Jeremiah 42
Clarke's Commentary
Johanan and the remnant of the people desire Jeremiah to ask counsel of God what they should do, Jeremiah 42:1-3. The prophet assures them of safety in Judea, but destruction in Egypt, Jeremiah 42:4-18; and reproves their hypocrisy in asking counsel with which they had no intention to comply, Jeremiah 42:19-22.

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,
The captains of the forces - The different leaders of the small bands or companies, collected from different parts of the land. The principal are those here named.

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:)
That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.
That the Lord thy God may show us - They all thought there was no safety in Jerusalem or in Judea, and therefore determined to leave the land: but they did not know which might be the safest direction to take; for though they inclined to Egypt, yet they wished to know the mind of God on that point.

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.
The Lord be a true and faithful Witness - The Lord is such; and as ye have bound yourselves to obey his voice, he will register the covenant, and bless or curse according as ye shall conduct yourselves in this matter.

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.
After ten days - All this time he was waiting upon God; for it is evident the prophets could not prophesy when they pleased, any more than the disciples of our Lord could work miracles when they wished. The gift of prophecy and the gift of miracles were both dependent on the will of the Most High, and each of them was given only for the moment; and when the necessity was over, the influence ceased.

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;
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.
For I repent me of the evil - The meaning is, As I have punished you only because you continued to be rebellious, I will arrest this punishment as soon as you become obedient to my word. You need not fear the king of Babylon if you have me for your helper; and I will so show mercy to you that he shall see it, and cease from afflicting you, as he shall see that I am on your side.

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.
And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.
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:
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;
If ye - set your faces to enter into Egypt, etc - Every evil that ye dreaded by staying in your own land shall come upon you in Egypt.

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.
The sword - and the famine - shall follow close after you - Shall be at your heels; shall overtake and destroy you; for 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.
Go ye not into Egypt - Why? Because God knew, such was their miserable propensity to idolatry, that they would there adopt the worship of the country, and serve idols.

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.
For ye dissembled in your hearts - What a most miserable and incorrigible people! Ingratitude, hypocrisy, rebellion, and cruelty seem to have been enthroned in their hearts! And what are they still? Just what their fathers were, except in the mere article of idolatry; and that they do not practice because they are indifferent to their own religion and to that of all others. Examine their devotions and their lives, and see whether Charity herself can say they believe in the God of Abraham!

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.
Ye have not obeyed the voice - Though ye have requested to have this particular revelation of the Divine will, and promised obedience, yet have ye not done one thing for which ye sent me to inquire of the Lord.

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.
Now therefore know certainly - As ye have determined to disobey, God has determined to punish. Ye may now follow the full bent of your wicked devices, and I will follow the requisitions of my justice. Ye shall die by the sword, by the pestilence, and by the famine, in the place whither ye desire to go to sojourn. Thus was their doom sealed.

With such dispositions and with such rebellion of heart, it is strange that they should put themselves to any trouble to inquire of the Lord relative to their future operations. They did not intend to obey; but as a matter of curiosity they would inquire to hear what the prophet might say; and if according to their own inclination, they would obey.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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