|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
46:13-28 Those who encroached on others, shall now be themselves encroached on. Egypt is now like a very fair heifer, not accustomed to the yoke of subjection; but destruction comes out of the north: the Chaldeans shall come. Comfort and peace are spoken to the Israel of God, designed to encourage them when the judgments of God were abroad among the nations. He will be with them, and only correct them in measure; and will not punish them with everlasting destruction from his presence.
Verse 13. - The word, etc. This verse is the heading of a new prophecy, which, however, for the reason already mentioned (see introduction to this chapter), is not to be regarded as entirely independent of the preceding prophecy, but rather as a supplement (just as Isaiah 18, though not in strict sequence to Isaiah 17:12-14, is yet a supplement to it). The heading does not expressly state when the prophecy was written, but from the mention of Nebuchadnezzar, both in the heading and in the prophecy itself, we may assume a date subsequent to the battle of Carchemish, for the earlier prophecies contain no reference to that redoubtable name. An important question now arises - When did Nebuchadnezzar invade and conquer Egypt? and what would be the consequences of admitting that a Babylonian subjugation of that country is historically not proven? There can be no doubt that Jeremiah did hold out such a prospect; for he not only says so here, but also in Jeremiah 43:8-13 and Jeremiah 44:30. In the latter prophecy it is not Necho, but Hophra, in whose reign the blow is to fall. But no monumental evidence has as yet been found [see, however, postscript to this note] of anything approaching to an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar; nor do the accounts of Herodotus (2:159, etc.) at all supply the deficiency (on this, however, see further at end of note). It is true that Josephus quotes passages from Berosus, the Babylonian historian, to the effect that Nabopolassar had set a Chaldean governor over Egypt, but that this governor had revolted, and that Nabopolassar's son, Nebuchadnezzar, crushed the rebellion and incorporated Egypt into his empire. But these events happened, according to the quotation from Berosus, partly before, partly immediately after, the death of Nabopolassar, and was consequently earlier than the prophecy in this chapter. Another fact of importance must be mentioned in this connection, viz. that Ezekiel repeats the announcement of the Babylonian conquest of Egypt, of which he speaks as if it were to happen at the close of the thirteen years of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre (Ezekiel 29:17-21). Thus there is a gradual increase in the definiteness of the announcement. Looking at our chapter by itself, we might suppose that the conquest was to take place soon after the decisive battle at Carchemish. After the murder of Gedaliah, when Jeremiah had removed to Egypt, we find him foretelling the sore punishment of Egypt in greater detail, and the name of Hophra (instead of Necho) is introduced as that of the deposed king. Finally, Ezekiel (as we have seen) specifies a definite time. Now, it is true that our knowledge of this period is somewhat incomplete. We have not the direct historical proof that could be wished as to the result of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Tyre, though it would be fastidious to scruple at the evidence which satisfied so cool a judgment as that of George Grote. The great historian denies, however, that Tyre at this time suffered such a terrific desolation as is suggested by a literal interpretation of Ezekiel 26, and continues in these remarkable terms: "Still less can it be believed that that king conquered Egypt and Libya, as Megasthenes, and even Berosus so far as Egypt is concerned, would have us believe - the argument of Latchet, 'Ad Herodot.,' 2:168, is anything but satisfactory. The defeat of the Egyptian king at Carchemish, and the stripping him of his foreign possessions in Judaea and Syria, have been exaggerated into a conquest of Egypt itself" ('Hist. of Greece,' vol. 3. p. 445, note 1). Supposing Mr. Grote's view of the facts of the siege of Tyre to be correct, it is clear that the prophet's reproduction of the Divine revelation made to him was defective; that it presents traces of a stronger human element than we are accustomed to admit. Tyre had to suffer a fall; but the fall was not as yet to be so complete a one as Ezekiel, reasoning upon his revelation, supposed. It is equally possible that Jeremiah and Ezekiel, reasoning upon the revelation of the inevitable fall of Egypt, mistook the time when, in its fulness, the Divine judg. ment was to take place. The case may, perhaps, turn out to be analogous to that of an apparently but not really unfulfilled prophecy in Isaiah 43:3. A literal interpretation of that passage would give the conquest of Egypt to Cyrus; as a matter of fact, we know that it was Cambyses, and not Cyrus, who fulfilled the prophecy. It would not be surprising if we should have to admit that it was Cambyses, and not any earlier monarch, who fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah. Certain great principles of God's moral government