Jeremiah 46:20
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
"Egypt is a beautiful heifer, but a gadfly is coming against her from the north.

New Living Translation
Egypt is as sleek as a beautiful young cow, but a horsefly from the north is on its way!

English Standard Version
“A beautiful heifer is Egypt, but a biting fly from the north has come upon her.

New American Standard Bible
"Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north-- it is coming!

King James Bible
Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Egypt is a beautiful young cow, but a horsefly from the north is coming against her.

International Standard Version
Egypt is a beautiful calf, but a horsefly from the north is surely coming.

NET Bible
Egypt is like a beautiful young cow. But northern armies will attack her like swarms of stinging flies.

New Heart English Bible
Egypt is a very beautiful heifer; but destruction out of the north has come, it has come.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"Egypt is like a beautiful cow, but a horsefly from the north will attack it.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Egypt is a very fair heifer; But the gadfly out of the north is come, it is come.

New American Standard 1977
“Egypt is a pretty heifer,
            But a horsefly is coming from the north—it is coming!

Jubilee Bible 2000
Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction comes; it comes out of the north.

King James 2000 Bible
Egypt is like a beautiful heifer, but destruction comes; it comes out of the north.

American King James Version
Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction comes; it comes out of the north.

American Standard Version
Egypt is a very fair heifer; but destruction out of the north is come, it is come.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Egypt is like a fair and beautiful heifer: there shall come from the north one that shall goad her.

Darby Bible Translation
Egypt is a very fair heifer; the gad-fly cometh, it cometh from the north.

English Revised Version
Egypt is a very fair heifer; but destruction out of the north is come, it is come.

Webster's Bible Translation
Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

World English Bible
Egypt is a very beautiful heifer; [but] destruction out of the north is come, it is come.

Young's Literal Translation
A heifer very fair is Egypt, Rending from the north doth come into her.
Study Bible
The Judgment on Egypt
19"Make your baggage ready for exile, O daughter dwelling in Egypt, For Memphis will become a desolation; It will even be burned down and bereft of inhabitants. 20"Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north-- it is coming! 21"Also her mercenaries in her midst Are like fattened calves, For even they too have turned back and have fled away together; They did not stand their ground. For the day of their calamity has come upon them, The time of their punishment.…
Cross References
Jeremiah 1:14
Then the LORD said to me, "Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land.

Jeremiah 47:2
Thus says the LORD: "Behold, waters are going to rise from the north And become an overflowing torrent, And overflow the land and all its fullness, The city and those who live in it; And the men will cry out, And every inhabitant of the land will wail.

Jeremiah 50:11
"Because you are glad, because you are jubilant, O you who pillage My heritage, Because you skip about like a threshing heifer And neigh like stallions,

Hosea 10:11
Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, But I will come over her fair neck with a yoke; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.
Treasury of Scripture

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction comes; it comes out of the north.

a very

Jeremiah 50:11 Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, O you destroyers of …

Hosea 10:11 And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loves to tread out …

it cometh

Jeremiah 46:6,10 Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall …

Jeremiah 1:14 Then the LORD said to me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth …

Jeremiah 25:9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, said …

Jeremiah 47:2 Thus said the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and …

(20) Egypt is like a very fair heifer.--The similitude points, like the "strong one" of Jeremiah 46:15, to the Apis worship of Egypt. The nation is like its god. The figure is continued in the words that follow. There comes from the north (from the land of the Chaldees, as in Jeremiah 1:1), not "destruction," but a gadfly that shall sting the heifer into the madness of agony. So, in Isaiah 7:18, the "fly" of Egypt and the "bee" of Assyria are invited to work evil on Judah. The words find a striking parallel in the Greek legend of Io (probably to be identified with the Egyptian Isis) transformed into a heifer, and her gadfly tormentor, this also connected with the Apis or Mnevis deities of Egypt (schyl. Prom. v. 569). The word for "destruction" is not found elsewhere, but the etymology suggests the idea of "pinching" or "stinging," and the meaning "gadfly" is accepted by many recent scholars.

Verses 20-26. - A figurative description of the dark future of Egypt. Verse 20. - Like a very fair heifer. (The insertion of "like" weakens the passage.) The well nourished heifer reminds of the prosperity of the fruitful Nile valley. But destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north; rather, a gadfly from the north hath come upon her (not, "hath come, hath come," as the received text has - a very slight change in one letter is required, supported by the versions). The figure is precisely analogous to that of the "bee in the land of Assyria" (Isaiah 7:18). St. Chrysostom renders "a gadfly" (see Field, 'Origen's Hexapla,' 2:708); and so virtually Aquila and Symmachus. Egypt is like a very fair heifer,.... Like a heifer that has never been under a yoke, it having never been conquered, and brought under the power of another; and like a beautiful, fat, and well fed one, abounding in wealth and riches, in pleasures and delights, in wantonness and luxury, and fit for slaughter, and ready for it. The Targum is,

"Egypt was a beautiful kingdom.''

Some think there is an illusion to the gods of Egypt, Apis and Mnevis, which were heifers or oxen, very beautiful, that had fine spots and marks upon them. Apis was worshipped at Memphis, or Noph, before mentioned, as to be wasted; and Mnevis at Heliopolis, the city of the sun, the same with Bethshemesh, whose destruction is prophesied of; See Gill on Jeremiah 43:13; and both these were of various colours, as Ovid (z) says, particularly of one of them, and is true of both. Pomponius Mela (a) observes of Apis, the god of all the people of Egypt, that it was a black ox, remarkable for certain spots; and unlike to others in its tongue and tail. And Solinus (b) says, it is famous for a white spot on its right side, in the form of a new moon: with whom Pliny (c) agrees, that it has a white spot on the right side, like the horns of the moon, when it begins to increase; and that it has a knot under the tongue, which they call a beetle. And so Herodotus (d) says, it is very black, and has a white square spot on the forehead; on the back, the effigies of an eagle; two hairs in the tail, and a beetle On the tongue, To which may be added what Strabo (e) reports, that at Memphis, the royal city of Egypt, is the temple of Apis, the same with Osiris; where the ox of Apis is fed in an enclosure, and reckoned to be a god; it is white in its forehead, and in some small parts of the body, and the rest black; by which marks and signs it is always judged what is proper to be put in its place when dead. In the Table of Iris (f), published by Pignorius, it is otherwise painted and described; its head, neck, horns, buttocks, and tail, black, and the rest white; and, on the right side, a corniculated streak. Aelianus (g) says, these marks were in number twenty nine, and, according to the Egyptians, were symbols of things; some, of the nature of the stars; some, of the overflowing of the Nile; some, of the darkness of the world before the light, and of other things: and all agree, that the ox looked fair and beautiful, to which the allusion is; and there may be in the words an ironical sarcasm, flout, and jeer, at the gods they worshipped, which could not save them from the destruction coming upon them, as follows:

but destruction cometh, it cometh from the north; that is, the destruction of Egypt, which should come from Chaldea, which lay north of Egypt; and the coming of it is repeated, to denote the quickness and certainty of it: the word used signifies a cutting off, or a cutting up; in allusion to the cutting off the necks of heifers, which used to be done when slain, Deuteronomy 21:4; or to the cutting of them up, as is done by butchers: and the abstract being put for the concrete, it may be rendered, the "cutter up" (h); or cutter off; men, like butchers, shall come out of Babylon, and slay and cut up, this heifer. So the Targum,

"people, that are slayers shall come out of the north against her, to spoil her (i);''

that is, the Chaldean army, agreeably to the Syriac version,

"an army shall come out of the north against her.''

(z) "------variisque coloribus Apis", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 12. (a) De Orbis Situ, l. 1. c. 9. (b) Polyhistor. c. 45. (c) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 46. (d) L. 3. sive Thalia, c. 28. (e) Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. Ed. Casaubon. (f) Piguorii Mensa Isiaca, tab. 4. (g) De Animal. l. 11. c. 10. (h) "mactator", Grotius. So Jarchi. (i) So in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 32. 2.20. heifer—wanton, like a fat, untamed heifer (Ho 10:11). Appropriate to Egypt, where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with spots.

destruction—that is, a destroyer: Nebuchadnezzar. Vulgate translates, "a goader," answering to the metaphor, "one who will goad the heifer" and tame her. The Arabic idiom favors this [Rosenmuller].

cometh … cometh—The repetition implies, it cometh surely and quickly (Ps 96:13).

out of the north—(See on [975]Jer 1:14; Jer 47:2).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.
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