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43 When Jeremiah finished giving the people this answer from the Eternal their God—and he did tell them everything that is recorded here, just as he promised Azariah (son of Hoshaiah) and Johanan (son of Kareah) and all the other overconfident men in that group spoke.

Leaders (to Jeremiah): These words are lies! The Eternal our God didn’t tell you to say, “Do not go to Egypt and settle there.” These are not His words at all. They are the words of Baruch (son of Neriah), your secretary. He is trying to turn you against us so we will be handed over to the Chaldeans, when they come back. If we listen to his counsel, we will be killed or taken into exile in Babylon.

So Johanan (son of Kareah), all the other army leaders, and all the people refused to obey the Eternal’s command to remain in Judah. So Johanan (son of Kareah) and the other army officers gathered up all the Judeans who had survived and returned to Judah from the countries they fled to. This vast company of refugees included the men, women, children, and daughters of the royal family and everyone else who Nebuzaradan, captain of the imperial guard, had left in the care of Gedaliah (son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan). Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch (son of Neriah) were also forced to join the company leaving Judah for Egypt. And so it was that this vast company of Judeans entered the land of Egypt in disobedience to the voice of the Eternal. They traveled as far as the northern city of Tahpanhes.

Egypt is not where Jeremiah or Baruch want to be, especially since God clearly tells these Judeans—survivors of the Babylonian attack on their land—not to go there. After all these years, Jeremiah again delivers a difficult message to an unreceptive people, this time in Egypt. And once again, he is instructed to act this message so that all can see and clearly understand. Many years have passed since Jeremiah told God he was too young to be His prophet; but here he is, an old man, still performing strange and difficult feats to make His point.

While they were in Tahpanhes, the message of the Eternal came to Jeremiah.

Eternal One: While everyone from Judah is watching, pick up some large rocks and then bury them in the clay of the brick pavement at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. 10 Once you’ve done this, give the people this message from the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel: “I am sending My servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to Egypt. I will set his throne over the exact spot where I’ve hidden these stones, and he will spread his royal canopy over this exact spot. 11 He is coming to attack Egypt, and he will bring death to those destined to die, captivity to those destined to be captive, and war to those destined to die in battle. 12 I will start a fire, and then he will burn the temples of Egypt’s so-called gods. He will take these idols back to Babylon. He will pick through the land of Egypt as easily as a shepherd picks clean his robe. And once he’s finished, he will return home unharmed. 13 He will tear down the obelisks of Egypt in the temple of the sun. Yes, he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods.

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