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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 42

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 42:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Warning Against Going to EgyptThe Flight to Egypt ForbiddenFlight to Egypt(Jeremiah 42:1-7)The People Ask Jeremiah to Pray For ThemThe Flight to Egypt(Jeremiah 42:1-7)
Jeremiah 42:1-6Jeremiah 42:1-6Jeremiah 42:1-6Jeremiah 42:1-3Jeremiah 42:1-6
Jeremiah 42:4
Jeremiah 42:5-6
The Lord's Answer to Jeremiah's Prayer
Jeremiah 42:7-17Jeremiah 42:7-12Jeremiah 42:7-17Jeremiah 42:7-12Jeremiah 42:7-22
Jeremiah 42:13-17Jeremiah 42:13-17
Jeremiah 42:18-22Jeremiah 42:18-22Jeremiah 42:18-22Jeremiah 42:18
Jeremiah 42:19-22

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 42:1-6 1Then all the commanders of the forces, Johanan the son of Kareah, Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people both small and great approached 2and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Please let our petition come before you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, that is for all this remnant; because we are left but a few out of many, as your own eyes now see us, 3that the LORD your God may tell us the way in which we should walk and the thing that we should do.” 4Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I am going to pray to the LORD your God in accordance with your words; and I will tell you the whole message which the LORD will answer you. I will not keep back a word from you.” 5Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole message with which the LORD your God will send you to us. 6Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God.”

Jeremiah 42:1 “Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah” The person mentioned in Jeremiah 42:1 seems to be the same as in Jeremiah 43:2. The Septuagint has “Azariah” in both places.

“both small and great” There are several forms of this Hebraic idiom which denote all the people (cf. Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 8:10; Jeremiah 42:8; Jeremiah 44:12). This is a hyperbolic, inclusive idiom which does not mean every person.

Jeremiah 42:2 “Jeremiah the prophet” This designation is repeated in Jeremiah 42:4. There is no doubt now, after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian army, that Jeremiah was a true prophet (see Special Topic: Prophecy (OT), cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5). All that he had predicted came true. This is also a warning to those remaining Judeans who seek YHWH's counsel through him (cf. Jeremiah 42:4).

In a sense this chapter is an example of a reverse “exodus.” The Judeans refused to trust YHWH and stay in Palestine! Disobedience remains the problem!

“the LORD your God” This is not a theological statement of the petitioner's lack of faith in YHWH, but simply a cultural idiom (cf. 1 Kings 13:6; Jeremiah 37:3; Jeremiah 42:3, Jeremiah 42:6, and esp. Jeremiah 42:20).

“for all this remnant” See Special Topic: The Remnant, Three Senses.

“because we are left but a few out of many” This may be an allusion to Deuteronomy 28:62. The covenant people were to be as the stars of heaven, the sand in the seashore, but they rebelled and violated the covenant.

Jeremiah 42:3 This is false piety. They really did not want to know YHWH's will. They wanted Him to affirm their decision of fleeing to Egypt. They had not followed YHWH's will (expressed through Scripture and the prophets) up to this point in their history. This is a sample of “fox-hole” faith (i.e., faith in crisis) that only lasts until the crisis has passed!

Jeremiah 42:4 Jeremiah agrees to pray on their behalf. He will pass on their words to YHWH and will give them “exactly” His words!

The last phrase of this verse, “I will not keep back a word from you,” reminds one of the interchange between Eli and Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:17-18.

Jeremiah 42:5-6 These verses are a tremendous statement of faith, but just not true! They really wanted God to approve their plans. Words of faith do not replace lives of faith!

Jeremiah 42:5 These two theologically significant words, “true” and “faithful,” are forms of the same root.

1. true - BDB 54, cf. Jeremiah 2:21; Jeremiah 4:2; Jeremiah 9:5; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 14:13; Jeremiah 23:28; Jeremiah 26:15; Jeremiah 28:9; Jeremiah 32:41; Jeremiah 33:6; Jeremiah 42:5

2. faithful - BDB 52, cf. Jeremiah 12:6; Jeremiah 15:18; Jeremiah 40:14; Jeremiah 42:5

See Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith and Faithfulness in the OT at Jeremiah 15:18.

Jeremiah 42:6 “that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God” The phrase “go well” is an idiom from Deuteronomy (cf. Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 5:16, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 5:33). It is used in Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 38:20. Remember, the desire of YHWH for His covenant people is “blessing” so that the nations may be attracted to Him. This is part of the OT's “two ways” (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalms 1:1).

