesy. He sent one after another, to warn the Jews of their sin and danger; but all in vain; which further aggravated their wickedness. The LORD persistently sent prophets to call His people back to Himself (Jer. 7:13, 25; 11:7; 25:34; 2 Chr. 36:15), but nothing worked.
Rising early, and sending them . . . very early in His messages to them; He gave them timely warnings, and let slip no chance of rebuking them; and this He did constantly (Jer.7:13).
Saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate . . . ALL sin is abominable and hateful to God, especially idolatry; so therefore should NOT be done. Sin should be offensive to men, and hateful to them because it is hateful to God; and after such evidence as this, to commit sin must be very aggravating and provoking.
Jer. 44:5 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. (KJV)
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear . . . they paid no attention to the prophets sent to them by the LORD, would not listen to the words of His Mouth, especially to the catastrophic warnings. IF they heard the words said, they did not obey them; they had no such effect on them, as to make them,
To turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods . . . to turn from their sins, especially from their idolatry in particular; one example of which is given, and which is put for the whole of idolatrous worship.
Jer. 44:6 Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day. (KJV)
Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth . . . like melted metal, scalding hot lead, liquefied pitch, or anything of a harsh, unpleasant nature, which spreads, and is consuming, and very intolerable (Jer.42:18).
And was kindled in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem . . . which, like a fire, burned up and destroyed these cities, and mainly the large and spacious city of Jerusalem.
And they are wasted and desolate, as at this day . . . now lies in ruins, which may be seen by everyone. This is their present case; they are become desolate and so continue. The LORD persistently sent prophets to call His people back to Himself (Jer.7:13, 25; 11:7; 25:34; 2 Chr. 36:15), but to no avail.
Jer. 44:7 Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; (KJV)
Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel . . . the same descriptions as before (verse 2), with an addition, that His words might carry more weight with them.
Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls . . . the sin of idolatry, is a great evil; a sin against God; a giving honor and glory to another, that belongs only to the LORD, but is also a sin against the souls of men; wicked and disastrous to them, which brings eternal destruction, even God’s wrath and damnation (John 3:17-18). This is an outstanding argument why it should NOT be committed; because idolatry is not only against God, and against themselves, but against their families.
To cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain . . . not that they did this great evil or committed idolatry with the intention to ruin their families and future generations; but so it was in the end. They provoked the LORD to anger, the men offered incense to idols; and their wives, whom they allowed so to do; and their children, who were brought up in the same practices; so that they would have none to succeed them, to bear their name, and inherit their land; unless God would be merciful, and not deal according to their rewards; for such was the nature of their crime, as to deserve complete destruction of them.
Jer. 44:8 In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? (KJV)
In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands . . . their wicked actions, mainly their idolatry, by worshipping images, the works of men's hands; and though it was the queen of heaven they worshipped, which their hands did not make, yet it was before images that they did all this; also, the things they did to her were the worlds of their hands, as sacrificing, pouring out drink offerings, and as follows,
Burning incense . . . which they did, not only to her, but
To other gods in the land of Egypt . . . where they were very many gods.
Whither ye be gone to dwell . . . they went to Egypt against the express will and command of God.
That ye might cut yourselves off . . . from the worship of the One and Only TRUE God. They cut themselves off from being His people, and from being under His care and protection, and from all His privileges temporal and spiritual.
And that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? . . . this was NOT their view, end and plan, but this was what happened, that they were looked upon as a cursed people of God and man, and their names were taken up for a proverb and a reproach everywhere, as is seen in today’s world..
*****In the land of Egypt . . . it seemed that the Jews had adopted Egyptian religious practices. The queen of heaven (verse 17) some think to be the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, or the Canaanite Anat whose worship was known in Egypt. Or possibly even an Egyptian sky goddess, like Hathor, Isis or Nut is in mind here. When they went to dwell in Egypt, they cut themselves off from the TRUE God. And if this were not bad enough, Johanan's group came to Egypt against God's will, and these now further violate the LORD’S commands by worshiping other ridiculous no-account gods.
