46 The word of the Eternal came to Jeremiah concerning the nations.
Prophets often speak against foreign nations. God is not neutral to the designs and practices of outsiders. These first oracles are directed against the nation of Egypt, who fought and lost the Battle of Carchemish in 605 b.c. Though the fallout was not immediate, this battle was the undoing of Egypt. Babylon is now clearly the dominant world power, and Nebuchadnezzar is her despotic and cruel ruler. But as powerful as he is now and is destined to become, the Babylonian king is only an instrument in the hand of God. By continuing to oppose Babylon and fostering ill-fated political alliances with other nations, Egypt is, in effect, opposing God Himself. God will accomplish what He sets out to do—and all will answer to Him—for God is the God of all history and sovereign over all rulers.
2 This message is about Egypt and the army and her king, Pharaoh Neco; they were defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. This decisive battle happened when Jehoiakim (son of Josiah) had been king of Judah for four years.
3 Eternal One: Line up your shields, large and small.
March toward the battle!
4 Harness your horses; mount your stallions!
Get in position; put your helmets on!
Polish your spears; put on your armor!
5 And what do I see when I look at the Egyptian army?
They are panicked, pulling back in retreat;
their mighty warriors are already defeated.
Look how they run away so quickly,
never looking back, for terror is everywhere they turn.
6 The fast cannot outrun it; the mighty cannot escape it.
Beside the river Euphrates in the north, they stumble and fall.
7 Who is this I see rising like the river Nile,
like a swollen, flooding river?
8 It is Egypt that rises like the river Nile,
her pride like a swollen, flooding river.
Pharaoh blusters, “I will rise and cover the earth, like a river.
I will destroy the cities and their people who dare to stand in my way.”
9 Charge, O horses; go up into the fray! Let your chariots madly rush in!
March, mighty warriors, summoned to war.
Soldiers of Ethiopia and Libya who carry shields,
archers of Ludim who bend the bow, march to your defeat!
10 For this day belongs to the Eternal Lord, Commander of heavenly armies;
it is a day of vengeance, a day to pay back His enemies.
The sword will devour them until it is satisfied,
until its thirst for their blood has been quenched.
For the Eternal Lord, Commander of heavenly armies,
will offer them as a sacrifice beside the river Euphrates in the land of the north.
11 Go up to Gilead to find balm for your wounds,
O virgin daughter of Egypt.
But you will find no relief in your many medicines.
This time your wound will not heal.
12 The nations of the world hear of your shame;
the earth is filled with your cries.
One mighty warrior stumbles over another,
and both of them fall down together.
13 This is the word the prophet Jeremiah received from the Eternal about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, to attack the land of Egypt.
14 Eternal One: Make this announcement in Egypt, and tell everyone in Migdol;
proclaim it in Memphis and Tahpanhes as well:
Take your positions, and get ready for battle,
for the sword will devour everyone around you.
15 Why are your mighty warriors lying face down?
They do not stand, indeed cannot stand,
Because I, the Eternal One, have pushed them to the ground.
16 These soldiers will stumble again and again—falling over each other.
They will say to each other, “Pick yourself up! Let us go home
To our own land and people;
let us escape the edge of our enemy’s sword.”
17 It is there, in that moment, that they will cry out,
“Pharaoh, king of Egypt, makes a lot of noise, but he missed his chance.”
18 As I live, says the King
whose name is the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
That one is coming who will tower over you
like Mount Tabor over the mountains,
like Mount Carmel over the sea.
19 Pack for the coming exile, you citizens of Egypt,
for Memphis will be a wasteland, a city destroyed and empty of life.
20 Egypt is like a heifer—beautiful, but helpless—
because a biting horsefly from the north is coming against her.
21 The mercenaries in her army are like fattened calves:
they will turn and run, all of them together.
They will not stand their ground, for the day of disaster is coming;
the time for their punishment is upon them.
22 Egypt will slither away like a hissing serpent
as her enemy marches on.
They will come with axes,
like woodsmen who cut down trees.
23 I, the Eternal One, declare, “As thick as the forest of Egypt might be,
they will chop her down,
For they are more numerous than locusts,
their numbers too great to count.
24 The daughter of Egypt will be disgraced;
she will be handed over to this nation from the north.”
25 Then the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, gave this word to Egypt and anyone foolish enough to side with Egypt.
Eternal One: Look! I will soon punish Amon, the god of Thebes, and all the other so-called gods of Egypt. I will punish all her rulers, including Pharaoh (who claims to be a god himself) and any who trust in him. 26 I will hand them over to the enemy who wants them dead—to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his officers. But later, I will restore Egypt. Her people will return in numbers to live there again as in the days of old. I, the Eternal, promise this.
27 Do not be afraid, O Jacob, My servant.
Do not be dismayed, O Israel.
For I will rescue you from that distant land;
I will bring your children home from the exile.
Jacob will again know peace and what it means to feel secure.
No one will make him afraid.
28 Do not be afraid, O Jacob, My servant, for I am with you.
Even if I completely destroy all the nations
To which I have scattered you, I will not completely destroy you.
Remember this, O Israel: I will discipline you out of justice.
I will not let you go unpunished.