Prophecies against the Nations[a]
1 This is the word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah in regard to the nations.
Against Egypt.[b] 2 Concerning Egypt and the army of Pharaoh Neco, the king of Egypt, which was stationed at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and which Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, defeated in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim of Judah, the son of Josiah:
3 Prepare your bucklers and
shields and march forth for battle.
4 Harness the horses;
let the riders mount.
Don your helmets
and take your stations.
Sharpen your spears
and put on your breastplates.
5 What is this shameful spectacle I behold?
They fall back in terror.
Their warriors are routed
and are in headlong flight
without glancing back.
There is terror on every side,
says the Lord.
6 The swift cannot flee,
nor can the brave warriors escape.
In the north, by the River Euphrates,
they have stumbled and fallen.
7 Who is this that rises like the Nile,
like rivers of torrential waters?
8 Egypt rises up like the Nile,
like rivers of torrential waters.
I will rise up, Egypt says, and cover the earth;
I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.
9 Advance, O horses,
and drive madly, O chariots.
Let the warriors advance:
men from Ethiopia and Put bearing shields,
and men from Lud who draw their bows.
10 This day belongs to the Lord God of hosts,
a day of retribution
and vengeance on his enemies.
The sword will devour and be sated
until drunk with their blood.
For the Lord God of hosts
is holding a sacrificial feast
in the land of the north
by the River Euphrates.
11 Go up to Gilead and obtain balm,
O virgin daughter Egypt.
The many medicines you have used
have afforded you no healing.
12 The nations have heard of your shame;
the earth is filled with your cries.
Warrior stumbles against warrior,
and both fall down together.
13 The word that the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah in regard to the advance of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to attack the land of Egypt:
14 Announce it in Egypt and proclaim it in Migdol;
proclaim it also in Noph and Tahpanhes.
Say, “Take your stations and be prepared,
for the sword will devour those around you.”
15 Why have your warriors been laid low?
They were unable to stand
because the Lord has thrust them down.
16 They stumbled and fell,
and then they said to one another,
“Come, let us return to our own people
and to the land of our birth,
far from the swords of our oppressors.”
17 They gave this nickname to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt:
“One who boasts but never succeeds.”
18 As I live, says the King,
whose name is the Lord of hosts,
one is coming like Tabor[c] among the mountains,
like Carmel by the sea.
19 Prepare your baggage to go into exile,
you inhabitants of Egypt.
Memphis will become a desert waste,
a desolate, uninhabited ruin.
20 Egypt is a beautiful heifer,[d]
but a gadfly from the north
is preparing to move against her.
21 Even the mercenaries in her midst
are like fatted calves,
but they have turned and fled together
rather than stand their ground.
For the day of disaster has overtaken them,
the time of their punishment.
22 Egypt is hissing like a retreating snake,
for her enemies are advancing in force.
They move against her with axes,
like men who fell her trees.
23 They will cut down her forest,[e] says the Lord,
even though it appears impenetrable,
because they are more numerous than locusts;
they are beyond counting.
24 Daughter Egypt will be disgraced,
handed over to a people from the north.
25 The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, has said: Behold, I will punish Amon[f] of Thebes, and Egypt, her gods and her kings, Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26 I will hand them over to those who seek their lives, to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and his officials. At a later time, Egypt will be inhabited again as in times past, says the Lord.
27 But as for you, my servant Jacob, fear not;
Israel, do not be dismayed.
Behold, I will rescue you from afar
and your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will return and be at peace again,
tranquil, with no one to trouble him.
28 Have no fear, my servant Jacob,
for I am with you, says the Lord.
I will make an end of all the nations
where I have dispersed you,
but I will not make an end of you.
I will discipline you only as you deserve;
I will not allow you to escape totally unpunished.
- Jeremiah 46:1 These threats to the nations are not in their proper place here at the end of the Book. It is thought that they were originally located between verses 1-13 and verses 14-19 of chapter 25, these two sections being respectively an appeal of the prophet to his fellow countrymen and a vision of the cup of the Lord’s wrath. And, in fact, it is at that point that the ancient Greek translation usually inserts the present chapters.
- Jeremiah 46:2 When the Assyrian empire broke up, two powers entered the lists to win control of the Mediterranean East: the kingdoms of Babylon and of Egypt. Shortly before being enthroned as king, Nebuchadnezzar II (605–561 B.C.) defeated the army of Pharaoh Neco (609–593 B.C.) at Carchemish (today Jerablus), an ancient Hittite metropolis on the upper Euphrates. The battle was a historical turning point.
- Jeremiah 46:18 Like Tabor: the reference is to Nebuchadnezzar. Tabor dominates the plain of Galilee.
- Jeremiah 46:20 Heifer: an allusion to the worship of Hathor, the cow-headed goddess.
- Jeremiah 46:23 The forest symbolizes the especially dense population of the Nile Delta.
- Jeremiah 46:25 Amon: the national god of Egypt.