For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

43:1.  “And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the Lord their God, for which the Lord their God had sent him to them, even all these words,”


43:2.  “Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there:”


This is the only mention of Azariah in the book of Jeremiah, but Johanan is mentioned several times, and always in a good connection, but here it is indicated that he was a proud man, in addition to which he called Jeremiah a liar, and carried the prophet and the rest of the people forcibly with him down into Egypt, his disobedient departure into that land being the last mention of him in Scripture.


43:3.  “But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captive into Babylon.”


Johanan continues his tirade by accusing Baruch, Jeremiah’s amanuensis, of being the instigator of the advice not to go to Egypt, but to remain in the land, falsely attributing to Baruch the ulterior motive of wishing to have them slain or taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.


43:4.  “So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the Lord, to dwell in the land of Judah.”


43:5.  “But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah;”


43:6.  “Even men, and women, and children, and the king’s daughters, and every person that Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah.”


43:7.  “So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: Thus came they even to Tahpanhes.”


Thus in defiance of God’s command to remain in the land of Judah, these wilful men compelled all the people to go with them into Egypt.  Tahpanhes means thou wilt fill hands with pity, a meaning that doesn’t appear to have any special significance in the present context.


Keeping in mind that Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in independence of God, the spiritual lesson here is that unspiritual self-willed men, taking the place of leaders amongst God’s people, also tend to lead them away from God and into the world, as they apply worldly wisdom rather than scriptural principles to problems that arise amongst believers.


It is generally believed that Jeremiah died in Egypt.


43:8.  “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying,”


43:9.  “Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah;”


43:10.  “And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.”


God here declares the folly of seeking shelter from Nebuchadnezzar in Egypt. (The spelling Nebuchadrezzar is a form that is closer to the Babylonian original than is the usual Nebuchadnezzar).


43:11.  “And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.”


The words “such as are for death to death” are understood by many to be a reference to death by pestilence.


43:12.  “And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives; and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace.”


The Babylonians would burn the Egyptian temples, and burn or carry away the idols.  The ease with which Nebuchadnezzar would accomplish that work was likened to the ease with which a shepherd puts on his coat.  Some, however, take the symbolic picture to be of the meticulous care with which Nebuchadnezzar would cleanse the land of the idols, the care being similar to that with which a shepherd carefully purges his clothing of vermin.


43:13.  “He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.”


“... the images of Bethshemesh” are understood by many to have been the obelisks adorning the temple of the sun god; and according to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary “One of the Heliopolis obelisks is now in Central Park in New York City, another on the Thames Embankment in London.  Both are wrongly called ‘Cleopatra’s Needle.’”


Rebel Judah, as idolatrous as the Egyptians, would also share their fate when God sent Nebuchadnezzar as His agent to punish the wickedness of both, and to destroy the very land which they had foolishly considered a place of safety.


The only place of absolute security is in obedience to God’s will.

[Jeremiah 44]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough