Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Jeremiah's last prophecy Jer. 44, in which he boldly rebukes the tendency of the Jews to idolatry, which seems to have grown only the stronger in their tribulation. The address was evidently made to them at some festival, and though the Jews lived in the hope of being able soon to return to Judaea from Egypt, yet we find that they had spread over the whole land, representatives of their communities having come to Pathros not only from Migdol and Tahpanhes, but even from Noph.
Migdol - Magdolum, a strong fortress on the northern boundary of Egypt.
In that they went to burn incense, and to serve - Or, by going to burn incense to serve thereby other gods.
Howbeit I sent - And I sent.
Your souls - i. e., your own selves.
Cut yourselves off - Rather, cut (them, Jer 44:7) off from you.
The wickedness of their wives - Many accept the reading of the Septuagint: the "wickedness of your princes." "The kings, the princes, the people," and finally "their wives," is a summary enumeration of all classes, by whose united persistence in sin the ruin of their country had been consummated.
All Judah - i. e., all Judah in Egypt, yet even there with exceptions (see Jer 44:14, Jer 44:28), while Judah in Babylon was entirely exempt from this denunciation.
Literally, "And there shall not be to the remnant of Judah, which are going to sojourn there in the land of Egypt, one that escapes or remains etc." The word rendered "escapes" means one who slips away, saves himself by a stealthy flight Gen 14:13; the word "remains," one who survives when all the rest perish Job 18:19. Of all those now going down to Egypt none shall return to Judaea except a few miserable fugitives, who shall steal away as men who flee in battle Sa2 19:3. For really years Jewish settlers had gone to Egypt in great numbers, and these old settlers would be treated in the same way as the Egyptians, but these fugitives, with no knowledge of the Egyptian language or ways, would have no friends in the country to aid them, and would also be recognized by the Chaldaeans as inveterate enemies, and mercilessly slain.
Had burned incence - Omit "had;" burned incense. This appeal of the prophet was made at a public festival held somewhere in Pathros, i. e., Upper Egypt: for the women are assembled in a great congregation (compare Jer 26:9), here formed for religious purposes. As they advance in regular procession to worship the moon-goddess, in accordance as it seems with a vow Jer 44:17, Jeremiah meets them, makes the procession halt upon its way, and pronounces in Yahweh's name words of solemn warning. The reply that all the settlers in Egypt were formally putting themselves under the Queen of heaven's protection was made by the heads of the congregation.
Whatsoever thing ... - Or, the whole word (or thing) which hath gone forth out of our mouth; i. e., the vows we have made. They would not let Jeremiah's expostulations prevent the carrying out of the special object which had brought them together: otherwise the Queen of heaven would be offended, and avenge himself.
The suppression of this popular idolatry had apparently been regarded with much ill-will in Josiah's time, and many may even have ascribed to it his defeat at Megiddo. Probably Jehoiakim had again permitted it, but Zedekiah, during the miseries of his reign, had forbidden it, and the people ascribed the fall of Jerusalem to the neglect of their favorite goddess.
Burned ... poured ... did - Or, burn ... pour ... do.
To worship her - Rather, to represent her image. The cakes Jer 7:18 were made in the shape of a crescent to represent the moon.
Our men - i. e., our husbands (margin). They had the authority of their husbands for what they were doing. Jeremiah must leave them alone, and discuss the matter with those who alone had the right to interfere.
Them - The various acts of idolatry involved in burning incense to an image.
Could no longer bear - The prophet corrects in these words the error of their argument in Jer 44:17. God is long-suffering, and therefore punishment follows slowly upon sin.
Earnest as was the preceding expostulation, Jeremiah sees that it has produced no effect. He therefore utters his last warning, and with this last resistance to the sins of a debased and godless people, his earthly ministry closed.
And fulfilled with your hand - Your hands. Jeremiah pointed to their hands, in which they were carrying the crescent-shaped cakes which they had vowed to the goddess. Their idolatry therefore was an accomplished deed, as the symbols held in their hands testified.
Ye will surely accomplish - Or, Accomplish then your vows. It is not a prediction, but is ironical, and means that as they will take no warning, they must needs have their way.
My name shall no more be named ... - God swears by His own great Name that He will be their national God no longer. Yahweh repudiates His covenant-relation toward them.
I will watch - I am watching over them, not for good, but for evil: like a panther Jer 5:6 lying in wait to spring upon passengers.
Shall be consumed - This is the result of Yahweh's repudiation of thee covenant. When He was their God He watched over them for good: now His protection is withdrawn, and He is their enemy, because of the wickedness whereby their rejection was made necessary. See the Jer 6:9 note.
Literally, "And fugitives from the sword (see Jer 44:14) shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, mere of number, i. e., so few that they can be counted: and all the remnant of Jadah that are going etc." So unendurable shall be their sufferings in Egypt, that the men now abandoning Judaea in the hope of finding an asylum there shall be glad to return like runaways from a lost battle.
Whose words ... - Whose word shall stand, from Me or from them, i. e., the one prediction, that their descent into Egypt would be their ruin, which they denied.
Pharaoh-Hophra came to the throne the year before Jerusalem was captured. He reigned for 19 years, probably the last 10 years as a prisoner. See the notes at Jer 37:5; notes at Jer 46:12.