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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 43

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-7

Jer 43:1-7

Jeremiah 43:1-4


And it came to pass that, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of Jehovah their God, wherewith Jehovah their God had sent him to them, even all these words, then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: Jehovah our God hath not sent thee to say, Ye shall not go into Egypt to sojourn there; but Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may put us to death, and carry us away captive to Babylon. So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of Jehovah, to dwell in the land of Judah.

And all the proud men...

(Jeremiah 43:2). The two prominent leaders, Azariah and Johanan, were backed up by a group of men, called here the proud men. The versions provide further insight into the meaning of these words: the insolent men (Revised Standard Version); the arrogant men (the Good News Bible). They were the bold and confident unbelievers who constituted the vast majority of that apostate generation of the Chosen People, having no regard whatever, either for Almighty God, or God’s prophets.

We do not believe that there was anything whatever in the allegations of those Jewish leaders of either truth or probability. For example, their suggestion that Baruch was the author of Jeremiah’s prophecies here was an outright falsehood. What a preposterous proposition it was that, "The prophet who would not trim his message for the king himself would have allowed himself to be manipulated by his secretary!"

All the people obeyed not...

(Jeremiah 43:4) The insolent, loud-mouthed, arrogant, and confident claims of the false leaders quickly swept away all objections to their policies; and they proceeded at once to Egypt. Jeremiah did not defend himself against the charge of prophesying a falsehood, but trusted in the future to reveal who was true and who was false.

Jeremiah 43:5-7


But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all the nations whither they had been driven, to sojourn in the land of Judah; the men, and the women, and the 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; and they came into the land of Egypt; for they obeyed not the voice of Jehovah: and they came unto Tahpanhes.

Johanan... took all the remnant. and Jeremiah... and Baruch... and came into the land of Egypt .....

(Jeremiah 43:5-7). From this, it is certain that both Jeremiah and his amanuensis Baruch were unwilling participants in this migration back to Egypt.

Tragic as this pitiful maneuver actually was, "It resulted in the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy that Jerusalem would be uninhabited (Jeremiah 24:8-10). This migration to Egypt accomplished the utter de-population of the land; and the sole hope of the nation was then (and afterward) centered in the Babylonian exiles." In the light of the unbelieving arrogance and conceit of that whole generation of apostates, there was nothing whatever that God could have done with them, unless it had been preceded by the sincere repentance and reformation of the people, that being, according to all indications, an utterly impossible thing to have anticipated.


(Jeremiah 43:7). This was an important fortified city on the eastern Delta of the Nile, where Pharaoh had a summer home and some kind of an administrative center. It seems to be the same place which Herodotus called Daphnai, now thought to be the modern Tell-Defenneh, some 27 miles south-southwest of Port Said.

The immigrants probably stopped here in order to procure permission of Pharaoh to enter Egypt, and to explore possible ways of making a living.

4. The rashness of the leaders (Jeremiah 43:1-7)

While the people heard the prophet, it was obvious that the word of God was not getting through to them. Scarcely had he finished speaking when opposition arose. A certain Azariah, most likely a brother of Jezaniah (Jeremiah 42:1), seems to have assumed the role of chief spokesman. Some scholars think that Jezahiah of Jeremiah 42:1 and the Azariah here are one and the same. Both are said to be the son of Hoshaiah. Joining with him were all the “proud men.” The Hebrew word used here is used of those arrogant, insolent loud mouths who have the audacity to speak out against God and question His word. “You are a liar!” they yelled at the prophet. “God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go down to Egypt!’” They did not attempt to answer Jeremiah’s arguments; instead they challenge his integrity and veracity. They point the finger of accusation at Baruch and hurl a groundless but vicious charge at the faithful scribe: “Baruch has set you against us in order to give us into the hands of the Chaldeans” (Jeremiah 43:3). Just what the basis of this violent outburst against Baruch was is not made clear. Defiant disobedience must be rationalized and Baruch was made the scapegoat. Perhaps he was in the employ of the Chaldeans in some capacity. At any rate the attack made against him was patently absurd. Jeremiah does not even bother to try to dissuade the crowd, which by this time had become a mob, from their course of action. Unbelief had hardened into apostasy. The die was cast. To Egypt they would go.

