Jeremiah 46 Bible Commentary

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

(Read all of Jeremiah 46)
This chapter contains two prophecies relating to Egypt; one concerning the overthrow of Pharaohnecho, king of it, which was quickly accomplished; and the other concerning the destruction of the land, fulfilled many years after, and both by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and the chapter is concluded with a word of comfort to the people of Israel. It begins with a general title to prophecies in this and the five following chapters, Jeremiah 46:1; then follows a particular prophecy of the route of Pharaoh's army; of the place where, and time when, Jeremiah 46:2; the preparations of the Egyptians for the battle, with a variety of warlike instruments, Jeremiah 46:3; the consternation, flight, and destruction of them, Jeremiah 46:5; notwithstanding their confidence of getting the victory, Jeremiah 46:7; the reason of it, because it was the day of the Lord's vengeance on them, and therefore their ruin was inevitable, Jeremiah 46:10; the consequence of which was shame and confusion, Jeremiah 46:12; next follows another prophecy of the destruction of the land itself by Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah 46:13; the places that should be destroyed, Jeremiah 46:14; the multitude that should be slain, Jeremiah 46:15; a description of the calamity; the instrument, manner, and consequence of it, Jeremiah 46:20; the certainty of it, Jeremiah 46:18; and the whole is closed with a promise of the return of the Jews, and of their salvation; though they should not be without divine corrections, Jeremiah 46:27.

Verse 1. The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles. Or "nations"; distinguished from the Jews; not all the nations of the world, but some hereafter mentioned, as the Egyptians, Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Syrians, Arabians, Persians, and Chaldeans: or "concerning the nations" {p}; the above mentioned; though the prophecies delivered out concerning them are all against them, and not in their favour. Mention is made of Jeremiah's prophesying against all the nations in Jeremiah 25:13; after which follow the several prophecies contained in the next chapters in the Septuagint and Arabic versions, as they stand in the Polyglot Bible.

{p} Mywg le "super gentes," Montanus; "de gentibus," Cocceius.

Verse 2. Against Egypt,.... This is the title of the first prophecy against Egypt; which is the first mentioned, because first accomplished; and because the Jews placed great confidence in and much relied on the Egyptians for help:

against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt; who is by Herodotus {q} called Necos; he was the son and successor of Psammitichus, and was succeeded by his son Psammis; and he by Apries, the same with Pharaohhophra, Jeremiah 44:30; the Targum calls this king Pharaoh the lame:

which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish; of which place See Gill on "Isa 10:9"; this being in the land of the king of Assyria, as appears from the same place. Pharaohnecho, in Josiah's time, came up against him, in order to take it from him; but whether he did or no is not certain; see 2 Kings 23:29; however, he appeared at the same place a second time, against the king of Babylon, into whose hands it was now very probably fallen, with the whole Assyrian monarchy; and here, in this second battle, his army was routed, as follows:

which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; when he took away from the king of Egypt all that belonged to him between the Nile and Euphrates, so that he came no more out of his land, 2 Kings 24:7. Kimchi and Abarbinel think there was but one expedition of Pharaohnecho; and that the siege of Carchemish continued to the fourth year of Jehoiakim; when he met with an entire overthrow from the king of Babylon, which God suffered as a judgment on him for killing Josiah. This, according to Bishop Usher, was in the year of the world 3397, and before Christ 607; and, according to the Universal History, in the year of the world 3396, and before Christ 608.

{q} L. 2. sive Euterpe, c. 158.

Verse 3. Order ye the buckler and shield,.... Both signify one and the same sort of armour, only of a different form, the one being lesser and lighter than the other. Jarchi makes the difference to be, that the former was made of skin, the latter of wood; they were both used to defend the body in war. To order them is not only to prepare them, and get them ready; but to fit them to the body, and to put them on, that they might be in a readiness to engage in battle. The exhortation is made either to the Chaldean army, to prepare to fight against the Egyptians; or to the army of Pharaohnecho, to defend themselves against the king of Babylon, who was coming against them, as Kimchi and Abarbinel, who seem to be in doubt which it should be; but the latter is most probable: and it is either a direction of Pharaoh to his army, to be in readiness; or rather of God, speaking ironically to them, suggesting, that let them do what they would, and make ever such preparations for battle, all would come to nothing, victory would be on the other side;

and draw near to battle; engage the enemy briskly, and with the greatest courage, and use all your military skill; and, when ye have done, it will all be in vain.

Verse 4. Harness the horses,.... Put on their bridles and saddles and gird them: or, "bind the horses" {r}; that is, to the chariots; put them to, as we commonly express it: Egypt abounded in horses, and so no doubt brought a large cavalry, and a multitude of chariots, into the field of battle:

and get up, ye horsemen; upon the horses, or into the chariots, and so be ready to receive the enemy, or to attack him:

and stand forth with [your] helmets; present themselves on horseback, or in their chariots, with their helmets on their heads, to cover them in the day of battle:

furbish the spears; that they may be sharp and piercing, and look bright and glittering, and strike terror in the enemy:

[and] put on the brigandines; coats of mail, to cover the whole body, which were made of iron, consisting of rings, as Kimchi observes.

