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Jeremiah 43:11--44:1

Context
43:11 He will come and attack Egypt. Those who are destined to die of disease will die of disease. Those who are destined to be carried off into exile will be carried off into exile. Those who are destined to die in war will die in war. 1  43:12 He will set fire 2  to the temples of the gods of Egypt. He will burn their gods or carry them off as captives. 3  He will pick Egypt clean like a shepherd picks the lice from his clothing. 4  He will leave there unharmed. 5  43:13 He will demolish the sacred pillars in the temple of the sun 6  in Egypt and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.”’”

The Lord Will Punish the Judean Exiles in Egypt for Their Idolatry

44:1 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah concerning 7  all the Judeans who were living in the land of Egypt, those in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and in the region of southern Egypt. 8 

1 tn As in 15:2 the Hebrew is very brief and staccato-like: “those to death to death, and those to captivity to captivity, and those to the sword to the sword.” As in 15:2 most commentaries and English versions assume that the word “death” refers to death by disease. See the translator’s note on 15:2 and compare also 18:21 where the sword is distinctly connected with “war” or “battle” and is distinct from “killed by death [i.e., disease].”

2 tc The translation follows the Greek, Syriac, and Latin versions. The Hebrew text reads: “I will set fire to.” While it would be possible to explain the first person subject here in the same way as in the two verbs in v. 12b, the corruption of the Hebrew text is easy to explain here as a metathesis of two letters, י (yod) and ת (tav). The Hebrew reads הִצַּתִּי (hitsatti) and the versions presuppose הִצִּית (hitsit).

3 tn Heb “burn them or carry them off as captives.” Some of the commentaries and English versions make a distinction between the objects of the verbs, i.e., burn the temples and carry off the gods. However, the burning down of the temples is referred to later in v. 13.

sn It was typical in the ancient Near East for the images of the gods of vanquished nations to be carried off and displayed in triumphal procession on the return from battle to show the superiority of the victor’s gods over those of the vanquished (cf., e.g., Isa 46:1-2).

4 tn Or “he will take over Egypt as easily as a shepherd wraps his cloak around him.” The translation follows the interpretation of HALOT 769 s.v. II ָעטָה Qal, the Greek translation, and a number of the modern commentaries (e.g., J. A. Thompson, Jeremiah [NICOT], 671). The only other passage where that translation is suggested for this verb is Isa 22:17 according to HAL. The alternate translation follows the more normal meaning of עָטָה (’atah; cf. BDB 741 s.v. I עָטָה Qal which explains “so completely will it be in his power”). The fact that the subject is “a shepherd” lends more credence to the former view though there may be a deliberate double meaning playing on the homonyms (cf. W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah [Hermeneia], 2:302).

5 tn Heb “in peace/wholeness/well-being/safety [shalom].”

6 sn It is generally agreed that the temple of the sun was located in Heliopolis, which is elsewhere referred to as On (cf. Gen 41:45). It was the center for the worship of Amon-Re, the Egyptian sun god, and was famous for its obelisks (conical shaped pillars) dedicated to that god. It was located about 6 miles (10 km) northeast of modern-day Cairo.

7 tn Heb “The word came to Jeremiah concerning.” Though the phrase “from the Lord” is missing from this formula which occurs elsewhere at 7:1; 11:1; 18:1; 21:1; 30:1; 32:1; 34:1, 8; 35:1; 40:1, it is clearly implied from the words that follow. As in these other passages, the more active form has been chosen for the translation to better conform with contemporary English style.

8 sn The first three cities, Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, are located in Northern or Lower Egypt. Memphis (Heb “Noph”) was located south of Heliopolis (which was referred to earlier as “the temple of the sun”) and was about fourteen miles (23 km) south of Cairo. For the identification and location of Tahpanhes see the study note on Jer 43:7. The location of Migdol has been debated but is tentatively identified with a border fortress about twenty-five miles (42 km) east-northeast of Tahpanhes. The “region of southern Egypt” is literally “the land of Pathros,” the long Nile valley extending north and south between Cairo and Aswan (biblical Syene). For further information see the discussion in G. L. Keown, P. J. Scalise, T. G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52 (WBC), 262-63. Reference here is to Judean exiles who had fled earlier as well as to those from Mizpah who were led into Egypt by Johanan and the other arrogant men (43:3, 5).



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