Having determined to disobey the commandment of God, Johanan instructed the people to hastily make preparation for the flight to Egypt. Too much time had already been wasted waiting on Jeremiah to deliver his oracle. They could feel, so they thought, Nebuchadnezzar breathing down their neck. Therefore all the men, women, children, and the king’s daughters are told to pack their meager belongings for the trip southward. Jeremiah and Baruch are both listed among those who went down to Egypt, It is impossible to imagine that this faithful man of God agreed to join the refugees of his own accord since he knew that the whole venture was contrary to the will of God. The angry leaders must have forced the old man and his faithful companion to go with them in order that they might share whatever fate awaited the group in Egypt.

One of the saddest verses in the whole book of Jeremiah is Jeremiah 43:7. “So they come into the land of Egypt; for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord; thus they came even to Tahpanhes.” How ironical. The Israelites, who tine hundred years earlier had been delivered from Egypt, have now returned. Those who were seeking peace and security were marching into the jaws of death. Those who were trying to avoid confrontation with Nebuchadnezzar would shortly face their dreaded foe on foreign soil. The remnant ended their flight at Tahpanhes (modern Daphne), a fortress city just inside the Egyptian border.

Verses 8-13

Jer 43:8-13

Jeremiah 43:8-11


Then came the word of Jehovah unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thy hand, and hide them in mortar in the brickwork, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah 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. And he shall come, and shall smite the land of Egypt; such as are for death [shall be given] to death, and such as are for captivity to captivity, and such as are for the sword to the sword.

We reject such irresponsible comment on this paragraph as that of Thompson who stated that, "Jeremiah’s prophecy was not fulfilled literally." On the contrary, both the Babylonian historian Berossus "confirms the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar"; and the Jewish historian Josephus flatly declared that, "Nebuchadnezzar fell upon Egypt to subdue it; and he slew the king that then reigned and set up another. He also took those Jews that were there captives, and led them away to Babylon." In the light of both Babylonian and Jewish historians agreeing that such a conquest did indeed occur, we consider the historical evidence heavily weighted in favor of the exact and circumstantial fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy here. Yes, we are aware that there is a fad among current scholars who accept only the writings of Josephus which they think can be used to support their critical theories, rejecting all others; but we have no confidence in such rejections of the only known historian of that era among the Jews.

Herodotus contradicted some of the things that Josephus wrote; but the reverse is also true. Josephus contradicted some of the things Herodotus wrote. The ability to decide who was correct in a given matter is simply not to be found in any man living thousands of years after the events.

There is also some fragmentary archaeological evidence that Nebuchadnezzar indeed invaded Egypt. "Three of Nebuchadnezzar’s inscriptions have been found near Tahpanhes." "An ancient inscription confirms the fact that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 568 B.C, when Amasis was Pharaoh."

It should always be remembered in the case of deciding whether or not prophecies were fulfilled by historical events, that the fragmentary information which has drifted down through history concerning those ancient times is totally inadequate to justify the extravagant assertions of some critics denying that certain prophecies were fulfilled. As Green noted, "The paucity of knowledge concerning the period is such that it is impossible to know what happened." In addition to that impediment, there is in this very chapter the question of exactly what is meant by the sacred text. For example, the word translated "obelisks" in Jeremiah 43:12, "pillars" in some translations, etc., actually means "images" and is so used in Isaiah.

Regarding this matter, we appreciate the words of Cheyne who stated that "some have wrongfully controverted" the proposition that Jeremiah’s prophecies were actually literally fulfilled.

Jeremiah 43:12-13


And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captive: 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. He shall also break the pillars of Beth-shemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire.

As a shepherd putteth on his garment...

(Jeremiah 43:12). Keil gave special attention to the words thus rendered and gave as his opinion that they are properly translated thus: As easily as any shepherd in the open field wraps himself in his cloak, adding that, Other explanations of the word are far-fetched and lexically untenable.

