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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Jeremiah 44

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. XLIV.

Jeremiah expresseth the desolation of Judah for their idolatry. He prophesieth their destruction who commit idolatry in Egypt. The obstinacy of the Jews: Jeremiah threateneth them for the same; and for a sign, prophesieth the destruction of Egypt.

Before Christ 587.


Verse 1

Jeremiah 44:1. At Tahpanhes, &c.— That is to say, At Daphne, and at Memphis, and in the country of Thebais. Migdol was also called Magdolus. Migdol is mentioned Exodus 14:2 as situate near the Red Sea. But I do not take this to be the place here intended. מגדל Migdol properly signifies a tower, and may, in all probability, have been given as a name to different cities in Egypt, where there was a distinguished object of that kind. The city of Magdolus is mentioned by Herodotus, Hecataeus, and others, and placed by Antoninus at the entrance of Egypt from Palestine, about twelve miles from Pelusium. This was too far distant from the Red Sea, to be in the route of the Israelites; but its situation in the neighbourhood of Tahpanhes, or Daphne, and its distance from Judaea, favour the supposition of its being the Migdol here spoken of. For then, as Bochart observes, we shall find the four places mentioned exactly in the order of their respective distances from that country; first, Migdol, or Magdolus; secondly, Tahpanhes, or Daphne; thirdly, Noph, or Memphis; and lastly, the district of Pathros, or Thebais. See Bochart Phaleg. lib. 4: cap. 27.


Verse 7

Jeremiah 44:7. To cut off from you man and woman It was the design or will of God, that this remnant should have kept possession of Judaea; but by going into Egypt, and defiling themselves with the idolatry of that nation, they provoked him to destroy them utterly.


Verse 14

Jeremiah 44:14. So that none, &c.— Houbigant renders the last clause, Nor shall they return, except a few who shall escape. It is evident from Jeremiah 44:28 that some Jews were to escape the general destruction in Egypt, and to return into their own country, although but a few; and the same thing is implied in the latter sentence of this verse. But the former part of this verse excludes out of the number of escapers every individual of those that were called properly, the remnant of Judah, those that had set their faces to enter Egypt to sojourn there in opposition to the express command of God, upon a presumption that they knew better than God how to consult their own restoration. The few then who were destined to escape, and to return back to the land of Judah, were to be such as had come into the land of Egypt in a less offensive manner, and happened to be there when the storm burst upon them.


Verse 19

Jeremiah 44:19. And when we burned incense But if we burn incense, and pour forth libations to the queen of heaven, do we make cakes for her without our husbands, that we may pour out, &c.? Houbigant. See chap. Jeremiah 7:18.


Verse 25

Jeremiah 44:25. Ye and your wives have both spoken Your wives have spoken from your mouth, that which you have fulfilled with your hands, when you said, We, &c.—They have accomplished your vows, they have performed what you vowed. Houbigant.


Verse 26

Jeremiah 44:26. That my name shall no more be named, &c.— The Jews seem to have joined the worship of the true God with that of idols, as the Samaritans had done before them. Hence God declares, that he will not receive any such polluted worship at their hands, nor suffer his name to be any longer profaned by such hypocrites; but will consume them by a sudden and general destruction, or deliver them up to impenitence and utter apostacy. See Lowth and Calmet.


Verse 30

Jeremiah 44:30. I will give Pharaoh-hophra Pharaoh, as we have often observed, was a name common to all the kings of Egypt. But several of them had some additional epithet to distinguish them from the rest. This prince was Apries, (see the note on chap. Jeremiah 37:5.) whose subjects rebelling, he sent Amasis one of his generals to reduce them to their duty; but no sooner had Amasis begun to make his speech, than they fixed a helmet on his head, and proclaimed him king. Amasis accepted of the title, and confirmed the Egyptians in their rebellion; and the greater part of the nation declaring for him, Apries was obliged to retire into Upper Egypt; and the country, being thus weakened by intestine war, was attacked and easily over-run by Nebuchadrezzar, who, on quitting it, left Amasis his viceroy. After Nebuchadrezzar's departure, Apries marched against Amasis; but, being defeated at Memphis, was taken prisoner, carried to Sais, and strangled in his own palace; thus verifying this prophesy. See Rollin's Ancient History, vol. 1: Bishop Newton's Prophecies, vol. 1: p. 362 and Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, No sufferings will change the heart or conduct, if we continue to resist the calls and drawings of divine grace. If any thing could have deterred a people from idolatry, we might well have thought that what the Jews had suffered would have been abundantly sufficient; yet here we behold them as mad upon their idols as ever. They were now dispersed in the several cities of Egypt; and Jeremiah is ordered,

1. To remind them of their past sins in opposition to the most earnest admonitions, and the consequences which they had beheld. They had seen their cities changed into ruinous heaps, their fruitful country turned into a desart, without man or beast. Their wickedness, especially their idolatries, was the cause thereof; the folly, as well as impiety of which, was amazing, and this aggravated by the repeated admonitions which they had rejected, and the earnest exhortations that they had despised. When God sent by his prophets, saying, Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate, they turned a deaf ear, and persisted in their abominations: therefore was his wrath poured out upon them, and the desolations of the land, as at that day, stood a fearful warning against the like provocations. Note; (1.) Sin is the abominable thing that God hates, and we cannot conceive or speak of it with sufficient detestation of its evil and malignity. (2.) The ministers of God, who warn others of the fearful consequences of sin, must do it with an earnestness and deep concern, such as the case demands. (3.) Judgments upon others should be our warnings: we are doubly culpable to sin, not only against God's word, but against what our own eyes have seen.

