Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 46

In this chapter, Jeremiah talked about an Egyptian Pharaoh of the Saite Period and especially Necho II (609-593 BCE). (see Adventist Siegfried Schwantes in his book: A short history of the Ancient Near East 1965, page 104-105). E. W. Budge 1893 described Necho II that he brought Greeks to stay in Egypt. He dug a canal from a place near Pithom on the Pelusiac arm of the Nile and wanted to connect it to the Red Sea. 12000 workers died to build it. When they realized he did it only for foreigners, he had to stop. His imagination did not stop and according to Herodotus he sent Phoenician seamen to sail around Africa and they said that when they left the sun was on their left in the mornings but when they returned passed Libya the sun was on their right every morning. Quite a dreamer personality. His troops killed Josiah near Megiddo. He took Jehoahaz from the throne and placed the bad king Jehoiakim on the throne. He lost against Neb in a severe battle in which thousands were slain. It is repeated also by Jeremiah in verse 2.


He has to prepare for battle (verses 3-4). In fact the men are retreating (verse 4) and the heroes are crushed (verse 5). There is no escape at the Euphrates (verse 6). Egypt would come up like the Nile (verse 7-8). It is possible that Jeremiah is applying sarcasm here knowing already where the result would lead? “Ascend you horses and rush madly you chariots …” (verse 9). Ethiopians were also in his army (verse 9).


Vengence was to come from the Lord (verse 10). They were to lose the battle against king Neb.


Sarcastically Jeremiah said that Egypt should get balm at Gilead “in vain you increased medicines” (verse 11).


The mighty was to fight the mighty and both have fallen (verse 12). Neb was then coming to Egypt to smite it and Jeremiah predicted about this in verse 13.


He mocked and encouraged them to stand strong and asked why their mighty men were swept away. The answer is in Jeremiah’s thinking: “the Lord pushed him down” (verse 15).


Necho II’s soldiers counseled him to “Arise and let us return to our own people and to the land of our birth before the oppressing sword” (verse 16). Necho II had many Greeks also in his army. They felt that Necho II had created many stumbling blocks and that his personality is noisy and that he “has allowed the appointed time to pass by” (verse 17) which may be a Hebrew idiom for English “procrastination”.


The Lord was certain that the prediction of Jeremiah was to happen as sure as Carmel is by the sea and Tabor at the Mountains (verse 18).


The daughter of Egypt should prepare for the exile for Egypt was going to fall. Noph was going to fall. “Shall become waste and desolate without an inhabitant” (verse 19). Egypt was a fair heifer and destruction was coming from the North (verse 20). Jeremiah said that Egypt was a calf. At Kuntillet `Ajrud in the Negev they have found the cow and calf motif on the iconography of this Ashera cultic site which was a waystation for caravanserai. The same cow and calf motif is also on a Greek vase from the period circa 520 BCE. Is the calf a symbol of Egypt at Kuntillet `Ajrud? If Greek were in Necho II’s army and also traders then one can understand why this symbol can be found in Greece on one vase there.


“Her princes who are in her midst are like fattened calves” (verse 21). In the day of calamity they ran.


The sound of the calamity will be like a snake for the enemy will come with axes (verse 22). They will cut down the forest and they are like locusts, uncountable (verse 23).


The daughter of Egypt would be delivered in the hand of Babylon (verse 24).


This happened because the Lord said that He would punish Amon and Pharaoh and Egypt and their gods (verse 25). God would deliver them into the hands of Neb (verse 26).


Then there is an eschatological message for the End Time in verses 27ff. as Rabbi Redak (1157-1236) also noted. He felt that the verses refer to “future redemption”. The Lord said to spiritual Israel that He will redeem them “from afar”. And “Jacob shall return and be quiet and at ease” meaning after the Time of Trouble which is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble in future near the Second Coming of Christ (verse 27). There shall be “none who disturb his rest” is jargon that is eschatological and not connected to this world’s history. Most scholars did not know what to do with these two last verses and the critical scholars of the Enlightenment period just wanted to dump it or ascribe it to a later hand. A red card will suffice here. R. K. Harrison (1973) page 173 pointed out that it was normal for Jeremiah to write like this and he did it also in Jeremiah 30:10ff.


They should not fear for the Lord is with them and He will make a “and end in all the nations where I have driven you” (verse 28). The same word for end is used to indicate that God stopped working on Friday Evening so that the Sabbath on the Seventh-day had God ended His work. He did not work into the Sabbath. It was also kalah = end. Just like here. It is the absolute end of God. “I will chastise you to [the results of the Investigative] Judgment and [as] clean [so Rashi] will I not destroy you.” The Time of Trouble before the Second Coming is a time. It comes after the Investigative Judgment stops and His faithful are “perfect = clean” in characters.


Dear God

Jeremiah is a detailed person who point out Your role in human affairs. And we always thought it was caused by humans and carried out by them as well. Thanks for Your involvement in human affairs.