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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 44

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 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,

Migdol - meaning a tower. A city east of Egypt, toward the Red Sea (Ezekiel 14:2; Numbers 33:7).

Noph - Memphis, now Cairo (Jeremiah 2:16).

Pathros - Upper Egypt (Isaiah 11:11).

Verse 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,

Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem. If I spared not my own sacred city, much less shall ye be safe in Egypt, which I loathe.

Verse 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.

They went - implying perverse assiduity, 'they went (out of their way) to burn incense' (one species of idolatry put for all kinds), etc.

Verse 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.

I sent unto you all my ... prophets, rising early and sending them - (2 Chronicles 36:15).

Verses 5-6

But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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;

Now thus saith the Lord - after so many warnings.

Wherefore commit ye this ... evil against your souls - (Jeremiah 7:19; Numbers 16:38; Proverbs 8:36). It is not God whom you injure, but yourselves.

Verse 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?

Burning incense unto other gods in Egypt - where they polluted themselves to ingratiate themselves with the Egyptians.

Whither ye be gone to dwell. Not compelled by fear but of your own accord, when I forbade you, and when it was free to you to stay in Judea, that ye might cut yourselves off-they, as it were, purposely courted their own ruin.

Verse 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?

Have ye forgotten ... Have ye forgotten how the wickednesses of your fathers were the source of the greatest calamities to you?

The wickedness of their wives. The Jewish queens were great promoters of idolatry, as Solomon's wives (1 Kings 11:1-8;, Maachah, Asa's mother, 1 Kings 15:13; Jezebel, Ahab's wife, 1 Kings 16:31).

Which they committed in the land of Judah - they defiled the land, which was holy unto God.

Verse 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.

They ... you. The third person puts them to a distance from God, on account of their alienating themselves from Him. The second person implies that God formerly had directly addressed them.

They are not humbled - literally, contrite (Psalms 51:17).

Neither have they feared - (Proverbs 18:14, "Happy is the man that feareth alway").

Verse 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.

I will set my face to cut off all Judah - i:e., all the idolaters; Jeremiah 44:28 shows that some returned to Judea (cf. Jeremiah 42:17, note).

Verses 12-13

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.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

None ... shall escape ... that they should return ... The Jews had gone to Egypt with the idea that a return to Judea, which they thought hopeless to their brethren in Babylon, would be an easy matter to themselves in Egypt: the exact reverse should happen in the case of each respectively. 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.

Have a desire - literally, lift up their soul - i:e., their hopes (cf. Jeremiah 22:27, margin; Deuteronomy 24:15).

None shall return but such as shall escape - namely, "the small number" (Jeremiah 44:28) who were brought by force into Egypt, as Jeremiah and Baruch, and those who, in accordance with Jeremiah's advice, should flee from Egypt before the arrival of the Chaldeans (note, Jeremiah 42:17). Calvin, less probably, refers the words to the return of the exiles in Babylon, which the Jews in Egypt regarded as hopeless.

Verse 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,

All the men which knew that their wives had burned incense - the idolatry began with the, wives (1 Kings 11:4; 1 Timothy 2:14). Their husbands' connivance implicated them in the guilt.

Verse 16

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.

We will not hearken - (Jeremiah 6:16).

Verse 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.

We will certainly do whatsoever ... goeth ... out of our ... mouth - whatever vow we have uttered to our gods (Jeremiah 44:25; Deuteronomy 23:23; Judges 11:36). The source of all superstitions is, that men oppose their own will and fancies to God's commands. They speak as if it were very meritorious on their part not to break their vows to idols. What a pity that men are not as scrupulous respecting their vows to Yahweh as they are in the case of vanities!

Queen of heaven - (note, Jeremiah 7:18) - Ashtaroth or Astarte.

We ... fathers ... kings ... The evil was restricted to no one class; all, from the highest to the lowest, shared the guilt. Then had we plenty. Fools attribute their seeming prosperity to God's connivance at their sin; but see Proverbs 1:32; Ecclesiastes 8:11-13. In fact God had often chastised them for their idolatry (see Judges 2:14), but it is the curse of impiety not to perceive the hand of God in calamities.

Of victuals - men cast away the bread of the soul for the bread that perisheth (Deuteronomy 8:3; John 6:27). So "Esau, for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:16).

Verse 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.

Since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven ... we have wanted all things, and have been consumed. They impute their calamities to their service of God; but these are often marks of His favour, not of wrath, to do His people good at their latter end (Deuteronomy 8:16.)

Verse 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?

