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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 44

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-14

Jer 44:1-14

Jeremiah 44:1-7

DESTRUCTION -- THE PRICE OF DISOBEDIENCE

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews that dwelt in the land of Egypt, that dwelt at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Memphis, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith Jehovah 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, 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, that they knew not, neither they, nor ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. Wherefore my wrath 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 it is this day. Therefore now thus saith Jehovah, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Wherefore commit ye [this] great evil against your own souls, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and suckling, out of the midst of Judah, to leave you none remaining;

The scene of this paragraph was at Pathros, in the southern end of Egypt, where, apparently, the Jews had gathered from all over Egypt to attend a festival honoring the Queen of Heaven. The women seem to have been taking the leading part in it. Into that wicked company Jeremiah came, challenging them to repent and turn to God, citing Jerusalem and the cities of Judah in their state of devastation as their certain penalty if they continued in their wickedness.

Migdol... Tahpanhes... Memphis... Pathros...

(Jeremiah 44:1). The first three are in Lower Egypt, near Cairo; Pathros signifies Upper Egypt, all the way to Aswan.

No man dwelleth therein...

(Jeremiah 44:2). Jeremiah had prophesied that this desolation would overtake Jerusalem (Jeremiah 24:8-10); and that fact should have conditioned some of the people, at least, to believe the prophet; but it did not.

They hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness...

(Jeremiah 44:5). Israel’s refusal to ’walk in’ the law and the statutes of Yahweh is a central theme in Jeremiah F3 In this very last message of the great prophet, how wonderful it is to see that not a syllable has disappeared from his prophecies. In spite of the rebellious hatred of his own people, Jeremiah has been true to God all the way. The message here at the end is what it always was, Repent or Perish. It is still the message of God, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish! (Luke 13:5).

Jeremiah 44:8-10

GOD’S HATRED OF IDOLATRY

in that ye provoke me unto anger with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye are gone to sojourn; that ye may be cut off, and that ye may be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? 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 committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? 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.

The wickedness of their wives. of your wives .....

(Jeremiah 44:9). The mention of the wives of their kings as being leaders in wickedness brings to mind the hundreds of wives and concubines of Solomon who demanded and received the building of pagan temples for themselves in Israel; and it will be remembered that Jezebel the wife of Ahab brought with her from Sidon an entire institution of pagan priests of Baal.

My law.., and my statutes...

(Jeremiah 44:10) We have often noted that the long shadow of the Pentateuch falls over every single subsequent word in the Holy Bible; and here we have specific reference to it.

Ye provoke me... burning incense to other gods...

(Jeremiah 44:8). What is wrong with burning a little incense to some pagan god? However innocent and harmless it may sound to some ears, there are the most shameful implications in such actions, as we shall note further under Jeremiah 44:15.

Jeremiah 44:11-14

SWORD, PESTILENCE AND FAMINE THREATENED

Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, even to cut off all Judah. 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; in the land of Egypt shall they fall; they shall 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. 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; so that none of the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or be left, to return into the land of Judah, to which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return save such as shall escape.

The thrust of this paragraph is the emphasis on the hopelessness of any of the Jewish sojourners in Egypt of having any part whatever in the future plans of God for the salvation of all mankind. All of the sacred promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were at this point to be severed completely from the Jewish remnant in Egypt, and would rest solely with the captives in Babylon.

The reasons for this are easy to see. The temptations to idolatry in Egypt would be stronger than Israel would resist. As for God’s eternal purpose of human redemption, it was of no further concern to those selfish sensualists sojourning in Egypt. They still dreamed of going back to Judah, but they were in Egypt forever.

A Prophetic Admonition Jeremiah 44:1-19

Nothing is more inspiring than to see an old soldier of God faithful until death on the battlefield for the Lord. Chapter 44 offers the reader the last glimpse of Jeremiah. He is still fighting for the God he serves; he is still appealing to the people he loves. The present paragraph contains his warning to remnant in Egypt (Jeremiah 44:1-14) and the rejection of that warning by the incorrigible people (Jeremiah 44:15-19).

