Jeremiah 46:5
Why have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, said the LORD.
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(5) Wherefore have I seen them dismayed . . .?—The prophet speaks as seeing already in his mind’s eye the confusion of the defeated army, with no way to escape, driven back on the Euphrates. In the “fear round about” (Magor-missabib) we have one of his characteristic formulæ (Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 49:29).

46:1-12 The whole word of God is against those who obey not the gospel of Christ; but it is for those, even of the Gentiles, who turn to Him. The prophecy begins with Egypt. Let them strengthen themselves with all the art and interest they have, yet it shall be all in vain. The wounds God inflicts on his enemies, cannot be healed by medicines. Power and prosperity soon pass from one to another in this changing world.Literally, "Why have I seen? They are terror-stricken! they are giving way back!" The Egyptian host feels that the battle is lost, and overborne by the enemy loses heart, and in despair, yet not without a struggle, gives way. It is remarkable, that while Jeremiah in his warning addressed to Jerusalem uses the most simple and unadorned prose, his language concerning the Gentile nations is, on the contrary, full of brilliant poetry.

Look not back - turn not back. They make no halt, and no attempt to rally.

Fear was round about - The prophets watch-word, Magor-missabib (see Jeremiah 6:25).

5. (See on [971]Jer 46:3). The language of astonishment, that an army so well equipped should be driven back in "dismay." The prophet sees this in prophetic vision.

fled apace—literally, "fled a flight," that is, flee precipitately.

look not back—They do not even dare to look back at their pursuers.

God had either in a vision showed Jeremiah this army of the Egyptians flying, or else had revealed to him that they should be put to flight, which the prophet here publisheth. God made a fear to fall upon the Egyptians, so as when the king of Babylon came to join battle with them, they were not able at all to stand, but turned their backs, and their greatest commanders were either killed, or fled away as fast as they could. Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back?.... The Egyptians, after all this preparation for war, and seeming ardent to engage in battle; and yet, when they came to it, were seized with a panic, and thrown into the utmost consternation, and turned their backs upon their enemy: these are either the words of the prophet, who had a view by a spirit of prophecy, of the consternation, confusion, and flight of the Egyptian army; or of the Lord, who foresaw all this, and represents it as if it was done because of the certainty of it; upbraiding the Egyptians with their pusillanimity and cowardice:

and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back; or, "their mighty ones are broken" (s); their valiant soldiers and officers, their best troops were broken to pieces, their ranks and files, and thrown into the utmost disorder; and therefore made all the haste they could to escape the fury of the enemy, and fled with the utmost precipitation, and never stopped to look back upon their pursuers; so great their fear:

for fear was round about, saith the Lord; from whence it came; it was he that put it into them, took away their courage, and made them a "magormissabib", or "fear round about", the word here used; see Jeremiah 20:3. The Targum is,

"they looked not back to resist them that slay with the sword, who are gathered against them round about, saith the Lord;''

their enemies surrounded them, and that was the reason fear was round about them, and both were from the Lord; or as he had said, determined, and foretold it should be.

(s) "et fortes corum contusi sunt, vel coutunduntur", Schmidt, Cocceius, Piscator; "contriti sunt", Vatablus.

{d} Why have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and have fled apace, and look not back: for fear was on all sides, saith the LORD.

(d) The prophet had this vision of the Egyptians who would be put to flight by the Babylonians at Carchemish.

5. Wherefore … dismayed] The LXX rightly omit the first Hebrew verb, and render, “Wherefore are they dismayed?”

terror is on every side] Jeremiah’s characteristic expression. See on ch. Jeremiah 6:25.Verse 5. - That so well equipped an army should flee seems incredible. Hence the astonished question, Wherefore have I seen, etc.? literally, Why do I see (that) they (are) dismayed, turning back? And look not back. With the object of rallying the scattered forces. For fear was round about. It is a pity that the Authorized Version has not kept one uniform rendering for this favourite expression of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 6:25 (see note) it is translated, "fear is on every side" (Hebrew, magor missabib). "The word which Jeremiah the prophet spake to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Jeremiah 45:2. Thus saith Jahveh, the God of Israel, to thee, O Baruch: V. 3. Thou saidst, Woe to me now! for Jahveh hath added sorrow to my pain: I am weary with sighing, and no rest do I find. V. 4. Thus shalt thou say unto him, Thus saith Jahveh: Behold, what I have built I will destroy, and what I have planted I will pluck up, and that is the whole earth. V. 5. And thou seekest great things for thyself: seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil on all flesh, saith Jahveh; but I will give thy life unto thee for booty in all places whither thou shalt go."

