The Lord Will Punish the Judean Exiles in Egypt for Their Idolatry1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah concerning ▼
▼ Heb “The word came to Jeremiah concerning.” Though the phrase “from the Lord” is missing from this formula which occurs elsewhere at 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 21:1; 30:1; 32:1; 34:1, 8; 35:1; 40:1, it is clearly implied from the words that follow. As in these other passages, the more active form has been chosen for the translation to better conform with contemporary English style.all the Judeans who were living in the land of Egypt, those in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and in the region of southern Egypt. ▼
▼ The first three cities, Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, are located in Northern or Lower Egypt. Memphis (Heb “Noph”) was located south of Heliopolis (which was referred to earlier as “the temple of the sun”) and was about fourteen miles (23 km) south of Cairo. For the identification and location of Tahpanhes see the study note on Jer 43:7. The location of Migdol has been debated but is tentatively identified with a border fortress about twenty-five miles (42 km) east-northeast of Tahpanhes. The “region of southern Egypt” is literally “the land of Pathros,” the long Nile valley extending north and south between Cairo and Aswan (biblical Syene). For further information see the discussion in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26–52 (WBC), 262–63. Reference here is to Judean exiles who had fled earlier as well as to those from Mizpah who were led into Egypt by Johanan and the other arrogant men (43:3, 5).2 “The Lord God of Israel who rules over all ▼ says, ‘You have seen all the disaster I brought on Jerusalem ▼ and all the towns of Judah. Indeed, they now lie in ruins and are deserted. ▼
▼ Heb “Behold, they are in ruins this day and there is no one living in them.”3 This happened because of the wickedness the people living there did. ▼ They made me angry ▼
▼ Heb “thus making me angry.” However, this is a good place to break the sentence to create a shorter sentence that is more in keeping with contemporary English style.by worshiping and offering sacrifice to ▼
▼ Heb “by going to offer sacrifice in serving/worshiping.” The second לְ (lamed) + infinitive is epexegetical of the first (cf. IBHS 608–9 #36.2.3e).other gods whom neither they nor you nor your ancestors ▼ previously knew. ▼ 4 I sent my servants the prophets to you people over and over ▼ again warning you not to do this disgusting thing I hate. ▼
▼ Heb “sent…over again, saying, ‘Do not do this terrible thing that I hate.’” The indirect quote has been used to shorten the sentence and eliminate one level of embedded quotes.▼
▼ This refers to the worship of other gods mentioned in the previous verse.5 But the people of Jerusalem and Judah ▼
▼ There appears to be a deliberate shift in the pronouns used in vv. 2–5. “You” refers to the people living in Egypt who are being addressed (v. 2) and to the people of present and past generations to whom the Lord persistently sent the prophets (v. 4). “They” refers to the people of Jerusalem and the towns of Judah who have suffered disaster (v. 2) because of the wickedness of sacrificing to other gods (vv. 3, 5). The referents have been explicitly identified in the translation for the sake of clarity.would not listen or pay any attention. They would not stop the wickedness they were doing nor quit sacrificing to other gods. ▼
▼ Heb “They did not listen or incline their ear [= pay attention] by turning from their wickedness by not sacrificing to other gods.” The לְ (lamed) + the negative + the infinitive is again epexegetical. The sentence has been restructured and more idiomatic English expressions have been used to better conform with contemporary English style but an attempt has been made to retain the basic relationships of subordination.6 So my anger and my wrath were poured out and burned like a fire through the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. That is why they have become the desolate ruins that they are today.’
