Jeremiah 52: The Destruction and Exile of Jerusalem; The Last Kings of Judah

wall cracked bricks fallHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

The Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and exile 4600 of its citizens. Zedekiah’s family and officials are killed, his eyes are gouged out, and he dies in prison. Jehoiachin is treated well in Babylon from the 37th year of his exile until his death.

II. Photo

The siege of Jerusalem comes to an end: “The famine had become acute in the city; there was no food left for the common people. Then the [wall of] the city was breached.” (vv. 6-7)

III. Select Verses

3b-7a: Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, King Nebuchadrezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army. They besieged it and built towers against it all around. The city continued in a state of siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month, the famine had become acute in the city; there was no food left for the common people. Then the [wall of] the city was breached.

10-11: The king of Babylon had Zedekiah’s sons slaughtered before his eyes; he also had all the officials of Judah slaughtered at Riblah. Then the eyes of Zedekiah were put out, and he was chained in bronze fetters. The king of Babylon brought him to Babylon and put him in prison, [where he remained] to the day of his death.

17-19: The Chaldeans broke up the bronze columns of the House of the LORD, the stands, and the bronze tank that was in the House of the LORD; and they carried all the bronze away to Babylon. They also took the pails, scrapers, snuffers, sprinkling bowls, ladles, and all the other bronze vessels used in the service. The chief of the guards took whatever was of gold and whatever was of silver: basins, fire pans, sprinkling bowls, pails, lampstands, ladles, and jars.

28-30: This is the number of those whom Nebuchadrezzar exiled in the seventh year: 3,023 Judeans. In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar, 832 persons [were exiled] from Jerusalem.  And in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrezzar, Nebuzaradan, the chief of the guards, exiled 745 Judeans. The total amounted to 4,600 persons.

31-32: In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year he became king, took note of King Jehoiachin of Judah and released him from prison. He spoke kindly to him, and gave him a throne above those of other kings who were with him in Babylon.

IV. Outline

1-3a. Summary of Zedekiah’s 11 year reign, which angered Yahweh

3b. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon

4-6. Nebuchadnezzar sieges Jerusalem for two years, causing famine

7a. Jerusalem’s walls are breached

7b-8. Zedekiah flees but is captured

9-11a. Zedekiah is tried at Riblah; his children and officials are slaughtered and his eyes are gouged

11b. Zedekiah dies in a Babylonian prison

12-14. Seven months later Nebuzaradan burns and destroys the temple, the private houses, and the city walls

15-16. Aside from the poor, the people of Jerusalem are exiled to Babylon

17-23. Description of the metal objects carried off

24-27a. Priests, scribes, and officials were brought to Riblah and executed

27b-30. A list of exiles: 3,023 in Nebuchadnezzar’s 7th year, 832 in his 8th, and 745 in his 23rd for a total of 4600.

31-34. Jehoiachin is treated well by Evil-merodach from the 37th year of his exile until his death

V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Jeremiah 51: Oracle Against Babylon – Part II

stone sinking water rockHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh promises to destroy the people, idols, and walls of Babylon. Jeremiah tells Seraiah to read the scroll in Babylon and sink it in the Euphrates river.

II. Photo

Jeremiah tells Seraiah to throw the scroll in the Euphrates as a harbinger of things to come: “And when you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and hurl it into the Euphrates and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink and never rise again!'” (vv. 63-64)

III. Select Verses

8-9: Suddenly Babylon has fallen and is shattered; Howl over her! Get balm for her wounds: Perhaps she can be healed. We tried to cure Babylon But she was incurable. Let us leave her and go, Each to his own land; For her punishment reaches to heaven, It is as high as the sky.

20-23: You are My war club, [My] weapons of battle; With you I clubbed nations, With you I destroyed kingdoms; With you I clubbed horse and rider, With you I clubbed chariot and driver, With you I clubbed man and woman, With you I clubbed graybeard and boy, With you I clubbed youth and maiden; With you I clubbed shepherd and flock, With you I clubbed plowman and team, With you I clubbed governors and prefects.

30: The warriors of Babylon stop fighting, They sit in the strongholds, Their might is dried up, They become women. Her dwellings are set afire, Her bars are broken.

34-35: “Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon Devoured me and discomfited me; He swallowed me like a dragon, He filled his belly with my dainties, And set me down like an empty dish; Then he rinsed me out.  Let the violence done me and my kindred Be upon Babylon,” Says the inhabitant of Zion; “And let my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,” Says Jerusalem.