{r} Myowoh wroa "ligate equos," Montanus, Calvin; "alligate," Schmidt.

Verse 5. Wherefore have I seen them dismayed [and] turned away back?.... The Egyptians, after all this preparation for war, and seeming ardent to engage in battle; and yet, when they came to it, were seized with a panic, and thrown into the utmost consternation, and turned their backs upon their enemy: these are either the words of the prophet, who had a view by a spirit of prophecy, of the consternation, confusion, and flight of the Egyptian army; or of the Lord, who foresaw all this, and represents it as if it was done because of the certainty of it; upbraiding the Egyptians with their pusillanimity and cowardice:

and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back; or, "their mighty ones are broken" {s}; their valiant soldiers and officers, their best troops were broken to pieces, their ranks and files, and thrown into the utmost disorder; and therefore made all the haste they could to escape the fury of the enemy, and fled with the utmost precipitation, and never stopped to look back upon their pursuers; so great their fear:

[for] fear [was] round about, saith the Lord; from whence it came; it was he that put it into them, took away their courage, and made them a "magormissabib," or "fear round about," the word here used; see Jeremiah 20:3. The Targum is, "they looked not back to resist them that slay with the sword, who are gathered against them round about, saith the Lord;" their enemies surrounded them, and that was the reason fear was round about them, and both were from the Lord; or as he had said, determined, and foretold it should be.

{s} wtky Mhyrwbgw "et fortes corum contusi sunt, vel coutunduntur," Schmidt, Cocceius, Piscator; "contriti sunt," Vatablus.

Verse 6. Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty men escape,.... Those that were swift of foot, like Asahel, or carried but light armour, let not such trust to their swiftness or light carriage; nor let the mighty man think to escape by reason of his great strength, to make his way through the enemy, and get out of his hands. Or this may be rendered as future, "the swift shall not flee away," &c. {t} so the Targum; neither the one nor the other shall escape by the nimbleness of their heels, or the stoutness of their hearts:

they shall stumble and fall toward the north, by the river Euphrates; which lay north of Judea, where the prophet was, to whom this word came; and also was to the north of Egypt, whose destruction is here threatened: the place where this route and slaughter would be made was Carchemish, which was situated by that river; on the north side of which city, according to Abarbinel, the battle was; and which sense is mentioned by Kimchi, which the other follows.

{t} owny la "non fugiet," Pagninus, Montanus; "non effugiet," Munster, Tigurine version.

Verse 7. Who [is] this [that] cometh up as a flood,.... These are either the words of the prophet, who having a vision in prophecy of the march of the Egyptian army from the south to the north, which he compares to a flood; in allusion to the river Nile, which used to overflow its banks, and spread itself over the land; because of the vast numbers of which it consisted; because of the noise it made, and, because of its rapidity and force, threatening to bear all down before it; as wondering, asks, who it was, whose army it was, and to whom it belonged? or they are the words of God, who puts this question, in order to, give an answer to it, and thereby upbraid the Egyptians with their arrogance, pride, and vanity; which would all come to nothing:

whose waters are moved as the rivers? whose numerous armies came with a great noise and force, like the openings of the Nile, the seven gates of it; which were very boisterous, especially in hard gales of wind: it is no unusual thing for large armies to be compared to floods and rivers, which move forcibly and swiftly, and make a large spread; see Isaiah 8:7. The Targum is, "who is this that comes up with his army as a cloud, and covers the earth, and as a fountain of water, whose waters are moved?"

Verse 8. Egypt riseth up as a flood, and [his] waters are moved like the rivers,.... This is the answer to the above question; that it was Egypt that was seen; the king of Egypt, as the Syriac version; he with his army, as the Targum; and which was so numerous, that it seemed as if the whole country of Egypt, all the inhabitants of it, were come along with him; these rose up like the Nile, and moved like the several sluices of it, with great velocity and force, as if they would carry all before them:

and he saith, I will go up; Pharaohnecho king of Egypt said, I will go up from my own land to the north, to meet the king of Babylon:

[and] will cover the earth; with his army: even all, the north country, the whole Babylonish empire; which he affected to be master of, grasping at, universal monarchy:

I will destroy the city, and the inhabitants thereof; which Abarbinel restrains to the city Carchemish, where his army was smitten: but it is better to interpret, the singular by the plural, as the Targum does, "I will destroy cities"; since it was not a single city he came up to take, nor would this satisfy his ambitious temper.

