Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. “Obfirment animum suum ministri ecclesiæ hujus capitis meditatione, ne pertinacia auditorum se territuri patiantur, sed ut potius dehortando, objurgando, comminando intrepide instent ex præcepto apostoli 2 Tim. 4:2.” FÖRSTER.
2. On 44:2–13. A mirror of the stubborn heart of man! For centuries unceasingly warned by the prophets—and how warned! Not by sentimental talk, but by words of thunder and strokes of power,—think only of Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Isaiah, etc.!—yet Judah bowed not his stubborn neck. Then at last when long-suffering love was exhausted, the judgment of just love was executed. And yet in the wretched remnant the old root of unbelief and disobedience remains still unbroken.
3. On 44:9. “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar with a pestle as vetches, yet will his foolishness not depart from him (Prov. 27:22). And he that sings songs to a heavy heart, it is like a torn garment in winter, and vinegar on nitre (Prov. 25:20).” CRAMER.
4. On 44:15. “Hoc loco imaginem quandam conspicere licet seditionis, de qua Ethnicus: ἐν τῆστάσει πᾶσα ἰδέα κακον͂ ἔνεστιν,—itemque confusionis plus quam cyclopicæ, de qua notum est illud tritum: οὐδεὶς οὐδενὸς οὐδὲν ἀκούει.” FÖRSTER.
5. On 44:16. “Ungodliness continually extends and even goes beyond itself. In the foregoing chapter they wish it to be considered as having to do only with Jeremiah’s private person, but now they are become bolder so that they contradict him officially and thus God Himself, not considering that they know what he says to be spoken not on his own, but on God’s account, which is a great blasphemy of God.” CRAMER.
6. On 44:17. “The ungodly are blind. For they ascribe all their good fortune to their idolatry. When, however, a misfortune comes God and His word must be to blame, and they say: It is vain to serve God (Mal. 3:14). The charge of the Papists is used again now-a-days. when times are dear and the country suffers such like chastisements, that it is the fault of the Gospel; since on the other hand their mass is regarded as a regular Egyptian Meleket, by which they think to obtain temporal and eternal blessings both for the living and the dead.” CRAMER.
7. On 44:17. “Non ovum ovo tam simile est atque huic Judæorum orationi nostrorum hominum vox contendentium, sub papatu aureum fuisse sæculum, cum tamen contrarium testentur historæ de bellis, peste et fame in papatu, præsertim ea, quæ incidit in annum Christi 1315, quo tempore fere tertia pars Germaniæ partim fame, partim peste extincta. Hinc versus: Ut lateat nullum tempus famis, ecce cucullum” FÖRSTER.
8. On 44:17. “Non mirum, quod urbes peste vexentur, cum Æsculapius et Dii ab iis procul absint, nam ex quo Jesus colitur, nihil jam utilitatis a Diis consequimur. PORPHYRIUS.” MS. note in my copy of CRAMER’S Bible.
9. On 44:19. “There is no doubt that the inconstant, frivolous women were the first to be seduced into idolatry, as Eve (2 Cor. 11:3). When these are taken captive, he then proceeds farther, and knows how to bring in the Adam also. Therefore keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom (Mic. 7:5).” CRAMER.
10. On 44:19. “The harmony and complaisance of married people is never more easily secured than when it is against the Lord, and it is nothing unusual for domestic peace to be adduced as the cause of a lack of zeal in religion. It is an ancient custom; Ahab, Ahaziah and Solomon only followed Adam. The wife had to be deceived by a subtle serpent; the man was bound to keep peace in the family; she gave him and he ate.” ZINZENDORF.
11. On 44:20. “God remembers the good and the evil; the good that He may reward it, the evil that He may punish it.” CRAMER. [“God will have the last word. The prophets may be run down, but God cannot.” HENRY.—S. R. A]
12. On 44:26. “This is the severest punishment of all, that God takes away His holy name and word, as He says in Deut. 32:20: I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be. And this is the famine, not of bread, but of the word of God which they seek and yet do not find (Am. 8:11).” CRAMER.
13. On 44:29, 30. Between Moses and Jeremiah, between the exodus from Egypt and the return thither of the remnant, there lies a period of almost a thousand years, and what a history! But the Pharaoh, under whom Israel made the exodus, Menephthes (comp. LEPSIUS in HERZ., R.-Enc, I., S. 146) is described by Herodotus as an arrogant and ungodly man (II., 111), just like Hophra. And at both times Israel was a poor despised heap in the land of Egypt. But the heathen were to know that the God of this despised heap is the only true God, and that their idols were naught, as also Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Darius the Mede had also to learn (Dan. 2–6.).
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1. On 44:1–14. The holy love of God: 1. long-suffering; 2. just.
2. On 44:9–14. How ruinous a course it is to forget the chastisements of the Lord. This will be shown, if we ponder that this forgetfulness 1. implies chastisement already suffered, 2. proves its want of good results, 3. calls forth severer chastisements from God.
3. On 44:15–18. The utmost alienation of a people from their God, shown in the example of the Jews in Egypt. 1. They place the benefits received to the account of their idols. 2. The evils suffered they place to the account of the Lord. 3. They renounce their obedience to the Lord. 4. They vow their service to their idols.
4. On 44:26, 27. The severest punishment which the Lord can bring upon a people, who have hitherto served Him. 1. It consists in this, that the Lord removes the candlestick of His word from among this people, i.e. that by depriving them of the means of grace, He brings Himself into forgetfulness among the people. 2. It is founded in this, that this people on their part have striven to forget the Lord. 3. It has the effect, that this people is given up to the powers of evil to their complete destruction.
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying,10. JEREMIAH AT THE FESTIVAL OF THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN IN PATHROS. THE LAST ACT OF HIS PROPHETIC MINISTRY
a. The charge against the stubbornly idolatrous people
1The word that came to Jeremiah concerning [for, to] all the Jews which dwell [who dwelt] in the land of Egypt, which dwell at, Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and 2at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no 3man dwelleth therein; because of their wickedness which they have committed to1 provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other 4gods, whom they knew not, neither they,2 ye, nor your fathers. Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, 5do not this abominable thing3 that I hate. But they hearkened not, nor inclined 6their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: and they are wasted and desolate, as at 7this day. Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls,4 to cut off from you man 8and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain: In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense5 unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves6 off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all 9the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the wickedness [evil]7 of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their [his]8 wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they9 have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?10They are not humbled even, unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in 11my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face12against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all10 be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and13an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, 14and by the pestilence: So that none [there shall be none escaped or remaining] of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return [and then to return] into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape.11
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The word of the Lord is communicated through Jeremiah to the Israelites dwelling in Egypt; ye have seen how I have punished Judah and Jerusalem for their idolatry (Jer 44:1–6). Why then do you continually commit the same wickedness? Have ye forgotten the lecture? It appears so, for they have not humbled themselves, nor endeavored to keep the law of God (Jer 44:7–10). Therefore shall the remnant of Judah in Egypt, even like unto Judah and Jerusalem, be destroyed by sword, famine and pestilence, and at most single fugitives shall return home (Jer 44:11–14).
Jer 44:1. The word … saying. We have here the last document of Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry. Far from home, after terrible judgments, he has still the same thing to say to the Jews as at first. They have not become wiser or better. From Tahpanhes they had spread abroad in the land. What occasion had brought them together in so large an assembly, is not indeed stated in the superscription, which is of the greater sort (comp. 40:1; 36:1; 35:1; 34:1, etc.), but is evident enough from what follows.—Dwelt. The fugitives have already established themselves in fixed abodes. Comp. rems. on 43:8—Migdol (comp. 46:14; Ezek. 29:10; 30:6 coll. Exod. 14:2; Num. 33:7) was one of the north-eastern boundary points of Egypt [near Syene]. In Herodotus (II. 159) and the LXX. the place is called Μάγδωλον; according to the Itiner. Anton. (p. 171) it was twelve Roman miles from Pelusium.—On Tahpanhes comp. rems. on 43:8.—Noph is Memphis, the ancient capital of lower Egypt. Comp. rems. on 2:16.—Pathros (comp. Jer 44:15; Isa. 11:11; Ezek. 29:14; 30:14) is upper Egypt. Comp. HERZOG, R.-Enc., I. S. 149. The assembly was held, according to Jer 44:15, in Pathros. A considerable time must have elapsed since the migration, because we find the colony already dispersed and settled in different places. On the other hand the meeting cannot have occurred so long after the migration that those who are addressed by Jeremiah can belong to the second generation. They were the Jews who had come into the country (Jer 44:8), and the longing for home was still strong in them. Comp. rems. on Jer 44:29, 30
Jer 44:2-6. Thus saith … as at this day. The prophet presents before the Jews first the great catastrophe, portraying its genesis in the order of its elements.—Whom they know not. Comp. 19:4—I sent, etc. Comp. 7:13, 25; 29:19.—This abominable thing. Comp. 32:35.—Was poured forth. Comp. 42:18.—In the cities of Judah. Comp. Jer 44:9, 17, 21; 7:17; 11:6; 33:10.—As at this day. Comp. Jer 44:2, 22, 23; 11:5.