We would like to call attention to the preposterous mistranslation of this passage in the Good News Bible. "As a shepherd picks his clothes clean of lice, so the king of Babylon will pick the land of Egypt clean." Such words are simply not in the text. James Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible (1929) didn’t do any better: "He shall scour the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks vermin out of his plaid."


(Jeremiah 43:13). The Revised Standard Version renders this place Heliopolis on the probability that they might be the same. If that identity is correct, the Egyptian temple of the Sun God was located there.


Jeremiah 43:8 to Jeremiah 44:30

It is impossible to determine precisely what year the Jews immigrated to Egypt. The year 583 or 582 B.C. would probably not be far wrong. This conjecture is based on the fact that the armies of Nebuchadnezzar arrived in the land of Judah in 582 B.C. to punish the Jews for the death of Gedaliah. Therefore it would seem appropriate to assume that the flight to Egypt had occurred shortly before the coming of the Chaldeans. The present section contains the last recorded oracle of Jeremiah. That oracle was delivered before the death of Pharaoh Hophra in 569 B.C. Therefore, Jeremiah 43:8 to Jeremiah 44:30 covers at the maximum a period of thirteen years, from 583 to 570 B.C. However, the likelihood is that the actual number of years covered here is less than half the maximum figure.

A. A Prophetic Announcement Jeremiah 43:8-13


(8) And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, (9) Take in your hand large stones and hide them in the mortar in the brick pavement which is at the entrance of the house of Pharaoh in Tahpanhes in the presence of the men of Judah. (10) Then say unto them, Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am about to send and take Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, My servant, that I may set up his throne over these stones which I have hidden; and he shall stretch out his canopy over them. (11) When he comes he will smite the land of Egypt; such as are appointed to death, to death, those appointed to exile, to exile, and those appointed to the sword, to the sword. (12) And I will kindle a fire in the house of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them or carry them away captive. He will wrap himself in the land of Egypt as a shepherd wraps his garment about him; and he shall go out from that place unmolested. (13) And he shall break down the images of Bethshemesh which is in the land of Egypt and he will burn the houses of the gods of Egypt.


Jeremiah did not cease from his prophetic activity in the land of Egypt. Indeed the final three oracles of his ministry were delivered on Egyptian soil. In the first of these Jeremiah elaborates upon the warning which he made to the remnant at their encampment near Bethlehem. He boldly predicts that Nebuchadnezzar would attempt to conquer Egypt and the remnant would greatly suffer in the ensuing war.

1. Announcement of coming invasion (Jeremiah 43:8-10)

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes situated at the eastern edge of the Egyptian Delta, some seven miles west of the Suez Canal. At one time, before it dried up, the Pelusior branch of the Nile flowed past the site. The city was one of the major fortresses guarding the eastern entrance into Egypt. It was also an important commercial center, since all the caravans going to and from Egypt passed through there. The site was excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie, the famous British archaeologist, in 1886. He found the native name of the place to be Qasr Bent el Yehudi, “palace of the Jew’s daughter.” This name had for centuries preserved the memory of the visit of Zedekiah’s daughters following the collapse of the kingdom of Judah.

Shortly after the Jews arrived in Tahpanhes Jeremiah delivered his first oracle to them (Jeremiah 43:8). No doubt the exiles would be compelled to halt here in order to secure permission from the Egyptian government to sojourn in their land. As on so many occasions in his ministry Jeremiah chose to dramatize his message. Now God instructed him to “take great stones . and hide them in the mortar in the brickwork, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes” (Jeremiah 43:9). “Pharaoh’s house” is not the royal palace—that was located at Sais—but a government building of some sort which Pharaoh used as his residence when in Tahpanhes. The “brickwork” (ASV) is most likely the brick pavement at the entrance of this royal residence. Sir Flinders Petrie discovered a large brick platform at the main entrance of the fortress in Tahpanhes. This platform may well have been the very place where the Lord instructed Jeremiah to bury the large stones.

