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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Jeremiah 43

 

 

Verses 1-13

CHAPTER XIV

THE DESCENT INTO EGYPT

Jeremiah 42:1-22, Jeremiah 43:1-13

"They came into the land of Egypt, for they obeyed not the voice of Jehovah."- Jeremiah 43:7

THUS within a few days Jeremiah had experienced one of those sudden and extreme changes of fortune which are as common in his career as in a sensational novel. Yesterday the guide, philosopher, and friend of the governor of Judah, today sees him once more a helpless prisoner in the hands of his old enemies. Tomorrow he is restored to liberty and authority, and appealed to by the remnant of Israel as the mouthpiece of Jehovah. Johanan ben Kareah and all the captains of the forces, "from the least even unto the greatest, came near" and besought Jeremiah to pray unto "Jehovah thy God," "that Jehovah thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing we may do." Jeremiah promised to make intercession and to declare faithfully unto them whatsoever Jehovah should reveal unto him.

And they on their part said unto Jeremiah: "Jehovah be a true and faithful witness against us, if we do not according to every word that Jehovah thy God shall send unto us by thee: We will obey the voice of Jehovah our God, to whom we send thee, Whether it be good or evil, that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of Jehovah our God."

The prophet returned no hasty answer to this solemn appeal. As in his controversy with Hananiah, he refrained from at once announcing his own judgment as the Divine decision, but waited for the express confirmation of the Spirit. For ten days prophet and people were alike kept in suspense. The patience of Johanan and his followers is striking testimony to their sincere reverence for Jeremiah.

On the tenth day the message came, and Jeremiah called the people together to hear God’s answer to their question, and to learn that Divine will to which they had promised unreserved obedience. It ran thus:-

"If you will still abide in this land,

I will build you and not pull you down,

I will plant you and not pluck you up."

The words of Jeremiah’s original commission seem ever present to his mind:-

"For I repent Me of the evil I have done unto you."

They need not flee from Judah as an accursed land; Jehovah had a new and gracious purpose concerning them, and therefore:-

"Be not afraid of the king of Babylon,

Of whom ye are afraid;

Be not afraid of him-it is the utterance of Jehovah-

For I am with you,

To save you and deliver yon out of his hand.

I will put kindness in his heart toward you,

And he shall deal kindly with you,

And restore you to your lands."

It was premature to conclude that Ishmael’s crime finally disposed of the attempt to shape the remnant into the nucleus of a new Israel. Hitherto Nebuchadnezzar had shown himself willing to discriminate; when he condemned the princes, he spared and honoured Jeremiah, and the Chaldeans might still be trusted to deal fairly and generously with the prophet’s friends and deliverers. Moreover the heart of Nebuchadnezzar, like that of all earthly potentates, was in the hands of the King of Kings.

But Jeremiah knew too well what mingled hopes and fears drew his hearers towards the fertile valley and rich cities of the Nile. He sets before them the reverse of the picture: they might refuse to obey God’s command to remain in Judah; they might say, "No, we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor hunger for bread, and there will we dwell." As of old, they craved for the flesh pots of Egypt; and with more excuse than their forefathers. They were worn out with suffering and toil, some of them had wives and children; the childless prophet was inviting them to make sacrifices and incur risks which he could neither share nor understand. Can we wonder if they fell short of his inspired heroism, and hesitated to forego the ease and plenty of Egypt in order to try social experiments in Judah?

"Let what is broken so remain.

The Gods are hard to reconcile:

‘Tis hard to settle order once again.

Sore task to hearts worn out by many wars."

But Jeremiah had neither sympathy nor patience with such weakness. Moreover, now as often, valour was the better part of discretion, and the boldest course was the safest. The peace and security of Egypt had been broken in upon again and again by Asiatic invaders; only recently it had been tributary to Nineveh, till the failing strength of Assyria enabled the Pharaohs to recover their independence. Now that Palestine had ceased to be the seat of war the sound of Chaldean trumpets would soon be heard in the valley of the Nile. By going down into Egypt, they were leaving Judah where they might be safe under the broad shield of Babylonian power, for a country that would soon be afflicted by the very evils they sought to escape:-

"If ye finally determine to go to Egypt to sojourn there,

The sword, which ye fear, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt.

The famine whereof ye are afraid, shall follow hard after you there in Egypt,

And there shall ye die."

