Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelled in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)All the men which knew that their wives had burned incense.—The fact thus mentioned incidentally shows that the prophet’s words in Jeremiah 44:9 had not missed their mark. As of old—as, we may add, in the Rome of the Empire (Juvenal, Sat. vi. 526–534)—the women practised a cultus in which their husbands acquiesced, even though they did not join in it.Jeremiah 44:15. Then all the men and all the women that dwelt in Pathros — Which was Upper Egypt; answered Jeremiah, &c. — From this it appears with how much reason it was that God ordered Jeremiah to endeavour to prevent their going into Egypt, since the Israelitish women imitated the idolatry of the inhabitants of it, as soon as they came thither, and no people were immersed in a more absurd and shameful idolatry than the Egyptians. It is probable that when the Jewish women perceived the Egyptians to abound in riches and plenty, and to live in peace and security, they foolishly concluded that the gods which the Egyptians worshipped were more powerful, or more beneficent, than Jehovah, whom the Jews worshipped.Jeremiah 26:9), here formed for religious purposes. As they advance in regular procession to worship the moon-goddess, in accordance as it seems with a vow Jeremiah 44:17, Jeremiah meets them, makes the procession halt upon its way, and pronounces in Yahweh's name words of solemn warning. The reply that all the settlers in Egypt were formally putting themselves under the Queen of heaven's protection was made by the heads of the congregation.
and all the women that stood by; the wives of the men that stood by their husbands, and other women that stood and heard Jeremiah's sermon, and were conscious to themselves of being guilty of what they were charged with by him:
a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt,
in Pathros; in that part of Egypt so called, which was Thebais: here it seems Jeremiah was with that part of the people that took up their residence there; and by this it appears there was a large number of them, men and women, and who were all become idolaters, or connivers at, and encouragers of, such as were: theseThen all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. and all the women] It has been suggested that it is hardly likely that women would have come so far, and that “even … Pathros” is a gloss. Pathros was the S. part of what is now called Egypt, but was once politically separated from it, Ethiopia claiming its possession. It is identical with the Thebais of the Greeks, commencing a few miles S. of Memphis, and extending to Syene on the first cataract.
a great assembly] Du. followed by Co. reads (by a slight alteration in MT.) with a loud voice.
15–19. See introd. summary to the ch. This passage, unlike the preceding, apparently comes intact from Baruch’s memoirs.Verses 15-19. - The reply of the people. The special mention of the women suggests that the occasion of the gathering was a festival in honour of the Queen of Heaven. Verse 15. - Had burned incense; rather, were burning incense. The practice was still going on. Jeremiah 44:7-10 follows the application of what has been said to those present, who are asked how they come to continue in the old sins, to their own destruction, "doing evil in regard to your souls," i.e., for the injury, destruction of your souls, yourself; cf. Jeremiah 26:19, where על־נ' stands for אל־נ'. This is immediately afterwards more exactly specified by 'להכרית וגו, to exterminate the whole of you, without an exception. As to the enumeration "man and woman," etc., cf. 1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 22:19. The infs. להכעיסני and לקטּר are used as gerundives: "inasmuch as (through this that) ye provoke me." For the expression "the works of your hands," see on Jeremiah 1:16. In Jeremiah 44:8, an object must be supplied from Jeremiah 44:7 for the expression למען הכרית לכם; for, to take לכם (with Hitzig) in a reflexive sense is a very harsh construction. On 'לקללה וגו, cf. Jeremiah 42:18; Jeremiah 26:6. The answer to the question now asked follows in Jeremiah 44:9 and Jeremiah 44:10, in the form of the further question, whether they have forgotten those former sins, and that these sins have been the cause of the evil which has befallen the land. The interrogation expresses the reproach that they have been able to forget both, as is evidenced by their continuance in sin. In Jeremiah 44:9, the expression "the evil deeds of his wives" (נשׁיו) is remarkable. Hitzig and Ngelsbach, following Kimchi, refer the suffix to the kings, since there was always but one king at a time. But this is an unnatural explanation; the suffix refers to Judah as a nation, and is used in order to comprehend the wives of the fathers and of the kings together. It is quite arbitrary in Ewald and Graf to change נשׁיו to שׂריו, following the lxx τῶν ἀρχόντων ὑμῶν; for these translators have mutilated the text by the omission of the following ואת רעתיכם. רעות נשׁיו is not merely conserved, but even required, by ואת רעת נשׁיכם. But the prophet gives special prominence to the evil deeds of the wives, since it was they who were most zealous in worshipping the queen of heaven; cf. Jeremiah 44:15 and Jeremiah 44:19. לא דכּאוּ, "they have not been crushed," viz., by repentance and sorrow for these sins. The transition to the third person is not merely accounted for by the fact that the subject treated of is the sins of the fathers and of the present generation, - for, as is shown by the expression "till this day," the prophet has chiefly his own contemporaries in view; but he speaks of these in the third person, to signify the indignation with which he turns away from men so difficult to reform. On the expression, "they had not walked in my law," cf. Jeremiah 26:4; Jeremiah 9:12. For this the Lord will punish them severely, Jeremiah 44:11-14. All those who have fled to Egypt, with the intention of remaining there, will be quite exterminated. On "Behold, I will set my face," etc., cf. Jeremiah 21:10. "For evil" is more exactly defined by "to cut off all Judah," i.e., those of Judah who are in Egypt, not those who are in Babylon. This limitation of the words "all Judah" is necessarily required by the context, and is plainly expressed in Jeremiah 44:12, where "Judah" is specified as "the remnant of Judah that were determined to go to Egypt." לקחתּי has the meaning of taking away, as in Jeremiah 15:15. ותמּוּ are to be taken by themselves; and בּארץ מצרים, as is shown by the accents, is to be attached to what follows, on which, too, the emphasis is placed; in like manner, 'בּחרב are to be attached to the succeeding verb. The arrangement of the words, like the accumulation of sentences all expressing the same meaning, reveals the spirit of the address in which God vents His wrath. On "they shall become an execration," etc., see Jeremiah 42:18. In Jeremiah 44:13, Jeremiah 44:14, the threatened extermination is further set forth. Those who dwelling Egypt shall be punished with sword, famine, and plague, like Jerusalem. The inhabitants of Egypt generally are meant; and by the judgment which is to fall on that country, the remnant of Judah there shall be so completely destroyed, that none shall escape. The leading member of the sentence is continued by ולשׁוּב, "and that they should return to the land of Judah, after which their soul longs, that they may live there." A reason is further assigned, and with this the address, reduced within becoming limits, concludes: "for there shall return none except (כּי אם) fugitives," i.e., except a few individual fugitives who shall come back. This last clause shows that we are not to understand the declaration "none shall escape" in the strictest meaning of the words. Those who escape and return to Judah shall be so few, in comparison with those who shall perish in Egypt, as to be quite inconsiderable. Cf. the like instance of a seeming contradiction in Jeremiah 44:27, Jeremiah 44:28. On נשּׂא את־נפשׁם, cf. Jeremiah 22:27.
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