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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Jeremiah 43

 

 

Verses 1-7

8. THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT

Jeremiah 43:1-7

1And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end[FN1] of speaking unto all the people all the words of the Lord their God, for which the Lord their God had 2 sent him to them, even all these words, Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud[FN2] men, saying[FN3] unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into 3 Egypt to sojourn there: but Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on [has excited thee][FN4] against us, for to deliver us into the land of the Chaldeans, that they might 4 put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon. So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces [band-leaders], and all the people, 5obeyed not the voice of the Lord, to dwell in the land of Judah. But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the 6 land of Judah; even men, and women, and children, and the king’s daughters, and every person that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard [halberdiers] had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, 7and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

On the communication, which Jeremiah made in the name of Jehovah to the Jews, these declared, that they regard it, not as a message from their God, but as the result of incitement by Baruch, who is friendly to the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 43:1-3). Thereupon they, with the whole mass of the remaining population, including Jeremiah and Baruch, commence their journey to Egypt, where, on their arrival, they settle first in Tahpanhes ( Jeremiah 43:4-7).

Jeremiah 43:1-3. And it came to pass . . . into Babylon. The phrase all these words indicates that the words written in Jeremiah 42are an exact rendering of the prophet’s verbal communication. Comp. Jeremiah 51:60.—On Prayer of Azariah, the son of Hoshaiah. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 42:1.—On what facts this charge against Baruch was supported, it is difficult to perceive. From this book we learn only that Baruch was a faithful adherent and servant of the prophet. It was doubtless merely the circumstance that Baruch, to the envy of many, was the most intimate of all the Jews with Jeremiah, which gave a handle to the accusation.

Jeremiah 43:4-7. So Johanan … Tahpanhes.—All the remnant of Judah. Those who had returned from the dispersion are mentioned first, probably because among them there were few or none of the “poor of the land ” ( Jeremiah 40:7) It seems surprising that in Jeremiah 43:6 a specification follows which, on account of the mention of the king’s daughter, does not correspond to the general statement in Jeremiah 43:5 b. But the specification concludes with children, and with king’s daughters commences the description of the second division of the remnant of Judah. Besides, those who had returned, viz., the king’s daughters and all the other souls are mentioned. If we consider that in Jeremiah 43:5 a, the heads of those who had remained in the country are named as the subjects of the deportation, it is intelligible that besides these the princesses were the most eminent personages in this category (comp. Jeremiah 41:10).—Every person. Comp. Joshua 10:28. The expression is so general that it comprehends all the other members of (the remnant of Judah (comp. Jeremiah 51:16).—On Tahpanhes comp. rems. on Jeremiah 43:8.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-3. “Although the calamity, which has come upon Jerusalem, is great and terrible, God does not allow such evil to befal it that good will not result from it, as the Chaldean captain not obscurely intimates, that he has made a fair beginning in the knowledge of the true God. For he confesses, first, that the God of the prophet is a lord; secondly, that He knows future things; thirdly, that He causes His servants to proclaim these beforehand; fourthly, that God has conducted the war and done everything; fifthly, that He was displeased with the sinful manners of the people (among which idolatry was the worst); sixthly, that He has punished their disobedience to His word.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 40:4. “The friendliness, shown to the prophet, appears to proceed from men, but it comes from God. For God’s works are all made so that they are hidden among the creatures; for as He conceals His wisdom in the creation of heaven and earth, as He hides His kindness in the fruits of the earth, so also He disguises His help in the king of Babylon. For God executes. His works now by rational and anon by irrational creatures. As when He fed Elijah by the widow and by the ravens and by the angels ( 1 Kings 17:3 sqq.; 14sqq. and Jeremiah 19:5). For all are His instruments.” Cramer.

3. On Jeremiah 40:2-3. “Nebusaradan attestatione sua comprobat et confirmat veritatem ac certitudinem prædictionum prophetæ. Unde haud inscite colligi conjicique potest, quod Satrapa ille Babylonicus præditus fuerit agnitione veri Dei eâque salvatus. Et sic Deus subinde aliquos ex Magnatibus ad sui agnitionem et æternam salutem traducit ( Psalm 68). Potest istud exemplum ἐλεγκτικῶς obverti absoluto Calvinianorum decreto.” Förster.

4. On Jeremiah 40:5. “In this, that Jeremiah preferred remaining in the country to going to Babylon, it strikes me further—that a discreet Prayer of Manasseh, who knows the world and his heart and the true interest of God’s cause—is as much as possible contented, and does not think to better himself by going further. He is willing to remain at court unknown, and at any rate he would rather be taken away than go away.—The advice, which Solomon gives, is verified, ‘Stand not in the place of great men.’ We are a generation of the cross, and our symbol is ‘an evil name and little understood.’ ” Zinzendorf.