1. The warning Presented (Jeremiah 44:1-14)

How grieved Jeremiah must have been to see the remnant in Egypt persisting in idolatry. For an entire lifetime he had tried to guide this people in the paths of covenant faithfulness to the Lord, But Jeremiah had failed to stem the tide of national apostasy. Jerusalem was made to drink of the bitter cup of God’s wrath in 587 B.C. Now the remnant which had survived that disaster by God’s grace have turned from Him to serve gods of their own making. It is with a heavy burden upon his heart that the old prophet tries once again to warn the miserable remains of his people of the error of their ways.

The Jews who had fled to Egypt had settled all over that land. Besides the colony at Tahpanhes, where Jeremiah seems to have resided, Jews had settled at Migdol, Noph, and the country of Pathros (Jeremiah 44:1). Migdol is located near the northeastern boundary of Egypt, about twelve miles south of Pelusium. Noph or Memphis was located about 125 miles south of the Mediterranean Sea. Pathros means “land of the south” and refers to the region still further south of Memphis called Upper Egypt. From these widely scattered places the Jews had assembled for some kind of religious festival in honor of the heathen deity, the queen of heaven. Probably Tahpanhes was the site of the gathering. On the basis of Jeremiah 44:15 some suggest that the festival was held in Pathros or Upper Egypt. This may have been the last opportunity that Jeremiah had to address the entire remnant which had fled to Egypt.

The warning of the prophet passes through three distinct phases. First he offers to these Jews an explanation of the past calamity which has befallen the nation (Jeremiah 44:1-6). Then he expostulates with them concerning their present sin (Jeremiah 44:7-10). Finally he declares that judgment will yet befall them even in Egypt (Jeremiah 44:11-14).

a) Explanation of past calamity (Jeremiah 44:1-6). As was his usual custom Jeremiah turned first to history. He reminds his hearers that Jerusalem and the cities of Judah were uninhabited and in ruins (Jeremiah 44:2). The people of God had provoked His wrath by their wickedness. They had committed the sin that God detested above all others—they had burned incense to strange deities and had rendered homage to gods of their own making (Jeremiah 44:3). Even though they had violated the First Commandment, God had earnestly and persistently sent prophets to plead with His people to turn from their abominable idolatry; but still they persisted in this wickedness (Jeremiah 44:5). Because of this stubborn refusal to turn from the path of idolatry, the anger and fury of God was poured out upon the cities of Judah (Jeremiah 44:6). The rubble and ruins of those once proud cities should serve for all time as a warning of the consequences of sin and apostasy—death, destruction, and desolation.

b) Expostulation concerning present sin (Jeremiah 44:7-10). Turning from the explanation of past calamity the prophet begins to make an application of the lessons of history to the remnant in Egypt. Jeremiah found it hard to understand why the people continued to offer incense to pagan deities in view of the terrible consequences of that action in the past. The bewilderment of the prophet is reflected in the two questions he addresses to the remnant in this paragraph. “Why do you continue to commit this great evil against yourselves?" (Jeremiah 44:7). A Hebrew participle implies continuous action. Against your souls (KJV) is but another way of saying in Hebrew “against yourselves.” Persistence in this violation of the most elemental commandment of the word of God will result in national suicide. If it continues every man, woman, child and infant of Judah will be cut off in the wrath of God (Jeremiah 44:7). The nation will become an object of cursing and a reproach among all the nations of the earth (Jeremiah 44:8). “Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers?” he asks, and then, using the technique of emphasis by enumeration, he adds “and the wickedness of your kings . and their ,wives . and your own wickedness and of your wives”? (Jeremiah 44:9). Surely they had not so soon forgotten that the wages of sin is death! But alas it is true. They have not humbled themselves (lit., bruised themselves) i.e. made themselves contrite in repentance. They do not fear God nor walk in his law and statutes (Jeremiah 44:10).