44: And I will deal with Bel in Babylon, And make him disgorge what he has swallowed, And nations shall no more gaze on him with joy. Even the wall of Babylon shall fall.

59-64: The instructions that the prophet Jeremiah gave to Seraiah son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, when the latter went with King Zedekiah of Judah to Babylonia, in the fourth year of [Zedekiah’s] reign. Seraiah was quartermaster. Jeremiah wrote down in one scroll all the disaster that would come upon Babylon, all these things that are written concerning Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read out all these words. And say, ‘O LORD, You Yourself have declared concerning this place that it shall be cut off, without inhabitant, man or beast; that it shall be a desolation for all time.’ And when you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and hurl it into the Euphrates. And say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink and never rise again, because of the disaster that I will bring upon it. And [nations] shall have wearied themselves [for fire].’” Thus far the words of Jeremiah.

IV. Outline

1-58. Yahweh will destroy Babylon
    1-2. Destruction for Babylon
    3-4. Call to battle
    5. Guilt in Israel and Judah
    6. Call to flee Babylon
    7. Babylon made the nations drunk
    8-9. Babylon cannot be healed
    10. Call to praise
    11. Rationale for punishment: Babylon destroyed the temple in Jerusalem
    12. Call to battle
    13-14. Yahweh will bring Babylon's end
    15-16. Hymnic praise: creation and weather
    17-19. Men create idols, but Yahweh creates all things
    20-23. With Yahweh all enemies can be defeated
    24. Rationale for punishment: Babylon destroyed Zion
    25. Yahweh will destroy the mountain of death
    26. Babylon will never be rebuilt
    27-28. Battle call for the nations
    29. Babylon will be a waste
    30. Babylon's warriors will be defeated
    31-32. Messages of Babylon's defeat
    33. Babylon will be threshed like the grain of a threshing floor
    34-35. Rationale for violence: Babylon swallowed Yahweh in Zion
    36-43. Death and destruction for Babylon
    44. Bel [Marduk] will be dealt with; the walls of Babylon will fall
    45. Call for Israel to flee
    46. Rumors of violent monarchs
    47-48. Destruction for Babylon and its idols
    49. Babylon and the dead Israelites
    50. Call for Israel to flee Babylon
    51. Recounting Babylon's destruction of Jerusalem
    52. Destruction for Babylon's idols
    53. Nations sent by Yahweh against Babylon
    54-56. An outcry of Yahweh and his destruction 
    57. Death for the leaders of Babylon
    58. Babylon's walls will fall
59-62. Jeremiah tells Seraiah to read the scroll of Babylon's destruction in Babylon itself
63-64. Symbolic act: Jeremiah tells Seraiah to sink the scroll in the Euphrates with a stone

V. Comment

There are two enigmatic words in this chapter that may be explained by a scribal practice that is generally known from the post-biblical period, namely Atbash (אתב״ש). Atbash, which stands for aleph-tav, bet-shin, is the writing of words with their reciprocal letter according to the standard order of the Hebrew alphabet. Hence, an aleph is written as a tav, a bet as a shin, a gimel as a resh, and so on. It is a kind of secret code, though it is easy to decipher once one knows the pattern. In the opening verse of this chapter Yahweh says:

See, I am rousing a destructive wind Against Babylon and the inhabitants of Leb-kamai.

“Leb-kamai” (לב קמי) is only mentioned here in the Bible and, according to Atbash, means “Babylonians” (כשדים). Hence, Yahweh will kill the inhabitants of Babylon. Similarly, in verse 41 Yahweh proclaims:

How has Sheshach been captured, The praise of the whole earth been taken! How has Babylon become A horror to the nations!

“Sheshach” (ששך) only appears here and in Jeremiah 25:26. According to Atbash it means “Babylon” (בבל). While there may be other explanations for Leb-kamai and Sheshach, the most plausible is that the original authors or later scribes were employing the scribal code of Atbash.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Jeremiah 50: Oracle Against Babylon – Part I

archeryHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh will destroy Babylon and return the people of Israel to their land.