5. On Jeremiah 40:5. In Babylonia honor and a comfortable life invited the prophet, in Judea danger, dishonor and need in the desolated country. In Babylonia a respectable field of labor was opened to him among the great mass of his people, in Judea he had only rabble and condottieri about him. Jeremiah, however, was not a bad patriot, as many accused him of being. By remaining in Judea he showed that the import of his prophecies, apparently friendly to the Chaldeans and hostile to the Jews, had proceeded from the purest love to his people and his fatherland. Thus he imitated Moses, of whom it is written in Hebrews 11:25, that he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The holy ground of the fatherland bound him to it, and in addition—if he went, who was to take spiritual oversight of the poor forsaken remnant, to proclaim the word of God and bestow on them consolation and admonition? Those who were in Babylon had Ezekiel. And could not the Lord raise up other prophets for them? So he remained with the sheep, who had no shepherd. Jeremiah had not sought his own through his whole life, nor did he here.

6. On Jeremiah 40:7 sqq. “Human reason, and indeed nature shows, that in worldly government men cannot be without a head. For as the been cannot be without a queen, or the sheep without a shepherd, so no large number of people can exist without a head and government. God has wisely ordered it, and we should be thankful for the authorities.” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 40:11 sqq. We may well perceive in this “remnant of Judah” a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:11 sqq.: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without Prayer of Manasseh, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and great is the forsaking in the midst of the land. And if a tenth remains in it, this again must be removed. Yet as the terebinth and the oak, in which when they are felled, a ground-stock still remains, so is its stock a holy scion.”

8. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. Gedaliah, in whom not only Nebuchadnezzar, but also his people, had confidence, must have been a noble Prayer of Manasseh, to whom it was difficult to think evil of his neighbor. “Those who are of a pious disposition, cannot believe so much evil, as is told of people. But we must not trust too much, for the world is full of falseness (Wisd37:3). He who believes too easily, will be often deceived, and he who believes no one is also deceived. Therefore is he indeed a happy Prayer of Manasseh, who can preserve the golden mean.” Cramer.

9. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. “Misfortune is like the waves of the sea; when one is broken another follows, and the end of one trouble is the beginning of others.” Cramer.

10. On Jeremiah 41:1-3. “Judas’s kiss and Jacob’s brethren are very common in the world and take after their grandfather Cain, who spake kindly to Abel and yet had blood-thirsty thoughts ( Genesis 4:8). Yea, they take after their father, the devil, who is a murderous spirit ( John 8:44), and disguises himself as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14).” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 41:1 sqq. “Similia perfidiæ exempla (simulatæ fraternitatis): 2 Samuel 13:24; 2 Samuel 20:9 sq. Quadrat etiam huc historia nuptiarum Parisiensium celebratum 1572 mense Augusto.” Förster.

12. On Jer 41:4 sqq.

“Murder and avarice love to go with each other,

And one crime is often a prolific mother.”—Cramer.

13. On Jeremiah 41:16 sqq. It is very remarkable that even this last centre and rendezvous of the unfortunate people must be destroyed. It might be supposed that with the destruction of the city and deportation of the people the judgments would have terminated. It seems as if the deed of Ishmael and the removal of the remnant to Egypt transcended the measure of punishment fixed by Jehovah, for the Lord did not send Ishmael, and the removal to Egypt He directly forbade. And yet it seems that only by Ishmael’s act and the flight to Egypt could the land obtain its Sabbath rest, which is spoken of in Leviticus 26:34-35.

14. On Jeremiah 42:1-6. “Had not Johanan and his people asked for advice, but gone directly to Egypt, their sin would not have been so great. They feigned, however, submission to the will of God, while they yet adhered to their own will. It is a common fault for people to ask advice while they are firmly resolved what they will do. For they inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish. If we advise them according to their inclination they take our advice, if not, they reject it.—We must be on our guard when we appeal to God’s decision, that we do not previously decide for ourselves. For thus we fall into hypocrisy, which is the most fatal intoxication and blindness.” Heim and Hoffman, The Major Prophets. [“Those will justly lose their comfort in real fears, that excuse themselves in sin with pretended fears.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

15. On Jeremiah 42:7. After the murder of Gedaliah the anger of Nebuchadnezzar seemed inevitable. But the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:17), promises to perform a miracle, and restore Israel to new prosperity in their land if they will give Him the honor and trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart is indeed in His hand. If this is not acknowledged and Nebuchadnezzar more feared than the Lord, their sin is then against the first commandment.

