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‘Before Pharaoh seized Gaza’. A Reappraisal of the Date, Function, and Purpose of the Superscription of Jeremiah 47

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AbstractIn this article it is argued that the phrase ‘before Pharaoh seized Gaza’ in Jer 47:1 is not a mere chronological precision, pointing at the (ultimate) fulfilment of the prophecy against Philistia, but a heading with its own proper function and purpose. The superscription of Jer. 47:1 refers to Pharaoh Neco’s capture of that city in 601/0 BCE, whereas the oracle of 47:2-7 itself is to be dated ca. 604. Neco was able to take Gaza after he had beaten the Babylonian army at the Egyptian border, so that the Babylonians had to withdraw to their homeland. In this time of political upheaval, the heading was added to the oracle of Jer 47 in order to warn the people of Judah that YHWH’s judgment through the sword of Babylon was still to be expected, notwithstanding Pharaoh’s recent success.

Affiliations: 1: Theological University of


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