Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall you say to the king of Judah, that sent you to me to inquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Behold, Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt.—A like prediction as to the fate of the Egyptian army is found in Ezekiel 17:17, and is there connected with the fact that Zedekiah’s application to Egypt was a distinct breach of the compact which he had made with the Chaldæans. Their arrival, like that of Tirhakah in the Assyrian invasion (2Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9), caused only a temporary suspension of hostilities, and led finally to the conquest and subjugation of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar.Jeremiah 37:7-10. Pharaoh’s army, which is come forth to help you, shall return — They shall be discomfited by the Chaldeans, and forced to retreat without affording you any assistance: see 2 Kings 24:7. And the Chaldeans shall come again — They shall return, renew the siege, and prosecute it with more vigour than ever. And take it and burn it with fire — The sentence passed upon Jerusalem shall be executed, and they shall be the executioners: see Jeremiah 34:22. Deceive not yourselves, &c. —
In vain did the Jews rejoice in Pharaoh’s coming to help them: in vain did they flatter themselves that the army of the Chaldeans would be routed; for, (as God was against them,) had this even been the case, had they smitten, as God here tells them, the whole army of the Chaldeans, so that there remained but wounded men among them, yet would they have been sufficient to have taken and laid low the proud city of Jerusalem. For, when God will take away, who shall rescue? — In vain, therefore, if God be our enemy, is all our power and policy; in vain do we endeavour to strengthen ourselves by riches and great friends, and to build our nest on high; for we can never be safe, but in the favour, and under the protection of the Almighty. And we may observe further, that whatever instruments God has determined to make use of, in any service for him, whether of mercy or judgment, they shall accomplish that for which they are designed, whatever incapacity they may lie under, or be reduced to.Jeremiah 21:4-7. So hopeless is resistance that the disabled men among the Chaldaeans would alone suffice to capture the city and burn it to the ground.
inquire lets us know that Zedekiah did not send to the prophet only to pray for him, but to inquire of God what the issue would be of this future contingency; it may be more desirous to know that, than that Jeremiah should intercede with God for them. The prophet tells them from God that the king of Egypt’s army should do them no service; it is expounded, Ezekiel 17:17, He should not make for him in the war, by casting up mounts, and building forts, to cut off many persons. Probably the Egyptian army, upon the sight of the strength of the Chaldeans, and the weak and impotent state of the Jews, were discouraged, and would not adventure to fight them, but by and by returned to their own land. Jeremiah 34:2;
thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me, to inquire of me; in an oracular way; for by this it seems that they were not only sent to desire the prophet to pray for them, but to obtain an oracle from the Lord, confirming it to them, that the Chaldean army which was gone would not return any more; this they were willing to believe, but wanted to have a confirmation of it from the Lord; and so the Targum,
"to seek an oracle from me;''
or to ask instruction or doctrine from me: now these messengers are bid to go back and tell the king, his nobles, and all the people of the land, what follows:
behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt, into their own land; being afraid to face the Chaldean army; or being defeated and driven back by it. Josephus (a) says there was a battle fought between the Egyptians and Chaldeans, in which the latter were conquerors, and put the former to flight, and drove them out of all Syria. Jarchi relates a fable, how that the Egyptian army came by ships, and that at sea they saw strange appearances, upon which they said one to another, what means this? they replied, these are our fathers, whom the fathers of those we are going to help drowned in the sea; and immediately returned to their own land.Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Thus shall ye say to the king of Judah, that sent you unto me to enquire of me; Behold, Pharaoh's army, which is come forth to help you, shall return to Egypt into their own land.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Jeremiah 37:1 and Jeremiah 37:2, with the general remark that Zedekiah - whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had made king in the land of Judah in place of Coniah (on which name see on Jeremiah 22:24) - when he became king, did not listen to the words of the Lord through Jeremiah, neither himself, nor his servants (officers), nor the people of the land (the population of Judah). Then follows, Jeremiah 37:3-10, a declaration of the prophet regarding the issue of the siege, which he sent to the king by the messengers who were to beseech him for his intercession with the Lord. Jeremiah 37:3-5. The occasion of this declaration was the following: Zedekiah sent to Jeremiah two of his chief officers, Jehucal the son of Shelemiah (see on Jeremiah 38:1), and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah, the priest (see Jeremiah 21:1 and Jeremiah 29:25), with this charge: "Pray now for us to Jahveh our God." This message was sent to Jeremiah while he still went in and out among the people, and had not yet been put in prison (כּליא, Jeremiah 37:4 and Jeremiah 52:31, an unusual form for כּלא, Jeremiah 37:15 and Jeremiah 37:18, for which the Qeri would have us in both instances read כּלוּא); the army of Pharaoh (Hophra, Jeremiah 44:30), too, had marched out of Egypt to oppose the Chaldeans; and the latter, when they heard the report of them (שׁמעם, the news of their approach), had withdrawn from Jerusalem (עלה מעל, see on Jeremiah 21:2), viz., in order to repulse the Egyptians. Both of these circumstances are mentioned for the purpose of giving a clear view of the state of things: (a) Jeremiah's freedom to go in and out, not to prepare us for his imprisonment afterwards, but to explain the reason why the king sent two chief officers of the realm to him, whereas, after his imprisonment, he caused him to be brought (cf. Jeremiah 37:17 with Jeremiah 38:14); and (b) the approach of the Egyptians joined with the raising of the siege, because this event seemed to afford some hope that the city would be saved. - This occurrence, consequently, falls within a later period than that mentioned in Jeremiah 21:1-14.
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