c) Declaration of future judgment (Jeremiah 44:11-14). The maxim “They who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is vividly illustrated in Jeremiah 44:11-14. God declares that He will set His face against His people. All Judah will be cut off (Jeremiah 44:11). Throughout the paragraph the judgment of God upon the remnant in Egypt is represented as absolute. One must wait until the final clause to find any note of hope. An awesome trinity of verbs in verse twelve spells out the disaster: they shall fall, they shall die, they shall be consumed. What irony! They fled to Egypt in order to escape bloodshed, privation, carnage, and exile. But these Jews who had stubbornly set their will against that of their God and had emigrated to Egypt would meet with war and famine, destruction and death in that land. Whatever imagined horrors drove them from their homeland following the death of Gedaliah would overtake them in reality. “From the least to the greatest,” none would escape the terrible onslaught. Though the remnant in Egypt would die, their memory would live on in the minds of men for use in expressions of astonishment, execration, cursings, and reproach (Jeremiah 44:12). Just as God had punished Jerusalem “by sword, famine, and pestilence,” so God would now pour out His wrath upon those Jews who dwell in the land of Egypt (Jeremiah 44:13). None would escape the judgment in order that they might return to Judah even if they might have a desire so to do.

In this dark picture of judgment there is but one, ever so tiny, ray of hope. Just as a minister who preaches on judgment might delay any mention of saving grace until the conclusion of his message, so Jeremiah waits until the very last clause of his judgment speech to temper the absolute tones of his message. “None shall return but such as shall escape,” i.e., be delivered by the grace of God. Only a handful of the present remnant will ever see their homeland again. Even the most optimistic Jew among them would not have been able to find much consolation in this exceptive clause. Jeremiah did not intend to offer consolation. It was his purpose here to shock, to jar and hopefully thereby to lead these people to repentance.

Verses 15-19

Jer 44:15-19

Jeremiah 44:15-19

JUDAH’S NEW GOD, THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN

Then all the men who knew that their wives burned incense unto 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 Jehovah, 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 victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off burning incense to the queen of heaven, and pouring out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted 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 unto 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.

THE 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 extirpate it and replace it with the knowledge of the true God."

The type of sexual orgies that went along with such worship is clearly visible in Numbers 25, in which event 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 depraved in the extreme; it was rife in the times of Samuel (1 Samuel 7:3-4); after Saul’s death, his armour was placed in the temple of Ashteroth at Beth-shan (1 Samuel 21:10); and Solomon gave it royal sanction (2 Kings 23:13)." "In the times of Jeremiah, prior to 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 appears from the events in these last two chapters that it was Israel’s desire to continue uninterruptedly their worship of this vile goddess that sparked their willingness to go back to Egypt.

All the women that stood by...

(Jeremiah 44:15). This was probably an idolatrous festival (to the Queen of Heaven) in which the women were taking a leading part. With regard to the part which the women played in such a festival, Numbers 25 gives the daughters of Moab as examples! Cheyne agreed that, 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...

(Jeremiah 44:18). This appears to be a reference to that period in the days of Josiah the king, whose widespread reforms had, for a season, 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 infidelity; and the type of theological acrobat that can suppose sin to be a better benefactor than the righteousness of God is here revealed to have been a very ancient specimen, the prototype of many such theological gymnasts in our own day.

Like the harlot in Hosea, Israel "Did shamefully, and said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink" (Hosea 2:5); and she did not know that it was her 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 .....

(Jeremiah 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 (Numbers 30:7-16); and it is certainly amazing that these women here seem to have been boasting that they had engaged in this shameful worship according to law. Indeed, indeed! This is the key to the error in their thinking that they could do all of those sinful things and yet keep on worshipping God! The result was a kind of syncretism, much like that which Jezebel attempted to set up between Christianity and paganism in Thyatira (Revelation 2:10-14).

Did we make cakes to worship her.?

(Jeremiah 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 all kinds of astrological connotations, similar to that of practically all of the mythological gods and goddesses of antiquity. They were severally 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.