16. On Jeremiah 42:13 sqq. “God reminds His people of the favor with which He adopted them as His people, which was the most sacred obligation to obedience; that Egypt was to them a land of destruction, a forbidden land, as indeed all confidence in human aid is forbidden to those who would live by faith, which was known to them from the history of their fathers and all the prophets. It is a great sin to deem one’s self safer under the protection of man than under that of God. It is incomprehensible, how blind unbelief makes people, so that the Jews have not yet learned the truth in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God.” Heim and Hoffman. “Fides futurorum certa est ex præcedentibus.” Tertull. “Venient hæc quoque sicut ista venerunt.” Augustin.—Förster.

17. On Jeremiah 43:2 sqq. “Hypocrites forsooth do not wish to be regarded as rejecting and setting themselves in opposition to God’s word, or accusing God of falsehood. For then is all the world pious, and no one refuses to be submissive to the dear Lord. God is truly God and remains so. It is only against this parson Jeremiah that they must act he lies, he is not sent, his ruling and preaching cannot be endured.” Cramer.

18. On Jeremiah 43:3. “Observe the old diabolical trick: when preachers practice God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to baptize it with another name and call it personal interest, as even here Baruch must bear the blame, as if he only wished to vent his anger on them and be contrary,” Cramer.

19. On Jeremiah 43:6. The ancients here examine the question why Jeremiah accompanied the people to Egypt and take occasion to discuss the1 Comm. de fuga ministrorum with reference to Augustin. Epist. 150 ad Honorar. With respect to Jeremiah, it is clear that he did all in his power to avert the journey to Egypt. After the whole people, however, were once on their way it was impossible for him and Baruch to remain alone in the deserted country. They were obliged to go with their flock. The more these were wandering, the more need they had of the shepherds. Thus, even if they were not compelled, they had to go with them. It seems, however, to follow from the expression וַיִַּקּח, Jeremiah 43:5, that no choice was given them. The people wished to have the prophet with them. In no case can we say that Jeremiah fled, for according to his own prophecy, he knew that he was going to meet ruin in Egypt.

20. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. At the present day when we wish to convey to posterity the account of some accomplished fact, or the prediction of some fact to be accomplished (ex. gr. a last testament), we take paper and ink, write it down, seal it, have it subscribed by witnesses and preserve it in the registrar’s or recorder’s office. In ancient times they took a simpler and surer way. Jacob and Laban simply erected a heap of stones ( Genesis 31), the two and a half tribes ( Joshua 22) built an altar on the bank of the Jordan. As long as the heap and the altar were standing, the record was transmitted from generation to generation for what object these stone witnesses were set up, and thus, that which it was desired to convey to posterity lived in the memory of men. Jeremiah also knows how to use ink and pen ( Jeremiah 32), but here he returns once more to the old manner of preserving archives. He simply places great stones in the clay, declaring what they signify, viz., that here, on this spot, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Whether the Egyptians and Jews then believed him or not, is of no consequence. The record of these stones and their meaning at any rate remained alive, and the Lord’s word was thus safely preserved till the day of its fulfilment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-12; Jeremiah 41:1-3; Jeremiah 42:1-16. Israel, the chosen nation, is in its destinies a type of human life in general. Consider only the exodus from Egypt. So also the destinies of the people of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, are pretypical. For1. The deportation of the whole people in chains and fetters is a type of our universal human misery, from which no one (not even Jeremiah) is free2. The fate of Gedaliah and the journey to Egypt is a type of the insufficiency of all mere human help3. As the Jews after Gedaliah’s murder, so men at all times, find protection and deliverance in the Lord alone.

2. On Jeremiah 40:1-6. The Christian in the tumult of the world1. He is regarded externally like others2. The eye of the Lord watches with special care over him, so that (a) not a hair of his head is bent, (b) all his wants are provided for3. Hebrews, however, on his part directs all his efforts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and will not be turned aside from this either by the violence or the friendliness of the world.

3. On Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:3. Gedaliah’s fate an example of what befals even the most noble in times of deep corruption1. They enjoy general confidence2. They are incapable of attributing extreme wickedness to men3. They become a sacrifice to their confidence4. They are therefore not in a condition to stay the divine judgments.

4. On Jeremiah 42:1-16. What is the surest way of coming to the right conclusion in difficult cases? 1. To inquire of the Lord2. To obey unconditionally the direction which the Lord communicates. [“We must still in faith pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the hints of Providence.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 43:1-7. Characteristic example of the artfulness of the human heart: the Jews inquire of the Lord and promise to obey His direction ( Jeremiah 42:20). But when the direction does not accord with their wish, they at once declare it to be supposititious, not from the Lord. The prophet must be a liar, an alleged enemy has incited him. But what was long previously determined in the heart is obstinately brought to execution. [“Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it. It is well for persons who are thus misrepresented that their witness is in heaven, and their record on high.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

6. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. The ways of the Lord are wonderful. Israel flees before Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now indeed there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place stones, the foundation stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s pavilion. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time to the glory of His Wisdom of Solomon, omniscience and omnipotence.


