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CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—Continuous with the preceding.
2. National Affairs.—The miserable “remnant” (Jeremiah 43:5-6) left by Nebuchadnezzar, now controlled by wilful men, were led away to Egypt, and reach Tahpanhes (Jeremiah 43:7).
3. Contemporaneous History.—Probably, in Egypt, at this very time Pharaoh’s palace was in course of erection; for the mention (Jeremiah 43:9) of the “brick-kiln” and “clay” [i.e. mortar] “at the entry of Pharaoh’s house” implies this. The deadly struggle between the Chaldeans, under Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and the Egyptians, under Pharaoh-Hophra, for ascendency in the East, was now at its fiercest heat. In Jeremiah 43:10 the issue of the struggle is predicted; and Josephus states that on the fifth year after the overthrow of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar, leaving the siege of Tyre, undertook his expedition to Egypt (Antiq. X. ix. 7).
4. Geographical References.—Jeremiah 43:7. “Into the land of Egypt to Tahpanhes,” vide note, chap. Jeremiah 2:16, in loc. This place, being on the frontier of Egypt towards Palestine, they naturally come to first.
Jeremiah 43:13. “Beth-shemesh,” i.e. the house, or temple, of the Sun, known to us by its Greek name “Heliopolis,” and in Hebrew by “On,” a very ancient city of Egypt. It is situate on the east of the Nile, a few miles south of Memphis, vide note, chap. Jeremiah 2:16, in loc. Ruins of its celebrated Temple of the Sun, and an obelisk, nearly seventy feet high, covered with hieroglyphics, still remain to mark its site.
5. Manners and Customs.—“He shall spread his royal pavilion over them,” i.e. a canopy, which, being very ornate with gilt and gorgeous work, is described as a glittering canopy. Oriental monarchs have such an adorned parasol held over them for protection from the sun’s rays.
Literary Criticisms.—Jeremiah 43:10. The word rendered “royal pavilion,” שַׁפְרוּר is from שָׁפַר, to be polished, shining, beautiful.
Jeremiah 43:12. “I will kindle, and he shall burn them.” The change of persons seems abrupt; and “he shall kindle” seems better. The LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate so read; and the difference is effected by a transposition [possibly a penman’s slip in the Hebrew] of the final letters, הצית for הצתי.
SUBJECT OF CHAPTER 43
JEREMIAH CARRIED INTO EGYPT
Jeremiah 43:1-6. Theme: WILFULNESS TAKING ITS OWN COURSE. See homilies on preceding chapter. In a wilful career—
I. Arrogance leads the way. All the “proud men” (Jeremiah 43:2). Pride is the pioneer of wilfulness; and wilfulness leads on to rebellion against God.
II. Sinister unbelief comes to its aid. Baruch, being the younger man, naturally would protest more vehemently against their departure for Egypt. This the “proud men” interpret as betraying a preference for the Chaldeans. So they fortify their own self-will, and charge lies on God’s servants in their own justification.
Notes.—Henry remarks: “Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it.” And Cramer: “Observe the old diabolical trick; when preachers practise God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to conflict it with another name and call it personal interest.”
III. Impious disobedience follows in its train. “So all … obeyed not the voice of the Lord” (Jeremiah 43:4), &c. Such defiance is the natural and necessary outgrowth of wilfulness.
IV. Overpowering force completes its designs (Jeremiah 43:5-6). No resisting its violence. The good in a man is compelled to yield as well as the evil in him; as here, Jeremiah and Baruch were carried off with the people. For when once Wilfulness becomes regnant, it overpowers the less vehement forces and bears all before it.
Jeremiah 43:2. Theme: PROUD MEN.
I. Proud men are distinguished for their disbelief of the Divine testimony.
1. Some deny the record God has given of creation; array geology against Moses.
2. Others disbelieve the record of miracles, on the plea that God never can depart from the great laws by which He governs the universe. Yet it is now a law that man comes into existence by propagation, and as a babe; but it is certain that the first man did not come into being by propagation. Here, then, is action by God apart from law; and if one instance stands, so may all supernatural records.
3. Others disbelieve the record of salvation by Jesus Christ; call Christianity a myth; they will not bow to the Crucified One; will not admit their guilt, &c.
II. Proud men not only dishonour God by disbelieving His testimony, and thus pave the way to their own destruction; they are accessories to the ruin of others.
1. Others endorse their scepticism, imbibe their views, follow their example, and thus perish through their misleading.
2. Pride has prompted kings and potentates to all the sanguinary wars that have desolated lands and homes.
III. Pride being so hateful to God, He specially honours and approves humility.
1. Humility was the garment in which Christ was arrayed when He came into the world. “He took upon Him the form of a servant.”
2. This adornment of Christ should be the garment of Christians. “Be clothed with humility.”
3. Thus attired, proud men may despise us. But though they occupy high stations, “the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of man shall be brought low,” &c.
4. But while God resisteth the proud, He giveth grace to the humble. He who inhabits eternity has promised to dwell with the lowly. Thus attired, good men will esteem us, angels will look upon us with complacency, and God will crown us with His richest favour.—“Walks with Jeremiah,” Rev. D. Pledge.