Verses 7-17

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 42:7-17 7Now at the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8Then he called for Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces that were with him, and for all the people both small and great, 9and said to them, “Thus says the LORD the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10'If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you. 11Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing; do not be afraid of him,' declares the LORD, 'for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12I will also show you compassion, so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your own soil. 13But if you are going to say, “We will not stay in this land,” so as not to listen to the voice of the LORD your God, 14saying, “No, but we will go to the land of Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the sound of a trumpet or hunger for bread, and we will stay there”; 15then in that case listen to the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “If you really set your mind to enter Egypt and go in to reside there, 16then the sword, which you are afraid of, will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, about which you are anxious, will follow closely after you there in Egypt, and you will die there. 17So all the men who set their mind to go to Egypt to reside there will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence; and they will have no survivors or refugees from the calamity that I am going to bring on them.”'“

Jeremiah 42:7 “at the end of ten days the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah” Notice that Jeremiah had to wait for God to respond. He could not voice his own opinion. For “ten” see Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture.

Jeremiah 42:10 “If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down” This is related to Jeremiah's call in Jeremiah 1:10. This is a tremendous promise of restoration, covenant, and divine protection!

“I will relent” This is literally “to be sorry” (BDB 636, KB 688, Piel PERFECT). Usually this concept is found in the Niphal stem (cf. Jeremiah 18:8-10; Joel 2:13; Amos 7:3, Amos 7:6; Jonah 3:10; Jonah 4:2). The Piel usually denotes “compassion” (cf. Hosea 11:8).

Remember all characterizations about Deity are communicated in human language (see Special Topic at Jeremiah 1:9). A change of heart and mind in a human triggers a positive response from God! Most prophecies are conditional (even when not stated). They express what will happen if the current attitude and actions continue. But if repentance occurs the future changes (i.e., Jonah)!

Jeremiah 42:11 What a wonderful encouragement.

1. do not be afraid of the king of Babylon - BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense (cf. Jeremiah 1:11)

2. whom you are now fearing - BDB 431, KB 432, Qal PARTICIPLE

3. do not be afraid of him (repeated for emphasis)

4. I am with you

a. to save - BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT (Jeremiah 15:20)

b. to deliver - BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT (cf. Jeremiah 1:19)

This was YHWH's word to them! Would they believe it and obey it by faith? They said they would (Jeremiah 42:5-6), but they would not!

Jeremiah 42:12 YHWH promises that as He shows compassion/mercy (BDB 933, KB 1216), He will guide His servant Nebuchadnezzar to show mercy to the remaining remnant of Judeans.

The phrase “I will restore you to your own soil” may reflect that

1. Jeremiah wrote this text while in Egypt

2. it is idiomatic for their own personal ancestral property

Jeremiah 42:13-17 The conditional nature of YHWH's answer to their prayers through Jeremiah is clearly spelled out in these verses. Rejection of YHWH's repentance and mercy becomes the curse of judgment (cf. Leviticus 26:0; Deuteronomy 27-30). There is an awesome responsibility in seeking YHWH's guidance!

The IMPERATIVE of “listen” (“hear,” BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal IMPERATIVE) in Jeremiah 42:15 has consequences (cf. Luke 12:48).

Verses 18-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 42:18-22 18For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “As My anger and wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so My wrath will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you will become a curse, an object of horror, an imprecation and a reproach; and you will see this place no more.” 19The LORD has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!” You should clearly understand that today I have testified against you. 20For you have only deceived yourselves; for it is you who sent me to the LORD your God, saying, “Pray for us to the LORD our God; and whatever the LORD our God says, tell us so, and we will do it.” 21So I have told you today, but you have not obeyed the LORD your God, even in whatever He has sent me to tell you. 22Therefore you should now clearly understand that you will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence, in the place where you wish to go to reside.

Jeremiah 42:18 “you will see this place no more” This is God's stern warning that if they violated His words, there would be no restoration for them!

Notice the list of negative consequences for disobeying YHWH's revealed will.

1. as My anger and wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so too, on you

2. you will become a curse (BDB 46, cf. Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:12)

3. you will become an object of horror (BDB 1031 I, cf. Jeremiah 5:30; Jeremiah 25:9, Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:12, Jeremiah 44:22; Jeremiah 49:13, Jeremiah 49:17; Jeremiah 50:23; Jeremiah 51:37, Jeremiah 51:41)

4. you will become an imprecation (BDB 887, cf. Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 29:22)

5. you will become a reproach (BDB 357, cf. Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:18; Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 44:8, Jeremiah 44:12; Jeremiah 49:13)

6. you will see this place (i.e., Judah) no more

Jeremiah 42:19 “clearly understand” This is an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE and an IMPERFECT VERB from the same root (BDB 393, KB 390) used for emphasis. For even added emphasis, it is repeated twice (Jeremiah 42:19 and 22). These Judeans asked for YHWH's guidance and now they were knowingly rejecting it! Ignorance is one thing, but open-eyed disobedience is another.

Jeremiah 42:20 “you have only deceived yourselves” How characteristic of fallen mankind! We tend to do what we want to do! We only appear to be religious!

“we will do it” They were planning incredible disobedience in light of Jeremiah 42:5 and 6!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 42". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-42.html. 2021.
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