Verses 8-13

9. JEREMIAH IN TAHPANHES

Jeremiah 43:8-13

8, 9Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay [mortar][FN5] in the brick-kiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of 10 Judah; and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth], the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall 11 spread his royal pavilion[FN6] over them. And when he cometh,[FN7] he shall [he shall come and] unite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity: and such as are for the sword to the sword 12 And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence 13 in peace. He shall break also the images [statues] of Bethshemesh [the house of the sun], that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall be burned with fire.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In Tahpanhes Jeremiah receives the command to hide great stones in the clay of a brick-kiln, opposite the royal palace in the sight of the Jews, and to tell them that the Lord will bring king Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt, and that he will erect his throne and stretch his tent on these stones ( Jeremiah 43:8-10). Then will Nebuchadnezzar visit the land of Egypt with all the terrors of war, burn the idol-temples, subjugate the land completely to his sway, and depart in peace ( Jeremiah 43:11-12). It is especially emphasized at the close that Nebuchadnezzar will break in pieces the statues of Beth-shemesh and burn up the idol-temples ( Jeremiah 43:13).

Jeremiah 43:8-9. Then came … men of Judah. When we compare the larger superscriptions, Jeremiah 40:1 and Jeremiah 44:1, it is evident that the first introduces the events after the deportation, the second the occurrences in Egypt. Hence it might seem as if this passage were not in place, or as if the superscription, which stands in Jeremiah 44:1, belonged in this place, Jeremiah 43:8. But it is evident from Jeremiah 44:1 that the passage, which begins with this superscription, is to narrate what happened to the Jews already established in Egypt (who dwelt in the land), while the event related here Isaiah, as it were, a part of the journey. For Tahpanhes (comp. Jeremiah 2:16) is the eastern boundary city of Egypt, situated on the Pelusian branch of the Nile. Here Jeremiah, by a symbolical Acts, was to set before the eyes of the Jews, how impossible it is to escape from the Lord (comp. the prophet Jonah), and that by their removal from Egypt they had only come from bad to worse. Thus clear as is the meaning of the symbolical act in general, the definition of the details is still difficult. The word brick-kiln (מַלְבֵּן) occurs, besides here, only twice in the Old Testament: 2 Samuel 12:31, and Nahum 3:14. In the first passage it is related that David caused them to pass under saws, harrows and axes of iron. It then continues, “and made them pass through the brick-kiln” (the Chethibh has, doubtless incorrectly, מַלְכֵּן, which is no word). When we recall the frequently occurring phrase “made his son to pass through the fire” (comp. 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6, etc.), we cannot doubt that a similar cruel mode of death is spoken of here also. As such also appears the putting into heated brick-ovens (לְבֵנָה, brick, from which the denominative verb לָבַן, to make bricks, Exodus 5:7; Exodus 5:14). In the second passage, Nahum 3:14; the Assyrians are ironically called upon to “repair the fortifications, go into the mud and tread the mortar, and repair the brick-kiln.” Eichhorn, Hitzig and Graf think it incredible that a brick-kiln can have stood immediately opposite the royal palace. Hence Hitzig takes the word in the sense of a projection of tiles or brick-work under the threshold, a stone-floor probably cemented over. Besides the analogies in Arabic, the meanings of מַלְבֵּן in later Hebrew (area, massa, tabula, quadrata. Comp. Buxtorf, Lex. Chald., p1120) favor this rendering. On the other hand, as Graf himself correctly remarks, it is equally incredible that Jeremiah could have torn up the pavement before the gate of the king’s palace, and inserted large stones. I am now quite of Neumann’s opinion that we are to regard this brick-kiln not as permanently, but only temporarily, present.