Verse 9. Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots,.... These are either the words of Pharaoh, giving orders to his cavalry and charioteers to make haste and come up to battle, not doubting of victory: or rather of the Lord by the prophet, ironically calling upon the horsemen in the Egyptian army to come on and engage with the enemy, and behave gallantly; and those in the chariots to drive, Jehu like, 2 Kings 9:20, with great swiftness, force, and fury, to make their chariots rattle again, and run about here and there like madmen, as the word {u} signifies, to throw the enemy into confusion and disorder if they could:

and let the mighty men come forth: out of the land of Egypt, as Abarbinel; or let them come forth, and appear in the field of battle with courage and greatness of mind, and do all their might and skill can furnish them with, or enable them to do:

the Ethiopians and the Lybians, that handle the shield; or Cush and Phut, both sons of Ham, and brethren of Mizraim, from whence Egypt had its name, Genesis 10:6; the posterity of these are meant. The Cushites or Ethiopians were near neighbours of the Egyptians, and their allies and confederates. The Lybians or Phuteans, as the Targum, were the posterity of Phut, who dwelt to the westward of Egypt, and were the auxiliaries of that nation, and with the Ethiopians and Lydians are mentioned as such in Ezekiel 30:4; as here. The shield was a weapon they much used in war, and were famous for their skill in it, and are described by it. The Egyptians were remarkable for their shields: Xenophon {w} describes them as having shields reaching down to their feet; and which covered their bodies more than the breast plates and targets of the Persians did; which helped them to push forward, having them on their shoulders, so that the enemy could not withstand them:

and the Lydians, that handle [and] bend the bow; these were the posterity of Ludim the son of Mizraim, Genesis 10:13; and were the Lydians in Africa, and not in Asia, who sprung from Lud the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22; they were famous for their skilfulness in the use of bows and arrows; see Isaiah 66:19; now these are called together to use their military skill, and show all the courage they were masters of; and yet all would be in vain. Bochart {x} endeavours to prove, by various arguments, that these Lydians were Ethiopians; and, among the rest, because they are here, and in Isaiah 66:19; described as expert in handling, bending, and drawing the bow; which he proves, by the testimonies of several writers, the Ethiopians were famous for; that bows were their armour; and that theirs were larger than others, even than the Persians, being four cubits long; that they were very dexterous in shooting their arrows; took sure aim, and seldom missed.

{u} wllhth "insanite," Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Schmidt; "insano impetu agitamini," Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. {w} Cyropaedia, l. 6. c. 14. & l. 7. c. 9. {x} Phaleg. l. 4. c. 26. col. 266.

Verse 10. For this [is] the day of the Lord God of hosts,.... Or, "but this is the day" {y}, &c. notwithstanding this great apparatus for war, and those many auxiliaries the Egyptians would have, yet it would not be their day, in which they should get the better of their enemies; but the Lord's day; the day he had appointed; who is the Lord God of all armies, above and below; and who would bring his own armies together when he pleased, and give them victory:

a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his enemies: the enemies of his people, as the Targum; the Egyptians, who had been of old the implacable enemies of his people Israel; though now, contrary to his will, they too much trusted to them, and relied on them; according to Kimchi, this vengeance was taken on them for killing Josiah:

and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood; that is, the sword of the Chaldeans shall destroy the Egyptians in such vast numbers, that there shall be no more to be slain; or there shall be no desire in the enemy to slay any more; they shall be glutted with their blood. All the phrases are designed to show the carnage that should be made; the vast destruction of the people; the large numbers that should be slain:

for the Lord God of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates; near Carchemish, situated by the river Euphrates, which lay north of Egypt; see Jeremiah 46:6. Here is an allusion to the sacrifices of great persons, which are many; the Lord of hosts had a sacrifice, or a great slaughter of men, his enemies; inflicted punishment on them, wherein his power, justice, and holiness, were displayed; see Isaiah 34:6.

{y} awhh Mwyh "dies autem," V. L. "atque dies," Junius & Tremellius; "sed dies ille," Schmidt.

Verse 11. Go up into Gilead,.... Still the irony or sarcasm is continued Gilead was a place in the land of Israel famous for balm or balsam, used in curing wounds; see Jeremiah 8:22; hence it follows:

