Jeremiah 46
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

1. FÖRSTER states four reasons why the prophets had to proclaim judgment on the heathen nations also. The first is διδασκαλικός: it is to be known that the prosperity of the heathen is not lasting, but that heathendom has no basis of true prosperity. The second reason is παρηγορικός: the pious are not to fear that the heathen will get the upper hand and suppress the church. The third is ἐπανορθωτικός: God’s people are to guard against forming alliances with the heathen and trusting in their help. The fourth is ἐλεγκτικός: a conclusion is to be drawn a minori ad majus: if God does not spare the heathen who are deprived of His light, how much less will He spare His people, if they despise the light of His word.

2. “Jeremiah’s God is also the Lord of all the heathen and makes their destinies. They find it so according to their words and especially their posture towards the chosen people Israel. They haste to their destruction, for one nation only is eternal; this, however, is the nation which has been passed through a thousand sieves and in comparison with others is no nation. That which is in Israel, as in other nations, passes away, and only that which it has above other nations remains eternal. Jeremiah prophesies most against Egypt, Moab and Babylon, in which the wealth, the jealous, scoffing manner of the mean world, and the cavalier spirit of great states is rebuked. … He who rightly understands this sees here not sermons addressed to generations long since passed away, but to the natural humanity streaming through this world, as it is continually presented with new names and yet always with the same carnal impulses and based on the same unreason. To him, who thus understands Jeremiah, he is again alive, and the Jewish legend is fulfilled, that Jeremiah must come again before the Messianic kingdom can bloom up again in glory. Yea, let Jeremiah rise truly for thee to mourn, and Christ, with the hosannas of His eternal hosts of disciples, will not longer be hidden from thee, and in Him thou wilt have all things.” DIEDRICH.

3. On 46:6. “The race is not to the swift. Eccles. 9:11. Therefore let not the strong man glory in his strength. Jer. 9:22. Also are horses and chariots and such like things of no avail: for to those who have not God on their side, all is lost.” CRAMER.

4. On 46:10. “God may long delay His reckoning. This Pharaoh-necho had killed the pious Josiah, conquered his son Jehoahaz and laid the land of Judah under tribute. But guilt rusts not, however old, and though God comes slowly He comes surely.” CRAMER.

5. On 46:10. “Although the ungodly go free for a long time and rejoice with timbrel and harp and are glad with pipes and spend their days in wealth (Job 21:12), yet he lets them go free like sheep for the slaughter, and spares them for the day of slaughter (Jer. 12:3).” CRAMER.

6. On 46:25. “Bonum confidere in Domino et non in principibus (Ps. 146). When their help is most needed they lie down and die.” FÖRSTER.

7. On Jer 46:27, 28. “When God turns things upside down and takes care that neither root nor branch remains, His little flock must be preserved. The punishments which redound to the destruction of the ungodly redound to the amelioration of the godly. For from these He takes the eternal punishment, and the temporal must also redound to their advantage, but the ungodly drink it to the dregs.” CRAMER.

The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles;

The Prophecies Against Foreign Nations

(CHAPP. 46–51)

The prophets of Israel could not avoid bringing the heathen nations also within the sphere of their predictions. They were compelled to this, partly even from their theocratic and particularistic point of view, in so far as the interests of the theocracy were essentially affected by the standing or falling of their heathen neighbors, and partly in a general view, as they represented the idea of the all-embracing divine love and providence. Hence we find declarations concerning heathen nations in most of the prophetic books. We find these prophecies relating to heathen nations, comprising larger groups, in Isaiah, chh. 13–23., in Ezekiel chh. 25–32., and here also in Jeremiah 46–51.