II. Photo

Yahweh sets his archers on Babylon: “Range yourselves roundabout Babylon, all you who draw the bow; Shoot at her, don’t spare arrows, for she has sinned against the Lord.” (v. 14)

III. Select Verses

4-8: In those days and at that time — declares the LORD — the people of Israel together with the people of Judah shall come, and they shall weep as they go to seek the LORD their God. They shall inquire for Zion; in that direction their faces shall turn; they shall come and attach themselves to the LORD by a covenant for all time, which shall never be forgotten. My people were lost sheep: their shepherds led them astray, they drove them out to the mountains, they roamed from mount to hill, they forgot their own resting place. All who encountered them devoured them; and their foes said, “We shall not be held guilty, because they have sinned against the LORD, the true Pasture, the Hope of their fathers — the LORD.” Flee from Babylon, Leave the land of the Chaldeans, And be like he-goats that lead the flock!

9-10: For see, I am rousing and leading An assemblage of great nations against Babylon From the lands of the north. They shall draw up their lines against her, There she shall be captured. Their arrows are like those of a skilled warrior Who does not turn back without hitting the mark. Chaldea shall be despoiled, All her spoilers shall be sated — declares the LORD.

17-19:  Israel are scattered sheep, harried by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured them, and in the end King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon crunched their bones. Assuredly, thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: I will deal with the king of Babylon and his land as I dealt with the king of Assyria. And I will lead Israel back to his pasture, and he shall graze in Carmel and Bashan, and eat his fill in the hill country of Ephraim and in Gilead.

20:  In those days and at that time — declares the LORD — ¶ The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, And there shall be none; The sins of Judah, And none shall be found; For I will pardon those I allow to survive.

35-38: A sword against the Chaldeans — declares the LORD — ¶ And against the inhabitants of Babylon, Against its officials and its wise men! A sword against the diviners, that they be made fools of! A sword against the warriors, that they be dismayed! A sword against its horses and chariots, And against all the motley crowd in its midst, That they become like women! A sword against its treasuries, that they be pillaged! A drought against its waters, that they be dried up! For it is a land of idols; They are besotted by their dread images.

IV. Outline

1. Introduction

2-3. Call to declare Babylon’s destruction

4-8. Call and prediction for Israel and Judah to return from Babylon

9-10. Northerners will destroy Babylon

11. Rationale: Babylon destroyed Judah with joy and power

12. Shame

13. Onlookers will be appalled

14. Call to battle

15. The moment of surrender

16. The inhabitants will flee

17-19. Israel will be returned and Babylon will be punished like Assyria

20. Israel is innocent

21-22. Call to battle

23. Babylon is appalling

24. Rationale: Babylon challenged Yahweh

25. Yahweh has sent his weapons

26-27. Call to destroy

28. Babylon’s refugees tell Zion about Yahweh’s vengeance

29. Call to destroy

30. Mass death

31-32. Babylon’s insolence will be crushed

33-34. Yahweh will release Israel from Babylon’s oppression

35-38. Death for the different types of Babylonian leaders

39-40. Complete destruction, like Sodom and Gomorrah

41-43. The sound of the northerners frightens the king of Babylon

44. Yahweh is like a lion from the brush

45. Call to hear Yahweh’s plan of destruction

46. The sounds of Babylon’s destruction are like an earthquake


V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Jeremiah 49: Oracles Against Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, Kedar, and Elam

scatter wind seed blowing in the windHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh will destroy and exile the inhabitants of Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, Kedar, and Elam.

II. Photo

Yahweh will scatter Elam: “And I shall bring four winds against Elam from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them to all those winds. There shall not be a nation to which the fugitives from Elam do not come.” (v. 36)

III. Select Verses

1-2: Concerning the Ammonites.  Thus said the LORD: Has Israel no sons, Has he no heir? Then why has Milcom dispossessed Gad, And why have his people settled in Gad’s towns? Assuredly, days are coming — declares the LORD —  When I will sound the alarm of war Against Rabbah of the Ammonites; It shall become a desolate mound, And its villages shall be set on fire. And Israel shall dispossess Those who dispossessed him — said the LORD.

17-18: And Edom shall be a cause of appallment; whoever passes by will be appalled and will hiss at all its wounds. It shall be like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors — said the LORD: no man shall live there, no human shall sojourn there.

19:  It shall be as when a lion comes up out of the jungle of the Jordan against a secure pasture: in a moment I can harry him out of it and appoint over it anyone I choose. Then who is like Me? Who can summon Me? Who is the shepherd that can stand up against Me?

27: I will set fire to the wall of Damascus, And it shall consume the fortresses of Ben-hadad.

32-33: Their camels shall become booty, And their abundant flocks a spoil; And I will scatter to every quarter Those who have their hair clipped; And from every direction I will bring Disaster upon them — says the LORD. Hazor shall become a lair of jackals, A desolation for all time. No man shall live there, No human shall sojourn there.

