This chapter prophesies the invasion of Egypt by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, which may also point to the invasion of Egypt by the Antichrist. It also prophesied the return of Jewish exiles to Israel, and them undergoing a time of discipline.
Chapter 46 is an oracle of judgment against Egypt, followed by a short prophecy of restoration for Israel. It begins a section in Jeremiah, chapters 46 to 51, in which Jeremiah prophesies judgment against the nations surrounding Israel. In each of these chapters, it is likely there was at least a partial historical fulfilment, but that there is also an end-time dimension awaiting completion. At his second coming, Jesus will defeat the Antichrist and his allies, and rescue Israel.

This chapter begins with a clear 6th century BC setting, in which Nebuchadnezzar defeats Egypt and Assyria at the battle of Carchemish.

Egypt (46:1-26)
Verses 2 to 12 prophesy the defeat of Egypt's Pharaoh Necho at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. As a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire, Egypt was trying to defend the Assyrian Empire against the Babylonians, although verse 8 implies Necho had imperial ambitions of his own. After the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, and the fall of Harran in 608 BC, Carchemish was the last remaining Assyrian stronghold. This defeat of the combined Assyrian and Egyptian armies marked Babylon's dominance over the whole Near East region, and the full establishment of Babylon as an empire. Verse 9 describes the alliance between Egypt, Cush (modern-day Sudan and northern Ethiopia), Put (Lybia) and Lydia (western Turkey). Interestingly, Sudan, Lybia and Turkey also feature in Gog's end-time invasion of Israel in Ezekiel 38. Verse 10 portrays their defeat as a way of God paying back his enemies, offering them up as a sacrifice, with his sword devouring them. Verses 11 to 12 affirm the devastating nature of their defeat. The statement that 'their cries of distress will echo throughout the earth' is an example of regional events being seen to affect the whole world. Such a statement needs to be understood from a 6th century BC perspective of the world, but not necessarily from a modern global perspective.

In verses 13 to 26, Jeremiah prophesies that Nebuchadnezzar would invade and conquer Egypt. Despite the position of this chapter in the book of Jeremiah, which is not arranged chronologically, it is likely Jeremiah received this prophecy before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. He also prophesied Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt in chapters 42 to 44, after he had been forcibly taken there by the leaders of the Jewish remnant left in Judah after the fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel also prophesied Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt in chapters 29 and 30. Ezekiel prophesied that God would give Nebuchadnezzar booty from Egypt as payment for his long and fruitless siege of Tyre. He also prophesied that Egypt would be left desolate for 40 years. Modern historians question the fulfilment of Jeremiah's and Ezekiel's prophecies against Egypt, as extra-biblical records of Nebuchadnezzar's conquest of Egypt are minimal. Josephus, the first century AD Jewish historian, confirms it (Antiquities 10.9.7), but secular historians consider his account biased because he was a Jew. One Babylonian Chronicle (BM 33041) documents an invasion by Nebuchadnezzar in 568 BC, saying, "In the 37th year of Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon, he went to Mizraim [Egypt] to make war. AMASIS, King of Mizraim, collected [his army] and marched and spread abroad", but secular historians question how successful this invasion was. If Josephus's record is accurate, there may have also been an earlier invasion in about 570 BC, in which Nebuchadnezzar killed Pharaoh Hophra, and placed Amasis on the throne, only for him to subsequently rebel (as Zedekiah had done, whom Nebuchadnezzar had made ruler of Judah in place of his nephew Jehoiakim). An inscription on an Egyptian statue of an official named Nes-hor also provides evidence of an invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, but not to such an extent that it lay dormant for 40 years as prophesied by Ezekiel.

Daniel 11:42 prophesies that the Antichrist will invade Egypt in the end-times. And Isaiah 19 describes the end-time conquest of Egypt by Jesus and the Jews at a time when it is ruled by a cruel master (the Antichrist). So it is possible that it is this judgment that leaves Egypt desolate for 40 years at the beginning of the Millennium.

Here in Jeremiah, the chapter ends with a portrayal of Egypt's eventual repentance and acknowledgement of God as their saviour. Similarly, Jeremiah 46:26 ends on a positive note, "But later on, people will live in Egypt again as they did in former times. I, the LORD, affirm it!"

