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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 46:20

 

 

"Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north--it is coming!

Adam Clarke Commentary

Egypt is like a very fair heifer - Fruitful and useful; but destruction cometh out of the north, from Chaldea. It may be that there is an allusion here to Isis, worshipped in Egypt under the form of a beautiful cow.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-46.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Is like - Or, is. Her god was the steer Apis Jeremiah 46:15, and she is the spouse.

But destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north - More probably, “a gadfly from the north has come upon her.” This is a sort of insect which stings the oxen and drives them to madness. Compare Isaiah 7:18.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-46.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

GLIDING AWAY LIKE A SNAKE

"Egypt is a very fair heifer, but destruction out of the north is come, it is come. Also, her hired men in the midst of her are like calves of the stall; for they also are turned back, they are fled away together, they did not stand, for the day of their calamity is come upon them, the time of their visitation. The sound thereof shall go like the serpent; for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood. They shall cut down her forest, saith Jehovah, though it cannot be searched; because they are more than the locusts, and are innumerable. The daughter of Egypt shall be put to shame; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north."

"A very fair heifer ..." (Jeremiah 46:20). Memphis, prominently mentioned in this section, was the shrine of the Sacred Bull of Egypt; and the graves of the many successive animals which served as the living symbol of that God (Apis), each in a private tomb once decorated the ancient city. On this account, the identification of Egypt here as a "heifer" is thought to be sarcastic.

"Hired men ... like calves of the stall ..." (Jeremiah 46:21). "Egypt's mercenaries were but as fat calves in the hands of the butcher!"[18] They probably ate well, looked good, and made a beautiful parade; but they were worthless as fighting men.

"The sound thereof shall go like the serpent ..." (Jeremiah 46:22). The serpent was sacred to one of the most prominent Egyptian gods; and this symbol of the whole nation is probably sarcastically referred to in this verse. The woodsmen are represented as clearing the forest, and the serpent slithers away to hide! It is as if one said of the USA, "The eagle is trapped and is flapping his wings in vain!"

"They shall cut down her forest ... though it cannot be searched ..." (Jeremiah 46:23). The total loss of their forested land was an incredibly effective punishment that Nebuchadnezzar inflicted upon Egypt.

"The daughter of Egypt shall be put to shame ..." (Jeremiah 46:24). "This refers to the exposure of Egypt as she was delivered into the hands of Babylon, an exposure of which Jeremiah had been an eyewitness during the fall of Jerusalem to the same foe; and he had seen the women and girls become objects to satisfy the lust of the Babylonian troops. Jeremiah had previously warned Jerusalem in similar language (Jeremiah 6:12; 38:23, etc.)."[19]


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jeremiah-46.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Egypt is like a very fair heifer,.... Like a heifer that has never been under a yoke, it having never been conquered, and brought under the power of another; and like a beautiful, fat, and well fed one, abounding in wealth and riches, in pleasures and delights, in wantonness and luxury, and fit for slaughter, and ready for it. The Targum is,

"Egypt was a beautiful kingdom.'