36: And I shall bring four winds against Elam from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them to all those winds. There shall not be a nation to which the fugitives from Elam do not come.

IV. Outline

1-6. Oracle against Ammon

    1a. Introduction

    1b. Ammon has taken Gad’s land

    2. Rabbah will be destroyed and the Israelites will possess the land

    3. Call to flee and lament Milcom’s exile

    4-5. Yahweh will disperse the haughty Ammon

    6. Ammon’s fortunes will be restored

7-22. Oracle against Edom

    7a. Introduction

    7b. Wisdom has vanished 

    8. Call to flee

    9-10. Edom will be completely ravaged

    11. Yahweh will take Edom’s orphans

    12-13. Edom cannot escape destruction

    14. Call to battle

    15. Edom will be the lowest nation

    16. Edom will be lowered from its haughtiness

    17. Those who see Edom will be appalled

    18. Edom will be like Sodom and Gomorrah

    19. No one can stop Yahweh, who is like a lion from the brush

    20-21. All will hear of Edom’s destruction 

    22. Yahweh will destroy like an eagle, and Edom will be fearful

23-27. Oracle against Aram-Damascus

    23a. Introduction

    23b-24. The cities are in fear

    25-26. The warriors will be killed

    27. Ben Hadad’s Damascus will be destroyed

28-33. Oracle against Kedar

    28a. Introduction

    28b. Call to battle

    29. The tents will be spoiled

    30. Call to flee from Nebuchadnezzar 

    31. Call to battle

    32. Yahweh will bring disaster

    33. Hazor (of the desert?) will be destroyed

34-39. Oracle against Elam

    34. Introduction

    35. Elam’s strength will be broken

    36. Exiles throughout the world

    37. Elam will fall to its enemies

    38. Yahweh will vacate Elam’s throne

    39. Elam’s fortunes will be restored


V. Comment

In addition to the oracles against Ammon, Edom, Aram-Damascus, and Elam, this chapter contains an oracle against Kedar (vv. 28-33). Not much is said about Kedar in the Bible appears to have been a nomadic tribe in the eastern portion of Transjordan. The Hazor mentioned in this chapter is probably not the Hazor of the Galilee, though one cannot know for sure. Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers make the following insightful comment regarding why an oracle against Kedar was included in the book of Jeremiah (p. 340): “The inclusion of this oracle concerning Qedar among the oracles concerning the nations in the book of Jeremiah may seem strange. Israel knew about the Arab tribes and their way of life, but there is little evidence of sustained close contact with them of a political nature. This is not a hate oracle; there is no cry for vengeance because Qedar has harmed Israel.

“The presence of this oracle may be seen to be appropriate when it is put in the context of the position reflected in Jeremiah that the LORD had a world-changing plan in motion that involved Babylon. Jeremiah preached consistently that those who opposed Nebuchadrezzar were opposing the LORD. The nations included in Jer 46–49 are addressed with oracles of calamity and devastation, not because they have harmed Israel but because they have opposed, or threaten to oppose, the power of Babylon. There is in place here an inclusive view of the LORD’s power over the world that includes a plan in which Israel is simply included as another nation to be judged (Jer 25).

“This oracle once again focuses on the power of the LORD to act decisively in an international arena. However one may decide the redactional question of v 30 (whether “Nebuchadrezzar” and/or “king of Babylon” are redactor’s additions), v 32 makes it clear that all power is in the hands of the LORD and that the plan to be executed is the LORD’s plan.”

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers. Jeremiah 26-52. Waco: Word Books, 1995.

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Jeremiah 48: Oracle Against Moab

birds nesting cliff rocksHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Yahweh will bring destruction, shame, and exile upon Moab and its god Chemosh.

II. Photo

Yahweh tells the Moabites to flee: “Desert the cities and dwell in the crags, O inhabitants of Moab! Be like a dove that nests In the sides of a pit” (v. 28).

III. Select Verses

7-8:  Surely, because of your trust In your wealth and in your treasures, You too shall be captured. And Chemosh shall go forth to exile, Together with his priests and attendants.The ravager shall come to every town; No town shall escape. The valley shall be devastated And the tableland laid waste — because the LORD has spoken.

13: And Moab shall be shamed because of Chemosh, as the House of Israel were shamed because of Bethel, on whom they relied.

