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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 47

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Jeremiah 47:0


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Prophecy Against PhilistiaJudgment On PhilistiaAgainst the PhilistinesThe LORD's Message About PhilistiaProphecy Against the Philistines
Jeremiah 47:1Jeremiah 47:1-2aJeremiah 47:1-7(vv. Jeremiah 47:2-7)Jeremiah 47:1-7(vv. Jeremiah 47:2-7)Jeremiah 47:1
Jeremiah 47:2-7(vv. Jeremiah 47:2-7)Jeremiah 47:2-5Jeremiah 47:2-7(vv. Jeremiah 47:2-7)
Jeremiah 47:6-7(vv. Jeremiah 47:6-7)

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.

Verse 1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 47:1 1That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh conquered Gaza.

Jeremiah 47:1 This first verse dates the prophecy (i.e., before Pharaoh conquered Gaza).

The Babylonian conquest of Philistia was also prophesied in Jeremiah 25:20. There are several other places where the destruction of Philistia is prophesied (cf. Isaiah 14:29-31; Ezekiel 25:15-17; Joel 3:4-8; Amos 1:6-8; Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zechariah 9:5-7).

Herodotus (Hist. II, 159) mentions that Pharaoh Necho II conquered a Philistine city (i.e., Gaza) about 609 B.C. This would link up with his replacing Josiah's heir (Jehoahaz) with another puppet king (Jehoiakim), also in 609 B.C. The problem with this date is that Nebuchadnezzar did not invade until 601 B.C.

The Expositors Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 655, lists three possible dates for the invasion of Babylon (if the MT is correct).

1. 609 B.C. - same time as the death of Josiah by Necho II

2. 604 B.C. - after the defeat of the Egyptian army at Carchemish

3. still later in the reign of Pharaoh Hophra (or Apries, 588-569 B.C.), when he invaded Phoenicia and Philistia, which were on the way (i.e., southern coast)

Verses 2-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Jeremiah 47:2-7 2Thus says the LORD: “Behold, waters are going to rise from the north And become an overflowing torrent, And overflow the land and all its fullness, The city and those who live in it; And the men will cry out, And every inhabitant of the land will wail. 3Because of the noise of the galloping hoofs of his stallions, The tumult of his chariots, and the rumbling of his wheels, The fathers have not turned back for their children, Because of the limpness of their hands, 4On account of the day that is coming To destroy all the Philistines, To cut off from Tyre and Sidon Every ally that is left; For the LORD is going to destroy the Philistines, The remnant of the coastland of Caphtor. 5Baldness has come upon Gaza; Ashkelon has been ruined. O remnant of their valley, How long will you gash yourself? 6Ah, sword of the LORD, How long will you not be quiet? Withdraw into your sheath; Be at rest and stay still. 7How can it be quiet, When the LORD has given it an order? Against Ashkelon and against the seacoast- There He has assigned it.”

Jeremiah 47:2 “waters. . .from the north” The invasion of Babylon into Palestine has been characterized by several metaphors.

1. overflowing boiling pot pouring south (cf. Jeremiah 1:13-14)

2. biting fly from the north (cf. Jeremiah 46:20)

3. here as a flooding river (Egypt is often described as the flooding Nile)

The imagery of an invading nation as an overflowing river is common in the OT.

1. Assyria - Isaiah 8:8-9

2. Egypt - Jeremiah 46:7-8; Amos 8:8; Amos 9:5

47:2e-3 This describes the actions of the Philistines.

1. the men cry out, Jeremiah 47:0:2e

2. every inhabitant of the land will wail, Jeremiah 47:2f

3. fathers have not turned back for their children, Jeremiah 47:3c

4. their hands are limp, Jeremiah 47:0:3d

What has terrified them?

1. the noise of the galloping hooves of his stallions, Jeremiah 47:3a

2. the tumult of his chariots, Jeremiah 47:3b

Jeremiah 47:4 All of the small nations on the Mediterranean coast (the only possible land route from Mesopotamia to Egypt because of the desert in between) will be invaded and defeated.

“The remnant of the coastland of Caphtor” The Philistines were from Caphtor (cf. Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7). However, “Caphtor” here may be a general reference to all the islands of the eastern Mediterranean.

Jeremiah 47:5 There were five independent city-states which made up Philistia.

1. Gaza

2. Ashkelon

3. Ashdad

4. Gath

5. Ekron

NASB, NKJV, JPSOA“O remnant of their valley” NRSV“O remnant of their power” NJB“you who remain in the valley” LXX, RSV”the remaining Enakim” (i.e., “Anakites,” cf. Joshua 11:22) REB“the remnant of the Philistine power”

The NASB reflects the MT. The NRSV and REB assume a different root found in Ugaritic (AB, p. 310). The LXX is an emendation about the giants found at Gaza, Gath, and Ashdad in Joshua 11:22. The REB assumes that Ashkelon was the only remaining undefeated Philistine city-state.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Terms Used for Tall/powerful Warriors or People Groups

“gash yourself” This was part of

1. their idol worship (see Special Topic: Fertility Worship of the Ancient Near East)

2. their mourning rites (see Special Topic: Grieving Rites)

Because of the parallelism with Jeremiah 47:5a, probably #2 is correct.

Jeremiah 47:6 This verse addresses the personified sword of YHWH (cf. Jeremiah 12:12; Isaiah 34:6; Amos 9:4).

The question is asked (apparently by those being conquered) how long will it

1. not be quieted

2. withdraw into its sheath

3. be at rest

4. stay still

The last three are IMPERATIVES!

Jeremiah 47:7 Verse Jeremiah 47:7 is an answer to the question of Jeremiah 47:6 (i.e., LXX text). There is no rest for YHWH's sword because the conquest of Palestine by Babylon is His will (i.e., “He has assured it,” BDB 416, KB 419, Qal PERFECT). YHWH is in charge of world history! He now uses Babylon, as He previously used Assyria and will use Persia in the future, to accomplish His purposes.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 47". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/jeremiah-47.html. 2021.
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