The brick-yard need not have been in the court of the royal palace and directly before the doors of the building. It may have been situated opposite the gate of the outer court or avenue to the palace. The place may have been designated to the prophet on account of this position, and perhaps also because it was the place, from which the material was taken for the extension of the palace now building, as Neumann [comp. also Henderson] supposes. In this case the thought would be expressed that Egypt, to whose protection the Jews had fled, was only weak, fragile clay. Since the prophet was to hide the stones in the clay, it is evident, that he did not place them visibly on the surface, and therefore set them up on the walls of the brick-kiln. Brick-kiln must be, therefore, understood as pars pro toto. The whole place is called מלבן, not merely the oven. Jeremiah is to hide the large stones in clay belonging to this kiln. He is to lay the foundation for a future ideal building. In place of the weak clay, which signifies Egypt, the Lord lays the foundation stones of a power, which He intends to found, the bearer of which will be His servant ( Jeremiah 43:10), or the organ of His will. It is a fact, still hidden in the womb of the future, that Egypt will groan under the foot of the Babylonian conqueror; but the stones guarantee this fact. Men of Judah were present as witnesses ( Jeremiah 43:9), when they were laid. The significance of the stones is disclosed to these witnesses. The memory remained; the word of the Lord was pledged. On the fulfilment comp. the remarks on Jeremiah 44:29-30.

Jeremiah 43:10-13. And say unto them … burn with fire. On Behold, I will send, etc., comp. Jeremiah 25:9.—The Lord Himself has hidden the stones, and in so far the prophet was only an instrument. On these stones Nebuchadnezzar shall one day erect his throne and stretch his tent—Hitzig thinks that the erection of a tent would not be threatening, or dangerous; on the contrary, it would be only a matter of curiosity. It seems to me, however, that Nebuchadnezzar’s tent, erected before the royal palace in Tahpanhes, is dangerous enough, signifying neither more nor less than the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar.—Such as are for death. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 15:2. The sense of the expression Isaiah, that not only one kind of destruction will come upon Egypt, but many, and that each one will also really devour the victims apportioned to it.—Away captives, viz., the idols. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 48:7.—And he shall array, etc. Commentators have frequently, and as it seems to me, quite unnecessarily, stumbled over this expression. How does a shepherd put on his garment? In general like any other person, but there is this difference, that in doing so the shepherd has regard to no one, because no one sees him. He therefore puts on his garment entirely at his own whim and convenience. So according to his own pleasure, without the slightest regard to others, will Nebuchadnezzar deal with conquered Egypt. After he has thus made Egypt his own property, he will depart in peace, without, any one being able to detain or harass him or rob him of his booty.

Jeremiah 43:13 is surprising. The discourse seemed to have concluded with Jeremiah 43:12. For what is there to report of Nebuchadnezzar’s doings in Egypt, when his departure is already announced? Further, the second clause of the verse is tautological. Comp. burn them, Jeremiah 43:12. Finally the addition that is in the land of Egypt is very surprising, for did Jeremiah, writing in Egypt, need to say this? Hence not merely three words (in the original text), but the whole verse, might be suspected. If, however, these words originated with the rest, then by Beth-shemesh must be meant not the temple of the sun at Heliopolis, but this city itself. The images of Beth-shemesh are above all the obelisks, of which there was an unlimited number in the city. Of the oldest, which however were not the largest (comp. Herod II, 111), one still remains in its place. Comp. Herzog, R-Enc., X, S. 610 sqq.

[The fulfilment of this prophecy is confirmed by Josephus (Ant. X, 9, 7). “It is also probable, that during the thirteen years in which some of Nebuchadnezzar’s forces were engaged in the blockade of Tyre, he extended his campaign into Egypt; and there is a confirmation of this opinion in the narrative of Megasthenes in Strabo, XVI, 687. Joseph.Ant. X, 11, 1; c. Apion. I, 20. Abulfeda, Hist. Ante-islam, p102.” Wordsworth.—S. R. A.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Jeremiah 43:1.—בְּכַלּוֹת as in Jeremiah 26:8.

FN#2 - Jeremiah 43:2—הזדים. The word occurs here only in Jeremiah. The LXX. omits it, and reads instead καὶ πάντες οἱ*ἀλλογενεῖς, Jeremiah 42:17, reading זֵרִים for זֵדִים. The reverse in Jeremiah 18:14; Jeremiah 51:2.

FN#3 - Jeremiah 43:2.—אמֹרים. Instead of לֵאמֹר, because the words spoken do not follow immediately. Comp. Jeremiah 14:15; Jeremiah 23:17.

FN#4 - Jeremiah 43:3.—מסית. Comp. Jeremiah 38:22; Isaiah 36:18.

FN#5 - Jeremiah 43:9.—מֶלֶט is ἅπ. λεγ. The analogies milât, molto (Syr.), μάλθα, malta, are vouchers for the meaning of “mortar cement, clay.”