The main trunk of these prophecies is formed by a Sepher, which according to its principal part, owes its origin to the period immediately before the battle of Carchemish (comp. rems. on 46:2). As Amos makes his way through a cycle of seven nations to his main goal, the kingdom of Israel (1:3–2:5), and as Ezekiel predicts a judgment on seven nations, so our Sepher also contains declarations against seven nations: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and Elam. This arrangement is evidently intentional; proceeding from Egypt the prophet advances to the Philistines; from these he springs across to their eastern neighbors and concludes with Elam, as representing the distant East and North. It is evident that these seven utterances form the main trunk of the Sepher against the nations, from two circumstances. First, that in none of them is Nebuchadnezzar or the Chaldeans mentioned. This is the certain and constantly observed sign of composition before the battle of Carchemish. Secondly, that five of them (or six, comp. infra, rems. on 49:34–39) have a similar commencement, viz. לְמוֹאָב, לְמִצְרַיִם, etc. This grammatical form is closely connected with the common superscription, The word of Jehovah which came to Jeremiah against the nations, 46:1. The prefix לְ, viz. expresses the comprehension of the following special prophecies under this general title (comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 112, 5, b). On this point, however, two things are to be remarked. 1. The prophecy against the Philistines (Jer 47.) bears a superscription according to a different formula, and provided with a special date. We shall show, on 47:1, that this prophecy is older than the six others of the Sepher against the Nations, that it is indeed the oldest of all the prophecies of Jeremiah against heathen nations. It was therefore already extant, when the Sepher was formed, and was therefore included in it, Just as it was. 2. The prophecy against Elam (49:34–38) likewise bears a title differing both in form and purport, by which the utterance is assigned to the fourth year of Zedekiah. With this superscription the case is quite peculiar. In the LXX., viz. Jer 25. continues after Jer 46:13: ‛̀Α ἐπροφήτευσεν ’Ιερεμίας ἐπὶ τὰ ἐθνη τὰ Αἰλάμ. Hereupon follows the prophecy which we read in the Hebrew text 49:35–38. At the close of this, however, we find the words:Εν ἀρχῇ βασιλεύοντος Σεδεκίου βασιλέως ἐγένετο ὁ λόγος οὖτος περὶ Αἰλάμ. The prophecy against Elam in the LXX. thus has a superscription and a postscript, which is unexampled in Jeremiah. Now, however, the double circumstance comes in, that in the LXX. the superscription of Jer 27. is wanting, the same which in the Hebrew text contains the evidently and admittedly false name Jehoiakim, and that in the Hebrew text the prophecy against Elam is in 49:34 assigned to the fourth year of Zedekiah, though Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans are not mentioned, as they usually are in prophecies subsequent to the battle of Carchemish. From this state of the case I draw the following conclusions: 1. The prophecy against Elam must originally have had the superscription לְעֵילָם, in conformity to the superscriptions of the prophecies against Egypt I., Moab, Ammon, Edom and Damascus. For only thus is the abrupt τὰ Αἰλάμ in the superscription of the prophecy in the LXX. explicable. The article τὰ proceeds from the circumstance that they connected Αἰλάμ grammatically with τὰ ἔθνη, to which neither grammar nor criticism give any justification, for they arbitrarily separated נִבָּא יר׳ עַל־הַגּוֹיִם, 25:13, from the previous context, and made it the superscription, then arbitrarily placed לְעֵילָם as if in apposition to הַגּוֹיִם, and finally, with equal arbitrariness, transposed the whole prophecy hither, for it stood originally in another place. From the postscript, viz. we see that 2. the prophecy must originally have stood, as it still does in the Hebrew text, at the close of the Sepher against the nations, but immediately before Jer 27., this postscript being evidently no other than the first verse of Jer 27. (modified according to circumstances), which is entirely wanting in the LXX., and in the Hebrew contains the wrong name of a king. How did this prophecy come by a postscript, since no other prophecy in Jeremiah has such an one? Whence came it that 27:1 is entirely wanting in the LXX.? To say nothing of the circumstance, that the date ἐν ἀρχῇ βασιλεύοντος Σεδεκίου in the prophecy against Elam is as incorrect as 27:1 is undoubtedly alone correct (comp. rems. on 27:1 and 49:34). But how now does verse 1 of Jer 27. come to be the postscript, in the Hebrew the superscription to the prophecy against Elam? Evidently the prophecies against the nations must once have had their place after Jer 25. and before Jer 27:1. They were, however, taken away from this place, and 27:1 went with them, whether it was that it was really taken for the postscript of the prophecy, or by an unintentional error. If this view is correct it is thus determined that the Sepher against the nations then concluded with the prophecy against Elam. Whether the subsequently added prophecies against Egypt II., against the Arabians and against Babylon were then incorporated in the Sepher cannot be ascertained. Where, however, did the Sepher begin, or rather on what portion of our book did it follow? Chapter 25. cannot have preceded it, for it is quite out of the question, that it can ever have had place between chh. 26. and 27. Since that detached verse (27:1) is found at the close, or at the beginning of the prophecy against Elam, and not at the close of the passage 25:15–38, it necessarily follows that this passage did not follow, but preceded the Sepher against the nations. Thus the Sepher cannot have been attached to 25:14, 13 or 12. It can, therefore, have had its place only between 27:1 and 25:38. Both the present form of the text in the LXX., and the purport of 25:13 b, show that it must have been placed in the immediate neighborhood of this verse. For what reason? The verses 12, 13 and 14 of Jer 25., are directed against Babylon. They treat of the ruin of Babylon with an emphasis and a detail, which do not correspond at all to the historical fact to which Jer 25. owes its origin. The first half of 25:13 decidedly presupposes the prophecy against Babylon, pertaining to the fourth year of Zedekiah (comp. 51:59). From this it follows, that the Sepher against the nations can have been transposed from its original place between 25:38 and 27:1 to that before 25:15, only with the prophecy against Babylon, therefore after its becoming known. We shall not err if we suppose that the words in 25:11, “and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years,” gave occasion both to the more extended portrayal of the visitation of Babylon only implicitly, intimated as we have it in the verses 25:12–14, and also the transposition hither of the Sepher against the nations now extended by the prophecy against Babylon. The LXX. version flowed from a recension affording this form of the text. For omitting Jer 46:14, it is connected with Jer 46:13, and then gives, though in a different order from the Masoretic text, the prophecies against the nations and as a comprehensive conclusion follows the passage 25:15–38 in Jer 32. From Jer 33. onward the remaining chapters follow in the same order as in the Masoretic text, only that a chapter is not devoted to the prophecy for Baruch, this appearing in the LXX. merely as the conclusion of Jer 51. Another diaskenast (who it was it would be impossible to determine) now found it more to the purpose to separate the prophecies against the nations from the passages relating to the theocracy. And thus they were then, without making any alteration in Jer 46:25:12–14, transposed to the place, where we now find them in the Masoretic text.—The prophecy against Babylon was, however, the only addition to the original Sepher against the nations. Two new portions were inserted at appropriate places between the original ones, viz.: 1, a second prophecy against Egypt (46:13–26) which expressly mentions the name Nebuchadnezzar, 46:13–26; 2. a prophecy against the northern Arabian kingdom (49:28–33), in which at any rate Nebuchadnezzar’s name is mentioned in Jer 46:28 and 30. The insertion of the second prophecy against Egypt after the first, and that against the Arabians after that against Damascus, and before that against Elam, cannot be regarded as other than appropriate.



1The word of the LORD [Jehovah] which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles [THE NATIONS].

This superscription extends over the whole of the prophecies here brought together and forming a סֵפֶר. It thus forms the heading to chh. 46–51., and introduces the second main division of the Book. The form is the same as in 14:1; 47:1; 49:34. On the grammar, comp. rems. on 14:1



2Against [concerning] Egypt, against the army of Pharaoh-necho 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.

3     Prepare ye the buckler and the shield,

And move ye on to the battle.

