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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jeremiah 44

 

 

Verse 1

Jeremiah’s Last Prophecy.

JUDAH’S PRESENT DESOLATION THE RESULT OF IDOLATRY, Jeremiah 44:1-7.

1. Which dwell at Migdol — Literally, tower. Not the “Migdol” of Exodus 14:2, but the fortress situated on the northern boundary of Egypt, twelve Roman miles from Pelusium. From this heading it appears that the Jews had settled in various parts of the land of Egypt; so that probably considerable time separates this chapter from the last. For Noph and Tahpanhes, see Jeremiah 2:16; Jeremiah 43:7. Pathros was Upper Egypt — the Thebais of the Greeks and Romans.


Verse 2

2. Evil… brought upon Jerusalem — “If I spared not my own sacred city, much less shall ye be safe in Egypt, which I loathe.”


Verse 3

3. Went to burn — Literally, by going to burn. Perverse assiduity in idolatry is here implied.


Verse 4

4. Rising early — Expressive of his personal care and solicitude.

This abominable thing — Literally, the thing of this abomination, idolatry. The language is emotional, and shows the intensity of God’s hatred of it.


Verse 7

7. Against your souls — Lives. This is more fully set forth in the language to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling. Sin is simply an all-comprehending suicide!


Verse 9

PERSISTENCE IN IDOLATRY WILL BRING ONLY RUIN, Jeremiah 44:8-14.

9. Wickedness of their wives — Literally, his “wives.” The singular is difficult of explanation, and the translators have made a very natural, though unwarranted, change. The LXX has for “his wives” “your princes,” and Ewald accepts this as the true reading. Taking the Hebrew text, however, as it stands, it is probably best to refer the pronoun his to Judah as a nation. As to “the wickedness of his wives,” see Jeremiah 44:15; Jeremiah 44:19. The worship of the queen of heaven was peculiarly a feminine idolatry.


Verse 10

10. Not humbled — Not contrite and penitent. Literally, they have not been crushed.


Verse 11

11. All Judah — Namely, all Judah in Egypt. The passage has no reference to those in Babylon.


Verse 12

12. They shall all be consumed — The original is emphatic by repetition. The exact translation is: —

They shall all be consumed,

In the land of Egypt they shall fall,

By sword and famine shall they be consumed;

Small and great, by sword and famine shall they die.


Verse 14

14. But such as shall escape — This qualifies and explains the broad statement in previous verses. There would be exceptions to this universal cutting off, but they would be individual fugitives.


Verse 15

REPLY OF THE JUDAHITES, THAT THEY WERE PROSPEROUS EVEN WHEN IDOLATROUS, Jeremiah 44:15-19.

15. Had burned — Rather, burned, or were burning. The practice was even then going on.

A great multitude — It would seem probable that this was at a great religious feast or convocation, which accounts for a great congregation of women.

Answered Jeremiah, saying — The substance of this answer is, that worship of the queen of heaven, had in their experience been associated with prosperity, but the leaving off of this worship had been followed by calamity.


Verse 17

17. Goeth forth out of our own mouth — Probably alluding to the religious vows they had taken.


Verse 18

18. We have wanted all things — True, but the fact that a given evil followed a certain action is not proof that the evil was the result of that action. It may have been the effect of an anterior action; which it clearly was in this case.


Verse 19

19. Make her cakes to worship her — The meaning of the word translated to worship has been entirely misapprehended by the translators. Its import is, “to represent her image,” alluding to the crescent shape of the cakes. The same word is used in Job 10:8, and is there translated “fashioned.” Keil’s version expresses the sense well. “Have we made cakes to her, making an image of her and pouring out libations to her, without our husbands?”

Without our men — Showing that this is the language of the women, and that the men agreed with them in their idolatry. It could not be pleaded that their vows were unlawful because they had not the consent of their husbands.


Verse 21

JEREMIAH MAINTAINS THAT IDOLATRY WAS THE REAL CAUSE OF THE PEOPLE’S MISERY, Jeremiah 44:21-23.

21. Incense that ye burned… did not the Lord remember — Certainly he did: and because it was in his mind, it incited his just displeasure.


Verse 22

22. Therefore is your land a desolation — This is the substance of Jeremiah’s answer. That to which they attributed their prosperity was the one cause of their ruin. The Lord had borne with them for many years, and this explains the prosperity mentioned in Jeremiah 44:17; but when he could no longer bear, calamity and destruction came.


Verse 25

JEREMIAH PREDICTS FURTHER DISTRESS, Jeremiah 44:24-30.

25. Fulfilled with your hand — Literally, hands, alluding to the making of the sacrificial cakes.

Perform our vows — How many think it good to fulfil a promise to do evil! To keep a vow they had never any right to make, is with them meritorious.


Verse 26

26. My name shall no more be named — As this is Jehovah’s final sentence it is introduced by a formal oath. Jehovah repudiates his covenant relation to them. They are no longer his people, and he is no longer their God.


Verse 27

27. Watch… for evil — As the wild beast watches for his prey. See Jeremiah 1:12, and Jeremiah 5:6.


Verse 28

28. A small number… shall return — Literally, and fugitives from the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, men of numbers, etc. The last phrase suggests the fewness of those who shall escape — so few that they can be counted.

Whose words… mine, or theirs — Literally, the word from me or from them. The allusion is to the particular word given above.


Verse 29-30

29, 30. This shall be a sign… I will give Pharaoh-hophra, etc. — This monarch succeeded to the Egyptian throne the year before the capture of Jerusalem. He reigned nineteen years. Finally a rebellion occurred on account of his defeat by the Cyrenians, and the suspicion that he had betrayed the native troops in order to establish his personal ascendency by means of his mercenaries. Amasis commanded the Egyptians and Hophra the Greek mercenaries. The latter was defeated and taken prisoner, and, after being kept some time in confinement, he was given up to his enemies, who put him to death by strangling.

Some expositors have objected to the genuineness of the passage, Jeremiah 44:29-30, on internal grounds: 1) That the fulfilment is too exact. 2) That it is too remote. 3) That the style is dead and mechanical. 4) There is no other such sign in Jeremiah. But there is little force in any of these considerations, while the last is evidently in favour of the genuineness of the passage. If there is nothing like it, it is not likely to be an interpolation. As to the objection that the fulfilment was too distant to be a sign to those to whom Jeremiah spoke, we have to say: (a) To be a sign it need not be immediate. Its value as such is increased rather than diminished by the lapse of time. (b) But its fulfilment began within possibly six or eight years. Hophra had now been two years on the throne. It has been estimated that he was ten years a prisoner. His death occurred nineteen years after he became king.

Some difficulty has been experienced by Nagelsbach in reconciling the apparent teaching of this chapter, that the Jews in Egypt should be utterly exterminated, with the fact that in the time of Alexander they were very numerous, and Ptolemy Philadelphus at one time liberated 100,000 Jewish slaves. In reply: 1) This chapter denounces extermination against such Jews only as at that time went down to Egypt contrary to the command of God, and persisted in their idolatry. Those who were there before, those who came after, (and Ptolemy I., about 320 B.C., captured Jerusalem on a sabbath day, took a great number of captives, and carried them down into Egypt,) and those who maintained the worship of Jehovah, are excluded from the judgments denounced in this chapter. 2) There is no proof that at the time of Alexander the Jews in Egypt were very numerous. 3) Centuries of time provide for great increase, not only by propagation, but also by immigration.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 44:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-44.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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