FN#6 - Jeremiah 43:10.—The meaning of שַׁבְּרוּר is doubtful. The word occurs here only. Hitzig, with J.D. Michaelis, refers to suphra (Arab. for corium orbiculare, quod solo insternitur), which agrees with nat’ (Arab. the leathern veil of the judge of life and death). According to the text the throne is to be first placed on the stones, and then the שַׁבְּרוּר stretched above it. Is a veil spread over a throne? And is not נָטָה the technical term for the spreading of a tent? The meaning “pavilion,” seems then most suitable, it being, however, still doubtful whether it be so named a splendore (שָׁבַּר, nituit, שִׁפְרָה,שֶׁפֶר, splendor, pulchritudo, or a cavitate (comp. שׁוֹפָר, tuba, שִׁפְרָה, Pi. Job 26:13? [“The Keri Proposes שַׁפְרִיר as the proper form which Isaiah, indeed, that in which nouns, with the third radical germinated, most frequently appear. Comp. סַנְרִיר, Proverbs 27:15.” Henderson.—S. R. A.]

FN#7 - Jeremiah 43:11.—ובאה. Chethibh וּבָאָהּ. The Keri would unnecessarily strike out the suffix. Comp. rems. on Jeremiah 11:15; Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 31:2; Jeremiah 41:3; Jeremiah 48:44.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-3. “Although the calamity, which has come upon Jerusalem, is great and terrible, God does not allow such evil to befal it that good will not result from it, as the Chaldean captain not obscurely intimates, that he has made a fair beginning in the knowledge of the true God. For he confesses, first, that the God of the prophet is a lord; secondly, that He knows future things; thirdly, that He causes His servants to proclaim these beforehand; fourthly, that God has conducted the war and done everything; fifthly, that He was displeased with the sinful manners of the people (among which idolatry was the worst); sixthly, that He has punished their disobedience to His word.” Cramer.

2. On Jeremiah 40:4. “The friendliness, shown to the prophet, appears to proceed from men, but it comes from God. For God’s works are all made so that they are hidden among the creatures; for as He conceals His wisdom in the creation of heaven and earth, as He hides His kindness in the fruits of the earth, so also He disguises His help in the king of Babylon. For God executes. His works now by rational and anon by irrational creatures. As when He fed Elijah by the widow and by the ravens and by the angels ( 1 Kings 17:3 sqq.; 14sqq. and Jeremiah 19:5). For all are His instruments.” Cramer.

3. On Jeremiah 40:2-3. “Nebusaradan attestatione sua comprobat et confirmat veritatem ac certitudinem prædictionum prophetæ. Unde haud inscite colligi conjicique potest, quod Satrapa ille Babylonicus præditus fuerit agnitione veri Dei eâque salvatus. Et sic Deus subinde aliquos ex Magnatibus ad sui agnitionem et æternam salutem traducit ( Psalm 68). Potest istud exemplum ἐλεγκτικῶς obverti absoluto Calvinianorum decreto.” Förster.

4. On Jeremiah 40:5. “In this, that Jeremiah preferred remaining in the country to going to Babylon, it strikes me further—that a discreet Prayer of Manasseh, who knows the world and his heart and the true interest of God’s cause—is as much as possible contented, and does not think to better himself by going further. He is willing to remain at court unknown, and at any rate he would rather be taken away than go away.—The advice, which Solomon gives, is verified, ‘Stand not in the place of great men.’ We are a generation of the cross, and our symbol is ‘an evil name and little understood.’ ” Zinzendorf.

5. On Jeremiah 40:5. In Babylonia honor and a comfortable life invited the prophet, in Judea danger, dishonor and need in the desolated country. In Babylonia a respectable field of labor was opened to him among the great mass of his people, in Judea he had only rabble and condottieri about him. Jeremiah, however, was not a bad patriot, as many accused him of being. By remaining in Judea he showed that the import of his prophecies, apparently friendly to the Chaldeans and hostile to the Jews, had proceeded from the purest love to his people and his fatherland. Thus he imitated Moses, of whom it is written in Hebrews 11:25, that he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The holy ground of the fatherland bound him to it, and in addition—if he went, who was to take spiritual oversight of the poor forsaken remnant, to proclaim the word of God and bestow on them consolation and admonition? Those who were in Babylon had Ezekiel. And could not the Lord raise up other prophets for them? So he remained with the sheep, who had no shepherd. Jeremiah had not sought his own through his whole life, nor did he here.

6. On Jeremiah 40:7 sqq. “Human reason, and indeed nature shows, that in worldly government men cannot be without a head. For as the been cannot be without a queen, or the sheep without a shepherd, so no large number of people can exist without a head and government. God has wisely ordered it, and we should be thankful for the authorities.” Cramer.

7. On Jeremiah 40:11 sqq. We may well perceive in this “remnant of Judah” a fulfilment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:11 sqq.: “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without Prayer of Manasseh, and the land be utterly desolate, and Jehovah have removed men far away, and great is the forsaking in the midst of the land. And if a tenth remains in it, this again must be removed. Yet as the terebinth and the oak, in which when they are felled, a ground-stock still remains, so is its stock a holy scion.”

8. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. Gedaliah, in whom not only Nebuchadnezzar, but also his people, had confidence, must have been a noble Prayer of Manasseh, to whom it was difficult to think evil of his neighbor. “Those who are of a pious disposition, cannot believe so much evil, as is told of people. But we must not trust too much, for the world is full of falseness (Wisd37:3). He who believes too easily, will be often deceived, and he who believes no one is also deceived. Therefore is he indeed a happy Prayer of Manasseh, who can preserve the golden mean.” Cramer.

9. On Jeremiah 40:13 sqq. “Misfortune is like the waves of the sea; when one is broken another follows, and the end of one trouble is the beginning of others.” Cramer.

10. On Jeremiah 41:1-3. “Judas’s kiss and Jacob’s brethren are very common in the world and take after their grandfather Cain, who spake kindly to Abel and yet had blood-thirsty thoughts ( Genesis 4:8). Yea, they take after their father, the devil, who is a murderous spirit ( John 8:44), and disguises himself as an angel of light ( 2 Corinthians 11:14).” Cramer.

11. On Jeremiah 41:1 sqq. “Similia perfidiæ exempla (simulatæ fraternitatis): 2 Samuel 13:24; 2 Samuel 20:9 sq. Quadrat etiam huc historia nuptiarum Parisiensium celebratum 1572 mense Augusto.” Förster.

12. On Jer 41:4 sqq.

“Murder and avarice love to go with each other,

And one crime is often a prolific mother.”—Cramer.

13. On Jeremiah 41:16 sqq. It is very remarkable that even this last centre and rendezvous of the unfortunate people must be destroyed. It might be supposed that with the destruction of the city and deportation of the people the judgments would have terminated. It seems as if the deed of Ishmael and the removal of the remnant to Egypt transcended the measure of punishment fixed by Jehovah, for the Lord did not send Ishmael, and the removal to Egypt He directly forbade. And yet it seems that only by Ishmael’s act and the flight to Egypt could the land obtain its Sabbath rest, which is spoken of in Leviticus 26:34-35.

14. On Jeremiah 42:1-6. “Had not Johanan and his people asked for advice, but gone directly to Egypt, their sin would not have been so great. They feigned, however, submission to the will of God, while they yet adhered to their own will. It is a common fault for people to ask advice while they are firmly resolved what they will do. For they inquire not to learn what is right, but only to receive encouragement to do what they wish. If we advise them according to their inclination they take our advice, if not, they reject it.—We must be on our guard when we appeal to God’s decision, that we do not previously decide for ourselves. For thus we fall into hypocrisy, which is the most fatal intoxication and blindness.” Heim and Hoffman, The Major Prophets. [“Those will justly lose their comfort in real fears, that excuse themselves in sin with pretended fears.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

15. On Jeremiah 42:7. After the murder of Gedaliah the anger of Nebuchadnezzar seemed inevitable. But the Lord, to whom nothing is impossible ( Jeremiah 32:17), promises to perform a miracle, and restore Israel to new prosperity in their land if they will give Him the honor and trust in Him. Nebuchadnezzar’s heart is indeed in His hand. If this is not acknowledged and Nebuchadnezzar more feared than the Lord, their sin is then against the first commandment.

16. On Jeremiah 42:13 sqq. “God reminds His people of the favor with which He adopted them as His people, which was the most sacred obligation to obedience; that Egypt was to them a land of destruction, a forbidden land, as indeed all confidence in human aid is forbidden to those who would live by faith, which was known to them from the history of their fathers and all the prophets. It is a great sin to deem one’s self safer under the protection of man than under that of God. It is incomprehensible, how blind unbelief makes people, so that the Jews have not yet learned the truth in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God.” Heim and Hoffman. “Fides futurorum certa est ex præcedentibus.” Tertull. “Venient hæc quoque sicut ista venerunt.” Augustin.—Förster.

17. On Jeremiah 43:2 sqq. “Hypocrites forsooth do not wish to be regarded as rejecting and setting themselves in opposition to God’s word, or accusing God of falsehood. For then is all the world pious, and no one refuses to be submissive to the dear Lord. God is truly God and remains so. It is only against this parson Jeremiah that they must act he lies, he is not sent, his ruling and preaching cannot be endured.” Cramer.

18. On Jeremiah 43:3. “Observe the old diabolical trick: when preachers practice God’s word and their office with zeal, the world understands how to baptize it with another name and call it personal interest, as even here Baruch must bear the blame, as if he only wished to vent his anger on them and be contrary,” Cramer.

