Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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,6. THE HYPOCRITICAL INQUIRY
1Then all the captains of the forces, and1 Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least unto the greatest, came 2near, and said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD [Jehovah] thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many,2 as thine eyes do behold us): 3that the LORD [Jehovah] thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
4Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard3 you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD [Jehovah] your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatever thing the LORD [Jehovah] shall answer you, I will declare 5it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you. Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true4 and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to 6all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send5 thee to us. Whether it be good, or whether it be evil6 we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we7 send thee; that it may be well with us, when8 we obey the voice of the LORD our God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The people request the prophet to inquire of the Lord what is to be done (Jer 42:1–3); Jeremiah promises to do so (Jer 42:4). The people therefore solemnly promise punctual obedience to all that the prophet shall disclose to them as the commands of their God (Jer 42:5, 6).
Jer 42:1-3. Then all … that we may do. Jezaniah is here called the son of Hoshaiah; in 40:8 he is called the son of the Maachathite, in 43:2 Azariah is named as the son of Hoshaiah. There must then have either been two Jezaniahs and two Hoshaiahs, or there is an error in the text. The LXX. has in 42:1 and 43:2Ἀζαρίος υἱὸς Μαασαίου. There is thus the possibility that here Jezaniah is written by mistake for Azariah.—These leaders and the whole people with them address to the prophet the humble petition (comp. rems. on 36:7; 37:20), that he will address to Jehovah in their behalf, the small remnant of the great nation, a prayer for instruction concerning the path to be taken.
Jer 42:4-6. Then Jeremiah … our God. When the people express their readiness to submit to the direction of Jehovah, however this may turn out, but afterwards (43:2–7) rebel so decidedly against this direction, their declaration here must be explained either as hypocrisy or on the supposition that the question was not of remaining in the country, but there was doubt only as to the direction of their flight. They appeal to the Lord to appear as a true and faithful witness against them, if they do not submit to the divine indication expected through the prophet. The Lord however is, as is presupposed in every oath, at the same time Witness and Judge.
Jer 42:1.— The וְ before יוֹהָנָן as in 40:8 [=even]
Jer 42:2.—On $דַרְבֶּה comp. OLSH., S. 358 and 583.
Jer 42:4.—שָׁמַעְתִּי involves the sense of hearing and granting, and is at the same time the token of the acceptance and approval of the petition. It corresponds nearly to the German “Gut!” [Eng: good!]
Jer 42:5.—The expression עֵד אֱמֶת is found besides only in Prov. 14:25 Coll. Jer 42:5. עֵד בֶאֶמָן Ps. 89:38; Isai. 7:2.
Jer 42:5.—On שָׁלַח with a double accuastive, comp. NAEGELSB Gr., § 6, 2, c.
Jer 42:6.—To אם טוב ואם דע we are not to supply הַדָבָר for then we must have הוּא after רָע. Much rather is whole sentence in apposition to the following קוֹל , as in Eccles. 12:14 to the preceding מַעֲשֶׂה.
Jer 42:6.—אֲבַוּThe form occurs only here in the Old testament. Comp, OLSH., § 95, b, 5. It is indeed possible that it was not incorrectly put into the mouth of the people, for the form usual is post-biblical Hebrew may have been a popular expression even at that that time.
Jer 42:6.—כִּי is here necessarily because, not if. For there is not question about their obeying. They will obey, but expect prosperity from this obedience as such, apart from the immediate result of the step commanded them. Comp. 24:7.