Jer. 44:9 Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? (KJV)
Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers . . . and what judgments it brought upon them? Not meaning their more remote ancestors in the wilderness, and the idolatry they committed, and the punishment inflicted upon them for it; but something closer, such as those who lived before the destruction of Jerusalem, and whose sins had brought that destruction down on them, and so could not be easily forgotten by them.
And the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives . . . (Jer.7:18), by whom they were drawn into idolatry, especially Solomon.
And your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which you have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? . . . where they had built altars, and worshipped strange gods, they and their wives, as well as those who were carried captive; which was the reason for all those evils that came upon them. These being recent things, could not be forgotten by them; and should have been remembered, so that they should have been discouraged from going into such practices again, as they now did in Egypt.
Jer. 44:10 They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. (KJV)
They are not humbled even unto this day . . . not sorry for their sins, nor truly repentant for them; not humbled before God nor man, so as to acknowledge them, mourn over them (Mat.5:4), and forsake them. This is to be understood, not of the Jews in Babylon only, but mainly those in Egypt; the LORD not agreeing to speak to them who were so stubborn and defiant, but of them and to some others, as the prophet, concerning them.
Neither have they feared . . . they did not fear the LORD, nor His judgments; neither did they serve and worship Him with reverence and godly fear, as they should have done.
Nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you, and before your fathers . . . proof that they did not have true repentance for their sins, nor the fear of God (respect, reverence) in their hearts; for IF they had, these would have been obedient to the LORD’S divine will.
Jer. 44:11 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . because of the sins of idolatry, impenitence and disobedience,
I will set my face against you for evil . . . and shall bring the evil of punishment upon them, because of the wickedness of sin committed by them. This the LORD determined within Himself, and was determined to do. Setting his face against them expresses His way of retaliation for their setting their faces to go down to Egypt, as well as of His wrath and outrage against them.
And to cut off all Judah . . . not the whole tribe of Judah; not those that were in Babylon, which were by far the greatest number of that tribe; but those that were in Egypt.
Jer. 44:12 And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. (KJV)
And I will take the remnant of Judah . . . that which remained of that tribe in the land of Judea after the captivity: and not all of them, but those,
That have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there . . . those who were determined to go there, although all the evidence given to them was the opposite; and so they were now actually sojourners there. This describes people who willfully, of their own mind, went there; and did not include those who were over-powered to go along with them.
And they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; . . . not by natural death, one after another; but by the judgments of God, as follows:
They shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine . . . by the sword of the king of Babylon and by famine, caused by a foreign army and sieges.
They shall die; from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine . . . this is repeated to confirm it, and to express the completeness of the destruction; for it would reach persons of every age, state and condition, rank and degree, young and old, high and low, rich and poor.
And they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse. . . and a reproach (Jer.42:18).
Jer. 44:13 For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: (KJV)
For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt . . . or visit them in wrath and vengeance; not meaning the native inhabitants of Egypt; even though these would be punished, and in whose punishment the Jews would be involved; but here it means the Jews that dwelt in Egypt, who went there disobeying to the will of God, and there settled.
As I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence . . . meaning that the same punishment that came on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and other cities of Judea, would come upon these Jews in Egypt, just as sure as it came upon them.
Jer. 44:14 So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape. (KJV)
So that none of the remnant of Judah . . . which were left in the land of Judea after the captivity,
Which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain. . . shall escape either the sword, famine or the pestilence, or remain in the land of Egypt, or in the land of the living; so general would be the destruction.
That they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return there . . . they had hopes and expectations to return there, and for it seems that those Jews that went into Egypt did not go with a plan to settle there forever; but to return to their own land, when there would be better times, with more safety and security there; and above all, when they thought the matter of the death of Gedaliah would be no further be looked into. Have a desire . . . lift up their soul, their desire to return to Israel will not be realized.
