Good morning! Yesterday we journeyed along with Jeremiah through a variety of competing leaders in Judah, and then read how he was compelled against his will to go down to Egypt with the refugees there. Today we read his further denunciations of idolatrous Hebrew practices in Egypt, along with prophesies that Egypt too will fall to Babylon’s advancing forces.
Jeremiah 44’s prophecies to the migrant Judeans in Egypt suggest that they have swiftly adopted the practices of idolatry found among the Egyptian natives. Women in particular are charged with making offerings to “the queen of heaven”. This is in keeping with generations of indigenous practice in Judah, and the Judeans in Egypt profess that it’s the cessation of these offerings—not the commission of them—which has brought about such calamity. They tell Jeremiah of their determination to persist in them, which of course doesn’t go over well. Jeremiah calls down such harm from heaven on them that only a few in number will survive to return back to Judah. This will be God’s proof that Jeremiah is telling the truth, but I don’t care for mass violence as a model for winning an argument.
A quick interlude amid the Egypt oracles demonstrates that Jeremiah doesn’t forget his friends. Baruch, the scribe who helped write the prophecy which was later read to Zedekiah, laments his lot in life and the coming troubles that are still on the horizon. Jeremiah promises the wherever Baruch goes, he will live and not die. This is the same promise given to the Ethiopian eunuch in yesterday’s reading, after the man saved Jeremiah from the cistern. Jeremiah wants to make clear that loyalty to God and the prophet does not go unrewarded. It’s a measure of how bad things were at this time that just staying alive was considered “reward”.
The prophesies in Jeremiah 46 are largely directed to Egypt’s forces. Jeremiah does acknowledge the gathering force of “the Nile”, yet declares the overwhelming power of Babylon. Egyptians too will be taken off to exile, just like the Judeans were. Yet the chapter ends with a promise (sounding like it comes from a different time) that despite the further impending tragedy, God will reestablish Israel in the land again once the “chastisement” of hardship has passed. Happy reading!
Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. The passage for tomorrow is Jeremiah 47-49. Thanks for reading!