A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
Use Gods Word to See Things from God’s Point of View
Jeremiah 45-46 SCC 8/13/17
Jeremiah’s Ministry to Baruch Chapter 45
Verses 1-3 This chapter was written in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (605-604 B.C.) when he had writ- ten down these words in a book at Jeremiah’s dictation (recorded in 36:1-8). Evidently Baruch was discouraged because of the content of the message. He said, Woe to me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning and have found no rest.
Verse 4-5 God Said what I have built I am about to tear down. God would carry out the judgment He had promised. Baruch’s discouragement came because the realities of the judgment clashed with his personal aspirations of greatness. God said, but you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them. Rather than being sad because God did not provide all he wanted, Baruch should have been thankful that God spared him. God promised, I will give your life to you as booty. God expected of Baruch the response of his contemporary, Habakkuk. The hope of a godly person in the midst of national judgment was to be fixed firmly on God. This chapter is perhaps placed here in the book to emphasize the response that God wanted from godly Jews during the Exile.
Application: It’s up to God whether you are honored or not. You are not to seek honor. And if God does or does not honor you, it has to do with His purpose and plan, not your purpose and plan. Wherever we are or whenever we live, our responsibility is to be faithfully obedient to God. As Jesus said to pray, thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Prophecies Concerning the Nations (chapters 46-51)
In Jeremiah 1:5, God told Jeremiah I have appointed you a prophet to the nations ... Jeremiah grouped his prophecies concerning the nation of Judah first (chapters 2—45) because Judah was God’s covenant nation and she made up the largest amount of prophecy. In chapters 46—51, God’s judgment shifted from Judah to her heathen neighbors. If God would judge His own covenant people for their sin, how could the heathen nations around Judah hope to escape?
Prophecy against Egypt Chapter 46
Egypt was Judah’s ally and encouraged her revolt against Babylon. But when it came time to protect Judah from the Babylonians, Egypt could not do it (37:4-10; Ezekiel 29:6-7). Jeremiah’s message was directed against the army of Pharaoh Neco, who had killed King Josiah of Judah in 609 B.C. (2 Kings 23:29). The prophecy was written after the army of Egypt was defeated at Carchemish, a city on the Euphrates River, where Nebuchadnezzar had a major victory against the Egyptians. That battle was in 605 B.C., in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim (who had replaced his father Josiah as king of Judah).
God said Egypt thought it was like the surging Nile River, and it said, I will rise and cover that land. But God said, that day belongs to the Lord God of hosts. A day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes ... there will be a slaughter for the Lord God of hosts (v. 10). And in vain have you multiplied remedies; there is no healing for you (v 11). Why have your mighty ones become prostrate? They do not stand because the Lord has thrust them down (v 15). Pharaoh made bold claims about defeating the Babylonians, but the people cried, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a big noise ... (v 17).
The God of Israel, says, “Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes [the chief Egyptian god], and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him. And I shall give them over ... into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
Verse 27-28 In contrast to Egypt, God told the Jews, do not fear, nor be dismayed, O Israel! For, see, I am going to save you from afar… I shall make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, yet I shall not make a full end of you. However, God shall correct you properly and by no means leave you unpunished.
Application: From man’s perspective, it looks like Egypt and Judah suffered the same fate—both defeated by the Babylonians. But from God’s perspective—Egypt is completely destroyed. Judah is loved by God, and though punished for her disobedience, she shall return and be ... secure (v 27). If you look at circumstances or experiences, you will come to a conclusion from man’s perspective. You must know God’s Word to know God’s perspective!
Baruch's despair and consolation 45
This chapter belongs after chapter 36 chronologically, either after 36:8 or 36:32. It serves as an appendix to the historical incidents recorded there. Perhaps the writer or final editor placed it here to show that God exempted faithful Baruch from the threats to the Judean remnant recorded in chapter 44.
Probably Jeremiah placed this chapter last in his prophecies to Judah to emphasize the response that God wanted from godly Jews during the Exile.
This short chapter provides insight into Baruch's life. It is also the last chapter in the book in which Jeremiah is part of the narrative.
45:1-2 The Lord had given Jeremiah a message for Baruch after he had copied Jeremiah's prophecies in 605 B.C. Which copying this was is unclear, the first one referred to in 36:8 or the second one in 36:32.
45:3 Baruch had complained about the sorrow, pain, inner turmoil, and restlessness that he had experienced because he carried out God's will. He had copied Jeremiah's prophecies and had suffered from his association with their negative message. His lament recalls Jeremiah's "confessions" and some of the personal lament psalms.
45:4 The Lord was about to tear down and uproot Judah.
