The defeat of the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (Jer 46:2-46:2)

“Concerning Egypt.

The army of Pharaoh Neco,

King of Egypt,

Was by the Euphrates River,

At Carchemish.

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Of Babylon

Defeated him

In the fourth year

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of Josiah,

King of Judah.”

King Neco II ruled Egypt from 610-595 BCE. He had a huge impact on Judah because he had killed King Josiah (640-609 BCE) in 609 BCE at Megiddo. King Josiah of Judah was on the Babylonian side of this war against the Egyptians. King Neco then replaced the son of King Josiah, King Jehoahaz or King Shallum of Judah, with his brother King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) was brought back to Egypt, while his brother ruled in Judah. The incident mentioned here took place 4 years later in 605 BCE, in the 4th year of the reign of King Jehoiakim at Carchemish, on the Euphrates River. This is where King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated King Neco of Egypt.

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King Jehoiakim (Jer 35:1-35:1)

“The word

Came to Jeremiah

From Yahweh

In the days

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.”

Once again we have an earlier time frame for this oracle from Yahweh to Jeremiah. The text of Jeremiah now goes back to the preceding king of Judah, King Jehoiakim, or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), the brother of King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). They both had the same father, King Josiah (640-609 BCE). Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 42, not chapter 35 as here.

The future death of King Zedekiah (Jer 34:4-34:5)

“Yet hear

The word of Yahweh!

O King Zedekiah

Of Judah!

Thus says Yahweh

Concerning you.

‘You shall not die

By the sword.

You shall die in peace.

As spices were burned

For your ancestors,

The earlier kings

Who preceded you,

So they will

Burn spices for you.

They will

Lament for you,

Saying.

‘Alas!

Lord!’

I have spoken the word.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh has Jeremiah tell King Zedekiah that he will not die by the sword or on the battlefield. Instead the king would die in peace. They would have a nice funeral for him. They would burn spices for him, as they had done to the honor the former kings, his ancestors. They had not done this for his brother King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). However, they would lament the death of King Zedekiah as if he were a good king. Thus he would have a glorious happy death.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

The prophet Hananiah speaks (Jer 28:2-28:4)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘I have broken the yoke

Of the king of Babylon.

Within two years,

I will bring back

To this place

All the vessels

Of Yahweh’s house

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Took away from this place.

He carried them

To Babylon.

I will also bring back

To this place

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim

Of Judah,

With all the exiles

From Judah

Who went to Babylon.

I will break

The yoke

Of the king of Babylon.’

Says Yahweh.”

Hananiah, the prophet from Gibeon, then uttered an oracle of Yahweh, the God of Israel, much like Jeremiah had done. He claimed that he had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. He said that within 2 years all the vessels from the Temple sanctuary would be returned to Jerusalem. He was also going to bring back the deposed King Jeconiah or King Jehoiachin or King Coniah as he was known as, who had been king for only a couple of months in 598 BCE after his father King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been killed. In the meantime, King Nebuchadnezzar had put King Jeconiah’s uncle on the throne, King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). The exiled King Jeconiah was in Babylon in captivity. He was part of the first captivity of 598 BCE, when the sacred vessels and the other exiles also went to Babylon. Clearly, Hananiah the prophet said that Yahweh wanted to break the yoke of the king of Babylon. However, Jeremiah the prophet had said that Yahweh was in favor of this yoke. Let’s see what happens as these 2 prophets interpret the will of Yahweh as regards Babylon.

Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.

The death of the prophet Uriah (Jer 26:21-26:23)

“When King Jehoiakim,

With all his warriors,

With all his officials,

Heard his words,

The king sought

To put him to death.

When Uriah heard this,

He was afraid.

He fled.

He escaped to Egypt.

Then King Jehoiakim sent

Elnathan,

The son of Achbor,

With other men with him,

To Egypt.

They took Uriah

From Egypt.

They brought him

To King Jehoiakim.

He struck him down

With the sword.

They threw his dead body

Into the burial place

Of the common people.”

King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), the same king as when Jeremiah was prophesying, heard about the prophecies of Uriah. He had an immediate reaction as he with his warriors and officials wanted to kill Uriah for his prophecy about the demise of Judah and Jerusalem. This prophet Uriah then fled to Egypt. However, the king of Egypt had put King Jehoiakim on the throne. Elnathan, the son of Achbor, may have been the father-in-law of the king of Judah. Achbor had helped King Josiah in his religious reforms. Thus when he showed up with some men in Egypt, they were able to bring him back to the king of Judah. There they killed Uriah with a sword. Then they threw his dead body in the common burial place. Uriah did not have a happy ending. He was one of the few prophets to be killed.