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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 46

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 46:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Defeat of Pharaoh ForetoldJudgment on EgyptOracles Against Foreign Nations(Jeremiah 46:1-64)Egypt's Defeat at CarchemishProphecies Against the Nations
Jeremiah 46:1Jeremiah 46:1-2Jeremiah 46:1Jeremiah 46:1-4Jeremiah 46:1
Against EgyptProphecies Against Egypt, The Defeat At Carchemish
Jeremiah 46:2-12(vv. Jeremiah 46:3-12)Jeremiah 46:2-5(vv. Jeremiah 46:3-5)(vv. Jeremiah 46:3-4)Jeremiah 46:2
Jeremiah 46:3-6(vv. Jeremiah 46:3-6)Jeremiah 46:6(vv. Jeremiah 46:6)Jeremiah 46:3-6(vv. Jeremiah 46:3-6)
Jeremiah 46:5-9(vv. Jeremiah 46:5-9)
Jeremiah 46:7-10(vv. Jeremiah 46:7-10)Jeremiah 46:7-12(vv. Jeremiah 46:7-12)Jeremiah 46:7-12(vv. Jeremiah 46:7-12)
Jeremiah 46:10-12(vv. Jeremiah 46:10-12)
Jeremiah 46:11-12(vv. Jeremiah 46:11-12)
Babylon Will Strike EgyptThe Coming of NebuchadnezzarThe Invasion of Egypt
Jeremiah 46:13-24(vv. Jeremiah 46:14-24)Jeremiah 46:13-19(vv. Jeremiah 46:14-17)Jeremiah 46:13-17(vv. Jeremiah 46:14-17)Jeremiah 46:13-16(vv. Jeremiah 46:14-16)Jeremiah 46:13
Jeremiah 46:14-21(vv. Jeremiah 46:14-21)
Jeremiah 46:17-24(vv. Jeremiah 46:17-24)
(vv. Jeremiah 46:18-19)Jeremiah 46:18-19(vv. Jeremiah 46:18-19)
Jeremiah 46:20-26(vv. Jeremiah 46:20-22)Jeremiah 46:20-21(vv. Jeremiah 46:20-21)
(vv. Jeremiah 46:23-24)Jeremiah 46:22-24(vv. Jeremiah 46:22-24)Jeremiah 46:22-24(vv. Jeremiah 46:22-24)
Jeremiah 46:25-26Jeremiah 46:25-26Jeremiah 46:25-26Jeremiah 46:25-26
God Will Preserve IsraelThe LORD Will Save His People
Jeremiah 46:27-28(vv. Jeremiah 46:27-28)Jeremiah 46:27-28(vv. Jeremiah 46:27-28)Jeremiah 46:27-28(vv. Jeremiah 46:27-28)Jeremiah 46:27-28(vv. Jeremiah 46:27-28)Jeremiah 46:27-28(vv. Jeremiah 46:27-28)

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.


A. This begins the literary unit of the book dealing with YHWH's judgment on the surrounding nations (cf. Jeremiah 25:15-38).

B. These nations would never hear/read these prophecies. YHWH is addressing them in a literary way to show that He is the only God, the God of all the earth.

C. The nations addressed are

1. Egypt

2. Philistia

3. Moab

4. Ammon

5. Edom

6. Syria

7. Kedar and Hazor

8. Elam

9. Babylon

D. Chart of Prophecies Against Nations and Regions (Jeremiah 46-49)

EgyptJeremiah 46:2-12605 B.C.ArroganceNebuchadnezzar at CarchemishJeremiah 46:11
EgyptJeremiah 46:13-26 ?Apis (Haf) Jeremiah 46:15Idolatry Jeremiah 46:25Nebuchadnezzar invades EgyptJeremiah 46:26
PhilistiaJeremiah 47:1-7609, 605, 604, 601 B.C.Waters from North (i.e., Babylon) Jeremiah 47:2
MoabJeremiah 48:1-47Chemosh Jeremiah 48:7, Jeremiah 48:13, Jeremiah 48:46Trust in Yourselves Jeremiah 48:7 OverconfidenceJeremiah 48:11Pride Jeremiah 48:29Arrogance Jeremiah 48:26An Eagle Jeremiah 48:40A DestroyerJeremiah 48:8, Jeremiah 48:32Jeremiah 48:47
AmmonJeremiah 49:1-6Malcam Milcom Molech Jeremiah 49:1, Jeremiah 49:3Trust in Her Treasures Jeremiah 49:4Jeremiah 49:6
EdomJeremiah 49:7-22Arrogance in Geography Jeremiah 49:16A Lion 49:19 An Eagle Jeremiah 49:22
DamascusJeremiah 49:23-27733 B.C.
Kedar and HazorJeremiah 49:28-33599 B.C.Nebuchadnezzar Jeremiah 49:28, Jeremiah 49:30
ElamJeremiah 49:34-39Jeremiah 49:39

E. Jeremiah 46:0 describes Egypt's defeat by Nebuchadnezzar's army at Carchemish in Syria. It is poetic and contains numerous commands.

