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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Jeremiah 43

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XLIII.

Johanan, discrediting Jeremiah's prophesy, carrieth Jeremiah and others into Egypt. Jeremiah prophesieth by a type the conquest of Egypt by the Babylonians.

Before Christ 588.


Verse 2

Jeremiah 43:2. Azariah—and all the proud men That is, all those who refused to obey the commands of the Almighty. The Hebrew word זדים zeidiim, signifies pride, insolence, temerity, self-conceit. The greater part of those who composed the company led on by Johanan, answered this character.


Verse 3

Jeremiah 43:3. Baruch, the son of Neriah They would not directly accuse Jeremiah of partiality towards, or confederacy with the Chaldeans, as his enemies had done formerly, chap. Jeremiah 37:13 but they lay the blame upon Baruch, whom they knew to be an intimate companion of Jeremiah, and to have been kindly used by the Chaldeans upon his account. Houbigant renders the last clause of the verse, That he may devote us to death, or that we may be carried away.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 43:7. Thus came they even to Tahpanhes That is to say, to Daphne. This was one of the principal cities of Egypt; and in it was a palace where their kings often resided. It is supposed by many to be the same city which was afterwards called Daphne Pelusiaca. See Isaiah 30:4. St. Jerome tells us from an ancient tradition, that the prophet Jeremiah was stoned to death in this place by the Jews. See Lowth, and Calmet.


Verse 9

Jeremiah 43:9. Take great stones—and hide them Bricks were the chief materials which the Babylonians used in their most stately buildings; so that there was constant occasion for such a brick-kiln near Pharaoh's palace. Yet this might be a great way from the dwelling-house itself, the courts of great kings being almost equal to cities for extent in antient times; particularly the palace in Babylon was four miles in compass, according to Diodorus Siculus, lib. 2. See the account of the emperor of China's gardens, in "Miscellaneous Pieces relating to the Chinese," vol. 2: p. 149.


Verse 11

Jeremiah 43:11. For death, to death For mortality, to the mortality. See ch. Jeremiah 15:1-2 and the note.


Verse 12

Jeremiah 43:12. I will kindle a fire He shall kindle a fire. Houbigant. "Nebuchadrezzar shall burn by my orders the temples of Egypt, and the palaces of the great men; and shall lead into captivity the kings, the subjects, and the gods." The author of the Observations remarks, that, "as the Arabs frequently withdraw themselves out of the reach of very potent enemies, by retiring into the depths of the wilderness; so, if provoked, they can occasion them very great bitternesses, it not being possible to be always guarded against them. It is but a little while ago that the public papers gave an account of their destroying many thousands of the Mecca pilgrims, upon some disgust which the Turkish government had given them, and filling the whole country with lamentation. Nor do the victories of the most successful princes intimidate them in many cases. Thus Curtius tells us, they set upon the troops of Alexander himself, the mighty conqueror of Asia, when they found him unguarded in Lebanon, and slew some, and took others." To these insults we may suppose Jeremiah to refer in this place, when, after foretelling the success of Nebuchadrezzar in Egypt, he says, that he should go forth from thence in peace. The deserts which lie between Egypt and Syria, are at this day terribly infested by the wild Arabs. "In travelling along the sea-coast of Syria, and from Suez to mount Sinai, (says Dr. Shaw) we were in little or no danger of being robbed or insulted;—in the holy land, and upon the isthmus betwixt Egypt and the Red Sea, our conductors cannot be too numerous." And then he goes on to inform his readers, that when he went from Ramah to Jerusalem, though the pilgrims were more than six thousand, and were escorted by four bands of Turkish infantry, exclusive of three or four hundred spahees, or cavalry, yet were they most barbarously insulted and beaten by the Arabs. This same desert, between Gaza and Egypt, appears to have been a scene of injuries also in the time of St. Jerome; and to have been under the power of the Arabs much more anciently still; for La Roque, in a note upon D'Arvieux, observes, that Cambyses, a little after Nebuchadrezzar's time, was enabled to pass through the deserts, by means of those supplies of water which an Arabian prince conveyed to him. A conquering prince's passing out of a country, would not in common have been the subject of a prediction; but in this case, as it was the passing through deserts where the Arabs at that time were, as they still are, so much masters, who were not afraid upon occasion to insult the most victorious princes, the mentioning of this circumstance was not unworthy the spirit of prophesy. This too may lead us perhaps to the true sense of the passage; And he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; for I should imagine it to signify, that "just as a person appearing to be a shepherd passed unmolested in common by the wild Arabs, so Nebuchadrezzar, by his subduing Egypt, shall induce the Arab tribes to suffer him to go out of that country unmolested; the possession of Egypt being to him, what a shepherd's garment was to a single person: for though upon occasion the Arabs are not afraid to affront the most powerful princes, it is not to be imagined that conquest and power have no effect upon them." They that dwell in the wilderness, says the Psalmist, referring to these Arabs, shall bow before Him whom he had described immediately before as having dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, and which he questionless supposes to have been the great inducement to that submission. Thus the Arab who was charged with the conducting of Bishop Pococke to Jerusalem, after secreting him for some time in his tent, when he took him out into the fields to walk there, put on him his striped garment, apparently for his security, and that he might pass for an Arab. So D'Arvieux, when he was sent by the consul of Sidon to the camp of the grand emir, equipped himself, for the greater security, exactly like an Arab, and accordingly passed unmolested and unquestioned. The employment of the Arabs is to feed cattle, and consequently a shepherd's garment may mean the same thing with the Arab dress: or, if it signifies something different, as there are Rushwans and Turcmen about Aleppo, who live in tents and feed cattle, much in the same manner as the Arabs, according to Dr. Russell; and as a passage in Isaiah 13:20 seems to insinuate that there was the like distinction in his times;—Neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their fold there;-that different dress of a shepherd, whatever it was, must equally protect a person in those deserts, for there would be no such thing as feeding of cattle in them, if such sort of persons were molested by the Arabs, as passengers are. See Observations, p. 61.