7 “So now the Lord, the God who rules over all, the God of Israel, ▼ asks, ‘Why will you do such great harm to yourselves? Why should every man, woman, child, and baby of yours be destroyed from the midst of Judah? Why should you leave yourselves without a remnant? 8 That is what will result from your making me angry by what you are doing. ▼ You are making me angry by sacrificing to other gods here in the land of Egypt where you live. You will be destroyed for doing that! You will become an example used in curses ▼ and an object of ridicule among all the nations of the earth. ▼
▼ Verses 7b–8 are all one long, complex sentence governed by the interrogative “Why.” The Hebrew text reads: “Why are you doing great harm to your souls [= “yourselves” (cf. BDB 660 s.v. נֶפֶשׁ 4.b)] so as to cut off [= destroy] from yourselves man and woman, child and baby [the terms are collective singulars and are to be interpreted as plurals] from the midst of Judah so as not to leave to yourselves a remnant by making me angry with the works of your hands by sacrificing to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live so as to cut off [an example of result rather than purpose after the particle לְמַעַן (lema’an; see the translator’s note on 25:7)] yourselves and so that you may become a curse and an object of ridicule among all the nations of the earth.” The sentence has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style. An attempt has been made to retain an equivalent for all the subordinations and qualifying phrases.▼
▼ What is being threatened is not the total destruction of a remnant of Judah. Jeremiah recognizes those who have been carried off to Babylon as well as other places as seeds for a new beginning (e.g., 24:5–6; 29:14; 30:3). But he denies here that any of those who have gone to Egypt and are continuing to practice idolatry will be among them. All of them will be cut off (i.e., destroyed) from the midst of Judah so that not a remnant of them will be left.9 Have you forgotten all the wicked things that have been done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem by your ancestors, by the kings of Judah and their ▼ wives, by you and your wives? 10 To this day your people ▼
▼ Heb “they” but as H. Freedman (Jeremiah [SoBB], 284) notes the third person is used here to include the people just referred to as well as the current addressees. Hence “your people” or “the people of Judah.” It is possible that the third person again reflects the rhetorical distancing that was referred to earlier in 35:16 (see the translator’s note there for explanation) in which case one might translate “you have shown,” and “you have not revered.”have shown no contrition! They have not revered me nor followed the laws and statutes I commanded ▼
▼ Heb “to set before.” According to BDB 817 s.v. פָּנֶה II.4.b(g) this refers to “propounding to someone for acceptance or choice.” This is clearly the usage in Deut 30:15, 19; Jer 21:8 and is likely the case here. However, to translate literally would not be good English idiom and “proposed to” might not be correctly understood, so the basic translation of נָתַן (natan) has been used here.you and your ancestors.’
11 “Because of this, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘I am determined to bring disaster on you, ▼ even to the point of destroying all the Judeans here. ▼
▼ Heb “and to destroy all Judah.” However, this statement must be understood within the rhetoric of the passage (see vv. 7–8 and the study note on v. 8) and within the broader context of the Lord’s promises to restore the remnant who are in Babylon and those scattered in other lands (23:3; 24:5–6; 29:14; 30:3; 32:27). In this context “all Judah” must refer to all the Judeans living in Egypt whom Jeremiah is now addressing. This involves the figure of synecdoche where all does not extend to all individuals but to all that are further specified or implied (see E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 616–18, and the comments in H. Freedman, Jeremiah [SoBB], 285). The “and” in front of “to destroy” is to be understood as an example of the epexegetical use of the conjunction ו (vav; see BDB 252 s.v. וַ 1.b and compare the translation of J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 260).12 I will see to it that all the Judean remnant that was determined to go ▼ and live in the land of Egypt will be destroyed. Here in the land of Egypt they will fall in battle ▼
▼ Heb “fall by the sword.”or perish from starvation. People of every class ▼ will die in war or from starvation. They will become an object of horror and ridicule, an example of those who have been cursed and that people use in pronouncing a curse. ▼ ▼ 13 I will punish those who live in the land of Egypt with war, starvation, and disease just as I punished Jerusalem. 14 None of the Judean remnant who have come to live in the land of Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah. Though they long to return and live there, none of them shall return except a few fugitives.’” ▼
▼ Heb “There shall not be an escapee or a survivor to the remnant of Judah who came to sojourn there in the land of Egypt even to return to the land of Judah which they are lifting up their souls [= “longing/desiring” (BDB 672 s.v. נָשָׂא Piel.2)] to return to live there; for none shall return except fugitives.” The long, complex Hebrew original has been broken up and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style. Another possible structure would be “None of the Judean remnant who have come to live in the land of Egypt will escape or survive. None of them will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah where they long to return to live. Indeed (emphatic use of כִּי [ki]; cf. BDB 472 s.v. כִּי 1.e) none of them shall return except a few fugitives.” This verse is a good example of rhetorical hyperbole where a universal negative does not apply to absolutely all the particulars. Though the Lord denies at the outset that any will escape or survive the punishment of vv. 12–13 to return to Judah, he says at the end that a few fugitives will return (the two words for fugitive are from the same root and mean the same thing). (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 618–19, might classify this as a synecdoche of genus where a universal negative does not deny particularity.) That this last statement is not a gloss or an afterthought is supported by what is said later in v. 28.
