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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 46

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. Against the Gentiles This is a general caption, embracing the following four chapters.

Verse 2

2. Against Egypt The particular caption of the passage immediately following. As there are two sections pertaining to Egypt (3-12 and 13-26) this title may relate to both.

Pharaoh-necho Said by Manetho to have been the sixth king of the twenty-sixth dynasty. His date has been fixed from 611 to 595 B.C.

Carchemish The site of this important ancient city is not determined beyond question. That it was on the Euphrates is settled by this passage. The common opinion is, that it was at the junction of the Chebar with the Euphrates, and identical with the Greek Circesium. Others, however, locate it higher up the Euphrates, about in latitude thirty-six. Professor Rawlinson favours this. The place is mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions, and also in the Egyptian hieroglyphical sculptures. Circesium, which is the site commonly identified with “Carchemish,” was built on a narrow wedge-shaped plain in the fork between the two rivers. All that now remains of it is ruins.

Verse 3


3. Order Prepare, make ready. Buckler Small shield, carried by the light-armed troops.

Shield A piece of larger defensive size for the heavy armed troops.

Verse 4

4. Harness the horses That is, to the chariots.

Get up, ye horse-men The original of this last word means riding-horses in 1 Kings 4:26; 1 Kings 10:26; Ezekiel 27:14; and Joel 2:4. Hence Keil translates here “mount the steeds.”

Stand forth with your helmets Implying that battle is at hand.

Brigandines Coats of mail. Brigand, brigade, brigadier, brigandine, are all words of a family, and the original meaning of brigand (soldier) is a key to the whole.

Verse 5

5. Thus far the description of the embattled host. Now comes the picture of the defeat and discomfiture.

Wherefore have I seen them, etc. The original is more expressive and poetical. Why have I seen? They are terror-stricken! They are giving away back. Their heroes are broken, and utterly fled, and turn not back. Terror is round about ( on every side) saith Jehovah. The swift shall not flee and the hero shall not escape. Towards the north, by the side of the river Euphrates, they shall stumble and fall.

In graphic force this passage is masterly. However simple and unadorned may be the style of Jeremiah when treating of plain matters which were near to his own people, here we have a brilliancy and poetic beauty not often surpassed.

Verses 7-8

7, 8. In the preceding verses we have a picture of the army and its defeat, in those which follow the same story is told, but with grander imagery a mighty rising of the whole land of Egypt, even as the floods of their own Nile overspread the land, and then God visits upon that people his overwhelming judgments.

Egypt riseth up like a flood The word for “flood,” here and in the preceding verse, is יאר , ( yeor,) and is thought by some Keil, for instance to be the name of the Nile River taken from the Egyptian into the Hebrew. On the contrary, Furst maintains the Shemitic origin not only of this, but all the other names of the Nile in the Old Testament. Certain it is, that this name is prevailingly applied to the Nile, as in Genesis 41:0, etc.; Exodus 1:22, etc., etc., and just as little doubt is there that the metaphor of this passage comes from the Nile overflow.

Verse 9

9. Ethiopians… Libyans… Lydians Auxiliaries or mercenaries, because the Egyptians were not themselves of such physical vigour as to make a nation of soldiers. There is a similar description of the Egyptian army in Ezekiel 30:5.

Verse 10

10. For this is the day, etc. Rather, but that day belongs to the Lord of hosts.

The Lord… hath a sacrifice The Lord is making ready to slay sacrifices. So the slaughter of the Egyptians is represented.

Verse 11

11. Balm Balsam.

Verse 13

Not be cured The blow is irreparable. PROPHECY AGAINST EGYPT, Jeremiah 46:13-26.

13. Here begins the second prophecy of Egypt. Like the former, it is poetic in form, but differs in that the scene of it is laid in Egypt, and not on the distant Euphrates.

Verse 14

14. Migdol… Noph… Tahpanhes Not, as some, “the east, south, and north,” for Migdol and Tahpanhes are frontier towns on the north, and Noph is Memphis, the northern capital. These are mentioned as being best known to the Jews.