Israel (46:27-28)
Between oracles of judgment against Israel's enemies comes this brief reaffirmation of Israel's end-time restoration. This short prophecy is very similar to Jeremiah 30:8-11 which describes Israel's return to the land after the time of Jacob's trouble. God will destroy the nations to which they had been scattered, in accordance with Jeremiah's prophecy of wrath against all nations in chapter 25. After their return, Israel will undergo further discipline, but only in due measure. This discipline of Israel likely occurs while the rest of the world faces the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation.
Places: Egypt, Israel, Cush, Sudan, Ethiopia, Put, Lybia, Lydia, Turkey
Tags: Battle of Carchemish, Antichrist invades Egypt, Egyptian refugee crisis, Antichrist as Nebuchadnezzar, Return of exiles to Israel, Israel disciplined during Great Tribulation
Prophecies Against Foreign Nations
1 This was the Lord’s message to the prophet Jeremiah about the nations.
The Prophecy about Egypt’s Defeat at Carchemish
2 He spoke about Egypt and the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt which was encamped along the Euphrates River at Carchemish. Now this was the army that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated in the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was ruling over Judah.
3 “Fall into ranks with your shields ready! Prepare to march into battle!
4 Harness the horses to the chariots! Mount your horses! Take your positions with helmets on! Ready your spears! Put on the armor!
5 “What do I see! The soldiers are frightened. They are retreating. They are being scattered. They have fled for refuge without looking back. Terror is all around them,” says the Lord.
6 But even the swiftest cannot get away. Even the strongest cannot escape. There in the north by the Euphrates River they have stumbled and fallen in defeat.
7 Who is this that rises like the Nile, like its streams turbulent at flood stage?
8 Egypt rises like the Nile, like its streams turbulent at flood stage. Egypt said, ‘I will arise and cover the earth. I will destroy cities and the people who inhabit them.’
9 Go ahead and charge into battle, you horsemen! Drive furiously, you charioteers! Let the soldiers march out into battle, those from Ethiopia and Libya who carry shields, and those from Lydia who are armed with the bow.
10 But that day belongs to the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies. It is a day of reckoning, when he will pay back his adversaries. His sword will devour them until its appetite is satisfied! It will drink its fill from their blood! Indeed it will be a sacrifice for the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies in the land of the north by the Euphrates River.
11 Go up to Gilead and get medicinal ointment, you dear poor people of Egypt. But it will prove useless no matter how much medicine you use; there will be no healing for you.
12 The nations have heard of your shameful defeat. Your cries of distress fill the earth. One soldier has stumbled over another and both of them have fallen down defeated.”

The Lord Predicts that Nebuchadnezzar Will Attack and Plunder Egypt
13 The Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about Nebuchadnezzar coming to attack the land of Egypt.
14 “Make an announcement throughout Egypt. Proclaim it in Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes. ‘Take your positions and prepare to do battle. For the enemy army is destroying all the nations around you.’
15 Why will your soldiers be defeated? They will not stand because I, the Lord, will thrust them down.
16 I will make many stumble. They will fall over one another in their hurry to flee. They will say, ‘Get up! Let’s go back to our own people. Let’s go back to our homelands because the enemy is coming to destroy us.’
17 There at home they will say, ‘Pharaoh king of Egypt is just a big noise! He has let the most opportune moment pass by.’
18 I the King, whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, swear this: I swear as surely as I live that a conqueror is coming. He will be as imposing as Mount Tabor is among the mountains, as Mount Carmel is against the backdrop of the sea.
19 Pack your bags for exile, you inhabitants of poor dear Egypt. For Memphis will be laid waste. It will lie in ruins and be uninhabited.
20 Egypt is like a beautiful young cow. But northern armies will attack her like swarms of stinging flies.
21 Even her mercenaries will prove to be like pampered, well-fed calves. For they too will turn and run away. They will not stand their ground when the time for them to be destroyed comes, the time for them to be punished.
22 Egypt will run away, hissing like a snake, as the enemy comes marching up in force. They will come against her with axes as if they were woodsmen chopping down trees.
23 The population of Egypt is like a vast, impenetrable forest. But I, the Lord, affirm that the enemy will cut them down. For those who chop them down will be more numerous than locusts. They will be too numerous to count.
24 Poor dear Egypt will be put to shame. She will be handed over to the people from the north.”
25 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel says, “I will punish Amon, the god of Thebes. I will punish Egypt, its gods, and its kings. I will punish Pharaoh and all who trust in him.
26 I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar and his troops, who want to kill them. But later on, people will live in Egypt again as they did in former times. I, the Lord, affirm it!”

A Promise of Hope for Israel
27 “You descendants of Jacob, my servants, do not be afraid; do not be terrified, people of Israel. For I will rescue you and your descendants from the faraway lands where you are captives. The descendants of Jacob will return to their land and enjoy peace. They will be secure and no one will terrify them.
28 I, the Lord, tell you not to be afraid, you descendants of Jacob, my servant, for I am with you. Though I completely destroy all the nations where I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will indeed discipline you but only in due measure. I will not allow you to go entirely unpunished.”