Jeremiah 47:4
Because of the day that comes to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remains: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.
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(4) To cut off from Tyrus and Zidon.—The two Phœnician cities are coupled with Philistia. Both, as occupying the sea-board of Palestine, were to suffer from Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion. Psalm 83:7 indicates that they were not unfrequently in alliance. In the “helper that remaineth” we have probably a reference to the foreign mercenaries, especially the Philistines, employed by the two great commercial cities. “Caphtor” has been identified with Crete, Cyprus, Caria, Cappadocia, and the delta of the Nile. On the latter view the name is held to be connected with Coptic. Amos 9:7 points to a migration of the people known as Philistines from that region, and there is accordingly a touch of scorn in the way in which Jeremiah speaks of them as the mere “remnant of Caphtor.” In agreement with the first view we find among David’s mercenaries the Cherethim and Pelethim (2Samuel 8:18), the two names being probably modifications of Cretans and Philistines. The ethnological table of Genesis 10:14 connects both the Philistines and the Caphtorim with Mizraim or Egypt, and is, so far as it goes, in favour of the Egyptian identification.

Jeremiah 47:4. To cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper, &c. — The siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar was an action famous in the histories of that age, the siege lasting thirteen years. Zidon was partaker of the same fate with Tyre, both in prosperity and adversity: see Isaiah 23:2; Isaiah 23:4. And her destruction is joined with that of Tyre by Ezekiel chap. 28. The remnant of the country of Caphtor — Or, the isle of Caphtor; called the remnant of the Philistines, Amos 1:8; and the remnant of the sea-coast, Ezekiel 25:16. The expression denotes either a colony transplanted from Caphtor, or else that small remainder of the Philistines, after they had been almost all destroyed in former times, according to the judgments denounced against them by Amos 1:8, and Isaiah 14:19, &c., Caphtor, or Caphtorim, were the ancient inhabitants of Palestine: see Deuteronomy 2:23. The Caphtorim and Casluhim were two neighbouring nations, and nearly related to each other, being both descended from Misraim the father of the Egyptians: see Genesis 10:13-14; which may be the reason why Moses there derives the pedigree of the Philistines from the latter of these two. The ancients generally suppose Caphtor to be the same with Cappadocia. These two nations might go out of Egypt, their native soil, and settle themselves in Cappadocia, where they passed under the general appellation of Caphtorim, and afterward return back to their own native country, and settle in Palestine.47:1-7 The calamities of the Philistines. - The Philistines had always been enemies to Israel; but the Chaldean army shall overflow their land like a deluge. Those whom God will spoil, must be spoiled. For when the Lord intends to destroy the wicked, he will cut off every helper. So deplorable are the desolations of war, that the blessings of peace are most desirable. But we must submit to His appointments who ordains all in perfect wisdom and justice.Because of the day that cometh to spoil - "Because" the day has come "to devastate."

The Philistines are called Tyre's remaining (i. e., last) helper, because all besides who could have assisted her have already succumbed to the Chaldaean power. The judgment upon Philistia was in connection with that upon Tyre, and it was fulfilled by expeditions sent out by Nebuchadnezzar under him lieutenants to ravage the country and supply his main army with provisions.

The country of Caphtor - The coastland of Caphtor. The Philistines came from the coast of the Egyptian Delta, and are called "a remnant" because they had been greatly reduced in numbers, partly by the long war of Psammetichus against Ashdod, partly by the capture of Gaza Jeremiah 47:1, and partly by Assyrian invasions.

4. every helper—The Philistines, being neighbors to the Phœnicians of Tyre and Sidon, would naturally make common cause with them in the case of invasion. These cities would have no helper left when the Philistines should be destroyed.

Caphtor—the Caphtorim and Philistines both came from Mizraim (Ge 10:13, 14). The Philistines are said to have been delivered by God from Caphtor (Am 9:7). Perhaps before the time of Moses they dwelt near and were subjugated by the Caphtorim (De 2:23) and subsequently delivered. "The remnant" means here those still left after the Egyptians had attacked Gaza and Palestine; or rather, those left of the Caphtorim after the Chaldeans had attacked them previous to their attack on the Philistines. Some identify Caphtor with Cappadocia; Gesenius, with Crete (Eze 25:16, Cherethims); Kitto, Cyprus. Between Palestine and Idumea there was a city Caparorsa; and their close connection with Palestine on the one hand, and Egypt (Mizraim, Ge 10:13, 14) on the other hand, makes this locality the most likely.

Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines; the day which God hath set and appointed for the ruin of the Philistines. Tyre and Zidon were neighbouring to the Philistines, as appears from Genesis 10:14,15 Joe 3:4, and so were often called to their help. God threateneth both to destroy them, and also those that helped them. It appeareth, from Genesis 10:14, that the Philistines and Caphtorims were related; for their first progenitors, Philistim and Caphtorim, were both the sons of Mizraim the son of Ham, one of the sons of Noah. It appears, from Deu 2:23, that they expelled the Avites, and dwelt in Hazerim to Azzah; whether their country be what was afterwards called Cappadocia or Damiata is not much material for us to know, they were a people confederate with the Philistines, whom God here threateneth to destroy with them. Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines,.... The time appointed by the Lord for their destruction, which should be universal:

and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth; these were cities in Phoenicia, which bordered on the country of the Philistines, who were their auxiliaries in time of distress; but now, being wasted themselves, could give them no help when Nebuchadnezzar attacked them; as he did Tyre particularly, which he besieged thirteen years, and at last destroyed it, and Zidon with it:

for the Lord will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor; these last are not put by way of apposition, as if they were the same with the Philistines, though they were near of kin to them, coming from Casluhim; who were the posterity of Mizraim, as well as Caphtorim, Genesis 10:13; indeed the Philistines are said to be brought from Caphtor, Amos 9:7; being very probably taken captive by them, but rescued from them; and now in confederacy with them, and like to share the same fate as they. The Targum renders it,

"the remnant of the island of the Cappadocians;''

and so the Vulgate Latin version. Some think the Colchi, others that the Cretians, are meant. R. Saadiah by Caphtor understands Damiata, a city in Egypt; which is the same with Pelusium or Sin, the strength of Egypt, Ezekiel 30:15; and it is usual with the Jews (w) to call this place Caphutkia, the same with Caphtor, they say; and, in Arabic, Damiata.

(w) Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

Because of the day that cometh to lay waste all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyre and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will lay waste the Philistines, the remnant of the country of {e} Caphtor.

(e) For the Caphtorims had destroyed in old time the Philistines, and dwelt in their land even to Gaza, De 2:23.

4. The text is difficult, and may be corrupt. As Co. points out, the Hebrew for “that remaineth” is rather a survivor, one who has escaped. Moreover, he remarks that we have no reason from other sources to suppose that, as the v. implies, the Philistines were the chief allies of the Phoenicians (“Tyre and Zidon”). He therefore reads (changing slightly the MT.) “all the remnant of their excellency.” Both Gi. and Co. make the next clause (“for … Philistines”) a gloss. The LXX support this view, and render the last clause of the v. “and the Lord will destroy the remnant of the islands,” omitting “Caphtor.”

every helper that remaineth] in other words the Philistines, the other helpers having been already cut off.

the remnant of the isle of Caphtor] the few of the Philistine nation that still survive after the wars with Egypt and Assyria, from which they had long suffered. Caphtor is spoken of also in Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7, as the original abode of the Philistines. It is probably to be identified with Crete.

