Judgment on Egypt
46 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations.
About Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
“Prepare buckler and shield,
and advance for battle!
Harness the horses;
mount, O horsemen!
Take your stations with your helmets,
polish your spears,
put on your armor!
Why have I seen it?
They are dismayed
and have turned backward.
Their warriors are beaten down
and have fled in haste;
they look not back—
terror on every side!
declares the LORD.
“The swift cannot flee away,
nor the warrior escape;
in the north by the river Euphrates
they have stumbled and fallen.
“Who is this, rising like the Nile,
like rivers whose waters surge?
Egypt rises like the Nile,
like rivers whose waters surge.
He said, ‘I will rise, I will cover the earth,
I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.’
Advance, O horses,
and rage, O chariots!
Let the warriors go out:
men of Cush and Put who handle the shield,
men of Lud, skilled in handling the bow.
That day is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts,
a day of vengeance,
to avenge himself on his foes.
The sword shall devour and be sated
and drink its fill of their blood.
For the Lord GOD of hosts holds a sacrifice
in the north country by the river Euphrates.
Go up to Gilead, and take balm,
O virgin daughter of Egypt!
In vain you have used many medicines;
there is no healing for you.
The nations have heard of your shame,
and the earth is full of your cry;
for warrior has stumbled against warrior;
they have both fallen together.”
The word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to strike the land of Egypt:
“Declare in Egypt, and proclaim in Migdol;
proclaim in Memphis and Tahpanhes;
say, ‘Stand ready and be prepared,
for the sword shall devour around you.’
Why are your mighty ones face down?
They do not stand
because the LORD thrust them down.
He made many stumble, and they fell,
and they said one to another,
‘Arise, and let us go back to our own people
and to the land of our birth,
because of the sword of the oppressor.’
Call the name of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
‘Noisy one who lets the hour go by.’
“As I live, declares the King,
whose name is the LORD of hosts,
like Tabor among the mountains
and like Carmel by the sea, shall one come.
Prepare yourselves baggage for exile,
O inhabitants of Egypt!
For Memphis shall become a waste,
a ruin, without inhabitant.
“A beautiful heifer is Egypt,
but a biting fly from the north has come upon her.
Even her hired soldiers in her midst
are like fattened calves;
yes, they have turned and fled together;
they did not stand,
for the day of their calamity has come upon them,
the time of their punishment.
“She makes a sound like a serpent gliding away;
for her enemies march in force
and come against her with axes
like those who fell trees.
They shall cut down her forest,
declares the LORD,
though it is impenetrable,
because they are more numerous than locusts;
they are without number.
The daughter of Egypt shall be put to shame;
she shall be delivered into the hand of a people from the north.”
The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, said: “Behold, I am bringing punishment upon Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh and Egypt and her gods and her kings, upon Pharaoh and those who trust in him. I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their life, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Afterward Egypt shall be inhabited as in the days of old, declares the LORD.
“But fear not, O Jacob my servant,
nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
declares the LORD,
for I am with you.
I will make a full end of all the nations
to which I have driven you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”
Jeremiah 46 Commentary
by Hank Workman
As the book of Jeremiah comes to a few remaining chapters, God has some final thoughts for the surrounding nations. There would be no assuming these nations had escaped God’s judgment for their own sin. Egypt is the first to be spoken against.
It would be in 605 BC that two major world powers would come to a face off. Assyria had already been demolished and the Babylonians were on the move to take over as the most powerful nation. Babylon caught Egypt by surprise in Carchemish and defeated them. This would be Nebuchadnezzar’s first victory as king of Babylon.
Historically it would be in 589 BC when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem. Egypt was still grasping at straws to maintain their power. Pharaoh Hophra came out against the powerful Babylon at the King of Judah’s request. But when they saw they were overpowered, Egypt retreated. It just so happens that Jeremiah had prophesied (Jeremiah 44:30) that Hophra would be killed by his enemies. 20 years later this actually took place.
The timeline of these thoughts is fascinating to me. God’s words were right. He had warned Judah not to go to Egypt. He knew they would be defeated but they chose to act in their own willfulness anyway. History shows the defeats God had warned against. Their disobedience is front and center as costing them. And in the end, God punished Judah for their own blatant sinfulness in not following Him and His word.
We can read chapter after chapter and forget the timing, in this case being 20 years. That was a long time for God to move on what He said. But He did. The punishment that came to Judah was harsh but in the end was with one goal of God, to drive them back to Him. They had to be stripped of everything in order to finally turn around.
We’ve said countless times God will do whatever it takes to bring His children back to Him. The timing is His, which is really an act of mercy that He doesn’t react right on the spot. But He does keep His word. He’s still calling and desiring so much more than what we’ve given. Don’t overlook the years of mercy He is possibly extending to you.
Jeremiah 46 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Just as God promised, He outlines some of the details that will take place as Babylon prepares to destroy Egypt. It is proof of His justice and his power, as well as His grace and mercy. This was important for the people to hear. The consistency of God’s plan coming forth gives them hope and a renewed confidence that, in time, they will return to their land.
He has done this so many times over this chapter and the balance of each is a really practical analogy for our own relationship with him. When we stray, there are consequences. When we are overcome, He will protect. When we feel abandoned, He will rescue. When we are discouraged, He will always remind us of His promises to come.
The judgments that follow over the next 4-5 chapters will focus on a theme that is consistent with the entire book of Jeremiah.
1) The judgment of God is not unwarranted. Those who have read this far into Jeremiah already know the horrific rebellion of Judah. They rejected God’s counsel and His wisdom at every turn. They continued to delve further and further into their own sinful ways. They served false gods and turned from their Creator.
2) The wrath is not without remedy. God has a beautiful plan of restoration for His people. Though they deserved death, He allowed them to go into exile. He will now begin to show them exactly what He has in their future. Repentance is always available even in our darkest times.