Did we make her cakes to worship her? [Maurer translates lªha`ªtsibaah (H6087) 'to form her image.'] Crescent-shaped cakes were offered to the moon. The Vulgate supports the English version. The Hebrew root [ `aatsaab (H6091)] expresses, to vex or grieve; implying that an idol causes nothing but sorrow and shame to its worshippers, without any profit, and grieves God, and stirs up His anger. Compare the Hebrew and the English version, Isaiah 63:10, where the same Hebrew word occurs.

Without our men. The women mentioned Jeremiah 44:15, "a great multitude," here spake: we have not engaged in secret night-orgies which might justly be regarded unfavourably by our husbands; our sacred rites have been open, and with their privity. They wish to show how unreasonable it is that Jeremiah should oppose himself alone to the act of all, not merely women, but men also. The guilty, like these women, desire to shield themselves under the complicity of others. Instead of helping one another toward heaven, husband and wife often ripen one another for hell.

Verse 20

Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had 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,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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?

The incense that ye burned ... did not the Lord remember. Jeremiah owns that they did as they said, but in retort asks, Did not God repay their own evil-doing! Their very land in its present desolation attests this (Jeremiah 44:22), as was foretold (Jeremiah 25:11; 18:38 ).

Verse 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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Nor walked in his law - the moral precepts.

His statutes - the ceremonial. His testimonies - the judicial (Daniel 9:11-12).

Verse 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:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

Ye ... have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand - ironical praise. They had pleaded their obligation to fulfill their vows in excuse for their idolatry. He answers, no one can accuse you of unsteadiness as to your idolatrous vows; but stedfastness toward God ought to have prevented you from making, or, when made, from keeping such vows.

Ye will surely accomplish your vows. Jeremiah hereby gives them up to their own fatal obstinacy.

Verse 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.

I have sworn - I, too, have made a vow which I will fulfil. Since ye will not hear me speaking and warning, hear me swearing.

By my great name - i:e., by myself (Genesis 22:16), the greatest by whom God can swear (Hebrews 6:13-14). My name shall no more be named. The Jews heretofore, amidst all their idolatry, had retained the form of appeal to the name of God and the law the distinctive glory of their nation. God will allow this no more (Ezekiel 20:39). There shall be none left in Egypt to profane His name thus anymore.

Verse 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.

Watch over ... for evil - (Jeremiah 1:10; Ezekiel 7:6). The God whose providence is ever solicitously watching over His people for good shall solicitously, as it were, watch for their hurt. (Contrast Jeremiah 31:28; Jeremiah 32:41.)

Verse 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.

Yet a small number - (notes, Jeremiah 44:14, and Jeremiah 42:17; a type of the final restoration of the elect Jewish remnant; Isaiah 27:13); cf. "all the men of Judah that are in ... Egypt, shall be consumed" (Jeremiah 44:27). A band easily counted, whereas they expecting to return triumphantly in large numbers.

All the remnant of Judah ... shall know - most of them experimentally, and to their cost.

Whose words ... mine, or theirs - Hebrew, that from me and them. Yahweh's words are His threats of destruction to the Jews; theirs, the assertion that they expected all goods from their gods (Jeremiah 44:17), etc. "Mine," by which I predicted ruin to them; "theirs," by which they give themselves free scope in iniquity.

Shall stand - (Psalms 33:11, "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever; the thoughts of His heart to all generations").

Verse 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: This shall be a sign unto you - the calamity of Pharaoh-hophra (note, Jeremiah 44:30) shall be a sign to you, that as he shall fall before his enemy, so you shall subsequently fall before Nebuchadnezzar (Matthew 24:8). (Grotius.) Calvin makes the "sign" to be simultaneous with the event signified, not antecedent to it, as in Exodus 3:12. The Jews believed Egypt impregnable, so shut in was it by natural barriers. The Jews being "punished in this place" will he a sign that their view is false, and God's threat true. He calls it "a sign unto you," because God's prediction is equivalent to the event, so that they may even now take it as a sign. When fulfilled it would cease to be a sign to them, for they would be dead.

Verse 30

Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra 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.

Hophra - in Herodotus called Apries. He succeeded Psammis, the successor of Pharaoh-necho, who was beaten by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish on the Euphrates. Amasis rebelled against and overcame him in the city Sais.

I will give Pharaoh ... into the hand of ... them that seek his life. Herodotus, in curious accordance with this, records that Amasis, after treating Hophra well at first, was instigated, by persons who thought they could not be safe unless he were put to death, to strangle him. "His enemies" refer to Amasis, etc.; the words are accurately chosen, so as not to refer to Nehuchadnezzar, who is not mentioned until the end of the verse, and in connection, with Zedekiah (Ezekiel 29:3; Ezekiel 30:21). Amasis' civil war with Hophra pioneered the way for Nebuchadnezza's invasion in the twenty-third of his reign (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 10: 11).


