The Word Made Fresh
1A message came to Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in Egypt at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis and Pathros:
2This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “You have witnessed all the terrible things I brought on Jerusalem and the other towns of Judah. Look and see that they are desolate, completely empty, 3because they were wicked and committed terrible sins that made me angry: they began to bring offerings and serve other gods neither they nor their ancestors had known before. 4I even sent you my servants, the prophets, who begged you not to do the awful things that I hate. 5But you didn’t listen or pay attention to me and did not turn away from your sinfulness and stop giving offerings to other gods. 6That is why my outrage and anger were poured out over the towns of Judah and over the streets of Jerusalem until they were wasted and became desolate as they still are to this day.
7“And now the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel says, why are you doing these things that only harm you, for you are dismissing men and women and children from the midst of Judah, and you have left yourselves without even a remnant? 8Why do you do things that make me angry, like offering to other gods in Egypt where you went to settle? Are you determined to be shunned and cursed and ridiculed among all the nations of the earth? 9Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors? Have you forgotten the sins of the kings of Judah and their wives. Have you forgotten your own and your wives’ sins committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10To this day you have shown no respect or remorse, and you have not kept my law and my commandments that I gave to your ancestors.
11So, says the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, I am determined to bring disaster to you and wipe out all of Judah. 12I will see that the remnant of Judah who came to settle in Egypt will die – all of them. They will fall in Egypt by the sword and by famine, from the least to the greatest of them. They shall die by violence and by hunger, and they will be detested, cursed and ridiculed. 13I will punish those who live in Egypt just as I punished Jerusalem, with violence and hunger and plague, 14until none of those of Judah who came to Egypt will escape or survive, nor will they ever return to the land of Judah. Even when they long to return they will not be allowed to do so, except for a handful of fugitives.”
15Then all the men who knew their wives were making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, the whole lot of them, and also all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt answered Jeremiah: 16“We will not listen to what you said to us in the LORD’s name. 17We will continue to do everything we have vowed, making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings for her, just as we and our ancestors and kings and officials used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. Then we had plenty of food to eat, and we prospered and suffered no misfortunes. 18But from the day we stopped making offerings and pouring out drinks to the queen of heaven, we lost everything and were killed by the sword and died from famine. 19We will certainly continue to make offerings and pouring drinks for the queen of heaven. Do you think we made cakes for her that bore her image, and poured out drinks for her without our husbands knowing what we were doing?”
20Then Jeremiah said to them all, men and women: 21“As for the offerings you and the people who lived with you in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, and the offerings your ancestors and your kings and officials made in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, doesn’t the LORD remember them? Did it never enter the LORD’s mind? 22But the LORD couldn’t bear the sight of your wickedness any longer, or of the sins you committed, and that is why your land became a cursed wasteland where no one lives anymore. 23It is precisely because you burned offerings and sinned against the LORD and refused to be obedient to the LORD’s voice or honor the LORD’s law and statutes and decrees that this disaster has overtaken you as is still evident to this day.”
24Jeremiah continued, saying to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all of you Judeans who have come to the land of Egypt: 25This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says, ‘You and your wives have done what you said you would do: you are determined to honor the vows that you made to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her. Be sure you keep those vows and continue those offerings.’ 26Now hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who live in the land of Egypt: ‘I swear by my mighty name,’ says the LORD, ‘that my name shall no longer be spoken from the lips of any of the people of Judah through all the land of Egypt. They must never again say, “As the LORD God lives.” 27I am going to bring harm to them, not good. Everyone from Judah who is in the land of Egypt shall perish by the sword and famine until none of them are left. 28Any of them who escape the sword shall return from Egypt to the land of Judah, but they will be few in number. All that remains of Judah who have come to Egypt to settle will know whose word is true, mine or theirs. 29This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place so that you will know that my charge against you will be carried out: 30I will give Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, into the hands of his enemies who are seeking his life, just as I gave King Zedekiah of Judah into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon who sought his life.'”
1-10: We see now that there are many more Judean refugees in Egypt, not just at Tahpanhes. And there they fall easily into Egyptian religious practices, worshiping gods “that they had not known” (verse 3). God tries again to persuade them that their behavior is harmful, that it was the worship of other gods that caused the destruction of Judah. God had wanted them to stay in Judah, to be a faithful remnant in the land. Instead, they are following the poor example of their leaders who brought down God’s wrath.
11-14: Jeremiah tells them that God will bring disaster on them in Egypt, and they will suffer until they beg to go back to Judah, but it will be too late.
15-19: Jeremiah has accused them and their wives of apostasy (verse 9), and we learn in verse 15 that apparently Jeremiah has gone now to the refugee settlement at Pathros, having found no cooperation in Tahpanhes. The refugees in Pathros are every bit as recalcitrant as the others, and even go so far as to claim that the calamity that befell them in Judah happened because they stopped worshiping the queen of heaven (the Egyptian goddess Isis) as they should have. As long as they worshiped her, everything was grand, they argue.
20-23: Jeremiah counters with his argument that the destruction came about because they did not worship the LORD or live according to the law God had given them.
24-30: Jeremiah insists that history will prove him a prophet. God will do what God has said God will do, and as a sign Pharaoh Hophra, who has allowed them to settle in Egypt, will be dethroned. Other ancient records confirm that Hophra was deposed by one of his generals, Amasis, who became Pharaoh in 570 B.C. Pharaoh Hophra was killed in a battle against Amasis a couple of years later while trying to regain his throne with Babylonian help.
The lesson is clear – don’t worship other gods!