Jeremiah 2:16
Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes have broken the crown of your head.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Also the children of Noph . . .—We pass from the language of poetry to that of history, and the actual enemies of Israel appear on the scene, not as the threatening danger in the north, but in the far south. The words indicate that the prophet set himself from the first, as Isaiah had done (Isaiah 31:1), against the policy of an Egyptian alliance. The LXX. translators, following, we must believe, an Egyptian tradition, identify the Hebrew Noph with Memphis in northern Egypt; later critics, with Napata in the south. Its conjunction with Tahapanes, the Daphnæ of the Greeks, which was on the Pelusiac mouth of the Nile, and on the frontier, seems in favour of the former view.

Have broken.—More accurately, shall feed on, lay waste, depasture, so as to produce baldness. Baldness among the Jews, as with other -Eastern nations, was a shame and reproach (Isaiah 3:24; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12; 2Kings 2:23), and was therefore a natural symbol of the ignominy and ruin of a people.

2:14-19 Is Israel a servant? No, they are the seed of Abraham. We may apply this spiritually: Is the soul of man a slave? No, it is not; but has sold its own liberty, and enslaved itself to divers lusts and passions. The Assyrian princes, like lions, prevailed against Israel. People from Egypt destroyed their glory and strength. They brought these calamities on themselves by departing from the Lord. The use and application of this is, Repent of thy sin, that thy correction may not be thy ruin. What has a Christian to do in the ways of forbidden pleasure or vain sinful mirth, or with the pursuits of covetousness and ambition?Noph, i. e., Napata, a town situated in the extreme south of Egypt. Some take it to be Memphis (see Isaiah 19:13 note).

Tahapanes - Daphne Pelusii, a bordertown toward Palestine.

Have broken the crown of thy head - literally, shall depasture the crown of thy head; i. e., make it bald; baldness was accounted by the Jews a sign of disgrace 2 Kings 2:23, and also a mark of mourning Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12. The Egyptians in slaying Josiah, and capturing Jerusalem, brought ruin, disgrace, and sorrow upon the Jews.

16. Noph … Tahapanes—Memphis, capital of Lower Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, near the pyramids of Gizeh, opposite the site of modern Cairo. Daphne, on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, near Pelusium, on the frontier of Egypt towards Palestine. Isa 30:4 contracts it, Hanes. These two cities, one the capital, the other that with which the Jews came most in contact, stand for the whole of Egypt. Tahapanes takes its name from a goddess, Tphnet [Champollion]. Memphis is from Man-nofri, "the abode of good men"; written in Hebrew, Moph (Ho 9:6), or Noph. The reference is to the coming invasion of Judah by Pharaoh-necho of Egypt, on his return from the Euphrates, when he deposed Jehoahaz and levied a heavy tribute on the land (2Ki 23:33-35). Josiah's death in battle with the same Pharaoh is probably included (2Ki 23:29, 30).

have broken—rather, shall feed down the crown, &c., that is, affect with the greatest ignominy, such as baldness was regarded in the East (Jer 48:37; 2Ki 2:23). Instead of "also," translate, "even" the Egyptians, in whom thou dost trust, shall miserably disappoint thy expectation [Maurer]. Jehoiakim was twice leagued with them (2Ki 23:34, 35): when he received the crown from them, and when he revolted from Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1, 2, 7). The Chaldeans, having become masters of Asia, threatened Egypt. Judea, situated between the contending powers, was thus exposed to the inroads of the one or other of the hostile armies; and unfortunately, except in Josiah's reign, took side with Egypt, contrary to God's warnings.