2. The warning rejected (Jeremiah 44:15-19)

Jeremiah’s ministry ended on the same note with which it began. The people rejected the word of God which he brought to them. God had warned him at the outset, “they shall fight against you but they shall not prevail against you; for I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:19). From that day forward Jeremiah had forced his people into confrontation with the word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword. That tender hearted and timid youth had indeed become the iron pillar, fenced city and brazen wall that God had predicted (Jeremiah 1:18). With unflinching courage he stands up in the midst of that pagan festival to manfully preach the word. Resentment in the faces of that apostate audience is quite obvious as Jeremiah strikes at them with the whiplash of divine rebuke. That resentment boils over into violent anger when Jeremiah mentions the guilt of the women of Judah. Men who exhibit amazing restraint when being personally attacked often burst into uncontrollable rage when someone criticizes their wives. They might have ignored the old prophet and dismissed what he said as being the sentiments of a religious fanatic. But he had touched a sensitive nerve and they felt compelled to reply to him.

a) Their resoluteness in idolatry (Jeremiah 44:15-17 a). The defiant reply of the accused people is not clothed in diplomatic camouflage. They mince no words. “As for the word that you have spoken unto us in the name of the Lord,” they sarcastically say, “We will not hearken unto you” (Jeremiah 44:16). They do not accuse Jeremiah of speaking falsely in the name of the Lord as they had charged him at Bethlehem (Jeremiah 43:2-3). Now they do not even bother to argue the point. They could not care less what the God of Jeremiah expected or demanded of them. Even if the word of the prophet does come from the Lord, they will not receive it. Rather they declare “we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes forth out of our own mouth.” They are here expressing their determination to perform the vows that they have made to the queen of heaven—to offer incense to her and pour out libations to her. Further evidence of the existence of the Ishtar cult in Egypt is provided by an Aramaic papyrus dating from the fifth century B.C. found at Hermopolis in which the temple of the “queen of heaven” is explicitly mentioned. Illustrated World of the Bible, III, 102.

b) Their rationalization of idolatry (Jeremiah 44:17 b – Jeremiah 44:19). In attempting to rationalize their idolatry the assembly offers three arguments. First they argue that the worship of the queen of heaven is nothing new. Their fathers had worshiped her throughout the land of Judah and even in the streets of Jerusalem. Furthermore the worship of this goddess was prestigious having attracted both kings and princes of the land. Could a religion practiced for so long by so many be wrong?

In the second place, the assembly argues that the worship of the queen of heaven is advantageous to the nation. “When we faithfully worshiped this goddess all was well; but from the day we ceased to Worship her we experienced one calamity and disaster after another” (Jeremiah 44:18). Rather than thanking the Lord for the blessings He had poured out upon them they attributed their prosperity to their false gods. On the contrary all of the misfortune which had befallen the nation from the death of Josiah to the present time they blamed upon those prophets and leaders who had made a valiant effort to stamp out idolatry in the land. The people were forced to cease the open worship of the queen of heaven during the reformations of king Josiah. But no sooner had the reform under Josiah commenced then one calamity after another struck the nation culminating finally in the destruction of Jerusalem. Thus it was only when they attempted to worship the Lord exclusively and neglected the worship of other deities that trouble started.

Now history can be read in different ways. Jeremiah had one interpretation for the events of the past few years while the people had an altogether different one. They interpreted the decline and fall of their nation as being due to the exclusive worship of the Lord and the neglect of other deities who might have been able to save them. On the other hand the prophet regards the disasters which had befallen his people as due to the gradual degradation of the people through idolatry practiced in the days of Manasseh and Amon and renewed subsequent to the death of Josiah. Apart from the fact that Jeremiah was guided by the Holy Spirit in the interpretation of the significance of past events, any objective analysis of the history of Judah in her last years must vindicate the prophet’s interpretation of those events. Had the nation heeded his advice and followed his direction the course of history would have been altered.

Boiled down to its simplest terms, this second argument of the assembly is simply this: We will worship the god who has done the most for us. The queen of heaven has done more for us than the God whom you represent. Therefore we will serve the queen of heaven. Like so many people today those Jews were searching for a religion which would give them the maximum amount of blessing for the minimum amount of service.

The third argument is added by the women who were present. Some think that the entire reply recorded here was framed by the women. “Whatever acts of worship were performed by us,” say the women, “were done with the consent of our husbands.” In other words, since we have the approval of our husbands for this worship you have no right, Jeremiah, to interfere with it. Thus the whole community is involved in this final rejection of the Lord as the sole deity of Israel.