4     Harness the horses, and mount ye horsemen,

And stand forth with your helmets,

Furbish1 the spears, put on coats of mail.2

5     Why, (as) I see, are they dismayed—retreat?

And their heroes are dashed to pieces;

They flee in haste, and turn not again?3

Fear round about!4 saith Jehovah.

6     Let not the swift flee away;5

Nor let the mighty escape!

Northwards, by the margin of the river Euphrates, they totter, they fall.

7     Who is he who riseth up like the Nile,

His waters roll along like the streams?6

8     Egypt riseth up like the Nile,

His waters roll along like the streams;

And he said, I will up, cover the land,

Destroy7 the city and them that dwell therein.

9     Mount ye8 the horses, and rage, ye chariots;

And let the mighty warriors go forth:

Cush and Phut, who handle the shield,

And Lydians, that handle and tread the bow.9

10     And that day is a day of vengeance for the LORD, Jehovah Zebaoth,

That he may avenge himself on his enemies;

And the sword shall devour10 and be satiate,11

And be drunken with their blood:

For a slain offering has the LORD, Jehovah Zebaoth,

In the land of the North by the river Euphrates.

11     Go up towards Gilead and fetch balm, Virgin daughter of Egypt!12

In vain takest thou many medicines;

There is no plaster13 for thee.

12     Nations hear of thy shame,

And with thy crying the earth is filled,

For one warrior threw down another,

They are both of them fallen together14


After the double, viz., general and special title (Jer 46:1, 2), two pictures are presented before us. The first (Jer 46:3–6) is the more general and indefinite; warriors are admonished to equip themselves for battle (Jer 46:3, 4). Then, however, directly follows a description of the defeat and terrible flight, with a statement as to the place of the battle (Jer 46:5, 6). In the second picture not only is Egypt mentioned as the army addressed by the prophet, but it is also portrayed in colors taken from specially Egyptian relations. That we have, moreover, two pictures before us, is seen from the circumstance, that in Jer 46:7–12the whole course of the struggle from beginning to end is described in its main features: the prophet sees the Egyptian host approaching like the overflow of the Nile (Jer 46:7, 8); he then summons horses, chariots and all warriors (among them the neighboring nations, forming part of the host), to the fight (Jer 46:9). But the fight does not end well for Egypt: it is a day of the vengeance of Jehovah on Egypt, a sacrificial feast, in which Egypt is the slaughtered victim (Jer 46:10). The consequences of the lost battle are so fatal to Egypt, that it cannot recover, and the report of its overthrow fills the world (Jer 46:11, 12).—Does this passage contain a prophecy of the battle, or does it presuppose the battle as already fought? I think the former. For according to Jer 46:10 (וְאָֽבְלָה וגו׳), the battle is evidently still future. But the prophet felt himself moved to this prophecy, not during the advance of the Egyptian host from its country, but when it had already taken up a position on the Euphrates and the decisive conflict was there to be expected. This follows clearly from Jer 46:2 in connection with Jer 46:6b, and Jer 46:10b, as will be further seen in the exposition of these passages. The prophetic and poetical prediction of the approaching battle comes into the foreground, but this does not exclude brief significant hints with respect to the consequences of the battle for the whole future of Egypt.

Jer 46:2. Against Egypt … of Judah. למצדים, comp. 23:9; 48:1; 49:1, 7, 23, 28. The prefix לְ restricts the general idea expressed in the main superscription to a special part. Comp. 19:13; Ezek. 44:9; Lev. 12:6, 7. Pharaoh-necho (נְכֹה, 2 Ki. 23:29–35) was the sixth king of the twenty-sixth dynasty. He reigned after his father, the great Psammetichus, from B. C., 610–595. Comp. DUNCKER, I., S. 817, 925; HERZOG, R.-Enc. X., S. 257.—He came from Egypt by sea, landed to the north of Carmel in the bay of Acco, and defeated Josiah at Megiddo (608). Jehoiakim was his creature (comp. 2 Ki. 23:34). He was thus at the time de facto ruler of Judah. After the battle at Megiddo, it must have been easy for him to subjugate Phœnicia and Syria, for who was there to offer him any resistance? The power of the Assyrians, Medes and Babylonians, was concentrated in and around Nineveh. Nineveh fell B. C., 606. Now first did the Babylonian army advance under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar. It met the Egyptians at Carchemish. The city was situated at the confluence of the Chaboras [Chebar or Khaboor], and the Euphrates, on a peninsula formed by the two rivers. Here was the principal passage across the Euphrates (comp. NIEBUHR, S. 205, 369; HERZOG, Real-Enc. VII., S. 379), and here as “the extreme line of defence of his new province” (NIEBUHR, S. 369), Necho took up his position. He must have lain here for some time, whether because the siege of the city occupied much time, or because it was a part of his plan not to advance further, but here in a favorable position to await the enemy. Observe in the text the double relative sentence which was, etc., and which Nebuchadnezzar, etc. It is doubtless not by accident that by the first of the two, the first mentioned stay of Necho at Carchemish is especially set forth. If the chief emphasis lay on the battle, that first sentence would have been quite superfluous. It would have been enough to say: “which Nebuchadnezzar smote by the Euphrates in Carchemish.” From the emphasis on the stay by the Euphrates it is clear to me that this, and not the battle, was the occasion of the prophecy. When Jeremiah learned that the Egyptian army had taken up a position at Carchemish, he recognized at once the importance of the situation. He knew, that now a collision between the southern and northern empires was inevitable, that there on the Euphrates the destinies of the world would be decided for the proximate future. Egypt on the Euphrates! This was the fatal juncture which summoned him to prophetic utterance. Observe, also, that in the prophecy itself he does not yet mention Nebuchadnezzar (he names him, as I have frequently shown, only after the battle), but he twice mentions in a significant manner the position on the Euphrates (Jer 46:6 and Jer 46:7); an evident proof that it was this, which led him to speak. He foresees that it would eventuate in a battle. And with equal definiteness, he sees what the result will be (Jer 46:5, 6; Jer 46:10 sqq.). The entire superscription (Jer 46:2) was added subsequently by the prophet on the writing of the prophecy. In the first relative sentence he indicates the occasion, in the second he declares that the fulfilment followed very speedily in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (B. C. 605–4) The date refers primarily to “smote,” but it does not follow that the prophecy may not have been made the same year, or sooner. The particulars here are not to be determined, but it is possible that the news of the establishment of the Egyptians on the Euphrates, did not reach Jerusalem before the fourth year of Jehoiakim. NIEBUHR is of opinion that the battle had already taken place in the third year of Jehoiakim (Ass. u. Bab., S. 50, 86, 370), and that hence the date here refers to the composition of the poem, not to the historical event of the battle. The chronological relations are not to be investigated here, but exegetically it seems to me as impossible to put a point after smote (NIEBUHR, S. 86, Anm.), as to refer in the fourth year to the word, etc., Jer 46:1, as GRAF proposes. Apart from their being so far removed from each other, Jer 46:1 is a general title referring to all the following chapters, including Jer 51. The construction too, would then be obscure and forced. We should then have to take לְמִצְרַיִם as a more particular definition: with respect to Egypt, however, in the fourth year; which would give the sense that only this prophecy was uttered against Egypt, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which is incorrect.