isle] For mg. sea coast See on Jeremiah 25:22.Verse 4. - The day that cometh; rather, the day that hath come (i.e. shall have come). It is "the day of the Lord" that is meant, that revolutionary "shaking of all things" (to use Haggai's expression, Haggai 2:21), as to which see further in note on Jeremiah 46:10. To cut off... every helper that remaineth; i.e. every ally on whom they could still reckon. This passage favours the view that the judgment upon the Philistines took place at the same time as that upon Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar's object was to isolate Tyre and Sidon as completely as possible. The remnant. The Philistines had suffered so much from repeated invasions as to be only a "remnant" of the once powerful nation which oppressed Israel (see on Jeremiah 25:20). The country of Caphtor. Some would render "the coastland of Caphtor," but the idea of "coast" seems to be a secondary one, derived in certain passages from the context. Properly speaking, it is a poetic synonym for "land," and is generally applied to distant and (accidentally) maritime countries. "Caphtor" was understood by the old versions to be Cappadocia. But as the remains of the Cappadocian language point to a Persian origin of the population which spoke it, and as the Caphtorim originally came from Egypt, it is more plausible to suppose, with Ebers, that Caphtor was a coast district of North Egypt. Crete has also been thought of (comp. Amos 9:7; Genesis 10:14; Deuteronomy 2:23). In Jeremiah 46:24. the result of the overthrow of Egypt, which has hitherto been set forth in figurative language, is stated in words which describe the exact realities: Egypt will be given up to ignominy, delivered into the power of a people from the north, i.e., the Chaldeans. The Lord of hosts, the Almighty God of Israel, punishes it for its sins. He visits, i.e., punishes, Amon of No, the chief idol of Egypt; Pharaoh, and the land, with all its gods and its kings, and with Pharaoh, all those who place their trust in his power. Words are accumulated for the purpose of showing that the judgment will be one which shall befall the whole land, together with its gods, its rulers, and its inhabitants. First of all is mentioned Amon of No, as in Ezekiel 30:14. נא is an abbreviation of נא אמון , i.e., dwelling of Amon, the sacred name of the royal city in Upper Egypt, famous in antiquity, which the Greeks called Διὸς πόλις, or Θήβη, or Θῆβαι it is supposed, after the vulgar Egyptian name Tapet or Tape (Throne or Seat); see on Nahum 3:8. Amon - in Greek ̓Αμμοῦν (Herodotus, ii. 42), ̓Αμοῦν (Plutarch, de Is. Ch. 9), ̓Αμῶν (Jamblichus, de myst. 5, 8) - was a sun-god (Amon-R), probably a symbol of the sun as it appears in the spring, in the sign of the Ram; hence he was represented with rams' horns. By the Greeks he was compared to Jupiter, or Zeus, and named Jupiter Ammon. The chief seat of his worship was Thebes, where he had a temple, with a numerous learned priesthood and a famous oracle (cf. Strabo, xvii. 1. 43; Justin. xi. 11), which Cambyses destroyed (Diodorus, Siculus, Fragm. Lib. x.). Under the expression "kings of Egypt" we are not to include governors or vassal-kings, but all the kings who ever ruled Egypt; for in the judgment now falling on Egypt, all the kings it ever had, together with all its gods, are punished. In the last part of the verse the name of Pharaoh is once more given, for the purpose of attaching to it the words "and all who trust in him;" these are intended for the Jews who expected help from Egypt. The punishment consists in their being all given into the hand of their enemies, namely (ו explic.) into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants. This defeat, however, is not to be the end of the Egyptian kingdom. The threat of judgment concludes, in Jeremiah 46:26, with a promise for the future. "Afterwards, it shall be inhabited, as in the days of yore." שׁכן is used in a neuter sense, as in Jeremiah 17:6; Jeremiah 33:16, etc. Since this verb also signifies to settle down, be encamped (Numbers 24:2), and to lie quiet, to rest, or keep oneself quiet, inactive (Judges 5:17; Proverbs 7:11), Hitzig and Graf, with Kimchi, give the explanation: "because the power of Egypt shall be broken, it will keep quiet, and remain at home in its own country, instead of marching forth and fighting other nations, as it has lately begun again to do (Jeremiah 46:7) after centuries of peace." But although, in support of this view, we are pointed to Ezekiel 29:13, where the restoration of Egypt is predicted, with the further remark, "it will be an abject kingdom," yet this idea is not contained in the words of our verse. To render שׁכן by "to keep quiet, be inactive," does not suit the words "as in the days of old." In former days, Egypt was neither inactive nor remained at home in peace in its own land. From the remotest antiquity, the Pharaohs made wars, and sought to enlarge their dominions by conquest. Add to this, that we must view the concluding portion of this prophecy in a manner analogous to the closing thought of the prophecies regarding Moab (Jeremiah 48:47), Ammon (Jeremiah 49:6), and Elam (Jeremiah 49:39), where the turning of the captivity in the last times is given in prospect to these nations, and "afterwards," in Jeremiah 49:6, alternates with "in the latter days" found in Jeremiah 48:47 and Jeremiah 49:39. From this it follows that, in the verse now before us also, it is not the future in general, but the last time, i.e., the Messianic future, that is pointed out; hence שׁכן does not express the peaceful condition of the land, but its being inhabited, in contrast with its depopulation in the immediate future, in consequence of its inhabitants being killed or carried away. On the fulfilment of this threatening, see p. 351ff.
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