Jeremiah 46:21
Also her hired men are in the middle of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come on them, and the time of their visitation.
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(21) Her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks.—Literally, bullocks of the stall. The prophet harps, as it were, on the same image. The mercenaries—Ionians, Carians, and others—in the army of Pharaoh-Hophra, who had their camp at Bubastis (Herod. ii. 152, 163), should be like a drove of terrified cattle, fed to the full, driven to the slaughter-house.

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.Rather, "Also her hirelings in the midst of her are like calves of the stall." The mercenaries of Egypt - Nubians, Moors, and Lydians Jeremiah 46:9 - were destroyed at the battle of Carchemish, and their place was taken by hirelings from Asia Minor, Carians, and Ionians, whom Hophra took into his pay to the number of 30,000 men. These he settled in the midst of Egypt, in the fertile lands above Bubastis, in the Delta, where, well paid and fed and with great privileges, they became as calves of the stall. Their mutiny cost Hophra his crown.

For they also are turned back ... - literally, "for they also have lurched the back, they flee together, they stand not: for the day of their destruction is come upon them, the time of their visitations."

21. Translate, "Also her hired men (mercenary soldiers, Jer 46:9, 16), who are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks, even they also are turned back," that is, shall turn their backs to flee. The same image, "heifer … bullocks" (Jer 46:20, 21), is applied to Egypt's foreign mercenaries, as to herself. Pampered with the luxuries of Egypt, they become as enervated for battle as the natives themselves. Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; the mercenary soldiers also, which the Egyptians have hired from Cush and Phut, and other parts, are at present in a flourishing, prosperous state.

For they also are turned back, and are fled away together; they did not stand: we have translated yk here ill, it had been better translated but, for that is manifestly the sense. Though they at present lying in garrisons be fat and flourishing, like bullocks in the stalls, yet when it cometh to it they shall not stand, but turn back, and flee as well as the rest. Because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation; because the time is come when God resolveth to punish them, and bring calamity upon them. When the time is come which God hath set in his counsels, wherein he will punish persons or nations, no probabilities to the contrary are much considerable. All her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks,.... Or, "bullocks of the stall" (k); soldiers of other countries, that were hired into the service of Egypt, and lived so deliciously there, that they were unfit for war, and were like fatted beasts prepared for the slaughter. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it, her princes (l); who had the care of this heifer, and of the feeding of it; these themselves were like that, nourished for the day of slaughter:

for they also are turned back, and are fled away together; they turned their backs upon the enemy in battle, and fled in great confusion and precipitancy; see Jeremiah 46:15;

they did not stand; and face the enemy, and light him, but fell or fled before him:

because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation; the time appointed by the Lord to visit and punish them, and bring destruction on them for their sins.

(k) "velut vituli saginae", Montanus, Cocceius, (l) So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 50. 2.

Also her hired men {r} are in the midst of her like fatted bulls; for they also have turned back, and have fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity had come upon them, and the time of their judgment.

(r) As in Jer 46:9.

21. her hired men] her mercenary troops.

like calves of the stall] See on Jeremiah 44:30. The reference is to the Ionian and Carian soldiers, who (Herod. II. 163) numbered 30,000, and lived on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile in a fertile district. Hence they seem to have earned the description given of them here, and were useless in war (Herod. II. 152 ff.). Cp. Malachi 4:2.Verse 21. - Also her hired men are in the midst of her, etc.; rather, also her hirelings in the midst of her are like, etc. These seem to be distinguished from the mercenaries mentioned in ver. 9, the Ethiopians, Libyans, and Arabs, who were never adopted into the midst of the Egyptian people. On the other hand, the description will exactly apply to the Caftans and Ionians in the service of Psammetichus and Apries (Herod., 2:152, 163), who were "for many years" settled "a little below the city of Bubastis, on the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile." In this fertile country, itself comparable to "a very fair heifer" (ver. 20), these pampered and privileged mercenaries became "like calves of the stall." They did not stand, etc.; rather, they have not stood (firm), for the day of their destruction is come upon them. The prophet in spirit looks on the power of Egypt as already broken. This is shown by the question of astonishment, מדּוּע נסחף אבּיריך, which has been variously rendered. אבּירים .deredner ylsuoirav neeb sa, "strong ones," is used in Jeremiah 8:16; Jeremiah 47:3, and Jeremiah 50:11, of stallions, but elsewhere as an epithet of bulls, especially the strong bulls of Bashan; see on Jeremiah 8:16. In the present passage the reference may be to the mighty men of war, who do not maintain their position (Chald. and most of the old interpreters); the verb in the singular forms no sufficient objection to this view, the irregularity being due to the fact that the verb precedes its subject see Ewald, 316, t; Gesenius, 147]. It is more difficult to combine with this the singulars of the verbs עמד and הדפו which follow; these, and especially the suffix in the singular, appear to indicate that אבּידיך really refers to a noun in the singular. But the form of this noun seems against such a view; for the words adduced in support of the position that singular nouns sometimes assume plural suffixes, are insufficient for the purpose: thus, תּהלּתיך, Psalm 9:15, and שׂנאתיך, Ezekiel 35:11, are plainly nouns in the singular. And in support of the averment that, in pausal forms with Segol, the י is a mere mater lectionis, only כּפּיך, Proverbs 6:1, can be adduced: the other instances brought forward by Hitzig fail to establish his position. For איביך, Deuteronomy 28:48, may be plural; בּיני, Genesis 16:5, is far from being a case in point, for the preposition often takes plural suffixes; and even in the case of חסידיך, Psalm 16:10, the י is marked in the Qeri as superfluous; most codices, too, rather give the form חסידך. But even in the verse now before us, many codices, according to Kennicott and de Rossi, read אבּירך, so that the word should perhaps be taken as a singular. The singulars, however, which occur in the following clauses do not form conclusive proofs of this, since they may be taken in a distributive sense; and more generally the address often suddenly changes from the plural to the singular. In connection with the possibility of taking אבּיריך as a singular, the paraphrase of the lxx deserves mention and consideration, ὁ μόσχος ὁ ἔκλετός σου, to which a gloss adds ὁ But we cannot agree with Kennicott, J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, Graf, and Nδgelsbach, in holding this as certainly the correct rendering; nor can we give to אבּיר the sense of "bull," for this meaning is not made out for the singular simply because the plural is used of strong bulls: this holds especially in Jeremiah, who constantly applies the plural to strong steeds. Still less ground is there for appealing to the fact that Jahveh is repeatedly called אבּיר ישׂראל or אבּיר יעקוב, Genesis 49:24, Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 39:1-8 :26 etc.; for this epithet of Jahveh (who shows Himself in or towards Israel as the Mighty One) cannot be applied to the helpless images of Apis. In Psalm 68:31, אבּירים means "strong ones" - bulls as emblems of kings. If the word be used here with such a reference, it may be singular or plural. In the former case it would mean the king; in the latter, the king with his princes and magnates. Against the application of the word to the images of Apis, there is the fact that Apis, a symbol of Osiris, was neither the only nor the chief god of Egypt, but was worshipped nowhere except in Memphis (Herodotus, ii. 153); hence it was not suited to be the representative of the gods or the power of Egypt, as the context of the present passage requires.
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