45:5 It was wrong, therefore, for Baruch to expect a life of comfort and ease. Baruch was an educated man whose brother was a high official under King Zedekiah. His grandfather had been the ruler of Jerusalem during Josiah's reign. He may have entertained hopes of attaining a position of distinction in the nation, but he, too, would have to participate in the fallout of Yahweh's judgment. The Lord promised to bless Baruch by preserving his life wherever he went because of his faithful service. Ironically, the very suffering through which Baruch passed because of his loyalty to Jeremiah gained him honor beyond anything he could have anticipated.
A crisis doesn't 'make a person'; a crisis reveals what a person is made of. The Lord's command not to seek great things for himself presupposes a proud motive. Seeking to serve the Lord in a significant position of ministry is not wrong in itself, provided one's motive is to glorify God. It is seeking position for one's own glory that is wrong.
PROPHECIES ABOUT THE NATIONS CHS. 46—51
In Jeremiah, prophecies concerning foreign nations come at the end of the book. In the other major prophets, Isaiah and Ezekiel, they come after oracles against Israel and or Judah, and before oracles dealing with Israel's restoration. Oracles against foreign nations appear in every prophetical book except Daniel and Hosea. Collections of them appear in Amos 1—2, Isaiah 13—23, Ezekiel 25—32, and Zephaniah 2:2-15, as well as here. The fact that the prophets of Israel and Judah gave oracles about other nations reflects Yahweh's sovereignty over the whole world.
The OAN [oracles against nations] had three main purposes: (1) to pronounce doom on a foreign nation, sometimes for mistreatment of Israel; (2) to serve as a salvation oracle or oracle of encouragement for Israel; (3) to warn Israel about depending on foreign alliances for their security . . .
While in some OAN in the prophetic books foreign nations are condemned for their mistreatment of Israel and Judah, it is remarkable that, with the exception of the Babylon oracle . . ., none of the foreign nations in the OAN in Jeremiah is to be judged for such mistreatment. The oracles are not clearly nationalistically motivated, and thus it cannot be shown that they functioned primarily, if at all, as salvation oracles for Judah. In six of the oracles in Jer 46—49, no reasons are given for judgment. The language about destruction is not strident; it gives no hint of xenophobic hatred. . . .
By common scholarly consensus, these chapters contain some of the finest Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament. The canonical arrangement of these oracles reflects general movement from Egypt in the southwest to Babylon in the northeast.
THE ORACLE AGAINST EGYPT CH. 46
This chapter on Egypt contains three separate prophecies that Jeremiah delivered about the fate of that nation. Their purpose seems to have been to discourage King Jehoiakim (609-598 B.C.) and the pro-Egyptian party in Judah from forming an alliance with Egypt.
Egypt's defeat in Syria 46:1-12
The first prophecy announced Egypt's defeat at Carchemish in 605 B.C.
46:1 This verse serves as a title for the whole section to follow as well as for this prophecy.
46:2 This is a title verse for the subsection dealing with Nebuchadnezzar's defeat of Pharaoh Neco at Carchemish (lit. fort of Chemosh, the god of the Moabites), in northern Syria, in 605 B.C. (vv. 1-12). The title describes the defeat as past, but undoubtedly Jeremiah gave his prediction before the battle. Egypt controlled Canaan and Aram (Syria) during most of the second millennium B.C., until about 1200, when internal weakness resulted in her losing her grip. Assyria, then Babylonia, then Persia took over control of this region in turn. But Egypt was still a force to be reckoned with, even after she lost the upper hand. One particularly strong Egyptian Pharaoh was Shishak (945-924 B.C.), who invaded Canaan. In 609 B.C., Pharaoh Neco II (ca. 610-594 B.C.) marched to Carchemish on the Euphrates River in northern Syria (modern Turkey). On the way, King Josiah opposed him, and Neco slew the Judean king (609 B.C., 2 Kings 23:29). Neco wanted to assist the Assyrians in defeating the young and threatening Neo-Babylonian Empire, but the Babylonians, led by Prince Nebuchadnezzar, won the battle in 605 B.C. This is the victory that gave Babylonia sovereignty in the ancient Near East.
46:3-4 In his oracle, Jeremiah summoned the Egyptian infantry and cavalry soldiers to prepare for battle.
46:5 He soon expressed shock, however, at seeing the Egyptians terrified and retreating. Terror on every side may have been a proverbial curse formula.
46:6 He warned the Babylonians not to allow any of the Egyptians to escape.
46:7-8 Jeremiah asked who this was who was trying to imitate the Nile River by overwhelming its enemy. Egyptian soldiers evidently thought of themselves as capable of rising in battle—like the Nile River rose during flooding. Pharaoh's proud and unrealistic intent was to sweep the enemy away.
46:9 The Egyptians and their allies—the Ethiopians, Libyans (or possibly residents of modern Somalia), and Lydians pressed the battle. Modern Somalia is east and south of Ethiopia. Libya was Egypt's neighbor to the west, and the Lydian Kingdom was in Anatolia (modern western Turkey).
