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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jeremiah 46

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah 46:1. The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah against the Gentiles — This is a general title to the collection of prophecies contained in this and the five following chapters, and refers to the denunciation of God’s judgments upon the countries round about Judea, namely, those of whom all enumeration is made Jeremiah 25:19-25. To some of these prophecies the date is annexed; in others it is left uncertain. It is evident they were not all delivered at the same time, and they seem to be here out of their proper place. In the Vatican and Alexandrian copies of the Septuagint, they follow immediately after Jeremiah 25:13, where express mention is made of the book which Jeremiah had prophesied against all the nations; which book is contained in this and the following chapters. It seems those who collected Jeremiah’s writings judged proper, without confining themselves to the order of time, to join together all those prophecies which respected the Gentile nations, and were not immediately connected with the affairs of the Jews.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 46:2. Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh-necho — Pharaoh- necho was king of Egypt in Josiah’s time, and it was by his army that Josiah was killed at Megiddo, as is related 2 Kings 23:29, where see the note. That army was then marching under the conduct of Necho against the Medes and Babylonians, who, having by the capture of Nineveh destroyed the Assyrian empire, had become formidable to the neighbouring states. Josiah opposed it in its march through the country, but was defeated, and received a wound in the battle which proved mortal. Necho continued his march after this victory, defeated the Babylonians, took Carchemish, and securing it with a strong garrison, returned into his own country. Nabopolassar, the king of Babylon, observing that all Syria and Palestine had revolted on account of the reduction of Carchemish by the Egyptians, sent his son Nebuchadnezzar with an army to retake that city, and recover the revolted provinces. Necho marched with a powerful army to oppose him; and it appears it was at the time when the Egyptian army lay along the banks of the Euphrates, waiting to oppose the entrance of Nebuchadnezzar into Syria, that this prophecy was delivered, namely, as is here said, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. The two armies came to an engagement near the city of Carchemish, and the event of the battle proved very disastrous to the Egyptians, who were routed with prodigious slaughter, as is here foretold by the prophet in a very animated style, and with great poetic energy and liveliness of colouring.


Verses 3-6

Jeremiah 46:3-6. Order ye the buckler, &c. — In these verses the mighty preparations of the Egyptians for war are described, which causes the prophet, who foresees the defeat, to express, as he does in the next two verses, “his astonishment at an event so contrary to what might have been expected; but he accounts for it by ascribing it to the disposition of the Almighty, who had spread terror all around, and had decreed that neither swiftness nor strength should avail the owners so as to save them from the impending overthrow.” — Blaney. I have seen them dismayed and turned back — God had, in a vision, shown Jeremiah the army of the Egyptians discomfited and fleeing; and their mighty ones — Their most powerful warriors and valiant commanders; are beaten down, and are fled apace — Either fall in the battle, or flee away as fast as they can; for fear is round about — A panic fear hath seized the whole army. Let not the swift flee away — Let them not be able to escape from those that pursue them, but be either killed or taken. They shall stumble, &c., toward the north by the river Euphrates — Which was northward from Egypt, and even from Judea: so Babylon is described as lying northward, being situate upon that river.


Verses 7-10

Jeremiah 46:7-10. Who is this that cometh up as a flood — Here the king of Egypt is compared to a mighty river, the Nile, or the Euphrates, when it swells above its banks, and threatens to overwhelm the country with ruin and desolation. And he saith I will go up, and will cover the earth — With my numerous armies; I will destroy the city — Carchemish or Babylon; and the inhabitants thereof — Who shall not be able to withstand the powerful force I bring against them. Thus the prophet represents him as beginning his march with all the ostentation and insolence of presumed success. Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots, &c. — Here he is exhibited calling aloud to the nations of which his army is composed, giving them the signal for action, and rousing them to deeds of desperate valour; but all in vain: for the time is come for God to avenge himself of his ancient foes: they are doomed to slaughter, to fall a bloody sacrifice on the plains of the north. For, adds the prophet, Jeremiah 46:10, this is the day of the Lord God of hosts — That is, as it follows, the day of his vengeance. Hence, the day of the Lord is used in the New Testament to signify the day of judgment, of which all other days of vengeance are the earnests and forerunners. That he may avenge himself of his adversaries — Of the idols of Egypt and their worshippers: the Egyptians were some of the first idolaters, and carried idolatry to its greatest height. And the sword shall devour, it shall be satiate, &c. — These metaphorical expressions signify the very great slaughter which would be made at that time in the Egyptian army. For the Lord God hath a sacrifice, &c. — The slaughter of men in battle, which is by way of punishment for their sins, is called a sacrifice to God, because it makes some kind of satisfaction and atonement to the divine justice. See the margin.