The old familiar curses, so often uttered against Jerusalem and its inhabitants, are pronounced against any of his hearers who should take refuge in Egypt:-

"As Mine anger and fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

So shall My fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter in Egypt."

They would die "by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence"; they would be "an execration and an astonishment, a curse and a reproach."

He had set before them two alternative courses, and the Divine judgment upon each: he had known beforehand that, contrary to his own choice and judgment, their hearts were set upon going down into Egypt; hence, as when confronted and contradicted by Hananiah, he had been careful to secure divine confirmation before he gave his decision. Already he could see the faces of his hearers hardening into obstinate resistance or kindling into hot defiance; probably they broke out into interruptions which left no doubt as to their purpose. With his usual promptness, he turned upon them with fierce reproof and denunciation:

"Ye have been traitors to yourselves.

Ye sent me unto Jehovah your God, saying,

Pray for us unto Jehovah our God;

According unto all that Jehovah our God shall say,

Declare unto us, and we will do it.

I have this day declared it unto you,

But ye have in no wise obeyed the voice of Jehovah your God.

Ye shall die by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence,

In the place whither ye desire to go to sojourn."

His hearers were equally prompt with their rejoinder; Johanan ben Kereah and "all the proud men" answered him:-

"Thou liest! It is not Jehovah our God who hath sent thee to say, Ye shall not go into Egypt to sojourn there; but Baruch ben Neriah setteth thee on against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may slay us or carry us away captive to Babylon."

Jeremiah had experienced many strange vicissitudes, but this was not the least striking. Ten days ago the people and their leaders had approached him in reverent submission, and had solemnly promised to accept and obey his decision as the word of God. Now they called him a liar; they asserted that he did not speak by any Divine inspiration, but was a feeble impostor, an oracular puppet, whose strings were pulled by his own disciple.

Such scenes are, unfortunately, only too common in Church history. Religious professors are still ready to abuse and to impute unworthy motives to prophets whose messages they dislike, in a spirit not less secular than that which is shown when some modern football team tries to mob the referee who has given a decision against its hopes.

Moreover we must not unduly emphasise the solemn engagement given by the Jews to abide Jeremiah’s decision. They were probably sincere, but not very much in earnest. The proceedings and the strong formulae used were largely conventional. Ancient kings and generals regularly sought the approval of their prophets or augurs before taking any important step, but they did not always act upon their advice. The final breach between Saul and the prophet Samuel seems to have been due to the fact that the king did not wait for his presence and counsel before engaging the Philistines. (Samuel 13) Before the disastrous expedition to Ramoth Gilead, Jehoshaphat insisted on consulting a prophet of Jehovah, and then acted in the teeth of his inspired warning. [1 Kings 22:1-53]

Johanan and his company felt it essential to consult some divine oracle; and Jeremiah was not only the greatest prophet of Jehovah, he was also the only prophet available. They must have known from his consistent denunciation of all alliance with Egypt that his views were likely to be at variance with their own. But they were consulting Jehovah-Jeremiah was only His mouthpiece; hitherto He had set His face against any dealings with Egypt, but circumstances were entirely changed, and Jehovah’s purpose might change with them, He might "repent." They promised to obey, because there was at any rate a chance that God’s commands would coincide with their own intentions. But let’s remark that men may be expected to act "not only upon an even chance, but upon much less," specially applies to such promises as the Jews made to Jeremiah. Certain tacit conditions may always be considered attached to a profession of willingness to be guided by a friend’s advice. Our newspapers frequently record breaches of engagements that should be as binding as that entered into by Johanan and his friends, and they do so without any special comment. For instance, the verdicts of arbitrators in trade disputes have been too often ignored by the unsuccessful parties; and-to take a very different illustration-the most unlimited professions of faith in the infallibility of the Bible have sometimes gone along with a denial of its plain teaching and a disregard of its imperative commands. While Shylock expected a favorable decision, Portia was "a Daniel come to judgment": his subsequent opinion of her judicial qualities has not been recorded. Those who have never refused or evaded unwelcome demands made by an authority whom they have promised to obey may cast the first stone at Johanan.

After the scene we have been describing, the refugees set out for Egypt, carrying with them the princesses and Jeremiah and Baruch. They were following in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Jeroboam, and many another Jew who had sought protection under the shadow of Pharaoh. They were the forerunners of that later Israel in Egypt which, through Philo and his disciples, exercised so powerful an influence on the doctrine, criticism, and exegesis of the early Christian Church.