21-24: Judgment has come upon the tableland — upon Holon, Jahzah, and Mephaath;  upon Dibon, Nebo, and Beth-diblathaim;  upon Kiriathaim, Beth-gamul, and Beth-meon;  upon Kerioth and Bozrah — upon all the towns of the land of Moab, far and near.

28: Desert the cities And dwell in the crags, O inhabitants of Moab! Be like a dove that nests In the sides of a pit.

36a: Therefore, My heart moans for Moab like a flute; Like a flute my heart moans For the men of Kir-heres

46:  Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh are undone, For your sons are carried off into captivity, Your daughters into exile.

47: But I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the days to come — declares the LORD. ¶ Thus far is the judgment on Moab.

IV. Outline

1a. Introduction

1b-5. Calls that Moab is laid waste

6. Call to flee

7. The god and priests of Moab will be exiled

8-9. Moab will be destroyed

10. Curse for those who don’t attack

11-12. Yahweh will smash Moab like a jar

13. Reason for shame: serving Chemosh

14-20. Moab is shamed and no longer mighty

21-24. Judgment has come upon the towns of Moab

25. Moab’s might and glory are gone

26. Moab will be shamed in its vomit

27. Moab is now the laughingstock, not Israel

28. Call to flee

29-30. Moab’s haughtiness and sin

31-34. Crying out for Moab

35. Yahweh will destroy Moab

36-38. Yahweh mourns for Moab

39-42. Destruction, wailing, and shame for Moab

43-45. Those who flee will be trapped

46. The people of Moab will be exiled

47. Yahweh will restore the fortunes of Moab


V. Comment

Jeremiah 48 is a lengthy poem/song about the destruction of Moab. Only the oracle against Babylon is longer. It is not entirely clear how the individual sections and ideas are to be separated from one another, or even if they are to be separated at all. For other oracles against Moab see Isaiah 15–16, Amos 2:1–3, Zephaniah 2:8–11, and Ezekiel 25:8–11.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Jeremiah 47: Oracle Against Tyre

galloping horses hooves stampedeHebrew-English Text

I. Summary
Egypt will destroy the Philistines and their Phoenician allies.

II. Photo
The Philistines are in trouble: “All the inhabitants of the land will wail at the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions” (vv. 2-3).

III. Select Verses
(The whole chapter)
1-7: The word of the LORD that came to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza: Thus says the LORD: See, waters are rising out of the north and shall become an overflowing torrent; they shall overflow the land and all that fills it, the city and those who live in it. People shall cry out, and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail. At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions, at the clatter of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels, parents do not turn back for children, so feeble are their hands, because of the day that is coming to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that remains. For the LORD is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor. Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is silenced. O remnant of their power! How long will you gash yourselves? Ah, sword of the LORD! How long until you are quiet? Put yourself into your scabbard, rest and be still! How can it be quiet, when the LORD has given it an order? Against Ashkelon and against the seashore— there he has appointed it.

IV. Outline
1. Introduction: oracle about the Philistines
2. A flood will fill the land
3. Chariots of war
4. Destruction for Philistines from Caphtor and the helpers Tyre and Sidon
5. Destruction for Gaza and Ashkelon
6-7. Yahweh’s sword is set for Ashkelon and the Philistine coast

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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Jeremiah 46: Oracles Against Egypt; Promise to Israel

balm medicine tins jars cansHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Jeremiah poetically relates how the Egyptian army will be defeated and how the land of Egypt will be conquered by Nebuchadnezzar. Although Yahweh will punish Israel, he will restore them to their land and never wipe them out.

II. Photo

Egypt will not recover from its loss: “Go up to Gilead and get balm, fair maiden Egypt. In vain do you seek many remedies, there is no healing for you” (v. 11).

III. Select Verses

1: The word of the LORD to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the nations.

2: Concerning Egypt, about the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was at the river Euphrates near Carchemish, and which was defeated by King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah.

6: The swift cannot get away, The warrior cannot escape. In the north, by the river Euphrates, They stagger and fall.

11: Go up to Gilead and get balm, Fair Maiden Egypt. In vain do you seek many remedies, There is no healing for you.

13-16a: The word which the LORD spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the coming of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon to attack the land of Egypt. Declare in Egypt, proclaim in Migdol, Proclaim in Noph and Tahpanhes! Say: Take your posts and stand ready, For the sword has devoured all around you!  Why are your stalwarts swept away? They did not stand firm, For the LORD thrust them down; He made many stumble, They fell over one another.