Verses 20-30

Jer 44:20-30

Jeremiah 44:20-23

JEREMIAH REFUTES THEIR FALSE ARGUMENT

Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, even to all the people that had given him that answer, saying, 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 Jehovah remember them, and came it not into his mind? so that Jehovah could not longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land become a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against Jehovah, and have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as it is this day.

Did not Jehovah remember them.?

(Jeremiah 44:21). This is the equivalent of Jeremiah’s asking, Do you think all of those people really got by with their shameless worship of the Queen of Heaven? If you do, take a look at their land as it is this very day!

This was the only refutation that the false arguments of the Queen’s worshippers really needed, if they had only had the sense to appreciate it. Alas, it is true, as Hegel said in his Philosophy of History (1807), "What experience and history teach is this: people and governments never have learned anything from human history, or acted upon the principles deduced from it." Just so it was with those Jews who went sojourning in Egypt; they became ensnared in the shameless idolatry of Egypt and lost their relationship with the Creator.

Jeremiah 44:24-30

JEREMIAH’S SIGN THAT GOD WOULD KEEP HIS WORD

Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of Jehovah, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and with your hands have fulfilled it, 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: establish then your vows, and perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of Jehovah, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith Jehovah, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, As the Lord Jehovah liveth. Behold, I 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. And they that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose word shall stand, mine, or theirs. And this shall be the sign unto you, saith Jehovah, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith Jehovah, 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, who was his enemy, and sought his life.

And with your hands have confirmed it...

(Jeremiah 44:25). This suggests that Jeremiah might have been looking at the cakes then in the hands of the women who had come to worship the Queen of Heaven.

Establish then your vows, and perform your vows...

(Jeremiah 44:25). This does not mean that Jeremiah approved of their false worship. It is the equivalent of his saying, Very well, go ahead with your vows, but be prepared to accept the consequences.

The burning of incense...

(Jeremiah 44:24). This action, frequently spoken of throughout the chapter is not limited to any single action, but, It includes, besides, all the other elements of idolatrous worship. This figure of speech, used throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament is called synecdoche.

My name shall no more be named...

(Jeremiah 44:26). This would be true because of two things. (1) The syncretistic worship of both God and the pagan deity would result in God’s name being used less and less frequently until it disappeared altogether (the invariable result of syncretism), and (2) No Jews will be left alive in Egypt.

I will give Pharaoh-Hophra...

etc. (Jeremiah 44:30). The sign which Jeremiah here promised was: (1) the capture of Pharaoh-Hophra by his deadly enemies, (2) his imprisonment, and (3) his death, three elements in God’s punishment of Zedekiah.

"In the writings of Herodotus, Pharaoh-Hophra is called Apries; he was defeated by the people of Cyrene, and a mutiny followed, after which Amasis became Pharaoh; after treating Hophra kindly for some years, Amasis finally gave him over to his enemies, by whom he was strangled. Thus, the words of Jeremiah here were literally fulfilled."

It is not known if Jeremiah lived to see the fulfillment of God’s word in this matter or not. We do know that at some time while in Egypt, Jeremiah was slain by those who hated him because of the sacred word of God which he faithfully delivered to the people.

A Prophetic Affirmation Jeremiah 44:20-30

The last recorded words of Jeremiah come in response to the brazen remarks of the remnant in Egypt. Jeremiah does not wilt under pressure nor does he run from controversy. He stands eloquently alone against what must have been a smirking, jeering, shouting crowd. That the women were taking the lead in the whole affair can be seen in the fact that Jeremiah takes careful pains to include them in his closing remarks (Jeremiah 44:20; Jeremiah 44:24-25). Stooped by age and weakened by infirmity, the old warrior can still deliver a powerful oratorical blast. In fact one detects very little difference between this last message of Jeremiah and the first one he delivered some forty years earlier.

The final recorded message of Jeremiah contains a rebuttal to the apostates (Jeremiah 44:20-23); emphasizes punishment for the apostates (Jeremiah 44:24-28); and sets forth a sign for the apostates (Jeremiah 44:29-30).

