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Go to Bible: Jeremiah 43
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“the voice of Yahweh.” It was the prophet who did the speaking, but the “voice” was Yahweh’s voice.(top)
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“He.” Nebuchadnezzar. The “he” is preserved in the Septuagint, Syriac, and Latin texts, the change from “he” to “I” was apparently a copyists error in the accepted Hebrew text.
“the houses of the gods.” That is, the temples. A victor would burn the temples and carry the gods away captive to show that their own gods were superior to the gods of the conquered nation.
“and he will burn them or carry them away captive.” This is referring to the gods of Egypt. Some were wood and would be burned, while valuable gods made of gold, silver, etc., would be carried away captive. The burning of the temples is stated in Jeremiah 43:12. The belief in the gods, even the gods of other nations, was strong, and so the idols were not considered booty, but captives.
“he will clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd cleans his garment of vermin.” This translation follows definitions preferred in HALOT Hebrew-English lexicon (cp. HCSB; ESV; NAB; NET; NLT; NRSV; RSV).(top)
“standing stones of Beth-shemesh.” In the context of Egypt, the “standing-stones” were the obelisks, of which there were many in Heliopolis. In the rest of the Middle East, most standing-stones were natural stones, or slightly worked stones, that were set up as part of the worship of pagan gods. God commanded that they be destroyed. What is noteworthy here in Jeremiah 43:13 is that it is Nebuchadnezzar, not the forces of Yahweh, that destroy the obelisks in Egypt and burn the pagan temples. Rulers knew that people drew strength from relying on their gods, and if a foreign king could destroy a country’s gods then the people were more easily defeated and controlled. Nebuchadnezzar burned the Temple in Jerusalem for the same reason. [For more on standing-stones, see commentary on Gen. 28:18. For more on idols being harmful, see commentary on Deuteronomy 7:5].
“House of the Sun.” The Hebrew is Beth-shemesh, but that means “the House of the Sun,” or, since “house” in this context can mean “temple,” it means “the Temple of the Sun.” There was also a Beth-shemesh in Judah (2 Kings 14:11), but that was a city. This “Beth-shemesh,” Temple of the Sun, was almost certainly in the city that is better known by its Greek name, Heliopolis, though it was called “On” (Gen. 41:45). Heliopolis was well know for all the obelisks there, and of the many that were there, only one remains.(top)