Avraham ben Yaakov
KNOW YOUR BIBLE
JEREMIAH CHAPTER 43
After the conclusion of Jeremiah's answer to the remnant of Judah that they must remain in Judea and not seek safety in Egypt , where they would surely be destroyed, the people brazenly accused him of prophesying falsely simply because he had told them the opposite of what they wanted to hear.
V 3: "For Baruch ben Neiriyah has set you against us." It is not clear why Yohanan ben Kareyah and his band suspected Baruch ben Neiriyah, who was Jeremiah's foremost disciple and who had played a most prominent role in Jeremiah's contacts with the kings of Judah (Jer. 36:4ff and 38:7, see Rashi there). Metzudas David (on Jer. 43:3) suggests that Yohanan's faction had had some dispute with Baruch and suspected that he persuaded Jeremiah to urge them to remain in Judah in order that they would fall into the hands of the Babylonians.
Vv 5ff Yohanan ben Kareyah and the captains of the remaining Judean forces now took the entire band of remnants to Egypt, blatantly defying Jeremiah just as the people of Jerusalem and the leaders of Judah had time after time ignored his warnings and violated his counsel ever since the beginning of his ministry, causing their own destruction through their own obstinacy.
V 8: "Then the word of HaShem came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes." Despite the fact that the people had willfully flouted his authority, Jeremiah did not abandon them to their folly but accompanied them down to Egypt , hoping that he might yet persuade them to relent.
Jeremiah prophecies that the remnant of Judah that fled to Egypt would not escape Nebuchadnezzar there, because he would come and defeat the Egyptians and destroy the very idolatrous temples in which the Judeans wanted to worship the stars.
Jeremiah knew that the hearts of the Judean fugitives to Egypt were inclined to idolatry (unlike those who submitted to Nebuchadnezzar and went into exile in Babylon , where Tzaddikim like Daniel and his companions remained faithful to HaShem throughout the exile).
Jeremiah appeals to the Judeans in Egypt to internalize the lesson that it was the idolatry of the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem that had led to their destruction, and that the same fate would befall those who reverted to idolatry in Egypt . The prophet warns the people that that they would all die by the sword or by famine.
Vv 15ff: The people blatantly defy Jeremiah and answer that they have every intention of following the cult of the "queen of the heaven". [As discussed in the commentary on Jer. 7 vv 17-18, some consider this to have been the cult of a planet that was considered to be the ruler of the heavens; others hold that this itself was the cult of the sun, cf. Jer. 43:13. Yet others consider it to have been a cult involving all the stars and planets.] The people argue that far from their pursuit of this cult having CAUSED of their troubles, it was the very insufficiency of their devotion to it that was the real cause of their troubles, while their pursuit of it had brought them only blessing.
It is noteworthy that the men sought to defend the cult because their wives were heavily involved in it (v 15) whereas the women were convinced that they had the full support of their husbands in following the cult (v 19). [One wonders whether there is not a parallel in the present era in the phenomenon whereby pressure from feminist women (some of whom are apparently involved in a certain kind of Shechinah-cult = Meleches HaShamayim???) has caused the male "rabbis" of the Reform and Conservative movements to overthrow millennia of Torah tradition in calling women to the reading of the Torah, appointing female "rabbis", etc. etc.], The entire cycle that ended with the destruction of the Temple began when King Solomon allowed himself to be drawn after the idolatries of his foreign wives. Now the complicity of the remnant of Judah in their wives' idolatry in Egypt was to lead to their final destruction.
Vv 20ff: Jeremiah again warns the people that it was the idolatry of the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea that caused their destruction, and that likewise it would cause the destruction of the fugitives to Egypt . The tiny remnant that would escape the sword and return to Judea would then know whose words would stand - those of the prophet or those of the people. The sign of the truth of Jeremiah's prophecy would be the imminent defeat of Pharaoh Hofra of Egypt at the hands of the Babylonians.
BACK TO KNOW YOUR BIBLE HOMEPAGE
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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