as the enemy comes marching up in force.
They will come against her with axes
as if they were woodsmen chopping down trees.
46:23 The population of Egypt is like a vast, impenetrable forest.
But I, the Lord, affirm 2 that the enemy will cut them down.
For those who chop them down will be more numerous than locusts.
They will be too numerous to count. 3
1 tn Or “Egypt will rustle away like a snake”; Heb “her sound goes like the snake,” or “her sound [is] like the snake [when] it goes.” The meaning of the simile is debated. Some see a reference to the impotent hiss of a fleeing serpent (F. B. Huey, Jeremiah, Lamentations [NAC], 382), others the sound of a serpent stealthily crawling away when it is disturbed (H. Freedman, Jeremiah [SoBB], 297-98). The translation follows the former interpretation because of the irony involved.
sn Several commentators point out the irony of the snake slithering away (or hissing away) in retreat. The coiled serpent was a part of the royal insignia, signifying its readiness to strike. Pharaoh had boasted of great things (v. 8) but was just a big noise (v. 17); now all he could do was hiss as he beat his retreat (v. 22).
2 tn Heb “Oracle of the
3 tn The precise meaning of this verse is uncertain. The Hebrew text reads: “They [those who enter in great force] will cut down her forest, oracle of the