and take balm, O virgin, daughter of Egypt; the kingdom of Egypt, as the Targum; so called because of its glory and excellency; and because as yet it had not been conquered and brought under the power of another: now the inhabitants of it are bid to take balm or balsam, as Kimchi and Ben Melech; but this grew not in Gilead beyond Jordan, but near Jericho on this side Jordan, as Bochart {z} has proved from various authors; particularly Strabo {a} says of Jericho, that there is the paradise of balsam, an aromatic plant, and of great esteem; for there only it is produced: and so Diodorus Siculus {b}, speaking of places near Jericho, says, about these places, in a certain valley, grows what is called balsam, from which much profit arises; nor is the plant to be found in any other part of the world: and Justin {c} observes the same; that much riches accrue to the nation from the tax on balsam, which is only produced in this country, in Jericho, and the valley near it; yea, Kimchi himself elsewhere {d} says, that the balsam is not any where in the whole world but in Jericho. The word therefore should be rendered rosin, as also in Jeremiah 8:22; as it is by some {e}; and which is used in cleansing, healing, and contracting wounds, and dispersing humours, as Pliny {f} relates; and this here is ordered to be taken, either literally, to cure the vast number of their wounded by the Chaldeans; or rather, figuratively, they are called upon to make use of all means to recover their loss sustained; by recruiting their army, fortifying their cities, and getting fresh allies and auxiliaries; all which would yet be to no purpose:

in vain shalt thou use many medicines; [for] thou shall not be cured; notwithstanding all means made use of to repair its losses; though it should not utterly be destroyed yet should never recover its former glory.

{z} Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 51. col. 628, 629. {a} Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. {b} Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 734. {c} E Trogo, l. 36. c. 3. {d} Comment in 2 Kings xx. 13. So R. Levi Ben Gersom in ib. {e} yru yxq "tolle resinam," Montanus, Munster, Calvin, Grotius. {f} Nat. Hist. l. 24. c. 6.

Verse 12. The nations have heard of thy shame,.... Their shameful defeat and overthrow by the Chaldean army; so, after the manner of prophecy, the thing is related as done; the battle fought, and the victory obtained; and the rumour and fame of it spread among the nations, to the great mortification of this proud people:

and thy cry hath filled the land; the shrieks of the wounded; the cry of the pursued and taken; the lamentation of friends and relations for their dead; with one thing or another of this kind the whole land of Egypt was filled; yea, all the countries round about them, in confederacy with them, were filled with distress for the loss of their own; the calamity was large and spreading, and the rumour of it:

for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, [and] they are fallen both together; either the mighty Egyptians against the mighty Chaldeans; and though the latter were the conquerors, yet lost abundance of men; so that there were mighty ones fell on both sides: or rather, as Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, the mighty Egyptians in their flight fell, and other mighty ones of them following, stumbled at them, and fell upon them, and so both became a prey to the pursuers; or in their flight the mighty Egyptians stumbled against their mighty auxiliaries before mentioned, Jeremiah 46:9; and so both came into the hands of their enemies. The Targum is, both were slain.

Verse 13. The word that the Lord spake to Jeremiah the prophet,.... This is a new and distinct prophecy from the former, though concerning Egypt as that; but in this they differ; the former prophecy respects only the overthrow of the Egyptian army at a certain place; this latter the general destruction of the land; and was fulfilled some years after the other; Jarchi says, according to their chronicles {g}, in the twenty seventh year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign:

how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come; or, "concerning the coming {h} of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,"

to smite the land of Egypt; who was to come, and did come, out of his country, into the land of Egypt, to smite the inhabitants of it with the sword, take their cities, plunder them of their substance, and make them tributary to him.

{g} Seder Olam Rabba, c. 26. p. 77. {h} ruardkwbn awbl "de venturo Nebuchadretzare," Junius & Tremellius; "de adventu Nebuchadretsaris," Calvin, Munster, Piscator; "de veniendo," Vatablus, Montanus.

Verse 14. Declare ye in Egypt,.... The coming of the king of Babylon, and his intention to invade the land, and subdue it:

and publish in Migdol, and publish in Noph, and in Tahpanhes; of these places See Gill on "Jer 44:1"; these were principal ones in the land of Egypt, where the enemy should come, and which he should lay waste; and therefore the above things are to be published for their warning; and particularly these were places where the Jews that went into Egypt contrary to the will of God resided; and therefore for their sakes also this publication must be made, to let them see and know that they would not be safe there, but would be involved in the general calamity of the nation:

say ye, stand fast, and prepare thee; O Egypt, and the several cities mentioned, and all others; prepare for war, and to meet the enemy, resist and repel him; present yourselves on the frontiers of your country; put yourselves in proper places, and keep your ground:

for the sword shall devour round about thee; the sword of the Chaldeans, into whose hands fell Palestine, Judea, Syria, and other neighbouring countries; and therefore it was high time for them to bestir themselves, and provide for their defence and safety.

Verse 15. Why are thy valiant [men] swept away?.... As with a mighty torrent, or a sweeping rain; so the word is used in Proverbs 28:3; to which the Chaldean army may be compared; which came with such irresistible force as to drive the Egyptians from their posts, so that they could not stand their ground. The Septuagint renders it, "why does Apis flee from thee? thy choice ox does not continue." Which was the god of the Egyptians, they worshipped in the form of an ox; this could not protect them, though thought by them to be very mighty and powerful; so Aelianus {i} says Apis with the Egyptians is believed to be a most powerful deity; yet could not save them; but the word signifies their nobles, their mighty men of war, their generals and officers, at least their valiant soldiers; who yet were not able to stand the tide of power that came against them. The reason was,

because the Lord did drive them; by means of the Chaldeans; he dispirited them; he put them into a panic, and they fled from their posts; there is no standing against the Lord.

