The story goes something like this. A man and a woman were going someplace “to get away from things.” They had just been through some life trauma and wanted to get away from it all but had little funds to support it. She sought some advice. Her husband asked her, “where would you like to go?” She replied, “why don’t you just ask our travel agent.” So he does. He later reports back what the travel agent recommends. He was assured by the highly recommended agent that if they stayed local, he could guarantee their safety, price, enjoyment, and still get away from the trauma. There has been violence in the surrounding areas. However, if they go outside of their home territory, they will pay a great price for so doing and their trauma will simply follow them.
Once her husband reports back to her per the travel agent’s advice, she immediately accuses him of being self-serving, he was lying, it wasn’t what she wanted, (Florida was on her mind) and the agent didn’t understand their circumstances. What does he know anyway? Then she gathers up the family, packs up luggage along with a charge card, tells him to get in the car, and off they go to a Florida. (See article on Chapter 44; trauma does follow them)
This is similar to Jeremiah’s situation in chapter 43. The Judean survivors and remaining militia of Judah, following the traumatic invasion of the Babylonians, sought out Jeremiah and begged him to ask God what they should do. Most of the Judeans… king, rulers, and leaders were taken captive to Chaldea-Babylon.
This takes us into chapter 43. Looking back at chapter 42 we discovered that Jeremiah was assured by God that if they stayed within their homeland, he would protect them from any further Babylonian trauma and any other enemy, but they must believe and have faith in him [42:10, 11]. In short, God had changed his mind and would protect, provide safety, offered a life from additional trauma, and at a cost of simply worshiping him as their God.
Jeremiah is accused in verse 2 of chapter 43 [ESV]…”You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, “Do not go to Egypt to live there…” Essentially they accuse Jeremiah of being a turncoat and since the Babylonians had looked favorably upon Jeremiah, he was seen as a traitor. Remember that up until now, these very same “captains of the army (militia)” and the Judean citizens had resisted all of Jeremiah’s counsel and prophecy even though it now all came true.
The army had good reason to continue fearing the Babylonians. In all likelihood, it was these military men who had initially recommended to King Zedekiah to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. Why would they now want to hang around? They even go so far as to accuse Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary, of setting them up for destruction; Baruch’s “get even” plot.
JIV NOTE: One of the great mysteries in the bible is why do the Israelites (including Judeans) constantly want to flee to Egypt for protection; the very same place they served as slaves to the Pharaohs for 400 years??? We recall in Exodus 5:2 that the Pharaoh said to Moses…”who is the Lord that I should obey him?” This is a continued explanation as to why God was judging Judah. They wanted help, but they wanted it their way… “Do your job God and protect us but let us serve other gods.”
We must make note of the following few verses. Many times one who reads this passage is left with the impression that all of Judah was not taken into captivity by the Babylonians. A remnant is left behind. This is true however no one is to be left in the former Kingdom of Judah, now a province of Babylon.
Jeremiah 43: 4-7; [ESV] So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah.
But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven–the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD.
JIV: Once again contrary to some theologians, this is not the return and again the removal of the Tribes to Israel. It is those of Judah who had fled Nebuchadnezzar. Those who returned to Judah were JUDEANS; i.e. Tribe of Judah.
The (Promised) land is now vacated. This is the argument of the Palestinian Arabs today; 2017. They argue that the Israeli’s of the ten tribe Northern Kingdom were totally dispersed by the Assyrians well over 100 years before this time, and never returned. They were forced into and throughout the world. Now the remaining remnant of Judeans left (fled) the land of the former Kingdom of Judah and escaped to Egypt. Per modern Arab thought, it was desertion of their Promised Land so it now defaults to the other son of Eber (through Joktan), and other Arab descendants of Esau (son of Isaac) and Ishmael (son of Abraham).
If a church or denomination wants to believe that the New Testament REPLACES the Israeli covenants of the Old Testament, then even so-called Christian Churches today will take this same stand albeit in their shallow Arab understanding or ignorance of the Word (promises) of God. “People have deserted the church so it is no longer valid” so they think.
Jeremiah now unloads on his remaining countrymen in vocal dynamics probably unmatched in his previous prophesies and warnings. He tells the fleeing remnant to ‘Stand ready and be prepared, for the sword shall devour around you.’ God warned them though Jeremiah in chapter 42: if they desert their Promised homeland they would not be protected by their God, or avoid the sword, pestilence, and death.
Here is a very interesting archeological insight. God tells Jeremiah to bury some large stones under the pavement of the entrance to the city of Tahpanhes, Egypt. He is to do this in the full view of these of the fleeing Judean militia and Jews within this remnant. He does what God commanded of him while prophesying… the Babylonians will not only attack Egypt, but will also kill those who think they have avoided God’s judgement. The evidence is where Jeremiah buries these large stones. Nebuchadnezzar will set his tent on that very spot when invading Egypt. No one can avoid God’s judgement! The encyclopedia describes this very event…
A platform of brickwork, which has been tentatively described as the pavement at the entry of Pharaoh‘s palace, has been discovered at this place. “Here,” says the discoverer, William Flinders Petrie, “the ceremony described by Jeremiah 43:8-10; ‘brick-kiln’ (i.e. pavement of brick) took place before the chiefs of the fugitives assembled on the platform, and here Nebuchadnezzar II spread his royal pavilion”. The site was discovered by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie in 1886. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahpanhes)
However, the fleeing Judeans are not the only ones to suffer upon settling in Tahpanhes, Egypt. When the Babylonians finally attack Egypt they utterly destroy much of the land itself including burning their temples of evil and other god worship and other artifacts now discovered by William Flinders Petrie.
The Babylonians still had a score to settle with the Egyptians. When Nebuchadnezzar was laying siege to Jerusalem, just as Jeremiah had prophesied, the Egyptians marched out to engage him in war. King Zedekiah of Judah and Egypt had signed an alliance. Their armies, however, never engaged. The Egyptians retreated after the Babylonians army pulled out of Judah to fight them. This is probably why so many of the Judean army was still around. They had probably gone out to join the Egyptians and were not in Judea when Nebuchadnezzar attacked. Some undoubtedly were in hiding.
Next article – Chapter 44: How far had the people of Judah turned their hearts from God? Next article is another WOW moment.
Dr. J. Stark