Jer 46:3-6. Prepare ye … the fall. The first battle-picture commences with the call to the warriors to prepare buckler and shield (the Egyptian monuments show two kinds of shields, a larger [צִנָּה] and a smaller. Comp. NEUMANN, II., S. 383), to harness the horses (to the chariots) and to mount. פָּרָשִׁים designates the horses for riding in distinction from carriage-horses in 2 Sam. 1:6; 1 Kings 5:6; Joel 2:4; Ezek. 27:14. This usage being established, and the parallelism favoring the meaning “equi,” I believe that הַפָּדָשִׁים is to be translated not in the vocative, but as in the text: and mount ye riders. Of the other expressions in Jer 46:4, the first, after horses and riders, must refer to the footmen, the rest, as in Jer 46:3, to all species of arms.—In the second act of the first picture, the prophet sees the army defeated: Why, I see, are they dismayed? Comp. 30:6. As הֵמָּה (they) is the nominative and רָאָה requires the accusative after it in a still higher degree than הִנֵּה, our passage cannot, as GRAF supposes, be explained by Ezek. 37:19 coll. Gen. 6:17, but I see must be taken as a parenthetical sentence.—The description closes significantly with two perfects, the prophet sees the tottering and falling as accomplished facts. Comp. Jer 46:12.

Jer 46:7-12. Who is he … fallen together. The second battle picture is more in detail, more concrete, and as it were painted with specifically Egyptian colors. The prophet sees the Egyptian army approaching like the overflowing Nile. The immediate preparations for the battle are described in Jer 46:9, as in Jer 46:4, only still more concretely. Cavalry, chariots and footmen are equally distinguished. I am therefore of opinion that we must render עלוּ ו׳ here as in Jer 46:4 “mount the horses.”—The chariots are to rage (comp. Nah. 2:5), the mighty warriors to go forth on foot. Egypt’s neighboring nations accompany the expedition, and the Ethiopians and Lybians are described as shield-bearers, and therefore masters of close combat (cominus), the Lybians (comp. Gen. 10:13 coll. 22; Isa. 66:19; Ezek. 27:10) as archers. The three nations stand together, as here, as Egyptian auxiliaries in Ezek. 30:5 coll. Nah. 3:9. On Lydiansלוּד, comp. ARNOLD in HERZOG, Real.-Enc., 8., S. 510.

All these preparations, however, do not ensure the victory, it being ordained that the day of battle shall be a day of vengeance for Jehovah, and a bloody sacrificial festival. Egypt both in ancient and more recent times has injured the theocracy, and now stands opposed to the chosen instrument of the Lord, Nebuchadnezzar, and mast therefore be subdued.—Day of vengeance. Comp. 51:6; Isa. 34:8; 61:2; 63:4.—Sacrifice. A slain offering, where the original meaning of the verb (comp. Numb. 22:40; 1 Ki. 1:19) comes into the foreground, but the word must not be taken in its literal signification. Comp. Isa. 34:6; Zeph. 1:7. In the last two verses the consequences of the lost battle are described. Egypt is ironically called upon to fetch balm from Gilead (comp. rems. on 8:22). But the blow was fatal. Therefore remedies are of no avail, to however great extent applied. The fearful defeat cannot of course remain hidden. The nations must learn the shame of Egypt, since the cry of the stricken ones fills the world (14:2 coll. Isa. 42:11). Jer 46:12b contains a step backwards, an additional statement of reason. This is occasioned by the evident endeavor to close the second picture in correspondence to the first.


[1]Jer 46:4.—מרק. Comp. Lev. 6:21; 2 Chron. 4:16. The meaning is to clean, polish by rubbing.

[2]Jer 46:4.—סריוֹן only here and in 51:3, for שִׁרְיוֹן.

[3]Jer 46:5.—יכתו. Comp. Mic. 1:7: Job 4:20; OLSH., § 261.—מנום נסו. Comp. Lev. 26:36; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 93, d. Anm.הפנו Hiph. in direct causative signification—make a turn. Comp. Jer 46:21; 47:3; 49:24; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 18, 3.

[4]Jer 46:5.—מגור מסביב. Comp. 6:25; 20:3,10; 49:29.

[5]Jer 46:6.—אל־ינום. If it were not the unabbreviated form, the words might be taken as the divine command. As it is אל must be taken in the feebler sense לֹא. Comp. 2 Kings 6:27; Ps. 34:6; 41:3; Job 5:22, etc.

