Jeremiah 43

Jeremiah finished telling all the people all these things the Lord their God had sent him to tell them.
This sentence contains an emphasis that is impossible to translate into idiomatic English that would not sound redundant. In Hebrew the sentence reads: “When Jeremiah finished [the temporal subordination is left out here because it would make the sentence too long] telling all the people all the words [or all the things] which the Lord their God had sent him [to say] to them, namely all these words,…” The last phrase has been left out of the translation as already having been included. Though they have been left out of the translation, attention is called to their presence here.
Then Azariah
See the study note on 42:1 for the possible identification of this man with Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite.
son of Hoshaiah, Johanan son of Kareah, and other arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God did not send you to tell us, ‘You must not go to Egypt and settle there.’
But Baruch son of Neriah is stirring you up against us.
Or “is inciting you against us.”
He wants to hand us over
Heb “in order to give us into the hands of the Chaldeans.” The substitution “he wants to” as the equivalent of the purpose clause has been chosen to shorten the sentence to better conform with contemporary English style.
to the Babylonians
Heb “Chaldeans.” See the study note on 21:4 for explanation.
so that they will kill us or carry us off into exile in Babylon.”
So Johanan son of Kareah, all the army officers, and all the rest of the people did not obey the Lord’s command to stay in the land. Instead Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led off all the Judean remnant who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered.
These are the people who are referred to in Jer 40:11–12.
They also led off all the men, women, children, and royal princesses
Heb “the daughters of the king.” See the translator’s note on 41:10.
that Nebuzaradan, the captain of the royal guard, had left with Gedaliah,
This refers to the group mentioned in Jer 40:7 and 41:10. The two groups together constituted all the people who were at Mizpah when Gedaliah was murdered, had been taken captive by Ishmael, had been rescued by Johanan and the other army officers, and had consulted Jeremiah at Geruth Chimham.
the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan. This included the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch son of Neriah.
They went on to Egypt
This had been their intention all along (41:17). Though they consulted the Lord and promised to do what he told them whether they agreed with it or not (42:5–6), it is clear that they had no intention of doing so. Jeremiah could see that (42:19–22). They refused to believe that the Lord had really said what Jeremiah told them (43:4) and feared reprisal from the Babylonians more than any potential destruction from the Lord (43:3).
because they refused to obey the Lord, and came to Tahpanhes.
Tahpanhes was an important fortress city on the northern border of Egypt in the northeastern Nile delta. It is generally equated with the Greek city of Daphne. It has already been mentioned in 2:16 in conjunction with Memphis (the Hebrew name is “Noph”) as a source of soldiers who did violence to the Israelites in the past.