Verse 11-12

Jeremiah 46:11-12. Go up into Gilead, and take balm — Gilead was famous for producing balm and such like healing gums: see note on Jeremiah 8:22. The prophet, alluding to the custom of men’s going thither for relief in dangerous infirmities, ironically advises the Egyptians to try all the methods they can think of to prevent that destruction that threatened them, but he signifies that all their endeavours would be in vain. Compare Jeremiah 51:8. O virgin, the daughter of Egypt — Those cities or countries are called virgins which were never conquered. Egypt was grown great by her conquests, particularly by the former battle at Carchemish,

(see Jeremiah 46:2,) and did not apprehend itself to be in any danger of being conquered. The nations have heard of thy shame — Of thy armies being shamefully beaten and running away; for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty — When an army is once broken and disordered, multitudes are a hinderance one to another, and one part helps to destroy another. Thus the prophet concludes the first prophecy against Egypt, or, as he expresses it, the daughter of Egypt, by an apostrophe to her, addressing her as a conquered nation, whose wound is pronounced incurable, and disgrace universally known; forasmuch as the number of her warriors served only to augment the general disorder, and more effectually to destroy each other.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 46:13. The word that the Lord spake, &c. — Here begins the second prophecy against Egypt, the exact time of the delivery of which we have no means of ascertaining; but the desolation foretold in it is undoubtedly the same with that predicted by Ezekiel, chaps. 29., 30., 31., 32. And this came to pass in the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, that is, the sixteenth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, as may be collected from Ezekiel 29:17, where Nebuchadnezzar’s army is spoken of as having at that time suffered a great deal at the siege of Tyre; on which account the spoils of Egypt are promised them for their wages and indemnification: and the promise was accordingly made good that same year. — Jos. Ant., lib. 10. cap. 9.


Verse 14-15

Jeremiah 46:14-15. Publish in Migdol, and in Noph, and Tahpanhes — Concerning these three cities, see note on Jeremiah 44:1. The meaning is, publish this prophecy over all the land of Egypt; or these three places are named, because in them the Jews, who went into Egypt with Johanan, were chiefly settled. Say, Stand fast, and prepare thee — Prepare for war, and resolve to keep your ground, and not yield to the enemy: compare Jeremiah 46:2-3. For the sword shall devour round about thee — The nations are destroyed around you, and you have reason to expect that the sword will next reach you. Why are thy valiant men swept away? — “The Hebrew word אביר, here rendered valiant, is sometimes spoken of God, as Genesis 49:24. Sometimes it is a title given to angels, as Psalms 78:25; but the LXX. understand it here of Apis, the idol of Egypt, which might properly be said to be conquered when the nation, that had put themselves under his protection, was subdued.” — Lowth. And, instead of they stood not, because the Lord did drive them, as we translate the next clause, the LXX. add, ο μοσχος ο εκλεκτος σου ουκ εμεινεν, οτι κυριος παρελυσεν αυτον, thy elect calf did not abide, because the Lord debilitated, literally, paralyzed, him. But it is not at all probable that this idol was here intended, but either of the mighty princes of Egypt; or, if the noun be singular, as Blaney understands it, reading, אבירן, thy mighty one, instead of אבירין, thy mighty ones, then the king is probably meant. Neither the king himself, nor his valiant captains, could stand before Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldean army, because God discomfited them. It was of God to destroy Egypt, and when he works none can hinder him; when he strikes none can stand up against him, or stand before him.