Yet this exodus in the wrong direction was by no means complete. Four years later Nebuzaradan could still find seven hundred and forty-five Jews to carry away to Babylon, [Jeremiah 52:30] Johanan’s movements had been too hurried to admit of his gathering in the inhabitants of outlying districts.

When Johanan’s company reached the frontier, they would find the Egyptian officials prepared to receive them. During the last few months there must have been constant arrivals of Jewish refugees, and rumour must have announced the approach of so large a company, consisting of almost all the Jews left in Palestine. The very circumstances that made them dread the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar would ensure them a hearty welcome in Egypt. Their presence was an unmistakable proof of the entire failure of the attempt to create in Judah a docile and contented dependency and outpost of the Chaldean Empire. They were accordingly settled at Tahpanhes and in the surrounding district.

But no welcome could conciliate Jeremiah’s implacable temper, nor could all the splendour of Egypt tame his indomitable spirit. Amongst his fellow countrymen at Bethlehem, he had foretold the coming tribulations of Egypt. He now renewed his predictions within the very precincts of Pharaoh’s palace, and enforced them by a striking symbol. At Tahpanhes- the modern Tell Defenneh-which was the ancient Egyptian frontier fortress and settlement on the more westerly route from Syria, the word of Jehovah came to Jeremiah, saying Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in mortar in the brick pavement, at the entry of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, in the presence of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah Sabaoth, the God of Israel:

"Behold, I will send and take My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon:

I will set his throne upon these stones which I have hid,

And he shall spread his state pavilion over them."

He would set up his royal tribunal, and decide the fate of the conquered city and its inhabitants.

"He shall come and smite the land of Egypt;

Such as are for death shall be put to death,

Such as are for captivity shall be sent into captivity,

Such as are for the sword shall be slain by the sword.

I will kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt;

He shall burn their temples, and carry them away captive:

He shall array himself with the land of Egypt

As a shepherd putteth on his garment."

The whole country would become a mere mantle for his dignity, a comparatively insignificant part of his vast possessions.

"He shall go forth from thence in peace."

A campaign that promised well at the beginning has often ended in despair, like Sennacherib’s attack on Judah, and Pharaoh Necho’s expedition to Carchemish. The invading army has been exhausted by its victories, or wasted by disease and compelled to beat an inglorious retreat. No such misfortune should overtake the Chaldean king. He would depart with all his spoil, leaving Egypt behind him subdued into a loyal province of his empire.

Then the prophet adds, apparently as a kind of afterthought:-

"He also shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis, in the land of Egypt" (so styled to distinguish this Beth-Shemesh from Beth-Shemesh in Palestine),

"And shall burn with fire the temples of the gods of Egypt."

The performance of this symbolic act and the delivery of its accompanying message are not recorded, but Jeremiah would not fail to make known the Divine word to his fellow country men, It is difficult to understand how the exiled prophet would be allowed to assemble the Jews in front of the main entrance of the palace, and hide "great stones" in the pavement. Possibly the palace was being repaired, or the stones might be inserted under the front or side of a raised platform, or possibly the symbolic act was only to be described and not performed. Mr. Flinders Petrie recently discovered at Tell Defenneh a large brickwork pavement, with great stones buried underneath, which he supposed might be those mentioned in our narrative. He also found there another possible relic of these Jewish emigres in the shape of the ruins of a large brick building of the twenty-sixth dynasty-to which Pharaoh Hophra belonged-still known as the "Palace of the Jew’s Daughter." It is a natural and attractive conjecture that this was the residence assigned to the Jewish princesses whom Johanan carried with him into Egypt.

But while the ruined palace may testify to Pharaoh’s generosity to the Royal House that had suffered through its alliance with him, the "great stones" remind us that, after a brief interval of sympathy and cooperation, Jeremiah again found himself in bitter antagonism to his fellow countrymen. In our next chapter we shall describe one final scene of mutual recrimination.


