Jeremiah 46 and 47
46:1 introduces chapters 46-51 (see Analysis). Chapter 46 falls into three sections: verses 2-12 (description of Egypt’s bid for power and defeat by the Chaldeans at Carchemish); verses 13-26 (prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Egypt); and verses 27, 28 (a message of comfort for Israel: see these verses in their original setting at 31:10, 11). Chapter 47 prophesies the Chaldean conquest of Philistia.
- Read each section aloud, perhaps in Moffatt’s translation, to catch the rhythm and force of these utterances. What is the relation of the God of Israel to the clash of these mighty powers? Cf. 46:10, 15, 25-26; 47:4, 6, 7. Note that God’s chosen people is not directly involved. Cf. Amos 9:7; Is. 40:15, 23; 41:2. What does this tell of God’s control of the history of the world, even if that control is hidden from our sight? Cf. Ps. 22:28.
- How is Egypt described: (a) before the battle, (b) after it and (c) during the invasion? Compare all this with her boast in 46:8, and read again 9:23-26.
- 46:9. ‘Put’ and ‘Lydia’ were African tribes of uncertain location.
- 46:16. ‘They will say’: the reference must be to foreign settlers or traders in Egypt, or to foreign mercenaries (verse 21).
- 46:18. ‘Like Tabor … like Carmel’: i.e., ‘towering above’ the nations.
- 46:22. The fleeing Egyptians are likened to a snake gliding away before the woodcutters, i.e., the invading armies from the north.
- 46:25. Thebes was the famous capital of Upper Egypt, and Amon its local god.
- 47:1. ‘Before Pharaoh attacked Gaza’: it is uncertain when Necho smote Gaza. The LXX omits the phrase.
- 47:4. ‘Caphtor’ is the name used of Crete, the original home of the Philistines, and also of the neighboring coastal regions that came under its control.
- 47:5. ‘Shave her head’ and ‘cut yourselves’ are tokens of mourning. Cf. 16:6 (and see Note, p. 350); 48:37.
Within Jeremiah’s lifetime, Moab was in league with the Chaldeans against Judah during Jehoiakim’s reign ( 2 Kgs. 24:2; cf. Jer. 12); and later, in Zedekiah’s reign, discussed with other nations a possible revolt against Babylon (27:1-11).
- The chapter may be divided into five sections: verses 1-10, verses 21-27, verses 28-29, verses 40-47. What heading would you give to each of these sections to sum up its contents?
- What reason for the judgment is given in verse 11? What warning should we take for ourselves? Cf. Deut. 8:11-18; Is. 47:8-11, Amos 6:1-7; Zeph. 1:12. What other reasons for the judgment are set forth in this chapter?
- All the numerous place-names refer to Moabite territory. Some have not been identified, including ‘Madmen’ (verse 2; the LXX reads ‘Yet you i.e., Moab, shall be brought to silence’).
- Verses 7, 13. ‘Chemosh’: the god of Moab. ‘Trusted in Bethel’: see Amos 5:5; 7:10-13 for false worship at Bethel. Bethel means ‘house of God’, and there may be present also an allusion to false trust in the temple; see Jer. 7:1-15.
- Verses 11, 12. An illustration from the treatment of the juice of grapes. It is left in a vessel until a sediment called ‘dregs’ or ‘less’ had formed at the bottom; then the liquid is poured into another vessel, and so repeatedly, until the liquid is clear. Moab had experienced no such purifying process, and so retained its original unrefined character.
- Verse 26. ‘Make her drunk’: i.e., stagger with shock and despairing grief. Cf. 13:14 (and see Note, p. 349); 25:16.