Jer 44:7-10. Therefore now thus … before your fathers. After the Jews had just learned in a different manner how fearfully Jehovah avenges apostasy from Him, how can they now again, to their unendurable shame and ruin, commit the same sins? It appears as if they had forgotten the lesson and not yet learned to bow in obedience to the divine law.—Man and woman. Comp. 1 Sam. 15:3; 22:19; Lam. 2:11.—The works of your hands. From 1:16 coll. 25:14 it is evident that the prophet wishes the expression to be understood in a physical sense of the idol images.—Burning incense in the wider sense. Comp. rems. on 1:16.—That ye might be, etc. Comp. 42:18; Zech. 8:13.—Have ye forgotten, etc. The present unlawful conduct of the people is explained only by their forgetfulness of the former calamities occasioned by their idolatry.—HITZIG well calls attention to the fact, that the royal wives played an important part in the history of Jewish idolatry. Comp. the wives of Solomon (1 Ki. 11:1 sqq.) Maachah, the mother of Asa (15:13) and Athaliah (11:1).
Jer 44:10. They are not humbled. Comp. Isa. 57:15. How unwillingly does the prophet turn away and address his discourse concerning these, to whom he has hitherto spoken, to others. Comp. Mic. 1:2; Jer. 50:8.—Nor walked. Comp. 9:12; 26:4.
Jer 44:11-14. Therefore … shall escape. Because the Jews, notwithstanding they had experienced the fearful severity of God’s punitive justice, again committed the same sins, therefore (לָכֵן Jer 44:11) will the Lord set his face against them, the last remnant of Judah, and by the destruction of this utterly exterminate the nation. Comp. Jer 44:7.—And I will take. The expression involves an antithesis to set their faces to go. They thought in their own power to take a path which would lead them away from the punitive hand. But the Lord seizes them as He once did the prophet Jonah.—Shall be an execration. Comp. rems. on 42:18.—Them that dwell. Comp. 9:24, 25; 46:25.—None escaped. The Jews had gone to Egypt to remain there temporarily, and then return home. On which are gone then depends not only to sojourn there but also and to return with the following relative sentence.—To the which. Comp. 22:27.—But such as shall escape. Comp. TEXTUAL NOTE.
Jer 44:3.—In להכעסני and ללכת the לְ is the gerundial (comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 95, e), in לְקַטֵּר לַעֲכֹד it is the supinal (Ib., § 93, f.). Comp. 11:17; 32:32.
Jer 44:3.—המה is not to be regarded as accusative, since this has been already expressed by the suffix in יְדָעוּם, but as nominative. The third person stands in close connection with the preceding, the הֵמָּה with the sudden change of person (comp. infra Jer 44:5 and 10 and NAEGELSB. Gr., § 101 Anm.) is however explained by אַתֶּם ו׳, with which a return is made to the second person used in the beginning of the sentence (Jer 44:2).
Jer 44:4.—דְּבַר as in Jud. 19:24.
Jer 44:7.—וָעָה must here have the same sense as רָעוֹת, Jer 44:9. For the connection is: the רָעָה that ye now do can only be explained, by your having forgotten the רָעוֹת of the past. Since now רָעוֹת must necessarily be taken in a double sense, so must also רָעָה in this passageּ.לְהַכְרִית ו׳ is a gerundial infinitive. On נפשׁרת comp. NAEGELSB. Gr. § 81, 1 c.
Jer 44:8.—לְהַכְעִיסֵנִי and לְקַטֶּר are also gerundial infinitives (comp. Jer 44:3).
Jer 44:8.—In Jer 44:7 הַכְרית has a definitely expressed object. Many would supply this here. Others take לכם for אֶתְכֶם, according to the analogy of 40:2. הכרית may, however, also be taken in a directly causative sense=prepare extermination, so that the dative would have nothing abnormal in it. Comp. הִרנּיז Jer. 50:34; הוֹכיהַ Isa. 2:4; הִצדִּיקIsa. 51:11 with לְ; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 69, 1 Anm. 2.