Jeremiah 43:5-7. Theme: LIFE’S AIM DEFEATED. “So the captains took … Jeremiah and Baruch … into the land of Egypt.”
I. The ill most dreaded was eventually realised. Nothing could be more bitter to Jeremiah than this being carried at last to Egypt.
1. Throughout his whole prophetio career he had pleaded with his nation against looking towards Egypt for any befriending. It is the sum of his prophetic ministry: “Go not into Egypt” (Jeremiah 43:2).
2. At the downfall of Jerusalem he had chosen to stay with the “remnant” in his own land, rather than go away into Chaldea; prompted thereto by a noble patriotism (chap. Jeremiah 40:4-6).
3. The penalty of his faithful service of his country comes now in the most odious form it could assume, forced to go to the country from which he most instinctively recoils (Jeremiah 43:6-7).
Note.—How hard at times seems “the irony of fate!” as the worldly call it; but the ordering of Providence!
“Life’s hopes o’erturned, its projects crossed!”
II. Godly men entailed in the calamities of impiety.
1. Their ministry for God and their people cruelly resisted and repudiated (Jeremiah 43:2).
2. Their wise and self-sacrificing career contemned amid the excitement and passion of a popular caprice.
3. The very wrongs inflicted upon them which they most dread.
Notes.—(1.) How painful in his old age to be thus torn from the land he had so loved and heroically served!
(2.) After all his righteous denunciation of Egypt, and of his nation for turning thitherwards, how bitter this experience of being forced to go thither!
(3.) If he must go from his own land, he had opportunity of going amid honours, and where he would have received kindness (chap. Jeremiah 40:4), and where he could have served God amid the worthier part of his nation.
III. Life’s painful frustrations.
1. Surely after such a faithful career of service for God, Jeremiah deserved a kindlier end than this!
2. It strangely baffles our faith when all our hopes and aims, which we know to be right, are thus defeated.
3. Certainly if life’s services were only rewarded on earth, we should see most grievous failures of justice.
4. A sorrowful career, such as Jeremiah’s, closing in deepest shadows of disappointment and defeat, surely predicts a brighter world.
“To steel his melting heart,
To act the martyr’s sternest part;
To watch with firm, unshrinking eye
His darling visions as they die.
Too happy if, that dreadful day,
His life be given him for a prey.”
(See Keble’s “Christian Year.”)
Jeremiah 43:7-13. Theme: FLEEING FROM GOD’S CONTROL. “So they came into the land of Egypt.”
I. Allured thither by delusions (chap. Jeremiah 42:14).
II. Defiant of Jehovah’s counsels (chap. Jeremiah 43:4).
III. Choosing for themselves a refuge regardless of God (Jeremiah 43:7).
IV. Followed by the denunciations of offended justice (Jeremiah 43:8-10).
V. Overtaken at last by the foe from whom they fled (Jeremiah 43:10-13).
Note.—“The ways of the Lord” (says Lange) “are wonderful. Israel flies from Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that, at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now, indeed, there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place foundation-stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s palace. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever. He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time, to the glory of His wisdom, omniscience, and omnipotence.”
Jeremiah 43:12. “KINDLE A FIRE IN THE HOUSES OF THE GODS OF EGYPT.” Egypt was full of temples and idol-gods; those of wood the conquering army would commit to the flames; those of. gold they would carry away as spoil to Babylon.
This burning of temples and idols by Nebuchadnezzar, and afterwards by the Persian kings, was mercifully ordered by God to wean the exiles there from their idolatry into which they sank, and to revive their faith in the God of Israel.
“ARRAY HIMSELF WITH THE LAND OF EGYPT.” A bold figure. The king of Babylon, from whom you expect to escape by fleeing to Egypt, where you hope to dwell securely and peacefully (chap. Jeremiah 42:11; Jeremiah 42:14), will come; and with the same ease as a shepherd wraps himself about in his mantle, in order to lay quietly down in it and take his rest, so will Nebuchadnezzar possess himself of the land.
The Egyptians, according to the Arabs, have a tradition that their land was devastated by Nebuchadnezzar in consequence of their king having received the Jews under his protection, and that it lay desolate forty years.
Note.—I. This is definite prophecy (Jeremiah 43:10-13). The name of the invader is given; his work of spoliation is described. God’s predictions are not generalisations or conjectures; but explicit fore-statements of events. This prophecy by Jeremiah in Egypt was echoed (without collusion) by Ezekiel in Babylon by the river Chebar (Ezekiel 29-37.)
II. Predictions literally accomplished. The historian follows with his pen long after the prophet has written his predictions; and in Josephus we have impartial testimony. He writes: “Which things came to pass accordingly; for on the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition into Cœle-Syria; … and fell upon Egypt, in order to overthrow it; and he slew the king that then reigned, and set up another; and he took those Jews, that were there captives, and led them away to Babylon” (Antiq. X. ix. 7).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 43". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/