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CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—“Before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (Jeremiah 47:1); but which Pharaoh? Pharaoh-Necho, on his return from defeating Josiah at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20), or Pharaoh-Hophra, on his return from the fruitless effort to save Jerusalem from the Chaldeans (chap. Jeremiah 37:5; Jeremiah 37:7); or this same Pharaoh-Hophra after his defeat at Carchemish (vide previous chapter, notes)? The probabilities favour Pharaoh-Necho, and date the prophecy before the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Note, that just as an enemy from the north (Egypt) is about to assail Philistia, the prophet predicts the seemingly unlikely and remote fact that an enemy from the north (the Babylonians) should invade and spoil them! Note further, that the country of the Philistines was overrun by the army of Nebuchadnezzar during, or immediately after, the siege of Tyre, while prosecuting his march towards Egypt.
2. Geographical References (Jeremiah 47:1). “Philistines … Gaza.” Philistia bordered upon Egypt, and Pharaoh-Necho seized this on his retreat (defeated by the Chaldeans) from Carchemish; for Gaza was “the key to Egypt,” and his holding this would check the now victorious Chaldeans from invading Egypt itself.
Jeremiah 47:4. “Tyrus and Zidon.” Neighbours to Philistia, so that the Phœnicians of Tyre and Sidon would naturally become “helpers” to the Philistines, making common cause against the invader, for the overthrow of Philistia carried, as a consequence, the overthrow of Tyre and Sidon also. “The country of Caphtor:” perhaps Crete (so Gesenius), or Cyprus (so Kitto). Others suggest Cappadocia; and the city Caparorsa, situate between Palestine and Idumæa, is pointed out as probable on account of being adjacent.
Jeremiah 47:5. “Ashkelon … their valley.” The “valley” is the inland valley of Philistia as distinguished from her maritime fortresses, Gaza and Askelon.
THE SWORD OF THE LORD UPON PHILISTIA
For ages long had the Philistines embittered the lot of Israel. From the times of Shamgar (Judges 3:31), down to those of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), they were both hostile and dangerous neighbours. Now the day of retribution had arrived, when Philistia’s hostility should be punished. For “God is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering,” &c.
I. The avenging sword—
1. Falls at length, though long sheathed (Jeremiah 47:4). Compare Psalms 37:12-19.37.13.
2. Is wielded by other hands than we surmise (Jeremiah 47:2). “The north” (see note above to Chronology). God selects His own agencies for punishing men.
II. The smitten sufferers—
1. Paralysed with terror (Jeremiah 47:3). Solicitous for themselves to the forgetting of all natural affection.
2. Destitute of helpers (Jeremiah 47:4). For when God’s sword smites, no confederacy of defence can protect or shield.
3. Abject in grief and dismay (Jeremiah 47:5). “Baldness” a sign of anguish; “cut thyself” the conduct of terrified despair. When God smites, we feel His strokes.
III. The appeal for mercy (Jeremiah 47:6).
1. Though smitten for their sin, men cry out against its punishment.
2. Though prayerless while sinning, men appeal for pity when its chastisements are upon them.
3. Though stubborn against God’s word, sinners cannot hold out long under His “sword.”
IV. The full measure of doom (Jeremiah 47:7).
1. Appointed judgments will be effectually carried out.
2. No pleadings for mercy will stay those judgments when they at last come on the guilty.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 47". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent