Jeremiah's last prophecy Jeremiah 44, in which he boldly rebukes the tendency of the Jews to idolatry, which seems to have grown only the stronger in their tribulation. The address was evidently made to them at some festival, and though the Jews lived in the hope of being able soon to return to Judaea from Egypt, yet we find that they had spread over the whole land, representatives of their communities having come to Pathros not only from Migdol and Tahpanhes, but even from Noph.
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying,Migdol - Magdolum, a strong fortress on the northern boundary of Egypt.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein,
Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.In that they went to burn incense, and to serve - Or, by going to burn incense to serve thereby other gods.
Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.Howbeit I sent - And I sent.
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.
Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.
Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain;Your souls - i. e., your own selves.
In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?Cut yourselves off - Rather, cut (them, Jeremiah 44:7) off from you.
Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?The wickedness of their wives - Many accept the reading of the Septuagint: the "wickedness of your princes." "The kings, the princes, the people," and finally "their wives," is a summary enumeration of all classes, by whose united persistence in sin the ruin of their country had been consummated.
They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.
Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah.All Judah - i. e., all Judah in Egypt, yet even there with exceptions (see Jeremiah 44:14, Jeremiah 44:28), while Judah in Babylon was entirely exempt from this denunciation.
And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.
For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence:
So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape.Literally, "And there shall not be to the remnant of Judah, which are going to sojourn there in the land of Egypt, one that escapes or remains etc." The word rendered "escapes" means one who slips away, saves himself by a stealthy flight Genesis 14:13; the word "remains," one who survives when all the rest perish Job 18:19. Of all those now going down to Egypt none shall return to Judaea except a few miserable fugitives, who shall steal away as men who flee in battle 2 Samuel 19:3. For really years Jewish settlers had gone to Egypt in great numbers, and these old settlers would be treated in the same way as the Egyptians, but these fugitives, with no knowledge of the Egyptian language or ways, would have no friends in the country to aid them, and would also be recognized by the Chaldaeans as inveterate enemies, and mercilessly slain.
Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,Had burned incence - Omit "had;" burned incense. This appeal of the prophet was made at a public festival held somewhere in Pathros, i. e., Upper Egypt: for the women are assembled in a great congregation (compare Jeremiah 26:9), here formed for religious purposes. As they advance in regular procession to worship the moon-goddess, in accordance as it seems with a vow Jeremiah 44:17, Jeremiah meets them, makes the procession halt upon its way, and pronounces in Yahweh's name words of solemn warning. The reply that all the settlers in Egypt were formally putting themselves under the Queen of heaven's protection was made by the heads of the congregation.
As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.
But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.Whatsoever thing ... - Or, the whole word (or thing) which hath gone forth out of our mouth; i. e., the vows we have made. They would not let Jeremiah's expostulations prevent the carrying out of the special object which had brought them together: otherwise the Queen of heaven would be offended, and avenge himself.
But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.The suppression of this popular idolatry had apparently been regarded with much ill-will in Josiah's time, and many may even have ascribed to it his defeat at Megiddo. Probably Jehoiakim had again permitted it, but Zedekiah, during the miseries of his reign, had forbidden it, and the people ascribed the fall of Jerusalem to the neglect of their favorite goddess.
And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?Burned ... poured ... did - Or, burn ... pour ... do.
To worship her - Rather, to represent her image. The cakes Jeremiah 7:18 were made in the shape of a crescent to represent the moon.
Our men - i. e., our husbands (margin). They had the authority of their husbands for what they were doing. Jeremiah must leave them alone, and discuss the matter with those who alone had the right to interfere.
Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying,
The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?Them - The various acts of idolatry involved in burning incense to an image.
So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.Could no longer bear - The prophet corrects in these words the error of their argument in Jeremiah 44:17. God is long-suffering, and therefore punishment follows slowly upon sin.
Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.
Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt:Earnest as was the preceding expostulation, Jeremiah sees that it has produced no effect. He therefore utters his last warning, and with this last resistance to the sins of a debased and godless people, his earthly ministry closed.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.And fulfilled with your hand - Your hands. Jeremiah pointed to their hands, in which they were carrying the crescent-shaped cakes which they had vowed to the goddess. Their idolatry therefore was an accomplished deed, as the symbols held in their hands testified.
Ye will surely accomplish - Or, Accomplish then your vows. It is not a prediction, but is ironical, and means that as they will take no warning, they must needs have their way.
Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth.My name shall no more be named ... - God swears by His own great Name that He will be their national God no longer. Yahweh repudiates His covenant-relation toward them.
Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.I will watch - I am watching over them, not for good, but for evil: like a panther Jeremiah 5:6 lying in wait to spring upon passengers.
Shall be consumed - This is the result of Yahweh's repudiation of thee covenant. When He was their God He watched over them for good: now His protection is withdrawn, and He is their enemy, because of the wickedness whereby their rejection was made necessary. See the Jeremiah 6:9 note.
Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.Literally, "And fugitives from the sword (see Jeremiah 44:14) shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, mere of number, i. e., so few that they can be counted: and all the remnant of Jadah that are going etc." So unendurable shall be their sufferings in Egypt, that the men now abandoning Judaea in the hope of finding an asylum there shall be glad to return like runaways from a lost battle.
Whose words ... - Whose word shall stand, from Me or from them, i. e., the one prediction, that their descent into Egypt would be their ruin, which they denied.
And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil:
Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.Pharaoh-Hophra came to the throne the year before Jerusalem was captured. He reigned for 19 years, probably the last 10 years as a prisoner. See the notes at Jeremiah 37:5; notes at Jeremiah 46:12.