Jeremiah 46:1. Jeremiah 46:3-4 (IMPERATIVES)

a. line up the shield and buckler

b. draw near for the battle

c. harness the horses

d. mount the steeds

e. take your stand with helmets on (the only Hiphil in a series of Qal IMPERATIVES)

f. polish the spears

g. put on the scale-armor

Jeremiah 46:2. Jeremiah 46:6 (IMPERFECTS used as JUSSIVES)

a. let not the swift man flee

b. let not the mighty man escape

Jeremiah 46:3. Jeremiah 46:8 (two IMPERFECTS used as COHORTATIVES and one COHORTATIVE)

a. I will rise

b. I will cover

c. I will surely destroy

Jeremiah 46:4. Jeremiah 46:11 (Qal IMPERATIVES)

a. go up

b. obtain

Jeremiah 46:5. Jeremiah 46:14 (4 Hiphil IMPERATIVES, 1 Qal)

a. declare in Egypt

b. proclaim in Migdol

c. proclaim (Qal) also in Memphis and Tahpanhes

d. take your stand

e. get yourself ready

6. Jeremiah 46:16 (Qal IMPERATIVE and COHORTATIVE)

a. get up

b. let us go back

F. Jeremiah 46:2-12 deals with the battle at Carchemish (i.e., in Syria to the west of Haran on the headwaters of the Euphrates River) in 605 B.C.

Jeremiah 46:13-26 deals with Nebuchadnezzar's military invasion in 568-567 B.C. Egypt was completely conquered by Persia in 525 B.C.

Verse 1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 46:1 1That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations.

Jeremiah 46:1 This is an introductory verse for the literary unit dealing with YHWH's judgments against the surrounding nations (chapters 46-51).

Verses 2-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 46:2-12 2To Egypt, concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was by the Euphrates River at Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: 3”Line up the shield and buckler, And draw near for the battle! 4Harness the horses, And mount the steeds, And take your stand with helmets on! Polish the spears, Put on the scale-armor! 5Why have I seen it? They are terrified, They are drawing back, And their mighty men are defeated And have taken refuge in flight, Without facing back; Terror is on every side!” Declares the LORD. 6”Let not the swift man flee, Nor the mighty man escape; In the north beside the river Euphrates They have stumbled and fallen. 7Who is this that rises like the Nile, Like the rivers whose waters surge about? 8Egypt rises like the Nile, Even like the rivers whose waters surge about; And He has said, “I will rise and cover that land; I will surely destroy the city and its inhabitants.” 9Go up, you horses, and drive madly, you chariots, That the mighty men may march forward: Ethiopia and Put, that handle the shield, And the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow. 10For that day belongs to the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes; And the sword will devour and be satiated And drink its fill of their blood; For there will be a slaughter for the Lord GOD of hosts, In the land of the north by the river Euphrates. 11Go up to Gilead and obtain balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain have you multiplied remedies; There is no healing for you. 12The nations have heard of your shame, And the earth is full of your cry of distress; For one warrior has stumbled over another, And both of them have fallen down together.”

Jeremiah 46:2 “Pharaoh Neco” Necho II (609-593 B.C.) marched through Judah to confront Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish in Syria. Josiah attempted to stop him and was wounded at Meggido. Josiah later died of his wounds (i.e., 609 B.C.). Pharaoh Necho's army was defeated (partially because Josiah delayed him which allowed Babylon to defeat the remaining Assyrian army). As Pharaoh Necho returned to Egypt he stopped at Jerusalem and exiled King Jehoahaz, Josiah's successor of only three months (cf. 2 Kings 23:28-37; 2 Chronicles 35:20-4). Necho placed Jehoiakim (a relative of Josiah) on Judah's throne as his surrogate (cf. 2 Kings 23:29ff).

