Jeremiah 46


אֲשֶׁר הָיָה דְבַר־יְהוָה אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא עַל־הַגֹּויִם׃   46:1

Jere. 46:1   Such was the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, the prophet, concerning the nations:

לְמִצְרַיִם עַל־חֵיל פַּרְעֹה נְכֹו מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר־הָיָה עַל־נְהַר־פְּרָת בְּכַרְכְּמִשׁ אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה   46:2       נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל בִּשְׁנַת הָרְבִיעִית לִיהֹויָקִים בֶּן־יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה׃

Jere. 46:2   For Egypt, about the army of Pharoah Neco, king of Egypt, that was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, smote in the fourth year for Johoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah,

עִרְכוּ מָגֵן וְצִנָּה וּגְשׁוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה׃   46:3

Jere. 46:3   Prepare shield and buckler

                              and get ready for battle.

I believe this chapter probably was written some time after Johoiakim’s fourth year.   The reason I say that is that the wording of these two verses, 46:2 and 3, make it seem as if they are about an earlier prophecy being recorded after the fact.  Verse 46:2 says that the Egyptians had already been smitten at the river Euphrates.  But the prophecy relates to that battle.  A bit strange, don’t you think?  Maybe it’s not intended to be a prophecy, but a description of the battle.   That makes some sense to me.  Later in this chapter we will read of a prophecy about Egypt itself, beginning in v. 46:13.

אִסְרוּ הַסּוּסִים וַעֲלוּ הַפָּרָשִׁים וְהִתְיַצְּבוּ בְּכֹובָעִים מִרְקוּ הָרְמָחִים לִבְשׁוּ הַסִּרְיֹנֹת׃   46:4

Jere. 46:4   Harness the horses

                              and mount up the horsemen,

                      and station yourselves with helmets.

                              Polish the spears;

                      don the coats of mail.

מַדּוּעַ רָאִיתִי הֵמָּה חַתִּים נְסֹגִים אָחֹור וְגִבֹּורֵיהֶם יֻכַּתּוּ וּמָנֹוס נָסוּ וְלֹא הִפְנוּ מָגֹור מִסָּבִיב   46:5               נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 46:5   Why do I see them fearful,

                               moving rearward,

                      with their mighty men beaten,

                                and they flee to a place of refuge

                       and do not look back?

                                “Terror is from every direction,”

                       declares the Lord.

אַל־יָנוּס הַקַּל וְאַל־יִמָּלֵט הַגִּבֹּור צָפֹונָה עַל־יַד נְהַר־פְּרָת כָּשְׁלוּ וְנָפָלוּ׃   46:6

Jere. 46:6   The swift cannot flee

                               and the mighty cannot escape.

                      To the north, near the river Euphrates,

                                they stumble and fall.

מִי־זֶה כַּיְאֹר יַעֲלֶה כַּנְּהָרֹות יִתְגָּעֲשׁוּ מֵימָיו׃   46:7

Jere. 46:7   Who is this can rise up like the Nile,

                                can toss about his waters like rivers?

There’s another problem here with the Hebrew grammar.  The verb I translate as can toss (next-to-last word in the Hebrew) is plural, yet the subject, the one who can rise up (Egypt -- see next verse), is singular.  The vav suffix on that word should not be there.  Removing it would make the verb singular as it should be. 

I suspect that the subject in this verse is not really Egypt, but Pharoah.  And I also suspect that the question is facetious and ironic, as well as rhetorical.  See v. 46:17.

מִצְרַיִם כַּיְאֹר יַעֲלֶה וְכַנְּהָרֹות יִתְגֹּעֲשׁוּ מָיִם וַיֹּאמֶר אַעֲלֶה אֲכַסֶּה־אֶרֶץ אֹבִידָה עִיר וְיֹשְׁבֵי בָהּ׃   46:8

Jere. 46:8   Egypt can rise up like the Nile

                               and can toss about waters like rivers.

                      As he says, “I will rise up;

                                I will cover the land,

                      destroying the city and the inhabitants in it.”

I suspect that the pronoun he in the third English line refers to Pharoah.  It can’t refer to Egypt because she is treated as feminine in gender; witness the feminine form of the verb I translate as can rise up in the first line (third word in the Hebrew).

עֲלוּ הַסּוּסִים וְהִתְהֹלְלוּ הָרֶכֶב וְיֵצְאוּ הַגִּבֹּורִים כּוּשׁ וּפוּט תֹּפְשֵׂי מָגֵן וְלוּדִים תֹּפְשֵׂי דֹּרְכֵי קָשֶׁת׃   46:9

Jere. 46:9   Rouse the horses,

                               and praise the chariot,

                      and let the mighty men go forth,

                               Cush and Put,

                      wielders of the shield,

                               and Ludim,

                      handlers, benders of the bow.

