Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words,
Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:XLIII.
(2) Azariah the son of Hoshaiah.—The LXX., it will be remembered, gives this name in Jeremiah 42:1, where the Hebrew has Jezaniah. Possibly, however, as suggested above, the two names represent brothers who were both prominent as leaders of the people. Here, we may note, he takes precedence of Johanan, probably as the chief spokesman of the prevailing discontent. The special mention of “all the proud men” suggests the thought that there were some who, left to themselves, would have been willing to follow the prophet’s counsel. Those who join in the protest content themselves with a flat denial of his inspiration, and charge him, as he had been charged before (Jeremiah 37:13), with sinister intentions. It is suggestive, in connexion with the view taken in the Note on Jeremiah 42:17, that the LXX., following apparently a different reading of the Hebrew, gives “all the aliens” instead of “all the proud.”
But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.(3) Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us.—This was the solution which presented itself to the suspicions of the murmurers. The prophet’s amanuensis had become his leader, and was making use of him as a tool for the furtherance of his own designs, and those designs were to court the favour of the conqueror by delivering the remnant of the people into his hands. The warning of Jeremiah 45:5 may perhaps be taken as an indication that there was a certain ambition and love of eminence in Baruch’s character which gave a colour to the suspicion. Baruch himself has not appeared on the scene since the days of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:32), but it lies in the nature of the case that he would be known as advocating, like Jeremiah, the policy of submission to Nebuchadnezzar. The apocryphal Book of Baruch (Baruch 1:1) represents him as being actually at Babylon at the time of the capture of Jerusalem, and this was in itself probable enough. On this assumption Jeremiah was perhaps suspected of actually receiving instructions from the Babylonian Court through Baruch, who in Jeremiah 43:6 suddenly re-appears as the prophet’s companion. Prophet and scribe were apparently seized and carried off by force, to prevent their carrying out the schemes of which they were suspected. The “remnant of Judah returned from all nations” refers to the fugitives from Moab, Ammon, or Edom, mentioned in Jeremiah 40:11. As the emigration included all who had gathered together under the protection of Gedaliah, it must have left the lands of Judah almost entirely depopulated, and the fear of this result may well have been among the reasons that determined Jeremiah’s counsels.
So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes.(7) Thus came they even to Tahpanhes.—The town was obviously on the north-eastern frontier of Egypt. In Judith 1:9 it appears between the river of Egypt (the Rhinocolura, which divided Egypt from Palestine) and Ramesse (the Raamses of Exodus 1:11, or Rameses of Numbers 33:3; Numbers 33:5) and all the land of Gesen, or Goshen. In Ezekiel 30:16-18 it is named, in conjunction with No (= Thebes) and Noph (= Memphis), among the chief cities of Egypt. In Greek historians it appears as Daphnce and as near Pelusium (Herod. ii. 30), and in the Itinerary of Antoninus is placed, under the name of Dafno, at a distance of sixteen Roman miles from the latter city. Its name may be connected with that of the Egyptian Quoen Tahpenes, mentioned in 1Kings 11:19. Here apparently the emigrants determined to settle and found a new home for themselves.
Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah;(9) Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln.—Better, in the mortar on the platform. There seems something incongruous in the idea of a brickkiln, or a place for baking bricks, at the entrance of a royal palace; nor is it easy to see why Nebuchadrezzar should have chosen it as a place for his throne. It seems better, with Hitzig, Furst, and others, to take the Hebrew word, which occurs only here and in 2Samuel 12:31 and Nahum 3:14, as meaning a structure of brick, a dais or raised pavement, like the Gabbatha or Pavement on which Pilate sat (John 19:13), in front of the entrance of the palace, on which the king naturally placed his throne when he sat in judgment or received petitions. Assyrian and Babylonian monuments present many instances of kings thus seated. As making his prediction more vivid, the prophet places stones in the mortar or cement (not “clay”) with which the mass was covered, and conceals them apparently with a fresh coat of mortar. There they were to remain till his prediction should be fulfilled. The symbolic act was of the same type as the breaking of the potter’s vessel in Jeremiah 19:10, and the yoke worn on the prophet’s shoulders (Jeremiah 27:2), and Ezekiel’s digging through the wall (Ezekiel 12:7). It may be noted that our version follows Luther in translating “brickkiln.” The LXX. evades the difficulty by taking refuge in vague terms” in the vestibule (πρόθυρα), in the gate of the house,” and the Vulgate gives “in the crypt which is under the brick walls.”
And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.(10) He shall spread his royal pavilion over them.—Here, again, the meaning of the Hebrew word is doubtful. The English Version, as before, follows Luther in taking it for the awning or canopy which was stretched over the throne when the king sat in state as judge. Others (e.g., Hitzig) find in it the leather covering which was placed over the pavement on which the throne was set, upon which the criminal knelt as on a scaffold to receive the death-stroke of the executioner. So taken, the prediction assumes a more definite and terrible aspect. The king was to sit upon the stones which Jeremiah had hidden, not merely in his regal pomp, but in the character of an avenger executing the wrath of Jehovah against the rebellious.
And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.(11) Such as are for death to death.—Again we note the re-appearance of a characteristic formula (Jeremiah 11:2).
And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace.(12) I will kindle a fire.—The change of person is full of significance. Jehovah Himself kindles the fire which is to destroy the temples of the gods of Egypt, and the Chaldæan king is but His instrument.
As a shepherd putteth on his garment.—The words may point simply to the easiness of the conquest. To take possession of the whole country will be as quick and light a matter as when the shepherd takes up his garment at night and wraps it round him. Possibly (as Hitzig suggests) there may be a reference to the fact that when the shepherd so wraps himself he turns the fleecy coat which he wears inside out (the “pellibus inversis” of Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 136). So, the prophet may suggest, shall the conqueror turn the whole land upside down. (Comp. 2Kings 21:13).
He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.(13) He shall break also the images of Bethshe-mesh.—This name, which means “Home of the Sun” (so the Vulgate renders it here by domus solis), was naturally not an uncommon one where sun-worship had prevailed, and we find it accordingly in Judah (Joshua 15:10; 1Samuel 6:9; 1Samuel 6:12), in Issachar (Joshua 19:22), and in Naphtali (Joshua 19:38; Judges 1:33). Here the context shows that it was the name of an Egyptian city. The LXX. renders the words “he shall break the pillars of Heliopolis, which are in On,” and so identifies it with the city of that name on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, just below the point of the Delta, and about twenty miles north-east of Memphis. Under the name of On it appears in Genesis 41:45. The “images” or “pillars” are now represented by a solitary obelisk of red granite, sixty-eight feet high, its companion having been brought to Rome and erected in the Vatican Circus in front of St. Peter’s (Herod. II., III.; Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxvi. 11). There were at one time many others, besides colossal statues. The fulfilment of the prediction, as far as it referred to the defeat and death of Pharaoh-hophra, is related by Josephus (Ant. x. 9, § 7).