19. On Jeremiah 43:6. The ancients here examine the question why Jeremiah accompanied the people to Egypt and take occasion to discuss the1 Comm. de fuga ministrorum with reference to Augustin. Epist. 150 ad Honorar. With respect to Jeremiah, it is clear that he did all in his power to avert the journey to Egypt. After the whole people, however, were once on their way it was impossible for him and Baruch to remain alone in the deserted country. They were obliged to go with their flock. The more these were wandering, the more need they had of the shepherds. Thus, even if they were not compelled, they had to go with them. It seems, however, to follow from the expression וַיִַּקּח, Jeremiah 43:5, that no choice was given them. The people wished to have the prophet with them. In no case can we say that Jeremiah fled, for according to his own prophecy, he knew that he was going to meet ruin in Egypt.

20. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. At the present day when we wish to convey to posterity the account of some accomplished fact, or the prediction of some fact to be accomplished (ex. gr. a last testament), we take paper and ink, write it down, seal it, have it subscribed by witnesses and preserve it in the registrar’s or recorder’s office. In ancient times they took a simpler and surer way. Jacob and Laban simply erected a heap of stones ( Genesis 31), the two and a half tribes ( Joshua 22) built an altar on the bank of the Jordan. As long as the heap and the altar were standing, the record was transmitted from generation to generation for what object these stone witnesses were set up, and thus, that which it was desired to convey to posterity lived in the memory of men. Jeremiah also knows how to use ink and pen ( Jeremiah 32), but here he returns once more to the old manner of preserving archives. He simply places great stones in the clay, declaring what they signify, viz., that here, on this spot, Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Whether the Egyptians and Jews then believed him or not, is of no consequence. The record of these stones and their meaning at any rate remained alive, and the Lord’s word was thus safely preserved till the day of its fulfilment.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

1. On Jeremiah 40:1-12; Jeremiah 41:1-3; Jeremiah 42:1-16. Israel, the chosen nation, is in its destinies a type of human life in general. Consider only the exodus from Egypt. So also the destinies of the people of Israel, after the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, are pretypical. For1. The deportation of the whole people in chains and fetters is a type of our universal human misery, from which no one (not even Jeremiah) is free2. The fate of Gedaliah and the journey to Egypt is a type of the insufficiency of all mere human help3. As the Jews after Gedaliah’s murder, so men at all times, find protection and deliverance in the Lord alone.

2. On Jeremiah 40:1-6. The Christian in the tumult of the world1. He is regarded externally like others2. The eye of the Lord watches with special care over him, so that (a) not a hair of his head is bent, (b) all his wants are provided for3. Hebrews, however, on his part directs all his efforts to the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and will not be turned aside from this either by the violence or the friendliness of the world.

3. On Jeremiah 40:7 to Jeremiah 41:3. Gedaliah’s fate an example of what befals even the most noble in times of deep corruption1. They enjoy general confidence2. They are incapable of attributing extreme wickedness to men3. They become a sacrifice to their confidence4. They are therefore not in a condition to stay the divine judgments.

4. On Jeremiah 42:1-16. What is the surest way of coming to the right conclusion in difficult cases? 1. To inquire of the Lord2. To obey unconditionally the direction which the Lord communicates. [“We must still in faith pray to be guided by a spirit of wisdom in our hearts, and the hints of Providence.” Henry.—S. R. A.]

5. On Jeremiah 43:1-7. Characteristic example of the artfulness of the human heart: the Jews inquire of the Lord and promise to obey His direction ( Jeremiah 42:20). But when the direction does not accord with their wish, they at once declare it to be supposititious, not from the Lord. The prophet must be a liar, an alleged enemy has incited him. But what was long previously determined in the heart is obstinately brought to execution. [“Those that are resolved to contradict the great ends of the ministry, are industrious to bring a bad name upon it. It is well for persons who are thus misrepresented that their witness is in heaven, and their record on high.” Henry.—S. R. A.].

6. On Jeremiah 43:8-13. The ways of the Lord are wonderful. Israel flees before Nebuchadnezzar far away to Egypt. But there they are not safe. The Lord causes it to be proclaimed to them that at the entrance of the king’s palace at Tahpanhes Nebuchadnezzar’s tent shall stand. Now indeed there is a brick-kiln there, in the clay of which Jeremiah is to place stones, the foundation stones, as it were, for the Chaldean king’s pavilion. Thus the Lord lays the germs of future events, and whatever He prepares in secret He reveals in His own time to the glory of His Wisdom of Solomon, omniscience and omnipotence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Jeremiah 43:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/jeremiah-43.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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