Noph and Tahapanes; two of the king of Egypt’s principal seats. Concerning Noph, sometimes called Memphis, now Cairo, see on Isaiah 19:13. Concerning Tahapanes, see Ezekiel 30:18, probably taking its name from Tahpenes, queen of Egypt, 1 Kings 11:19; called also Hanes: See Poole "Isaiah 30:4". And the inhabitants and natives of these cities are called here their children, Isaiah 37:12. Broken the crown of thy head: they that take the Hebrew word in the notion of breaking understand this of destroying whatever is chief or principal among them, either of persons or things; wounds in the head being most dangerous. Or, defiling the chief of the land, either by their corporal adulteries, and so take the word under the notion of knowing, as Genesis 19:5; or spiritual, namely, idolatries, Jeremiah 44:17, or their cruel, tyrannical oppressions, trampling upon all their glory, expressed by riding over their heads, and that universally, in a most insulting manner. But the word may be better taken in the notion of feeding, as the word is used Jeremiah 3:15, i.e. they have fed upon her most fruitful and pleasant, the top and head of all her pastures, that lay in the southern borders towards Egypt; see Jeremiah 13:18-20; thus depriving them of all way of subsistence, Jeremiah 12:10. In short, they shall make havoc of all that is excellent in thee, Isaiah 28:4. The sum is, Thy league, O Judea, with Egypt against the Chaldeans will be the cause of thy total ruin. For the kings of Judah had not rebelled against the Babylonians, but to gratify the Egyptians, in expectation of help from them. Also the children of Noph and Tahapanes,.... These were cities in Egypt. Noph is the same with Moph in Hosea 9:6 and which we there rightly render Memphis; as Noph is here by the Targum, Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions; and was formerly, as Pliny (g) says, the palace of the kings of Egypt. It is the same that is now called Alcairo, or Grand Cairo. According to Herodotus (h), it was built by Menes, the first king of Egypt; and who also makes mention of a city of Egypt, called Momemphis (i). Tahapanes is the same with Hanes in Isaiah 30:4, and here, in the Arabic version, is called Daphnes; and is thought by some to be the same with Daphnae Pelusiae, a city in Egypt. This Tahapanes was the metropolis of Egypt, and the seat of their kings; mention is made of Pharaoh's house in it, in Jeremiah 43:9, now the inhabitants of these, called the children of them, and who are put for the people of Egypt in general, were the allies of the Jews, and in whom they trusted for help, when attacked by their enemies, Isaiah 30:2 and yet

even these have broken the crown of thy head; which is interpreted, by the Targum, of slaying their mighty men, and spoiling their goods; perhaps it had its accomplishment when Pharaohnecho king of Egypt came out against the king of Assyria, and Josiah king of Judah went out to meet him, and was slain by him at Megiddo; and his son Jehoahaz he put in bonds, and carried him to Egypt, and put his brother upon the throne, and took tribute of gold and silver of him, 2 Kings 23:29.

(g) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 9. (h) L. 2. vel Euterpe, c. 99. (i) lb. c. 163, 169.

Also the children of {z} Noph and Tahapanes have {a} broken the crown of thy head.

(z) That is, the Egyptians, for these were two great cities in Egypt.

(a) Have grievously vexed you at various times.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. also] even. The sense is, those in whom thou most trustedst.

Noph] Memphis, formerly the capital of Lower (i.e. Northern) Egypt, the word Noph representing some colloquial Semitic or Egyptian pronunciation of the name. Its site was near what is now Cairo.

Tahpanhes] now Tell Defneh, the Greek Daphnae Pelusii, which Herodotus mentions (Jeremiah 2:30) as a town in which a garrison was maintained against the Syrians and Arabians. It bears an important part in the history contained in the later chapters of Jeremiah. Johanan and the other captains went there in spite of the prophet’s directions (Jeremiah 43:7). It was on the eastern branch of the Nile, and commanded the road to Palestine, thus being a frontier post of great importance. The towns of Noph and Tahpanhes would both be well known to the Jews even in Josiah’s day, the former as a capital city, the latter from its position. The two places occur again in conjunction in Jeremiah 44:1, Jeremiah 46:14. The pyramids and extensive necropolis still draw multitudes of visitors to Memphis. The site of Tahpanhes has been excavated by Dr Flinders Petrie with interesting results relating to Ptolemaic and Roman times. See HDB. s.v.