Verse 13

Jeremiah 43:13. The images of Beth-shemesh. The solar statues of Heliopolis: or, The images of the house of the sun.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, To a message so plain, there seemed no room for objection; but the devil will never fail to help sinners to an excuse for their infidelity and disobedience.

1. They pretend that Jeremiah imposed on them, and that this declaration was not from God. Johanan and Azariah, with all the proud men, dare give the prophet the lie, and impute to Baruch's influence the answer that he reported as from God, as if they two had formed a design to give them into the hands of the Chaldeans to destroy them: a suggestion not only utterly improbable, but most malicious, as well as ungrateful, when these very men had rather foregone all the comforts which they might have enjoyed in Babylon, than desert their own country in its distressed situation. Note; (1.) Pride is among the most damning sins, the root of infidelity, and the sure road to hell. (2.) The truest friends of their country, are often thus branded as the betrayers of it. (3.) They who are full of ill designs themselves are the first to represent others in the same malignant colours. The ministers of God, who labour purely for the good of men's souls, are thus usually calumniated, as meaning only to serve themselves; but their judgment is with their God.

2. They march without delay for Egypt, resolved not to abide in Judaea, as God enjoined them; and all the Jews who had returned thither in hopes of a peaceable habitation are persuaded or compelled to accompany them; and, among the rest, Jeremiah and Baruch. Tahpanhes, the royal residence, was the place whither they bent their course; and, as Egypt was then their ally, they probably met with a friendly reception. Note; (1.) Proud men hate contradiction, and will have their way: if they cannot obtain consent, they will force compliance. (2.) They who go out of God's way have only themselves to blame for the consequences.

2nd, Though Jeremiah was now against his will in this strange land, God comforts him with the visits of his grace, and employs him to denounce his wrath: since they have rejected him as their teacher, he must be their troubler. They sought refuge in Egypt, hoping to be there protected from the Chaldeans; but thither shall the Chaldeans pursue them, and destroy both them and the Egyptians who have received them.

1. By a sign the destruction of Egypt is set forth. God commands Jeremiah to take great stones, and hide them in the brick-kiln, which was not far from Pharaoh's house, in the sight of the men of Judah, who would observe the sign, and be inquisitive about the meaning.

2. This is at large declared. The king of Babylon, employed as God's servant, who had destroyed Jerusalem, shall prosecute his victories, and Egypt fall before him: on these very stones should his throne be set, and his pavilion spread over it. By famine, pestilence, and the sword, those doomed to death must fall, and others be led into a miserable captivity; and, so far from being ableto defend their votaries, the numerous gods of Egypt shall not be able to defend themselves; their temples with the idols burnt, or the precious materials carried away among the spoils. As easily as a shepherd puts on his coat, and so adorned, shall Nebuchadrezzar and his army return laden with the wealth of Egypt, and leave the country in peace, intirely subjected to his government. Note; (1.) It is dangerous to admit those into our friendship, whom God pursues as an enemy, lest we share in their plagues. (2.) God often makes one wicked nation a scourge to another; and, while the conquerors mean nothing less, they are but the instruments that his providence employs.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 43:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-43.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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