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Jeremiah 46


(The parentheses represent poetic literary units)

Defeat of Pharaoh Foretold Judgment on Egypt Oracles Against Foreign Nations
Egypt's Defeat at Carchemish Prophecies Against the Nations
46:1 46:1-2 46:1 46:1-4 46:1
    Against Egypt   Prophecies Against Egypt, The Defeat At Carchemish
(3-4) 46:2
  Babylon Will Strike Egypt   The Coming of Nebuchadnezzar The Invasion of Egypt
  (18-19) 46:18-19
  (23-24) 46:22-24
46:25-26   46:25-26 46:25-26 46:25-26
  God Will Preserve Israel   The Lord Will Save His People  

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


This is a study guide commentary,which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. This begins the literary unit of the book dealing with YHWH's judgment on the surrounding nations (cf. 25:15-38).


B. These nations would never hear/read these prophecies. YHWH is addressing them in a literary way to show that He is the only God, the God of all the earth.


C. The nations addressed are

1. Egypt

2. Philistia

3. Moab

4. Ammon

5. Edom

6. Syria

7. Kedar and Hazor

8. Elam

9. Babylon


D. Chart of Prophecies Against Nations and Regions (Jeremiah 46-49)


Egypt 46:2-12 605 b.c.   Arrogance Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish 46:11
Egypt 46:13-26 ? Apis (Haf) 46:15 Idolatry 46:25 Nebuchadnezzar invades Egypt 46:26
Philistia 47:1-7 609, 605, 604, 601 b.c.     Waters from North (i.e., Babylon) 47:2  
Moab 48:1-47   Chemosh 48:7,13,26 Trust in Yourselves 48:7



Pride 48:29

Arrogance 48:26

An Eagle


A Destroyer


Ammon 49:1-6   Malcam Milcom Molech 49:1,3 Trust in Her Treasures 49:4   49:6
Edom 49:7-22     Arrogance in Geography 49:16 A Lion 49:19 An Eagle 49:22  
Damascus 49:23-27 733 b.c.        
Kedar and Hazor 49:28-33 599 b.c.     Nebuchadnezzar 49:28,30  
Elam 49:34-39         49:39

E. This chapter describes Egypt's defeat by Nebuchadnezzar's army at Carchemish in Syria. It is poetic and contains numerous commands.

1. Verses 3-4 (imperatives)

a. line up the shield and buckler

b. draw near for the battle

c. harness the horses

d. mount the steeds

e. take your stand with helmets on (the only Hiphil in a series of Qal imperatives)

f. polish the spears

g. put on the scale-armor

2. Verse 6 (imperfects used as jussives)

a. let not the swift man flee

b. let not the mighty man escape

3. Verse 8 (two imperfects used as cohortatives and one cohortative)

a. I will rise

b. I will cover

c. I will surely destroy

4. Verse 11 (Qal imperatives)

a. go up

b. obtain

5. Verse 14 (4 Hiphil imperatives, 1 Qal)

a. declare in Egypt

b. proclaim in Migdol

c. proclaim (Qal) also in Memphis and Tehpanhes

d. take your stand

e. get yourself ready

6. Verse 16 (Qal imperative and cohortative)

a. get up

b. let us go back


F. Verses 2-12 deal with the battle at Carchemish (i.e., in Syria to the west of Haran on the headwaters of the Euphrates River) in 605 b.c.

Verses 13-26 deal with Nebuchadnezzar's military invasion in 568-567 b.c. Egypt was completely conquered by Persia in 525 b.c.


1That which came as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations.

46:1 This is an introductory verse for the literary unit dealing with YHWH's judgments against the surrounding nations (chapters 46-51).

2To Egypt, concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was by the Euphrates River at Carchemish, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
3"Line up the shield and buckler,
And draw near for the battle!
4Harness the horses,
And mount the steeds,
And take your stand with helmets on!
Polish the spears,
Put on the scale-armor!
5Why have I seen it?
They are terrified,
They are drawing back,
And their mighty men are defeated
And have taken refuge in flight,
Without facing back;
Terror is on every side!"
Declares the Lord.
6"Let not the swift man flee,
Nor the mighty man escape;
In the north beside the river Euphrates
They have stumbled and fallen.
7Who is this that rises like the Nile,
Like the rivers whose waters surge about?
8Egypt rises like the Nile,
Even like the rivers whose waters surge about;
And He has said, "I will rise and cover that land;
I will surely destroy the city and its inhabitants."
9Go up, you horses, and drive madly, you chariots,
That the mighty men may march forward:
Ethiopia and Put, that handle the shield,
And the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.
10For that day belongs to the Lord God of hosts,
A day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes;
And the sword will devour and be satiated
And drink its fill of their blood;
For there will be a slaughter for the Lord God of hosts,
In the land of the north by the river Euphrates.
 11Go up to Gilead and obtain balm,
O virgin daughter of Egypt!
In vain have you multiplied remedies;
There is no healing for you.
 12The nations have heard of your shame,
And the earth is full of your cry of distress;
For one warrior has stumbled over another,
And both of them have fallen down together."