2. He upbraids them with their present idolatries, burning incense to the gods of Egypt, bringing heavy guilt on their consciences, and assured destruction on body and soul, till they should be made a proverb of wickedness and wretchedness, and an execration among all nations. He upbraids them also with their forgetfulness of their fathers' wickedness, and their own, the cause of all the judgments under which they groaned: unaffected and unhumbled with which, to that very day they persisted in their disobedience to God's law, and went on from evil to worse, to fill up the measure of their iniquities to the full. Note; (1.) When under judgments the heart grows harder, it is a dire symptom of a reprobate mind. (2.) They who sin against God, sin against their own souls, and bring upon themselves sure and swift destruction.

3. He denounces God's vengeance on them for these abominations. As many as set their faces to go into Egypt, and were the authors of that pernicious resolution, shall perish there without exception, from the least to the greatest, and by the very judgments that they designed thereby to avoid, which God had brought on Jerusalem: nor should a man of them ever again return unto their own land, as they hoped and desired when they might do it with greater safety than at present, except the few that escaped out of the hands of Johanan. Or it intimates how much worse their condition would be in Egypt, than that of the captives in Babylon: some of these should come back again, but none shall return from Egypt. Note; (1.) They who will not be ruled by God's word, will be broken by his rod. (2.) They who will take their affairs out of God's hands, and think their own projects more to be depended on than God's promises and providence, will meet with sure disappointment.

2nd, Never surely appeared more daring effrontery, and hardened impenitence.

1. They avow their determined resolution to abide in their idolatries, and follow the devices of their own hearts. The women had been chiefly engaged in the idolatrous rites, and their husbands approve and vindicate their conduct. Note; Custom in sin makes men daring and impudent.

2. They support their determination by many pretended arguments. They had authority and antiquity to recommend the practice: their fathers did so; their kings patronized it; they had numbers on their side; their whole land had made public profession of serving the queen of heaven, the moon, or the whole celestial host: nay, they affirm, that then they had plenty of all good things, and they date all their miseries from their neglect of their idols' service. Note; (1.) Antiquity, authority, numbers, &c. are no arguments to vindicate any practice which the word of God forbids. (2.) Such is the deceivableness of unrighteousness, that the very methods which God takes to separate men from their sins, they urge as arguments to harden themselves therein.

3. The women, regarding themselves as most aimed at by the prophet's rebuke, vindicate themselves by pleading their husbands' countenance and approbation. Absurd pretence! as if that could authorize them to transgress the law of God. Note; (1.) Disobedience is duty, when superiors enjoin or countenance what God forbids.

(2.) It is grievous, when they who should assist each other in the way to heaven are mutual tempters, and harden each other in their sins.

3rdly, The prophet is neither intimidated by their numbers, nor discouraged by their obstinacy. If they will not reform, at least they shall hear their doom.

1. He contradicts the false assertion which they had made, that all their troubles arose from their neglecting the service of their idols, and shews them their real origin. It is true, God did long bear with their provocations, in hopes that they would repent; but he did not overlook or forget them: no; he saw, and, unable longer to forbear poured out his vengeance upon them for their wickedness, their idolatries, their rebellion, and disobedience to his warnings; for which their land was a desolation, and themselves a curse at that day.

2. God abandons them to the sin and ruin which they have chosen; and this is addressed particularly to the women, who were chief in the transgression. They had declared their determined purpose of persisting in their abominations, and fulfilling their vows to the queen of heaven; as if their being under a vow to do evil could lay them under an obligation to perform it: therefore he gives them up to their own delusions; and since they said, "Depart," he will depart, confirming it with an oath, to shew the immutability of his counsel concerning them. They will lose all the remains of religion; they will no more swear by his name: either he will utterly consume all the Jews in Egypt by famine and the sword, and not leave a man to profane his holy name; or they shall be left to themselves, and sink into the idolatries of Egypt, incorporate with that nation, and forget the very mention of Israel's God. A few indeed, who, as Baruch, stood firm amid the general apostacy, shall escape this destruction, and return again to their own land; and they shall see whose word shall stand, theirs, who promised the idolaters impunity, or his, who threatened them with ruin. Note; (1.) A greater curse cannot light upon the sinner, than to be given up of God to the devices of his own heart. (2.) However men flatter themselves, it will soon be proved whose word shall stand, God's or theirs.

3. God gives them a sign of the certainty of the threatened judgments. The king of Egypt, their protector, shall be shortly given into Nebuchadnezzar's hands, as Zedekiah had been; and, so far from defending them, should be ruined himself. Note; They who for human confidences forsake the living God, shall find them no better than broken reeds.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 44:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-44.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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