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44. Disaster Because of Idolatry
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, 2Thus 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 man dwelleth therein, 3Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers. 4Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate. 5But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods. 6Wherefore 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 this day. 7Therefore now thus saith the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; 8In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? 9Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they 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 my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.
11Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah. 12And 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 all 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, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. 13For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: 14So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should 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.
15Then 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, 16As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. 17But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth 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, and saw no evil. 18But 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 consumed by the sword and by the famine. 19And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?
20Then 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, 21The incense 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? 22So that the Lord could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. 23Because 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 happened unto you, as at this day. 24Moreover 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: 25Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both 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 accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows. 26Therefore hear ye the word of the Lord, 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 Lord GOD liveth. 27Behold, 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 by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them. 28Yet a small number that escape 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 Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs.
29And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the Lord, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: 30Thus 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.
Jer 44:1-30. Jeremiah Reproves the Jews for Their Idolatry in Egypt, and Denounces God's Judgments on Them and Egypt Alike.
Noph—Memphis, now Cairo (Jer 2:16).
Pathros—Upper Egypt (Isa 11:11).
2. evil … upon Jerusalem—If I spared not My own sacred city, much less shall ye be safe in Egypt, which I loathe.
3. they went—implying perverse assiduity: they went out of their way to burn incense (one species of idolatry put for all kinds), &c.
4. (2Ch 36:15).
7. now—after so many warnings.
8. in … Egypt—where they polluted themselves to ingratiate themselves with the Egyptians.
ye be gone—not compelled by fear, but of your own accord, when I forbade you, and when it was free to you to stay in Judea.
that ye might cut yourselves off—They, as it were, purposely courted their own ruin.
9. Have you forgotten how the wickednesses of your fathers were the source of the greatest calamities to you?
the land of Judah—They defiled the land which was holy unto God.
10. They … you—The third person puts them to a distance from God on account of their alienating themselves from Him. The second person implies that God formerly had directly addressed them.
humbled—literally, "contrite" (Ps 51:17).
neither … feared—(Pr 28:14).
11. Behold, I will set my face against you for evil—(See on Le 17:10).
14. none … shall escape … that they should return, &c.—The Jews had gone to Egypt with the idea that a return to Judea, which they thought hopeless to their brethren in Babylon, would be an easy matter to themselves in Egypt: the exact reverse should happen in the case of each respectively. The Jews whom God sent to Babylon were there weaned from idolatry, and were restored; those who went to Egypt by their perverse will were hardened in idolatry, and perished there.
none shall return but such as shall escape—namely, the "small number" (Jer 44:28) who were brought by force into Egypt, as Jeremiah and Baruch, and those who, in accordance with Jeremiah's advice, should flee from Egypt before the arrival of the Chaldeans (see on Jer 42:17). Calvin less probably refers the words to the return of the exiles in Babylon, which the Jews in Egypt regarded as hopeless.
16. we will not—(Jer 6:16).
17. whatsoever … goeth … out of our … mouth—whatever vow we have uttered to our gods (Jer 44:25; De 23:23; Jud 11:36). The source of all superstitions is that men oppose their own will and fancies to God's commands.
queen of heaven—(See on Jer 7:18); Ashtaroth or Astarte.
we … fathers … king, &c.—The evil was restricted to no one class: all from the highest to the lowest shared the guilt.
then had we plenty—Fools attribute their seeming prosperity to God's connivance at their sin: but see Pr 1:32; Ec 8:11-13. In fact, God had often chastised them for their idolatry (see Jud 2:14); but it is the curse of impiety not to perceive the hand of God in calamities.
18. They impute their calamities to their service of God, but these are often marks of His favor, not of wrath, to do His people good at their latter end (De 8:16).
19. make … cakes to worship her—Maurer translates, "to form her image." Crescent-shaped cakes were offered to the moon. Vulgate supports English Version.
without our men—The women mentioned (Jer 44:15); "a great multitude" here speak: we have not engaged in secret night orgies which might justly be regarded unfavorably by our husbands: our sacred rites have been open, and with their privity. They wish to show how unreasonable it is that Jeremiah should oppose himself alone to the act of all, not merely women, but men also. The guilty, like these women, desire to shield themselves under the complicity of others. Instead of helping one another towards heaven, husband and wife often ripen one another for hell.
21. The incense … did not the Lord remember—Jeremiah owns that they did as they said, but in retort asks, did not God repay their own evil-doing? Their very land in its present desolation attests this (Jer 44:22), as was foretold (Jer 25:11, 18, 38).
23. law—the moral precepts.
25. Ye … have both spoken with … mouths, and fulfilled with … hand—ironical praise. They had pleaded their obligation to fulfil their vows, in excuse for their idolatry. He answers, no one can accuse you of unsteadiness as to your idolatrous vows; but steadfastness towards God ought to have prevented you from making, or, when made, from keeping such vows.
ye will surely accomplish … vows—Jeremiah hereby gives them up to their own fatal obstinacy.
26. I have sworn—I, too have made a vow which I will fulfil. Since ye will not hear Me speaking and warning, hear Me swearing.
my name shall no more be named—The Jews, heretofore, amidst all their idolatry, had retained the form of appeal to the name of God and the law, the distinctive glory of their nation; God will allow this no more (Eze 20:39): there shall be none left there to profane His name thus any more.
27. watch over … for evil—(Jer 1:10; Eze 7:6). The God, whose providence is ever solicitously watching over His people for good, shall solicitously, as it were, watch for their hurt. Contrast Jer 31:28; 32:41.
shall know—most of them experimentally, and to their cost.
whose words … mine, or theirs—Hebrew, "that from Me and them." Jehovah's words are His threats of destruction to the Jews; theirs, the assertion that they expected all goods from their gods (Jer 44:17), &c. "Mine"; by which I predict ruin to them. "Theirs"; by which they give themselves free scope in iniquity.
shall stand—(Ps 33:11).
29. this … sign unto you—The calamity of Pharaoh-hophra (see on Jer 44:30) shall be a sign to you that as he shall fall before his enemy, so you shall subsequently fall before Nebuchadnezzar (Mt 24:8) [Grotius]. Calvin makes the "sign" to be simultaneous with the event signified, not antecedent to it, as in Ex 3:12. The Jews believed Egypt impregnable, so shut in was it by natural barriers. The Jews being "punished in this place" will be a sign that their view is false, and God's threat true. He calls it "a sign unto you," because God's prediction is equivalent to the event, so that they may even now take it as a sign. When fulfilled it would cease to be a sign to them: for they would be dead.
30. Hophra—in Herodotus called Apries. He succeeded Psammis, the successor of Pharaoh-necho, who was beaten by Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish, on the Euphrates. Amasis rebelled against, and overcame him, in the city Sais.
them that seek his life—Herodotus, in curious accordance with this, records that Amasis, after treating Hophra well at first, was instigated, by persons who thought they could not be safe unless he were put to death, to strangle him. "His enemies" refer to Amasis, &c.; the words are accurately chosen, so as not to refer to Nebuchadnezzar, who is not mentioned till the end of the verse, and in connection with Zedekiah (Eze 20:3; 30:21). Amasis' civil war with Hophra pioneered the way for Nebuchadnezzar's invasion in the twenty-third year of his reign [Josephus, Antiquities, 10.11].