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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 46: A Word against Egypt


[Preliminary Comment: Although this is primarily a prophecy against Egypt, there is at the end a comforting word to Israel about their future, as if to say, don't be worried about the upheaval in respect of Egypt, my plans for you and your destiny are different.

The reason for the word against Egypt only comes in verses 25 & 26 – for their idolatry – after most of the chapter is given over to warnings about their coming defeat at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. To understand the context of this prophecy, see the Introduction Page and the section on Egypt in ‘The International Politics of the time.]



v.1 This is the start of chapters of the record of prophesies against various nations

v.1 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations:


v.2 Purpose and Context: Against Egypt when defeated by Nebuchadnezzar

v.2  Concerning Egypt:

This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the River Euphrates by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:


v.3,4 Get ready for a battle

v.3  ‘Prepare your shields, both large and small,
    and march out for battle!
v.4  Harness the horses,
    mount the steeds!
Take your positions
    with helmets on!
Polish your spears,
    put on your armour!

v.5,6 But it's a battle that ends in your defeat

v.5  What do I see?
    They are terrified,
they are retreating,
    their warriors are defeated.
They flee in haste
    without looking back,
    and there is terror on every side,'
declares the Lord.
v.6  ‘The swift cannot flee
    nor the strong escape.
In the north by the River Euphrates
    they stumble and fall.


v.7,8 Egypt is like the Nile that every now and then rises

v.7  ‘Who is this that rises like the Nile,
    like rivers of surging waters?
v.8  Egypt rises like the Nile,
    like rivers of surging waters.
She says, “I will rise and cover the earth;
    I will destroy cities and their people.”

v.9,10 Go into battle by all means but the Lord determines your defeat as the outcome

v.9  Charge, you horses!
    Drive furiously, you charioteers!
March on, you warriors – men of Cush and Put who carry shields,
    men of Lydia who draw the bow.
v.10  But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty –
    a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.
The sword will devour till it is satisfied,
    till it has quenched its thirst with blood.
For the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will offer sacrifice
    in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.


v.11,12 Get whatever medicines you like but none will heal after what is coming

v.11  ‘Go up to Gilead and get balm,
    Virgin Daughter Egypt.
But you try many medicines in vain;
    there is no healing for you.
v.12  The nations will hear of your shame;
    your cries will fill the earth.
One warrior will stumble over another;
    both will fall down together.'


v.13 A clear message about the coming again of Nebuchadnezzar

v.13  This is the message the Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt:


v.14 Let all Egypt hear this as you prepare to fight

v.14  ‘Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol;
    proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes:
“Take your positions and get ready,
    for the sword devours those around you.”

v.15-15 Understand you will be laid low in defeat

v.15  Why will your warriors be laid low?
    They cannot stand, for the Lord will push them down.
v.16  They will stumble repeatedly;
    they will fall over each other.
They will say, “Get up, let us go back
    to our own people and our native lands,
    away from the sword of the oppressor.”
v.17  There they will exclaim,
    “Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise;
    he has missed his opportunity.”


v.18 As two mountains of Israel stand out, someone is coming who will stand out

v.18  ‘As surely as I live,' declares the King,
    whose name is the Lord Almighty,
‘one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains,
    like Carmel by the sea.

v.19-24 Get ready for exile after defeat when your helpers flee before the northern enemy

v.19  Pack your belongings for exile,
    you who live in Egypt,
for Memphis will be laid waste
    and lie in ruins without inhabitant.

v.20  ‘Egypt is a beautiful heifer,
    but a gadfly is coming
    against her from the north.
v.21  The mercenaries in her ranks
    are like fattened calves.
They too will turn and flee together,
    they will not stand their ground,
for the day of disaster is coming upon them,
    the time for them to be punished.
v.22  Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent
    as the enemy advances in force;
they will come against her with axes,
    like men who cut down trees.
v.23  They will chop down her forest,'
declares the Lord,
    ‘dense though it be.
They are more numerous than locusts,
    they cannot be counted.
v.24  Daughter Egypt will be put to shame,
    given into the hands of the people of the north.'


v.25,26 God has decreed judgment on Egypt & her gods – Nebuchadnezzar!

v.25  The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh.

v.26  I will give them into the hands of those who want to kill them – Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past,' declares the Lord.


v.27-28 A final word of encouragement to Israel about their future

v.27  ‘Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;
    do not be dismayed, Israel.
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
    your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
    and no one will make him afraid.
v.28  Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
    for I am with you,' declares the Lord.
‘Though I completely destroy all the nations
    among which I scatter you,
    I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
    I will not let you go entirely unpunished.'



Continue to Chapter 47