[6]Jer 46:7.—יְאוֹר, a word of Egyptian origin, signifies as an appellative “ditch, canal,” Isa. 33:21; Job 28:10, as a proper name the Nile only, Am. 8:8; 9:5; Isa. 19:8; 23:10, etc.—נְהָרוֹת is also an Egyptian reminiscence, in so far as it is used of the arms or canals of the Nile, Exod. 7:19; 8:1; Ezek. 32:2, 14.

[7]Jer 46:8.—אבידה, comp. GESEN., § 68, 2, Anm. 1; OLSH., § 257 b.—עיר ו׳. Comp. 8:16; 47:2.

[8]Jer 46:9.—הָרֶכֶב, vocative. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 71, 5, Anm. 4.

[9]Jer 46:9.—On תֹּפְשֵׂי דֹּרְכֵי קֶשֶׁת. Comp. נִשְׁקֵי רוֹמֵי קֶשָׁת, Ps. 78:9; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 63, 4, e.

[10]Jer 46:10.—ואכלה וגו׳. As was remarked on Jer 46:1, these perfects with the Van conversive can be taken in a future sense only. Nothing in the context transposes us into the past. All previous verbs relate to the future, and if the day were to be designated as past this would have to be done either disertis verbis, or by וַתֹּאכַל. Except on a false interpretation of Jer 46:2, we obtain the impression from Jer 46:7–9 that it is the future which is being described, and if the day (Jer 46:10) is recognized as future, the following verbs can only be so rendered. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 84, o.

[11]Jer 46:10.—ושׂבעה וגו׳. Comp. Isa. 34:5 sqq.

[12]Jer 46:11.—On בְּתוּלַת בַּת מ׳. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 64, 4.

[13]Jer 46:11.—תעלה. Comp. 30:13. The word occurs only in these two passages in Jeremiah, and in these only with the meaning of “something laid on, bandage, plaster.”

[14]Jer 46:12.—גבור בגבור. The prefix בְּ is to be taken in its proper, instrumental signification: One stumbles by another, because one throws another over the heap. Comp. Lev. 26:37.


1. On 46:1–12. The power of God in contrast to human power. 1. Human power confides in its strength; (a) in a qualitative (Jer 46:3, 4, 7); (b) in a quantitative respect (Jer 46:8). 2. The divine power strikes it down, whereby (a) arrogance is chastised (Jer 46:5, 6, 11); (b) the righteousness of God is satisfied (Jer 46:10).


1. On 46:1–12. The power of God in contrast to human power. 1. Human power confides in its strength; (a) in a qualitative (Jer 46:3, 4, 7); (b) in a quantitative respect (Jer 46:8). 2. The divine power strikes it down, whereby (a) arrogance is chastised (Jer 46:5, 6, 11); (b) the righteousness of God is satisfied (Jer 46:10).

The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt.


With an Appendix, 46:27, 28

13          The word that the LORD [Jehovah] spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how [concerning the coming of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, should come and [to] smite the land of Egypt.

14          Proclaim ye it in Egypt and publish it in Migdol,

Publish it also in Noph and Tahpanhes.

Say ye, Stand fast15 and prepare thyself;16

For the sword hath devoured thy neighbors.

15     Wherefore is thy bull17 dragged away?

He stood not, for Jehovah thrust him away

16     He causeth many to totter;

One also falleth upon another:

And they say, Up! let us return to our own people,

And to the land of our birth, from the murderous sword.

17     There they cry:18 Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is lost;19

He hath lost the time through neglect!

18     As truly as I live, saith the king,

Jehovah Zebaoth is his Name;

As Tabor among the mountains,

And as Carmel by the sea, shall he come.

Make thyself preparations [apparatus] for journeying,

Thou inhabitant, daughter of Egypt;

19     For Noph shall become a wilderness,

And destroyed without an inhabitant.

20     A finely formed heifer is Egypt;

A gad-fly20 from the north is coming, is coming.21

21     Her hirelings also in her midst are like fatted calves

For they also turn and flee away together.

They stand not, for the day of their destruction is come upon them,—

The time of their visitation.

22     Her sound22 goeth like the sound of serpents;

For with power they advance,

And are come to her with axes as hewers of wood.

23     They have cut down her forest, saith Jehovah.

For it is not to be searched;

For they are many, more than the locusts,

And of them there is no number.

24     The daughter of Egypt has been put to shame,

Delivered into the hand of a people from the North.

25     Saith Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel,

Behold, I visit the Amon of No,

And Pharaoh and Egypt, and its gods and its kings,

And Pharaoh and those that trust in him.

26     And I give them into the hand of those that seek their lives,

And into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon,

And into the hand of his servants:

And afterwards it shall be inhabited23

As in the days of old, saith Jehovah.


This prophecy cannot be regarded as an immediate contemporaneous continuation of the previous one. 1. The title announces it as an independent passage. There is not the slightest ground for regarding this as a later addition, for it contains nothing which Jeremiah could not himself have written. 2. In Jer 46:26 Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned by name. Jeremiah never does this before the battle of Carchemish. As now we must assign the passage 46:1–12 to the period immediately before that battle, it follows that the present passage must have originated at a later period. 3. If the superscription in Jer 46:13 expresses nothing with regard to the time of composition, but only states the main purport of the passage, it is yet clear that a prophecy concerning the coming of Nebuchadnezzar more probably originated at a time in which Jeremiah demonstrably expected this coming than at a time of which we have no trace that the prophet cherished this expectation. The prophet does not express the definite expectation that Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt, before 43:8–13. Previously, indeed, we have a general declaration, that Egypt will succumb to him (15:19; 46:11, 12). but none purporting that he will himself enter the country. It is therefore much more probable that this passage is contemporaneous with 43:8–13 than that it belongs to the time of 46:8–12. The reason, which GRAF urges against this hypothesis, that Jeremiah there prophesies the conquest of Moab, Edom, Ammon, etc., in consequence of the battle of Carchemish, but with respect to Egypt, had contented himself with a song of triumph over its defeat, is not of weight; for evidently Egypt is the most important of all the countries, against which chh. 46–49 contain prophecies. It is hence no matter of surprise, if we have two prophecies against it, of which the first (46:3–12) treats of the defeat and destruction of Egypt in general (46:11, 12), the second specially of the latter.