For none shall return but such as shall escape . . . out of the hands of Johanan, and the rest of the captains; and should get out of the land of Egypt before the Chaldeans came into it. The handful of fugitives who would return would hardly give hope to these people. The Jews whom God sent to Babylon were there weaned from idolatry, and were restored; those who went to Egypt by their perverse will were hardened in idolatry, and perished there.
The bold and wicked contempt the people put on this warning, and their Resolution to continue in their idolatries in spite of God and Jeremiah (Jer.44:15-19).
Jer. 44:15 Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then all the men which knew that their wires had burnt incense unto other gods . . . which was a ritual God had appointed to be used in His Holy worship; and is here put for the whole of religious worship, which was given to idols by the Jewish women; this their husbands knew of, but did not restrain them from doing it, as they should have, for they themselves seem to be ungodly persons, a kind of atheist, who had no absolutely no regard for the TRUE God, nor any other gods, nor cared who were worshipped.
And all the women that stood by . . . the wives of the men that stood by their husbands, and other women that stood and heard Jeremiah's sermon, and knew they themselves were guilty of what they were charged with by him.
A great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros . . . Pathros was what that part of Egypt was called, which was Thebais: here it seems Jeremiah was with that part of the people that took up their residence there; and by this it appears there was a large number of them, men and women, and who were all become idolaters, or schemers at it, and encouragers of, such these were: these
Answered Jeremiah, saying,
Jer. 44:16 As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. (KJV)
As for the word that thou has, spoken unto us in the name of the LORD . . . which they did not believe that it came from the LORD, but was a trick of Jeremiah, and a lie, as in Jer.43:2; and IF it did come from the LORD, their boldness had risen to such a height, that they were bound and determined not to respect it.
We will not hearken unto thee . . . they refused to listen to his words; nor to his urgings, reproofs, or threats, even though Jeremiah came and spoke in the Name of the LORD. This, and what follows, is a supreme instance of the pride, stubbornness, hate, hostility and rebellion of the carnal mind against God, of which we all should BEWARE!!!
Jer. 44:17 But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. (KJV)
But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth out of our own mouth . . . and not what went out of the Mouth of God, or His prophet: but whatsoever they had determined to do themselves. Only that which they had declared with their mouths they would do. This seems to interpret it as a vow; that they were firmly pledged to perform, no matter what God and His prophet had to say.
To burn incense unto the queen of heaven . . . according to some was the moon, which is the queen of heaven, just as the sun is king. Jer.7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. (KJV) . . . They burned incense; and they were determined to continue it, and all other idolatrous rites and practices particularly.
And to pour out drink offerings unto her . . . which was another part of ceremonial worship, which the TRUE God required of the people of Israel; but were here determined to give it to another god.
As we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem . . . they plead custom, antiquity and authority; the examples of their ancestors and kings; the general practice of their nation, both in the capital of it, and in its several cities, where it not only universally found, but was visibly and openly done; plus they plead the historical advantage of it.
For then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil . . . they had plenty of food and supplies; health, peace and safety; and no judgment was on them, nor seen or felt by them; the sword, famine or pestilence. These backslidden people were either so stupid or rebellious that they thought that all their disasters had come on them because they had stopped the worship to the queen of heaven, the moon goddess.
Jer. 44:18 But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. (KJV)
But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven . . . or were restrained from it through the force of the prophet's sermons, or by the authority of their governors: this some think was in the times of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah; but maybe it only respects some part of time in the latter part of Zedekiah's reign, a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, when they did refrain from their idolatry; fearing the wrath of God, and what was coming upon them; although some think they never stopped. They would say when any evil came upon them, it was because they had stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven.
And to pour out drink offerings to her . . . pour out drink offerings was another part of worship they performed to her, but for a while they stopped: and from that time they say,
We have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword, and by the famine . . . they lacked all the necessaries of life, meat and drink, and clothing and a dwelling to live in. Multitudes were destroyed by the sword of the king of Babylon; and others perished with famine during the siege; these evils they attributed to their ending idolatry, when in truth, it was the very thing that brought the evils on them.
