What Happened to Jeremiah and His Company?

Some doubters have claimed that “Jeremiah and his ‘band’ would not have moved away from their homeland and on to the land of Ireland as that runs against the witness of the scriptures. They claim that the Bible indicates that once in Egypt they would have died there or returned to Israel.”

JEREMIAH 42:10; JEREMIAH 42:13-16; JEREMIAH 42:17,18,21; JEREMIAH 44:11-12; JEREMIAH 44:13-14; JEREMIAH 44:27-28.

Answer:

Having established in the first article “The Promise of David’s Enduring Throne” that the rule of David’s OFFSPRING ON DAVID’S THRONE HAD TO CONTINUE INDEED, we will now attempt to answer some arguments regarding Jeremiah’s destiny after the Babylonian captivity was completed. The questions and arguments are summarized below as follows:

  1. Didn’t Jeremiah have it in mind to establish the throne of David nowhere else but in Judah?
  2. Didn’t the move to Egypt mean they would all die there, including Jeremiah?
  3. Would not the royal daughters certainly have died in Egypt?
  4. Do not the scriptures say that the only escape possible was to Judah (not Ireland)?
  5. Did not the LORD indicate to Baruch that he would not be used in a great task such as transferring the throne by saying: ‘Seek not great things for thyself’?
  6. Final Note
  7. Summary

1. "Didn’t Jeremiah have it in mind to establish the throne of David nowhere else but in Judah?"

When Jeremiah was still a child (JEREMIAH 1:6), God told him what his commission was going to be (JEREMIAH 1:10): “See, I have this day set thee over the NATIONS and over the KINGDOMS, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, TO BUILD AND TO PLANT.”

It is interesting to note here several things: Firstly, Jeremiah was set NOT ONLY OVER ONE NATION BUT OVER NATIONS AND KINGDOMS - clearly NOT ONLY Judah. Secondly, his job was both to destroy AND TO PLANT. It is clear that the rooting out, pulling down and destroying happened in Judah. There was not much left after the Babylonians had destroyed the city of Jerusalem and led the people away into captivity. But WHERE DID THE BUILDING AND PLANTING HAPPEN? It could not have happened in Judah - as the Jews only returned 70 years later from their Babylonian captivity when Jeremiah was no longer around!! And even though other people came to live in Palestine, you could certainly not call that a planting and building process OF NATIONS AND KINGDOMS BY JEREMIAH?

The scripture JEREMIAH 42:10 does indeed say that Jeremiah prophesied that they would be planted in Judah, but ONLY IF THEY REMAINED there. Sadly they did NOT remain, but all rebelled against the Lord and went to Egypt... so this prophecy of planting NEVER CAME TO PASS IN JUDAH as the people chose the second option... Plus, as will be discussed in more depth as we go on, this prophecy was NOT DIRECTED at, and does NOT APPLY to Jeremiah himself, or to the princesses with him, but ONLY to the group that approaches Jeremiah asking for the Lord’s direction (see JEREMIAH 42:1). So, if not in Judah, where would the planting process then take place? Actually the Bible DOES give us a clue which indicates that Jeremiah was well aware that the building should be done in A FOREIGN COUNTRY: “And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into A LAND WHICH THOU KNOWEST NOT.” (JEREMIAH 15:14). Jeremiah certainly knew Palestine!

SUMMARY: Jeremiah was well aware of his commission given to him at the time of his childhood, namely that he was set over NATIONS (MORE THAN ONE NATION). He had done the destroying part of his commission, the question now is: WHERE was he going to complete the building and planting part? Obviously NOT in Judah, for NO SEED OF DAVID WAS PLANTED AND BUILT IN JUDAH during this time and the Jews only returned themselves after 70 years! We must therefore look further... Let us now move on to investigate the fate of Jeremiah as he was taken to Egypt...

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2. "Didn’t the move to Egypt mean they would all die there, including Jeremiah?"

Jeremiah had prophesied to the group that the plan to go to Egypt was fatal since they would die there (JEREMIAH 42:10-22). Yet we know from subsequent scriptures that Baruch would DEFINITELY SURVIVE (JEREMIAH 45:5). It is also highly unlikely that Jeremiah would have died in Egypt as then his commission (JEREMIAH 1:10) could never have been completed and the LORD’S OWN PLAN WOULD HAVE BEEN RUINED. Furthermore, the Lord chose a very special man for the task of “pulling down and replanting”: Jeremiah was one of only three in history ever sanctified BEFORE his birth... the others being John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (JEREMIAH 1:5). WOULD THE LORD HAVE ALLOWED this special man with such a special commission to die prematurely in Egypt WITHOUT COMPLETING THE TASK?