And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.7. THE UNWELCOME ANSWER
7And it came to pass after ten days, that [or that after ten days] the word of the 8LORD [Jehovah] came unto Jeremiah. Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces [band-leaders] which were with him, and all the 9people from the least even to the greatest, and said unto them, Thus saith the LORD [Jehovah] the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication 10before him; If ye will still abide9in this laud, then will I build you, and not pull you down; and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me 11of the evil that I have done unto you. 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 12save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will shew mercies unto [prepare pity for]10you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return1113to your own land. But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the 14voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where [that]we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have 15hunger of [for]13bread; and there will we dwell: and now14 therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the Lord of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, 16and go to sojourn there; then it shall come to pass15 that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, whereof ye were 17afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. 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 18shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the LORD of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] 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 [horror] and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shalt 19see this place no more. The LORD hath said concerning you [Jehovah hath spoken to you] O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I 20have admonished [warned]16 you this day. For ye dissembled in your hearts [deceived yourselves],17 when18 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 21say, so declare unto us and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing19 22for the which he hath sent me unto you. 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.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
After ten days the prophet receives answer from the Lord, which he immediately communicates to the leaders, and to the whole people (Jer 42:7, 8). If they remain in the country they shall have nothing to fear from the Chaldeans, but the Lord will so direct the heart of the king that he will aid in their restoration (Jer 42:9–12). If, however, they do not remain in the country, but from fear of the Chaldeans flee to Egypt, they shall perish there by the same calamities, which they thought to escape by flight (Jer 42:13–18). Finally the prophet urgently admonishes them not to despise this warning, although he knows only too well, that it was pure self-deception when they inquired of the Lord by Him, since they had already resolved not to obey the Lord’s command. Well, they shall also know, that they will come to their ruin in the place, whither their desires lead them (Jer 42:19–22.)
Jer 42:7-12. And it came to pass … your own land. The opinion of HITZIG and GRAF, that Jeremiah used the ten days in procuring information and arriving at a clear and firm conviction, is in accordance with modern science but not with history. The prophet really received the answer to his prayer for divine direction (comp. Jer 42:4; 32:16) not until after ten days. It is significant that he received it on the tenth day (comp. Ezek. 3:16), although we cannot stop here to investigate the ground of this significance (comp. [on symbolical numbers] HERZOG, Real-Enc., XVIII., S. 381). On to present, etc., comp. 38:26.—On for I repent, etc. comp. 26:3.—Cause you to return. When we consider, that the prophet has in view not only the return of those who had been already carried away into exile, but may also with perfect correctness regard those as such who have assembled at Bethlehem and prepared to leave their home, turning their back upon it, the alteration [cause to dwell] proposed in the text seems unnecessary. It was not unpatriotic policy, nor indolence, nor selfishness, nor any view based on human foresight, which caused the prophet to speak thus. For, humanly considered, there was nothing left for the Jews but flight. The hope for further indulgence on the part of the Chaldean king must, seem like madness. The prophet, however, does not reckon alone with human factors. He is the organ of God, to whom nothing is impossible (32:26 sqq.), and who especially has the hearts of kings in His hand, and turns them whithersoever He will (Prov. 21:1).
Jer 42:13-18. But if ye say … this place no more. The words from neither obey, Jer 42:13, to dwell, Jer 42:14, are a parenthesis.—Sound of the trumpet. Comp. 4:19, 21.—Remnant, etc. Comp. 41:16; 42:2, 19; 43:5.—Wholly set your faces. Comp. Jer 42:17; 44:12; 2 Kings 12:18.—By sword, famine and pestilence (comp. 14:12; 21:9; 27:8, 13; 29:18; 32:3b; 38:2; 44:13), will the disobedient perish in Egypt, and not a single individual will escape (comp. 44:14; Lam. 2:22; Josh. 8:22). As on Jerusalem, so also on them will the fury of the Lord be poured out (7:20; 2 Chron. 34:21); they shall become an object of cursing, horror and derision (comp. 24:9; 25:18; 44:22, etc.), and never return to their native land (comp. rems. on 7:3).