*****The logic of history held by the fans of the queen of heaven is opposite to that of Jeremiah. Jeremiah maintains that idolatry led to their downfall, they look back, perhaps to Josiah's reforms, and note that since that point their nation had deteriorated. Thus, they decide, they were better off during the apostate days of Manasseh. So why shouldn’t they return to the formula that worked? They seem to have forgotten that in Manasseh's day they were harassed militarily and heavily taxed, and that their king was temporarily deported by the Assyrians.
Jer. 44:19 And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men? (KJV)
And when we burnt incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her . . . which they admitted they did, and which they were not ashamed of, and were bound and determined to go on with it. The only thing they were sorry for was that they had at any time omitted such service.
Did we make cakes to worship her . . . women were especially attracted to the cult of the queen of heaven, though they did not act without their husband's encouragement (Jer.7:18).
And pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men? . . . they admit they did these things but not without the knowledge and consent, if not with the presence of their husbands; therefore these words seem to be the words of the women.
*****Then . . . when the great religious gathering had taken place among the Jews of the land of Egypt, and after Jeremiah had given the message of the LORD to them, which condemned all classes, the men of Israel decided to reject the words of the prophet (verses 15-19).
A great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt . . . the appeal of the prophet was made at some religious festival at which time all classes, men and women, were present. They had gathered to worship the moon goddess, the queen of heaven, and pay vows to her (verse 17). It is here that we see the formal commitment of Israel in Egypt to the moon goddess instead of the LORD! They told Jeremiah plainly that they would NOT listen nor obey the message from the LORD, but instead would pay their vows to the queen of heaven, burn incense to her, pour out drink offerings to her, as their fathers, kings, princes and they themselves had done in the cities of Judah. Their excuse was, that then we had food, good health and saw no evil; but since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, we have wanted for all things, and have been consumed by the sword and famine (verses 16-19).
Sentence passed on their stubbornness, they all would be cut off and perish in Egypt except a very small number; and the king of Egypt would shortly fall into the hands of the king of Babylon and be unable any longer to protect them (Jer.44:20-30).
Jer. 44:20 Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, (KJV)
Then Jeremiah said unto all the people . . . immediately, being influenced, directed, and assisted by the Spirit of God; although what he says, in verse 21; does not declare as coming from the LORD; but what was on his mind.
To the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer . . . in which they all agreed, though delivered by one; and to which he made a reply:
Saying; as follows:
Jer. 44:21 The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? (KJV)
That incense that ye burnt in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem . . . to false gods, to the queen of heaven, to the host thereof,
Ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land . . . on which account they pleaded antiquity, authority, and the general consent of the people, as on their side, but it all signified nothing.
Did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? . . . either the incense they offered up to strange gods, or the persons that did it? Did the LORD not notice these idolatrous practices, and these idolaters? He indeed did; laying up these things in His Mind; because He showed a proper resentment of them, and in due time punished for them.
*****Jeremiah offers a response to their warped interpretation of history. God knew very well what was going on, and that is why the nation was so severely dealt with. Their very land in its present desolation proves this, just as it had been foretold (Jer.25:11, 18, 38).
Jer. 44:22 So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. (KJV)
So that the LORD could no longer forbear. . . He did forbear for a long time, not stirring up all His wrath, but waited to see if these people would repent of their sins, and turn from them; during which time of His patience, things might be well with them, as they had said, and they enjoyed peace and plenty; but because they persisted in their sins, and kept growing worse and worse, he could bear with them no longer, but brought down his judgments upon them. The reason is stated,
Because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed . . . the incense they had burned; the drink offerings they had poured out to idols; and other similar idolatrous practices, were evil in themselves, contrary to the law and will of God, and abominable to Him.
Therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day . . . the land of Israel, was wasted by the Chaldeans, and left uncultivated. It was like a barren wilderness, to the amazement of all that passed through it, who had once known what a fruitful country it had been. The curse of God now being on it, with scarcely an inhabitant left in it; which was the case at this present time, as the Jews, to whom the prophet directs his discourse, well knew; and to whom he appeals for the truth of it: now all this was for the sins, especially the idolatry they had been guilty of; as is further explained in verse 23.
Jer. 44:23 Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day. (KJV)
And because ye have burnt incense . . . not to the LORD, but to the queen of heaven; which they admitted they did, and were determined they would continue, stating it was better with them when they did it than when they had omitted it. It was for this reason the prophet especially mentions it, and states that it was the cause of the present ruin and destruction of their land, city and Temple.
And because ye have sinned against the LORD; by worshipping idols; ALL sin is against the LORD, but especially idolatry.
And have not obeyed the voice of the LORD; . . . by His prophets, who warned them against idolatry, rebuked them for it, and told them what the consequence would be; but they did NOT listen nor obey, which simply aggravated their sin.
Nor walked in his law . . . according to the moral law,
Nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies . . . neither in the ceremonial law, and the rites of that; nor in the judicial law, and the testimony of the will of God in either of them.
Therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day . . . meaning the desolation of their land, as in verse 22.
Jer. 44:24 Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: (KJV)
Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women . . . to all the people in general, and to the women in particular, who had a principal concern in these idolatrous practices. It is rare in Scripture to address women in particular, but these had been accused of being the leaders in the worship of the queen of heaven, and they had claimed their husbands backed them in this worship (verses 15,19), so the prophet answered them specifically (verses 24-25).
Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt . . . all of the tribe of Judah that were in Egypt; not in Pathros only, but in other parts of Egypt; which separates them from those of Judah that were in Babylon, and in other provinces; and points to their sin in going to Egypt, which was the leading step to these fresh acts of idolatry of which they had been guilty of. These are called upon to hear the Word of the LORD: for what the prophet had said before was what was on his mind, and was a direct message from the LORD.
Jer. 44:25 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . which is a usual preface to prophecies coming from him: Thus saith the LORD of hosts is found 52 times in the Book of Jeremiah.
Saying; as follows:
Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand. . . they had said they would burn incense to the queen of heaven, and they had done it; they had been as good as their word, even though it was a bad thing. The women had before said they did not perform worship to the queen of heaven without their men; this is acknowledged by the LORD, and their confession is upgraded against them.
Saying, we will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her . . . because they made a vow, and were determined to do it, thinking that it was forced upon them, and this would be sufficient to justify them before the LORD, and would be excused by Him. Dear one, nothing that is sinful should be vowed or performed; and anyone who vows and performs such a sin is twice as criminal. A vow cannot make anything lawful which is unlawful; and the performance of it can never be a praiseworthy action.
Ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows . . . they were resolutely set upon it, and nothing would hinder their performance of it
Jer. 44:26 Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The LORD GOD liveth. (KJV)
Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt . . . see verse 24; since you have made your vows, and will perform them, I will take an oath, and abide by it:
Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD . . . by His Holy Name, which is too wonderful for words, and expresses His eternity and His being unchangeable, which he can swear by no greater (Heb.6:13, 17).
That my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, the LORD God liveth . . . so the Jews, amidst all their idolatry, had retained the form of appeal to the Name of God and the law, which was the distinctive glory of their nation; God will allow this no more (Eze.20:39): there shall be none left there to profane His Holy Name any more. The LORD GOD liveth. The men of Judah in Egypt would never say this or honor the Name of God, but they certainly did blaspheme His Holy Name.
Seven Prophecies, Fulfilled in Chapter 44:
(1). I have sworn by My name, that My name will be named no more in the mouth of any man of Judah in Egypt saying, The LORD liveth (verse 26).
(2). I will watch over them for evil, and not for good (verse 27).
(3). All the men of Judah in Egypt will be consumed by the sword and famine, until there be an end of them.
