Jeremiah 46
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles;

Jer 46:1-28. The Prophecies, Forty-sixth through Fifty-second Chapters, Refer to Foreign Peoples.

He begins with Egypt, being the country to which he had been removed. The forty-sixth chapter contains two prophecies concerning it: the discomfiture of Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish by Nebuchadnezzar, and the long subsequent conquest of Egypt by the same king; also the preservation of the Jews (Jer 46:27, 28).

1. General heading of the next six chapters of prophecies concerning the Gentiles; the prophecies are arranged according to nations, not by the dates.

Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.
2. Inscription of the first prophecy.

Pharaoh-necho—He, when going against Carchemish (Cercusium, near the Euphrates), encountered Josiah, king of Judah (the ally of Assyria), at Megiddo, and slew him there (2Ki 23:29; 2Ch 35:20-24); but he was four years subsequently overcome at Carchemish, by Nebuchadnezzar, as is foretold here; and lost all the territory which had been subject to the Pharaohs west of the Euphrates, and between it and the Nile. The prediction would mitigate the Jews' grief for Josiah, and show his death was not to be unavenged (2Ki 24:7). He is famed as having fitted out a fleet of discovery from the Red Sea, which doubled the Cape of Good Hope and returned to Egypt by the Mediterranean.

Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle.
3. Derisive summons to battle. With all your mighty preparation for the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, when ye come to the encounter, ye shall be "dismayed" (Jer 46:5). Your mighty threats shall end in nothing.

buckler—smaller, and carried by the light-armed cavalry.

shield—of larger size, and carried by the heavily armed infantry.

Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.
4. Harness the horses—namely, to the war chariots, for which Egypt was famed (Ex 14:7; 15:4).

get up, ye horsemen—get up into the chariots. Maurer, because of the parallel "horses," translates, "Mount the steeds." But it is rather describing the successive steps in equipping the war chariots; first harness the horses to them, then let the horsemen mount them.

brigandines—cuirasses, or coats of mail.

Wherefore 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, saith the LORD.
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.

Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates.
6. Let not—equivalent to the strongest negation. Let not any of the Egyptian warriors think to escape by swiftness or by might.

toward the north—that is, in respect to Egypt or Judea. In the northward region, by the Euphrates (see Jer 46:2).

Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers?
7. as a flood—(Jer 47:2; Isa 8:7, 8; Da 11:22). The figure is appropriate in addressing Egyptians, as the Nile, their great river, yearly overspreads their lands with a turbid, muddy flood. So their army, swelling with arrogance, shall overspread the region south of Euphrates; but it, like the Nile, shall retreat as fast as it advanced.
Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.
8. Answer to the question in Jer 46:7.

waters … moved like the rivers—The rise of the Nile is gentle; but at the mouth it, unlike most rivers, is much agitated, owing to the sandbanks impeding its course, and so it rushes into the sea like a cataract.

Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.
9. Ironical exhortation, as in Jer 46:3. The Egyptians, owing to the heat of their climate and abstinence from animal food, were physically weak, and therefore employed mercenary soldiers.

Ethiopians—Hebrew, Cush: Abyssinia and Nubia.

Libyans—Phut, Mauritania, west of Egypt (compare Ge 10:6).

shield—The Libyans borrowed from Egypt the use of the long shield extending to the feet [Xenophon, Cyropædia, 6 and 7].

Lydians—not the Lydians west of Asia Minor (Ge 10:22; Eze 30:5), but the Ludim, an African nation descended from Egypt (Mizraim) (Ge 10:13; Eze 30:5; Na 3:9).

handle and bend the bow—The employment of two verbs expresses the manner of bending the bow, namely, the foot being pressed on the center, and the hands holding the ends of it.

For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.
10. vengeance—for the slaughter of Josiah (2Ki 23:29).

sword shall devour … be … drunk—poetical personification (De 32:42).

a sacrifice—(Isa 34:6; Eze 39:17). The slaughter of the Egyptians is represented as a sacrifice to satiate His righteous vengeance.

Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.
11. Gilead … balm—(See on [972]Jer 8:22); namely, for curing the wounds; but no medicine will avail, so desperate shall be the slaughter.

virgin—Egypt is so called on account of her effeminate luxury, and as having never yet been brought under foreign yoke.

thou shalt not be cured—literally, "there shall be no cure for thee" (Jer 30:13; Eze 30:21). Not that the kingdom of Egypt should cease to exist, but it should not recover its former strength; the blow should be irretrievable.

The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.
12. mighty … stumbled against … mighty … fallen both together—Their very multitude shall prove an impediment in their confused flight, one treading on the other.
The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt.
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.).
Declare ye in Egypt, and publish in Migdol, and publish in Noph and in Tahpanhes: say ye, Stand fast, and prepare thee; for the sword shall devour round about thee.
14. Declare … publish—as if giving sentence from a tribunal.

Migdol … Noph … Tahpanhes—east, south, and north. He mentions the three other quarters, but omits the west, because the Chaldeans did not advance thither. These cities, too, were the best known to the Jews, as being in their direction.

sword shall devour round about thee—namely, the Syrians, Jews, Moabites, and Ammonites (see on [974]Jer 48:1). The exhortation is ironical, as in Jer 46:4, 9.