The sword shall devour round about thee Syrians, Jews, Moabites, Ammonites, and Tyrians. Or it may be that reference is had to the countries near Egypt, as Philistia and Sodom, with Palestine.

Verse 15

15. Valiant The original is plural in the common text, but the verb and the pronoun are singular. The literal reading of the verse is, Why is thy valiant cast down? He stood not, because Jehovah thrust him down. Instead of this plural form many MSS. and the most important ancient Versions the LXX, the Vulgate, and several of the other old Greek Versions, all have the singular. As to the meaning of the word: in several passages it is translated stallions; elsewhere as an epithet of bulls. The probability, then, seems to lie in the direction of the singular form of the noun, which, for some reason, perhaps from a misapprehension of the meaning on the part of the copyists, has become pluralized; and that the true meaning is apis, a bull. The reference, then, is to the god Apis, or the power which represents him. Why is thy strong one swept away?

Verse 16

16. He (that is, Jehovah) made many to fall The mighty one does not stand; so the individuals stumble and fall one over the other.

Verse 17

17. Noise Rather, destruction. There they cry, Pharaoh… is destruction.

Verse 18

18. As Tabor is among the mountains The overshadowing power of Nebuchadrezzar is the point of the comparison. Tabor, though by no means a high mountain, yet stands out from the surface of the plain below with unusual boldness, and so is conspicuous in all directions. Carmel is a bold, lofty promontory, standing out above the Mediterranean in a most imposing manner. Both are fit types of that formidable Babylonian who had come to stand forth so loftily above the common level of the world.

Verse 19

19. Daughter dwelling in Egypt That is, the inhabitants of Egypt Egypt as to her people. Furnish thyself, etc. Literally, make for the vessels of wandering.

Noph Memphis, the capital.

Verse 20

20. Heifer A figure suggested by, and answering to, her god, the bull Apis.

Destruction cometh The original word for “destruction” occurs here only. Many meanings have been given to it, most of which are mere guesses. Gesenius, Furst, and the Rabbins hold to “destruction.” Hitzig, Schultens, Roediger, Nagelsbach, Keil, and, indeed, most modern Hebraists, give the meaning gadfly, and still other senses have been suggested. The Vulgate translates goader. Of the two senses given above as most prominent, that of gadfly is most generally adopted, and seems to have the best etymological support; but that of “destruction” is most obvious and satisfactory.

Cometh… cometh Emphatic. Cometh surely and quickly.

Verse 21

21. Hired men Mercenary soldiers.

Fatted bullocks The soldiers mentioned in Jeremiah 46:9, the Ethiopians, Libyans, and Lydians, were allies; but after their destruction in the battle of Carchemish mercenaries were engaged from Asia Minor Carians and Ionians. As we learn from Herodotus, Pharaoh-hophra took these into his pay to the number of thirty thousand, and they were settled in the fertile lands of the Delta between Bubastis and Pelusium. So pampered were they, that in the war against Cyrene he would not expose them, but sent native soldiers instead, and this cost him his crown. In describing, then, these mercenaries as “fatted bullocks” we have an extraordinary and minute faithfulness to history.

Verse 22

22. Voice thereof Of Egypt. As the serpent disturbed in his lair by the wood choppers flees away, so Egypt shall flee before the axes of the Chaldean army.

Verse 23

23. Cut down her forest These Chaldean wood choppers will do this, though it be most dense, (referring to this land thickly set with cities and filled with the products of material prosperity,) for they, like the grasshoppers, are innumerable.

Verse 25

25. Multitude of No Rather, Amon of No, referring to the principal idol of Egypt, whose chief seat was at Thebes, here called “No.”

Verses 27-28

MESSAGE TO ISRAEL, Jeremiah 46:27-28.

27, 28. Fear not… Jacob God’s true Israel is not utterly cast off. Though he may bring other nations to a full end, yet this one has a permanent life laid in the divine purpose.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/jeremiah-46.html. 1874-1909.
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