Jeremiah 43:1-13 (50:1-13, LXX)

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The response of insolent men came after Jeremiah had “finished speaking to all the people all the words of YHWH their God, with which YHWH their God had sent” Jeremiah to relate to them “all these words,” not omitting a single word from what had been revealed to him. (43:1 [50:1, LXX]) “Azariah the son of Hoshaiah (Azarias the son of Maasaias [LXX]) and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are telling falsehood. YHWH our God did not send you to say, Do not go to Mizraim [Egypt (LXX) to reside there.’” In view of his being mentioned first, Azariah may have been the most adamant about leaving for Egypt. He was either the same man as “Jezaniah the son of Hoshaia” or Jezaniah’s brother. (See the Notes section on 42:1.) The men were insolent, for they disregarded the word of YHWH and, because this “word” or message did not agree with their prior determination to go to Egypt, they maligned Jeremiah as a speaker of falsehood (“lies” [LXX]) who did not receive a revelation from YHWH. (43:2 [50:2, LXX]) Without any evidence, the men also claimed that Jeremiah’s scribal secretary, “Baruch the son of Neriah,” was responsible for the message about not going to Egypt and had thus set Jeremiah against the people to deliver them into the hand of the Chaldeans so that they would either be killed or exiled to Babylon. (43:3 [50:3, LXX]; see the Notes section.)

“Johanan the son of Kareah and all the [other] princes [leaders or captains] of the forces and all the people” refused to listen to [or obey] the “voice of YHWH” for them “to remain in the land of Judah” (the territory of the conquered kingdom of Judah). Apparently Johanan had established himself as the leader of all the people, for he is the only “prince,” leader, or commander, here mentioned by name. (43:4 [50:4, LXX]; see the Notes section.) He and all the other “princes [leaders or captains] of the forces took all the remnant of Judah” to lead these remaining ones to Egypt. This remnant included those who had returned to reside in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been scattered during the Chaldean campaign against the kingdom of Judah. In the Septuagint, this remnant is not identified as including those who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been dispersed. (43:5 [50:5, LXX]; see the Notes section.) The leaders or captains took with them the men, women, children, daughters of the king — “every soul [or person] whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard [more literally, chief of the slaughterers] had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shapan.” “Jeremiah the prophet” and his scribal secretary “Baruch the son of Neriah” were also among those whom the leaders took with them. The “daughters of the king” could have included any surviving female offspring of Judean kings. (43:6 [50:6, LXX]; see the Notes section.) As a people who did not listen to the “voice of YHWH” that Jeremiah had made it known to them, they and their leaders entered the land of Egypt, arriving at Tahpanhes (Taphnas [LXX]), a city in the Delta region of Egypt. (43:7 [50:7, LXX])

At Tahpanhes, the “word of YHWH came to the prophet Jeremiah. (43:8 [50:8, LXX]) This “word” or message instructed him to carry out a prophetic act. “Before the eyes [or in the sight] of the men of Judah [some Judean men],” he was to “take large stones in [his] hand and hide them in mortar in the pavement at the entrance to the house of Pharaoh in Tahpanhes.” This house would not have been the official royal residence, for Tahpanhes was not the capital. Pharaoh’s house there may have been an administrative or government building. The hiding of the large stones “in mortar” has been variously understood, and this is reflected in the renderings of modern translations. “Take some large rocks and bury them under the pavement stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace here in Tahpanhes.” (NLT) “Take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes.” (NIV) “Take some large stones in your hand and set them in mortar in the terrace at the entrance to the house of Pharaoh at Tahpanhes.” (NAB, revised edition) “Get yourself large stones, and embed them in mortar in the brick structure at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes.” (Tanakh [JPS, 1985 edition]) The Septuagint says, “Get yourself large stones and hide them in the entrance, in the gate of the house of Pharaoh in Taphnas.” (43:9 [50:9, LXX])