Verse 16-17

Jeremiah 46:16-17. He made many to fall — Or, as the Vulgate renders הרבה כושׁל, multiplicavit ruentes, he multiplied those falling, or more literally, the faller, as in the margin, the word being singular. Blaney connects this with the next clause, as the LXX. do, and reads the verse thus: “He hath caused many to stumble, yea, to fall; they said therefore one to another, Arise, and let us return to our people, and to our native country, because of the oppressor’s sword.” These are either the words of the Egyptian allies, resolving to return to their own countries, and not concern themselves any further with the affairs of Egypt; or else they are the words of the remains of the Egyptians, resolving to retire within their own borders, as thinking the Babylonians would not follow them thither. They did cry, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise — He is no more than an empty boaster: he has neglected the opportunities he ought to have laid hold on, and he is not prepared according to his appointment.


Verse 18

Jeremiah 46:18. As I live saith the king, whose name is the Lord of hosts — He, before whom the mightiest kings on earth, though gods to us, are but as grasshoppers; he hath said and sworn what follows; Surely as Tabor, &c. — As surely as Tabor is among the mountains and Carmel by the sea, so surely shall the conqueror of Egypt come. Or, though Egypt were as inaccessible as the top of Tabor, and begirt with the sea like Carmel, yet the enemy should come upon her, and make an entire conquest of her. Houbigant paraphrases the clause thus, “As much as Tabor overtops all other mountains, so much shall the Chaldeans be superior to the Egyptians; and as the waves of the sea roar in vain at the foot of mount Carmel, so shall the Egyptians waves rage in vain.” Blaney understands the clause in nearly the same sense, observing, “Tabor and Carmel were two of the most considerable mountains in the land of Israel. Carmel formed the principal headland all along the sea-coast. Nebuchadnezzar is compared to these on account of his superiority over all others.”


Verse 19

Jeremiah 46:19. O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt — Blaney translates it, O inhabiting daughter of Egypt, observing, that an antithesis seems to be designed between יושׁבת, inhabiting, and the act of migration, which was to follow. Countries and cities are often represented under the emblem of women, especially in medals and pictures. Furnish thyself to go into captivity — “The expression is ironical, implying that, instead of the rich and goodly furniture wherein she did pride herself, she should be carried away captive, naked and bare, and wanting all manner of conveniences.” The Hebrew of this clause seems to be more literally translated in the margin than in the text; the word כלי, there rendered instruments, meaning either the carriages, or the trunks and boxes that were to hold the things to be removed. Blaney reads it, Get ready thy equipage for removing. For Noph shall be waste, &c. — Noph in particular shall be wholly depopulated and laid waste. This place, called also Memphis, was accordingly laid waste some time after this, and remained some years in a state of desolation. It was, indeed, afterward rebuilt, but never recovered its ancient splendour.


Verse 20-21

Jeremiah 46:20-21. Egypt is like a very fair heifer — “In the foregoing verse the prophet compared Egypt to a delicate young woman. Here he resembles her to a fat and well-favoured heifer. In which comparison, as Grotius not improbably conjectures, there is an allusion to their god Apis, which was a bull, remarkable for his beauty and the fine spots or marks he had about him.” — Lowth. But destruction cometh, &c. — The Hebrew is very emphatical, קרצ מצפוז בא בא, destruction from the north, it cometh, it cometh. Also her hired men — Her mercenary soldiers; are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks — Bullocks fatted up, and fit for the slaughter: or they are inactive, and as little courageous as fatted bullocks; foreign or hired troops never fighting with such spirit and resolution as those manifest who are defending their own country and property. They did not stand — Namely, in the fight; because the day of their calamity was come — Because the time when God resolved to punish them, and bring calamity upon them, was arrived, even the time of their visitation, as it is expressed chap. Jeremiah 50:27.


