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Jeremiah Advises Survivors Not to Migrate
Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan son of Kareah and Azariah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, approached 2the prophet Jeremiah and said, “Be good enough to listen to our plea, and pray to the Lord your God for us—for all this remnant. For there are only a few of us left out of many, as your eyes can see. 3Let the Lord your God show us where we should go and what we should do.” 4The prophet Jeremiah said to them, “Very well: I am going to pray to the Lord your God as you request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you; I will keep nothing back from you.” 5They in their turn said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to everything that the Lord your God sends us through you. 6Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, in order that it may go well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8Then he summoned Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea before him: 10If you will only remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I am sorry for the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, as you have been; do not be afraid of him, says the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to rescue you from his hand. 12I will grant you mercy, and he will have mercy on you and restore you to your native soil. 13But if you continue to say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ thus disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war, or hear the sound of the trumpet, or be hungry for bread, and there we will stay,’ 15then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you are determined to enter Egypt and go to settle there, 16then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there, in the land of Egypt; and the famine that you dread shall follow close after you into Egypt; and there you shall die. 17All the people who have determined to go to Egypt to settle there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence; they shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I am bringing upon them.
18 “For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Just as my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an object of execration and horror, of cursing and ridicule. You shall see this place no more. 19The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, Do not go to Egypt. Be well aware that I have warned you today 20that you have made a fatal mistake. For you yourselves sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says, tell us and we will do it.’ 21So I have told you today, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. 22Be well aware, then, that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go and settle.”
Jer 42:1-22. The Jews and Johanan Inquire of God, through Jeremiah, as to Going to Egypt, Promising Obedience to His Will. Their Safety on Condition of Staying in Judea, and Their Destruction in the Event of Going to Egypt, Are Foretold. Their Hypocrisy in Asking for Counsel Which They Meant Not to Follow, if Contrary to Their Own Determination, Is Reproved.
thy God—(Jer 42:5). The Jews use this form to express their belief in the peculiar relation in which Jeremiah stood to God as His accredited prophet. Jeremiah in his reply reminds them that God is their God ("your God") as well as his as being the covenant people (Jer 42:4). They in turn acknowledge this in Jer 42:6, "the Lord our God."
few of many—as had been foretold (Le 26:22).
3. They consulted God, like many, not so much to know what was right, as wishing Him to authorize what they had already determined on, whether agreeable to His will or not. So Ahab in consulting Micaiah (1Ki 22:13). Compare Jeremiah's answer (Jer 42:4) with Micaiah's (1Ki 22:14).
4. I have heard—that is, I accede to your request.
answer you—that is, through me.
6. evil—not moral evil, which God cannot command (Jas 1:13), but what may be disagreeable and hard to us. Piety obeys God, without questioning, at all costs. See the instance defective in this, that it obeyed only so far as was agreeable to itself (1Sa 15:3, 9, 13-15, 20-23).
7. ten days—Jeremiah did not speak of himself, but waited God's time and revelation, showing the reality of his inspiration. Man left to himself would have given an immediate response to the people, who were impatient of delay. The delay was designed to test the sincerity of their professed willingness to obey, and that they should have full time to deliberate (De 8:2). True obedience bows to God's time, as well as His way and will.
build … plant—metaphor for, I will firmly establish you (Jer 24:6).
I repent … of the evil—(Jer 18:8; De 32:36). I am satisfied with the punishment I have inflicted on you, if only you add not a new offense [Grotius]. God is said to "repent," when He alters His outward ways of dealing.
12. show mercies—rather, I will excite (in him) feelings of mercy towards you [Calvin].
cause you to return—permit you to return to the peaceable enjoyment of the possessions from which you are wishing to withdraw through fear of the Chaldeans. By departing in disobedience they should incur the very evils they wished thereby to escape; and by staying they should gain the blessings which they feared to lose by doing so.
13. if ye say, &c.—avowed rebellion against God, who had often (De 17:16), as now, forbidden their going to Egypt, lest they should be entangled in its idolatry.
16. sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you—The very evils we think to escape by sin, we bring on ourselves thereby. What our hearts are most set on often proves fatal to us. Those who think to escape troubles by changing their place will find them wherever they go (Eze 11:8). The "sword" here is that of Nebuchadnezzar, who fulfilled the prediction in his expedition to Africa (according to Megasthenes, a heathen writer), 300 B.C.
17. all the men—excepting the "small number" mentioned (Jer 44:14, 28); namely, those who were forced into Egypt against their will, Jeremiah, Baruch, &c., and those who took Jeremiah's advice and fled from Egypt before the arrival of the Chaldeans.
shall see this place no more—Ye shall not return to Judea, as those shall who have been removed to Babylon.
19. I have admonished—literally, "testified," that is, solemnly admonished, having yourselves as My witnesses; so that if ye perish, ye yourselves will have to confess that it was through your own fault, not through ignorance, ye perished.
20. dissembled in your hearts—rather, "ye have used deceit against your (own) souls." It is not God, but yourselves, whom ye deceive, to your own ruin, by your own dissimulation (Ga 6:7) [Calvin]. But the words following accord best with English Version, ye have dissembled in your hearts (see on Jer 42:3) towards me, when ye sent me to consult God for you.
21. declared it—namely, the divine will.
I … but ye—antithesis. I have done my part; but ye do not yours. It is no fault of mine that ye act not rightly.
22. sojourn—for a time, until they could return to their country. They expected, therefore, to be restored, in spite of God's prediction to the contrary.