“YHWH of hosts [the God with hosts of angels in his service], the God of Israel,” revealed to Jeremiah what he should tell the people. “Look, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar [Nebuchadnezzar] the king of Babylon my servant, and I will set his throne above these stones that I [Jeremiah or YHWH through the agency of Jeremiah] have hidden, and he [Nebuchadnezzar] will spread his canopy over them.” Nebuchadnezzar is called YHWH’s “servant” because he served his purpose to punish the disobedient people. To render judgment on the Egyptians, he would place his throne above the very stones that the prophet Jeremiah had hidden. There is a question about the significance of the Hebrew word that relates to what Nebuchadnezzar would spread over these stones. Lexicographers suggests “canopy” as one possible meaning, but it is uncertain that this is the correct meaning of the Hebrew word. The Septuagint says that “he [Nabouchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar)] will raise his weapons against them” (the Egyptians or their deities [verse 12]). (43:10 [50:10, LXX])

King Nebuchadnezzar would “come and smite the land of Egypt — those for death to death [from famine or from pestilence or infectious disease] and those for captivity to captivity, and those for the sword [of warfare] to the sword.” (43:11 [50:11, LXX]) The Masoretic Text represents YHWH as the one who would “kindle a fire in the houses [or temples] of the gods of Egypt,” which would be through the agency of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Septuagint says, “And he [Nabouchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar)] will kindle a fire in the houses of their gods.” Regarding the actions of Nebuchadnezzar, the Hebrew text continues, “And he will burn them [the houses or temples of the gods of the Egyptians] and carry them away captive.” As to those taken captive, the reference could be to the gods (compare Isaiah 46:1, 2), to the Egyptians, or to the Judeans who had fled to Egypt. A number of modern translations contain added wording that makes the reference to gods or idols specific. “The king of Babylonia will either burn their gods or carry them off.” (TEV) “He will burn these gods or take them prisoner.” (NJB) “He will set fire to the temples of the Egyptian gods, burning the buildings and carrying the gods into captivity.” (REB) “He will burn the temples and carry the idols away as plunder.” (NLT) The king of Babylon is then portrayed as wrapping himself with the land of Egypt “like a shepherd wraps himself with his garment” and then leaving from Egypt “in peace” or without anyone seeking to attack him at his departure. This act of “wrapping himself with the land of Egypt” may mean that King Nebuchadnezzar and his forces would take whatever they wanted from the land of Egypt as if it were a garment a shepherd would wrap around himself. The Septuagint contains different wording. “He will delouse the land of Egypt like a shepherd delouses his garment.” Numerous modern translations have rendered the text accordingly. “He will pick clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks fleas from his cloak.” (NLT) “Then Nebuchadnezzar will pick the land clean, just like a shepherd picking the lice off his clothes.” (CEV) “He will scour the land of Egypt as a shepherd scours his clothes to rid them of lice.” (REB) (43:12 [50:12, LXX]; see the Notes section.) The king of Babylon would also break the “obelisks of Heliopolis” (literally, “house of the sun”), “which is in the land of Mizraim” or Egypt (“the pillars in Sun City [or Heliopolis], those in On” [LXX]), and he would “burn with fire” the “houses [or temples] of the gods of Mizraim” or Egypt. (43:13 [50:13, LXX])

According to Josephus, Nebuchadnezzar conducted a military campaign against Egypt. In his Antiquities (X, ix, 7), he wrote, “In the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the twenty-third of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, he made an expedition against Celesyria; and when he had possessed himself of it, he made war against the Ammonites and Moabites; and when he had brought all those nations under subjection, he fell upon Egypt, in order to overthrow it.”


In verse 3, a Dead Sea Jeremiah scroll (4QJerᵈ) does not include “son of Neriah” after “Baruch.”

Both the Septuagint and a Dead Sea Jeremiah scroll (4QJerᵈ) omit “son of Kareah [Karee (LXX)]” after “Johanan [Ioanan (LXX)].” (43:4, 5 [50:4, 5, LXX])

In verse 6 [50:6, LXX]), both the Septuagint and a Dead Sea Jeremiah scroll (4QJerᵈ) do not include the designation “captain of the guard [more literally, chief of the slaughterers]” after “Nebuzaradan” (“Nabouzardan” [LXX]), and they also omit “son of Shaphan [Saphan (LXX)] after “Ahikam [Achikam (LXX)].”