1. The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles;
1. Qui fuit sermo Jehovae (ita ad verbum) ad Jeremiam Prophetam super cunctas Gentes:
2. Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.
2. Quantum ad Aegyptum, contra exercitum Pharaonis Necho, regis Aegypti qui erat super flumen Euphratem in Charchamis, quem percussit Nabuchadnezer, rex Babylonis, anno quarto Jehoiakim, filii Josiae, regis Jehudah.
Jeremiah begins here to prophesy against foreign nations, and continues to do so to the last chapter but one, not that he then for the first time began to announce these oracles, but as I have already said, a volume was at length formed, including his prophecies, the order of time being not everywhere observed; for we see in the 25th chapter that he threatened heathen nations with the punishments they had deserved before Jehoiakim was made king. But as I have said, the prophecies respecting heathen nations have been separated, though as to time Jeremiah had predicted what afterwards happened.
He then says that he had prophesied of the destruction of the Egyptian army which King Nebuchadnezzar overthrew in the fourth year of Jehoiakim Jeremiah had then foretold before this time what was to be. It might have been that before Pharaoh-necho prepared his army, Jeremiah predicted what would take place; but it is probable that this prophecy was announced at the time when Pharaoh-necho went forth against the Chaldeans, for he was fighting then for the Assyrians. As they were not equal to the Chaldeans they made a treaty with the Egyptians. They then had come for a subsidy to drive away the Babylonians, and thus to defend the Assyrians against their forces. But at first the expedition met with success; yet at last what had been predicted by the Prophet was fulfilled.
It is not known whether or not the design was to alleviate the sorrow of the people by this prophecy; and yet I am disposed to receive what the greater part of interpreters have held, that as at that time the people were in the greatest trouble, this prophecy was given in order that the faithful might know that God had not ceased to care for his people. But we must especially attend to the truth of history, for when Pharaoh-necho was induced, as it has been said, by the Assyrians, to lead his army to the Euphrates, the pious king Josiah met him, and he was then a confederate with the Babylonians, because there had been a friendly intercourse between the Chaldeans and the Jews since the reign of Hezekiah. As then Josiah wished to render service to a king who was his friend, he opposed the army of Pharaoh; but he was conquered and slain. Now the expedition of Pharaoh was fortunate and successful for a time, but when he began to boast of victory he was suddenly cast down; for King Nebuchadnezzar not only checked his audacity, but having routed his army, compelled him to return into Egypt, and occupied the whole country from the Euphrates to Palusium. That country had not yet been exposed to those continual changes which afterwards happened, that is, when those robbers who had succeeded Alexander the Great boasted that they were the kings of kings, and when every one strove to draw all things to himself. For hence it happened that now Egyptian kings, and then Asiatic kings, often shook that land as far as they could. This had not yet happened when Jeremiah prophesied, nor had Alexander been yet born, but it yet appears that these regions were even then subject to changes, so that there was nothing fixed or permanent connected with them. We must then bear in mind that the events of wars were dubious, so that, one while, the Egyptians forcibly seized a portion of Asia, and at another time the Assyrians diminished their power, and again the Chaldeans. Pharaoh-necho was then so repulsed that he never dared again to come forth, as sacred history testifies in 2 Kings 24:7.
Let us now come to the Prophecy of Jeremiah. He says that he prophesied against the army of Pharaoh-necho, when it was at Euphrates, that is when he fought there and thought that he would be a conqueror, as he had far and wide desolated a hostile land, and brought under his authority many cities. When therefore he had met with great successes, Jeremiah was then bidden to prophesy against his army, so that the Jews might know that the death of pious Josiah would not go unpunished, because God had purposed to destroy that great army by which Josiah had been killed, and so to break down and lay prostrate the power of Egypt, that King Pharaoh would hereafter remain as shut up in prison as it afterwards happened. The rest to-morrow.