Jeremiah 46:13
The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) The word that the Lord spake . . .—The opening words clearly point to this as a distinct prophecy from the preceding, pointing to subsequent events, and it was probably delivered much later, possibly in connexion with Jeremiah 43:10, and placed where it is as belonging to the series of predictions which had Egypt as their subject.

Jeremiah 46:13. The word that the Lord spake, &c. — Here begins the second prophecy against Egypt, the exact time of the delivery of which we have no means of ascertaining; but the desolation foretold in it is undoubtedly the same with that predicted by Ezekiel, chaps. 29., 30., 31., 32. And this came to pass in the twenty-seventh year of Jehoiachin’s captivity, that is, the sixteenth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, as may be collected from Ezekiel 29:17, where Nebuchadnezzar’s army is spoken of as having at that time suffered a great deal at the siege of Tyre; on which account the spoils of Egypt are promised them for their wages and indemnification: and the promise was accordingly made good that same year. — Jos. Ant., lib. 10. cap. 9.

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.A new prophecy, foretelling the successful invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, has been appended to the hymn of triumph, because they both relate to the same kingdom. This prophecy was probably spoken in Egypt to warn the Jews there, that the country which they were so obstinately determined to make their refuge would share the fate of their native land.

How ... should come - Or, concerning the coming "of Nebuchadrezzar."

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 [973]Isa 19:1, &c.). A revelation different from the former in this, that the former only foretold the overthrow of the king of Egypt in a particular battle in Carchemish near Euphrates, of which we read that the thing was done, 2 Kings 24:7. This foretells the king of Babylon’s overrunning all the land of Egypt, and was not fulfilled till some years after Zedekiah was carried away captive, but prophesied of Jeremiah 43:10 44:30, to come to pass in the time of Pharaoh-hophra, as we heard before, and more largely foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 29 Eze 30 Eze 32, to happen after the overthrow of Tyrus, Ezekiel 29:18,19.

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.

The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13–26. See introd. note to the ch. and summary. Gi. rejects as later all that follows Jeremiah 46:12 as involving repetitions, looseness of structure, and vagueness in style, criticisms which (see note on Jeremiah 46:2-12) he also brings to bear on the earlier part of the ch. Co. on the other hand fully accepts this later portion. Even if it be genuine, we cannot be certain of the date. It may belong to the fourth year of Jehoiakim, or to Jeremiah’s residence in Egypt, when (see Jeremiah 43:8-13) the Babylonian invader was expected. See further on Jeremiah 46:17.

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. Jeremiah 46:13The second prophecy regarding Egypt, with a message for Israel attached to it, was uttered after the preceding. This is evident even from the superscription, Jeremiah 46:13 : "The word which Jahveh spake to Jeremiah the prophet of the coming of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon to smite the land of Egypt." The formula, "The word which," etc., agrees with that in Jeremiah 50:1; and דּבר, in contrast with היה, the word usually met with in headings, perhaps means that this prophecy, like that concerning Babylon, was not uttered in public by Jeremiah, but only written down. לבוא is used in reference to the coming of Nebuchadrezzar to smite the land. Graf puts down this heading as an addition, not made till a late edition of the prophecies was brought out, and even then added through a mistake on the part of the compiler. In support of this, he urges that the announcement in Jeremiah 46:14-26 does not form an independent prophecy, but merely constitutes the second portion of the description given in Jeremiah 46:3-12 of the defeat of the Egyptians. But the ground assigned for this view, viz., that if this prophecy formed a separate and distinct piece, written at another time, then Jeremiah would have predicted the conquest of the other countries, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, etc., in consequence of the battle of Carchemish; and as regards Egypt, would have contented himself with a triumphal song over its fall - which is in itself unlikely: this argument is utterly null. It has no meaning whatever; for Jeremiah 46:3-12 contain, not a triumphal song over a defeat that had already taken place, but a prophecy regarding the defeat about to take place. To this the prophet added a second prophecy, in which he once more announces beforehand to Egypt that it shall be conquered. In this way, more is foretold regarding Egypt than the neighbouring countries, because Egypt was of much greater consequence, in relation to the theocracy, than Philistia, Moab, etc. According to the superscription, this second prophecy refers to the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar. According to Jeremiah 37:5, this did not take place so long as Zedekiah was king; and according to Jeremiah 43:8., it was foretold by Jeremiah, after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the Jews were fleeing to Egypt after the murder of Gedaliah. From this, one might conclude, with Ngelsbach, that the piece now before us is contemporaneous with Jeremiah 43:8. But this inference is not a valid one. The threat uttered in Jeremiah 43:8. of a conquest to befall Egypt had a special occasion of its own, and we cannot well regard it in any other light than as a repetition of the prophecy now before us, for the Jews; for its contents seem to show that it was composed not long after that in Jeremiah 46:3-12, or soon after the defeat of the Egyptians at Carchemish. This address also falls into two strophes, Jeremiah 46:14-19 and Jeremiah 46:20-26, while Jeremiah 46:27, Jeremiah 46:28 form an additional message for Israel. The line of thought is this: Egypt may arm herself as she chooses, but her power shall fall, and her auxiliaries shall flee (Jeremiah 46:14-16). Pharaoh's fall is certain; the enemy shall come in force, and turn all Egypt into a desert (Jeremiah 46:17-19). The destroyer comes from the north, the mercenaries flee, and the enemy hews down countless hosts of men like trees in a forest (Jeremiah 46:20-23). Egypt will be given into the hand of the people out of the north; for Jahveh will punish gods, princes, and people, and deliver up Egypt to the king of Babylon. But afterwards, Egypt will again be inhabited as it was before (Jeremiah 46:24-26). On the other hand, Israel need fear nothing, for their God will lead them back out of their captivity (Jeremiah 46:27, Jeremiah 46:28).
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