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Jeremiah

Jeremiah 46 Commentary

Jeremiah 46 Commentary: Turn to Jeremiah, chapter 46.

As we enter the 46th chapter of the book of Jeremiah we come to the second-to-last major section of the book.

We just finished witnessing the “Bitter End of Judah” in chapters 36-45. Now we enter the section of the book that runs from chapters 46-51 that consists of God declaring punishment on many of the nations of that time.

This whole book for the most part has dealt with the punishment that Judah deserves. And now, we come to find out that God is going to deal not just with his people but with the whole world of Jeremiah’s time.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:1-51:64 | Nations Denounced

And so, starting in chapter 46, verse 1 we see the Nations Denounced. Let’s read verse 1.

KJV Jeremiah 46:1 ¶ The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet [against/concerning/about] the [Gentiles/nations];

And that will be the theme of this book until we reach the end of chapter 51 – God’s word concerning the nations of that time. God denouncing the nations of Jeremiah’s day.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:2-26 | Egypt Denounced

Now, the first nation to be denounced is Egypt.

That particular nation to the southwest of Israel along the Mediterranean Sea – it receives its message from God in verses 2-26 of this chapter.

And the message to Egypt is broken up into two sections.

First, in verses 2-12 God tells that nation that it will be defeated by Babylon abroad – outside of the borders of Egypt.

And second, in verses 13-26 God tells Egypt that it will experience defeat from Babylon at home – inside its own borders.

So, defeat abroad and at home for Egypt takes up most of this chapter.

And then at the end of the chapter, we’ll see a short encouragement for Judah.

So, Egypt will be defeated abroad and at home. Judah is to take some encouragement from this fact. This is what chapter 46 is about in a nutshell.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:2-12 | Egypt Defeated Abroad

So, let’s examine what God says about Egypt being defeated abroad in verses 2-12.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:2 | Intro

Verse 2 starts by giving an introduction.

2 ¶ [Against/About/He spoke about] Egypt,
[against/concerning/and] the army of [Pharaohnecho/Pharaoh Nec(h)o] king of Egypt, which was [by/encamped along] the river Euphrates [in/at] Carchemish, [and…] which [army…] Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon [smote/defeated] in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.

So, Egypt is at a place called Carchemish. It was a city along the Euphrates river – which was east of Israel.

This happened in Jehoiakim’s 4th year.

Now, according to chapter 25 and verse 1, this was Nebuchadnezzar’s first year. It was in that chapter that the Lord caused Jeremiah to deliver what I labeled an Anniversary Message because in it, Jeremiah reminded the people that he had been ministering to them for 23 years. And in that time, the people hadn’t changed and so God was going to punish them. But Jeremiah also revealed in that message that the Lord was going to punish the nations of the world at that time – much like we see him saying here in this chapter.

Also in Jehoiakim’s fourth year – Nebuchadnezzar’s first – we had in chapter 36 the scroll incident. Jeremiah had Baruch write the Lord’s message on a scroll. Jehoiakim cut it up and burned it. And that all happened starting in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.

And finally in chapter 45 which we studied last time we had a brief message to Baruch encouraging him to not seek great things for himself but rather to seek his great God. That also – we were told – happened in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.

And now this – the Battle of Carchemish is also happening in Jehoiakim’s fourth year.

And what history tells us is that this was a turning point in the political climate of the ancient near east. This would be the changing of the guards as it were – where Egypt would transition from the reigning world power to something less than that – far less. And Babylon would take over that title of “world power”. And all of that happened – as I’ve said – in this fourth year of Jehoiakim.

And the history books could tell you that much. But no modern history book will give the reason for this shift in the world economy of that day. The real reason being that the God of heaven decided that this shift should happen at exactly this time – as we’ll see as we continue here in this chapter.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:3-4 | A Call to Arms for Egypt

Moving on, verses 3 and 4 feature a call to arms for Egypt.

3 [Order ye/Prepare/Fall into ranks with] the buckler and shield,
and [draw near/advance/prepare to march] [to/for/into] battle.

4 Harness the horses [to the chariots…]; [and get up/mount], [O…] ye horsemen,
[and stand forth/take your stations] with your helmets; [furbish/polish/sharpen] the spears, and put on the [brigandines/armor].

So, that’s the rousing call to arms issued to the Egyptian army.

But who is giving this call? Well, it’s actually the Lord. At least that’s what Pharaoh Necho told the king of Judah named Josiah.

In 2 Chronicles 35:20-21, we read this.

KJV 2 Chronicles 35:20 ¶ After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. 21 But he [Necho…] sent ambassadors to him [Josiah…], saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for [And here’s what we’ve just asked – who is giving this call to arms? Answer…] God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.

So, who then issued this call to arms to the Egyptians so that they would come together with the Assyrians to fight Babylon at Carchemish by the Euphrates? I think it’s clear that it was the Lord who issued the summons.

Both God himself in Jeremiah chapter 46 and Pharaoh Necho in 2 Chronicles say as much.

Now, Necho surely thought the call to arms would have resulted in his certain victory.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:5-6 | Egyptian Army Fleeing in Defeat

And yet, we’re going to see that this call is not met with an equal response from the Egyptian army. In fact, what we see God predicting will happen to the Egyptians at Carchemish in verses 5 and 6 – which perhaps Neco did not know about – is that they will flee in defeat at this battle.

5 [Wherefore have I seen it?/Why have I seen it?/What do I see?]

[them/the soldiers] [dismayed/terrified] and [turned away back/turned backward/retreating]?
and their [mighty ones/warriors] are [beaten down/defeated], and are fled [apace/in haste], and look not back: for [fear/terror] was [round about/on every side/overwhelming] [magor misabib], [saith/declares] the LORD.

6 [Let not/Even x cannot] the swift flee away,
nor the [mighty man/warrior] escape;

they [shall/have] [stumble/stumbled],
and fall [in defeat…] [toward/in] the north by the river Euphrates.

And so, despite a call to arms from the Lord himself, the Egyptian army will be defeated in Carchemish. That’s the Lord’s message to Egypt thus far.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:7-8 | Egypt’s Boasting Remembered

And part of the defeat handed to Egypt by the Lord was due to their great boasting, according to verses 7 and 8.

7 Who is this that [cometh up/rises] as [a flood/the Nile] [yeor],
whose waters [are moved/surge/are turbulent] as the rivers [at flood stage…]?

8 Egypt riseth up like [a flood/the Nile] [yeor],
and his waters [are moved/surge/are turbulent] like the rivers [at flood stage…];

and [he/Egypt] saith, I will [go up/rise], and will cover the earth;
I will destroy [the city/cities] and the inhabitants thereof.

So, that’s Egypt’s boasting. And it’s part of what both caused the Lord to hand them this defeat at Carchemish – and at the same time this pride of theirs is what the Lord used to stir them up to go and fight Babylon on the Euphrates.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:9 | Egypt’s Helpers Called to the Defeat

And Egypt wasn’t alone in this battle. In fact, history tells us that the Assyrians were assisting them. But in addition, the Bible itself in verse 9 tells us that Egypt – much like Judah – hired mercenary fighters to help them in battle.

9 [Come up/Advance/Go ahead and charge into battle], ye [horses/horsemen];
and [rage/drive furiously], ye [chariots/charioteers];

and let the [mighty men/warriors/soldiers] [come forth/go out/march out into battle];
the Ethiopians [Cush, where Ebed-Melech was from…] and the Libyans [Put…], that [handle/carry] the shield;
and the Lydians [Lud…], that [handle and bend/are armed with] the bow.

So, God called Egypt to this Battle in Carchemish. Egypt had many allies. They had numerous past military victories. They were the world’s superpower. And yet, God is predicting that they will fall in battle and flee in humiliation.

Why?

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:10 | God’s Doing

Because as verse 10 states, this is God’s doing. He’s taking vengeance on this godless nation.

10 For this is the day [of/that belongs to] the Lord GOD of hosts,
a day [of vengeance, that he may avenge him of/for paying back] his [adversaries/foes]:

and the sword shall devour [them…],
[and/until] [the appetite of…] it shall be [satiate/sated/satisfied]
and [made drunk with/drink its fill of] their blood:

for the Lord GOD of hosts [hath/holds/will offer them up as] a sacrifice in the north [country/land]
by the river Euphrates.

So, in very unsettling terms, God compares the slaughter of Egypt to a sacrifice which he has prepared for himself. It would be bloody. And the result of it was that the Lord would be pleased.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:11-12 | Irreversible International Shame

And when this world superpower would be defeated in that city along the Euphrates by Babylon – this once-proud nation would experience irreversible international shame. That’s what we read in verses 11 and 12.

11 Go up into Gilead, and take [balm/medicinal ointment],
[O virgin, the daughter/You dear poor people/Defenseless people] of Egypt:

[in vain/uselessly] [shalt/have] thou use many medicines;
for thou shalt not be [cured/healed].

12 The nations have heard of thy [shame/devastating defeat],
and thy cry hath [filled/echoed throughout] the [land/earth]:

[In the panic of their flight…] for [the mighty man/warrior/one soldier] [hath/will] [stumbled/trip] [against/over] [the mighty/warrior/another],
and they [are/have] fallen [defeated…] both together.

OK, so that’s what God says about Egypt being defeated abroad in verses 2-12. And this all happened in Jehoiakim’s fourth year – Nebuchadnezzar’s first year. It all happened at the Battle of Carchemish on the Euphrates River.

