Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,
Jer 42:1-22. The Jews and Johanan Inquire of God, through Jeremiah, as to Going to Egypt, Promising Obedience to His Will. Their Safety on Condition of Staying in Judea, and Their Destruction in the Event of Going to Egypt, Are Foretold. Their Hypocrisy in Asking for Counsel Which They Meant Not to Follow, if Contrary to Their Own Determination, Is Reproved.
And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
2. Jeremiah—He probably was one of the number carried off from Mizpah, and dwelt with Johanan (Jer 41:16). Hence the expression is, "came near" (Jer 42:1), not "sent."
Let … supplication be accepted—literally, "fall" (see on Jer 36:7; Jer 37:20).
pray for us—(Ge 20:7; Isa 37:4; Jas 5:16).
thy God—(Jer 42:5). The Jews use this form to express their belief in the peculiar relation in which Jeremiah stood to God as His accredited prophet. Jeremiah in his reply reminds them that God is their God ("your God") as well as his as being the covenant people (Jer 42:4). They in turn acknowledge this in Jer 42:6, "the Lord our God."
few of many—as had been foretold (Le 26:22).
That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
3. They consulted God, like many, not so much to know what was right, as wishing Him to authorize what they had already determined on, whether agreeable to His will or not. So Ahab in consulting Micaiah (1Ki 22:13). Compare Jeremiah's answer (Jer 42:4) with Micaiah's (1Ki 22:14).
Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.
4. I have heard—that is, I accede to your request.
your God—Being His by adoption, ye are not your own, and are bound to whatever He wills (Ex 19:5, 6; 1Co 6:19, 20).
answer you—that is, through me.
keep nothing back—(1Sa 3:18; Ac 20:20).
Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us.
5. Lord be a true … witness—(Ge 31:50; Ps 89:37; Re 1:5; 3:14; 19:11).
Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.
6. evil—not moral evil, which God cannot command (Jas 1:13), but what may be disagreeable and hard to us. Piety obeys God, without questioning, at all costs. See the instance defective in this, that it obeyed only so far as was agreeable to itself (1Sa 15:3, 9, 13-15, 20-23).
And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.
7. ten days—Jeremiah did not speak of himself, but waited God's time and revelation, showing the reality of his inspiration. Man left to himself would have given an immediate response to the people, who were impatient of delay. The delay was designed to test the sincerity of their professed willingness to obey, and that they should have full time to deliberate (De 8:2). True obedience bows to God's time, as well as His way and will.
Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest,
And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;
If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
10. If ye … abide—namely, under the Babylonian authority, to which God hath appointed that all should be subject (Da 2:37, 38). To resist was to resist God.
build … plant—metaphor for, I will firmly establish you (Jer 24:6).
I repent … of the evil—(Jer 18:8; De 32:36). I am satisfied with the punishment I have inflicted on you, if only you add not a new offense [Grotius]. God is said to "repent," when He alters His outward ways of dealing.
Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
12. show mercies—rather, I will excite (in him) feelings of mercy towards you [Calvin].
cause you to return—permit you to return to the peaceable enjoyment of the possessions from which you are wishing to withdraw through fear of the Chaldeans. By departing in disobedience they should incur the very evils they wished thereby to escape; and by staying they should gain the blessings which they feared to lose by doing so.
But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God,
13. if ye say, &c.—avowed rebellion against God, who had often (De 17:16), as now, forbidden their going to Egypt, lest they should be entangled in its idolatry.
Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:
14. where we shall see no war—Here they betray their impiety in not believing God's promise (Jer 42:10, 11), as if He were a liar (1Jo 5:10).
And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
15. wholly set your faces—firmly resolve (Lu 9:51) in spite of all warnings (Jer 44:12).
Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
16. sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you—The very evils we think to escape by sin, we bring on ourselves thereby. What our hearts are most set on often proves fatal to us. Those who think to escape troubles by changing their place will find them wherever they go (Eze 11:8). The "sword" here is that of Nebuchadnezzar, who fulfilled the prediction in his expedition to Africa (according to Megasthenes, a heathen writer), 300 B.C.
So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.
17. all the men—excepting the "small number" mentioned (Jer 44:14, 28); namely, those who were forced into Egypt against their will, Jeremiah, Baruch, &c., and those who took Jeremiah's advice and fled from Egypt before the arrival of the Chaldeans.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.
18. As mine anger, &c.—As ye have already, to your sorrow, found Me true to My word, so shall ye again (Jer 7:20; 18:16).
shall see this place no more—Ye shall not return to Judea, as those shall who have been removed to Babylon.
The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
19. I have admonished—literally, "testified," that is, solemnly admonished, having yourselves as My witnesses; so that if ye perish, ye yourselves will have to confess that it was through your own fault, not through ignorance, ye perished.
For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.
20. dissembled in your hearts—rather, "ye have used deceit against your (own) souls." It is not God, but yourselves, whom ye deceive, to your own ruin, by your own dissimulation (Ga 6:7) [Calvin]. But the words following accord best with English Version, ye have dissembled in your hearts (see on Jer 42:3) towards me, when ye sent me to consult God for you.
And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
21. declared it—namely, the divine will.
I … but ye—antithesis. I have done my part; but ye do not yours. It is no fault of mine that ye act not rightly.
Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.
22. sojourn—for a time, until they could return to their country. They expected, therefore, to be restored, in spite of God's prediction to the contrary.