Interestingly, when Jeremiah was called by the Lord, he received a PROMISE OF DELIVERANCE: “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to DELIVER thee, saith the LORD.” (JEREMIAH 1:7-8). God, in his foresight, predicted Jeremiah’s afflictions and these were MANY. Jeremiah was put into stocks, cast into dungeons, conspired against and threatened, but we read how “the LORD hid them” (JEREMIAH 36:26) and, in the times of Chaldean invasion, he found some degree of safety “in the court of the prison” (JEREMIAH 37-38). Jeremiah often found himself in life-threatening danger, YET GOD PROMISED DELIVERANCE TO JEREMIAH and this, as we see from the context of the first point, was in order to fulfil his commission “TO BUILD AND TO PLANT”. Jeremiah, himself, was NOT subject to the prophecy of impending death in Egypt, but rather stood under the care and shelter of God. This leads us to the next point…

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3. "Would not the royal daughters certainly have died in Egypt?"

In JEREMIAH chapter 15 we read of a startling confirmation of this Divine promise of protection and find the same EXTENDED to the other people with Jeremiah: “The LORD said, Verily, it shall be well with THY REMNANT; verily I WILL CAUSE THE ENEMY TO ENTREAT THEE WELL in the time of evil and in the time of affliction.” (JEREMIAH 15:11). This is the Lord’s promise of special protection for Jeremiah and “a small number” joining him. In addition, note well TO WHOM the prophecy of certain death was given (JEREMIAH 42:1) - “all the captains of the forces and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least even unto the greatest”, namely ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAME TO JEREMIAH to inquire from him about their plans to escape to Egypt. Jeremiah warned them not to go to Egypt, but THEY WOULDN’T LISTEN. The prophecy, however, was NOT even addressed to Jeremiah, Baruch or the princesses. In fact, in this instance, the prophecy applied ONLY TO THOSE who “set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there...” (JEREMIAH 44:12). A few could escape to Judah (JEREMIAH 44:28). So the fact that they (Jeremiah, Baruch and the princesses) were taken along with the others to Egypt DID NOT MEAN that they would die there themselves.

In summary, up to this point IT SEEMS QUITE CLEAR that neither Jeremiah, nor Baruch, nor the princesses were part of the prophecy of certain death for those who intended to live in Egypt. IF THEY SURVIVED, what was their destination?

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4. "Do not the scriptures say that the only escape possible was to Judah (not Ireland)?"

Throughout chapter 44, Jeremiah warns the people about the consequences of disobeying the Lord. If they refuse to listen, as we have already discussed, they would be destroyed. HOWEVER, for the few that stood by the words of God rather than by their own words, the Lord allowed a way out. They could escape and return to Judah (JEREMIAH 44:28). Once again though, this was addressed to the same group that the Lord had been talking to the whole time - and DOES NOT APPLY to Jeremiah and his group (who had never disobeyed the Lord in the first place!). Wherever Jeremiah and his group were heading after Egypt was obviously a destination much further away than Judah, namely IN A FOREIGN LAND (JEREMIAH 15:14).

Certainly Jeremiah knew 2 SAMUEL 7:10 “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, AND I WILL PLANT THEM, that they may dwell in A PLACE OF THEIR OWN, and MOVE NO MORE; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime.” This prophecy was given at a time when the Israelites lived safely in Palestine - so it clearly REFERS TO ANOTHER COUNTRY. A country of their own where there was no need for them to move anymore. Note the phrase “I WILL PLANT THEM” - which equals the second part of Jeremiah’s commission.

But there was no need for Jeremiah to go back as far as the prophecies given in the time of David. Jeremiah, himself, was used by the Lord to prophesy about Israel “becoming God’s people” (JEREMIAH 31:1), located in the “ISLES AFAR OFF” (JEREMIAH 31:10), being the recipient of the “new covenant” while being gathered as “one nation” (JEREMIAH 31:31-34) and never “ceasing from being a nation” before God FOREVER (JEREMIAH 31:36). In other words, Jeremiah knew about God’s plans of bringing spiritual blessings to the nation of Israel as a whole. For lack of space, it is left to the reader to study these MIGHTY NATIONAL AND SPIRITUAL PROMISES for oneself and to judge which nations in history have become the primary recipients of the “new covenant”, have found “GRACE IN THE WILDERNESS” (JEREMIAH 31:2), have been “REDEEMED” (JEREMIAH 31:11), were to be identified by “WAYMARKS AT THE HIGHWAY” (JEREMIAH 31:21) and have accepted the national as well as personal Laws of God (JEREMIAH 31:31-34 - to name but a few national marks given in JEREMIAH 30 and 31). In conjunction with what the other prophets had to say, these scriptures give a powerful witness of Israel’s national status. The next article will investigate some of these, but to give a foretaste take careful note of EZEKIEL 17:5 “He took also of the seed of the land, and PLANTED it in a fruitful field; he placed it by GREAT WATERS.” (Note again the theme of “RE-PLANTING”, and as Ezekiel says, in a country placed by “GREAT WATERS”). Again, Jeremiah was aware of a NEW LOCATION for God’s people and so were other prophets of his time.