This battle ensured that Babylon – rather than Egypt – would be the world’s reigning champion. And all of this was orchestrated by the God of the Bible – the one whose authority all must submit to. Because – among many other reasons – he alone can do things like he’s just prophesied would happen.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:13-26 | Egypt Judged at Home

And, now, because Egypt was just about to experience the irreversible international humiliation of being defeated by Babylon, now God can issue the second part of his message to Egypt. It’s found in verses 13-26. And it’s here that we learn what God says about Egypt being defeated – not abroad – but at home.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:13 | Intro

We start with the introduction to this section in verse 13.

13 ¶ The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet,
how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and [smite/strike/attack] the land of Egypt.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:14 | Call to Arms

And here in this message just like the last one we have God issuing a call to arms to the Egyptian army in verse 14.

14 [Declare ye/Make an announcement] [in/throughout] Egypt,
[and publish/Proclaim it] in Migdol, and publish in [Noph/Memphis] and in Tahpanhes:

say ye,

[Stand fast/Stand ready/Take your positions], and [prepare thee/be prepared/prepare to do battle];
for [the sword shall/enemy army is] [devour/destroying] [all the nations…] round about thee.

Babylon is coming and is destroying everything in its path. Therefore – God says to Egypt – get ready! They’re coming for you, too!

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:15-16 | God-Intended Defeat for Egypt

And yet, God knows that this call to arms is not going to help at all. Because the one issuing that call had himself determined that Egypt would experience defeat at the hands of Babylon, according to verses 15 and 16.

15 Why [are/will] [thy valiant men/your mighty ones/your soldiers] [swept away/face down/be defeated]?

And of course, God has rhetorical intent behind this question. He knows why Egypt will be defeated – he’s the reason behind it! He says so in the next phrase…

they [stood/will stand] not, because the LORD did [drive them/thrust them down].

16 He [The Lord…] made many [to fall/stumble],
yea, one fell upon another [in their hurry to flee]:

So, that’s God’s actions. Here’s Egypt’s reactions…

and they [Egyptian soldiers…] said [to one another…], [Arise/Get up!], and let us go [again/back] to our own people,
and to the land of our [nativity/birth], [from/because of] the [oppressing sword/sword of the oppressor/enemy who is coming to destroy us].

Now, I think that’s the mercenary soldiers speaking – those hired to fight for Egypt – since they’re speaking of returning to their native land. As in these people didn’t hail from Egypt. They were from Ethiopia or Libya or somewhere around there.

Well, the soldiers of Egypt – native and foreign – have been exposed as weak.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:17 | Ruler Exposed as Weak

But this weakness will be apparent even at the highest levels of leadership in that nation according to verse 17.

17 [They did cry there/Call],

Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a [noise/noisy one/a big noise];
he hath [passed/let pass] the [time/hour/moment] [appointed/opportune].

Now, you could wonder what this appointed time or opportune moment is that these soldiers are portrayed as saying that Pharaoh missed. Perhaps it’s saying that he let his hour of world rulership pass. Maybe they’re more focused on the recent defeat at Carchemish and they’re blaming him for that.

Whatever the case, the people are discovering that Pharaoh is much like the Wizard of Oz. Out front there’s this imposing presence – grand and impressive. But behind the screen, he’s a little weak man.

And that’s the truth about any national ruler past or present or future – IF God is against them. Donald Trump as powerful as he is – if God is against him – is ultimately just a big noise. Same with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and you name the international figure. And if God is against them – they may seem to be on top of the world, but they will be revealed some day as what they are – a big noise.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:18 | New Ruler is Strong

And for Egypt, what would make their Pharaoh look even weaker is that God was now empowering a new world ruler who appeared very strong. We see the Lord speak of him in verse 18.

18 As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts,

Surely as [imposing as…] Tabor is among the mountains,
and as Carmel [by/against the backdrop of] the sea, so shall [he/one/a conqueror] come.

That’s Nebuchadnezzar. The one who is as imposing as Tabor or Carmel – two mountains in Israel that – though they’re not the largest in the world – they do stand towering over the landscapes in which they are located.

And when it came to the ancient near east, Babylon certainly at this point would be towering over Egypt.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:19 | Exile for Egypt

And not only towering over Egypt – but Babylon would also be sending Egypt away into exile just like they would be doing to Judah. Verse 19.

19 O thou [daughter/poor dear] [dwelling in/inhabitants of] Egypt, [furnish/prepare baggage for/pack bags for] thyself to go into captivity:

for [Noph/Memphis] shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:20 | Babylon is Coming

And that exile will happen because Babylon is coming, as they’re told in verse 20.

20 Egypt is like a [very fair/beautiful] [heifer/young cow],
but [destruction/biting flies/swarms of stinging flies] cometh;
it cometh out of the north.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:21 | Mercenaries Will Flee

And when Babylon comes, Egypt’s mercenary fighters will flee. Verse 21.

