JEREMIAH CHAPTER 43.
The Jews Carry Out Their Plan.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT. — V. 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, who was still ready to be considered as such by them, had sent him to them, even all these words, the full message, just as it had been transmitted to Jeremiah by inspiration of the Lord, v. 2. then spake Azariah, or Jezaniah, the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, the pride of their heart showing in the insolence of their behavior at this juncture, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely; the Lord, our God, hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there, they saucily discredited his entire message; v. 3. but Baruch, the son of Neriah, whom they suspected of sympathizing with the Chaldeans, setteth thee against us for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans that they might put us to death and carry us away captives into Babylon. Upon this suspicion and accusation, which was wholly unfounded, these men based their opposition to Jeremiah's counsel which conveyed to them the warnings of the Lord. V. 4. So Johanan, the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces and all the people, in accordance with the idea which they had had in mind practically all this while, obeyed not the voice of the Lord to dwell in the land of Judah. V. 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, the various smaller countries round about, to dwell in the land of Judah, v. 6. even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, the princesses of the royal household, chap. 41, 10, 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. All of these people were obliged to join the caravan of the refugees, whether they protested or not, for in this case also might made right. V. 7. So they came into the land of Egypt, for they obeyed not the voice of the Lord, as made known by the mouth of Jeremiah; thus came they even to Tah-panhes, the city of Daphne on one of the eastern delta-arms of the Nile, one of the cities nearest to the border of Palestine. Here they halted for a time, in order to consider ways and means of making their sojourn in the strange country safe and profitable. When men deliberately set aside the commands of the Lord and choose their own way of doing things, they invite destruction and ruin upon themselves.
JEREMIAH IN TAHPANHES. — V. 8. Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, v. 9. Take great stones in thine hand and hide them in the clay in the brick-kiln which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah, so that he would have trustworthy witnesses of his act. The palace of Pharaoh included not only the buildings proper, but their entire enclosure as well, which usually was surrounded by a high wall. Opposite the entrance of this enclosure the bricks for the building or for the repairing of the royal palace were made, and it was in the clay of this kiln that the stones carried by Jeremiah were to be hid. V. 10. And say unto them, the witnesses of his symbolical act, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, My servant, for as such he acted in this instance, in carrying out the Lord's purpose upon Egypt, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them, namely, the rich tapestry which formed the curtains of the throne. V. 11. And when he cometh, in extending his campaign of conquest to Africa, he shall smite the land of Egypt and deliver such as are for death, principally by famine and pestilence, to death, and such as are for captivity to captivity, and such as are for the sword, that is, death in battle, to the sword. In this way, as the scourge of the Lord, he would also act as the servant of Jehovah. Both the act of laying the stones and the material spoken of are significant; for the stones of the throne's foundation are symbolical of the power and firmness of Nebuchadnezzar's rule, while the clay of Pharaoh's palace signifies the weakness of his power. V. 12. And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt, to show the helplessness of the idols in the country whose security the Jews were seeking; and he shall burn them and carry them away captives, the very gods of Egypt being in his power; 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 point of comparison is the freedom and the ease of the act; for just as easily and quickly as a shepherd takes up his mantle, practically his only garment, and wraps it about him, so easily will Nebuchadnezzar take hold upon Egypt and, with the whole country in his power, leave without hindrance, with no one opposing him. V. 13. He shall break also the images of Beth-shemesh that is in the land of Egypt, the renowned Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, one of the greatest sanctuaries of the country; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire. "The images of Beth-shemesh are, above all, the obelisks, of which there was an unlimited number in the city. Of the oldest, which, however, were not the largest, one still remains in its place." In this manner would all the representatives of Egyptian idol-worship fall before the power of Nebuchadnezzar, and the hope and trust of the Jews who fled to Egypt would be found to be vain. Thus all the plans of the wicked according to which they leave the command of God are frustrated to their own confusion.