Just how Jeremiah was able to perform this act is not stated. Some scholars think it was done at night. On the other hand, the native Egyptians may have regarded Jeremiah as insane and therefore have tolerated his actions, But this much is certain: The men of Judah were present to observe the prophet performing this strange act. When Jeremiah had finished burying the stones beneath the brickwork he rose to make a startling announcement. He predicted that Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt and place his throne on the very spot where the stones were hidden (Jeremiah 43:10). Here on this very spot the Great King would spread his royal canopy (Jeremiah 43:10). The Hebrew word occurs only here and is of uncertain meaning. Though “canopy” seems to be the best translation, some have suggested “carpet” as the best translation. This is probably not the tent where the king would reside but an awning or covering borne by attendants designed to protect the monarch from the rays of the sun.

2. Consequences of the coming invasion (Jeremiah 43:11-13)

The invasion of Nebuchadnezzar would have terrible consequences for the inhabitants of Egypt and for the Jews who were seeking refuge there. Some would die of deadly wounds suffered in battle, others from famine which would result when cities were besieged. Still others would be carried away into captivity or given over to the sword of the executioner (Jeremiah 43:11).

Nebuchadnezzar would have no respect for the gods of Egypt. He would put the torch to the temples of the land and carry their images away to Babylon as trophies of war. He will break the images of Beth-shemesh as well. The word translated here “images” is the same word rendered “pillar” in Isaiah 19:19. In both of these passages the word probably refers to the obelisk. “Beth-shemesh” means “house of the sun.” The place was called Heliopolis by the Greeks and On by the Egyptians. It is located near the southern point of the Egyptian Delta region a few miles south of Tahpanhes and about ten miles northeast of modern Cairo. A famous temple dedicated to the sun was located here which had in front of it a row of obelisks. It is to these obelisks that the present passage points. When the geographer Strabo visited the city twenty years before Christ it was already a heap of ruins. Nothing now remains of the city but some traces of the massive walls, fragments of sphinxes and an obelisk of red granite sixty-eight feet high.

Jeremiah’s prediction of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt were fulfilled in a marvelous way. The Jewish historian Josephus tells of an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar five years after the fall of Jerusalem. In this invasion the king of Egypt was killed and the Jews in Egypt carried away captive to Babylonian. Josephus, Antiquities, X. 9. 7. Many scholars questioned the accuracy of the Josephus account until a fragmentary inscription from the archives of Nebuchadnezzar was discovered which told of a Chaldean invasion of Egypt. The tablet, now in the British Museum, has unfortunately been badly damaged. To be sure this invasion did not occur until the thirty-seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar, nineteen years after the fall of Jerusalem (i.e., 568 B.C.). This fragment certainly establishes the fact that punitive campaigns to Egypt could be part of Nebuchadnezzar’s foreign policy. The fragment suggests that the purpose of the Great King was not permanent conquest. Rather Nebuchadnezzar was aiming to cripple Egypt so as to prevent Pharaoh from ever again meddling in Syria-Palestine. Pharaoh Amasis (570–526 B.C.) who ruled Egypt at the time was able to retain his throne. Subsequent to the invasion he seems to have maintained friendly relations with Babylon. Jeremiah’s prophecy does not demand a lengthy subjugation of Egypt and therefore it may be regarded as fulfilled by one or both of the invasions mentioned above.

The Flight to Egypt - Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 45:5

Open It

1. Whom do you know who has been too trusting and suffered because he or she refused to believe ill of another person?

2. What traditional superstitions were you taught as you were growing up?

Explore It

3. How did the governor appointed by the Babylonians reassure the small fighting force that remained in the land after the Babylonians withdrew? (Jeremiah 40:7-10)

4.How did the remnant of people in the land of Judah grow and begin to prosper? (Jeremiah 40:11-12)

5. What warning did some of the commanders give to Gedaliah, the appointed governor? (Jeremiah 40:13-14)

6. How did Johanan propose to solve the threat against Gedaliah, which he perceived as potentially disastrous to the whole remnant? (Jeremiah 40:15)

