Jer 46:1-28. The Prophecies,
Forty-sixth through Fifty-second Chapters, Refer to Foreign
He begins with Egypt, being the country to which he
had been removed. The forty-sixth chapter contains two prophecies
concerning it: the discomfiture of Pharaoh-necho at Carchemish by
Nebuchadnezzar, and the long subsequent conquest of Egypt by the same
king; also the preservation of the Jews (Jer 46:27, 28).
1. General heading of the next six chapters of
prophecies concerning the Gentiles; the prophecies are arranged
according to nations, not by the dates.
2. Inscription of the first prophecy.
Pharaoh-necho—He, when going against
Carchemish (Cercusium, near the Euphrates), encountered Josiah, king of
Judah (the ally of Assyria), at Megiddo, and slew him there (2Ki
23:29; 2Ch 35:20-24); but he
was four years subsequently overcome at Carchemish, by Nebuchadnezzar,
as is foretold here; and lost all the territory which had been subject
to the Pharaohs west of the Euphrates, and between it and the Nile. The
prediction would mitigate the Jews' grief for Josiah, and show his
death was not to be unavenged (2Ki 24:7). He is famed as having fitted out a
fleet of discovery from the Red Sea, which doubled the Cape of Good
Hope and returned to Egypt by the Mediterranean.
3. Derisive summons to battle. With all your
mighty preparation for the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, when ye come to
the encounter, ye shall be "dismayed" (Jer 46:5). Your mighty threats shall end in
buckler—smaller, and carried by the
shield—of larger size, and carried by
the heavily armed infantry.
4. Harness the horses—namely, to the war
chariots, for which Egypt was famed (Ex 14:7; 15:4).
get up, ye horsemen—get up into
the chariots. Maurer, because of the
parallel "horses," translates, "Mount the steeds." But it is
rather describing the successive steps in equipping the war chariots;
first harness the horses to them, then let the horsemen
brigandines—cuirasses, or coats of
5. (See on Jer 46:3).
The language of astonishment, that an army so well equipped should be
driven back in "dismay." The prophet sees this in prophetic vision.
fled apace—literally, "fled a flight,"
that is, flee precipitately.
look not back—They do not even dare to
look back at their pursuers.
6. Let not—equivalent to the strongest
negation. Let not any of the Egyptian warriors think to
escape by swiftness or by might.
toward the north—that is, in respect
to Egypt or Judea. In the northward region, by the Euphrates (see Jer 46:2).
7. as a flood—(Jer
47:2; Isa 8:7, 8; Da 11:22).
The figure is appropriate in addressing Egyptians, as the Nile, their
great river, yearly overspreads their lands with a turbid, muddy flood.
So their army, swelling with arrogance, shall overspread the region
south of Euphrates; but it, like the Nile, shall retreat as fast as it
8. Answer to the question in Jer 46:7.
waters … moved like the
rivers—The rise of the Nile is gentle; but at the mouth it,
unlike most rivers, is much agitated, owing to the sandbanks impeding
its course, and so it rushes into the sea like a cataract.
9. Ironical exhortation, as in Jer 46:3. The Egyptians, owing to the heat of
their climate and abstinence from animal food, were physically weak,
and therefore employed mercenary soldiers.
Abyssinia and Nubia.
Libyans—Phut, Mauritania, west
of Egypt (compare Ge 10:6).
shield—The Libyans borrowed from Egypt
the use of the long shield extending to the feet [Xenophon, Cyropædia, 6 and 7].
Lydians—not the Lydians west of Asia
Minor (Ge 10:22; Eze 30:5), but the Ludim, an African
nation descended from Egypt (Mizraim) (Ge 10:13; Eze 30:5; Na
handle and bend the bow—The employment
of two verbs expresses the manner of bending the bow, namely,
the foot being pressed on the center, and the hands holding the ends of
10. vengeance—for the slaughter of
Josiah (2Ki 23:29).
sword shall devour … be …
drunk—poetical personification (De 32:42).
a sacrifice—(Isa 34:6; Eze
39:17). The slaughter of the
Egyptians is represented as a sacrifice to satiate His righteous
11. Gilead … balm—(See on Jer 8:22); namely, for curing the wounds; but no
medicine will avail, so desperate shall be the slaughter.
virgin—Egypt is so called on account
of her effeminate luxury, and as having never yet been brought under
thou shalt not be cured—literally,
"there shall be no cure for thee" (Jer 30:13; Eze 30:21). Not that the kingdom of Egypt
should cease to exist, but it should not recover its former strength;
the blow should be irretrievable.
12. mighty … stumbled against … mighty
… fallen both together—Their very multitude shall prove
an impediment in their confused flight, one treading on the other.
13-26. Prophecy of the invasion of Egypt by
Nebuchadnezzar, which took place sixteen years after the taking of
Jerusalem. Having spent thirteen years in the siege of Tyre, and having
obtained nothing for his pains, he is promised by God Egypt for his
reward in humbling Tyre (Eze 29:17-20; 30:1-31:18). The intestine commotions between
Amasis and Pharaoh-hophra prepared his way (compare Note, see on
Isa 19:1, &c.).
14. Declare … publish—as if giving
sentence from a tribunal.