Jer 44:9.—From עָשׂוּ אֲשֶׁר it would follow that רָעוֹת is to be taken in a moral sense. But can it be said of those who are censured on account of their persistence in these sins: Have you forgotten your sins? J. D. MICHAELIS is therefore disposed to read הִשְׁכַּחְתֶּם, with a marginal reading of a Königsberg Codex: mijus peccando memoriam peccatorum ante commissorum obliterastis. But this reading is not sufficiently authenticated. We must therefore take רָעוֹת, as in Jer 44:7, in a double sense, so as to designate at the same time the mala pœnæ and the mala culpæ (comp. Gen. 50:15). Their forgetfulness of the sufferings which they had drawn on them by their sins is the cause of their obstinate persistence in the latter.
Jer 44:9.—נשׁיו רעות. Both the introduction of the “wives” and the singular suffix are surprising. The LXX. read τῶν ἀρχόντων ὑμῶν. שְּׂרֵיכֶם or נְשִׂיאֵיכֶם would certainly correspond better to the connection, as well as to the usage of the prophet elsewhere (comp. Jer 44:17, 21; 1:18; 2:26; 24:8; 25:18; 32:32; 34:21). But the more difficult reading is to be preferred. The singular suffix is not to be referred to Judah, since the expression “wives of Judah” is neither used elsewhere nor suitable to the connection, but to the king of the time. Comp. Hos. 4:8; Zech. 14:12; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 105, 7, Anm. 2.
Jer 44:9.—עָשׂוּ אֲשֶׁר. Change of person as in Jer 44:3, 5. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 101, 2, Anm.
Jer 44:12.—כל ותמו. According to the accents the sentence is to be construed as in the translation. On כֹּל comp. Isa. 30:5; EWALD, 286, e.
Jer 44:14.—פְּלֵטִים אִם כִּי. Strictly taken these words form a direct contradiction to the beginning of the verse, which declares that there shall be a פָּלִיט or שָׂרִיד, and the words יָשׁוּבוּ לֹא כִּי are no other than the confirmation of this statement. It is therefore natural to regard the words as a later addition, as HITZIG does. The brevity of the previous sentence, and its apparent contradiction of Jer 44:28 seemed to require this supplementation. In Jer 44:28 it is expressly stated that some, having escaped, will return, and it is hence evident that the declaration here, Jer 44:14, is not to be taken with absolute literalness.
Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,b. The Replication of the People
15Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by a [there in the] great multitude [assembly], even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16saying, As for the word12 that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the 17Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing [word] goeth forth [has gone forth] out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well,13 and saw 18no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed1419by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her,15 and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
From the purport of this passage it is manifest that the people had come together to celebrate a festival in honor of the queen of heaven, and to perform the vows they had made. The assembly consisted principally of women. Hence they were the chief speakers. They now declare to the prophet that they will not obey his words (Jer 44:16), but perform their vows, and make their offerings to the queen of heaven, as they had also done at home. It was then well with them (Jer 44:17), only since they neglected her worship, has it gone badly with them (Jer 44:18). In addition, they (the women) had devoted themselves to the service of this goddess only with the concurrence of their husbands.
Jer 44:15. Then all … saying. The assembly consisted (1) of men, who well knew that their wives offered incense to other gods (comp. rems. on Jer 44:3); (2) of women, who were a great multitude. From the circumstance that the “great assembly” is designated as consisting of women, it has been rightly concluded that they formed the majority, which explains the emphasis laid on the women in Jer 44:24, 25.—The Jewish women thus appear to have come together from all parts of Egypt to a festival of the queen of heaven, which was held in a place of upper Egypt (Pathros), not more particularly designated, in order there to perform their vows made to this goddess. The men seem to have been both those who lived in the neighborhood and those who had come from a distance as husbands of a part of the women mentioned. The assembly consisted (3) of representatives of all the people, who were settled in Egypt, among whom we must suppose individuals, who were neither husbands nor wives—In Pathros accordingly designates the place of meeting, and is not to be connected with lived but with answered. The prophet had endeavored by his discourse, Jer 44:2–14, to hinder the observance of this idolatrous festival, but was not successful.