7. How did Gedaliah respond to Johanan’s desire to protect him? (Jeremiah 40:16)

8. What devious plan was carried out by Ishmael and his followers? (Jeremiah 41:1-3)

9. What evil deeds did Ishmael add to his murder of Gedaliah? (Jeremiah 41:4-10)

10. What transpired when Johanan caught up to Ishmael? (Jeremiah 41:11-15)

11. What did Johanan assume the remaining faithful people would have to do since Gedaliah had been murdered? (Jeremiah 41:16-18)

12. What request did Johanan and the people with him make of the prophet Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 42:1-3)

13. What promises did Jeremiah and the people make to one another? (Jeremiah 42:4-6)

14. What positive commands and reassuring words did Jeremiah bring from God? (Jeremiah 42:7-12)

15. What warning did God have for the people in anticipation of their intended disobedience? (Jeremiah 42:13-18)

16. Of what fatal mistake did Jeremiah accuse the remnant of Judah? (Jeremiah 42:19-22)

17. How did Johanan and the other leaders rationalize their disobedience? (Jeremiah 43:1-3)

18. Who were the people who entered Egypt, some of them against their will? (Jeremiah 43:4-7)

19. When he was at Tahpanhes with the others, what symbolic action did God tell Jeremiah to take, and what was the meaning? (Jeremiah 43:8-13)

20. For what sin did God, through Jeremiah, remind the people that He had punished Judah and Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 44:1-6)

21. Why was Jeremiah amazed that the remnant had not learned a lesson from all that had happened before? (Jeremiah 44:7-10)

22. What did God say He would do to all those determined to go to Egypt for protection? (Jeremiah 44:11-14)

23. What superstitious belief did the people cite as they defied Jeremiah openly? (Jeremiah 44:15-19)

24. How did Jeremiah proceed to correct their thinking about the real cause of their misfortune? (Jeremiah 44:20-23)

25. With what vow did God answer the people’s vow to continue worshiping the "Queen of Heaven"? (Jeremiah 44:24-28)

26. What did God promise to do to the pharaoh of Egypt, whom the Israelites considered an ally against Babylon? (Jeremiah 44:29-30)

27. Why was the scribe, Baruch, feeling sorry for himself? (Jeremiah 45:1-3)

28. How did God respond to Baruch’s self-pity? (Jeremiah 45:4-5)

Get It

29. What mistake on the part of a well-meaning governor kept the remnant of poor people and fugitive soldiers from prospering after the Babylonian conquest?

30. How did reliance on their own wisdom and preconceptions about God’s answer get Johanan and his fellow leaders into trouble?

31. What (other than fear of the Babylonians) led the people to ignore God and His prophet, Jeremiah?

32. Why did Jeremiah call the disobedience of the people who insisted on fleeing to Egypt a fatal mistake?

33. Why do people swear oaths that they don’t really intend to keep?

34. Why are some people willing to attribute their misfortune to God’s indifference or powerlessness rather than to their own sins?

35. When have you felt discouraged because of how long you have endured hardship in doing the right thing?

36. What blessings will follow if we allow God’s loving-kindness to be our reward for faithfulness?

Apply It

37. In what area of your life do you need to pray for God’s perspective on human evil?

38. What initial steps can you take to refocus on the eternal rather than the earthly rewards when you face discouragement in serving the Lord?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapters Forty-Two & Forty-Three

By Brent Kercheville

1 What do the people as Jeremiah to do (Jeremiah 42:1-6)? What do we learn from this?

2 How long do they wait for prayer to be answered?

3 What was God’s response to their prayer (Jeremiah 42:7-22)? What was the clear message to them?

4 What is the people’s response to God’s answer given through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43:1-7)? What lessons do we learn from this?

5 What is God’s message for their disobedience (Jeremiah 43:8-13)?


How does this relationship change your relationship with God? What did you learn about him? What will

you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 43". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-43.html.
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