46:2 "Pharaoh Neco" Necho II (609-593 b.c.) marched through Judah to confront Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish in Syria. Josiah attempted to stop him and was wounded at Meggido. Josiah later died of his wounds (i.e., 609 b.c.). Pharaoh Neccho's army was defeated (partially because Josiah delayed him which allowed Babylon to defeat the remaining Assyrian army). As Pharaoh Neccho returned to Egypt he stopped at Jerusalem and exiled King Jehoahaz, Josiah's successor of only three months (cf. II Kgs. 23:28-37; II Chr. 35:20-36:4). Neccho placed Jehoiakim (a relative of Josiah) on Judah's throne as his surrogate (cf. II Kgs. 23:29ff).

▣ "defeated" See II Kgs. 24:7 for a description of the battle.

46:3-4 "line up" These imperatives (see Contextual Insights, D) were orders given by Egyptian officers to the Egyptian soldiers.

46:4 "helmets" These helmets were rarely worn, therefore, this denotes that the soldiers were to "immediately prepare for battle."

46:5 What powerful poetry of fear and defeat. It reminds me of Nahum 2.

Line 7, "terror is on every side," is an often repeated phrase in Jeremiah (cf. 6:25; 20:3,10; 49:29, see BDB 159 II, KB 544).

46:7-8 These two verses seem to reflect the arrogant attitude of the Egyptian army; they used the annual overflowing of the Nile as the imagery of victorious military conquest. But it is all a myth, a false hope. In reality the Egyptian army and her mercenaries flee before the Babylonian military. Instead of the Nile overflowing its banks, it retreats!

46:9 This verse identifies several national elements of the Egyptian army (i.e., Ethiopia, Put, and Lydia). It is uncertain if they were mercenaries (cf. v. 21) or defeated armies that joined Egypt's victorious army.

46:10 "the Lord God of hosts" (twice) The first title "Lord" is the term Adon (BDB 10) which denotes "owner," "master," "lord," "husband."

The second title is literally "YHWH Sabbaoth." YHWH is usually noted in English Bibles as all capitals, Lord.

Verse 10 may be the Divine response to Pharaoh Necho killing Josiah and replacing (exiling) his heir who reigned only three months!

▣ "the sword" Often in poetic passages in the OT the "sword" is personified. The sword of the Babylonians is the sword of YHWH.

NASB"a slaughter for the Lord"
NKJV"the Lord. . .has a sacrifice"
NRSV"the Lord. . .holds a sacrifice"
NJB"the Lord. . .is holding a sacrificial feast"
JPSOA"the Lord. . .is preparing a sacrifice"

The UBS' A Handbook On Jeremiah (p. 847) has a good comment on this phrase. The picture is that of a sacrificial feast in which the worshiper is allowed to eat part of the animal that has been sacrificed. The same idea is conveyed in Isa. 34:5-7; Ezek. 39:17-20; Zeph. 1:7.

46:11 Gilead was widely known for its healing balms. But there was no balm for Egypt (cf. lines 3, 4). She is doomed to defeat and shame.

▣ "virgin daughter of Egypt" This is the noun construct of "virgin" (BDB 413) and "daughter" (BDB 123 I). The construct "daughter(s) of _________" is a way to refer to a nation.

1. Zion/Jerusalem/Judah - Ps. 9:14; Isa. 1:8; 10:32; 16:1; 23:12; 37:22; 52:2; 62:11; Jer. 4:11; 6:2,23,26; 8:11,19,21,22; 9:1,7; 14:17; Lamentations (many times); Micah 1:13; 4:8,10; Zeph. 3:14; Zech. 2:7,10; 9:9

2. Israel - II Sam. 1:24; Ezek. 16:55

3. Tyre - Ps. 45:12

4. Babylon/Chaldea - Ezra 2:61; Ps. 137:8; Isa. 47:1,5; 50:42; 51:33

5. Egypt - Jer. 46:24

6. Tarshish - Isa. 23:10

7. Philistia - Ezek. 16:27,57

8. all nations - Ezek. 32:16

When the term "virgin daughter" is used it seems to emphasize the vulnerability of the nation addressed.