Jeremiah 46:3-4 “line up” These IMPERATIVES (see Contextual Insights, E) were orders given by Egyptian officers to the Egyptian soldiers.

Jeremiah 46:4 “helmets” These helmets were rarely worn, therefore, this denotes that the soldiers were to “immediately prepare for battle.”

Jeremiah 46:5 What powerful poetry of fear and defeat. It reminds me of Nahum 2:0.

Line 7, “terror is on every side,” is an often repeated phrase in Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3, Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 49:29, see BDB 159 II, KB 544).

Jeremiah 46:7-8 These two verses seem to reflect the arrogant attitude of the Egyptian army; they used the annual overflowing of the Nile as the imagery of victorious military conquest. But it is all a myth, a false hope. In reality the Egyptian army and her mercenaries flee before the Babylonian military. Instead of the Nile overflowing its banks, it retreats!

Jeremiah 46:9 This verse identifies several national elements of the Egyptian army (i.e., Ethiopia, Put, and Lydia). It is uncertain if they were mercenaries (cf. Jeremiah 46:21) or defeated armies that joined Egypt's victorious army.

Jeremiah 46:10 “the Lord GOD of hosts” (twice) The first title “Lord” is the term Adon (BDB 10) which denotes “owner,” “master,” “lord,” “husband.”

The second title is literally “YHWH Sabbaoth.” YHWH is usually noted in English Bibles as all capitals, LORD.

Verse Jeremiah 46:10 may be the Divine response to Pharaoh Necho killing Josiah and replacing (exiling) his heir who reigned only three months!

“the sword” Often in poetic passages in the OT the “sword” is personified. The sword of the Babylonians is the sword of YHWH.

NASB“a slaughter for the LORD” NKJV“the LORD. . .has a sacrifice” NRSV“the LORD. . .holds a sacrifice” NJB“the LORD. . .is holding a sacrificial feast” JPSOA“the LORD. . .is preparing a sacrifice”

The UBS' A Handbook On Jeremiah (p. 847) has a good comment on this phrase. The picture is that of a sacrificial feast in which the worshiper is allowed to eat part of the animal that has been sacrificed. The same idea is conveyed in Ezekiel 39:17-20; Zephaniah 1:7.

Jeremiah 46:11 Gilead was widely known for its healing balms. But there was no balm for Egypt (cf. lines 3, 4). She is doomed to defeat and shame.

“virgin daughter of Egypt” This is the NOUN CONSTRUCT of “virgin” (BDB 413) and “daughter” (BDB 123 I). The CONSTRUCT “daughter(s) of _________” is a way to refer to a nation.

1. Zion/Jerusalem/Judah - Psalms 9:14; Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 10:32; Isaiah 16:1; Isaiah 37:22; Isaiah 52:2; Isaiah 62:11; Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 6:2, Jeremiah 6:23, Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 8:11, Jeremiah 8:19, Jeremiah 8:21, Jeremiah 8:22; Jeremiah 9:1, Jeremiah 9:7; Jeremiah 14:17; Lamentations (many times); Micah 1:13; Micah 4:8, Micah 4:10; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 9:9

2. Israel - 2 Samuel 1:24; Ezekiel 16:55

3. Tyre - Psalms 45:12; Isaiah 23:12

4. Babylon/Chaldea - Ezra 2:61; Psalms 137:8; Isaiah 47:1, Isaiah 47:5; Jeremiah 50:42; Jeremiah 51:33; Zechariah 2:7

5. Egypt - Jeremiah 46:24

6. Tarshish - Isaiah 23:10

7. Philistia - Ezekiel 16:27, Ezekiel 16:57

8. all nations - Ezekiel 32:16

When the term “virgin daughter” is used it seems to emphasize the vulnerability of the nation addressed.

1. Zion - 2 Kings 19:21; Isaiah 37:22; Jeremiah 14:17; Lamentations 2:10, Lamentations 2:13

2. Israel - Jeremiah 18:13; Jeremiah 31:4, Jeremiah 31:21; Amos 5:2

3. Babylon - Isaiah 47:1

4. Egypt - Jeremiah 46:11

In 2 Kings 19:21 both forms are found in poetic parallel. Also note the changing meaning of “Israel,” sometimes referring to all of the covenant people, descendants from Jacob/Israel, and in other contexts (i.e., the Divided Monarchy, 922 B.C. - 722 B.C.) it refers to the Northern Ten Tribes (i.e., Israel, Samaria, Ephraim).

