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Nebuchadnezzar In Egypt, Ch. Xliii. 8-13.
XLIII. 8. And the word of Yahveh came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes, as follows: 9. Take great stones in thy hand, and hide them in the mortar in the stone-pavement which is at the entrance of Pharaoh's house at Tahpanhes, before the eyes of the men of Judah. 10. And say to them: Thus says Yahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I bring Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, my servant, and he shall set up his throne on these stones, which I have hidden, and he shall spread his royal carpet thereon. 11. And he shall come and smite the land of Egypt; what is appointed to death, to death, and what to captivity, to captivity, and what to the sword, to the sword. 12. And I kindle fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall bum them and
Chapter XLIII. 8-13.
Ver. 9. pta, otherwise tiles, might here mean brick-kiln. More probably, as in post-biblical Hebrew (see the Lexicons of Buxtorf and Levi, and cf. the Arabic), it is the pavement made of bricks, or the square set with them. The palace itself, or the square in front of it, had perhaps just been under repair, so that the addition of the stones was possible without notice. These are not to be thought of as rising above the ground. The language seems even to imply that they were not observable above the mortar. The meaning simply is (ver. 10), that Pharaoh's throne will stand on this same place, so that these stones will bear him. Ver. 10. NeburJiadnezzar, see on xxi. 2. My servant, see on xxv. 9. Which I hid or buried, the Lord Himself did it by His organ, the prophet. mBE>, Keri Ividb>, according to the etymon a splendid ornament; in the context, a splendid carpet spread on the stones; according to others, a grand tent stretched out. Ver. 11. riK3i, Kethib, he comes into it. With the form, cf. xv. 2. Ver. 12. The first carry them away, and wrap round (him) the land of Egypt like as a shepherd wraps round (him) his cloak; and he shall depart in peace. 13. And he shall break in pieces the obelisks of Beth Shemesh, which is in the land of Egypt, and burn the houses of the gods of Egypt with fire.
person interchanges with the third; God the Author with the instrument. ncy, envelope, the figure is plain; the application: he will take possession of the land as easily and completely as a shepherd in rough weather puts on his large cloak (LXX peculiarly understand picking off vermin). So invested with the glory of the land, he will go away intact. Ver. 13. Beth Shemesh (cf. on Isa. xix. 18), characterized as Egyptian in distinction from the other one in Palestine, is On = Heliopolis, the famous city in Lower Egypt noted for its sun-temple and great obelisks in front of the temple. Among the obelisks, denoted by the prophet by JH3VD, were "the needles of Cleopatra," one of which is found at Alexandria, the other on the Thames. In the place itself one ancient obelisk still stands erect. The stately temples of Egypt generally will feel the conqueror's wrath.
As concerns the fulfilment of this prediction of a conquest aud laying waste of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, spoken of also by Ezekiel, modern historians and critics have for the most part denied it; but to witnesses of a doubtful kind (especially Josephus, Antiq. x. 9. 7) monumental ones have recently been added, which confirm such a campaign of the Babylonian monarch: 1. an Egyptian inscription (in Lepsius, JEg. Zeitschr. xvi. 1878, p. 2 ff.) of a high officer of Pharaoh Hophrah speaks of an irruption of "Syrians, northern nations, Asiatics" into Upper Egypt, where they penetrated to Syene (Elephantine), damaged the temple of Hnum, but were prevented going beyond the cataracts by Pharaoh. Since this is still future in Ezek. xxix. 17 ff. (573-2), while Hophrah reigned until 572-1, this irruption must have taken place about 572. It is therefore perverse to deny a campaign of this kind because of the silence of Herodotus and Diodorus, to whom the Egyptians perhaps said nothing on the subject. 2. Still more direct, because composed by Nebuchadnezzar himself, is a Babylonian inscription (in Lepsius, Zeitsehr. 1878, p. 87 ff.; 1879, p. 45 ff.), where this ruler says that he came to Egypt in his thirty-seventh year (568 ?), conquered the king (Ama)-su=Amasis and carried off rich booty. This campaign seems to fall some years later. Accordingly the Babylonians may even have made two victorious campaigns in Egypt.
Exposition. Contents: First Oracle in Egypt.