1. Zion - II Kgs. 19:21; Isa. 37:22; Jer. 14:17; Lam. 2:10,13

2. Israel - Jer. 18:13; 31:4,21; Amos 5:2

3. Babylon - Isa. 47:1

4. Egypt - Jer. 46:11

In II Kgs. 19:21 both forms are found in poetic parallel. Also note the changing meaning of "Israel," sometimes referring to all of the covenant people, descendants from Jacob/Israel, and in other contexts (i.e., the Divided Monarchy, 922 b.c. - 722 b.c.) it refers to the Northern Ten Tribes (i.e., Israel, Samaria, Ephraim).

46:12 "The nations have heard of your shame" This is exactly the opposite of YHWH's intended purpose for His covenant people (cf. Gen. 12:3; Ezek. 36:22-36). YHWH wanted the descendants of Abraham to reflect His character to the world and thereby to attract the world to Himself. This is still His purpose for His people. See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at 1:5.

13This is the message which the Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to smite the land of Egypt:
14"Declare in Egypt and proclaim in Migdol,
Proclaim also in Memphis and Tahpanhes;
Say, 'Take your stand and get yourself ready,
For the sword has devoured those around you.'
15Why have your mighty ones become prostrate?
They do not stand because the Lord has thrust them down.
16They have repeatedly stumbled;
Indeed, they have fallen one against another.
Then they said, 'Get up! And let us go back
To our own people and our native land
Away from the sword of the oppressor.'
17They cried there, 'Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a big noise;
He has let the appointed time pass by!'
18As I live," declares the King
Whose name is the Lord of hosts,
"Surely one shall come who looms up like Tabor among the mountains,
Or like Carmel by the sea.
19Make your baggage ready for exile,
O daughter dwelling in Egypt,
For Memphis will become a desolation;
It will even be burned down and bereft of inhabitants.
20Egypt is a pretty heifer,
But a horsefly is coming from the north-it is coming!
21Also her mercenaries in her midst
Are like fattened calves,
For even they too have turned back and have fled away together;
They did not stand their ground.
For the day of their calamity has come upon them,
The time of their punishment.
22Its sound moves along like a serpent;
For they move on like an army
And come to her as woodcutters with axes.
23They have cut down her forest," declares the Lord;
"Surely it will no more be found,
Even though they are now more numerous than locusts
And are without number.
24The daughter of Egypt has been put to shame,
Given over to the power of the people of the north."

46:13-26 As verses 1-12 describe the battle at Carchemish in Syria in 605 b.c., vv. 13-26 describe a later invasion of Egypt itself.

46:14 All of these locations are mentioned in 44:1 as places where the doomed Judeans were living.


NASB, Peshitta"become prostrate"
NKJV, JPSOA"swept away"
REB, LXX"Apis (Haf) fled"
TEV"Apis fallen"

There are several translation issues with this verse.

1. "mighty ones" (BDB 7) can refer to

a. soldiers (NIV, NET Bible)

b. the Egyptian bull god (LXX, NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 234)

2. the verb is singular, the noun plural. The LXX divides the verb (נסחף) into two words (חף נס) which means "Hap (Apis) has fled." The UBS Text Project supports this division by giving it a "B" rating (p. 293).

3. The defeat of the Egyptian soldiers or bull god (possibly a reference to Pharaoh as the incarnation of Egypt's gods) is attributed to YHWH (line 2).



NASB"They have repeatedly stumbled"
NKJV, JPSOA"He made many fall"
NRSV"Your multitude stumbled and fell"
TEV"Your soldiers have stumbled and fallen"
NJB"he has caused many to fall"
LXX"your multitude was weak and fell"
REB"the rabble of Egypt stumble and fall"
Peshitta"Multitudes of them are fallen"

The MT has "he made many stumble" (Hiphil perfect and Qal active participle, both masculine singular). The "he" is YHWH from v. 15. Some translations assume it is a collective reference to the Egyptian army.


