Jeremiah 46:17
They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) They did cry there . . .—Better, There they cry . . . The difficulty of the verse has led to very various renderings. The meaning of the English version is that the exiles returning to their own land would say that Pharaoh with all his haughty boasts was but an empty noise, that he had passed the limit of God’s long-suffering, and that the day of retribution had come. A slight change in the Hebrew words, however, gives, They have called the name of Pharaoh king of Egypt, A Noise; he hath passed (or lost) the appointed seasoni.e., the time allowed by the long-suffering of God. This is supported by some of the ancient versions, and may be accepted as the best rendering. The LXX. and Vulg. agree in taking the opening words as an imperative, “Call ye the name of Pharaoh . . . ;” but the former, as if despairing of the meaning, simply reproduces the Hebrew words that follow in Greek letters, while the latter translates, Tumultum adduxit tempus (“Time, the appointed time, has brought the noise”—i.e., of war and destruction), as if it were, like Magor-missabib, a new nomen et omen given to the Egyptian king. Luther, giving another meaning to the words translated “appointed time,” renders “Pharaoh king of Egypt lies prostrate, he has left his tent.” Ewald, following the line of the Vulgate, renders the name by which Pharaoh is spoken of as “tumult, which a sign or ‘moment’ disperses,” the “tumult” being his boastful clamour, the “sign” the token of Jehovah’s will. Hitzig agrees more closely with the English version in the latter clause, and it may be accepted as having on the whole most in its favour.

46:13-28 Those who encroached on others, shall now be themselves encroached on. Egypt is now like a very fair heifer, not accustomed to the yoke of subjection; but destruction comes out of the north: the Chaldeans shall come. Comfort and peace are spoken to the Israel of God, designed to encourage them when the judgments of God were abroad among the nations. He will be with them, and only correct them in measure; and will not punish them with everlasting destruction from his presence.Translate it with the versions: "They have called (or, Call ye) the name of Pharaoh king of Egypt - A noise: he hath overstepped the appointed time." For this custom of giving prophetic names see Jeremiah 20:3; Isaiah 8:3, ... The words mean that Pharaoh is a mere empty sound, and that he has allowed the years of prosperity, which he enjoyed at the beginning of his reign, to pass by; having misused them, nothing now remains but his ruin. 17. there—in their own country severally, the foreign soldiers (Jer 46:16) cry, "Pharaoh is," &c.

but a noise—He threatens great things, but when the need arises, he does nothing. His threats are mere "noise" (compare 1Co 13:1). Maurer translates, "is ruined," literally (in appropriate abruptness of language), "Pharaoh, king … ruin." The context favors English Version. His vauntings of what he would do when the time of battle should come have proved to be empty sounds; he hath passed the time appointed (namely, for battle with the Chaldeans).

That is, the Ethiopians and Lubims that should come to help the king of Egypt should cry, or the Chaldeans or the Egyptians themselves should cry, Pharaoh is but a noise, that is, hath made a great noise, but it cometh to nothing: others make the sense, Pharaoh is a man of noise, or tumult. that hath made a great deal of disturbance to himself and us.

He hath passed the time appointed; that is, say the most, he hath passed the time himself fixed whereat he would come and fight the Chaldeans. But these words compared with the next verse incline others to think, that either Pharaoh’s soldiers or his allies are here brought in mocking at Pharaoh, promising himself that the king of Babylon would not come, and laughing at Jeremiah’s prophecy, saying the time appointed was past, that is, the time of his coming mentioned by Jeremiah was past. Jeremiah foretells that Pharaoh’s army and confederates would see reason to cry out, Pharaoh, in saying so, was but a noise.

They did cry there,.... Not the Chaldeans, deriding Pharaoh and his army, and mocking them, saying the following words, as some; nor the Egyptians in Egypt, as Kimchi, complaining of their king; much less in Carchemish, as others; since this prophecy refers to another event, time, and place; but the auxiliaries of Egypt in the field of battle; these did cry out aloud, as follows:

Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he boasted and bragged of great things he would do, and does nothing; he promised to bring a large army into the field, and talked big of attacking the enemy with great ardour and fury, and hectored and blustered as if he feared him not, and was sure of victory; but when it came to the push, his courage failed him; and it may be said of him what the man said of his nightingale, "vox et praeterea nihil", a voice, and nothing else. This was not Pharaohnecho, as the Septuagint have wrongly inserted, but Pharaohhophra, Jeremiah 44:30; or it may be supplied thus, "Pharaoh king of Egypt is a king of noise" (l); a noisy, big, and blusterous king in words, but in deeds nothing:

he hath passed the time appointed; to join his auxiliaries, in order to give the enemy battle; and so left them in the lurch, of which they complain; or through his dilatoriness lost the proper opportunity of attacking him. Some indeed understand it, not of the king of Egypt, but of the king of Babylon; as if the sense was this, the Egyptians cried aloud, and encouraged themselves and their allies against the king of Babylon; saying, what Jeremiah the prophet said concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and his destruction is all mere noise; there is nothing in it; for the time set by him for that event is passed and over: others, because the word has sometimes the signification of a solemn meeting or festival, take the meaning to be, that Pharaoh king of Egypt being brought to utter destruction, as the word for noise may signify, or being a noisy tumultuous prince, who brought ruin on himself and others, has thereby caused the solemn feasts to pass away (m), or the festivals to cease; whether in a civil or a religious way; but the first sense seems best.

(l) "rex Aegypti, rex tumultus", Munster, Vatablus; "rex perturbationis", Calvin; so Ben Melech; "rex Aegypti, vir strepertus est", Piscator, Junius & Tremellius. (m) "transire fecit solennitatem", De Dieu.

They cried there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he {o} hath passed the time appointed.

(o) He derides them who blame their overthrow on lack of counsel and policy, or to fortune and not observing of time: not considering that it is God's just judgment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. They cried there … a noise] Read, Call ye the name of Pharaoh (so far accord Syr. and Vulg., and so the LXX, who add Neco) a Crash. Thus Dr., who compares for a name symbolical of a great disaster Jeremiah 20:3, and for the Hebrew word used here Jeremiah 25:31 (“a noise”); Hosea 10:14; Amos 2:2 (“tumult”). Cp. Psalm 40:2 R.V. mg., “tumult or destruction.”

he hath let the appointed time pass by] the time for effectual preparation to resist. The period of grace is over. The Hebrew verb in this clause (he‘ĕbir) is thought to be a play on the name Hophra (cp. Isaiah 30:7 with note in C.B. for a contemptuous play on a name for Egypt). If this be so, the v. can hardly be a gloss (Du.) or otherwise non-Jeremianic (Gi.), and it will help to authenticate the whole passage (Jeremiah 46:14 ff.). A later writer would probably have known that it was as a matter of fact not Hophra but his successor Amasis who was ruler of Egypt at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion (See on Jeremiah 43:13).

Verse 17. - They did cry there, etc.; rather, they cry there, viz. the following words. But why should attention be called to the place where the cry is made? and why should the mercenaries (the subject of the preceding verb, and therefore presumably of this verb) have their exclamation recorded? Alter the vowel points (which merely represent an early but not infallible exegetical tradition), and all becomes clear. We then get a renewal of the summons in ver. 14 to make a proclamation respecting the war. The persons addressed are, not foreigners, but the children of the soil, and the summons runs thus: "Call ye the name of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, Desolation." No longer "Pharaoh," honoured by titles indicating that he, like Apis, is a Divine incarnation (neb, i.e. lord, and nuter, i.e. god), but Shaon, the Hebrew for Desolation, is the fittest name for the fallen monarch. The custom of changing names with a symbolic meaning is no strange one to readers of the prophecies. We have met with it in this very book (see Jeremiah 20:3); and Isaiah contains a parallel as exact as could be desired, in the famous passage in which the prophetic name (itself symbolic) of Egypt (Rahab, i.e. boisterousness, arrogance) is changed into "Rahabhem-shebheth" (i.e. "Rahab! they are utter indolence"). In behalf of this view we may claim the authority of a tradition still older than that preserved in the vowel points, for the Septuagint (followed substantially by the Peshito and the Vulgate) has, Καλέσατε τὸ ὄνομα Φαραὼ Νεχαὼ βασιλέως Αἰγύπτου Σαών. He hath passed the time appointed. A difficult clause, and variously interpreted. One thing is clear, that "passed" cannot be correct, as the verb is in the Hifil or causative conjugation. We must, at any rate, render, "He hath let the time appointed pass by." This is, in fact, the simplest and most natural explanation. There was a time within which repentance might have averted the judgment of God; but this "accepted time" has been foolishly let slip. Jeremiah 46:17In Jeremiah 46:17, "they cry there" is not to be referred to those who fled to their native land; the subject is undefined, and "there" refers to the place where one falls over the other, viz., Egypt. "There they cry, 'Pharaoh the king of Egypt is שׁאון, desolation, destruction, ruin:' " for this meaning, cf. Jeremiah 25:31; Psalm 40:3; the signification "noise, bustle," is unsuitable here.

