Jeremiah 46


Jeremiah 46-49 record these prophecies concerning other nations. Jeremiah 50-51, deal with prophecies against Babylon, the nation that destroyed God’s people.

In Jeremiah 46-49 the nations are Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam. Those of you with good memories may remember something about those countries, from other studies you have done from the Old Testament.

God is going to the Babylonians to fulfil His promises to wreak havoc and devastation upon these countries. Then, in Jeremiah 50-51, He is going to tell us how He is going to get rid of Babylon itself, for all the cruelty it has done to God’s people and to those other nations.

Many scholars don’t believe that these chapters were written by Jeremiah. I don’t, however, find any argument for this belief. As far as I’m concerned, the Bible teaches me that these were the words of the Lord that came to Jeremiah, so, he either wrote them or dictated them to Baruch, or somebody else.

I don’t know why it is that certain scholars just love to read their Bibles to show how wise they are, what a better job they would have done if they had been preparing these ancient messages!

‘This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations: Concerning Egypt: This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: ‘Prepare your shields, both large and small, and march out for battle! Harness the horses, mount the steeds! Take your positions with helmets on! Polish your spears, put on your armour! What do I see? They are terrified, they are retreating, their warriors are defeated. They flee in haste without looking back, and there is terror on every side,’ declares the LORD.’ The swift cannot flee nor the strong escape. In the north by the River Euphrates they stumble and fall. Jeremiah 46:1-6

This was a message for Pharaoh Neco’s army that was defeated at Carchemish. This is believed to be a battle that was fought in or around 605 B.C. We get this date from verse 2 that tells us this battle took place in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and we know that Jehoiakim became king when his father, Josiah, was killed.

It was one of the decisive battles of history, because it spelt the end of Egyptian domination. It also heralded the arrival of the new mighty power, Babylon. Carchemish was on the River Euphrates. We are told that the Pharaoh was Neco.

You will remember that it was Neco who killed the good king Josiah at Megiddo in 609 B.C. This battle was actually fought about four years later, and at that time the Jews would have considered this a victory, because, to them, this was vengeance for the death of their good king Josiah.

Verse 5 starts with a question, ‘What do I see?’ We see an arrogant Egyptian army, who thought they were a mighty power, being hopelessly beaten by the Babylonian army.

‘Who is this that rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters? Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers of surging waters. She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth; I will destroy cities and their people.’ Charge, you horses! Drive furiously, you charioteers! March on, you warriors—men of Cush and Put who carry shields, men of Lydia who draw the bow. But that day belongs to the Lord, the LORD Almighty—a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes. The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood. For the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will offer sacrifice in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.’ Go up to Gilead and get balm, Virgin Daughter Egypt. But you try many medicines in vain; there is no healing for you. The nations will hear of your shame; your cries will fill the earth. One warrior will stumble over another; both will fall down together. Jeremiah 46:7-12

The metaphor of the flood is taken from the overflowing Nile River of Egypt during the rainy season. Egypt thought that they, with the Assyrians, would overflow the Babylonians. But they were sadly mistaken. Egypt had come with an army of mercenaries from Ethiopia, Libya and Lydia.

The Egyptians became the sacrificial offering of the Lord. The mercenary army of Pharaoh-Neco did not have the loyalty that was demanded to keep them in the battle against the Babylonians. Thus, Pharaoh was shamefully defeated.

There was not enough balm in Gilead to heal the Egyptians’ wounds that they received in their defeat at Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar would again attack the weakened Egyptians in 582/581 B.C. when he went to bring down retribution on those who had rebelled against Babylonian control of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Note verse 10 refers to ‘a day of vengeance’. Remember, just four years before this, the Egyptians had killed King Josiah. So, this defeat was, to the Jews, vengeance against the Egyptians.

‘This is the message the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt: ‘Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol; proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes: ‘Take your positions and get ready, for the sword devours those around you.’ Why will your warriors be laid low? They cannot stand, for the LORD will push them down. They will stumble repeatedly; they will fall over each other. They will say, ‘Get up, let us go back to our own people and our native lands, away from the sword of the oppressor.’ There they will exclaim, ‘Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise; he has missed his opportunity.’ ‘As surely as I live,’ declares the King, whose name is the LORD Almighty, ‘one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains, like Carmel by the sea. Pack your belongings for exile, you who live in Egypt, for Memphis will be laid waste and lie in ruins without inhabitant.’ Jeremiah 46:13-19

This message was to Egypt after her defeat at the battle of Carchemish. Her defeat left her vulnerable to attack that would come in 582/581 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes were border towns that led into Egypt.

In the message, these towns are alerted for an attack. Some believe that after the battle of Carchemish, Nebuchadnezzar pursued the Egyptian forces as they retreated to their own land. This would have been around 605/604 B.C. However, in the Babylonian Chronicle, Nebuchadnezzar recorded that he made an attack on Egypt in 582/581 B.C.

Notice ‘the Lord push them down’, this statement credits God with the defeat of Egypt at Carchemish. Since God was using the Babylonians as His proxy to bring judgment on Judah, then we would conclude that no coalition of nations could have defeated the Babylonians.

‘Let us go back to our own people’. This would be the actions of the mercenaries after the defeat of the Egyptian forces at Carchemish. Since their objective to align with Egypt had failed, they returned to their own nations.

‘A loud noise,’ is a reference to Pharaoh-Neco who had mustered a mercenary army in order to attack the Babylonians. Egypt’s capital city would be laid waste.

‘Egypt is a beautiful heifer, but a gadfly is coming against her from the north. The mercenaries in her ranks are like fattened calves. They too will turn and flee together, they will not stand their ground, for the day of disaster is coming upon them, the time for them to be punished. Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent as the enemy advances in force; they will come against her with axes, like men who cut down trees. They will chop down her forest,’ declares the LORD, ‘dense though it be. They are more numerous than locusts, they cannot be counted. Daughter Egypt will be put to shame, given into the hands of the people of the north.’ The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh. I will give them into the hands of those who want to kill them— Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past,” declares the LORD.’ Jeremiah 46:20-26

‘Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent’. The serpent was sacred to one of the Egyptian gods, and scholars believe that this was a sarcastic reference to the whole nation of Egypt. This seems to be suggesting that the woodsmen would cut down the forests, and the serpent slithers away to hide from the enemy.

‘The Daughter of Egypt will be put to shame.’ This symbolises Egypt being exposed to the Babylonians Jeremiah had been a witness to the Babylonian assault of Jerusalem, and he would have seen the women and young girls being objects to satisfy the lust of the Babylonian army. Jeremiah had previously warned Jerusalem by using similar language to this, Jeremiah 6:12 and Jeremiah 38:23.

This section, with regard to Egypt, gives a dramatic picture of what happens when a powerful, mighty country like Egypt is replaced by a mightier power, in this case, by the Babylonians. Human life in these ancient days was considered cheap, expendable.

‘Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the LORD. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’ Jeremiah 46:27-28

Whenever there were punishments poured out on those who affected Israel in a negative way, it meant deliverance for the people of God, Jeremiah 30:10-11. Though God used the nations to punish His people, He eventually judged those who had arrogantly fought against the survival of His people.

God spared a remnant through whom He would continue the seed line of woman and the heritage of Davidic kings. From this seed line would come the Saviour of the world.

Go To Jeremiah 47



"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

1 John 3:16