15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives were sacrificing to other gods, as well as all their wives, answered Jeremiah. There was a great crowd of them representing all the people who lived in northern and southern Egypt. ▼
▼ The translation is very interpretive at several key points: Heb “Then all the men who were aware that their wives were sacrificing to other gods and all their wives who were standing by, a great crowd/congregation, and all the people who were living in the land of Egypt in Pathros answered, saying.” It is proper to assume that the phrase “a great crowd” is appositional to “all the men…and their wives….” It is also probably proper to assume that the phrase “who were standing by” is unnecessary to the English translation. What is interpretive is the assumption that the “and all the people who were living in Egypt in Pathros” is explicative of “the great crowd” and that the phrase “in Pathros” is conjunctive and not appositional. Several commentaries and English versions (e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 678–79, n. 2; NJPS) assume that the phrase is descriptive of a second group, i.e., all the Jews from Pathros in Egypt (i.e., southern Egypt [see the study note on 44:1]). Those who follow this interpretation generally see this as a gloss (see Thompson, 678, n. 2, and also W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:279, n. 15b). It is probably better to assume that the phrase is explicative and that “all” is used in the same rhetorical way that it has been used within the chapter, i.e., “all” = representatives of all. Likewise the phrase “in Pathros” should be assumed to be conjunctive as in the Syriac translation and as suggested by BHS fn c since Jeremiah’s answer in vv. 24, 26 is directed to all the Judeans living in Egypt.They answered, 16 “We will not listen to what you claim the Lord has spoken to us! ▼ 17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. ▼
▼ Heb “that went out of our mouth.” I.e., everything we said, promised, or vowed.We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven ▼ ▼ just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. ▼
▼ Heb “saw [or experienced] no disaster/trouble/harm.”18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation.” ▼
▼ Heb “we have been consumed/destroyed by sword or by starvation.” The “we” cannot be taken literally here since they are still alive.▼
▼ What is being contrasted here is the relative peace and prosperity under the reign of Manasseh, who promoted all kinds of pagan cults including the worship of astral deities (2 Kgs 21:2–9), and the disasters that befell Judah after the reforms of Josiah, which included the removal of all the cult images and altars from Jerusalem and Judah (2 Kgs 23:4–15). The disasters included the death of Josiah himself at the battle of Megiddo, the deportation of his son Jehoahaz to Egypt, the death of Jehoiakim, the deportation of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) and many other Judeans in 597 b.c., the death by war, starvation, and disease of many Judeans during the siege of Jerusalem in 588–86 b.c., and the captivity of many of those who survived. Instead of seeing these as punishments for their disobedience to the Lord as Jeremiah had preached to them, they saw these as consequences of their failure to continue the worship of the foreign gods.19 The women added, ▼
▼ The words “And the women added” are not in the Hebrew text. They are, however, implicit in what is said. They are found in the Syriac version and in one recension of the Greek version. W. L. Holladay (Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:279, n. 19a) suggests that these words are missing from the Hebrew text because of haplography, i.e., that the scribe left out וַהַנָּשִׁים אָמְרוּ כִי (vahannashim ’omru khi) because his eye jumped from the ו at the beginning to the כִּי (ki) that introduced the temporal clause and left out everything in between. It is, however, just as likely, given the fact that there are several other examples of quotes which have not been formally introduced in the book of Jeremiah, that the words were not there and are supplied by these two ancient versions as a translator’s clarification.“We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” ▼
▼ Or “When we sacrificed and poured out drink offering to the Queen of Heaven and made cakes in her image, wasn’t it with the knowledge and approval of our husbands?” Heb “When we sacrificed to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings [for the use of לְ (lamed) + the infinitive construct to carry on the tense of the preceding verb see BDB 518 s.v. לְ 7.b(h)] to her, did we make cakes to make an image of her and pour out drink offerings apart from [i.e., “without the knowledge and consent of,” so BDB 116 s.v. בִּלְעֲדֵי b(a)] our husbands?” The question expects a positive answer and has been rendered as an affirmation in the translation. The long, complex Hebrew sentence has again been broken in two and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.▼
▼ According to Jer 7:18–19 it was not only with the full knowledge and approval of their husbands but also with their active participation. Most of the commentaries call attention to the fact that what is being alluded to here is that a woman’s vow had to have her husband’s conscious approval to have any validity (cf. Num 30:7–16 and see the reference to the vow in v. 17).
20 Then Jeremiah replied to all the people, both men and women, who responded to him in this way. ▼
▼ Heb “And Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men and to the women, namely to all the people who answered him a word.” The appositional phrases have been combined to eliminate what would be redundant to a modern reader.21 “The Lord did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods ▼ in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. ▼
▼ Heb “The sacrifices which you sacrificed in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your leaders and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them and [did they not] come into his mind?” The question is again rhetorical and expects a positive answer. So it is rendered here as an affirmative statement for the sake of clarity and simplicity. An attempt has been made to shorten the long Hebrew sentence to better conform with contemporary English style.22 Finally the Lord could no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today. That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses. ▼
▼ Heb “And/Then the Lord could no longer endure because of the evil of your deeds [and] because of the detestable things that you did and [or so] your land became a desolation and a waste and an occasion of a curse without inhabitant as this day.” The sentence has been broken up and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style, but an attempt has been made to preserve the causal and consequential connections.23 You have sacrificed to other gods! You have sinned against the Lord! You have not obeyed the Lord! You have not followed his laws, his statutes, and his decrees! That is why this disaster that is evident to this day has happened to you.” ▼
▼ Heb “Because you have sacrificed and you have sinned against the Lord and you have not listened to the voice of the Lord and in his laws, in his statutes, and in his decrees you have not walked, therefore this disaster has happened to you as this day.” The text has been broken down and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style.
24 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people, particularly to all the women. ▼
▼ Heb “and to all the women.” The “and” (ו, vav) is to be explained here according to BDB 252 s.v. וַ 1.a. The focus of the address that follows is on the women. See the translator’s note on the next verse.“Listen to what the Lord has to say all you people of Judah who are in Egypt. 25 The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘You women ▼
▼ Or “You and your wives.” The text and referent here is uncertain because of the confusing picture that the alternation of pronouns presents in this verse. Three of the main verbs are second feminine plurals and one of them is second masculine plural. All the pronominal suffixes on the nouns are second masculine plurals. The Hebrew text reads: “You [masc. pl.] and your [masc. pl.] wives have spoken [2nd fem. pl.; תְּדַבֵּרְנָה, tedabberenah] with your [masc. pl.] mouth and you have fulfilled [masc. pl.; מִלֵּאתֶם, mille’tem] with your [masc. pl.] hands, saying, ‘We [common gender] will certainly carry out….’ Indeed fulfill [2nd fem. pl.; תָּקִימְנָה, taqimnah] your [masc. pl.] vows and indeed carry out [2nd fem. pl.; תַעֲשֶׂינָה, ta’asenah] your [masc. pl.] vows.” Older commentaries, such as K&D 22:165, explain the feminine verbs as a matter of the women being the principle subject. Most all modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, J. Bright, W. L. Holladay, and G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers) follow the reading of the Greek version which reads “you women” (= אַתֵּנָה הַנָּשִּׁים, [’attenah hannashim]) in place of “you and your wives” (אַתֶּם וּנְשֵׁיכֶם, ’attem uneshekhem) in the Hebrew. None of them, however, explain the use of the 2nd masc. plurals here. This is possibly a case where the masculine forms are used in the place of the feminine due to the dislike of Hebrew to use the feminine plural forms (cf. GKC 459 #144.a and 466 #145.t). This seems all the more probable when 2nd fem. pl. verbs are qualified by nouns with 2nd masc. pl. suffixes. The translation here follows this interpretation of the masc. pl. forms and reads “you women” with the Greek version in place of “you and your wives” and sees the referents throughout as the women.have confirmed by your actions what you vowed with your lips! You said, “We will certainly carry out our vows to sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.” Well, then fulfill your vows! Carry them out!’ ▼
▼ Heb “Carry out your vows!”▼