Jeremiah 46:12 “The nations have heard of your shame” This is exactly the opposite of YHWH's intended purpose for His covenant people (cf. Genesis 12:3; Ezekiel 36:22-36). YHWH wanted the descendants of Abraham to reflect His character to the world and, thereby to attract the world to Himself. This is still His purpose for His people. See Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan.

Verses 13-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 46:13-24 13This is the message which the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to smite the land of Egypt: 14”Declare in Egypt and proclaim in Migdol, Proclaim also in Memphis and Tahpanhes; Say, 'Take your stand and get yourself ready, For the sword has devoured those around you.' 15Why have your mighty ones become prostrate? They do not stand because the LORD has thrust them down. 16They have repeatedly stumbled; Indeed, they have fallen one against another. Then they said, 'Get up! And let us go back To our own people and our native land Away from the sword of the oppressor.' 17They cried there, 'Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a big noise; He has let the appointed time pass by!' 18As I live,” declares the King Whose name is the LORD of hosts, “Surely one shall come who looms up like Tabor among the mountains, Or like Carmel by the sea. 19Make your baggage ready for exile, O daughter dwelling in Egypt, For Memphis will become a desolation; It will even be burned down and bereft of inhabitants. 20Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north-it is coming! 21Also her mercenaries in her midst Are like fattened calves, For even they too have turned back and have fled away together; They did not stand their ground. For the day of their calamity has come upon them, The time of their punishment. 22Its sound moves along like a serpent; For they move on like an army And come to her as woodcutters with axes. 23They have cut down her forest,” declares the LORD; “Surely it will no more be found, Even though they are now more numerous than locusts And are without number. 24The daughter of Egypt has been put to shame, Given over to the power of the people of the north.”

Jeremiah 46:13-26 As Jeremiah 46:1-2 describes the battle at Carchemish in Syria in 605 B.C., Jeremiah 46:13-26 describes a later invasion of Egypt itself.

Jeremiah 46:14 All of these locations are mentioned in Jeremiah 44:1 as places where the doomed Judeans were living.

Jeremiah 46:15

NASB, PESHITTA“become prostrate” NKJV, JPSOA“swept away” NRSV, NJB REB, LXX“Apis (Haf) fled” TEV“Apis fallen”

There are several translation issues with this verse.

1. “mighty ones” (BDB 7) can refer to

a. soldiers (NIV, NET Bible)

b. the Egyptian bull god (LXX, NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 234)

2. the VERB is SINGULAR, the NOUN PLURAL. The LXX divides the VERB (נסחף) into two words (חף נס) which means “Hap (Apis) has fled.” The UBS Text Project supports this division by giving it a “B” rating (p. 293).

3. The defeat of the Egyptian soldiers or bull god (possibly a reference to Pharaoh as the incarnation of Egypt's gods) is attributed to YHWH (line 2).

Jeremiah 46:16

NASB“They have repeatedly stumbled” NKJV, JPSOA“He made many fall” NRSV“Your multitude stumbled and fell” TEV“Your soldiers have stumbled and fallen” NJB“he has caused many to fall” LXX“your multitude was weak and fell” REB“the rabble of Egypt stumble and fall” PESHITTA“Multitudes of them are fallen”

The MT has “he made many stumble” (Hiphil PERFECT and Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, both MASCULINE SINGULAR). The “he” is YHWH from Jeremiah 46:15. Some translations assume it is a collective reference to the Egyptian army.

Jeremiah 46:17

NASB, NKJV, NET“a big noise” NRSV, LXX“braggart” NJB“Much-noise” REB“Bombast” PESHITTA“Pharaoh the Lame. . .the troublemaker”

The Hebrew word (BDB 981, KB 1370 II) means

1. roar of water (i.e., battle) - Isaiah 17:12; Jeremiah 48:45; Jeremiah 51:55; Amos 2:2; Hosea 10:14

2. uproar of battle - Psalms 74:23; Isaiah 17:12-13; Isaiah 25:5

3. festival uproar - Isaiah 5:14

It is used here as a possible play on Pharaoh's name or a ridicule of his military appearing and then disappearing (Jeremiah 37:5).

Jeremiah 46:18 “the King

Whose name is the LORD of hosts” YHWH, the covenant Deity, has always been “king” (cf. 1 Samuel 8:7). The Judean kings (cf. Genesis 49:10) from the line of Jesse/David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:0) have only served as earthly representatives of Him.

The opening phrase, “As I live,” functions in two ways.

