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Jeremiah: Chapter 42

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1Then all the army officers, with Johanan son of Kareah, Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the rest of the people, great and small, approached 2the prophet Jeremiah and said, “Grant our plea, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant! For we remain but a few out of many, as you can see. 3Let the LORD your God tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

4The prophet Jeremiah answered them, “Agreed: I will pray to the LORD your God as you request, and I will tell you whatever response the LORD gives for you. I will withhold nothing from you.”

5Thereupon they said to Jeremiah, “Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us! We swear that we will do exactly as the LORD your God instructs us through you—6Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will obey the LORD our God to whom we send you, in order that it may go well with us when we obey the LORD our God.”

7After ten days, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8He called Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers, and the rest of the people, great and small, 9and said to them, “Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your supplication before Him: 10If you remain in this land, I will build you and not overthrow, I will plant you and not uproot; for I regret thepunishment I have brought upon you. 11Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you fear; do not be afraid of him—declares the LORD—for I am with you to save you and to rescue you from his hands. 12I will dispose him to be merciful to you: he shall show you mercy and a‐ Change of vocalization yields “let you dwell in.” bring you back to ‐a Change of vocalization yields “let you dwell in.” your own land.

13“But if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land’—thus disobeying the LORD your God—14if you say, ‘No! We will go to the land of Egypt, so that we may not see war or hear the sound of the horn, and so that we may not hunger for bread; there we will stay,’ 15then hear the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah! Thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: If you turn your faces toward Egypt, and you go and sojourn there, 16the sword that you fear shall overtake you there, in the land of Egypt, and the famine you worry over shall follow at your heels in Egypt too; and there you shall die. 17All the men who turn their faces toward Egypt, in order to sojourn there, shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no surviving remnant of the disaster that I will bring upon them. 18For thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: As My anger and wrath were poured out upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My wrath be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You shall become b‐ I.e., a standard by which men execrate and curse; cf. note at 24.9 . an execration of woe, a curse ‐b I.e., a standard by which men execrate and curse; cf. note at 24.9 . and a mockery; and you shall never again see this place. 19The LORD has spoken against you, O remnant of Judah! Do not go to Egypt! Know well, then—for I warn you this day 20that you were deceitful at heart when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God; and whatever the LORD our God may say, just tell us and we will do it.’ 21I told you today, and you have not obeyed the LORD your God in respect to all that He sent me to tell you—22know well, then, that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you want to go and sojourn.”

Notes:

a‐a Change of vocalization yields “let you dwell in.”

b‐b I.e., a standard by which men execrate and curse; cf. note at 24.9 .

Text Commentary view alone

42.1–43.7 :

Jeremiah taken to Egypt. The narrative continues to emphasize the theme of Judean opposition to God's will by presenting the people's rejection of Jeremiah's oracle advising them to remain in the land of Judah as subjects of Babylonia. Whereas the previous episode reversed the theme of divine favor for David that was given in the so‐called succession narrative (2 Sam. chs 9–20 ), these chs present the Judean return to Egypt as a reversal of the exodus narrative.

42.1–6 :

Jere‐ miah complies with the request for guidance.

1 :

Johanan son of Kareah is the leader of the Judean forces that defeated Ishmael. Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah may be the same man mentioned in 40.8 , presuming that his father was earlier identified by an ethnic or place name. Azariah son of Hoshaiah ( 43.2 ) may be his brother.

5–6 :

The narrative especially emphasizes the people's oath to do what God asks in order to highlight their disobedience in the following vv.

7–22 :

Jeremiah gives the word.

7 :

It is quite remarkable that God does not immediately answer the prophet. Abravanel therefore understands the ten days to be reckoned from the 1st of Tishri when Gedaliah was assassinated ( 41.1 ). Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) falls on the 10th of Tishri (Lev. 23.26–32; Num. 29.7–11 ). Jeremiah's oracle would therefore have come immediately following Yom Kippur (cf. Ezek. 40.1 , which places Ezekiel's vision of the Temple on Yom Kippur). Such a reckoning of the date would emphasize the theme of the people's repentance, which of course does not take place in the following vv. However, there is no explicit indication that Yom Kippur was observed in this period.

10 :

Jeremiah's oracle again repeats the basic verbs of his prophetic commission, build….not over‐ throw….plant….not uproot ( 1.10 ), to emphasize that the time for punishment is over and that the time for rebuilding is at hand. The oracle emphasizes God's own regret to emphasize divine empathy for the suffering of the people.

11 :

An example of the reassurance oracle follows with its characteristic formulas, do not be afraid and I am with you (v. 11; cf. 1.8; Isa. 7.4–9; Gen. 15.1 ).

13–21 :

Jeremiah's oracle clearly and unambiguously calls upon the people not to return to Egypt lest they suffer consequences. The “torah” of the king in Deut. 17.14–20 likewise emphasizes that the king is forbidden to return the people to Egypt. Such a position is consistent with that of Isaiah, whose oracles warned against alliance with Egypt (Isa. chs 18–20; 30–31 ). In Jeremiah's view, the time for the fulfillment of Isaiah's oracles had come. The oracle follows Isaiah in emphasizing that the people must remain in the land if the remnant of the people is to grow (Isa. 4.2–6; 10.20–26; 37.30–32 ).

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