NET"a big noise"
NRSV, LXX"braggart"
Peshitta"Pharaoh the Lame. . .the troublemaker"

The Hebrew word (BDB 981, KB 1370 II) means

1. roar of water (i.e., battle) - Isa. 17:12; Jer. 48:45; 51:55; Amos 2:2; Hos. 10:14

2. uproar of battle - Ps. 74:23; Isa. 17:12-13; 25:5

3. festival uproar - Isa. 5:14

It is used here as a possible play on Pharaoh's name or a ridicule of his military appearing and then disappearing (Jer. 37:5).

46:18 "the King

 Whose name is the Lord of hosts" YHWH, the covenant Deity, has always been "king" (cf. I Sam. 8:7). The Judean kings (cf. Gen. 49:10) from the line of Jesse/David (cf. II Samuel 7) have only served as earthly representatives of Him.

The opening phrase, "As I live," functions in two ways.

1. a word play on the Hebrew verb "to be" and YHWH (i.e., the ever-living, only-living Deity)

2. it is an idiom introducing an oath. An oath by YHWH in His name is a powerful promise that His words will come to be.


▣ "Mount Tabor. . .Mount Carmel" These are metaphors of the topological features that dominate a landscape. They are used here as metaphors of overwhelming power (i.e., the Babylonian army against the Egyptian army.


NASB, LXX"It will even be burned down"
REB"a ruin"

The Hebrew verb (BDB 428, KB 429, Niphal perfect) means "to kindle" or "to burn" (cf. Jer. 2:15; 11:16; 17:27; 21:14; 43:12; 49:2,27; 50:32; 51:30,58), but it is also used of "ruin" or "waste" (cf. Jer. 4:7; 9:11).

46:21-23 "her mercenaries" They are mentioned in v. 9. Even these experienced, hired soldiers act like defenseless, pampered calves! They all flee (cf. v. 5) in the face of Nebuchadnezzar's army ("horsefly" of v. 20), as do the Egyptian soldiers, symbolized as a slithering snake in v. 22.

Notice the different metaphors used to describe Babylon's army.

1. woodcutters with axes

2. more numerous than locusts


25The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, says, "Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26I shall give them over to the power of those who are seeking their lives, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of his officers. Afterwards, however, it will be inhabited as in the days of old," declares the Lord.

46:25-26 In this chapter several prose verses introduce a poetic section.

1. vv. 1-2, then poem vv. 3-12

2. v. 13, then poem vv. 14-24

3. vv. 25-26, about the previous poem


46:25 This verse seems to repeat itself. The LXX shortens it to "Behold, I am avenging Amon, her son, on Pharaoh and on those who trust in him."

Amon (BDB 51 I) was supposed to be the "king of the gods." The three gods, Ra, Ptah, and Amon, are often combined. As the worship of Apis (cf. v. 15) was centered in Memphis, the worship of Amon was centered in Thebes.

46:26 Egypt will be completely destroyed (cf. Ezek. 29:8-12) but it will be reinhabited (cf. Ezek. 29:13-14).

27"But as for you, O Jacob My servant, do not fear,
Nor be dismayed, O Israel!
For, see, I am going to save you from afar,
And your descendants from the land of their captivity;
And Jacob will return and be undisturbed
And secure, with no one making him tremble.
28O Jacob My servant, do not fear," declares the Lord,
"For I am with you.
For I will make a full end of all the nations
Where I have driven you,
Yet I will not make a full end of you;
But I will correct you properly
And by no means leave you unpunished."

46:27-28 The parallel to these verses is in 30:10-11. This section of Jeremiah is called the Book of Hope. It addresses the Judeans who have been exiled to Babylon.

46:27 The first two verbs are imperfects used in a jussive sense. The exiles in Babylon (not Egypt) are commanded not to be afraid. YHWH will save (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil participle, cf. 23:3-4; 29:14) them!

Notice the verbs used to describe YHWH's people in Babylonian exile.

1. do not fear (v. 28) 5. you shall be undisturbed

2. do not be dismayed 6. you shall be secure

3. I am going to save you 7. no one will make you tremble

4. you shall return

A new day of restoration and security is promised!

In the literary unit of judgment on the nations there are several passages related to the exiles of Judah (cf. 50:4-10,17-20; 51:36-40,50-53).

46:28 The basis of the Babylonian exiles' hope is YHWH and His promises (cf. II San. 7:8-16).

1. I am with you

2. I shall make a full end of all the nations where you were exiled

3. I shall not make an end of you

4. I shall correct you properly

Discipline but not judgment. This is similar to YHWH's promise to David's royal descendants in II Samuel 7:14.

Verses 27-28 are very similar theologically to 30:10-11. The theme of restoration is repeated for emphasis!


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