From the superscription in Jeremiah 45:1, it appears that this word of God came to Baruch through Jeremiah the prophet, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, when Baruch was writing out, or had written out, in a book-roll the prophecies that had been uttered by Jeremiah up till that time. It is not necessarily implied in the infin. בּכתבו that the word of God came during the transcription, while he was still engaged in writing: it may also mean, "when he was ready with the writing," had got done with it; and Hitzig is wrong when he rejects as "misleading" the view which Movers takes - "when he had written." The writing down of the addresses of Jeremiah in the year mentioned is related in Jeremiah 36; thus the substance of this chapter and that of Jeremiah 36 agree. "These words" can only be the addresses (words) of Jeremiah which Baruch was then writing down. From this, Hitzig, Graf, Ngelsbach, and others, infer that this small piece was the last in the copy of Jeremiah's prophecies originally prepared under Jehoiakim, - if not of the first one which was intended to be read in the temple, at least of the second copy which was made after the former one had been destroyed; and that it was only after the collection had been enlarged to the extent of the collection handed down to us, that this portion was affixed as an appendix to the end of the prophecies of Jeremiah which relate to his own country. But this inference is not a valid one. "These words" are the addresses of the prophet in general, which Baruch wrote down; and that only those which were uttered up to the fourth year of Jehoiakim are intended, is implied, not in the demonstrative "these," but in the date given afterwards, by which "these" is further specified. In Jeremiah 45:1 it is merely stated that at that time the word of God, given below, came to Jeremiah, and through Him to Baruch, but not that Baruch wrote down this also on that occasion, and appended it to the roll of Jeremiah's prophecies which had been prepared at his dictation. It may have been written down much later, possibly not till the whole of Jeremiah's prophecies were collected and arranged in Egypt. Moreover, the position occupied by this chapter in the collection shows that this message of comfort to Baruch was added as an appendix to those predictions of Jeremiah which concern Judah and Israel.

The occasion for this message of comfort addressed to the prophet's attendant is pointed out in Jeremiah 45:3, in the words which Baruch had uttered: "Woe to me! for Jahveh adds sorrow to my pain." Baruch felt "pain," i.e., pain of soul, at the moral corruption of the people, their impenitence and obduracy in sin and vice, just like the prophet himself, Jeremiah 15:18. To this pain God adds sorrow, by threatening the judgment which shall fall on Judah for sin, and which was even then beginning to break over the land; cf. Jeremiah 8:18. Baruch sighs over this till he is wearied, and finds no rest; cf. Lamentations 5:5. "I am weary with my sighing," is a reminiscence from Psalm 6:7. This sorrow in addition to his pain was not caused in him for the first time by writing down the discourses of the prophet, but was rather thus freshened and increased. The answer of the Lord to this sighing is of a stern character, yet soothing for Baruch. The sentence of destruction has been determined on. What the Lord has built He will now destroy: it is not said why, since the reason was sufficiently known from the prophet's utterances. As to the expression in Jeremiah 45:4, cf. Jeremiah 1:10; Jeremiah 31:28. The destruction regards the whole earth, היא ואת־כּל־הארץ, lit., "and as regards the whole earth, it is it," namely that I destroy. On the employment of את in introducing the subject, cf. Daniel 9:13; Haggai 2:5, and Ewald, 277 d. כּל־הארץ does not mean "the whole land," but "the whole earth:" this is indubitably evident from the parallel "upon all flesh," Jeremiah 45:5, i.e., the whole of humanity, as in Jeremiah 25:31. The sentence is passed on all the earth, in accordance with the announcement made in Jeremiah 25:15.

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