{i} De Animal. l. 11. c. 10.

Verse 16. He made many to fall,.... That is, the Lord, by the hand of the Chaldeans, by whose sword multitudes fell in battle:

yea, one fell upon another; they fell in heaps, denoting the multitude of the slain; or rather they fell in flight one upon another; one fell, and then another upon him, as usually they do, when men are frightened and flee precipitantly, as in Jeremiah 46:12;

and they said, arise: not those that fell, which may seem at first sight; but either the strangers in the land of Egypt, as Kimchi, such as the Jews were; who, perceiving the destruction that was coming on Egypt, exhort one another to arise, and get out of it; or rather the auxiliaries of the Egyptians, as the Ethiopians, Lybians, and Lydians, Jeremiah 46:9; who finding the enemy too strong for them, and they themselves deserted or unsupported by Pharaoh's army, advise one another to quit his service, and provide for their own safety:

and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity; their own country, where they were born, and their friends and relations lived; that so they might be safe

from the oppressing sword; the sword of the Chaldeans. The Septuagint version is a very bad one, followed by the Arabic, which renders it, "from the Grecian sword"; and so is the Vulgate Latin version, "from the face of the dove"; to countenance which it is said, that the Chaldeans and Assyrians had a dove in their ensigns; See Gill on "Jer 25:38"; and so a most ancient Saxon translation in the library of Christ's Church in Oxford, "from the face of the sword of the culver" {k}, or "dove"; that is, from their sword, who display their banners in the field with the ensign of a dove; meaning the Chaldeans. The Targum is, "from the sword of the enemy, which is as wine inebriating;" which sense is followed by Jarchi.

{k} Apud Gregory's Posthuma, p. 236.

Verse 17. 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} Nwav Myrum Klm "rex Aegypti, [rex] tumultus," Munster, Vatablus; "rex perturbationis," Calvin; so Ben Melech; "rex Aegypti, [vir] strepertus est," Piscator, Junius & Tremellius. {m} dewmh rybeh "transire fecit solennitatem," De Dieu.

Verse 18. [As] I live, saith the King, whose name [is] the Lord of hosts,.... A greater King than either Nebuchadnezzar or Pharaoh; the Lord of the armies of heaven and earth; and who has them all at his command and service; swears by his life, by himself, because he can swear by no greater, to the truth of what follows; for this is the form of an oath:

surely, as Tabor [is] among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, [so] shall he come. Tabor is commonly said to be the mountain on which our Lord was transfigured; but that there is any just foundation for it is not certain. It was a mountain in Galilee, situated on the borders of the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, Joshua 19:12; it was two leagues from Nazareth eastward {n}; three miles from the lake of Gennesaret; ten miles from Diocaesarea to the east; and two days' journey from Jerusalem {o}. Adrichomius {p} says it was a most beautiful mountain, situated in the midst of the plain of Galilee, remarkable for its roundness, and was about four miles or thirty furlongs high, abounding with vines, olives, and fruit trees, with which it was set all over; and gave to those at sea a most delightful sight at a considerable distance. Our countryman, Mr. Maundrell {q}, who travelled up it, gives this account of it; that it "stands by itself in the plain of Esdraelon (the same the Scripture calls the valley of Jezreel); after a very laborious ascent (says he), which took up near an hour, we reached the highest part of the mountain: it has a plain area at top, most fertile and delicious; of an oval figure, extended about one furlong in breadth, and two in length: this area is enclosed with trees on all parts, except towards the south."

It is called by the Septuagint, Josephus, and other writers, Itabyrium. Carmel is with great propriety called "Carmel by the sea"; it was situated on the border of the tribe of Asher; and near to it was the river Kishon, Joshua 19:26. So Mr. Maundrell {r} says, "we arrived in two hours at that ancient river, the river Kishon, which cuts his way down the middle of the plain of Esdraelon; and then, continuing his course close by the side of Mount Carmel, falls into the sea at a place called Caypha;" by which it appears that the mount was near the sea; and Pliny {s} calls it a promontory, and places it on the Phoenician shore; on which he says were the promontory Carmel, and a town upon the mountain of the same name, formerly called Ecbatana. Adrichomius {t} gives it the name of "Carmel of the sea"; and says it was a very high mountain, and woody, abounding with most noble vines, olives, fruit trees, and odoriferous herbs. So Josephus {u} makes mention of Carmel and the sea together; he says, the Zebulonites obtained land as far as the lake of Genezareth, contiguous to Carmel and the sea; and their being near to each other appears from a passage in the Jerusalem Talmud {w}; says "R. Samuel Bar Chain Bar Judah, in the name of R. Chanina, when the orb of the sun begins to set, a man standing on Mount Carmel, and goes down and dips in the great sea (the Mediterranean sea), and goes up again, and eats his "teruma" (or offering), it is a presumption that he dipped in the daytime;"

