44 This is the message that came to Jeremiah concerning the Judeans living in the northern Egyptian cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and the southern region of Pathros.
Some time has now passed since the Judeans who were not deported to Babylon fled to Egypt in a kind of self-imposed exile. Their reason for leaving Judah and settling in Egypt is fear—fear of reprisal from Nebuchadnezzar for the assassination of Gedaliah. Against the protests of Jeremiah, the people settle down in Egypt. Ironically, as they escape the wrath of the dreaded Babylonian king, they foolishly ignore the wrath of God that follows their complete disregard of His prophet. Jeremiah now delivers what will be his last recorded message to these faithless Judeans who have settled in Egypt.
Jeremiah: 2-3 This is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has to say: “You saw what happened to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah when the people disobeyed Me. I brought disaster upon them because of their wickedness, and now the cities are in ruins and no one dares to live there. The people infuriated Me when they burned incense and worshiped other so-called gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors ever knew. 4 Time after time I would send My servants, the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, stop doing these disgusting things. You know I hate them!’ 5 Still they refused to listen and ignored what I had to say; they refused to abandon their wicked ways and kept burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, My hot anger was poured out; it raged and burned its way through the towns and villages of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. That is why they are a desolate wasteland today.”
7 And now the Eternal God, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, asks: “Why are you doing this to yourselves again? Why are you bringing further disaster upon yourselves and all your people? For there will be no man or woman, no infant or child who will survive this onslaught and return to Judah from this place. 8 Why do you stir up My anger with your handmade idols and the incense you burn to the gods here in the land of Egypt where you are determined to live? You will destroy yourselves and become objects of scorn and cursing to the nations of the earth. 9 Have you forgotten the evil committed by your ancestors, the kings of Judah and their wives? What about the evil that you and your wives committed throughout the land of Judah and on every street in Jerusalem? 10 To this day, I’ve seen no evidence of sorrow or regret for what has been done by My people. They have shown no reverence for Me, nor have they obeyed My law and the decrees I set before them and their ancestors.”
11 Therefore, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, now declares: “Look! I have decided to destroy you and bring disaster on all of Judah. 12 I will wipe out the remnant of Judah who were so determined to make a new start and settle in Egypt despite My command, and I will finish it there. They will all die in Egypt, from the least to the greatest, either from war or famine. I will make them a horror, a disgrace, an object of scorn and cursing. 13 I will punish those living in Egypt with war, famine, and disease, just as I punished unfaithful Jerusalem. 14 None of those who made it out of Judah alive and fled to Egypt will survive. None of them will escape what is coming. None of them—except for a few fugitives—will ever return to the land of Judah for which they long.
15 All the men who were aware that their wives had been burning incense to other gods gathered in a large crowd, along with the women. They had come from the northern cities of Egypt and the region of Pathros to the south to speak with Jeremiah.
People: 16 We will not listen to you or the message you claim comes from the Eternal! 17 We are going to stand by our own word: we will burn incense and pour out our drink offerings to the queen of heaven[a] just as we have always done—just as our ancestors, our kings, and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. Back then we had plenty to eat, and no harm came to us. 18 But ever since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out our drink offerings to her, we’ve not had enough of anything. Besides that, we are being finished off by war and famine.
Women (to Jeremiah): 19 Do you think our husbands didn’t know and approve of the fact that we were burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her? How could we have baked bread marked with her image and poured out offerings to her and our husbands know nothing of this?
20 Then Jeremiah addressed all these men and women who responded so rebelliously.
Jeremiah: 21 Do you think while you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the rest of the people were burning incense in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that the Eternal knew nothing of this? Did you think He would forget or that it would somehow slip His mind? 22 Today, your land is an object of cursing, a horror, a lifeless ruin because the Eternal could no longer stand your wickedness and the detestable things you did. 23 Take a good look at the disaster that has come upon you. It happened because you burned incense to other gods and sinned against the Eternal. It happened because you refused to obey His voice or follow His law and His decrees, because you ignored His warnings.
24 (to the entire assembly) Hear the word of the Eternal! You people of Judah who live in Egypt, 25 the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has a message for you: “You and your wives have shown where your true devotion lies with both your words and your actions! You say, ‘We will keep our vows to the queen of heaven; we will continue to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to her.’ Well I say, ‘Go ahead. Keep your vows! Do exactly what you promised!’” 26 But hear what the Eternal now says to the Judeans now living in Egypt: “I swear by My great name that no man or woman of Judah now living in Egypt will ever again invoke My name or begin an oath with the words ‘As the Eternal Lord lives!’ 27 because I will watch over their lives to bring harm, not good. All the Judeans living in Egypt will suffer from war and famine until all have died. 28 There will be only a few who survive and return to Judah from Egypt. All the remnant of Judah who were so determined to live in Egypt will finally know whose word can be trusted—theirs or Mine. 29 Here is a sign for you so that you will know I am going to punish you in Egypt. This way you can be sure that My threats against you are not idle—they will come true. 30 And this will be your sign: watch as I hand over Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I handed over Zedekiah, king of Judah, to his enemy, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
- 44:17 Likely a reference to Ishtar, a fertility goddess.