Verses 8-13

CHAPTER XVII

EGYPT

Jeremiah 43:8-13, Jeremiah 44:30, Jeremiah 46:1-28

"I will visit Amon of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods and their kings: even Pharaoh and all them that trust in him." Jeremiah 46:25

THE kings of Egypt with whom Jeremiah was contemporary-Psammetichus II, Pharaoh Necho, and Pharaoh Hophra-belonged to the twenty-sixth dynasty. When growing distress at home compelled Assyria to loose her hold on her distant dependencies, Egypt still retained something of her former vigorous elasticity. In the rebound from subjection under the heavy hand of Sennacherib, she resumed her ancient forms of life and government. She regained her unity and independence, and posed afresh as an equal rival with Chaldea for the supremacy of Western Asia. At home there was a renascence of art and literature, and, as of old, the wealth and devotion of powerful monarchs restored the ancient temples and erected new shrines of their own.

But this revival was no new growth springing up with a fresh and original life from the seeds of the past; it cannot rank with the European Renascence of the fifteenth century. It is rather to be compared with the reorganisations by which Diocletian and Constantine prolonged the decline of the Roman Empire, the rally of a strong constitution in the grip of mortal disease. These latter-day Pharaohs failed ignominiously in their attempts to recover the Syrian dominion of the Thothmes and Rameses; and, like the Roman Empire in its last centuries, the Egypt of the twenty-sixth dynasty surrendered itself to Greek influence and hired foreign mercenaries to fight its battles. The new art and literature were tainted by pedantic archaism. According to Brugsch, "Even to the newly created dignities and titles, the return to ancient times had become the general watchword. The stone door posts of this age reveal the old Memphian style of art, mirrored in its modern reflection after the lapse of four thousand years." Similarly Meyer tells us that apparently the Egyptian state was reconstituted on the basis of a religious revival, somewhat in the fashion of the establishment of Deuteronomy by Josiah.

Inscriptions after the time of Psammetichus are written in archaic Egyptian of a very ancient past; it is often difficult to determine at first sight whether inscriptions belong to the earliest or latest period of Egyptian history.

The superstition that sought safety in an exact reproduction of a remote antiquity could not, however, resist the fascination of Eastern demonology. According to Brugsch, (2:293) in the age called the Egyptian Renascence the old Egyptian theology was adulterated with Graeco-Asiatic elements - demons and genii of whom the older faith and its purer doctrine had scarcely an idea; exorcisms became a special science, and are favourite themes for the inscriptions of this period. Thus, amid many differences, there are also to be found striking resemblances between the religious movements of the period in Egypt and amongst the Jews, and corresponding difficulties in determining the dates of Egyptian inscriptions and of sections of the Old Testament.

This enthusiasm for ancient custom and tradition was not likely to commend the Egypt of Jeremiah’s age to any student of Hebrew history. He would be reminded that the dealings of the Pharaohs with Israel had almost always been to its hurt; he would remember the Oppression and the Exodus-how, in the time of Solomon, friendly intercourse with Egypt taught that monarch lessons in magnificent tyranny, how Shishak plundered the Temple, how Isaiah had denounced the Egyptian alliance as a continual snare to Judah. A Jewish prophet would be prompt to discern the omens of coming ruin in the midst of renewed prosperity on the Nile.

Accordingly at the first great crisis of the new international system; in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, either just before or just after the battle of Carchemish-it matters little which-Jeremiah takes up his prophecy against Egypt. First of all, with an ostensible friendliness which only masks his bitter sarcasm, he invites the Egyptians to take the field:-

"Prepare buckler and shield, and draw near to battle.

Harness the horses to the chariots, mount the chargers,

Stand forth armed cap-a-pie for battle;

Furbish the spears, put on the coats of mail."

This great host with its splendid equipment must surely conquer. The prophet professes to await its triumphant return; but he sees instead a breathless mob of panic-stricken fugitives, and pours upon them the torrent of his irony:-

"How is it that I behold this?

These heroes are dismayed and have turned their backs;

Their warriors have been beaten down;

They flee apace, and do not look behind them:

Terror on every side-is the utterance of Jehovah."

Then irony passes into explicit malediction:-

"Let not the swift flee away, nor the warrior escape;

Away northward, they stumble and fall by the river Euphrates."

Then, in a new strophe, Jeremiah again recurs in imagination to the proud march of the countless hosts of Egypt:

"Who is this that riseth up like the Nile,

Whose waters toss themselves like the rivers?

Egypt riseth up like the Nile,

His waters toss themselves like the rivers.

And he saith, I will go up and cover the land"

(like the Nile in flood);

"I will destroy the cities and their inhabitants"

(and, above all other cities, Babylon).