This prophecy, like the preceding one, evidently consists of two halves. In the first the Egyptian cities are summoned to equip themselves against the approaching enemy (Jer 46:14); then the thought is expressed, that all, which is great in Egypt, Apis (Jer 46:15) the foreign auxiliaries (Jer 46:16), Pharaoh (Jer 46:17) must bow before the greatness of the Chaldean prince, who approaches like Tabor among the mountains and Carmel in the sea, in order to carry away the Egyptians into captivity (Jer 46:18, 19). In the second half the quantitative conception seems to prevail. Egypt is a fair, fat cow, but a gad-fly from the North brings destruction to it (Jer 46:20). Their mercenaries also, who are here compared to fatted calves, flee (Jer 46:21). Egypt is further compared to a forest, in which stand innumerable trees. Yet there is only a hissing like a snako in a thicket, while the enemies proceed to cut down the trees (Jer 46:22, 23). Finally it is proclaimed in blunt words, without a figure, that Egypt with its gods, its kings, and all who trust in them, must be given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, but that a time will come, in which Egypt will be inhabited as quietly and undisturbed as of old (Jer 46:24–26). The two halves are distinguished thus: 1. The Egyptian power is described from its intensive and qualitative, in the second from its intensive or quantitative side. 2. The first half closes with the prospect of exile, the second with a consolatory outlook into a distant but happy future.

Jer 46:13. The word … Egypt. The superscription is of the larger kind, but in the form which occurs besides only in 45:1 and 50:1. It is indubitable that such a superscription introduces a specifically new passage. The only question is, Who composed this, the prophet himself or a later writer, who had no right to do it? No reasons can be urged against its composition by the prophet, either general or special. The form לָבוֹא, both alone and with a second infinitive depending on it, is very common in Jeremiah; it is found more frequently in him than in any other book of the Old Testament. (Comp. 36:5; 40:4; 41:17; 42:15, 17, 22; 44:12; 48:16). לְalso after a verb. dicendi is Jeremian. Comp. 28:8, 9.

Jer 46:14. Proclaim … thy neighbors. Egypt is alarmed, before all the boundary-cities. On Migdol, Noph and Tahpanhes, comp. rems. on 2:16; 44:1.—Immediate preparations are necessary, since the surrounding countries, the neighbors, have already been devastated by the hostile sword. Comp. 21:14; 48:17, 39; 49:5.

Jer 46:15-19. Wherefore … without an inhabitant. The three heads of Egypt are Apis, the army consisting of foreigners, and the king. The overthrow of this triad is here described. With respect to the form it is noteworthy that the transition is made with the same turn from the summons to prepare and the description of the defeat as in Jer 46:5.—The Apis, which had hitherto in divine majesty enjoyed most undisturbed existence in his temple, is now dragged away like a common ox to the slaughter, and can make no resistance, for it is Jehovah who thrusts him on, as it were, from behind. Numb. 35:20; Ezek. 34:21. It is Jehovah, likewise, who causes great defeat among those upon whom the power of Egypt in war depended. Since the time of Psammetichus foreign mercenaries (עֶרֶב25:20; Ezek. 30:5) composed the main strength of the Egyptian forces. (Comp. DUNCKER, I., S. 922); but they are unable to resist the enemy whom God sends against them. They therefore flee to their homes.—Falleth upon another. Comp. 29:9, 26.—Murderous sword. Comp. rems. on 25:38.—The king himself finally, whom the Egyptians adored as an incarnation of the deity (comp. DUNCKER, I., S. 150, “The Egyptians went further in their exaltation of their rulers than any other nation, even according divine worship to their despots”) becomes an object of ridicule.—Lost the time. These words signify that he has allowed the time to pass by. What time? The gracious respite appointed by Jehovah? Not impossibly. The prophet then places the confession in the mouth of the Egyptians, that they have not followed the advice given them in 25:15 coll. 27:8. In contrast to this humiliation of the Egyptian king the prophet exalts (verse 18) the greatness of the true king, the King of all kings, the Lord of hosts, Jehovah, and that of His chosen servant and instrument (25:9; 27:6), the king of Babylon. Jehovah, who is called king also in 48:15; 51:57, swears solemnly by Himself (22:5, 24; 44:26), that he, who is not indeed here mentioned by name, but is plainly recognized from the connection, viz. the king of Babylon, will on his expedition to the other kings be as Tabor to the mountains rising to the north of it (comp. RAUMER, Pal. S. 37) and will present himself as Carmel seen from the sea, for this “looks like a watch-tower westward over the Mediterranean” (RAUMER, S. 45). In such circumstances should it fare better with Egypt than with Judah? No, the former also cannot escape captivity. He is therefore called upon to prepare himself for this. —כְּלֵי גוֹלָה (comp. Ezek. 12:3 sqq.) are a very necessary equipment, such as exiles are allowed to take with them. As the capital of Judah was not spared, so the capital of Egypt, Memphis, shall be destroyed (comp. 2:15).

Jer 46:20-23. A finely formed heifer … no number. In a new double picture Egypt’s destruction is here portrayed. These pictures refer, as already remarked, more to the extent and quantity of the Egyptian forces, the first setting forth their volume, the second their numerical strength. Accordingly Egypt is first compared to a state-cow, which is of course to be regarded as well kept. We are involuntarily reminded of Pharaoh’s fat kine in Gen. 41:18. עֶגְלָה is moreover a young cow, but one which has attained its full vigor, for it may be three years old (48:34; Isa. 15:5; Gen. 15:9), give milk (Isa. 7:21, 22), be already trained (Hos. 10:11), draw the plough (Jud. 14:18), but also may still rejoice in the untamed wildness of its life (31:18).—This cow is to be attacked by a gad-fly coming from the north, from whence Jeremiah is accustomed to see the Chaldeans coming (comp. 1:14, etc). [BLAYNEY and WORDSWORTH find here a probable allusion to the legend of Io, who was transformed into a heifer, and driven by a gad-fly into Egypt, where she was worshipped as Isis. Comp VIRG. Georg., III., 147; OVID, Metam. Lib., I.—S. R. A.]

