Jeremiah 44: Doom for the Defiant Judahites in Egypt

Egypt Pyramids Camels DesertHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Jeremiah warns the Judahites in Egypt that they will be destroyed for their idolatry. The people are defiant and continue to serve the Queen in Heaven.

II. Photo

Jeremiah has a message to deliver: “The word which came to Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in the land of Egypt, living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Noph, and in the land of Pathros” (v. 1).

III. Select Verses

1: The word which came to Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in the land of Egypt, living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Noph, and in the land of Pathros

9-10: Have you forgotten the wicked acts of your forefathers, of the kings of Judah and their wives, and your own wicked acts and those of your wives, which were committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? No one has shown contrition to this day, and no one has shown reverence. You have not followed the Teaching and the laws that I set before you and before your fathers.

13-14: I will punish those who live in the land of Egypt as I punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence. Of the remnant of Judah who came to sojourn here in the land of Egypt, no survivor or fugitive shall be left to return to the land of Judah. Though they all long to return and dwell there, none shall return except [a few] survivors.

15-19: Thereupon they answered Jeremiah — all the men who knew that their wives made offerings to other gods; all the women present, a large gathering; and all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt:  “We will not listen to you in the matter about which you spoke to us in the name of the LORD. On the contrary, we will do everything that we have vowed — to make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and to pour libations to her, as we used to do, we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty to eat, we were well-off, and suffered no misfortune. But ever since we stopped making offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations to her, we have lacked everything, and we have been consumed by the sword and by famine. And when we make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pour libations to her, is it without our husbands’ approval that we have made cakes in her likeness and poured libations to her?”

29-30: “And this shall be the sign to you — declares the LORD — that I am going to deal with you in this place, so that you may know that My threats of punishment against you will be fulfilled: Thus said the LORD: I will deliver Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, into the hands of his enemies, those who seek his life, just as I delivered King Zedekiah of Judah into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.”

IV. Outline

1-14. Oracle: Doom for the Judahites in Egypt

    1-2a. Introduction: message for the Judahites in Egypt

    2b-6. Judah was destroyed for disobeying Yahweh (idolatry)

    7-8. The sin of idolatry in Egypt will lead to doom

    9-14. Sin will lead to death for those in Egypt

15-19. Response: the people will continue serving the Queen of Heaven as they did in Judah

20-25. Oracle: Doom for the Judahites in Egypt

    20-23. Idolatry is what caused Judah’s destruction

    24-25. Men and their wives have carried out idolatry to the Queen of Heaven

    26. People in Egypt will never invoke Yahweh’s name

    27-28. Yahweh will take care to punish them, all but a few will die

    29-30. Sign as a guarantee: Pharaoh Hophra will be dethroned

V. Comment

Verses 29-30 mention the fall of Pharaoh Hophra, better known as Apries (r. 589 – 570 BCE):

  • And this shall be the sign to you — declares the LORD — that I am going to deal with you in this place, so that you may know that My threats of punishment against you will be fulfilled: Thus said the LORD: I will deliver Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, into the hands of his enemies, those who seek his life, just as I delivered King Zedekiah of Judah into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, his enemy who sought his life.

Donald B. Redford writes the following about the death of Hophra (“Hophra,” Anchor Bible Dictionary [New York : Doubleday, 1992], 3:286-287): “Certainly the events which terminated his reign betray a lamentable lack of judgment. Perceiving a threat in the growing power of the Greek colony at Cyrene, Hophra directed his attention first to buffering the Kharga and Bahriya oases, finally to sending an expeditionary force against the town. This army, composed largely of native levies, was soundly defeated by the Cyreneans. At the news of this disaster, open revolt broke out back in Egypt, and despite a desperate effort to employ his Carians, Hophra was deposed in favor of one of his generals, Amasis, and was forced to flee (570 B.C.). Three years later, when Nebuchadnezzar attempted to take advantage of the stasis in Egypt to invade the land, Hophra threw in his lot with the foreigners. But the invading force was repulsed, and Hophra was captured and put to death. His tomb at Sais was still visible in Herodotus’ day (Herod. 2.161–67; Diod. 1.68.1; Edel 1978).”

 

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Donald B. Redford, “Hophra,” Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York : Doubleday, 1992), 3:286-287.

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