Why are thy valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the LORD did drive them.
15. thy valiant men—manuscripts, the Septuagint, and Vulgate read, "thy valiant one," Apis, the bull-shaped Egyptian idol worshipped at Noph or Memphis. The contrast thus is between the palpable impotence of the idol and the might attributed to it by the worshippers. The Hebrew term, "strong," or "valiant," is applied to bulls (Ps 22:12). Cambyses in his invasion of Egypt destroyed the sacred bull.

drive them—(Compare Jer 46:5). The Hebrew word is used of a sweeping rain (Pr 28:3).

He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword.
16. He—Jehovah.

made many to fall—literally, "multiplied the faller," that is, fallers.

one fell upon another—(Jer 46:6, 12): even before the enemy strikes them (Le 26:37).

let us go again to our own people—the language of the confederates and mercenaries, exhorting one another to desert the Egyptian standard, and return to their respective homes (Jer 46:9, 21).

from the oppressing sword—from the cruel sword, namely, of the Chaldeans (compare Jer 25:38).

They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed.
17. there—in their own country severally, the foreign soldiers (Jer 46:16) cry, "Pharaoh is," &c.

but a noise—He threatens great things, but when the need arises, he does nothing. His threats are mere "noise" (compare 1Co 13:1). Maurer translates, "is ruined," literally (in appropriate abruptness of language), "Pharaoh, king … ruin." The context favors English Version. His vauntings of what he would do when the time of battle should come have proved to be empty sounds; he hath passed the time appointed (namely, for battle with the Chaldeans).

As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.
18. As the mountains Tabor and Carmel tower high above the other hills of Palestine, so Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 46:26) when he comes shall prove himself superior to all his foes. Carmel forms a bold promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean. Tabor is the higher of the two; therefore it is said to be "among the mountains"; and Carmel "by the sea."

the King … Lord of hosts—(Jer 48:15); in contrast to "Pharaoh king of Egypt … but a noise" (Jer 46:17). God the true "King … the Lord of hosts," shall cause Nebuchadnezzar to come. Whereas Pharaoh shall not come to battle at the time appointed, notwithstanding his boasts, Nebuchadnezzar shall come according to the prediction of the King, who has all hosts in His power, however ye Egyptians may despise the prediction.

O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, furnish thyself to go into captivity: for Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant.
19. furnish thyself—literally, "make for thyself vessels" (namely, to contain food and other necessaries for the journey) for captivity.

daughter—so in Jer 46:11.

dwelling in Egypt—that is, the inhabitants of Egypt, the Egyptians, represented as the daughter of Egypt (Jer 48:18; 2Ki 19:21). "Dwelling" implies that they thought themselves to be securely fixed in their habitations beyond the reach of invasion.

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.
20. heifer—wanton, like a fat, untamed heifer (Ho 10:11). Appropriate to Egypt, where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with spots.

destruction—that is, a destroyer: Nebuchadnezzar. Vulgate translates, "a goader," answering to the metaphor, "one who will goad the heifer" and tame her. The Arabic idiom favors this [Rosenmuller].

cometh … cometh—The repetition implies, it cometh surely and quickly (Ps 96:13).

out of the north—(See on [975]Jer 1:14; Jer 47:2).

Also her hired men are in the midst 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 upon them, and the time of their visitation.
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.
The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood.
22. The cry of Egypt when invaded shall be like the hissing of a serpent roused by the woodcutters from its lair. No longer shall she loudly roar like a heifer, but with a low murmur of fear, as a serpent hissing.

with axes—the Scythian mode of armor. The Chaldeans shall come with such confidence as if not about to have to fight with soldiers, but merely to cut down trees offering no resistance.

They shall cut down her forest, saith the LORD, though it cannot be searched; because they are more than the grasshoppers, and are innumerable.
23. her forest—(Isa 10:34).

though it cannot be searched—They cut down her forest, dense and unsearchable (Job 5:9; 9:10; 36:26) as it may seem: referring to the thickly set cities of Egypt, which were at that time a thousand and twenty. The Hebrew particle is properly, "for," "because."

because—the reason why the Chaldeans shall be able to cut down so dense a forest of cities as Egypt: they themselves are countless in numbers.

grasshoppers—locusts (Jud 6:5).

The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north.
The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him:
25. multitude—Hebrew, "Amon" (Na 3:8, Margin, "No-Ammon"), the same as Thebes or Diospolis in Upper Egypt, where Jupiter Ammon had his famous temple. In English Version, "multitude" answers to "populous No" (Na 3:8; Eze 30:15). The reference to "their gods" which follows, makes the translation more likely, "Ammon of No," that is, No and her idol Ammon; so the Chaldee Version. So called either from Ham, the son of Noah; or, the "nourisher," as the word means.

their kings—the kings of the nations in league with Egypt.

And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the LORD.
26. afterward … inhabited—Under Cyrus forty years after the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, it threw off the Babylonian yoke but has never regained its former prowess (Jer 46:11; Eze 29:11-15).
But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.
27, 28. Repeated from Jer 30:10, 11. When the Church (and literal Israel) might seem utterly consumed, there still remains hidden hope, because God, as it were, raises His people from the dead (Ro 11:15). Whereas the godless "nations" are consumed even though they survive, as are the Egyptians after their overthrow; because they are radically accursed and doomed [Calvin].
Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.
A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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