Again the prophet urges them on with ironical encouragement:-

"Go up, ye horses; rage, ye chariots;

Ethiopians and Libyans that handle the shield,

Lydians that handle and bend the bow"

(the tributaries and mercenaries of Egypt).

Then, as before, he speaks plainly of coming disaster:

"That day is a day of vengeance for the Lord Jehovah Sabaoth, whereon He will avenge Him of His adversaries"

(a day of vengeance upon Pharaoh Necho for Megiddo and Josiah).

"The sword shall devour and be sated, and drink its fill of their blood:

For the Lord Jehovah Sabaoth hath a sacrifice in the northern land, by the river Euphrates."

In a final strophe, the prophet turns to the land left bereaved and defenceless by the defeat at Carchemish:-

"Go up to Gilead and get thee balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt:

In vain dost thou multiply medicines; thou canst not be healed.

The nations have heard of thy shame, the earth is full of thy cry:

For warrior stumbles against warrior; they fall both together."

Nevertheless the end was not yet. Egypt was wounded to death, but she was to linger on for many a long year to be a snare to Judah and to vex the righteous soul of Jeremiah. The reed was broken, but it still retained an appearance of soundness, which more than once tempted the Jewish princes to lean upon it and find their hands pierced for their pains. Hence, as we have seen already, Jeremiah repeatedly found occasion to reiterate the doom of Egypt, of Necho’s successor, Pharaoh Hophra, and of the Jewish refugees who had sought safety under his protection. In the concluding part of chapter 46, a prophecy of uncertain date sets forth the ruin of Egypt with rather more literary finish than in the parallel passages.

This word of Jehovah was to be proclaimed in Egypt, and especially in the frontier cities, which would have to bear the first brunt of invasion:-

"Declare in Egypt, proclaim in Migdol, proclaim in Noph and Tahpanhes:

Say ye, Take thy stand and be ready, for the sword hath devoured round about thee.

Why hath Apis fled and thy calf not stood?

Because Jehovah overthrew it."

Memphis was devoted to the worship of Apis, incarnate in the sacred bull; but now Apis must succumb to the mightier divinity of Jehovah, and his sacred city become a prey to the invaders.

"He maketh many to stumble; they fall one against another.

Then they say, Arise, and let us return to our own people

And to our native land, before the oppressing sword."

We must remember that the Egyptian armies were largely composed of foreign mercenaries. In the hour of disaster and defeat these hirelings would desert their employers and go home.

"Give unto Pharaoh king of Egypt the name. Crash; he hath let the appointed time pass by."

The form of this enigmatic sentence is probably due to a play upon Egyptian names and titles. When the allusions are forgotten, such paronomasia naturally results in hopeless obscurity. The "appointed time" has been explained as the period during which Jehovah gave Pharaoh the opportunity of repentance, or as that within which he might have submitted to Nebuchadnezzar on favourable terms.

"As I live, is the utterance of the King, whose name is Jehovah Sabaoth,

One shall come like Tabor among the mountains and like Carmel by the sea."

It was not necessary to name this terrible invader; it could be no other than Nebuchadnezzar.

"Get thee gear for captivity, O daughter of Egypt, that dwellest in thine own land:

For Noph shall become a desolation, and shall be burnt up and left without inhabitants.

Egypt is a very fair heifer, but destruction is come upon her from the north."

This tempest shattered the Greek phalanx in which Pharaoh trusted:-

"Even her mercenaries in the midst of her are like calves of the stall;

Even they have turned and fled together, they have not stood:

For their day of calamity hath come upon them, their day of reckoning."

We do not look for chronological sequence in such a poem, so that this picture of the flight and destruction of the mercenaries is not necessarily later in time than their overthrow and contemplated desertion in Jeremiah 46:15. The prophet is depicting a scene of bewildered confusion; the disasters that fell thick upon Egypt crowd into Giesebrecht, his vision without order or even coherence. Now he turns again to Egypt herself:-

"Her voice goeth forth like the (low hissing of) the serpent;

For they come upon her with a mighty army, and with axes like woodcutters."

A like fate is predicted in Isaiah 29:4 for "Ariel, the city where David dwelt":-

"Thou shalt be brought low and speak from the ground;

Thou shalt speak with a low voice out of the dust;

Thy voice shall come from the ground, like that of a familiar spirit,

And thou shalt speak in a whisper from the dust."