The double is coming portrays the vehemence of the assault. Comp. Ezek. 7:6; Ps. 96:13. The same fulness and breadth are seen in the well-kept mercenaries as in Egypt itself. (Comp. HEROD., II. 158; DUNCKER, I., S. 922). They are fatted calves, and consequently lazy, as is seen in their fleeing instead of fighting.—Turn. Comp. rems. on Jer 46:5.—Day of destruction. Comp. Deut. 32:35; Jer. 18:17.—Time of visitation. Comp. 10:15; 50:27.—In a second picture it is described how the forces of the Egyptians, though so great in number, are overcome. Egypt is in this behalf compared to a forest, which serves for the abode of a serpent. The serpent has retired into a thicket. It is only heard to hiss. Thus the ancient power of Egypt, which led Ezekiel to compare it to a crocodile (29:3; 32:2), as come to an end. It is only a serpent hissing with impotent rage in a thicket. It no longer attacks nor bites, for it is afraid. There is also reason for this. For the enemies rush upon it with power (בְּחַיִל, comp. Zech. 4:6); they come upon it with axes (comp. 49:9) as hewers of wood. Whether this figure is occasioned by the circumstance that the Persians, Massagetes, and Scythians made use of battle-axes, as GRAF supposes, or whether it has no connection with this, must be left undecided.

Jer 46:23. With their axes the enemies hew down the forest, i.e. they kill the warriors, destroy the fortifications and supplies. This forest is not to be otherwise come at, for it is unsearchable, impenetrable. A thin forest may be taken possession of by going through it, but a thick, impenetrable one must be cut down tree by tree. The enemies can do this, for they are more numerous than the locusts.—Not to be searched(יֵהָקֵר) I would not refer to the enemies, 1. on account of the sing number; 2. because then the same thought would be expressed three times.—In the following context the thought of Egypt’s subjugation is expressed without a figure.

Jer 46:24-26. The daughter … saith Jehovah.—Put to shame. Comp. 2:26; 6:15; 48:1; 50:2, etc.—The God of Israel, who is more powerful than the gods of the Egyptians, declares that He will visit the Amon of No (the highest deity of the Egyptians, comp. HERZOG, R.-Enc. I., S. 286, which had its seat in Thebes, hence called נאֹ אנוֹן, Nah. 3:8; comp. 1b. X., S. 392), Pharaoh and the land itself, and further all the other kings (i.e. those entitled to be so) and gods, and finally Pharaoh and the entire mass of those who trust in him as a god. (Comp. remsּ on Jer 46:17). The style is here very broad and verbose, in order to express the completeness of the destruction. All these shall fall into the hands of those who seek their life (comp. rems, on 44:30), and be given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and his servants.—And afterwards, etc. If we compare on the one hand Jer 46:19, and on the other passages like 48:47; 49:6; 49:39, it appears in the highest degree probable, that here at the close a favorable prospect, is to be opened up to the Egyptians. In the days of old, ancient Thebes, of which no one knows when it was built, was peaceful, unassailed and prosperous. A remembrancer of this condition can be understood only as a word of blessed promise.


[15]Jer 46:14.—התיצב comp. Jer 46:4.

[16]Jer 46:14.—והכן לך. Comp. Ezek. 38:7. It is a direct causative Hiphil: make preparation, equipment for thyself. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 69, 1,. Anm. 2.

[17]Jer 46:15.—Jeremiah uses the plural אַבִּירִים elsewhere only in the meaning of “strong horses” (8:16; 47:3; 50:11). But neither this meaning nor that of “strong men, heroes” גִבּוֹרִים suits the connection. For apart from נִסְחַף (besides here in Prov. 28:3 only) which as a foregoing predicate may certainly stand in the singular, the singulars עָמַד and הֲדָפֹוֹ show that אַבִּירֶיךָ is to be taken as singular. Then, however, nothing is more natural than, with the LXX., to think of the Apis. This is the LXX. translation: διατί ἐ̓φυγεν από σου ὁ Ἅπις ; ὁ μόσχος ὁ ἐκλεκτός σου οὐκ ἐ̓μεινεν. אֶבִֹּר both in the singular and plural is frequently used for bulls: Isa. 34:7; Ps. 22:13; 50:13; 68:31. But who but Apis is the bull of Egypt? The plural suffix has been explained as an abnormal pausal pronunciation (comp. תִּהְלָּתֶיךָ Ps. 9:15; שִׂנְאָתֶיךָ Ezek. 35:11—בֵינֶיךָ [Gen. 16:5; 1 Ki. 15:19] which GRAF adduces, does not belong here), comp. OLSH., § 39, c, Anm.; § 131, k, but this is unnecessary. אַבִּיר (observe that Jehovah also is called אַבִּיר יִשְׂרַאֵל or אי יְַעַקב, Isa. 1:24; 49:26, etc.) stands in the plural as a name of God, according to the analogy of קְדשִׁים ,תְּרַפִים ,בַּעַל ,אָדוֹן, which again themselves follow the analogy of אֱלֹחַים. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 61, 2, Anm.; OLSH., § 122, g; GESEN., § 108, 2, Anm., b.