Verse 22-23

Jeremiah 46:22-23. The voice thereof shall go like a serpent — “That is, her (Egypt’s) voice shall be low and inarticulate through fear. This passage seems to be an imitation of Isaiah 29:4, where we find the same threat denounced against Jerusalem, namely, Thy speech shall be low out of the dust, and thy voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground. The cause which is assigned is the same in both places, the irresistible attack of powerful enemies.” — Dr. Durell. See note on Isaiah 29:4. For they shall march with an army — For the Chaldeans shall come with powerful forces; with axes, as hewers of wood — As if they came to fell timber in a wood. They shall cut down her forest — Here Egypt is compared to a forest, either for the multitude of cities and their stately buildings, or of people in that country; and its destruction is described by the metaphor of cutting down the trees of a forest. Though it cannot be searched, &c. — Though the forest be very thick, and the trees thereof innumerable. Because they are more than the grasshoppers — Because the army of the Chaldeans shall be as numerous as the inhabitants of Egypt. In other words, though the cities and inhabitants of Egypt be never so numerous and large; yet the Chaldean army shall plunder and destroy them, because their number is proportionable to such an enterprise. Armies are often compared to grasshoppers and such like insects, both for their multitudes, and because they make a general consumption, grasshoppers devouring all before them, wherever they come: see 6:5; 7:12; Joel 2:4-5.


Verse 25-26

Jeremiah 46:25-26. Behold, I will punish the multitude of No — Hebrew, מנא אמון, Amon of No, which, says Blaney, “is the literal translation, and we need seek for no other.” Amon, or Ammon, as the word is generally written, was the name by which the Egyptians called Jupiter, who had a celebrated temple at Thebes, famous for its hundred gates in Homer’s time, and supposed to be the same city with No here mentioned. Here Jupiter was worshipped in a distinguished manner, on which account the place was called Diospolis, the city of Jupiter, which name the LXX. have put for No, Ezekiel 30:14-16. If therefore No be Thebes, or Diospolis, as it seems evident it is, then Amman of No signifies the deity of the place, the Theban Jupiter, as Herodotus styles him, lib. 2. cap. 42. As, on the other hand, נא אמון, No-ammon, Nahum 3:8, should be rendered, No of Amman, which exactly corresponds with the Greek διοσπολις, or, city of Jupiter. But very different from these is the term, את המון נא, used Ezekiel 30:15, which indeed signifies the multitude, or numerous inhabitants of No; although, from the similitude of the words אמון and המון, Amon and Hamon, our translators, and others besides them, have confounded them together. Some have supposed No to mean Alexandria, the great emporium of Egypt; and the Chaldee and Vulgate have rendered it so. But Alexandria was not built till ages after the time when Jeremiah prophesied: and it does not appear that there had been before any city, at least any considerable one, standing upon the spot which the founder made the object of his choice. And Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings — The same divine vengeance, which falls upon the idol Ammon and his worshippers, shall reach the rest of Egypt with their respective idols and governors. “When an idolatrous nation,” says Blaney, “is doomed to destruction, God is said to execute vengeance upon the idols of the country: see Jeremiah 43:12-13. Accordingly, here Ammon of No, the principal deity, and Pharaoh, the principal man, among the Egyptians, are marked out in the first place as the primary objects of divine visitation; then follows, in the gross, Egypt with all her gods, and all her kings; which latter term is explained to include both Pharaoh himself, and those subordinate rulers who were dependant upon him for the rank and authority they held. And afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old — At the end of forty years Egypt was to begin to recover itself, as Ezekiel foretels, Ezekiel 29:13.


Verse 27-28

Jeremiah 46:27-28. But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither, &c. — See notes on Jeremiah 30:10-11, from whence these two verses are taken, containing a comfortable promise to the Jews, that God will not make an utter destruction of them as he hath done of several other nations, against which the prophets have denounced his judgments; but will still preserve a remnant of them, to whom he will perform the promises made to their fathers: see also note on Jeremiah 30:16-17.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jeremiah-46.html. 1857.

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