Thus too Egypt would seek to writhe herself from under the heel of the invader: hissing out the while her impotent fury, she would seek to glide away into some safe refuge amongst the underwood. Her dominions, stretching far up the Nile, were surely vast enough to afford her shelter somewhere: but no! the "woodcutters" are too many and too mighty for her:-

"They cut down her forest-it is the utterance of Jehovah for it is impenetrable;

For they are more than the locusts, and are innumerable."

The whole of Egypt is overrun and subjugated; no district holds out against the invader, and remains unsubjugated to form the nucleus of a new and independent empire.

"The daughter of Egypt is put to shame; she is delivered into the hand of the northern people."

Her gods share her fate; Apis had succumbed at Memphis, but Egypt had countless other stately shrines whose denizens must own the overmastering might of Jehovah:-

"Thus saith Jehovah Sabaoth, the God of Israel:

Behold, I will visit Amon of No,

And Pharaoh, and Egypt, and all her gods and kings,

Even Pharaoh and all who trust in him."

Amon of No, or Thebes, known to the Greeks as Ammon and called by his own worshippers Amen, or "the hidden one," is apparently mentioned with Apis as sharing the primacy of the Egyptian divine hierarchy. On the fall of the twentieth dynasty, the high priest of the Theban Amen became king of Egypt, and centuries afterwards Alexander the Great made a special pilgrimage to the temple in the oasis of Ammon and was much gratified at being there hailed son of the deity.

Probably the prophecy originally ended with this general threat of "visitation" of Egypt and its human and divine rulers. An editor, however, has added, from parallel passages, the more definite but sufficiently obvious statement that Nebuchadnezzar and his servants were to be the instruments of the Divine visitation.

A further addition is in striking contrast to the sweeping statements of Jeremiah:-

"Afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old."

Similarly, Ezekiel foretold a restoration for Egypt:-

"At the end of forty years, I will gather the Egyptians, and will cause them to returnto their native land: and they shall be there a base kingdom: it shall be the basest of the kingdoms." [Ezekiel 29:13-15]

And elsewhere we read yet more gracious promises to Egypt:-

"Israel shall be a third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land: whom Jehovah Sabaoth shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance." [Isaiah 19:25]

Probably few would claim to discover in history any literal fulfilment of this last prophecy. Perhaps it might have been appropriated for the Christian Church in the days of Clement and Origen. We may take Egypt and Assyria as types of heathendom, which shall one day receive the blessings of the Lord’s people and of the work of His hands. Of political revivals and restorations Egypt has had her share. But less interest attaches to these general prophecies than to more definite and detailed predictions; and there is much curiosity as to any evidence which monuments and other profane witnesses may furnish as to a conquest of Egypt and capture of Pharaoh Hophra by Nebuchadnezzar.

According to Herodotus, Apries (Hophra) was defeated and imprisoned by his successor Amasis, afterwards delivered up by him to the people of Egypt, who forthwith strangled their former king. This event would be an exact fulfilment of the words, "I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life," [Jeremiah 44:30] if it were not evident from parallel passages [Jeremiah 46:25] that the Book of Jeremiah intends Nebuchadnezzar to be the enemy into whose hands Pharaoh is to be delivered. But Herodotus is entirely silent as to the relations of Egypt and Babylon during this period; for instance, he mentions the victory of Pharaoh Necho at Megiddo-which he miscalls Magdolium-but not his defeat at Carehemish. Hence his silence as to Chaldean conquests in Egypt has little weight. Even the historian’s explicit statement as to the death of Apries might be reconciled with his defeat and capture by Nebuchadnezzar, if we knew all the facts. At present, however, the inscriptions do little to fill the gap left by the Greek historian; there are, however, references which seem to establish two invasions of Egypt by the Chaldean king, one of which fell in the reign of Pharaoh Hophra. But the spiritual lessons of this and the following prophecies concerning the nations are not dependent on the spade of the excavator or the skill of the decipherers of hieroglyphics and cuneiform script; whatever their relation may be to the details of subsequent historical events, they remain as monuments of the inspired insight of the prophet into the character and destiny alike of great empires and petty states. They assert the Divine government of the nations, and the subordination of all history to the coming of the Kingdom of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 43:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/jeremiah-43.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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