[18]Jer 46:17.—קראו שׁם. LXX., Vulg., Syr., and after them many modern commentators read these words קַרְאוּ שֵׁם (comp. 20:3; Isa. 8:3; 20:7), but, as it appears to me, unnecessarily. The nominative of קָרְאוּ is not the auxiliaries, and שָׁם need not be referred to their home. It may very well be referred to the place where Apis was maltreated, and the warriors were killed, thus generally to the place of the previously described defeat. It might even be referred to the time, for שָׁם has also a temporal signification. Comp. Ps. 14:5; 53:6; Job 35:12; Hos. 2:17; Jer. 1. 9. The subject of קָרְאוּ may be an indefinite number:—they call. Comp. 3:16, 17; NAEGELSB. Gr., § 101, 2, a.

[19]Jer 46:17.—The meaning of שָׁאוֹן is strepitus, tumultus (Isa. 5:14; 13:14; Jer. 25:31; 48:45; 51:55, etc.). With the idea of tumult and confusion is connected that of destruction and ruin (comp. בּוֹר שָׁאוֹן, Ps. 40:3). The word would then be used as abstr. pro concreto: Pharaoh is ruin, i.e., ruined, (Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 59, 1) and there is no need to read שָׁאוּז with MAURER. We know not why the prophet chose this particular word, but there is probably an allusion in it to some Egyptian word unknown to us. Why Pharaoh is ruined the prophet proceeds to tell us. מוֹעֵד is the appointed season (Gen. 1:14; 17:21; 21:2, etc.) עָבַר of passing over a time is quite usual (comp. ex. gr., 8:20; Job 30:15).

[20]Jer 46:20.—קרץ. The word occurs here only. The root קָרַץ signifies “to pinch, press together” (of the eyes Prov. 6:13; 10:11; 35:19, of the lips Prov. 16:30) then “to pinch off” (Job 33:6). קֶרֶץ is then pinching, pinching off, or that which pinches. The old translations are vacillating: LXX. ἀπόσπασμα; Chald. עַמְמִין קָטֹלין populi interfectores; Syr. exercitus; Vulg. stimulator. Attaching himself to the last ROSENMUELLER translates stimulus; COCCEIUS, SCHULTENS, EICHHORN, HITZIG, GRAF, MEIER, gad-fly [Bremse], comparing the Arabic quarasa, pupugit (pulex), quâris, insectum cimici simile, or quirs, a kind of small fly. Much more unsuitably EWALD adduces quarsh, and understands by it a great, fearful monster. The meaning excidium, which the Rabbis, GESENIUS, UMBREIT and others attribute to the word, does not correspond very exactly to the specific radical signification. Following this and the Arabic analogies I regard the meaning gad-fly as correct, which suits the connection admirably. Comp. Exod. 23:28; Deut. 1:44; 7:20; Isa. 7:18; Ps. 118:12. [BLAYNEY translates “breeze” though he admits the radical meaning and the Arabic analogies: NOYES has “destruction” as the A. V., NEUMANN, FUERST, etc.—S. R. A.]

[21]Jer 46:20.—The reading בָּא בָהּ in the LXX., Chald., Syr., Arab., and many codd. of KENNICOTT and DE ROSSI is only a weak correction.

[22]Jer 46:22.—I do not approve of the reading קוֹלָם followed by the ancient translators and by HITZIG. קוֹלָם refers to Egypt. The feminine suffix (comp. שְׂכִירֶיהָ בְקִרְבָּהּ ver.21) is to be referred, if not to עֶנְלָה, yet to בַּת מִצְרַיִם (Jer 46:19). The construction of the sentence is as 1:9; Nah. 2:5. Comp. NAEGELSB. Gr., § 65, 3, Ann. There is, it is true, no passage in which הָלַךְ is used expressly of the voice; but why may not the voice be described as- going? לְשׁוֹנָם תִּהֲלַךְ Ps. 73:9 is at least related. If we take יֵלֵךְ as a relative sentence (like a serpent, which goes) the expression is very feeble, and the meaning “creeps,” which GRAF substitutes, either declares nothing, or must have an artificial meaning to it.

[23]Jer 46:26.—שָׁכַן is used here in the neutral sense, as in Isa. 13:20; Jer. 17:6,25; 30:18; 1.13,39.

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.
Appendix to the Prophecies against Egypt; a Consolatory Declaration to Israel

46:27, 28

27          But fear thou not, my servant Jacob,

And be thou not dismayed, O Israel;

For behold, I will save thee from afar

And thy seed from the land of their captivity,

And Jacob shall return and be at rest,

And quiet, and none shall make him afraid.

28     Fear thou not, my servant Jacob,

Saith Jehovah, for I am with thee.

For I will make a full end of the nations,

Whither I have dispersed thee:

But I will not make a full end of thee,

I will correct thee in measure and not leave thee unpunished.


It is acknowledged that these words stand in the original and suitable connection in Jer 30, as well as that they are not necessary to Jer 46, and would not be missed if they were omitted. Still it may be said that every injury befalling the enemies of the theocracy is a corroboration of the latter, and that it cannot be unsuitable also to express in words this mutual relation founded in the nature of the case, the two going constantly hand in hand in chh. 50, 51. (Comp. 50:4–6, 17–19, 28, 33; 51:5, 6, 10, 35, 45, 50). But the overthrow of the Babylonian kingdom by Cyrus bore the deliverance of Judah immediately in its womb. This can be said of the conquest of Egypt no more than of that of the other small nations against which chh. 47–49 are directed. Hence in these three chapters there is no trace of that mutual relation. Why then just here? And how does it agree with the fact that elsewhere in Egypt Jeremiah pronounces only the severest threatenings against the Israelites (chh. 42–44)? There is much then that is opposed to the genuineness of the passage, while on the other hand it is easy to suppose that a later seer saw fit to oppose this light to the former shadow. Moreover, as we have said, the words are not absolutely unsuitable here, and we cannot therefore deny the possibility, that Jeremiah, who, as is well known, is very fond of quoting himself, himself felt the need of causing the light of Israel to shine brightly on the dark background of their ancient enemy, Egypt.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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