1. Rebuttal to the apostates (Jeremiah 44:20-23)

Implicit in the preceding remarks of the assembly was the contention that the Lord had forgotten them. Because God did not immediately punish them for their idolatry back in the days of Manasseh did not mean that He had failed to take note of their sin. God did remember their iniquity, Jeremiah affirms (Jeremiah 44:21). Because of His longsuffering and patience He delayed the execution of the inevitable sentence until He could bear their sin no longer. Then, and only then, was the wrath of God poured out on Judah and that is why that land is desolation, an astonishment and a curse without inhabitant this very day (Jeremiah 44:22). It is because of your idolatry and flagrant disobedience to the word of God that you are in your present condition (Jeremiah 44:23).

2. Punishment of the apostates (Jeremiah 44:24-28)

The Jews in Egypt served their idols with greater loyalty than they had ever shown for the service of the Lord. with bitter sarcasm Jeremiah declares: “you have made vows to worship the queen of heaven. Very well, then, fulfill your vows!” (Jeremiah 44:25). Then Jeremiah, abandoning his sarcastic tone, becomes deadly serious. “But if you perform those vows you have made your choice of deities. You have committed the ultimate rebellion and therefore you will experience the ultimate punishment.” Jeremiah holds out two threats. First, God will withdraw His name from the lips of His people (Jeremiah 44:26). At least three different views have been taken as to the meaning of these words. Some think that the Jews will not be able to mention the name of the Lord because no Jews would be left alive in Egypt. Another view is that the Lord no longer regards Himself as their covenant God and therefore they have lost the right of calling upon His name. Still another view is that God punishes their apostasy by allowing them to sink into a state of secularism which does not even think of God. Of these interpretations the second is decidedly the best.

In the second threat God assures the remnant in Egypt that He will watch over them for evil and not for good (Jeremiah 44:27). What a dreadful thought! Just as God watches over His word to fulfill it (Jeremiah 1:12), so now He is watching over His people to see that they are punished for their apostasy. None of their pagan deities or religious rites will be able to divert the disaster which will befall them. All the Jews who live in the land of Egypt will die by the famine and the sword (Jeremiah 44:27).

Just as in Jeremiah 44:14 of this chapter, the assertion that all the Jews in Egypt would perish is here immediately qualified. A tiny remnant shall escape the general slaughter in Egypt and shall return to the land of Judah (Jeremiah 44:28). Even in this judgment-speech grace shines through. But why does Jeremiah in this stern sermon, want to mention the few individuals who will be saved? Surely this must be construed as an oblique appeal directed to each individual present. He is pleading with them to turn to the Lord. He can offer no hope to the Egyptian community of Jews as a whole, but he can hold out some hope to those who might turn in faith to the Lord. That is exactly what he seems to be doing in Jeremiah 44:28.

3. A sign for the apostates (Jeremiah 44:29-30)

Lest any of his hearers think that the message he has delivered originated in his own imagination Jeremiah offered the audience a sign which would confirm the prophetic character of his dire threats. God would shortly deliver Pharaoh Hophra into the hands of his political enemies just as he had delivered Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 44:30). The Greek historian Herodotus (Herodotus, II, 161, 169.) relates that Hophra was captured by Amasis, the succeeding Pharaoh, who had him strangled to death after ten years of captivity (about 560 B.C.). The captivity of Hophra took place about two or three years before the invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar to which reference has already been made. Jeremiah probably did not live to see either the sign or the prophecy of the Chaldean destruction fulfilled.

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-Four & Forty-Five

By Brent Kercheville

1 Who is the prophecy of chapter 44 directed to (Jeremiah 44:1)?

2 What is God’s message to these people (Jeremiah 44:2-10)? What sin have they committed?

3 What is the result of their sin (Jeremiah 44:10-14)?

4 What is the response of the people to God’s message (Jeremiah 44:15-19)? What lesson do we learn?

5 What is Jeremiah’s response to the people’s reaction (Jeremiah 44:20-30)?

6 What is the message to Baruch (Jeremiah 45:1-5)? What lessons do we learn from this?

TRANSFORMATION:

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 44". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-44.html.
 
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