a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Denunciation of Persistent Idolatry


The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in the land of Egypt, at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros, 2Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: You yourselves have seen all the disaster that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Look at them; today they are a desolation, without an inhabitant in them, 3because of the wickedness that they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they had not known, neither they, nor you, nor your ancestors. 4Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, “I beg you not to do this abominable thing that I hate!” 5But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their wickedness and make no offerings to other gods. 6So my wrath and my anger were poured out and kindled in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they became a waste and a desolation, as they still are today. 7And now thus says the L ord God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why are you doing such great harm to yourselves, to cut off man and woman, child and infant, from the midst of Judah, leaving yourselves without a remnant? 8Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to settle? Will you be cut off and become an object of cursing and ridicule among all the nations of the earth? 9Have you forgotten the crimes of your ancestors, of the kings of Judah, of their wives, your own crimes and those of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10They have shown no contrition or fear to this day, nor have they walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your ancestors.

11 Therefore thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am determined to bring disaster on you, to bring all Judah to an end. 12I will take the remnant of Judah who are determined to come to the land of Egypt to settle, and they shall perish, everyone; in the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall perish; from the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine; and they shall become an object of execration and horror, of cursing and ridicule. 13I will punish those who live in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, 14so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to settle in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah. Although they long to go back to live there, they shall not go back, except some fugitives.

15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives had been making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16“As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the L ord, we are not going to listen to you. 17Instead, we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. We used to have plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no misfortune. 18But from the time we stopped making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have perished by the sword and by famine.” 19And the women said, “Indeed we will go on making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her; do you think that we made cakes for her, marked with her image, and poured out libations to her without our husbands’ being involved?”

20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who were giving him this answer: 21“As for the offerings that you made in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your ancestors, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the L ord remember them? Did it not come into his mind? 22The L ord could no longer bear the sight of your evil doings, the abominations that you committed; therefore your land became a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is to this day. 23It is because you burned offerings, and because you sinned against the L ord and did not obey the voice of the L ord or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his decrees, that this disaster has befallen you, as is still evident today.”

24 Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the L ord, all you Judeans who are in the land of Egypt, 25Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have accomplished in deeds what you declared in words, saying, ‘We are determined to perform the vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out libations to her.’ By all means, keep your vows and make your libations! 26Therefore hear the word of the L ord, all you Judeans who live in the land of Egypt: Lo, I swear by my great name, says the L ord, that my name shall no longer be pronounced on the lips of any of the people of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord G od lives.’ 27I am going to watch over them for harm and not for good; all the people of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall perish by the sword and by famine, until not one is left. 28And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who have come to the land of Egypt to settle, shall know whose words will stand, mine or theirs! 29This shall be the sign to you, says the L ord, that I am going to punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words against you will surely be carried out: 30Thus says the L ord, I am going to give Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, into the hands of his enemies, those who seek his life, just as I gave King Zedekiah of Judah into the hand of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.”


Jeremiah had already prophesied against the Jews, who had taken refuge in Egypt, as though there would be for them in that rich and almost unassailable land a safe and quiet retreat. But he now speaks against them for another reason, and denounces on them something more grievous than before, even because they had not only gone into Egypt against God’s will, but when they came there they polluted themselves with all kinds of superstition. God, no doubt, designed, in due time, to prevent this, when he forbade them to go into Egypt; for he knew how prone they were to idolatry, and to false and adulterous modes of worship. He was therefore unwilling that they should dwell in that land, where they might learn to pervert his worship. And this had happened, as it appears from the present prophecy. As then they had cast aside every shame, and given themselves up to the superstitions of the heathens, the Prophet again testified, that God would take vengeance on them. But we shall see that he had to do with refractory men; for without shewing any respect for him, they attacked him with impetuous fury. The sum of what is said then is, that the Jews who dwelt in Egypt were unworthy of any pardon, because they had, as it were, designedly rejected the favor of God, and their obstinacy had become altogether hopeless. We shall now consider the words:

A word is said to have been given to Jeremiah to all the Jews But God spoke to Jeremiah not in the same way as to the Jews; for he committed to him the words which he commanded him to deliver to others. Then the word was directly given to Jeremiah only; but as Jeremiah was God’s interpreter to the people, the word is said to be given in common to all, which yet at first, as it has been stated, was committed to Jeremiah alone. For he did not favor the Jews with such an honor as to speak to them, but he sent the Prophet as his messenger. He said then to the Jews who dwelt in Egypt, and afterwards he mentions certain places, first Migdol, then Tahpanhes, and thirdly, Noph. The first name some have rendered Magdal. That city was not so much known at the time when Egypt flourished, but it has been mentioned by heathen writers. Of Tahpanhes we spoke yesterday. Noph has been called Memphis; and it is generally agreed that what the Hebrews called Noph was that noble and celebrated city Memphis, which, as they suppose at this day, is called Cairo, Le Caire. He lastly mentions the country of Pathros, which is supposed by some to have been near Pelusia. But on such a matter as this I bestow no great labor; for even heathen writers have regarded this as an obscure country, of no importance. Pathros is elsewhere mentioned as a city, and some think it to have been Petra of Arabia. But the Prophet no doubt refers here to the country in which Memphis and other cities were situated, in which the Jews dwelt.

But he says these things for this reason, because a question might have been raised, “As the Jews dwelt in Egypt, so large was the land, that the Prophet could not have announced the commands of God to all. This, then, was the reason why he intimates that. they were not dispersed everywhere throughout Egypt, from one end to the other, but that they were in one part only, and that they were so collected that his word might come to all. This, then, was the reason why he mentioned the places where the Jews sojourned.

He now begins with reproof, because they were so stupid as not to remember the vengeance which God had executed on themselves and on the whole nation. They had been left alive for this end, that they might acknowledge God’s judgment, and thus return to a right mind. Here, then, the Prophet upbraids them with their insensibility, that they had profited nothing under the scourges of God. They commonly say that fools, when they are beaten, become wise. As then the Jews had not repented, after having been so grievously chastised, it was a proof of extreme perverseness; for if the remnant had a grain of a sound mind, they would have been humbled at least by the final destruction of their nation, and when the city and the temple were demolished. Since then they followed the same wicked courses, for which God had inflicted so grievous a punishment, it was evident that they were wholly irreclaimable and destitute of reason and judgment. This is the import of all the words of the Prophet which we have read.

He says first, Ye have seen what great evils I brought on you and the land. “Then ye know that you have justly suffered all the evils which have happened to you; for ye have not sinned through want of knowledge, but when I had sedulously warned you by my Prophets, ye continued ever obstinate; ye have therefore fully deserved such punishments. Now when God spared you, and wished that a small number should remain, to preserve as it were a seed, how is it that these evils which are still as it were before your eyes, are not remembered by you?” We now then understand the design of the Prophet.

But it may be well to examine every part; Ye have seen, he says, all the evil which I have brought (evil here means calamity) on Jerusalem, and on all the cities of Judah; and, behold, they are now a waste, and no one dwells there. There is here an emphatical comparison between Jerusalem and Memphis, between the cities of Judah and Heliopolis and the whole country of Pathros. If then God had not. spared the holy city which he had chosen, if he had not spared the cities of Judah which were under his protection, how foolish it was for the Jews to think that they would be safe in the cities of Egypt? By what privilege could these be secure, since the cities of Judah had been reduced to a waste? We now then perceive why the Prophet mentioned Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; it was, that he might expose the stupidity of the Jews, because they thought, themselves safe in Egypt, a land which God had ever held in abomination.

VIEWNAME is study