have broken] mg. fed on. The latter rendering represents the sense of the Hebrew verb according to the vowel points assigned it by the Massoretes, but the figure is too strange a one to be easily accepted. That of the text, on the other hand, would require different vocalisation (yĕro‘uk for yir‘uk), but in this case too the figure is over strong for the circumstances; seeing what is meant is nothing more than some affliction coming from Egypt. At any rate it is best to render by a future rather than a present tense. There is however a third way of pointing the word which is far from improbable, though it also involves the transposing of two consonants, viz. yĕ‘aruk, “will shave the crown of your head.” It is true that we must assume the existence of the Hebrew verb in that sense, but the supposition is scarcely a precarious one, as the Hebrew for ‘razor’ is apparently derived from this root. In that case the v. may be paraphrased thus: the Assyrians have ravaged thee. The Egyptians, to whom some of you are looking for help, will presently fleece you (as they did, 2 Kings 23:35). A shaven head was the sign of disgrace or of mourning (Jeremiah 47:5, Jeremiah 48:37; Isaiah 3:17; Isaiah 3:24; Isaiah 15:2; Isaiah 22:12).Verse 16. - Also the children of Noph, etc. This is the climax of the calamity. Noph, called Moph in the Hebrew text of Hosea 9:6, is generally identified with Memphis (after the Septuagint), which was called in the inscriptions Mennufr, or "the good abode," but may possibly be Napata, the Nap of the inscriptions, the residency of the Ethiopian dynasty (De Rouge'). Tahapanes. The Hebrew form is Takhpanes or Tahhpanhhes. This was a fortified frontier town on the Pelusiot arm of the Nile, called in Greek Daphnae (Herod., 2:20), or Taphnae (Septuagint here). Have broken, etc.; rather, shall break, or (for the pointing in the Hebrew Bible requires this change) shall feed off (or depasture). From this verse onwards, Judah is personified as a woman, as appears from the suffixes in the Hebrew. Baldness was a great mark of disgrace (2 Kings 2:23; Jeremiah 48:45). There is a striking parallel to this passage in Isaiah 7:18-20, where, in punishment of the negotiations of Ahaz with Assyria, the prophet threatens an invasion of Judah both by Assyria and by Egypt: and employs the very. same figure (see ver. 20). So here, the devastation threatened by Jeremiah is the punishment of the unhallowed coquetting with the Egyptian power of which the Jewish rulers had been recently guilty. The fact which corresponds to this prediction is the defeat of Josiah at Megiddo, and the consequent subjugation of Judah (2 Kings 23:29). The abruptness with which ver. 16 follows upon ver. 15 suggests that some words have fallen out of the text. Such backsliding from God is unexampled and appalling. Jeremiah 2:9. "Therefore will I further contend with you, ad with your children's children will I contend. Jeremiah 2:10. For go over to the islands of the Chittim, and see; and send to Kedar, and observe well, and see if such things have been; Jeremiah 2:11. whether a nation hath changed it gods, which indeed are no gods? but my people hath changed its glory for that which profits not. Jeremiah 2:12. Be horrified, ye heavens, at this, and shudder, and be sore dismayed, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 2:13. For double evil hath my people done; me have they forsaken, the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, the hold no water."

