Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Chs. Jeremiah 42:1 to Jeremiah 43:7. Migration of the people to Egypt in spite of Jeremiah’s protest
The narrative here is generally admitted to be a trustworthy extract from Baruch’s memoirs. Du., however, excepts from this judgement Jeremiah’s reply (Jeremiah 42:7-22), as providing, according to him, an irresistible opportunity to a supplementer to add extensively to the genuine nucleus which he admits to exist in Jeremiah 42:19-21.
The section may be summarized as follows.
(i) Jeremiah 42:1-6. The captains and people beg Jeremiah to pray to the Lord on behalf of those who remain for guidance as to their course of action. The prophet undertakes to do so, while the people swear that they will abide by the result, whether it be for good or for evil. (ii) Jeremiah 42:7-22. After ten days Jeremiah summons the applicants and announces that if they abide in the land, Jehovah will prosper them, as He has now changed His attitude towards them. They need not fear further hurt from Nebuchadnezzar. If on the other hand they insist on going to Egypt with a view to security, then sword and famine shall follow them there with fatal results to all. The prophet adds that they are not in earnest in asserting that they will abide by the Divine message, whatever it prove to be. As disobedience has been their characteristic in past time, so will it be now, and in consequence they shall be consumed by sword, famine, and pestilence. (iii) Jeremiah 43:1-7. The prophet’s hearers refuse to believe that the message comes from Jehovah, but attribute it to Baruch, who, they say, desires to have them carried away by the Chaldaeans to Babylon. Accordingly, the captains take all the people to Tahpanhes in Egypt.
Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,1. Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah] See mg. We should probably (with LXX) read Azariah here as well. The name Jezaniah may be due to a copyist who thought that the names of captains here must correspond as closely as might be with the list in ch. 40 (see on Jeremiah 42:8 there).
from the least even unto the greatest] i.e. all, without exception.
And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)2. be accepted] For mg. See on Jeremiah 36:7.
2. then spake Azariah] See on ch. Jeremiah 42:1.
all the proud men, saying] The word in MT. (’ômĕrim) corresponding to “saying” here does not represent the ordinary Hebrew idiom. We should therefore, by a slight change in the original, read the proud and defiant (hammôrim) men.
Thou speakest falsely, etc.] The attack upon Baruch, and only indirectly and through him upon the prophet, may have arisen from their being reluctantly compelled to acknowledge that Jeremiah himself at any rate was possessed of integrity of purpose. This he had shewn by his refusal to seek protection and honourable treatment from the Chaldaeans, whose favour the worse section of his countrymen always suspected him of seeking.
That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.3. that the Lord thy God may shew us] They make up their minds to flee into Egypt, and only after they have done this, proceed to enquire God’s will. Hence we cannot acquit them of hypocrisy. Cp. Ahab in 1 Kings 22:3 ff.
Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.
Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us.5. amongst] better, as mg. against, i.e. to bear witness and punish us if we fail to do our part as we now promise.
5. from all the nations] These words, as implying a much wider dispersion of inhabitants of the Southern kingdom than had actually taken place, may be a scribe’s insertion from ch. Jeremiah 40:11 f. The LXX omit “from all the nations … driven.”
Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.
And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.7. after ten days] Pe. points out the importance of the v., as giving us an insight into the nature of prophecy. Jeremiah distinguishes clearly between his own opinion, which was already a decisive one, and the Divine revelation that might be made to him, and he waits till the latter comes.
7. Tahpanhes] See on ch. Jeremiah 2:16.
7–22. See introd. summary to the section.
Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest,
And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;9–22. Du. (see introd. note to section) considers Jeremiah 42:15-18 as wholly an addition, and Jeremiah 42:9-14 as containing much editorial matter.
If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.10. then will I build you, etc.] Cp. Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 24:6 for these figures.
I repent me] an anthropomorphic figure. I change my conduct towards you, which with men is commonly caused by change of purpose.
Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.11. of whom ye are afraid] They may well have feared that the king’s vengeance for the murder of Gedaliah would involve innocent and guilty alike.
And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.12. cause you to return] better (seeing that they were already there), with a difference of vocalisation only in the original, cause you to dwell in.
But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God,
Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:14. we shall see no war] We shall be in a land further from Babylon, and therefore not so liable to invasion.
And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;
Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.
So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more.
The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.19. This connects well with Jeremiah 42:14, assuming (see introd. note) that Jeremiah 42:15-18 are by a supplementer.
For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.20. have dealt deceitfully against your own souls] i.e. selves or lives; mg. (less well) in your souls. It is best (with slight modification of the MT.) to render with LXX “ye have done evil against,” etc.
Jeremiah 43:1-7. See introd. summary to the section.
And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.