Migdol … Noph …
Tahpanhes—east, south, and north. He mentions the three other
quarters, but omits the west, because the Chaldeans did not advance
thither. These cities, too, were the best known to the Jews, as being
in their direction.
sword shall devour round about
thee—namely, the Syrians, Jews, Moabites, and Ammonites (see
on Jer 48:1). The exhortation is ironical, as in
15. thy valiant men—manuscripts, the
Septuagint, and Vulgate read, "thy valiant one," Apis,
the bull-shaped Egyptian idol worshipped at Noph or Memphis. The
contrast thus is between the palpable impotence of the idol and the
might attributed to it by the worshippers. The Hebrew
term, "strong," or "valiant," is applied to bulls (Ps 22:12). Cambyses in his invasion of Egypt
destroyed the sacred bull.
drive them—(Compare Jer 46:5). The Hebrew word is used of a
sweeping rain (Pr 28:3).
made many to fall—literally,
"multiplied the faller," that is, fallers.
one fell upon another—(Jer 46:6, 12): even before the enemy strikes
let us go again to our own people—the
language of the confederates and mercenaries, exhorting one another to
desert the Egyptian standard, and return to their respective homes
from the oppressing sword—from the
cruel sword, namely, of the Chaldeans (compare Jer 25:38).
17. there—in their own country
severally, the foreign soldiers (Jer 46:16) cry, "Pharaoh is," &c.
but a noise—He threatens great things,
but when the need arises, he does nothing. His threats are mere "noise"
(compare 1Co 13:1).
Maurer translates, "is ruined,"
literally (in appropriate abruptness of language), "Pharaoh, king
… ruin." The context favors English Version. His
vauntings of what he would do when the time of battle should come have
proved to be empty sounds; he hath passed the time appointed
(namely, for battle with the Chaldeans).
18. As the mountains Tabor and Carmel tower
high above the other hills of Palestine, so Nebuchadnezzar
46:26) when he comes shall
prove himself superior to all his foes. Carmel forms a bold promontory
jutting out into the Mediterranean. Tabor is the higher of the two;
therefore it is said to be "among the mountains"; and Carmel "by
the King … Lord of hosts—(Jer 48:15); in contrast to "Pharaoh king of
Egypt … but a noise" (Jer 46:17).
God the true "King … the Lord of hosts," shall
cause Nebuchadnezzar to come. Whereas Pharaoh shall not come to battle
at the time appointed, notwithstanding his boasts,
Nebuchadnezzar shall come according to the prediction of the
King, who has all hosts in His power, however ye
Egyptians may despise the prediction.
19. furnish thyself—literally, "make for
thyself vessels" (namely, to contain food and other necessaries for the
journey) for captivity.
daughter—so in Jer 46:11.
dwelling in Egypt—that is, the
inhabitants of Egypt, the Egyptians, represented as the
daughter of Egypt (Jer 48:18; 2Ki 19:21). "Dwelling" implies that they thought
themselves to be securely fixed in their habitations beyond the reach
20. heifer—wanton, like a fat, untamed
10:11). Appropriate to Egypt,
where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with
destruction—that is, a destroyer:
Nebuchadnezzar. Vulgate translates, "a goader," answering to the
metaphor, "one who will goad the heifer" and tame her.
The Arabic idiom favors this [Rosenmuller].
cometh … cometh—The repetition
implies, it cometh surely and quickly (Ps 96:13).
out of the north—(See on Jer 1:14; Jer 47:2).
21. Translate, "Also her hired men (mercenary
soldiers, Jer 46:9, 16), who are in the midst of her like
fatted bullocks, even they also are turned back," that is, shall turn
their backs to flee. The same image, "heifer … bullocks" (Jer 46:20,
21), is applied to Egypt's
foreign mercenaries, as to herself. Pampered with the luxuries
of Egypt, they become as enervated for battle as the natives
22. The cry of Egypt when invaded shall be
like the hissing of a serpent roused by the woodcutters from its lair.
No longer shall she loudly roar like a heifer, but with a low murmur of
fear, as a serpent hissing.
with axes—the Scythian mode of armor.
The Chaldeans shall come with such confidence as if not about to have
to fight with soldiers, but merely to cut down trees offering no
23. her forest—(Isa 10:34).
though it cannot be searched—They cut
down her forest, dense and unsearchable (Job 5:9; 9:10; 36:26) as it may seem: referring to the
thickly set cities of Egypt, which were at that time a thousand and
twenty. The Hebrew particle is properly, "for," "because."
because—the reason why the Chaldeans
shall be able to cut down so dense a forest of cities as Egypt: they
themselves are countless in numbers.
grasshoppers—locusts (Jud 6:5).
25. multitude—Hebrew, "Amon"
(Na 3:8, Margin, "No-Ammon"), the
same as Thebes or Diospolis in Upper Egypt, where Jupiter Ammon had his
famous temple. In English Version, "multitude" answers to
"populous No" (Na 3:8; Eze 30:15). The reference to "their gods"
which follows, makes the translation more likely, "Ammon of No,"
that is, No and her idol Ammon; so the Chaldee Version. So
called either from Ham, the son of Noah; or, the "nourisher," as the
their kings—the kings of the nations
in league with Egypt.
26. afterward … inhabited—Under
Cyrus forty years after the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, it
threw off the Babylonian yoke but has never regained its former prowess
(Jer 46:11; Eze 29:11-15).
27, 28. Repeated from Jer 30:10, 11. When the Church (and literal
Israel) might seem utterly consumed, there still remains hidden hope,
because God, as it were, raises His people from the dead (Ro 11:15). Whereas the godless "nations" are
consumed even though they survive, as are the Egyptians after their
overthrow; because they are radically accursed and doomed [Calvin].