In the preceding verses the fathers were charged with the backsliding from the Lord; in Jeremiah 2:9 punishment is threatened against the now-living people of Israel, and on their children's children after them. For the people in its successive and even yet future generations constitutes a unity, and in this unity a moral personality. Since the sins of the fathers transmit themselves to the children and remoter descendants, sons and grandsons must pay the penalty of the fathers' guilt, that is, so long as they share the disposition of their ancestors. The conception of this moral unity is at the foundation of the threatening. That the present race persists in the fathers' backsliding from the Lord is clearly expressed in Jeremiah 2:17. In "I will further chide or strive," is intimated implicite that God had chidden already up till now, or even earlier with the fathers. ריב, contend, when said of God, is actual striving or chastening with all kinds of punishment. This must God do as the righteous and holy one; for the sin of the people is an unheard of sin, seen in no other people. "The islands of the Chittim" are the isles and coast lands of the far west, as in Ezekiel 27:6; כּתּים having originally been the name for Cyprus and the city of Cition, see in Genesis 10:4. In contrast with these distant western lands, Kedar is mentioned as representative of the races of the east. The Kedarenes lived as a pastoral people in the eastern part of the desert between Arabia Petraea and Babylonia; see in Genesis 25:13 and Ezekiel 27:21. Peoples in the two opposite regions of the world are individualizingly mentioned instead of all peoples. התבּוננוּ, give good heed, serves to heighten the expression. אם equals הןintroduces the indirect question; cf. Ew. 324, c. The unheard of, that which has happened amongst no people, is put interrogatively for rhetorical effect. Has any heathen nation changed its gods, which indeed are not truly gods? No; no heathen nation has done this; but the people of Jahveh, Israel, has exchanged its glory, i.e., the God who made Himself known to it in His glory, for false gods that are of no profit. כּבוד is the glory in which the invisible God manifested His majesty in the world and amidst His people. Cf. the analogous title given to God, ,נּאון ישׂראל Amos 8:7; Hosea 5:5. The exact antithesis to כּבודו would be בּשׁת, cf. Jeremiah 3:24; Jeremiah 11:13; but Jeremiah chose לאto represent the exchange as not advantageous. God showed His glory to the Israelites in the glorious deeds of His omnipotence and grace, like those mentioned in Jeremiah 2:5 and Jeremiah 2:6. The Baals, on the other hand, are not אלהים, but, אלילים nothings, phantoms without a being, that bring no help or profit to their worshippers. Before the sin of Israel is more fully set forth, the prophet calls on heaven to be appalled at it. The heavens are addressed as that part of the creation where the glory of God is most brightly reflected. The rhetorical aim is seen in the piling up of words. חרב, lit., to be parched up, to be deprived of the life-marrow. Israel has committed two crimes: a. It has forsaken Jahveh, the fountain of living water. ,מים חיּיםliving water, i.e., water that originates and nourishes life, is a significant figure for God, with whom is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:10), i.e., from whose Spirit all life comes. Fountain of living water (here and Jeremiah 17:13) is synonymous with well of life in Proverbs 10:11; Proverbs 13:14; Proverbs 14:27, Sir. 21:13. b. The other sin is this, that they hew or dig out wells, broken, rent, full of crevices, that hold no water. The delineation keeps to the same figure. The dead gods have no life and can dispense no life, just as wells with rents or fissures hold no water. The two sins, the forsaking of the living God and the seeking out of dead gods, cannot really be separated. Man, created by God and for God, cannot live without God. If he forsake the living God, he passes in spite of himself into the service of dead, unreal gods. Forsaking the living God is eo ipso exchanging Him for an imaginary god. The prophet sets the two moments of the apostasy from God side by side, so as to depict to the people with greater fulness of light the enormity of their crime. The fact in Jeremiah 2:11 that no heathen nation changes its gods for others, has its foundation in this, that the gods of the heathen are the creations of men, and that the worship of them is moulded by the carnal-mindedness of sinful man; so that there is less inducement to change, the gods of the different nations being in nature alike. But the true God claims to be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and does not permit the nature and manner of His worship to depend on the fancies of His worshippers; He makes demands upon men that run counter to carnal nature, insisting upon the renunciation of sensual lusts and cravings and the crucifixion of the flesh, and against this corrupt carnal nature rebels. Upon this reason for the fact adduced, Jeremiah does not dwell, but lays stress on the fact itself. This he does with the view of bringing out the distinction, wide as heaven, between the true God and the false gods, to the shaming of the idolatrous people; and in order, at the same time, to scourge the folly of idolatry by giving prominence to the contrast between the glory of God and the nothingness of the idols.

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