Jeremiah Predicts that Nebuchadnezzar Will Plunder Egypt and Its Gods

At Tahpanhes the Lord spoke to Jeremiah.
Heb “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes, saying.”
“Take some large stones
Heb “Take some large stones in your hands.”
and bury them in the mortar of the clay pavement
The meaning of the expression “mortar of the clay pavement” is uncertain. The noun translated “mortar” occurs only here and the etymology is debated. Both BDB 572 s.v. מֶלֶט and KBL 529 s.v. מֶלֶט give the meaning “mortar.” The noun translated “clay pavement” is elsewhere used of a “brick mold.” Here BDB 527 s.v. מַלְבֵּן 2 gives “quadrangle” and KBL 527 s.v. מַלְבֵּן 2 gives “terrace of bricks.” HALOT 558 s.v. מֶלֶט and מַלְבֵּן 2 give “loamy soil” for both words, seeing the second noun as a dittography or gloss of the first (see also note c in BHS).
at the entrance of Pharaoh’s residence
All the commentaries point out that this was not Pharaoh’s (main) palace but a governor’s residence or other government building that Pharaoh occupied when he was in Tahpanhes.
here in Tahpanhes. Do it while the people of Judah present there are watching.
Heb “in Tahpanhes in the eyes of the men of Judah.”
10 Then tell them,
This is another of those symbolic prophecies of Jeremiah which involved an action and an explanation. Compare Jer 19, 27.
‘The Lord God of Israel who rules over all
Heb “Yahweh of armies, the God of Israel.” Compare 7:3 and see the study note on 2:19 for explanation of the translation and significance of this title.
says, “I will bring
Heb “send and take/fetch.”
my servant
See the study note on Jer 25:9 for the use of this epithet for foreign rulers. The term emphasizes God’s sovereignty over history.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will set his throne over these stones which I
The Greek version reads the verbs in this sentence as third person, “he will set,” and second person, “you have buried.” This fits the context better but it is difficult to explain how the Hebrew could have arisen from this smoother reading. The figure of substitution (metonymy of cause for effect) is probably involved: “I will have him set” and “I have had you bury.” The effect of these substitutions is to emphasize the sovereignty of God.
have buried. He will pitch his royal tent
The meaning of this word is uncertain. The word here (שַׁפְרִירוֹ [shafriro] Qere, שַׁפְרוּרוֹ [shafruro] Kethib) occurs only here in the Hebrew Bible. According to the lexicons it refers to either the carpet for his throne or the canopy over it. See, e.g., HALOT 1510 s.v. שַׁפְרִיר.
over them.
11 He will come and attack Egypt. Those who are destined to die of disease will die of disease. Those who are destined to be carried off into exile will be carried off into exile. Those who are destined to die in war will die in war.
As in 15:2 the Hebrew is very brief and staccato-like: “those to death to death, and those to captivity to captivity, and those to the sword to the sword.” As in 15:2 most commentaries and English versions assume that the word “death” refers to death by disease. See the translator’s note on 15:2 and compare also 18:21 where the sword is distinctly connected with “war” or “battle” and is distinct from “killed by death [i.e., disease].”
12 He will set fire
The translation follows the Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions. The Hebrew text reads: “I will set fire to.” While it would be possible to explain the first person subject here in the same way as in the two verbs in v. 12b, the corruption of the Hebrew text is easy to explain here as a metathesis of two letters, י (yod) and ת (tav). The Hebrew reads הִצַּתִּי (hitsatti) and the versions presuppose הִצִּית (hitsit).
to the temples of the gods of Egypt. He will burn their gods or carry them off as captives.
Heb “burn them or carry them off as captives.” Some of the commentaries and English versions make a distinction between the objects of the verbs, i.e., burn the temples and carry off the gods. However, the burning down of the temples is referred to later in v. 13.
It was typical in the ancient Near East for the images of the gods of vanquished nations to be carried off and displayed in triumphal procession on the return from battle to show the superiority of the victor’s gods over those of the vanquished (cf., e.g., Isa 46:1–2).
He will pick Egypt clean like a shepherd picks the lice from his clothing.
Or “he will take over Egypt as easily as a shepherd wraps his cloak around him.” The translation follows the interpretation of HALOT 769 s.v. II ָעטָה Qal, the Greek translation, and a number of the modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 671). The only other passage where that translation is suggested for this verb is Isa 22:17 according to HAL. The alternate translation follows the more normal meaning of עָטָה (’atah; cf. BDB 741 s.v. I עָטָה Qal which explains “so completely will it be in his power”). The fact that the subject is “a shepherd” lends more credence to the former view though there may be a deliberate double meaning playing on the homonyms (cf. W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:302).
He will leave there unharmed.
Heb “in peace/wholeness/well-being/safety [shalom].”
13 He will demolish the sacred pillars in the temple of the sun
It is generally agreed that the temple of the sun was located in Heliopolis, which is elsewhere referred to as On (cf. Gen 41:45). It was the center for the worship of Amon-Re, the Egyptian sun god, and was famous for its obelisks (conical shaped pillars) dedicated to that god. It was located about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of modern-day Cairo.
in Egypt and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.”’”

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