In Egypt Jeremiah Warns of Judgment
Now it happened when Jeremiah, whom the Lord their God had sent, had finished telling all the people all the words of the Lord their God—that is, all these words— Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the proud and insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are not telling the truth! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘Do not go into Egypt to live there.’ But Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Chaldeans, so they may [either] put us to death or exile us to Babylon.” So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people disobeyed the voice of the Lord [which told them] to stay in the land of Judah. But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven— the men, women, and children, the king’s daughters (ladies of the court), and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan; he also took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they entered the land of Egypt (for they did not obey the voice of the Lord) and they went in as far as [a]Tahpanhes.
Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, “Take some large stones in your hands and hide them in the mortar in the brickwork [of the terrace] which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s [b]house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of some of the men of Judah; and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to send and get [c]Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne over these stones that I have hidden; and his [majestic, royal] canopy will be spread over them. He will also come and [d]strike the land of Egypt, giving those who are [destined] for death, to death, and those who are [destined] for captivity, to captivity, and those who are [destined] for the sword, to the sword. And [through him] I will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he will burn them and take them (Egyptian idols) captive. He will wrap himself with the land of Egypt as a shepherd wraps himself with his garment, and he will go away from there safely. Nebuchadnezzar will also break the images and shatter the obelisks of [e]Heliopolis in the land of Egypt; and he will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.”’”
- Jeremiah 43:7 See note 2:16.
- Jeremiah 43:9 A secondary palace.
- Jeremiah 43:10 See note 21:2.
- Jeremiah 43:11 Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 568-567 b.c. during the reign of Pharaoh Amasis.
- Jeremiah 43:13 Heb Beth-shemesh; i.e. the house of the sun-god. The site was famous for its tall (70’) “sacred” pillars.
Conquest of Egypt Predicted
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews who were living in the land of Egypt—at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘You have seen all the disaster that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah; and see, this day they are desolated and no one lives in them because of the wickedness which they committed, provoking Me to anger by continuing to burn sacrifices and incense to serve other gods that they had not known, neither they, nor you, nor your fathers. Yet I sent to you all My servants the prophets, again and again, saying, “Oh, do not do this shamefully vile thing which I hate.” But they did not listen or turn [obediently] from their wickedness, and stop burning sacrifices and incense to other gods. Therefore My wrath and My anger were poured out and burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; so they have become a ruin and a desolation, as it is this day. Therefore now thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, “Why did you commit this great evil against yourselves [bringing disaster] that will cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, out of Judah, leaving yourselves without a remnant? Why do you [deliberately] provoke Me to anger with the works (idols) of your hands, burning sacrifices and incense to [make-believe] gods in the land of Egypt, where you [of your own accord] have come to live [as temporary residents], that you might be cut off and become a curse and a disgrace [an object of taunts] among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, the wickedness of the kings of Judah, the wickedness of their wives [who served their foreign gods], your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives [who imitated the sin of the queens], which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? They have not become apologetic [for their guilt and sin] even to this day; they have not feared [Me with reverence] nor walked in My law or My statutes, which I have set before you and before your fathers.”’
“Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am going to set My face against you for woe—even to cut off (destroy) all Judah [from the land]. And I will take the remnant of Judah who have decided to go into the land of Egypt to live there [instead of surrendering to the Chaldeans as directed], and they will all fall and die in the land of Egypt; they will fall by the sword or perish by famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by the sword or by famine; and they will become detestable, an object of horror, a curse, and a disgrace. For I will punish all the inhabitants of the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with virulent disease; so none of the survivors from the remnant of Judah who have entered the land of Egypt to live there will survive, even though they lift up their souls in longing to return to the land of Judah, [the place] to which they long to return to live; none will return except a few refugees.’”
Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning [a]sacrifices to other gods, and all the women who were standing by, a large group, including all the people who were living in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah, saying, “As for the word (message) that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you. But rather we will certainly perform every word of the vows we have made: to burn sacrifices to the [b]queen of heaven (Ishtar) and to pour out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves and our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for [then] we had plenty of food and were prosperous and saw no misfortune. But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And said the wives, “When we were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and were pouring out drink offerings to her, was it without [the knowledge and approval of] our husbands that we made cakes [in the shape of a star] to represent her and pour out drink offerings to her?”
Tragedy for the Jews
Then Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men and to the women and to all the people who had given him that answer, “The smoking sacrifices (incense) that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem—you and your forefathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land—did not the Lord remember [in detail your idolatry] and did it not all come into His mind? The Lord could no longer endure it, because of the evil of your acts and the repulsive acts which you have committed; because of them your land has become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned sacrifices [to idols] and because you have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law and in His statutes and in His testimonies, therefore this tragedy has fallen on you, as it has this day.”
Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all [you of] Judah who are in the land of Egypt, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, as follows: ‘You and your wives have both declared with your mouth and fulfilled it with your hand, saying, “We will certainly perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn sacrifices to the queen of heaven (Ishtar) and to pour out drink offerings to her.” Surely then confirm your vows and go ahead and perform your vows! [If you intend to defy all My warnings, proceed!]’ Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all [you people of] Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, ‘Behold, I have sworn [an oath] by My great Name,’ says the Lord, ‘that My Name shall never again be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord God lives.” Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good; and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine until they are all destroyed. Yet a small number [of My choosing] who escape the sword will return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah; and all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose words will stand, Mine or theirs. And this will be the sign to you,’ says the Lord, ‘that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will give [c]Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and was seeking his life.’”
- Jeremiah 44:15 Or incense.
- Jeremiah 44:17 See note 7:18.
- Jeremiah 44:30 Hophra ruled 588-570 b.c. He was murdered in a coup led by his successor the Pharaoh Amasis.
Message to Baruch
The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to [a]Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: ‘You said, “Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and sighing and I find no rest.”’ Say this to him, ‘The Lord speaks in this way, “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and that which I have planted I will uproot, that is, the whole land.” And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring disaster on all flesh,’ says the Lord, ‘but I will give your life to you [as your only reward and] as a prize of war wherever you go.’”
- Jeremiah 45:1 Baruch served as Jeremiah’s faithful friend and scribe, and he carefully recorded the prophecies given to Jeremiah by God. He was from a prominent family and his grandfather Maaseiah had been governor of Jerusalem in the days of King Josiah (2 Chr 34:8).