This oracle was intended to bring home to those who hoped in Egypt to escape the tumult and hardships of war (xlii. 14), how grievously they were mistaken. Jeremiah perhaps addressed it to them at the beginning of the period when his companions had settled in Tahpanhes in Lower Egypt, adding to it an exceedingly expressive symbolical action. In the square in front of the entrance to the royal palace, the prophet at God's bidding buried certain stones in the mortar before witnesses whom he chose among his countrymen, thereby designating the place where the dreaded Nebuchadnezzar, from whom the Jews had just fled, would set np his throne as conqueror. The accompanying oracle declared, that the Babylonian would not simply conquer some border cities, but visit the land of Egypt, now slumbering in security, with fire and sword, destroy the glorious temples and obelisks which filled the Jews with silent amazement, and after inflicting such damage on the mighty kingdom, march away unhurt. The fulfilment of such an oracle under the actual circumstances probably appeared as incredible as it was to modern scholars nntil recently. Its fulfilment is to-day again testified by stones dug from the earth, although not the stones which were then intended to assure to the Jews the fulfilment of the divine message.
Iast Testimony Against The Idolatry Of The Jews In Egypt, Ch. Xliv.
XLIV. 1. The word which came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews dwelling in the land of Egypt, dwelliug at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the land of Pathros, saying: 2. Thus says Yahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the evil which 1 brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah; and behold, they are a desolation this day, and there are no inhabitants therein, 3. because of their evil which they committed to provoke me in going to serve with incense-offering foreign gods, which they had not known, they themselves, you, and your fathers; 4. and I sent to yon all my servants the prophets, early and diligently I sent them, to say: Do not now this abominable thing which I hate. 5. But they hearkened not, nor did they incline their
Ver. 1. The heading (cf. xl. 1) intimates the independence of the oracle, which also as to time falls considerably later than ch. xliii. The places where the more important Jewish colonies had settled are mentioned, namely, Migdol, as in xlvi . 14, a border town in the north-east of Egypt, in the neighbourhood of the Nile canal flowing past Pelusium, not far from the Mediterranean, is often named in the monuments (Makthal), to-day Tell-es-Semut, according to Ebers. On the other hand, the one mentioned Ex. xiv. 2 is to be sought farther south. Tahpanhes and Noph, see on ii. 16. Pathros (cf. ver. 15) is Upper Egypt, as is clear from Isa. xi. 11 and the monuments, according to which Thebes was the chief city in Pa-to-ris = Sun-country. Ver. 3. H3p, see on i. 16. WtK inserted here or put in the place of nDn, because those present represent the existing generation; hence also the language is still further addressed to them. Ver. 4. Cf. vii. 25 and often. D"3Cn, here ear, that they should return from their wickedness and no longer offer incense to foreign gods. 6. Then my fury and my wrath was poured out and ate up the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, that they became a desolation and a wilderness as it is this day. 7. And now thus says Yahveh, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Wherefore do you commit so great evil against your own souls to root you out man and woman, boy and suckling from the midst of Judah, so that you leave you no remnant surviving, 8. provoking me to wrath by the works of your hands, offering incense to foreign gods in the land of Egypt, whither you went to sojourn there, that you may make an end of yourselves, and that you may become an imprecation and a reviling among all the nations of the earth? 9. Have you forgotten the wickednesses of your fathers, and the wickednesses of the kings of Judah, and the wickednesses of his wives, and your wickednesses and the wickednesses of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10. They repented not to this day, and feared not, nor did they walk in my law and my precepts, which I set before you and your fathers. 11. Therefore thus says Yahveh of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I turn my face to you for evil, and to root out the whole of Judah. 12. And I take the remnant of Judah, who have set their face to the land of Egypt to
scriptio plena. This horrible thing is idolatry. Ver. 6. Cf. xlii. 18. nm see on xi. 5. Ver. 7. Against your own souls, as in xxvi. 19, spoken of a deadly sin. Ver. 8. The works of your hands, as in vii. 13, your action, not exactly artificial images as in i. 16. According to Masoretes, to be written "ia. Ver. 9. His wives, not to be changed into "his princes" (LXX after ver. 17), as the royal wives after Solomon's days were specially to blame for the introduction of idolatry. The suffix in VC3 refers to the individual king. Among the people also the women are specially referred to; they were addicted to certain heathen cults, and showed this by their conduct in the Egyptian colony, vv. 15, 20, 25. Ver. 10. Third person, the prophet turning away in disgust from the whole generation which all God's judgments failed to render submissive; second person again at the end. Ver. 11. To root out the whole of Judah, i.e. its remnant in Egypt, as more fully explained in