Jer 44:16-19. As for the word … without our men.—We will not hearken. Comp. 7:16.—The expression whatsoever word has gone forth out of our mouth indicates vows that had been made (comp. Num. 30:3, 13; 32:24; Jud. 11:36). On the queen of heaven comp. rems. on 7:18—And when we burned. According to the apodosis this ought properly to be in the feminine instead of the masculine, as in Jer 44:15 (מקטרוֹת). The masculine form has not only a general justification, as being the chief form, and frequently occurring for the feminine (comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 60, 5, 4), but also a special, since the speakers had in view the entire number who took part in the offering. According to Num. 30:7 sqq., the women were responsible for the observance of their vows only when approved by their husbands (or fathers, comp. Jer 44:4). Hence they now declare, that in consequence of having obtained the concurrence of their husbands they are at any rate free from all personal responsibility. On cakes comp. rems. on 7:18. It is evident from the latter passage, that this cult was not first adopted in Egypt, but imported from home.
Jer 44:16.—הַדָּבָר is to be regarded as accusative of restriction. Not generally, but only with respect to this particular word, do they declare that they will not obey the prophet. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 70, f.
Jer 44:17.—טובים felices. Comp. Isa. 3:10, and DELITZSCH ad loc.
Jer 44:18.—On the form תַּמְנוּ, which is found only in the root תָּמַם, comp. OLSH., S. 483, f.
Jer 44:19.—להעציבה. The Hiph. here only. The Piel only in Job 10:8 decidedly in the meaning of “to form, shape.” Compare further עֶצֶב,עֲצַבִּים (Jer. 22:28), so the meaning of the Hiph. in this place cannot be other than “to form, copy,” with reference to the moon-shaped form of the cakes. Comp. rems. on 7:18. The circumstance that the ה is written without Mappik (which however is found in some MSS.) does not stand in the way of this. (Comp. OLSH., § 96, e; Isai. 21:2; 23:17, 18). [We must then render: make her cakes to copy her.—S. R. A.]
Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying,c. The Rejoinder of the Prophet (4:20–30)
a. Refutation of the Popular Assertions
20Then Jeremiah said unto16 all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to 21all the people which had given him that answer, saying, Is it not so? The incense17 that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? [Jehovah remembered 22it,18 and it came into his mind].19 So that the LORD [Jehovah] could no longer bear20 because of the evil of your doings,21 and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation,22 and an astonishment [a waste] and 23a curse, without an inhabitant,23 as at this day. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened24 unto you, as at this day.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
To the assertion of the people that it had gone well with them so long as they had served the queen of heaven, and that their misfortunes dated from their cessation of this service, the prophet answers with a non post hoc sed propter hoc. It was precisely on account of this idolatrous cult (Jer 44:21) which Jehovah could no longer suffer, that their misfortunes had come upon them (Jer 44:22). And for the sake of emphasis Jeremiah repeats this bitter truth once more (Jer 44:23).
Jer 44:20.—On the interchange of עַל and אֵל comp. rems. on 10:1.
Jer 44:21.—The Piel form קִטֵּר, which occurs here only (comp. OLSH. § 182, e) corresponds to the German “Geraücher” [fumigating, incensing]. Observe also the emphatic position of the word at the beginning of the sentence [the incensing that ye did].
Jer 44:21.—The plural suffix in אוֹתֹם refers to the plural idea contained in the intensive form. Compare remarks on 11:4.
Jer 44:21.—Comp. rems. on 3:16.
Jer 44:22.—יובל ולא. The imperf. is evidently used here in an aoristic sense, but since the fact in question is removed from all objective human perception, it is consequently founded, notwithstanding its undoubted correctness, on a subjective conception, Comp. Isa. 37:4; 1 Ki. 8:5.
Jer 44:22.—לשּאת. With מִפְּנֵי following, here only. It seems to be used in the absolute sense of “endure, hold out,” also in Isa. 1. Prov. 30.—21—וגו׳ רע. Comp. 4:4; 21:12; 23:2, 22; 24:2 sqq.; 26:3.
Jer 44:22.—לחרבה. Comp. Jer 44:6, 12.
Jer 44:22.—יושׁב מאין. Comp. rems. on 2:15.
Jer 44:23.—קראת Comp. OLSH. S. 449, 478.—GES., § 74, Anm. 1; EWALD, § 194, b.
Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt:β. The Positive Announcement of Severest Punishment
24Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the 25word of the LORD [Jehovah’s word] all Judah that are in the land of Egypt. Thus saith the LORD of hosts [Jehovah Zebaoth] the God of Israel, saying: Ye and your wives have both25 spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her; ye will surely accomplish26 26your vows, and surely perform your vows. Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD [Jehovah’s word] all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The 27LORD God [Adonai Jehovah] liveth. Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good; and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed 28by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. Yet a small number that escape27 the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of 29Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.28 And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish29 you in this place, 30that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD: Behold, I will give Pharaoh-hophra, king of Egypt, into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah, king of Judah, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
As that which the land and people of Judah had experienced from the Chaldeans, was a punishment for their previous wickedness, so in the future also new calamities will be the recompense of their newly-repeated offences. The Jews persist in performing their idolatrous vows. Well, they shall do so (Jer 44:26). But they shall also hear, that there will soon be no longer a Jew in Egypt, who may even take the name of Jehovah into his mouth (Jer 44:26). For they shall be exterminated by sword and famine (Jer 44:27), and only a few shall return into the land of Judah, that this stubborn people may learn who is in a position to execute his will, Jehovah or they? (Jer 44:28). And this may serve for a token, that the Lord will make good His word, that Hophra, king of Egypt, will be given into the hand of his mortal enemies, just as Zedekiah was given into the hand of his enemy, the king of Babylon (Jer 44:29, 30).
Jer 44:24, 25. Moreover Jeremiah … your vows. The women are here also expressly mentioned (see rems. on Jer 44:15). In Jer 44:25 even the predicate to ye and your wives, as well as the predicates in the concluding sentence of the verse has the feminine form.—The sentence and fulfilled with your hand is to be regarded as a parenthesis, occasioned by the circumstance, that the discharge of the vows was already in progress at the very moment the prophet was speaking. We may conclude from this, that the words in Jer 44:24 sqq. were spoken later than the preceding context, viz., towards the close of the meeting.
Jer 44:26-28. Therefore hear … or theirs. As you obstinately carry out your will, hear what the Lord will do to effect His. He has sworn by His great Name (comp. 22:5; 49:13; 51:14), that a time will yet come, when no Jew in Egypt will any more take the name of Jehovah into his mouth as an oath (comp. 4:2; 5:2; 12:16), simply for this reason, that there will be none there (Jer 44:27). “In the form of asseveration the name of Jehovah would be still retained, although they had long since become devoted to the service of other gods. But Jehovah, who is an אֵל קֵנָּא [jealous God], rejects honor and acknowledgment which He must share with others; and so His name shall no longer be heard from the mouth of any Jews in Egypt.” HITZIG.—In Behold, I will watch, there is evidently a reminiscence of 1:12, so that the close of the prophecies is thus connected with the beginning.—Only a few individuals will escape the sword and return home (comp. rems. on Jer 44:14).—A small number. Comp. Gen. 34:30; Deut. 4:27; Ps. 105:12.—And thus Israel shall learn by this fact, whose word will stand (דְבַר מִי. Comp. 8:9; Gen. 24:23; יָקוּם, Isa. 14:24; 7:7; 46:10), theirs (Jer 44:17, 18) or Jehovah’s.
Jer 44:29, 30. And this, shall be a sign … sought his life. The Jews might think that in Egypt they were out of sight of their God, whose throne was in Jerusalem. To expel this delusion the prophet announces to them a sign, that the Lord has them well in view. When they see this sign it will be a pledge that the punishments threatened in Jer 44:26–28 will really overtake them. The sign will consist in this, that Hophra, the Egyptian king, will be given into the hands of his enemies, as Zedekiah was into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. Now Herodotus certainly relates (II., 161 sqq.) that Apries [Manetho, Οὐάφρις, LXX., Οὐαφρῆ], (i.e., Hophra) whom he calls after Psammetichus the most fortunate of the earlier kings, in consequence of an unsuccessful battle with the Cyrenians, had to experience a revolt of the Egyptians. Amasis, who was sent to treat with them, himself went over to the rebels, and Apries was compelled to fight the Egyptians under Amasis with an army consisting only of foreign auxiliaries. He was so presumptuous as to think, says Herodotus, that no God could cast him from his throne, so firmly was he seated upon it. He was, however, vanquished and taken captive. Amasis now indeed treated him very well in the palace, but the Egyptians took it ill that ho was so indulgent to his and their greatest enemy. Therefore Amasis delivered Apries up to the Egyptians, who strangled him (II., 169). If we compare this narrative with the passage under consideration, we find that they agree perfectly, not only in speaking of a “surrender of Hophra into the hands of those who sought his life” (comp. אֹיְבָיו and נ׳ מְבַקְשֵׁי, Jer 44:30a, with the singular in hemistich b) but also in this, that