and which is also evident from the passage in 1 Kings 18:42; where Elijah and his servant are said to be on the top of Mount Carmel, and from thence he bid his servant look towards the sea: now these mountains so situated are taken notice of, either to show the manner of the king of Babylon's coming against Egypt; that as Tabor and Carmel were high mountains in the land of Israel, so should Nebuchadnezzar lift up his head on high, and come with great pride and haughtiness of spirit against the Egyptians; or rather the certainty of his coming, that he should come as sure as those mountains were in the places they were; or, best of all, the certainty of the destruction of the Egyptians, and the truth of this prophecy concerning it; though the Egyptians were as firm, and might think themselves as secure and as immovable, as the above mountains, yet should certainly come to ruin, and the word of God concerning it should stand as firm as they. To this sense agrees the Targum, "as this word stands firm, that Tabor is among the mountains, and Carmel in the sea, so shall his destruction come."

The words, according to the accents, may be better rendered, "as Tabor among the mountains, [and Carmel also], he shall come into the sea" {x}; that is, Pharaoh, though he lift up his head as high as Tabor and Carmel, he shall be brought low into the depths of the sea; into a most forlorn and deplorable condition, into a very low estate; and perhaps there may be an allusion to the ancient Pharaoh being drowned in the sea; and with this agrees the Syriac version, "Pharaoh shall fall as the fragment of a mountain, and as Carmel, into the midst of the sea"; compare with this Matthew 11:23.

{n} Borchard, Breidenbach, &c. in Lightfoot, Chorograph. on John, vol. 2. p. 495. {o} Vid. Reland. Palestina Illustrata, l. 1, c, 51, 331, 383. {p} Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, Zabulon, No. 95. p. 143. {q} Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 113, 114. Ed. 7. {r} Ib. p. 57. {s} Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19. {t} Ut supra (Theatrum Terrae Sanctae), Issachar, No. 19. p. 35. {u} Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22. {w} T. Bab. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 2. {x} awby Myb lmrkkw Myrhb dwbtk yk "quia sicut Tabor in montibus, et sicut Carmel (scil. in montibus est) ita in mare veniet," Schmidt.

Verse 19. O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt,.... That is, O ye inhabitants of Egypt, that have long dwelt there, in great security, enjoying great plenty, and who promised themselves a long continuance:

furnish thyself to go into captivity; or, "make," or "prepare for thyself vessels of captivity" {y}; or such things as are proper for captives, as suitable clothes to travel in, shoes to walk in, scrip and staff, and the like; expect captivity, and prepare for it:

for Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant; the city Memphis, as the Targum, and all the versions: this is particularly mentioned, because it was a royal city, as Kimchi observes; and, though a very populous one, its destruction should be so general, that not an inhabitant should be left in it: the devastation of this city is put for that of all the rest, and as a sure token of it and the whole nation going into captivity.

{y} Kl yve hlwg ylk "vase [vel] instrumenta migrationis fac tibi," Piscator, Schmidt; "praepara," Vatablus; "pare," Junius & Tremellius.

Verse 20. Egypt [is like] a very fair heifer,.... Like a heifer that has never been under a yoke, it having never been conquered, and brought under the power of another; and like a beautiful, fat, and well fed one, abounding in wealth and riches, in pleasures and delights, in wantonness and luxury, and fit for slaughter, and ready for it. The Targum is, "Egypt was a beautiful kingdom."

Some think there is an illusion to the gods of Egypt, Apis and Mnevis, which were heifers or oxen, very beautiful, that had fine spots and marks upon them. Apis was worshipped at Memphis, or Noph, before mentioned, as to be wasted; and Mnevis at Heliopolis, the city of the sun, the same with Bethshemesh, whose destruction is prophesied of; See Gill on "Jer 43:13"; and both these were of various colours, as Ovid {z} says, particularly of one of them, and is true of both. Pomponius Mela {a} observes of Apis, the god of all the people of Egypt, that it was a black ox, remarkable for certain spots; and unlike to others in its tongue and tail. And Solinus {b} says, it is famous for a white spot on its right side, in the form of a new moon: with whom Pliny {c} agrees, that it has a white spot on the right side, like the horns of the moon, when it begins to increase; and that it has a knot under the tongue, which they call a beetle. And so Herodotus {d} says, it is very black, and has a white square spot on the forehead; on the back, the effigies of an eagle; two hairs in the tail, and a beetle On the tongue, To which may be added what Strabo {e} reports, that at Memphis, the royal city of Egypt, is the temple of Apis, the same with Osiris; where the ox of Apis is fed in an enclosure, and reckoned to be a god; it is white in its forehead, and in some small parts of the body, and the rest black; by which marks and signs it is always judged what is proper to be put in its place when dead. In the Table of Iris {f}, published by Pignorius, it is otherwise painted and described; its head, neck, horns, buttocks, and tail, black, and the rest white; and, on the right side, a corniculated streak. Aelianus {g} says, these marks were in number twenty nine, and, according to the Egyptians, were symbols of things; some, of the nature of the stars; some, of the overflowing of the Nile; some, of the darkness of the world before the light, and of other things: and all agree, that the ox looked fair and beautiful, to which the allusion is; and there may be in the words an ironical sarcasm, flout, and jeer, at the gods they worshipped, which could not save them from the destruction coming upon them, as follows:

