Jeremiah 43


This is a tragic, terrible chapter. Abraham’s descendants had spent many long years in slavery in Egypt. God had delivered them from that slavery, through His servant Moses. Now, some 900 years later, the defeated remnant from Jerusalem were back in Egypt.

A suggested outline of this chapter is:

1. Judah’s leaders reject the word of God. Jeremiah 43:1-4.

2. Jeremiah and Baruch are themselves taken into Egypt. Jeremiah 43:5-7.

3. The conquest of Egypt is prophesied. Jeremiah 43:8-11.

4. The sacred gods of Egypt were destroyed. Jeremiah 43:12-13.

‘When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the LORD their God—everything the LORD had sent him to tell them—Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.’ So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the LORD’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So, they entered Egypt in disobedience to the LORD and went as far as Tahpanhes.’ Jeremiah 43:1-7

Poor old Jeremiah. Another kick in the teeth for him. In calling him a liar, they were calling God a liar as well. Jeremiah told them what they didn’t want to know, and what they wouldn’t accept. History was repeating itself again.

But what about their oath? Hadn’t they said, in the 6th verse of the last chapter, that even if God’s message is unfavourable to us, ‘we will obey the Lord our God.’ Their promise is forgotten.

Obviously, they cannot take the blame, so they have to blame someone. So, they accuse Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, of inciting Jeremiah to say these things because he, Baruch, wants them to be handed over to the Babylonians. This is their way of passing the buck. They had every intention of going to Egypt, and no one, not even God, was going to stop them.

They left for Egypt on what was going to be a long haul for them. They even compelled Jeremiah and Baruch to go with them because they wouldn’t have left Judah by themselves, not after hearing the message from God. It is therefore certain that Jeremiah and Baruch were unwilling participants in this. So, they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord, a went as far as Tahpanhes.

We don’t know of anything that Baruch had said or done that made the Jewish leaders point a finger at him. The suggestion that Baruch was the author of Jeremiah’s prophecies was just another of their lies.

Jeremiah, who wouldn’t alter any of the messages that his God in heaven had given him, would he allow himself to be manipulated by his secretary?

‘All the people disobeyed the Lord.’

Coffman says, ‘The insolent, loud-mouthed, arrogant, and confident claims of the false leaders quickly swept away all objections to their policies; and they proceed at once to Egypt.’

Jeremiah didn’t defend himself against charges of prophesying lies, he had enough faith in God to know who was speaking the truth and who was lying. Although this journey was tragic and pitiful, it was the fulfilment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in Jeremiah 24:8-10, that Jerusalem would become uninhabited.

‘In Tahpanhes the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. Then say to them, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.’ Jeremiah 43:8-13

It’s no surprise to read God’s next message to the remnant, which is one of disaster. They had previously called God a liar, so what is about to come to them is rightly deserved. Having reached the city of Tahpanhes, in Egypt, they settled down to live there.

Jeremiah is told to take some large stones and, whilst the Jews are watching him, bury them in the clay in the brick pavement at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes.

God’s message was to show that Nebuchadnezzar would build upon that site, and be the ruler of that city. So, what the remnant had run away from, came to them regardless. The city was excavated by a French archaeologist in the 19th Century. He cleared the paved area in front of the entrance to the royal palace and identified the pavement mentioned.

Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt and bring death and destruction. Some scholars do not believe that this happened. A Babylonian historian confirms the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, and the Jewish historian, Josephus, declares that Nebuchadnezzar fell upon Egypt and subdued it, he slew the king, and then reigned there. Josephus also says, ‘He also took those Jews that were their captives, and led them away to Babylon.’

There is also some archaeological evidence that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt. There is an ancient inscription that confirms the fact that Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 568 B.C. when Amasis was Pharaoh.

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