וְהַיֹּום הַהוּא לַאדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאֹות יֹום נְקָמָה לְהִנָּקֵם מִצָּרָיו וְאָכְלָה חֶרֶב וְשָׂבְעָה וְרָוְתָה מִדָּםָם   46:10     כִּי זֶבַח לַאדֹנָי יְהוִה צְבָאֹות בְּאֶרֶץ צָפֹון אֶל־נְהַר־פְּרָת׃

Jere. 46:10   But that day for my Lord, the Lord of hosts,

                               shall be a day of vengeance

                         to avenge Himself on account of His adversaries,

                              when the sword shall devour

                         and be satiated

                               and become drunk from their blood,

                          indeed a sacrifice to my Lord, the Lord of hosts,

                               in the country north at the river Euphrates.

עֲלִי גִלְעָד וּקְחִי צֳרִי בְּתוּלַת בַּת־מִצְרָיִם לַשָּׁוְא (הִרְבֵּיתִי) [הִרְבֵּית] רְפֻאֹות תְּעָלָה אֵין לָךְ׃   46:11

Jere. 46:11   Ascend to Gilead and take balm,

                               virgin daughter of Egypt!

                        In vain do you increase remedies;

                                there is no healing for you.

The word in parentheses is misspelled; it has an extra yad.  The correction is in the brackets.

שָׁמְעוּ גֹויִם קְלֹונֵךְ וְצִוְחָתֵךְ מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ כִּי־גִבֹּור בְּגִבֹּור כָּשָׁלוּ יַחְדָּיו נָפְלוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם׃   46:12

Jere. 46:12   The nations have heard of your disgrace,

                                as your outcry fills the earth,

                         for mighty one by mighty one,

                                 they stumble;

                         together both of them fall.

הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֶל־יִרְמְיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא לָבֹוא נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל לְהַכֹּות אֶת־אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃   46:13

Jere. 46:13   The word that the Lord spoke to Jeremiah, the prophet, regarding the coming of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, to smite the land of Egypt:

הַגִּידוּ בְמִצְרַיִם וְהַשְׁמִיעוּ בְמִגְדֹּול וְהַשְׁמִיעוּ בְנֹף וּבְתַחְפַּנְחֵס אִמְרוּ הִתְיַצֵּב וְהָכֵן לָךְ כִּי־אָכְלָה   46:14     חֶרֶב סְבִיבֶיךָ׃

Jere. 46:14   Say in Egypt and announce in Migdol,

                                and announce in Noph and in Tahpanhes;

                        Say, “Stand and prepare yourself,

                                for the sword consumes all around you.”

מַדּוּעַ נִסְחַף אַבִּירֶיךָ לֹא עָמַד כִּי יְהוָה הֲדָפֹו׃   46:15

Jere. 46:15   “Why is your valiant one prostrate?

                               He does not stand

                        because the Lord pushes him.”

הִרְבָּה כֹּושֵׁל גַּם־נָפַל אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ וַיֹּאמְרוּ קוּמָה וְנָשֻׁבָה אֶל־עַמֵּנוּ וְאֶל־אֶרֶץ מֹולַדְתֵּנוּ מִפְּנֵי   46:16 חֶרֶב הַיֹּונָה׃

Jere. 46:16   He makes many stumble;

                               indeed they fall

                        each by his companion;

                               and they say,

                        “Arise, and let us return to our people

                               and to the land of our birth

                        because of the sword of the oppressor.”

קָרְאוּ שָׁם פַּרְעֹה מֶלֶךְ־מִצְרַיִם שָׁאֹון הֶעֱבִיר הַמֹּועֵד׃   46:17

Jere. 46:17   They call out there,

                               “Pharoah, king of Egypt, is a noise;

                        he has let the appointed time pass.”

There’s is uncertainty as to the meaning of the last English line.  Several suggestions as to the meaning of the phrase let the appointed time pass have been proposed by the sages, but little certainty exists.  Whatever Jeremiah intended to mean, the knowledge has been lost.  Some think it refers to Pharoah’s not having made sufficient preparations.  Others suspect it refers to Pharoah’s not listening to his generals and refusing the challenge of war.  The next verse may offer a clue that it is the latter interpretation that is more accurate.

חַי־אָנִי נְאֻם־הַמֶּלֶךְ יְהוָה צְבָאֹות שְׁמֹו כִּי כְּתָבֹור בֶּהָרִים וּכְכַרְמֶל בַּיָּם יָבֹוא׃   46:18

Jere. 46:18   “As I am alive,” declares the King,

                                the Lord of hosts being His name,

                        “that, as Tabor is in the mountains

                                and as Carmel is by the sea,

                        he shall come.”

כְּלֵי גֹולָה עֲשִׂי לָךְ יֹושֶׁבֶת בַּת־מִצְרָיִם כִּי־נֹף לְשַׁמָּה תִהְיֶה וְנִצְּתָה מֵאֵין יֹושֵׁב׃    46:19

Jere. 46:19   Prepare yourself to be a vessel of captivity,

                                Oh, dwelling daughter of Egypt,

                        for Noph shall be for a wasteland,

                                and left desolate without inhabitant.