(Note: The word שׁם has been read by the lxx and the Vulgate as if it had been שׁם, ὄνομα, nomen; accordingly the lxx render, καλέσατε τὸ ὄνομα Φαραὼ Νεχαὼ βασίλεως Αἰγύπτου Σαὼν ̓Εσβεὶ ̓Εμωήδ (or ̓Εσβειὲ Μωὴδe'd); Vulgate, vocate nomen Pharaonis regis Aegypti: Tumultum adduxit tempus. This reading is preferred by J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Hitzig, and Graf, with this difference, that Hitzig and Graf take only שׁאון as a name. Hence Ewald translates, "They call Pharaoh's name 'Noise-which-a-wink-can-hush.' " This rendering is decidedly false, for מועד nowhere has the sense of "wink, nod," not even in Judges 20:38, where it means an agreement made. For the reading שׁם instead of שׁם there are no sufficient grounds, although such passages as Jeremiah 20:3 and Isaiah 30:7 may be adduced in support of the idea obtained by such a change in the word. The translation of the lxx is merely a reproduction of the Hebrew words by Greek letters, and shows that the translator did not know how to interpret them. The Vulgate rendering, tumultum adduxit tempus, is also devoid of meaning. Moreover, these translators have read קראוּ as the imperative קראוּ; if we reject this reading, as all moderns do, then we may also lay no weight on שׁם instead of שׁם. Besides, the meaning is not materially affected by this reading, for the giving of a name to a person merely expresses what he is or will be.)

The meaning of העביר המּועד also is disputed; it is quite inadmissible, however, to join the words with שׁאון, as Ewald does, for the purpose of making out a name. No suitable meaning can be extracted from them. Neither שׁאון nor המּועד can be the subject of העביר; the translation given by Schnurrer, "devastation that goes beyond all bounds," is still more arbitrary than that of Ewald given in the note. Since the Hiphil העביר is never used except with a transitive meaning, the subject can be none else than Pharaoh; and the words העביר המּועד must be intended to give the reason for this becoming a desolation: they are thus to be rendered, "he has allowed המּועד to pass by," not "the precise place," as Rosenmller explains it ("he did not stop in his flight at the place where the army could be gathered again, on the return"), but "the precise time." The reference, however, is not to the suitable time for action, for self-defence and for driving off the enemy (Grotius, C. B. Michaelis, Maurer, Umbreit), because the word does not mean suitable, convenient time, but appointed time. As Hitzig rightly perceived, the time meant is that within which the desolation might still be averted, and after which the judgment of God fell on him (Isaiah 10:25; Isaiah 30:18), - the time of grace which God had vouchsafed to him, so that Nebuchadnezzar did not at once, after the victory at Carchemish, invade and conquer Egypt. Pharaoh let this time pass by; because, instead of seeing in that defeat a judgment from God, he provoked the anger of Nebuchadnezzar by his repeated attacks on the Chaldean power, and brought on the invasion of Egypt by the king of Babylon (see above, p. 354). - In Jeremiah 46:18. there is laid down a more positive foundation for the threat uttered in Jeremiah 46:17. With an oath, the Lord announces the coming of the destroyer into Egypt. Like Tabor, which overtops all the mountains round about, and like Carmel, which looks out over the sea as if it were a watch-tower, so will he come, viz., he from whom proceeds the devastation of Egypt, the king of Babylon. the power of Nebuchadnezzar, in respect of its overshadowing all other kings, forms the point of comparison. Tabor has the form of a truncated cone. Its height is given at 1805 feet above the level of the sea, or 1350 from the surface of the plain below; it far surpasses in height all the hills in the vicinity, ad affords a wide prospect on every side; cf. Robinson's Phys. Geogr. of Palestine, p. 26f. Carmel stretches out in the form of a long ridge more than three miles wide, till it terminates on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, as a bold, lofty promontory, which rises in an imposing manner at least 500 feet above the sea; cf. Robinson, p. 26f. Then the inhabitants of Egypt will be driven into exile. כּלי גולה .e, "vessels of wandering;" outfit for an exile, as in Ezekiel 12:3. "Daughter of Egypt" is not a personification of the country, whose inhabitants are the people, but of the population, which is viewed as the daughter of the country; it stands in apposition to יושׁבת, like בּתוּלת בּת מצרי, Jeremiah 46:11. For Noph, i.e., Memphis, the capital, is laid waste and burned, so as to lose its inhabitants. With Jeremiah 46:20 begins the second strophe, in which the fate impending on Egypt is still more plainly predicted.

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