(4). Yet a small number that escape the sword will return out of Egypt into the land of Judah (verse 28).
(5). All the remnant of Judah that have gone into Egypt to sojourn will know whose words will stand, Mine or theirs.
(6). This will be a sign to you that My Words will surely stand against you for evil (verse 29).
(7). I will give Pharaoh-hophra into the hands of his enemies and those that seek his life, just as I gave Zedekiah into their hand (verse 30).
Jer. 44:27 Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. (KJV)
Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good . . . to bring the evil of punishment upon them, the particulars of which are afterward mentioned, NOT the blessings of goodness, as before; and this He would be as careful and diligent to bring about, as one that watches all opportunities to do hurt to another; and it is a most dreadful thing to be under the vigilant avenging Eye of Almighty God.
And all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword, and by the famine, until there be an end of them . . . that is, the greatest part of them, except the tiny few that shall escape, later mentioned, mainly Jeremiah and Baruch; but as for the main body of them, who went of their own accord to Egypt, and fell into the idolatry of the country; these all would perish one after another, until there were none of them left. They would die either by the sword of the king of Babylon; or by famine, which his army and sieges would produce; or by pestilence, though not here mentioned, but is in verse 13.
Jer. 44:28 Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs. (KJV)
Yet a small number that shall escape the sword . . . there would be some who would not be killed by the sword of the king of Babylon, and the other judgments, but these would be but very few; which might easily be numbered; Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah, and a meager few righteous persons among them.
Shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah . . . these shall escape out of the land of Egypt, where they did not go willingly; and by one thing or another, shall come back to their native country, the land of Judea, where the rest will not; which must be remarkable to them.
And all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know what words shall stand, mine or theirs . . . those that are left from the sword, famine and pestilence, shall know by facts laid down, that the LORD’S Words have their effect and accomplishment, stand firm and sure; that promised peace, safety and prosperity, in their idolatrous practices; or the LORD'S, which threatened with ruin and destruction. The LORD is true, and every man a liar; whatever devices are in a man's heart, the counsel of the LORD, which shall stand.
*****Whose words . . . mine, or theirs . . . the LORD’S Words are His threats of destruction to the Jews; mine by which I predict ruin to them. Theirs by which they give themselves free choice in sin, and the claim that they expected all good from their gods (verse 17). Shall stand: Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. (KJV)
Jer. 44:29 And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: (KJV)
And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place . . . in Egypt, as before had been threatened; and what follows is a sign confirming that it would be; and which, when seen by some, gave a hint to make their escape; although others, being hardened in their idolatry, impenitence and unbelief, continued and perished.
That ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil . . . which sign, when they would see it, might assure themselves that the threats of evil to them would surely be carried out, as sure as they saw the sign given, which is as follows.
Jer. 44:30 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life. (KJV)
Thus saith the LORD, behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt . . . Pharaoh was a common name of the kings of Egypt, who usually had some sort of surname, by which they were known. The surname of the then present king of Egypt was Hophra. It is here predicted as a sign of the destruction of the Jews in Egypt, which would follow after, that God would deliver this king,
Into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life . . . either into the hands of his rebellious subjects, headed by Amasis, by whom he was kept alive for a while after taken, and then put to death, or instead into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Josephus says that he, in the twenty third year of his reign, which was four or five years after the destruction of Jerusalem, having subdued the Syrians, Ammonites, and Moabites, entered Egypt in a hostile manner, and slew the then remaining king, and set up another; and this is confirmed by what follows.
As I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and that sought his life . . . in a similar way, and as sure as the LORD had done the one, He would also do the other. He reminds the Jews of what he had done by him, and which they had full and certain knowledge of; and might from this conclude that this also would be accomplished . . . here given as a sign of their own ruin; and when they saw this come to pass, might know that it was done at the LORD’S Hand; and the king of Egypt, in whom they trusted, would be taken by his enemies, his country wasted, and they must in course of time, fall a prey to the conqueror.