Some think there is an illusion to the gods of Egypt, Apis and Mnevis, which were heifers or oxen, very beautiful, that had fine spots and marks upon them. Apis was worshipped at Memphis, or Noph, before mentioned, as to be wasted; and Mnevis at Heliopolis, the city of the sun, the same with Bethshemesh, whose destruction is prophesied of; See Gill on Jeremiah 43:13; and both these were of various colours, as OvidF26"------variisque coloribus Apis", Ovid. Metamorph. l. 9. Fab. 12. says, particularly of one of them, and is true of both. Pomponius MelaF1De Orbis Situ, l. 1. c. 9. observes of Apis, the god of all the people of Egypt, that it was a black ox, remarkable for certain spots; and unlike to others in its tongue and tail. And SolinusF2Polyhistor. c. 45. says, it is famous for a white spot on its right side, in the form of a new moon: with whom PlinyF3Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 46. agrees, that it has a white spot on the right side, like the horns of the moon, when it begins to increase; and that it has a knot under the tongue, which they call a beetle. And so HerodotusF4L. 3. sive Thalia, c. 28. says, it is very black, and has a white square spot on the forehead; on the back, the effigies of an eagle; two hairs in the tail, and a beetle On the tongue, To which may be added what StraboF5Geograph. l. 17. p. 555. Ed. Casaubon. reports, that at Memphis, the royal city of Egypt, is the temple of Apis, the same with Osiris; where the ox of Apis is fed in an enclosure, and reckoned to be a god; it is white in its forehead, and in some small parts of the body, and the rest black; by which marks and signs it is always judged what is proper to be put in its place when dead. In the Table of IrisF6Piguorii Mensa Isiaca, tab. 4. , published by Pignorius, it is otherwise painted and described; its head, neck, horns, buttocks, and tail, black, and the rest white; and, on the right side, a corniculated streak. AelianusF7De Animal. l. 11. c. 10. says, these marks were in number twenty nine, and, according to the Egyptians, were symbols of things; some, of the nature of the stars; some, of the overflowing of the Nile; some, of the darkness of the world before the light, and of other things: and all agree, that the ox looked fair and beautiful, to which the allusion is; and there may be in the words an ironical sarcasm, flout, and jeer, at the gods they worshipped, which could not save them from the destruction coming upon them, as follows:

but destruction cometh, it cometh from the north; that is, the destruction of Egypt, which should come from Chaldea, which lay north of Egypt; and the coming of it is repeated, to denote the quickness and certainty of it: the word used signifies a cutting off, or a cutting up; in allusion to the cutting off the necks of heifers, which used to be done when slain, Deuteronomy 21:4; or to the cutting of them up, as is done by butchers: and the abstract being put for the concrete, it may be rendered, the "cutter up"F8קרץ "mactator", Grotius. So Jarchi. ; or cutter off; men, like butchers, shall come out of Babylon, and slay and cut up, this heifer. So the Targum,

"people, that are slayers shall come out of the north against her, to spoil herF9So in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 32. 2. ;'

that is, the Chaldean army, agreeably to the Syriac version,

"an army shall come out of the north against her.'


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-46.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Egypt [is like] a very q fair heifer, [but] destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

(q) They have abundance of all things, and therefore are disobedient and proud.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-46.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

heifer — wanton, like a fat, untamed heifer (Hosea 10:11). Appropriate to Egypt, where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with spots.

destruction — that is, a destroyer: Nebuchadnezzar. Vulgate translates, “a goader,” answering to the metaphor, “one who will goad the heifer” and tame her. The Arabic idiom favors this [Rosenmuller].

cometh … cometh — The repetition implies, it cometh surely and quickly (Psalm 96:13).

out of the north — (See on Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 47:2).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-46.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

A serpent — Egypt is now like an heifer that makes a great bellowing, but the time shall come when she shall make a lesser noise like the hissing of a serpent.

With axes — For the Chaldeans shall come with an army, armed with battle-axes, as if they came to fell wood in a forest.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jeremiah-46.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Jeremiah intimates here, that though Egypt indulged in pleasures, it could not yet escape the vengeance of God. We reminded you yesterday why the Prophets mentioned the wealth, the riches, and the power of the ungodly, even because they are blinded by all the good things in which they abound; for they fear nothing, nor feel any anxiety, but through a false notion they exempt themselves from every evil. As, then, the unbelieving are thus presumptuous and proud, the Prophets, on the other hand, warn them and say, that however they may exult in their own strength and defenses, they would yet, when it pleased God to make them prey, become the most miserable of all.

The Prophet, then, in short, takes away the false conceit of the Jews, as well as of the Egyptians; as though he had said, “The Egyptians trust in their prosperity, even as though they were like a heifer frisking in the fields; but calamity,” he says,.” is coming, is coming from the north.” He repeats the same word, in order to remove every doubt: coming, then, is distress, it is coming from the north, that is, from the Babylonians, who were situated northward to Judea, as we stated yesterday.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-46.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 46:20 Egypt [is like] a very fair heifer, [but] destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

Ver. 20. Egypt is like a very fair heifer.] Vitula elegans, a trim bullock; (a) worshipping Apis the bull and Mnevis the cow, and unaccustomed to the yoke of subjection, {as Hosea 10:11} but I shall bring her to it.

