Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 42

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Jeremiah 42:1 . Then came all the captains of the forces. שׂרי sari, the princes of the army. Johanan and Jezaniah are for dignity named last, because they were of royal blood. All the people, be their number more or less, attended also: their hopes and interests were now at stake. Those princes knew well the law, that God must be consulted; such also was the law of heathen nations. Nor would the eager people be satisfied without an oracle. The sanctuary being destroyed, they had no choice but to consult the identical prophet whose words they had long despised.

Jeremiah 42:7 . After ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. The Chaldaic will fully bear us out in saying, that the Word was the glorious person of Christ. So it is in Jonah 4:4; Jonah 4:9, and in more than forty other places, especially in the book of Chronicles. Their impetuous passions must wait for the oracle: he would not speak till their minds were calm, and till his words might be more persuasive.

Jeremiah 42:15-16 . If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt there ye shall die. They would run from one fire to another. For the truth and accomplishment of this prophecy, we have the testimony of Josephus, who describes the continuous wars of Nebuchadnezzar in the west, the siege of Tyre for thirteen years, Isaiah 23:0., and the conquest of Egypt, Libya, and other countries. The truth of prophecy has the seals of providence. See on Jeremiah 41:15.

Jeremiah 42:17 . By famine and by pestilence. Both here, and at Jeremiah 42:22, and at Jeremiah 44:13, where the word pestilence occurs, it is omitted by the LXX.


The remnant in the time of sore and complicated affliction, now seek for counsel from the Lord; and with an oath that they would obey; for a reproaching heart told them of their gross treatment of this holy prophet. How far they obeyed, the sequel will show.

The foundation of the Hebrew theocrasy rested on God alone; and they needed no alliances farther than good will, with any of the neighbouring nations. It would be difficult to prove that ever they received any permanent good from connections and intercourse with the heathen; nor did they at any time form such a connection without receiving some calamitous wound, both in their morals and their religion. Against Egypt, and all dependence on that nation for aid and defence, they are often cautioned; because it would corrupt their purity, and imply an insufficiency in the Lord for their protection. Deuteronomy 17:16. Isaiah 30:2. But Egypt was at this time the only power which resisted the conquests of the Chaldeans, and the military men trusted in an arm of flesh for defence. Hence they came to Jeremiah, to solicit his prayers and advice; for now he stood high as a prophet of the Lord. But they did this with hypocrisy in their hearts. If he should advise them to go into Egypt, and consequently give the lie to his former prophecies, in which he had exhorted them to serve the king of Babylon, then they would do so. Thus wicked men will applaud the word of God when it coincides with their interest or their humour. But if he should persevere in bidding them stay in the land, they were secretly resolved to follow their own determination, and take refuge in Egypt. What an astonishment that men should carry dissimulation in so solemn a manner into the divine presence.

After ten days the Lord vouchsafed to speak: for though he be slow to hear when prayer is made for the disobedient, yet he softens even when repentance is very imperfect. The Lord bade them abide in the land, and promised to build them up into a nation again, and not to pull them down. He bade them not to fear the king of Babylon; for he would be with them to deliver them from his hand. So there was yet a ray of hope for the remnant of Judah and of Israel, had they obeyed his voice.

The gracious overtures of providence are often frustrated by the revoltings of man: the fears of the wicked were more than their faith. Disbelieving both the promises and the threatenings of the Lord, they resolved to seek safety in Egypt, and to force every one to go with them. While Jeremiah threatened Jerusalem with fire and sword, those very men, believing the false prophets, thought themselves safe in the city; and now that safety is promised for the remnant in the land, they think themselves unsafe. Oh, deceitful heart of man! Thus the land was left in a manner without an inhabitant, that it might enjoy its sabbaths.

The men who would not believe the promises of God when he repented of the evil he thought to do, were obliged, but ah, too late for mercy, to believe all the terrible words which he had said by Jeremiah. Nebuchadnezzar presently invaded Egypt, slew the king, and appointed another in his stead. So Josephus affirms, and also Megasthenes and Berosus, who flourished about three hundred years before Christ: they even speak in stronger terms of the conquest of Egypt and a great part of Africa by Nebuchadnezzar. Thus it mostly happens, that they who seek a refuge in disobedience to God are sure to involve themselves in greater evils.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 42". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/jeremiah-42.html. 1835.
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