the circumstance of the surrender of the king being predicted as a sign, appears to be thus well accounted for, in Apries having by his obstinate arrogance challenged the divine Nemesis. But how about the chronology? It has been assumed that the surrender of Apries occurred at too late a date for it to have served as a sign, or that Jeremiah could have lived to any proximate period. The death of Apries must certainly be placed in B. C., 570 (comp. DUNCKER, S. 930; M. NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab., S. 217). We have remarked above on Jer 44:1, that the Jews are still designated as having come into the country (Jer 44:8, 12, 14), and therefore not as born in it, and a strong longing for the land of their fathers is still ascribed to them (Jer 44:14). But does this prevent us from supposing that they have been already about sixteen years in the country? There is nothing opposed to this in the text. This simply records that they had settled down at different places, and were now assembled for a festival in Upper Egypt. This might happen as well after sixteen years as after two, but better then, than in the first year. A longing for home is not yet altogether extinguished in the Jews even at the present day. Comp. Ps. 137—As to the age of Jeremiah—if he was a נַעַר, about twenty, in the thirteenth year of Josiah (comp. 1:2, 6), he must have been about seventy-six or seventy-seven in the year B. C., 570. This is not impossible. What object could the subsequent insertion of this verse as a vaticinium post eventum, alleged by HITZIG and GRAF, have had? There was no need for it (as there perhaps was for פְּלִטִּים אִם כִּי, Jer 44:14), and if it was not Jeremiah’s custom to offer tokens, this would all the more have deterred from such an interpolation. Even if we grant that there are no other tokens of this kind to be found in Jeremiah, this does not involve the impossibility of his ever having given such a one. He might have a special reason for doing so here. I think I can perceive such a reason in the presumptuous declaration on the part of the king, recorded by Herodotus. This prediction of the fate impending over the king was the answer of the true God to this provocation. The point of the prediction is evidently directed against this latter. That which Jeremiah loudly proclaimed in an open assembly of the Jewish people could not remain hid. The king could and should hear it, even though he hell the old Jewish soothsayer in disdain. Only thus is it explained why Jeremiah gave a token just now, and why he gave just this. He was obliged to predict his fate to the king, in order that when this came, the hand of God might be recognized in it, and at the same time this prediction was to be a pledge to the Jewish people for the fulfilment of the judgment threatened by him. Let us remember how the mighty hand of the Lord was once displayed through Moses on Egypt and its king, in order that they might perceive that He was the Lord, and His the earth (Exod. 7:5, 17; 8:22; 9:14, 29; 10:2). After the lapse of a thousand years the last remnant of the theocratic nation return as fugitives to the same Egypt, from which the Lord had so gloriously conducted them. Israel had failed of the high goal, appointed for it—but the Lord had remained the same, and His last prophet like His first was commissioned to be the medium of announcement to the proud empires of the just judgments of the only true God, who does not allow Himself to be despised with impunity.
How now was the threatening fulfilled that the remnant of Judah in Egypt should perish by sword and famine, except a few who should return home (Jer 44:28), and none should be left, in Egypt who could take the name of Jehovah for an oath, on his lips (Jer 44:26)? In the first place it may here be mentioned, that it is a matter of indifference to this question, whether Nebuchadnezzar really came to Egypt and fulfilled the prophecy in 43:8–14, or not. I leave entirely out of account the fabulous record of Megasthenes (in STRABO, XVI., p. 687, a;JOSEPH., Antiqq., X., 11, 1; c. Ap., I., 20), that Nebuchadnezzar subjugated not only Egypt, but also Lybia and Iberia, and came to the pillars of Hercules, yea even to Thrace and the Pontus (comp. HAEVERNICK, Comm. on Ezek., S. 496 sqq., and the narratives confirming the conquest of Egypt in Arabian authors: ABULFEDA, Hist. ante-Islam, p. 102. FLEISCHER, Abdollatif, Rel. de Egyp., p. 184, 247; ed. DE SACY). But JOSEPHUS, as is well known, relates also (Antiqq., X., 9, 7) that Nebuchadnezzar in the fifth year after the capture of Jerusalem himself led an army to Cœlo-Syria, and after the conquest of this country, made war also on the Ammonites and Moabites, and invaded Egypt. On this occasion he killed the king then reigning in Egypt, set up another in his stead, and again led Jews away captive to Babylonia. Now if whatever in this account relates to the Egyptian king be decidedly erroneous (Comp. M. NIEBUHR, Ass. u. Bab., S. 215, Anm. 3), it is, however, still possible that Nebuchadnezzar, during the thirteen years siege or blockade of Tyre, which began directly after the conquest of Jerusalem, had the desire and the leisure to make an expedition through Cœlo-Syria and the East-Jordanic countries to Egypt. It would make no essential difference if he entrusted this expedition to one of his generals. The prophecy in 43:8–14, may then have been fulfilled. Captive Jews and Egyptians may also have been really carried away on this occasion. Comp. 52:30; M. NIEBUHR, S. 215, et passim. But, as we have said, the question, what happened to the Jews still living in Egypt B. C., 570, is not affected by an expedition of the Chaldeans to Egypt ten or twelve years earlier.