Destruction cometh.] Or, Excision from the north cometh, cometh, certo, cito, penitus venit [Ezekiel 7:6] There come those that shall cut up this fair heifer or fat calf.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-46.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Jeremiah 46:20. Egypt is like a very fair heifer Egypt is a fair and elegant heifer: the drivers shall come upon her from the north: Jeremiah 46:21. For her hired men, who in the midst of her were like fatted bullocks, have turned back, and fled away. Houbigant. The prophet delights in that kind of imagery which marks out a people by their singularities or pre-eminence. Thus, in the passage before us, he alludes to the peculiar worship of the Egyptians; for the worship of Isis and Osiris under the figure of a cow and a bull, and afterwards by the animals themselves, was the most celebrated in all the Egyptian ritual. See Divine Legation, vol. 2:


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/jeremiah-46.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That is, Egypt is now in a thriving, prosperous condition, having not used to be under any yoke, like a heifer that is fair and fat; but she will not be so long, she is but as a beast fatted for the slaughter, and there are slaughtermen coming out of Chaldea that will kill this fair heifer, and make her a sacrifice to the justice of God.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-46.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20. Heifer — A figure suggested by, and answering to, her god, the bull Apis.

Destruction cometh — The original word for “destruction” occurs here only. Many meanings have been given to it, most of which are mere guesses. Gesenius, Furst, and the Rabbins hold to “destruction.” Hitzig, Schultens, Roediger, Nagelsbach, Keil, and, indeed, most modern Hebraists, give the meaning gadfly, and still other senses have been suggested. The Vulgate translates goader. Of the two senses given above as most prominent, that of gadfly is most generally adopted, and seems to have the best etymological support; but that of “destruction” is most obvious and satisfactory.

Cometh… cometh — Emphatic. Cometh surely and quickly.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-46.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The enemy from the north would attack Egypt and leave a wound, like a horsefly stinging a heifer. This may be an ironical poke at Egypt, since one of its deities was Apis, the sacred bull.

"A very beautiful heifer is the people when carefully and abundantly fed in their beautiful and fertile land (Hitzig)." [Note: Keil, 2:190.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-46.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Goad her. Nabuchodonosor shall subdue the country.


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-46.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

heifer. Probably an allusion to Apis, the sacred bull.

destruction = piercing. Hebrew. kerez. Occurs only here. Revised Version margin suggests gadfly. If it be so, the attack is on the heifer.

cometh. Some codices, with two early printed editions, Aramaean, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, read "attacketh her".

the north. Though Babylon was on the east, the entry through Palestine was from the north, as Abraham entered it.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-46.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.

Egypt is like as very fair heifer - wanton, like a fat untamed heifer (Hosea 10:11). Appropriate to Egypt, where Apis was worshipped under the form of a fair bull marked with spots.

But destruction - i:e., a destroyer "cometh:" Nebuchadnezzar. The Vulgate translates 'a goader,' answering to the metaphor, 'one who will goad the heifer' and tame her. The Arabian idiom favours this (Rosenmuller).

Cometh ... cometh - the repetition implies, it cometh surety and quickly (Psalms 96:13).

Out of the north - (note, Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 47:2).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-46.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(20) Egypt is like a very fair heifer.—The similitude points, like the “strong one” of Jeremiah 46:15, to the Apis worship of Egypt. The nation is like its god. The figure is continued in the words that follow. There comes from the north (from the land of the Chaldees, as in Jeremiah 1:1), not “destruction,” but a gadfly that shall sting the heifer into the madness of agony. So, in Isaiah 7:18, the “fly” of Egypt and the “bee” of Assyria are invited to work evil on Judah. The words find a striking parallel in the Greek legend of Io (probably to be identified with the Egyptian Isis) transformed into a heifer, and her gadfly tormentor, this also connected with the Apis or Mnevis deities of Egypt (Æschyl. Prom. v. 569). The word for “destruction” is not found elsewhere, but the etymology suggests the idea of “pinching” or “stinging,” and the meaning “gadfly” is accepted by many recent scholars.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-46.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.
a very
50:11; Hosea 10:11
it cometh
6,10; 1:14; 25:9; 47:2

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 46:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-46.html.

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