19: Equip yourself for exile, Fair Egypt, you who dwell secure! For Noph shall become a waste, Desolate, without inhabitants.

25-26: The LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, has said: I will inflict punishment on Amon of No and on Pharaoh — on Egypt, her gods, and her kings — on Pharaoh and all who rely on him.  I will deliver them into the hands of those who seek to kill them, into the hands of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and into the hands of his subjects. But afterward she shall be inhabited again as in former days, declares the LORD.

27-28: But you, Have no fear, My servant Jacob, Be not dismayed, O Israel! I will deliver you from far away, Your folk from their land of captivity; And Jacob again shall have calm And quiet, with none to trouble him.  But you, have no fear, My servant Jacob — declares the LORD — ¶ For I am with you. I will make an end of all the nations Among which I have banished you, But I will not make an end of you! I will not leave you unpunished, But I will chastise you in measure.

IV. Outline

1. Introduction: Oracles about the nations

2-12. Oracle for Egypt and Pharaoh Neco’s defeated army by the Euphrates

    2. Introduction

    3-9. Song of defeat

    10. Yahweh will sacrifice Egypt

    11-12. There is no healing for Egypt’s loss

13-26. Oracle about Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on Egypt itself

    13. Introduction

    14-17. The soldiers will stumble

    18-19. Yahweh declares exile for Egypt

    20-21. Egypt is like a calf (to be slaughtered)

    22-23a. Egypt is like a forest cut down

    23b-24. Egypt will be given to the Babylonians

    25-26a. Punishment for the gods and the Pharaoh

    26b. Egypt will be restored as before

27-28. Yahweh will punish Israel but they will be returned home

V. Comment

Thre are two oracles about Egypt in Jeremiah 46 and they each concern historical events. The first is introduced in verse 2:

  • Concerning Egypt, about the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was at the river Euphrates near Carchemish, and which was defeated by King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah.

Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers shed light on the history of this event (Jeremiah 26-52, pp. 285-286): “The historical context of the first oracle concerning Egypt (46:2–12) is the battle at Carchemish in 605, as indicated by 46:2. This crucial battle settled the question of what nation would inherit international supremacy from the Assyrians. In 609 the Egyptian army marched to the aid of the remnant of the Assyrian army at Haran, but Babylon shattered the Assyrians and pushed Neco’s army beyond the Euphrates, leaving Egypt temporarily in command of Syria-Palestine. In 605 Egypt was encamped at Carchemish, and it was there that Nebuchadrezzar decisively defeated Neco. A second battle was fought near Hamath, and the rout of the Egyptian forces was complete. These campaigns of 605 effectively ended Egyptian control of Syria-Palestine.”

They also explain that this oracle is more about Jeremiah’s audience, the people of Judah, than the Egyptians themselves: “Although the oracle in 46:3–12 functioned on one level as a taunt against Egypt, its real purpose seems to have been to deter Jehoiakim and the pro-Egyptian party in Judah from rejecting Babylonian overlordship in favor of an alliance with Egypt, in light of the Egyptian debacle at Carchemish. 46:25–26, a prose addition to the first two oracles, suggests the key to understanding the purpose of the oracles: the LORD would bring punishment upon Amon of Thebes, upon Pharaoh, and upon “all those who trust in him” (v 25) (cf Ezek 29:6–8, 16). According to Jeremiah, safety for Judah lay in submission to Babylon, and, indeed, in his view the LORD was using Babylon to achieve divine purposes. In this way Jeremiah incorporated international events into the domain of Judah’s religious and political affairs. However, Jeremiah was not successful in his attempt to dissuade Jehoiakim from revolt against Babylon (2 Kgs 24:1).”

The second oracle is introduced in verse 13:

  •  The word which the LORD spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the coming of King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon to attack the land of Egypt.

As Keown, Scalise, and Smothers write, we are less sure about the exact year of this event (Jeremiah 26-52, pp. 287): “Neither the redactional introduction (v 13) nor the internal data permit one to determine the historical context for the second oracle concerning Egypt (46:13–24). The introduction mentions that Jeremiah delivered the oracle in the context of an attack against Egypt by Nebuchadrezzar. Four dates come into view as possibilities: 604, 601, 588, and 568.”

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Gerald Lynwood Keown, Pamela J Scalise, and Thomas G Smothers. Jeremiah 26-52. Waco: Word Books, 1995.

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