It is surprising that in Jer 44 the extermination of the Jews living in Egypt is so definitely prophesied, while some centuries later we find the Jews in Egypt very numerous, and Egypt a centre of the Jewish diaspora (comp. HERZOG, R.-Enc., XVII. S. 285) Alexander the Great finds so many Jews in Egypt, that he peoples the city founded by him, and named after him, chiefly with them (comp. HERZOG, R.-Enc., I., S. 235). How did these Jews come into Egypt? Till the time of Nehemiah (about B.C., 444), Judea was so thinly populated, that it certainly could not afford to send out colonists. The many Persian expeditions to Egypt (B. C., 525, 484, 460, 458, 373), may indeed have carried many single Jews with them. The same may also be said of the brief occupation of Palestine by Taches, king of Egypt (B. C., 361). It is related of Ochus, that in his expedition, undertaken B. C., 350 for the reconquest of Egypt, he dragged many Jews with him to Egypt. It is, however, added that he afterwards took part of them back to Babylon, and part of them he banished to Hyrcania. Comp. HERZFELD, Gesch. d. V. Isr., etc., [History of the Israelitish nation from the completion of the Second Temple to Simon Maccabeus], I., S. 118. It is recorded of Alexander the Great himself that on his expedition to Egypt he incorporated many Jews and Samaritans in his army (comp. HERZFELD, S. 120, et pass.), but it is scarcely probable that he left all these warriors behind in Egypt. When in Babylon, he wished to rebuild the temple of Belus, he had Jews in his army, as is related by Hecatæus in JOSEPH., c. Ap., I., 22 (p. 1186 sqq., ed. OBERTHUER). Whence then the great number of Jews that Alexander found already in Egypt? I believe we must seek them for the most part in the descendants of those who immigrated with Jeremiah. But then the prophecy was not fulfilled. May we not assume that the idolatrous practices ceased among the exiled Jews in Egypt, as well as among those in Babylon? And if this was the case, how can it be a question, what turning-point we must suppose between the idolatrous period, in which we still see them in Jer. 44, and the later one of fidelity to Jehovah? May not the powerful words of the aged and venerable Jeremiah, and the literal fulfilment of the prophecy uttered by him respecting the king (44:29, 30) have produced an overpowering impression on their minds? According to tradition. (HIERON., adv. Jovin., 2, 37; TERTULLIAN, Scorp. 8; EPIPHAN. περὶ τῶν προφητῶν, Opp., II., p. 239) Jeremiah was stoned by his countrymen in Tahpanhes. But this legend is surely without foundation. If they stoned him, they must have done it after the discourse in Jer 44, which was not delivered in Tahpanhes (44:15). It is, however, also possible that the idolatrous inclination in them, as in their countrymen in Babylonia, was now exhausted, and that the Lord in view of their repentance, repented Him of the evil, which He had spoken against them (26:13, 18).
Jer 44:25.—On the Vau consecutive comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 88, 7, and Jer. 3:9; 6:19; 33:24.
Jer 44:25.—On the form תָּקִימְנָה comp. OLSH., S 579; EWALD, § 196, c; GES., § 72, 5, Anm.
Jer 44:28.—חרב פליטי comp. Ezek. 6:8: NAEGELSB. Gr., § 64, 5, c.
Jer 44:28.—The construction וּמֵהֶם מִמֶּנִּי (comp. analogies in GRAF) is found in this form here only. The two pronouns analyze the idea שְׁנֵיניִ. Since, however, both members of the disjunctive question were to be distinctly expressed, the only way was either to say דְּבַרְכֶם וְאִם דְּבָרִי אִם (comp. Joel 1:2), or as there are no independent possessive pronouns, to use the personal pronouns, which, however, could be employed only in the form of suffixes to the partitive prepositions.
Jer 44:29.—פָּקַר with עַל as in Jer 44:13.