Judah's New God; the Queen of Heaven
All the men who knew that their wives burned incense to other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great assembly, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the Name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly perform every word that is gone forth out of our mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then had we plenty of food, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven, and pouring out drink-offerings to her, we have lacked all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink-offerings to her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink-offerings unto her, without our husbands?"
The capital letters for queen of heaven in the above paragraph are a variation from our text. This is to emphasize the adoption of a new god by the Jewish sojourners in Egypt.
Queen of Heaven
There was nothing either honorable or innocent in the worship of this ancient sex-goddess by God's people. Who was the queen of heaven? She is identified primarily with Ashteroth, Astarte, Ishtar, Venus, Aphrodite and other female goddesses of antiquity. She was worshipped as the goddess of fertility and was the female equivalent of Baal.
The immoral rites of the worship of this deity entered Canaan from Babylon, long before God sent the children down into Canaan to completely destroy it and replace it with the knowledge of the TRUE God.
The kind of sexual orgies that went along with such worship is clearly visible in Numbers 25, in which Israel demonstrated their preference for that kind of worship over that which God had commanded, a preference which they maintained down to the events of this chapter.
The Israelites turned to the worship of the queen of heaven as Ashteroth soon after their arrival in Canaan; it was corrupt and immoral in the extreme; it was widespread in the times of Samuel (1 Sam.7:3-4); and after Saul's death, his armor was placed in the temple of Ashteroth at Beth-shan (1 Sam.21:10). Solomon gave this worship royal sanction (2 Ki. 23:13). In the times of Jeremiah, before the exile, the Chosen People had given themselves over to the worst and vilest forms of heathen worship in their worship of the queen of heaven. Furthermore, it seems from the events in these last two chapters that it was Israel's desire to continue uninterrupted their worship of this contemptible goddess that sparked their willingness to go back to Egypt.
All the women that stood by (Jer.44:15). This was probably an idolatrous festival, to the queen of heaven, in which the women took a leading part. With respect to the part which the women played in such a festival, Numbers 25 gives the daughters of Moab as examples! This special mention of the women suggests that the occasion of the gathering was a festival in honor of the queen of heaven.
Since we left off burning incense to the queen of heaven (Jer.44:18). This appears to be a reference to the period in the days of Josiah the king, whose widespread reforms had, for a time, suppressed the shameful paganism which had taken the land. They senselessly attributed the disasters to Judah to Josiah's reforms, claiming that idolatry had done more for them than had the LORD. Not once did the people connect their disasters with their sins! Nothing is more blinding than unfaithfulness; and anyone that can think sin is a better backer than the righteousness of Almighty God is here revealed to be a fool!
Like the harlot in Hosea, Israel did shamefully, and said: Hos. 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. (KJV) . . . She did not know that it was God who gave all those things she desired.
As the women concluded this shocking reply to Jeremiah, that said, in effect, And don't think for a minute that we do all this without our husbands consent!
Did we (do all this) ... without our husbands ..." (Jer.44:19)? Vows taken by women, in order to be valid, were required by the Law of Moses to be with their husband's consent (Num.30:7-16), and it is amazing that these women here seem to have been boasting that they had engaged in this shameful worship according to law. This was the key to the error in their thinking that they could do all of those sinful things and yet keep on worshipping the TRUE God! The result was a kind of merging of religions, like that which Jezebel tried to set up between Christianity and paganism in Thyatira (Rev. 2:20-14).
Did we make cakes to worship her ...? (Jer.7:18; 44:19) The cakes were made in the form of a crescent, representing the moon, believed to have been especially sacred to the queen of heaven.
This worship of the queen of heaven had many kinds of astrological connotations, similar to that of practically all of the mythological gods and goddesses of antiquity. They were separately identified with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and with certain planets in particular. When Stephen referred to the Israelites having worshipped the host of heaven (Acts 7:42), the reference was precisely to these ancient deities.
Book of Jeremiah
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