(1) The sore chastisements of God are insufficient to bring men to repentance unless the Spirit of God sanctify those chastisements to the spiritual good of the sufferers. After all God's so wonderfully condescending entreaties to His people (Jeremiah 44:4, "Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate"), the Jews had persisted in idolatry, and so had brought a fearful ruin on their chief city and their country (Jeremiah 44:6). Yet the Jews who were left in Judea, after this terrible warning, were as bent on idolatry and rebellion as ever.

(2) God plainly told them that it was "against their own souls" they were committing this great evil (Jeremiah 44:7); and asked them had they forgotten the awful consequences of their past quilt, that they still would not "humble themselves," nor "fear" God, and have respect unto His laws? (Jeremiah 44:9-10.) God declared therefore, that as He had not spared even the holy city Jerusalem, much less would He spare them in Egypt, which he abhorred for its idolatry. They had gone there in direct and self-willed defiance of His command; and, moreover, when there, had added to their guilt by abominable idolatries, practiced in order to ingratiate themselves with the corrupt Egyptians. The result, therefore, should be the very reverse of their calculations. They had gone to Egypt under the notion that a return from thence to their country would be easily accomplished (Jeremiah 44:14); whereas their brethren in Babylon, they supposed, would never return from such a distance; but it was the Jews in Babylon, who had been sent there by God, that were weaned from idolatry and then restored, while the Jews who had gone by their own perverse will into Egypt were there confirmed in the worst idolatry, and therefore perished there. When we rush into temptation without the warrant of God, God, in righteous retribution, leaves us to eat of the bitter fruit of our own way.

(3) It is and when those who should help one another forward toward heaven, husband and wife, fathers and children, kings and their subjects, confirm each other in rebellion against God, and so ripen each other for hell (Jeremiah 44:15; Jeremiah 44:17). The family relation is especially powerful either for good or evil (Jeremiah 44:19). It is most important, therefore, that the children of God, in entering the married state, as, indeed, every intimate connection of life, should choose as their partners, not those who will be a snare and stumblingblock to them spiritually, but such as will help them forward in the narrow way, seeking, like themselves, the glory of God as the end of life, not earthly vanities.

(4) Thousands, like the Jews, in Egypt, sacrifice their souls for the sake of "plenty of victuals" (Jeremiah 44:17). They fancy that they can secure worldly prosperity by following their own carnal wills and imaginations, without making the favour of God their aim; and that, if they were to make the will of God their rule of life, they should be in want of earthly goods (Jeremiah 44:18). But is this so? Far from it. God cannot break His promise, that if we seek the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, first, all these earthly things shall be added to us over and above (Matthew 6:34). On the other hand, the Jews who thus falsely reasoned forgot the awful consequences which befell their nation by not having served the Lord, their land having been made "a desolation, an astonishment, and a curse without an inhabitant" (Jeremiah 44:21-22). Let us not be forgetful of God's past judgments, like them; nor let us make earthly prosperity or adversity the gauge by which we measure everything, seeing that the godly often have trials which prove to be real blessings; and the ungodly often have for a time prosperity which ends in their ruin (Proverbs 1:32); and "what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26.)

(5) Men are very punctilious in observing their own code of honour, who utterly set at nought God's code of laws, and the honour of His Majesty. The Jews piqued themselves on their faithfulness to their vows to idols; b ut had they viewed the matter aright, they would have seen that faithfulness to God required that they should not, in the first instance, have vowed to idols at all; and next, when they had perpetrated this sin, that they should not add to it by keeping such abominable and unholy vows (Jeremiah 44:17; Jeremiah 44:25). What would have been an imperative duty in the case of God-namely, to keep a vow-is an additional sin in the case of an idol.

(6) But as men have their code of honour, so has God His. He, too, makes a vow by His own great name (Jeremiah 44:26), which He will fulfill to the letter; those who will not hearken to His words of gracious invitation shall hear His terrible oath of denunciation. Then shall it be known whose words shall stand, God's or the sinners (Jeremiah 44:28). The transgressors, who promise themselves good in earthly vanities after having turned their backs on God, shall be given up to their own fatal, perversity. They shall no more pollute God's holy name with their gifts and with their idols (Jeremiah 44:26; Ezekiel 20:39). They and their earthly stays, such as Pharaoh was to the Jews (Jeremiah 44:29-30), shall perish together. The goods which they promised themselves from idols (Jeremiah 44:17, shall prove to be a self-delusion (Jeremiah 44:28 end); while God, who watches over His people continually for their good, shall watch over the outcast rebels continually for evil (Jeremiah 44:27). Let us Christians also be warned by the voice of God (1 John 5:21, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols"): "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth ... and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 44". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/jeremiah-44.html. 1871-8.
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