1. a word play on the Hebrew VERB “to be” and YHWH (i.e., the ever-living, only-living Deity)

2. it is an idiom introducing an oath. An oath by YHWH in His name is a powerful promise that His words will come to be.

“Mount Tabor. . .Mount Carmel” These are metaphors of the topological features that dominate a landscape. They are used here as metaphors of overwhelming power (i.e., the Babylonian army against the Egyptian army).

Jeremiah 46:19

NASB, LXX“It will even be burned down” NKJV, TEV, REB“a ruin” NJB, JPSOA, PESHITTA“desolate”

The Hebrew VERB (BDB 428, KB 429, Niphal PERFECT) means “to kindle” or “to burn” (cf. Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 11:16; Jeremiah 17:27; Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 43:12; Jeremiah 49:2, Jeremiah 49:27; Jeremiah 50:32; Jeremiah 51:30, Jeremiah 51:58), but it is also used of “ruin” or “waste” (cf. Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 9:11).

Jeremiah 46:21-23 “her mercenaries” They are mentioned in Jeremiah 46:9. Even these experienced, hired soldiers act like defenseless, pampered calves! They all flee (cf. Jeremiah 46:5) in the face of Nebuchadnezzar's army (“horsefly” of Jeremiah 46:20), as do the Egyptian soldiers, symbolized as a slithering snake in Jeremiah 46:22.

Notice the different metaphors used to describe Babylon's army.

1. woodcutters with axes

2. more numerous than locusts

Verses 25-26

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 46:25-26 25The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, “Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26I shall give them over to the power of those who are seeking their lives, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of his officers. Afterwards, however, it will be inhabited as in the days of old,” declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 46:25-26 In this chapter several prose verses introduce a poetic section.

Jeremiah 46:1. Jeremiah 46:1-2, then poem Jeremiah 46:3-12

Jeremiah 46:2. Jeremiah 46:13, then poem Jeremiah 46:14-24

Jeremiah 46:3. Jeremiah 46:25-26, about the previous poem

Jeremiah 46:25 This verse seems to repeat itself. The LXX shortens it to “Behold, I am avenging Amon, her son, on Pharaoh and on those who trust in him.”

Amon (BDB 51 I) was supposed to be the “king of the gods.” The three gods, Ra, Ptah, and Amon, are often combined. As the worship of Apis (cf. Jeremiah 46:15) was centered in Memphis, the worship of Amon was centered in Thebes.

Jeremiah 46:26 Egypt will be completely destroyed (cf. Ezekiel 29:8-12) but it will be reinhabited (cf. Ezekiel 29:13-14).

Verses 27-28

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 46:27-28 27”But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear, Nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar, And your descendants from the land of their captivity; And Jacob will return and be undisturbed And secure, with no one making him tremble. 28O Jacob My servant, do not fear,” declares the LORD, “For I am with you. For I will make a full end of all the nations Where I have driven you, Yet I will not make a full end of you; But I will correct you properly And by no means leave you unpunished.”

Jeremiah 46:27-28 The parallel to these verses is in Jeremiah 30:10-11. This section of Jeremiah is called the Book of Hope. It addresses the Judeans who have been exiled to Babylon.

Jeremiah 46:27 The first two VERBS are IMPERFECTS used in a JUSSIVE sense. The exiles in Babylon (not Egypt) are commanded not to be afraid. YHWH will save (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil PARTICIPLE, cf. Jeremiah 23:3-4; Jeremiah 29:14) them!

Notice the VERBS used to describe YHWH's people in Babylonian exile.

1. do not fear (Jeremiah 46:28)

2. do not be dismayed

3. I am going to save you

4. you shall return

5. you shall be undisturbed

6. you shall be secure

7. no one will make you tremble

A new day of restoration and security is promised!

In the literary unit of judgment on the nations there are several passages related to the exiles of Judah (cf. Jeremiah 50:4-10, Jeremiah 50:17-20; Jeremiah 51:36-40, Jeremiah 51:50-53).

Jeremiah 46:28 The basis of the Babylonian exiles' hope is YHWH and His promises (cf. 2 Samuel 7:8-16).

1. I am with you

2. I shall make a full end of all the nations where you were exiled

3. I shall not make an end of you

4. I shall correct you properly

Discipline but not judgment. This is similar to YHWH's promise to David's royal descendants in 2 Samuel 7:14.

Jeremiah 46:27-28 is very similar theologically to Jeremiah 30:10-11. The theme of restoration is repeated for emphasis!

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-46.html. 2021.
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