had to be affirmed; it was of no moment whatever whether Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, or Cambyses was the instrument of their affirmation. A parallel from Isaiah may again be adduced. The shameful captivity of Egypt, and perhaps Ethiopia, which Isaiah foresaw in the time of Sargon (Isaiah 20:3), was not realized in fact until Esar-haddon despoiled Tithakah, King of Egypt and Ethiopia, of the whole of Upper Egypt. There are cases in which a literal fulfilment of prophecy may be abandoned without detriment to Divine revelation, and this seems to be one of them. And yet we must always remember that even the letter of the prophecy may some day turn out to be more nearly in harmony with facts than we have supposed, our knowledge of this period being in several respects so very imperfect. It has been acutely pointed out that the oracle given to Necho (Herod., 2:158), "that he was labouring for the barbarian," seems to imply a current expectation of an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, and that the gradual conquest by that king of one neighbouring country after another suggests that the invasion of Egypt was at any rate the object at which he aimed. The silence of Herodotus as to a Chaldean invasion is, perhaps, not very important. He does not mention Necho's defeat by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish, nor does he ever refer to the victories over Egypt of any King of Assyria. POSTSCRIPT. - The above note is left precisely as it was written, February, 1881, in ignorance of Wiedemann's then recent discovery of a contemporary hieroglyphic inscription which, as the report of the German Oriental Society expresses it, "ratifies the hitherto universally doubted fact of an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar." The hieroglyphic narrative is supplemented and confirmed by two cuneiform records, and the combined results are as follows. In the thirty-seventh year of his reign, Hophra or Apries being King of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar undertook an expedition against Egypt, and penetrated as far as the island of Elephantine, and damaged the temple of Chnum, which stood there. His army could not, however, pass the cataracts. At Syene the Egyptian troops, under Neshor, met and repelled the invaders. Two years later, however, the Babylonians came again, were victorious over the Egyptian host under Amasis, and compelled the whole land to pay tribute. Thus we have a remarkable confirmation of Ezekiel's prophecy that Egypt should be "waste and desolate from Migdol unto Syene, even unto the border of Ethiopia" (Ezekiel 29:10). It should be mentioned that the Babylonians are not described in the hieroglyphics by their proper name, but as "the Syrians (?), the peoples of the north, the Asiatics;" it is from a terra-cotta cuneiform tablet that we learn that, in Nebuchadnezzar's thirty-seventh year (B.C. 568-7), a war arose between him and the King of Egypt, which ended with the payment of tribute to the former (Wiedemann, in 'AEgyptische Zeitschrift,' 1878, pp. 2-6 and 87-89; ' Geschichte AEgyptens,' 1880, pp. 168-170). The value of prophecy does not, happily, depend on the minuteness of its correspondence with history, and the evidential value of the argument from such a correspondence is but secondary. Still, as long as such a correspondence can be proved, even in part, by facts such as Wiedemann has discovered, the apologist is perfectly justified in using it in confirmation of the authority of Scripture. The second prophecy falls into two parts - vers. 14-19 and 20-26 respectively.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The word that the Lord spake to Jeremiah the prophet,.... This is a new and distinct prophecy from the former, though concerning Egypt as that; but in this they differ; the former prophecy respects only the overthrow of the Egyptian army at a certain place; this latter the general destruction of the land; and was fulfilled some years after the other; Jarchi says, according to their chronicles (g), in the twenty seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign:
how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come; or, "concerning the coming (h) of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon",
to smite the land of Egypt; who was to come, and did come, out of his country, into the land of Egypt, to smite the inhabitants of it with the sword, take their cities, plunder them of their substance, and make them tributary to him.
(g) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26. p. 77. (h) "de venturo Nebuchadretzare", Junius & Tremellius; "de adventu Nebuchadretsaris", Calvin, Munster, Piscator; "de veniendo", Vatablus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13-26. Prophecy of the invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which took place sixteen years after the taking of Jerusalem. Having spent thirteen years in the siege of Tyre, and having obtained nothing for his pains, he is promised by God Egypt for his reward in humbling Tyre (Eze 29:17-20; 30:1-31:18). The intestine commotions between Amasis and Pharaoh-hophra prepared his way (compare Note, see on Isa 19:1, &c.).
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