▼ The commands here are, of course, sarcastic and not meant to be taken literally.26 But ▼
▼ Heb “Therefore.” This particle quite often introduces the announcement of judgment after an indictment or accusation of a crime. That is its function here after the statement of cause in vv. 24–25. However, it would not sound right after the immediately preceding ironical or sarcastic commands to go ahead and fulfill their vows. “But” is a better transition unless one wants to paraphrase “Therefore, since you are so determined to do that….”listen to what the Lord has to say, all you people of Judah who are living in the land of Egypt. The Lord says, ‘I hereby swear by my own great name that none of the people of Judah who are living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name in their oaths! Never again will any of them use it in an oath saying, “As surely as the Lord God lives….” ▼
▼ Heb “Behold I swear by…that my name will no more be pronounced in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt saying, ‘As the Lord Yahweh lives.’” The sentence has been broken up and restructured to better conform with contemporary English style and the significance of pronouncing the name has been interpreted for the sake of readers who might not be familiar with this biblical idiom.▼ 27 I will indeed ▼ see to it that disaster, not prosperity, happens to them. ▼ All the people of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will die in war or from starvation until not one of them is left. 28 Some who survive in battle will return to the land of Judah from the land of Egypt. But they will be very few indeed! ▼
▼ Heb “The survivors of the sword will return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number [more literally, “men of number”; for the idiom see BDB 709 s.v. מִסְפָּר 1.a].” The term “survivors of the sword” may be intended to represent both those who survive death in war or death by starvation or disease, a synecdoche of species for all three genera.▼
▼ This statement shows that the preceding “none,” “never again,” “all” in vv. 26–27 are rhetorical hyperbole. Not all but almost all; very few would survive. The following statement implies that the reason that they are left alive is to bear witness to the fact that the Lord’s threats were indeed carried out. See vv. 11–14 for a parallel use of “all” and “none” qualified by a “few.”Then the Judean remnant who have come to live in the land of Egypt will know whose word proves true, ▼
▼ Heb “will stand,” i.e., in the sense of being fulfilled, proving to be true, or succeeding (see BDB 878 s.v. קוּם 7.g).mine or theirs.’ 29 Moreover the Lord says, ▼
▼ Heb “oracle of the Lord.”‘I will make something happen to prove that I will punish you in this place. I will do it so that you will know that my threats to bring disaster on you will prove true. ▼
▼ Heb “This will be to you the sign, oracle of the Lord, that I will punish you in this place in order that you may know that my threats against you for evil/disaster/harm will certainly stand [see the translator’s note on the preceding verse for the meaning of this word here].” The word “sign” refers to an event that is a pre-omen or portent of something that will happen later (see BDB 16 s.v. אוֹת 2 and compare usage in 1 Sam 14:10; 2 Kgs 19:29). The best way to carry that idea across in this context seems to be “I will make something happen to prove [or portend].” Another possibility would be “I will give you a pre-omen that,” but many readers would probably not be familiar with “omen/pre-omen.” Again the sentence has been broken in two and restructured to better conform with English style.30 I, the Lord, promise that ▼
▼ Heb “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold I will hand…’” The first person and indirect quote have been chosen because the Lord is already identified as the speaker and the indirect quote eliminates an extra level of embedded quotes.I will hand Pharaoh Hophra ▼
▼ Hophra ruled over Egypt from 589–570 b.c. He was the Pharaoh who incited Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and whose army proved ineffective in providing any long-term relief to Jerusalem when it was under siege (see Jer 37 and especially the study note on 37:5). He was assassinated following a power struggle with a court official who had earlier saved him from a rebellion of his own troops and had ruled as co-regent with him.king of Egypt over to his enemies who are seeking to kill him. I will do that just as surely as I handed King Zedekiah of Judah over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, his enemy who was seeking to kill him.’”
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