21 Also her [hired men/hired soldiers/mercenaries] are in the midst of her like [fatted bullocks/fattened calves/pampered well-fed calves];
for they also are turned back, and are fled away together:

they [did/will] not stand [their ground…], because the day of their [calamity/destruction] [was/had] come upon them,
and the time of their [visitation/punishment].

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:22-23 | Serpentine Egypt Flees Before Woodsmen of Babylon

And all of the preceding thoughts lead to the next thought in verses 22 and 23 – which is that Egypt – compared to a snake – will flee before Babylon which is compared to a hoard of woodsmen.

22 The voice [thereof/of Egypt] shall [go/be] like a serpent [hiss! or gliding…];
for they [Babylon…] shall march with an army,
and come against her [Egypt…] with axes, as hewers of wood [lumberjacks…].

23 They [Babylon…] shall cut down her [Egypt’s…] forest [i.e., population…], [saith/declares/affirms] the LORD,
though it cannot be [searched/penetrated];

because they [Babylon…] are more than [the grasshoppers/locusts],
and are innumerable.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:24 | Shame for Defenseless Egypt

This will result in shame for defenseless Egypt, according to verse 24.

24 [The daughter of/Poor dear] Egypt shall be [confounded/put to shame];
she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:25-26b | Judgement on Egypt’s Gods

And God will also use Babylon’s invasion to judge and punish Egypt’s false gods. Verses 25 and 26.

25 ¶ The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith;

Behold, I will punish [the multitude/Amon, the god] of [No/Thebes] [the ancient capital of Egypt…], and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings;
even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him:

26 And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives,
and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,
and into the hand of his [servants/officers/troops]:

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:26b | But…A Restoration!

But, very similar to Judah – amazingly, God promises Egypt that he will see to it that this land is populated once more, at the end of verse 26!

[and afterward/but later on] [it/Egypt] shall be inhabited, as in [the days of old/former times], [saith/declares/affirms] the LORD.

And this is what we see at this very time. The people who are there right now might not be descendants of the former Egyptians. And yet, there is no denying that Egypt is a populated land. In fact, this nation is playing a role in current events on a regular basis these days. Maranatha Baptist Seminary has at least one student from Egypt. Egypt is alive and well today – just like God promised in verse 26.

So, we’ve seen what God says about Egypt being defeated at home in verses 13-26. Before that, we saw what he said about Egypt being defeated abroad in verses 2-12.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
46:27-28 | Judah Encouraged

And those two messages lead the Lord to encourage his people Israel and Judah in verses 27 and 28.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
Don’t Fear

To begin, God is expecting his people to be reading this oracle about Egypt. Right? If not, then he wouldn’t be addressing them in this section.

But he does address them and he tells them to not fear.

27 But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob,
and be not [dismayed/terrified], O Israel:

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
Restoration to the Land

Why the lack of fear? Because God is going to restore Israel to their land like he’s going to populate Egypt once more.

for, behold, I will [save/rescue] thee from [afar off/far away/faraway lands],
and thy [seed/offspring/descendants] from the land of their captivity;

and Jacob shall return [to their land…], and [be in/have] [rest/quiet] and at ease,
and none shall make him afraid.

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
Don’t Fear

Since there will be none to make them afraid in the future, God again in verse 28 re-issues the call to not fear.

28 Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD:

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
God is with Them

Why?

for I am with thee;

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
God will Destroy the Nations and Save Israel

And God’s being “with” his people ensures that while he will destroy other nations, he will not destroy Israel.

Egypt today is likely not populated with the descendants of ethnic Egyptians from 2500 years ago. That nation is populated but it’s not the same group ethnically. In that sense, that nation was “destroyed”.

But I do know a nation that is populated with the descendants of the same group that was in their land 2500 years ago. That nation is Israel. That’s because God promised the following…

for I will [make a full end of/completely destroy] all the nations whither I [have driven/scatter] thee:
but I will not [make a full end of/completely destroy] thee,

Jeremiah 46 Commentary
God Will Discipline Israel

And yet, God’s love – in addition to saving Israel and Judah and ensuring that their descendants would survive into the future – also results in him chastening them according to the last part of verse 28.

but [correct/discipline] thee in [just/due…] measure;
yet will I not leave thee [wholly/entirely] unpunished.

So, that’s the message of encouragement for Israel and Judah in verses 27 and 28.

God’s presence was and is uniquely with his people Israel to an extent that other nations – like Egypt – simply would not enjoy. Egypt would be populated once more and we see that today. But not with the same group of folks.

And so, we’ve seen in this chapter Egypt’s defeat and demotion from world super-power to basically, an empty uninhabited land – all at the Lord’s sovereign will.

Next time we’ll see a message of judgement for the Philistines in chapter 47.

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