עֶגְלָה יְפֵה־פִיָּה מִצְרָיִם קֶרֶץ מִצָּפֹון בָּא בָא׃   46:20

Jere. 46:20   Egypt is a very beautiful heifer;

                                the gadfly from the north surely comes.

This verse offers a brilliant metaphor.  The gadfly is surely attracted to the desirable heifer, and will sting it, voraciously drawing its blood.

גַּם־שְׂכִרֶיהָ בְקִרְבָּהּ כְּעֶגְלֵי מַרְבֵּק כִּי־גַם־הֵמָּה הִפְנוּ נָסוּ יַחְדָּיו לֹא עָמָדוּ כִּי יֹום אֵידָם בָּא עֲלֵיהֶם   46:21  עֵת פְּקֻדָּתָם׃

Jere. 46:21   Even her mercenaries in her midst

                               are like calves of the stall,

                        for they also turn back;

                                they flee together;

                        they do not stand.

                                For the day of their calamity

                        comes upon them,

                                 the time of their visitation.

קֹולָהּ כַּנָּחָשׁ יֵלֵךְ כִּי־בְחַיִל יֵלֵכוּ וּבְקַרְדֻּמֹּות בָּאוּ לָהּ כְּחֹטְבֵי עֵצִים׃   46:22

Jere. 46:22   Her voice shall depart like a serpent,

                                 for they come with an army,

                        and they come with axes to her,

                                 like carvers of trees.

כָּרְתוּ יַעְרָהּ נְאֻם־יְהוָה כִּי לֹא יֵחָקֵר כִּי רַבּוּ מֵאַרְבֶּה וְאֵין לָהֶם מִסְפָּר׃   46:23

Jere. 46:23   “They cut down her forest,”

                                declares the Lord,

                        “that it cannot be sought out,

                                for they are more numerous

                        than the locust,

                                that there is not a number for them.”

הֹבִישָׁה בַּת־מִצְרָיִם נִתְּנָה בְּיַד עַם־צָפֹון׃   46:24

Jere. 46:24   The daughter of Egypt is put to shame,

                                delivered into the hand of the people of the north.

אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאֹות אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִנְנִי פֹוקֵד אֶל־אָמֹון מִנֹּא וְעַל־פַּרְעֹה וְעַל־מִצְרַיִם וְעַל־אֱלֹהֶיהָ   46:25    וְעַל־מְלָכֶיהָ וְעַל־פַּרְעֹה וְעַל הַבֹּטְחִים בֹּו׃

Jere. 46:25   Says the Lord of hosts, God of Israel, “Behold, I am attending to Amon from No, and to Pharoah, and to Egypt, and to her gods, and to her kings, especially to Pharoah and to those trusting in him,

וּנְתַתִּים בְּיַד מְבַקְשֵׁי נַפְשָׁם וּבְיַד נְבוּכַדְרֶאצַּר מֶלֶךְ־בָּבֶל וּבְיַד־עֲבָדָיו וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן תִּשְׁכֹּן כִּימֵי־קֶדֶם   46:26               נְאֻם־יְהוָה׃

Jere. 46:26   as I will deliver them into the hand of the seekers of their life and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand of his subjects; then after this is so, she shall be reestablished as days of old,” declares the Lord.

וְאַתָּה אַל־תִּירָא עַבְדִּי יַעֲקֹב וְאַל־תֵּחַת יִשְׂרָאֵל כִּי הִנְנִי מֹושִׁעֲךָ מֵרָחֹוק וְאֶת־זַרְעֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ שִׁבְיָם   46:27 וְשָׁב יַעֲקֹוב וְשָׁקַט וְשַׁאֲןַן וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד׃

Jere. 46:27   “But you need not fear,

                                My servant, Jacob,

                        and do not be dismayed, Israel,

                                 for behold, I am saving you

                        from distant lands,

                                 and your descendants

                        from the lands of their captivity,

                                 and Jacob shall return

                        and be peaceful and tranquil,

                                 and without fear.”

אַתָּה אַל־תִּירָא עַבְדִּי יַעֲקֹב נְאֻם־יְהוָה כִּי אִתְּךָ אָנִי כִּי אֶעֱשֶׂה כָלָה בְּכָל־הַגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר הִדַּחְתִּיךָ   46:28    שָׁמָּה וְאֹתְךָ לֹא־אֶעֱשֶׂה כָלָה וְיִסַּרְתִּיךָ לַמִּשְׁפָּט וְנַקֵּה לֹא אֲנַקֶּךָּ׃

Jere. 46:28   “You need not fear, My servant, Jacob,”

                                 declares the Lord,

                        “for I am with you,

                                  for I will produce total annihilation

                        in all the nations where I have driven you,

                                  though I will not produce

                        a complete end with you.

                                 Yet I will chasten you in measure,

                        but will not utterly destroy you.”


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