46:10 The outcome of the battle was up to sovereign Yahweh, the God of armies. He would use it to accomplish a slaughter according to His will. Part of His vengeance may have been over Neco's killing of King Josiah. The "day" in view is the day God would judge the nation; it has no eschatological connotation.
46:11 The prophet counseled the wounded Egyptians to go to Gilead to obtain healing balm but she would not recover from the wounds Yahweh had allowed her to sustain. It was ironic that Egypt could not heal herself, since she boasted the most advanced medical arts in antiquity. Comparing Egypt to a virgin stressed her vulnerable and pitiable condition.
46:12 The nations had heard of Egypt's defeat and her cry as she sought to save
Egypt's defeat in Egypt 46:13-24
Shortly after the battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon for his coronation. His father Nabopolassar had died in August of 605 B.C. Almost immediately, Nebuchadnezzar returned to Palestine with his army to subdue Canaan. From there he moved southwest against Egypt, about 568-567 B.C.
46:13 This is a title verse describing the prophecy about Nebuchadnezzar's invasion of Egypt that follows.
46:14 Warnings were to go out to the major cities of Egypt that the same army that had devoured nations around her was coming. The cities are the same as those mentioned in 43:7-9 and 44:1, where Judeans had fled for safety.
46:15-16 The Egyptian gods were unable to stand against the aggressor. The bulls of Egypt—symbols of the nation, its gods, and its leaders—were in humiliating retreat. The Lord had overthrown them repeatedly.
46:17 The allies of Egypt would speak of going home. In this oracle it is deity against deity, bull against bull, king against king. The allies concluded that Pharaoh was nothing but talk, since he had failed to defend his nation in a timely fashion. Hophra was a big noise who seemed adept at missing the appointed time.
46:18 The true King, Lord of Hosts, promised that an enemy would come against Egypt, and it would be as imposing as a mountain. Mount Tabor, which stood 1,800 feet tall and towered over the Jezreel Valley below, and Mount Carmel, which rose 1,700 feet beside the Mediterranean Sea, were such mountains.
46:19 The Egyptians had better pack their bags, because the enemy would destroy Noph (Gr. Memphis), the capital of Lower Egypt, and burn it down. The Babylonians did this to Jerusalem, too.
46:20 The enemy from the north would attack Egypt and leave a wound, like a horsefly stinging a heifer. This may be an ironical poke at Egypt, since one of its deities was Apis, the sacred bull.
46:21 The mercenary soldiers that the Egyptians hired to help them would turn and run from the enemy like fat, pampered calves. They would die like sacrificial animals, because the Lord would punish them, too. The mercenaries mentioned were Ionians and Carians whom [Pharaoh] Psammeticus had hired, and had been retained by his successors.
46:22 The enemy would advance against Egypt as relentlessly as an army of lumberjacks with axes, but Egypt would only be able to hiss like a snake at the foe. The snake was important in Egyptian religion and was a symbol of Pharaoh and the nation.
46:23 The innumerable enemy soldiers would cut down all the trees to use in their warfare against the Egyptians. Their coming would resemble an invasion of locusts.
46:24 Like a young girl taken captive against her will, Egypt would suffer shame when the power from the north conquered her.
Egypt's defeat and Israel's deliverance 46:25-28
The third prophecy against Egypt promised the humiliation of Egypt and the deliverance of Israel.
46:25 The sovereign Lord, Israel's God, announced that He would punish the gods, rulers, and people of Egypt. Amon was the chief deity of No (Gr. Thebes), the capital of Upper Egypt. Even though there is as yet no evidence that Nebuchadnezzar advanced this far in his conquest of Egypt, his invasion affected the whole nation.
46:26The Lord would hand Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar, who would kill the people. The crisis would pass, however, and life would eventually return to normal. This occurred later in Egypt's history, and the promise probably anticipates millennial conditions.
46:27 The Israelites should take courage because the Lord promised to save them from afar, and to bring them back from the land of their captivity. Contrary Jacob would return to his land and enjoy undisturbed security.
The Israelites would experience restoration as well as the Egyptians. As in the preceding verse, eschatological blessings seem clearly to be in view.
46:28 The Lord's servant Jacob should not fear because Yahweh would be with His people. He would punish the nations where He had sent them. He would not completely annihilate the Israelites, though, but would punish them severely. Israel would have a bright future as a nation.
It is important to note that nowhere in these oracles is there the suggestion that Egypt faced disaster because of her mistreatment of Israel/Judah. There is no expression of hatred or vengeance against Egypt, although satire, irony, and the taunt are fully in evidence. Egypt is judged for pride and aggression as is typical in other oracles concerning the nations. In fact it is doubtful that these oracles were intended for Egyptian ears. Rather the purpose of the oracles was to lead the kings of Judah away from dependence on Egypt and toward the acceptance of vassalage to Babylon so that the nation might live.