Jer 42:19-22. Jehovah hath … to sojourn. In a very earnest closing speech the prophet sets forth that the Lord Himself has spoken to the people. Then he reminds them that they have been warned. They cannot then have the excuse of ignorance. In the third place the prophet discovers to them their self-delusion. They perhaps imagined that they honestly desired the right, when they commissioned him to present their petition before God. What, however, is opposed to this honest intention easily appears to them to be incorrect, and therefore justifying them in resistance. The prophet therefore desires to convince them that they did not honestly wish to do the right. It was self-deception, when they declared themselves ready to obey unconditionally the divine command.—In the fourth place, the prophet tells them before they had opened their mouth to reply, what was now passing in their minds, viz., that they had formed the fixed resolution not to obey the faithfully reported direction of Jehovah, in spite of their solemn declaration given in Jer 42:5, 6.—In the fifth place, finally, he proclaims to them, that the very place, to which an irresistible longing attracts them, will be their destruction. He announces this apodictically, because he knows that they will inevitably do what will bring them to this.
Jer 42:10.—שׁוב is evidently abbreviated from יָשׁוֹב, since the sense renders the derivation from שׁוּב CHR B.MICHAELIS and ROSENMULLER, indeed translate, si rivertendo illuc manseritis in hac terra. But then the Inf. abs. would be placed after the finite verb. Comp. NAEGELSB Gr., § 93, e.—This apocopation of י is certainly unexampled in this form but most readily assumed in a verb פי׳ according to the analogy of the Ing. constr. and Imperfect Comp. besides OLSH., § 89; 170 a Anm.; 245, h. Anm.
Jer 42:12.—From the following sentence it is evident that נתן רי here does not mean “to show compassion,” but “to prepare pity, to procure it on the part of another.” Comp. Gen. 43:14.
Jer 42:12.—והשׁיב. LXX., Vulg., Syr., J. D. MICHAELIS, HITZIG, EWALD, GRAF, would read, הוֹשִׁיב, but this would not agree with the following אֵל. Comp. also EXEG and CRIT. rems. [BLAYNEY: would settle you in, etc.—S. R. A.]
Jer 42:14.—אֲשֶׁד= that. Comp. Gen. 11:7; Exod. 20:23; Deut. 4:40; 4:3.
Jer 42:14.—ללהם. From Am. 8:11 we perceive that the meaning of the expression is, to hunger for or after bread.
Jer 42:15.—With וְעַתָּה begins the apodosis (paratactically introduced. Comp. NAEGELSB Gr., § 110, 2) to וְאִם in Jer 42:13.
Jer 42:16.—והיתה has this form by attraction, as well as וְיִהְיוּ Jer 42:17. Comp. EWALD § 345, b.
Jer 42:19. —הֵעִיד, literally to bring in witnesses, then to adduce testimony (according to the directly causative mode of speaking, on which comp. NAEGELSB Gr., § 18, 3). From the idea of giving testimony is developed that of earnest solemn address, admonition, warning. comp. Ps. 50:7; Deut. 8:19; Jer. 9:7
Jer 42:20.—הִתְעָה is also to be regarded as directly causative=errationem fecit (GESEN.)Comp. Prov. 10:17. It is therefore doubtful whether בְּ indicates the object or the place. The word is at least not found elsewhere with בְּ of the person. The prophet might well say, ye have erred in your souls, i.e., in your volition and thought, and have thus taken a false direction, while ye supposed ye were on the right track. The Chethibh התעתים is evidently a mistake. The Keri is correct הִתְעֵיתֶם [NOYES strangely renders, “ye err to your ruin.”—S. R. A.
Jer 42:20.—בי =when. Comp. Jud. 2:18; Ps. 32:3; Ezek. 3:19.
Jer 42:21.—ולכל may mean, and indeed with respect to all, etc. Since, however, only one point is treated of, the emphatic expression of a multiplicity of points is remarkable. I therefore think that the word stands in simple parallelism to the first clause, while שָׁמַע is construed only with לְ instead of with בְּ a construction which (apart from שִָׁמַע לְקול Gen. 3:17; Jud. 2:20; Ps. 58:6) is peculiar to the latter idiom: Neh. 9:29; 13:27; 2 Chron. 10:16; Dan. 1:14; Lev. 26:21. A Double disobedience is thus declared against Jehovah and against the prophet.