So far we have established that Jeremiah - although taken to Egypt - still had a great part of his commission to fulfil and that he and “his remnant” (which certainly included Baruch, and certainly the royal daughters) was under Divine protection. Furthermore, Jeremiah was aware that the LORD had “appointed” a safe place for the people of Israel, and this prophecy was more important now than ever, since the kingdom of Judah was about to lose the national home for the throne and its people.

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5. "Did not the LORD indicate to Baruch that he would not be used in a great task such as transferring the throne by saying: ‘Seek not great things for thyself’?"

Most certainly Baruch was desperate about the development of events. He had possibly also been politically ambitious - Azariah and Johanan suspected Baruch of having influenced Jeremiah to give them the message to stay in the country (JEREMIAH 43:3). So the exhortation not to seek “great things for thyself” (JEREMIAH 45:5) could refer to worldly ambition, yet he is also comforted in the message that his life was going to be spared “IN ALL PLACES WITHER THOU GOEST”. The route and destination, however, he was not told by God at this stage. The scripture in question was God’s confirmation to Baruch that the first part of the commission, that of breaking down and plucking up, was about to be fulfilled with “the whole land” (JEREMIAH 45:4). The Lord showed that he would “bring evil upon all flesh”, “BUT”, that Baruch’s life would be spared. If the Lord wanted to use him in something so important as the second part of Jeremiah’s commission, then advice from the Lord to remain humble and not seek after glory for himself is absolutely in line with the context of Scripture with regards to “humility” and “self-ambition”. To summarise, God’s words to Baruch are in perfect agreement with God’s plan outlined above, namely to save Jeremiah and “his remnant” and to lead them on into a new season. Jeremiah was to fulfil the second half of his commission (with Baruch and the princesses), to BUILD AND PLANT the throne of David in some foreign land.

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6. On a Final Note

Jeremiah and his group ended up staying in an Egyptian city called TAHPANHES (JEREMIAH 43:7) and this is the LAST BIBLICAL RECORD OF THEIR WHEREABOUTS. We would like to put to the reader archaeological evidence which is a stunning confirmation of what the book of Jeremiah says. In 1886 Mr. E. Flinders Petrie unearthed at Tahpanhes the identical palace where THE ROYAL REMNANT OF JUDAH RESIDED IN EGYPT. The mound that covered the ruins had always been associated by the Arabs with THE MISSING DAUGHTERS of Zedekiah. Mr. Petrie found that its remains gave evidence of having been visited by a very sudden destruction, as by fire (Tahpanhes was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar). He discovered coins and pottery which enabled archaeologists to synchronize the date of its destruction with THE KNOWN ERA OF JEREMIAH. Mr. E. Flinders Petrie discovered to his surprise that Tahpanhes was known as the “Kasr el Bint el Yehudi” among the Arabs which means translated “THE PALACE OF THE JEW’S DAUGHTER.” (1)

It is of utmost importance to realise that Jeremiah himself had prophesied the destruction of this Egyptian city called Tahpanhes of which he himself and his company became a resident (JEREMIAH 46:14ff). Is it not more than conclusive that A MAN KNOWING THESE PROPHECIES WOULD PLAN TO ESCAPE THIS IMPENDING DISASTER and help as many people as possible to escape with him?

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7. Summary

We have traced how in the course of the Babylonian captivity a remnant of Jews had remained in and around Jerusalem. This remnant rebelled against God’s explicit warning not to go to Egypt since death would await them there. We have also seen that within this remnant there were present some key people: Jeremiah, through whom the prophecies were given and who had a magnificent commission to fulfil; Baruch, who was promised survival during future travelling; and the royal daughters, who appear to have been the only remaining persons qualified to occupy the throne of David. All scriptural evidence shows that this smaller company within the Jewish remnant was not meant to remain in Egypt and die there. THE PROPHECIES REVEALED TO JEREMIAH HIMSELF, CLEARLY POINTED THIS SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE TO MOVE ON, AND, AS THE WIDER BIBLICAL PICTURE SHOWS, THIS WOULD INVOLVE THE PLANTING OF THE SEED OF DAVID SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Again, it is put to the reader to decide if the prophetic warnings for those rebellious Jews who insisted in escaping to Egypt can be used to argue that Jeremiah and the royal company ended their lives in this country. This would mean one would have to ignore God’s promises for Jeremiah’s and Baruch’s protection and to deny a great number of scriptures showing that the continuation of David’s throne and the replanting in an “APPOINTED PLACE” WAS STILL THE OUTSTANDING TA

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References:

(1) Walsh, Daniel R. (1995), Lost Tribes Of Israel Study Maps: Volume III, Jeremiah’s Journeys, Celtica, Orange Park.

Further Reading:

Allen, J.H. (1902), Judah’s Sceptre and Joseph’s Birthright, Destiny Publishers, Merrimac.
Dodd, W.M. (1986), The Most Valuable Thing In The World, Rochester Limited, Rochester.
Habermann, Frederick, Tracing Our Ancestors, Promise Ministries, Sandpoint.
Rand, Howard B., Study in Jeremiah, Destiny Publishers, Merrimac.