[but] destruction cometh, it cometh from the north; that is, the destruction of Egypt, which should come from Chaldea, which lay north of Egypt; and the coming of it is repeated, to denote the quickness and certainty of it: the word used signifies a cutting off, or a cutting up; in allusion to the cutting off the necks of heifers, which used to be done when slain, Deuteronomy 21:4; or to the cutting of them up, as is done by butchers: and the abstract being put for the concrete, it may be rendered, the "cutter up" {h}; or cutter off; men, like butchers, shall come out of Babylon, and slay and cut up, this heifer. So the Targum, "people, that are slayers shall come out of the north against her, to spoil her {i};" that is, the Chaldean army, agreeably to the Syriac version, "an army shall come out of the north against her."

{z} "variisque coloribus Apis," Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 12. {a} De Orbis Situ, l. 1. c. 9. {b} Polyhistor. c. 45. {c} Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 46. {d} L. 3. sive Thalia, c. 28. {e} Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. Ed. Casaubon. {f} Piguorii Mensa Isiaca, tab. 4. {g} De Animal. l. 11. c. 10. {h} Urq "mactator," Grotius. So Jarchi. {i} So in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 32. 2.

Verse 21. All her hired men [are] in the midst of her like fatted bullocks,.... Or, "bullocks of the stall" {k}; soldiers of other countries, that were hired into the service of Egypt, and lived so deliciously there, that they were unfit for war, and were like fatted beasts prepared for the slaughter. The Targum and Jarchi interpret it, her princes {l}; who had the care of this heifer, and of the feeding of it; these themselves were like that, nourished for the day of slaughter:

for they also are turned back, [and] are fled away together; they turned their backs upon the enemy in battle, and fled in great confusion and precipitancy; see Jeremiah 46:15;

they did not stand; and face the enemy, and light him, but fell or fled before him:

because the day of their calamity was come upon them, [and] the time of their visitation; the time appointed by the Lord to visit and punish them, and bring destruction on them for their sins.

{k} qbrm ylgek "velut vituli saginae," Montanus, Cocceius, {l} So R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 50. 2.

Verse 22. The voice thereof shall go like a serpent,.... That is, the voice of Egypt, before compared to a heifer, when in its glory; but now it shall not bellow like a heifer in fat pasture, bat hiss like a serpent, when drove out of its hole, and pursued; signifying, that their voice should be low and submissive, and should not speak one big or murmuring word to their conquerors. The voice of the serpent is, by Aristotle {m} said to be small and weak; so Aelianus {n}. Though Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel, understand it of the voice of serpents heard afar off; and so it may respect the dreadful lamentation the Egyptians should make, when they should see the Chaldeans come upon them to destroy them; just as serpents in woods make a horrible noise, when they are set on fire, or are cut down, to which there is an allusion in some following clauses. The Targum seems to interpret this of the Chaldean army thus, "the voice of the clashing of their arms as serpents creeping;" and of them the following words are certainly meant:

for they shall march with an army; the Targum adds, against you; the meaning is, that the Chaldeans should come with a great army, and march against the Egyptians with great strength, force, and fury:

and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood; with battle axes, as if they came to cut down trees; nor would they spare the Egyptians any more than such hewers do the trees; nor would they be able any more to resist them than trees can resist hewers of wood.

{m} Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 9. {n} De Animal. l. 15. c. 13.

Verse 23. They shall cut down her forest, saith the Lord,.... The land of Egypt, compared to a forest, for the multitude of its cities and towns, and the inhabitants of them; which should be destroyed by the Chaldeans, as a forest is cut down by hewers of wood; the metaphor is here continued. The Targum interprets this of the princes of Egypt, and the destruction of them;

though it cannot be searched; either the forest of Egypt, which was so thick of trees; that is, the land was so full of towns and cities, that they could not be searched and numbered; and though the way through it seemed impassable, yet was made passable by the hewers of wood: or its destruction would be so general, "that it cannot be searched" {o}; or found out, where this forest was, where those trees grew, not one of them standing: or else this is to be understood of the Chaldean army, which was so great, that it could not be numbered:

because they are more than the grasshoppers, and [are] innumerable; which creatures come in large numbers, and eat up every green tree and herb; and so the Chaldean army, being alike numerous, would easily cut down the trees of this forest, though they were so many.

