46:19 Pack your bags for exile,
you inhabitants of poor dear Egypt. 1
For Memphis will be laid waste.
It will lie in ruins 2 and be uninhabited.
46:20 Egypt is like a beautiful young cow.
But northern armies will attack her like swarms of stinging flies. 3
1 tn Heb “inhabitants of daughter Egypt.” Like the phrase “daughter Zion,” “daughter Egypt” is a poetic personification of the land, here perhaps to stress the idea of defenselessness.
2 tn For the verb here see HALOT 675 s.v. II נָצָה Nif and compare the usage in Jer 4:7; 9:11 and 2 Kgs 19:25. BDB derives the verb from יָצַת (so BDB 428 s.v. יָצַת Niph meaning “kindle, burn”) but still give it the meaning “desolate” here and in 2:15 and 9:11.
3 tn Heb “Egypt is a beautiful heifer. A gadfly from the north will come against her.”
The metaphors have been turned into similes for the sake of clarity. The exact meaning of the word translated “stinging fly” is uncertain due to the fact that it occurs nowhere else in Hebrew literature. For a discussion of the meaning of the word which probably refers to the “gadfly,” which bites and annoys livestock, see W. L. Holladay, Jeremiah (Hermeneia), 2:331, who also suggests, probably correctly, that the word is a collective referring to swarms of such insects (cf. the singular אַרְבֶּה [’arbeh] in v. 23 which always refers to swarms of locusts). The translation presupposes the emendation of the second בָּא (ba’) to בָּהּ (bah) with a number of Hebrew