Jeremiah prophesied to Judah and its people in a period of tumultuous national and international upheaval - before, during, and after God sent the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Judah and His Temple in 586 BCE. Jeremiah’s prophecy which appears in his book just before the Haftarah (46:1-12) occurs decades before Judah’s destruction. In it, Jeremiah declares that Egypt’s northward imperial expansion will be turned back at the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians; so it was, in 605.
In his prophecy in the Haftarah, Jeremiah continues God’s sanction of Babylon's destruction of Egypt. Speaking around the time of Judah’s destruction, he asserts that Nebuchadnezzar’s army, coming from the north, will destroy Egypt, its leaders, and gods; later, Egypt’s exiled survivors will return home . The destruction is similar to God’s destruction of Egypt in the Parashah. Jeremiah declares that God is punishing Egypt for its misdeeds; the Book of Kings describes how Egypt mistreated Judah at that time. The prophet concludes by reassuring Judeans that despite the turmoil, God will ensure their survival, punish their oppressors, and return them to dwell peacefully in His land.
Verses 13-19: God tells Jeremiah to declare in Egypt His firm plan to utterly destroy it and its king, whose time has passed in His eyes. Egypt’s mighty men shall flee; its survivors shall be exiled abroad.
Pack your belongings for exile, you who live in Egypt - for Noph will be laid waste, and lie in ruins without inhabitants.
כְּלֵ֤י גוֹלָה֙ עֲשִׂ֣י לָ֔ךְ יוֹשֶׁ֖בֶת בַּת־מִצְרָ֑יִם כִּֽי־נֹף֙ לְשַׁמָּ֣ה תִֽהְיֶ֔ה וְנִצְּתָ֖ה מֵאֵ֥ין יוֹשֵֽׁב׃ (ס)
Verses 20-24: Like a fattened cow ready for slaughter and a forest ready to be cut down, Egypt and its hired soldiers will be destroyed. More numerous than a locust cloud, its conqueror shall come from the north.
Egypt is a very fair heifer— a destroyer from the north is surely coming!
עֶגְלָ֥ה יְפֵֽה־פִיָּ֖ה מִצְרָ֑יִם קֶ֥רֶץ מִצָּפ֖וֹן בָּ֥א בָֽא׃
Verses 25-26: The God of Israel declares that He is punishing Egypt by sending the Babylonians, from its north, to destroy it - though its exilees will eventually return to its land.
“And I will deliver them into the hand[s] of those who seek [to end] their lives and into the hand[s] of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and into the hand[s] of his servants. Afterward, [Egypt] shall be inhabited again as in the days of old,” says the Lord.
וּנְתַתִּ֗ים בְּיַד֙ מְבַקְשֵׁ֣י נַפְשָׁ֔ם וּבְיַ֛ד נְבֽוּכַדְרֶאצַּ֥ר מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֖ל וּבְיַד־עֲבָדָ֑יו וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֛ן תִּשְׁכֹּ֥ן כִּֽימֵי־קֶ֖דֶם נְאֻם־ה'׃ (ס)
Verses 27-28: Amidst the upheavals, God will protect his exiled people, Israel, and return them to dwell peaceably in His Land.
And You, O My servant, Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, and [redeem] your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, and be quiet and at ease; there shall be none to make him tremble.
וְ֠אַתָּה אַל־תִּירָ֞א עַבְדִּ֤י יַֽעֲקֹב֙ וְאַל־תֵּחַ֣ת יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כִּ֠י הִנְנִ֤י מוֹשִֽׁעֲךָ֙ מֵֽרָח֔וֹק וְאֶֽת־זַרְעֲךָ֖ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ שִׁבְיָ֑ם וְשָׁ֧ב יַעֲק֛וֹב וְשָׁקַ֥ט וְשַׁאֲנַ֖ן וְאֵ֥ין מַחֲרִֽיד׃ (ס)
The poetic description of Egypt in the poem Maoz Tzur is derived from verse 46:20 (above).
My soul was sated with woes; my strength had ended with sorrow.
My life was embittered by hardship when subjected to the Heifer Kingdom (Egypt).
With His great power, He brought forth the treasured one.
The host of Pharaoh and all his seed descended like a stone in the watery deep.
רָעוֹת שָׂבְעָה נַפְשִׁי בְּיָגוֹן כֹּחִי כִּלָה
חַיַּי מָרְרוּ בְּקוֹשִׁי בְּשִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכוּת עֶגְלָה
וּבְיָדוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה הוֹצִיא אֶת הַסְּגֻלָּה
חֵיל פַּרְעֹה וְכָל זַרְעוֹ יָרְדוּ כְאֶבֶן בִּמְצוּלָה
Rabbi Moses Cordovero, one of the earliest Tzfat Kabbalists , derives a practice that is part of a mystical practice of connecting to God’s Kingship from the Haftarah.
Sefer Tomer Devorah 9
To go into exile: ...He [should] exile himself from place to place for the sake of Heaven. Through this, he becomes a “chariot” for the exiled Shechinah [Divine Presence], and liken himself [to the Shechinah, as follows]: "Behold, I have exiled myself. Behold, all my [needed] items are with me. What does the honor of the Higher Realm do? The Shechinah was exiled, but her items are not with Her, as they were removed on account of exile!" Therefore, let him minimize his vessels with all of his ability, as Scripture (Jeremiah 46:19) states, "Pack your belongings for exile." Let him subdue his heart in this exile and connect himself to Torah - then the Shechinah will be with him. He [should also] banish himself by always removing himself from his residence, in the way that Rabbi Shimon and his colleagues would banish themselves, and occupy themselves with Torah.
לצאת לגלות: … יִגְלֶה מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, וּבָזֶה יֵעָשֶׂה מֶרְכָּבָה אֶל הַשְּׁכִינָה הַגּוֹלָה. וִידַמֶּה עַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי אֲנִי גָלִיתִי וַהֲרֵי כְּלֵי תַשְׁמִישַׁי עִמִּי, מַה יַעֲשֶׂה כְּבוֹד גָּבוֹהַּ שֶׁגָּלְתָה שְׁכִינָה וְכֵלֶיהָ אֵינָם עִמָּהּ, שֶׁחָסְרוּ בְּסִבַּת הַגָּלוּת. וְלָזֶה יְמַעֵט בְּכֵלָיו בְּכָל יְכָלְתּוֹ כְּדִכְתִיב (יִרְמִיָה מו, יט): "כְּלֵי גוֹלָה עֲשִׂי לָךְ" וְיַכְנִיעַ לְבָבוֹ בַּגּוֹלָה וְיִתְקַשֵּׁר בַּתּוֹרָה, וְאָז שְׁכִינָה עִמּוֹ, וַיַּעֲשֶׂה לְעַצְמוֹ גֵּרוּשִׁין וְיִתְגָּרֵשׁ מִבֵּית מְנֻחָתוֹ תָּמִיד כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהָיוּ מִתְגָּרְשִׁים רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן וַחֲבֵרָיו וְעוֹסְקִים בַּתּוֹרָה.
With emendations, biblical translations are by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg and other translations are from Sefaria.org.
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