{o} rqxy al yk "ut non investigetur," Calvin.

Verse 24. The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded,.... Brought to shame before all the nations of the earth, being conquered by the Chaldeans; that is, the kingdom of Egypt, as the Targum; or the inhabitants of it, being subdued and carried captive:

she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north; the Chaldeans, who dwelt northward of Egypt, as is manifest from what follows.

Verse 25. The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saith,.... These titles are often given to the Lord, and set before prophecies that come from him; and, according to Kimchi, the reason why he is here spoken of as the God of Israel was, because the vengeance threatened to the Egyptians should come upon them, as a punishment for using Israel ill; as Shishak king of Egypt, and Pharaohnecho, who slew Josiah:

behold, I will punish the multitude of No; the inhabitants of it, which were many, called "populous No," Nahum 3:8; a famous city in Egypt. Some take it to be Diospolis or Thebes; and others {p} the same that is now called Alexandria; and so the Targum renders it; and which is followed by the Vulgate Latin version: and Jarchi calls it the seignory or government of Alexandria; and takes Amon, the word for "multitude," to signify the prince of this place; and so Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it, king of a city called No: rather Jupiter Ammon {q} is meant, an idol of the Egyptians, which had a temple in Thebes, and was worshipped in it; and who had his name from Ham, the son of Noah. Hillerus {r}, by various arguments, endeavours to prove that No is the same city with Memphis, and that No Amon signifies "the habitation of the nourished"; that is, of Apis, which was nourished here. But be he who he will, or the place what it will, he or that would certainly be punished;

and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; Pharaoh, the present king of Egypt, who was Pharaohhophra, and all the land of Egypt; and all their numerous idols, which were many indeed; and the several governors of the nomes or provinces into which the land was distributed; these should be punished, and suffer in the general calamity;

even Pharaoh, and [all] them that trust in him; the Jews that dwelt in Egypt, and who thought themselves safe under his protection; such who went along with Johanan thither, contrary to the will of God; these should not escape punishment, but be involved in the same destruction.

{p} R. David Ganz. Chronolog. par. 2. fol. 10. 1. Elias in Tishbi, p. 11. {q} Vid. Schmidt in loc & Stockium, p. 71. So Bochart. Phaleg. l. 1. c. 1. col. 5, 6. {r} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 571, &c.

Verse 26. And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives,.... Into the hands of the Chaldeans; that is, the king of Egypt, and all his people, and those that trusted in him:

and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants; his general officers, that commanded in his army under him. Berosus {s}, the Chaldean, makes mention of Nebuchadnezzar's carrying the Egyptians captive into Babylon;

and afterwards it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the Lord; after forty years, as Ezekiel prophesied, Jeremiah 29:13; not that it should rise to the same glory and dignity as before, for it would be but a base kingdom; but whereas it was desolate and uninhabited after this destruction, it should now be inhabited again.

{s} Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 1. & contra Apion, l. 1. c. 19.

Verse 27. But fear thou not, O my servant Jacob; and be not dismayed, O Israel,.... The same things are said in Jeremiah 30:10; See Gill on "Jer 30:10";

for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land their captivity; Grotius thinks the Jews carried into Egypt by Pharaohnecho, along with Jehoahaz, are meant; but it does not appear that any were carried captive along with him, 2 Kings 23:33. Jarchi supposes these to be the righteous in Egypt, who were carried thither by Johanan against their will; but though they may be included, even that small remnant that should escape, Jeremiah 44:28; yet the Jews in Babylon, and other provinces, are chiefly designed; and the words are intended to comfort them in their captivity, with a promise of their return, lest they should be discouraged, in hearing that the Egyptians should inhabit their own land again, and they not theirs:

and Jacob shall return, and be in rest, and at ease, and none shall make [him] afraid: this will have its full accomplishment hereafter in the latter day; when the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land, and never be disturbed more, as they have been, ever since their return from the Babylonish captivity. So Kimchi says this passage respects time to come.

Verse 28. Fear thou not, O Jacob, my servant, saith the Lord, for I [am] with thee,.... Though afar off, in foreign lands, and in captivity: this exhortation is repeated, to strengthen their consolation, and them, against their fears of being cast off by the Lord:

for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee; the Babylonians and Chaldeans are no more:

but I will not make a full end of thee; the Jews to this day remain a people, and distinct from others, though scattered about in the world:

but correct thee in measure; with judgment, and in mercy:

yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished; See Gill on "Jer 30:11."